"Nell has started for Casita," burst out Gale. "She has gone to fetch Mercedes some word about Thorne. Oh, Belding, you needn't shake your head. I know she's gone. She tried to persuade me to go, and was furious when I wouldn't."
"I don't believe it," replied Belding, hoarsely. "Nell may have her temper. She's a little devil at times, but she always had good sense."
"Tom, you can gamble she's gone," said Ladd.
"Aw, hell, no! Jim, what do you think?" implored Belding.
"I reckon Sol's white head is pointed level an' straight down the Casita trail. An' Nell can ride. We're losing' time."
"I say you're all wrong," he yelled, starting for the corrals. "She's only taking a little ride, same as she's done often. But rustle now. Find out. Dick, you ride cross the valley. Jim, you hunt up and down the river. I'll head up San Felipe way. And you, Laddy, take Diablo and hit the Casita trail. If she really has gone after Thorne you can catch her in an hour or so."
"Shore I'll go," replied Ladd. "but, Beldin', if you're not plumb crazy you're close to it. That big white devil can't catch Sol. Not in an hour or a day or a week! What's more, at the end of any runnin' time, with an even start, Sol will be farther in the lead. An' now Sol's got an hour's start."
"Laddy, you mean to say Sol is a faster horse than Diablo?" thundered Belding, his face purple.