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Title: Frank Merriwell's Bravery
Author: Standish, Burt L., 1866-1945
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Frank Merriwell's Bravery" ***

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[Illustration: "The outlaws entered Cade's Canyon amid the mountains and
finally reached an old hut." (See page 63)]


FRANK MERRIWELL'S BRAVERY

BY BURT L. STANDISH

Author of "Frank Merriwell's School Days," "Frank Merriwell's Chums,"
etc.

[Illustration: logo for Boys' Own Library]

PHILADELPHIA
DAVID McKAY, PUBLISHER
610 SOUTH WASHINGTON SQUARE

Copyright, 1903
By STREET & SMITH

Frank Merriwell's Bravery



CONTENTS

  CHAPTER                                 PAGE

        I--Two Travelers                     9
       II--"Hands up!"                      16
      III--A Thrilling Accusation           21
       IV--For Life and Honor               29
        V--Hurried to Jail                  35
       VI--Solomon Shows His Nerve          43
      VII--In Jail                          50
     VIII--The Lynchers                     55
       IX--The Assault on the Jail          62
        X--In Cade's Canyon                 68
       XI--Black Harry Appears              73
      XII--A Chance in a Thousand           77
     XIII--A Thrilling Rescue               84
      XIV--Walter Clyde's Story             90
       XV--Professor Septemas Scudmore      96
      XVI--The Mad Inventor                102
     XVII--Gone                            109
    XVIII--Miskel                          114
      XIX--Old Solitary                    122
       XX--Mouth of the Cave               130
      XXI--Human Beasts                    137
     XXII--Professor Scudmore Returns      145
    XXIII--Last of the Danites             152
     XXIV--Yellowstone Park                159
      XXV--Fay                             164
     XXVI--Old Rocks                       170
    XXVII--The Hermit                      176
   XXVIII--Vanishing of Little Fay         181
     XXIX--Face to Face                    188
      XXX--Search for the Trail            195
     XXXI--A Fight with Grizzlies          201
    XXXII--Trailed Down                    207
   XXXIII--The Rescue                      214
    XXXIV--In Sand Cave                    219
     XXXV--A Peculiar Girl                 231
    XXXVI--Friends and Foes                237
   XXXVII--Boy Shadowers                   243
  XXXVIII--"Queer" Money                   249
    XXXIX--Pursued                         255
       XL--Eluded                          261
      XLI--Big Gabe                        267
     XLII--Over the Precipice              273
    XLIII--A Frightful Peril               280
     XLIV--A Girl's Mad Leap               285
      XLV--Queen of the Counterfeiters     292
     XLVI--After the Fight                 298

[Transcriber's Note: The following list of illustrations has been
created for this electronic edition. Some illustrations have been moved
to positions closer to their appearance in the text.]


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

"The outlaws entered Cade's Canyon amid the mountains and finally
reached an old hut." (See page 63)

"You must not linger here. * * * Even now the Destroying Ones may be
moving to fall upon you." (See page 124)

"The grizzly folded Frank in his embrace, crushing the lad against his
shaggy breast." (See page 205)

"Frank brought the butt of his Winchester to his shoulder, and began to
work the weapon." (See page 296)



Frank Merriwell's Bravery.

CHAPTER I.

TWO TRAVELERS.


"Well, that's a pretty nervy piece of business!"

It was Frank Merriwell who spoke the words, more to himself than to any
one else.

Frank was westbound, from Oklahoma City at the time, continuing the
extensive tour mapped out after his Uncle Asher had died and left him so
much money.

As readers of former books in this series know, Frank was not making the
tour alone. Professor Scotch, his guardian, was with him as was also
Barney Mulloy, his old schoolmate from Fardale. But, as the professor
and Barney had not wanted to stop at Oklahoma, they had gone on ahead,
leaving Frank to catch up with them later.

The "nervy piece of business" to which Frank referred was the following
account of a hold-up published in a leading Oklahoma newspaper:

     "BLACK HARRY'S LATEST STROKE.

     "HE HOLDS UP AN EXPRESS TRAIN, AND SHOOTS AN EASTERN BANKER.

     "As we go to press, an imperfect account of Black Harry's latest
     outrage reaches us from Elreno. Ten days ago this youthful
     desperado was unknown to fame, but within that number of days he
     has left a red trail from the Texas Panhandle to the Canadian
     River. He began by raiding Moore's ranch, and killing a cowboy, and
     he and his band of desperadoes, which he calls his 'Braves,' have
     robbed and plundered and burned and murdered at their own sweet
     will, till the climax was capped last night by the holding up of
     the northbound express on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific,
     shortly after leaving Chickasha and crossing the Washita. Between
     Chickasha and Minco is a twenty-mile stretch of desolate track, and
     a better place for a train hold-up could not be found.

     "Just how the express was stopped we do not know at present, but
     the trick was accomplished, and Black Harry and his Braves boarded
     the cars. Strangely enough, they did not attempt to enter the
     express car, but were satisfied to go through the train hastily and
     relieve the passengers of their valuables. In this work, Black
     Harry took the lead; but Mr. Robert Dawson, an Eastern banker, who
     happened to have quite a sum on his person, objected, and snatched
     the mask from the young ruffian's face. Before the eyes of Miss
     Lona Dawson, who was traveling with her father, Black Harry
     deliberately shot the banker down, and then relieved him of his
     watch, diamond pin, and pocketbook, having first re-covered his
     face with the mask.

     "The robbers made a hasty but very thorough job of it, leaping from
     the train at a signal from their boy leader, and quickly
     disappearing in the darkness. But Black Harry's face was seen
     fairly by the banker's horrified daughter, and by several other
     passengers, so there will be no trouble in identifying him if he is
     captured. Sheriff Kildare, of Canadian County, is aroused, and
     Burchel Jones, an Eastern detective, has promised to round up Black
     Harry within a very short time. Let us hope, for the good of the
     Territory, that the young ruffian's career may be quickly
     terminated, and that he may receive his just due at the hands of
     the law.

     "Mr. Dawson was taken to Elreno, where a surgical operation was
     performed. He is still alive, but his chance of recovery is small.
     His daughter, who seems to be a girl of spirit, has stated that, if
     her father dies, she will know no rest nor spare no expense till
     Black Harry is run to earth."

The article terminated abruptly, showing it had been hastily written,
and had been inserted at the last moment before publication.

"Truly an outrage!" Frank continued. "It would be a good scheme to
organize a hunting party, and give this Black Harry a run for it."

"Just my idea," said an oily voice, as a man slipped into the seat
beside the young traveler, without as much as saying "by your leave."
"The people out here do not seem to mind these things. I suppose they
are used to them."

Frank glanced the speaker over, with a pair of searching, brown eyes. He
saw a slender figure in a well-worn suit of gray. The striking features
of the man's face were his eyes and his nose. His eyes were too near
together, and his nose was long and pointed. He was smooth-shaved, and
there was a cunning, foxy look about his face.

Frank did not seem in any hurry about speaking; he continued to inspect
the man, who moved restlessly beneath the scrutiny, and said:

"I have not been very long in this country, but I have noted the
peculiarities of the people. They do not seem to have time to bother
much about an affair like this train hold-up, and the shooting of an
occasional tenderfoot, as they call all Easterners. If they should
happen to capture Black Harry, they would give him their full attention
for a short time--a very short time. They would be pretty sure to lynch
him, as they would consider that the easiest way of disposing of him,
and they would not consider it worth while to spend time in giving him a
regular trial. To be sure, this train robbery and tragedy occurred in
Indian Territory, but I understand that Hank Kildare, the sheriff at
Elreno, has offered three hundred dollars reward for the capture of
Black Harry himself, and fifty dollars each for his men. Er--ah--ahem!
My name is--Walker. I am from Jersey."

Frank bowed.

"How do you do, Mr.--er--ah--Walker. I presume that what you say about
Black Harry's chances, if he is captured, is quite true--he will be
lynched."

"Oh, it is not certain, of course; he might obtain protection by
officers of the law. But he would stand a good show of being lynched.
And Elreno is the worst place in Oklahoma for him to show his face in at
present."

"I should presume it might be. Dawson, the wounded banker, is there?"

"And his daughter--can she identify this young desperado the moment she
sees him?"

"Without doubt."

"Black Harry will be very foolish if he goes to Elreno."

"He is not likely to go there, I fancy."

"I don't know about that. He is a dare-devil fellow."

"So it seems."

"And he might take a fancy that Elreno would be the last place where he
would be expected to appear, and so he would go there."

"He might do that."

"Now, in your own case, if you were Black Harry, for instance, you might
put on a bold face, and show yourself in Elreno, while everybody outside
that town would be on the lookout for you."

"Possibly, you are right."

"I think such a trick would be very like Black Harry. He might go so far
as to take the train to Elreno from some place that would make it seem
that he could not have been in the locality where the hold-up was
committed. If he were to come into Elreno on this train, for instance,
it would be a blind."

"How far is Oklahoma City from the place where the train was robbed?"

"Between thirty and forty miles, direct."

"That distance could be made on horseback between the time of the
robbery and this morning--do you think so?"

"Well, it is very likely. What do you think, Mr.--ah--er--I beg your
pardon?"

"My name is Frank Merriwell."

"Really?"

Walker lifted his eyebrows in a very odd manner, which Frank did not
fail to observe.

"You appear as if you doubted me," came a trifle warmly from the lad's
lips, while the color rushed to his cheeks.

"Oh, not at all--not at all! You are in Oklahoma on business?"

"No, sir."

"Not?"

"No."

"Pleasure?"

"Yes, sir."

"How? Traveling?"

"I am."

"Alone?"

"No."

"Didn't notice you had company."

"I have not, at present."

"H'm! Ha! Your friends--are they on this train?"

"No, sir."

Walker elevated his eyebrows again. His nose seemed longer and more
pointed than ever. It was a nose that reminded the boy of an
interrogation point. It seemed built to thrust itself into other
people's business.

"Ha! Not on the train?"

"No."

"You expect to meet them?"

"Yes."

"Where?"

"In Elreno."

"How many of them?"

"Two."

"No more?"

"No."

Frank was answering curtly, and his manner announced his dislike for his
inquisitive companion. Still, he was courteous and cool, holding himself
in check.

"I presume your companions are older than yourself?" questioned the
prying Jerseyite, his small eyes glistening.

"One is; the other is a boy about my age."

"Ha! H'm! Just so. You are from the East, I presume?"

"Yes, sir."

"It seems to me that I have seen you before, but I cannot remember where
it was. And I do not remember your name. Do you mind giving me the names
of your traveling companions?"

"Not at all. They are Professor Horace Orman Tyler Scotch, of Fardale
Military Academy, sometimes known as 'Hot' Scotch, as he has a peppery
temper, and the initials of his first three names form the word 'hot.'
The other is Barney Mulloy, a youth who was born in Ireland, and has not
recovered from it yet. The latter was a classmate of mine at Fardale,
and he is traveling with me as a friendly companion, which he can
afford to do, as I pay all the bills."

"Haw!" exclaimed Walker. "You must have money to burn!"

"No, I have not. My uncle left me a comfortable fortune, and his will
provided that, in order to broaden my knowledge of the world, I should
travel in company with my guardian. He selected Professor Scotch as a
proper man to become my guardian, and specified that I might take along
a schoolmate as a companion, if I so desired."

"Re-e-markable!" cried Walker. "A most astonishing will! And how does it
happen that you have become separated from your guardian and friend?"

"We were going through to Texas on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific.
I wished to visit Guthrie, the capital of Oklahoma, and they did not
care to do so. I left them at Caldwell, in Kansas, with the
understanding that they were to proceed to Elreno, and wait for me
there."

"H'm!"

Walker's nose seemed pointing at the boy like an accusing finger. Doubt
was expressed all over that foxy face.

"You tell it well," said the man, with another queer lifting of his thin
eyebrows.

"What do you mean by that?" demanded the youth, sharply, wheeling
squarely toward Walker. "Do you insinuate that I am not telling the
truth?"

Before Walker could reply, a commotion arose in the seat directly behind
them.



CHAPTER II.

"HANDS UP!"


"Aw! Thay, weally, this ith verwy impudent, don't yer know!" drawled a
languid voice. "What wight have you to cwout yourthelf into a theat
bethide a gentleman, thir?"

"I don'd seen der shentleman anyvere," replied a nasal voice, a voice
that had the genuine Jewish sound.

"Thir! Do you mean to thay I am no gentleman, thir?"

"Vell, I don'd mean to say nodding aboud id. I don'd vant to hurd your
veelings."

"You insulting w'etch!"

"Don'd get excided, mein friendt."

"Will you leave thith theat, thir?"

"Cerdinly I vill--ven I leaf der drain."

"I thall call the conductor!"

"Don'd vaste your preath--peckon to him."

"Thir, I would have you understand that my name ith Cholly Gwayson De
Smythe."

"Vell, I vos bleased to meed you. Anypody vould be pleased shust to dake
a look ad you."

"Thir!"

"My name vas Solomon Rosenbum, vid the accent on der bum. Shake handts
vid yourself."

By this time everybody in the car was staring at the Jew and the dudish
fellow beside whom Solomon had taken a seat. The latter was a youth of
uncertain age, with an insipid mustache, a sallow face, and spectacles
of colored glass, which seemed to indicate that he had weak eyes. He
was dressed, as far as possible, in imitation of an English tourist.

The Jew, who had given his name as "Solomon Rosenbum, vid der accent on
der bum," was a rather disreputable-looking man of about thirty, having
the appearance of the Jew peddler, and carrying a pack, which he had
stuffed down between his knees and the back of the next seat, thus
completely fencing in Cholly De Smythe.

"Will you wemove yourthelf fwom this theat?" squawked the dude, in a
flutter.

"Say, mein friendt, you vas nervous. Now, I dell you vat you do vor dat.
Shust dake a pottle of Snyde's Shain-Lighdning Nearf Regulardor. Id vill
simbly gost you von tollar a pottle, dree bottles vor dwo tollars. I haf
shust dree pottles left. Vill you dake 'em?"

Solomon began to untie his pack.

"Stop it!" squealed Cholly, in terror. "I don't want your nawsty stuff,
don't yer know!"

"Berhaps I know petter dan vat you do. I haf studied to pe a horse
toctor, und I make a sbecialty uf shack-asses."

"You wude thing!"

The other passengers in the car were enjoying all this, and the laughter
that had begun with the first passage between the two now threatened to
swell to a tumult.

"Uf one pottle don'd gure you, der dree pottles vill--or kill you, und
nopody vill mindt dot."

"Go'way!"

"Vill you half der dree pottles?"

"No, thir!"

"Veil, dake von uf dem ad sefenty-fife cends."

"Get out!"

"I alvays haf von brice vor all uf mine goots, und I nefer make a
bractice uf dakin' off a cend; but I see dat you vas on der verge uf
nerfus brosdration, und I vant to safe your life, so I vill sell you
von pottle vor a hellufer-tollar."

"I don't want it--I won't take the nawsty stuff!"

"Dat vas too sheap at hellufer-tollar, but in your gase I vill make an
eggsception, und you may haf von pottle vor a qvarter. Dake id qvick,
before I shange my mindt."

"Help! Take the w'etch away!"

"Moses in der pulrushes! Vat you vant? Vas you dryin' to ruin me? Dot
medicine gost me ninedy-dree cends a pottle, und I don'd ged a cend
discoundt uf I puy dwo pottles. Dake a pottle ad dwenty cends, und I
vill go indo pankrupcy."

"Conductaw! Conductaw!" squawked Cholly.

"What is all this noise about?" demanded the conductor, as he came
hastily down the aisle and stood scowling at Cholly.

He had overheard all that passed, and he was enjoying it as much as any
of the passengers.

"Conductaw," said the dude, with great dignity, "I wish you to instantly
wemove this verwy insolent cwecher. He cwoded in thith theat without
awsking leave."

"Have you paid for a whole seat?"

"I have paid one fare, thir, and ----"

"So has this gentleman. He is entitled to half of this seat, if he
chooses to sit here. Don't bother me again."

The conductor walked away, and Cholly looked at Solomon, faintly
gasping:

"Thith gentleman! Gweat Scott!"

Then he seemed to collapse.

Solomon grinned, and lifted his hat to the conductor. Then he turned to
Cholly.

"Vill you half a pottle uf der Nearf Regulador ad dwendy cends?"

"Let me out!" gurgled the dude. "I will not stay heaw and be
inthulted!"

"Set down," advised the Jew. "You ain'd bought a pottle uf medicine, und
I can'd boder to mofe vor you."

Cholly fell back into his seat, giving up the struggle. He turned his
head away, and looked out of the window, while Solomon talked to him for
ten minutes, without seeming to draw a breath. Cholly, however, could
not be induced to purchase a single bottle of the "Nearf Regulador."

All through this, Mr. Walker had not seemed to remove his keen eyes from
the face of the boy at his side. The lad apparently enjoyed the affair
between the Jew and the dude as much as any one in the car, laughing
merrily, and seeming quite at ease.

Somehow, Walker did not seem to be pleased at all. He appeared like a
man with a very little sense of humor, or he had so much of grave
importance on his mind that he did not observe what was going on behind
him.

When Cholly De Smythe had collapsed, and the Jew had ceased to talk, the
boy squared about in his seat, and seemed to settle to take things in
the most comfortable manner possible. He pulled his hat over his
forehead, and continued his perusal of the newspaper.

This did not satisfy his seat mate.

"You seem to be very interested in that paper," said Walker.

"I am," was the curt return, and the boy continued reading.

"You are not much of a talker."

"You are."

"H'm! Ha! I am; I am very sociable."

"So I observed."

"I have been wondering what we would do if a band of robbers was to hold
up this train."

"I am sure I cannot tell what I would do. I scarcely think any person
can tell what he would do in such a case till he meets the emergency."

"I presume you go armed?"

"In the West--yes."

Walker's thin nose seemed to resemble a wedge which he was driving
deeper and deeper with each question.

"Would you mind permitting me to look at your revolver?"

"Yes."

The boy uttered that word, and remained silent, without offering to take
the weapon out.

Walker coughed.

"H'm! Ha! I think you misunderstood me."

"I think not."

"I asked you if you would mind letting me look at your revolver."

"And I said I would mind."

"Oh!"

The Jew's voice sounded in Walker's ear.

"I haf a revolfer vat I vill sell you sheep. Id vas a recular taisy,
selluf-cocker, und dirty-dwo caliber. Here id vas, meester. Id vas
loated, so handle id vid care. Vat you gif vor dat peautiful revolfer,
meester?"

Walker took the weapon, glanced into the cylinder, to see that it was
actually loaded, and then suddenly thrust it against the head of Frank,
crying, sharply:

"Hands up, Black Harry! You are my prisoner!"



CHAPTER III.

A THRILLING ACCUSATION.


The words rang through the car, startling the passengers, and causing
them to stare in astonishment at the man and the boy.

The man with the revolver was quivering with excitement, while Frank, at
whose head the weapon was held, seemed strangely calm.

Exclamations were heard on all sides.

"Black Harry!"

"Is it possible?"

"Not that beardless boy!"

"It's a mistake!"

"If that's Black Harry, his Braves are near, and there is liable to be
some shooting before long."

"Sufferin' Moses!" came from the Jew, who owned the revolver. "Ish dat
der ropper vat ve read apout der baper in? Stop der cars! I vant to ged
off!"

"What do you mean by this crazy act?" calmly demanded Frank, looking
straight into Mr. Walker's eyes.

"I mean business, and I am not going to fool with a fellow of your
reputation a minute! If you don't put up your hands, I'll send a bullet
through your head immediately!"

"Then I shall put up my hands, for I have no fancy for having the top of
my head blown off."

Up went the boy's empty hands.

"That's where you are sensible," declared the man with the foxy face. "I
have dealt with your kind before, and I know better than to let 'em
monkey with me. I am a man with a reputation for catching criminals. At
the sound of my name, the professional crooks in the East tremble."

"Walker does not seem to be such a very terrible name."

"Walker--bah! That's not my name!"

"No?"

"Not much!"

"Pray, what is your name, then?"

"I am Burchel Jones, the famous detective," declared the owner of the
gimlet eyes, swelling with importance. "Out in this country the fools
call me a tenderfoot, but I will show them the kind of stuff I am made
of. When they want to catch their desperadoes and robbers, they should
send for a tenderfoot detective."

The boy laughed outright.

"You are more sport than a barrel of monkeys," he said, merrily. "What
do you think you have done, anyway?"

"I have captured Black Harry, the terrible desperado, who has been
giving them so much trouble out here of late."

"You think I am Black Harry?"

"I do not think anything about it--I know it."

"How do you know it?"

"By your face."

"Have you ever seen Black Harry?"

"Yes."

"When?"

"Last night."

"Where?"

"On the northbound Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific express."

"You were on that train?"

"I was, and I saw Black Harry's face when he was unmasked by Robert
Dawson--saw it distinctly. You are Black Harry!"

"You were never more deceived in all your life. My name is Frank
Merriwell, as I can easily prove."

"Your real name may be Frank Merriwell, but you are the boy desperado
who is known as Black Harry, and you are the chap who shot Mr. Robert
Dawson."

The detective spoke with conviction, and it was plain that he really
believed what he said. The boy began to look grave, as the situation was
not exactly pleasant.

"You came from Elreno to Oklahoma City on the first train this morning,
did you?" asked the youth.

"I did."

"How did it happen that you took this train back?"

"I spotted you. The moment I saw your face I knew you, and I shadowed
you till the train started. I boarded the train with the determination
to capture you. I seldom fail when I have resolved on a thing, and I did
not fail this time."

"Then this is no joke?"

"You will find it is no joke."

"Well, I can't ride from this place to Elreno with my hands held above
my head, as you must very well know."

"Of course you can't. I'll have to put the irons on you. Here, young
man, hold this revolver to his head while I handcuff and search him."

He spoke to Cholly De Smythe, who had been watching, with staring eyes,
his jaw dropped, and a look of amazement on his face.

"Haw?" squawked the dude, aghast. "What ith that you want, thir?"

"Take this revolver, and hold it to this boy's head. If he moves, shoot
him as if he were a dangerous dog."

"Good gwacious!" gurgled Cholly. "I nevah touched a wevolver in awl my
life! You will hawve to excuse me, thir."

"If you are determined to treat me as if I were a mad beast, I beg you
to let some one who knows something about firearms handle that
revolver," said the captive. "I will give you my word not to make any
trouble if you lower the weapon."

"Your word does not count with me," declared the crafty detective. "I
wouldn't trust you a second--not a second."

"I can show you my card, letters, and other papers to prove my claim
that I am Frank Merriwell, a traveler."

"Black Harry would be likely to have such letters and papers ready for
just such an emergency. That trick will not count."

"Oh, well, don't fool around with that loaded gun held up against my
head! Put on the irons, and give me a chance to rest my arms. Hurry up!"

"Shust led me dake dat revolfer, mine friendt," said the voice of the
Jew. "Uf dot poy tries any funny pusiness, he vill be deat, vid der
accent on der deat."

"Can I trust you?" cautiously asked Burchel Jones.

"Vell, I dunno. You can uf you vant to. I alvays make a bracdice uf
doin' a cash pusiness."

After some hesitation, the tenderfoot detective decided that he could
not do better than trust Solomon, and the revolver was surrendered to
the Jew.

"Don'd you vink!" commanded Solomon, as he screwed the muzzle of the
weapon up against the lad's head. "Uf you do, you vas a deat poy!"

The detective searched the youth, removing a handsome revolver from one
of his pockets. That was the only weapon found anywhere on his person.

Burchel Jones was disappointed, for he had expected to find "guns" and
knives concealed all over the lad.

"Oh, you're slick--you're slick!" he said. "But you can't fool me. I
know how to deal with rascals like you. I have handled hundreds of
'em--hundreds upon hundreds."

"You must be a very old hand in the business," said the captive, with a
laugh. "Still, you seem to need assistance to capture a boy, who has
made no offer to resist you, although he knows very well that you have
no legal right to arrest him."

"Oh, you are ready with your tongue--altogether too ready."

Having searched the lad, Jones produced some manacles, and snapped them
on the wrists of his prisoner.

"There," he said to Solomon, "you needn't hold the revolver to his head
any longer. I have him foul now."

"Dank you," nodded the Jew. "You vas much opliged vor der use of my
revolfer."

"Of course, of course."

"V'y you don'd puy dot revolfer, den, und gif a poor man a drade?"

"Oh, get out. I don't want it any longer."

"Vell, I am glad uf dat, vor it vas long enough alretty. Uf you like id
so vel, v'y you don'd bought id?"

"I have one of my own."

"Vell, haf dwo. I gif you a drade on dat revolfer. I sell you dat
revolfer vor elefen tollar."

"Don't want it."

"Ten tollar."

"Don't want it."

"Nine."

"No."

"Eight."

"Say, shut up! I wouldn't take it for five!"

"Vell, you may haf him vor your tollar, und dot vas less dan haluf vat
id vas vort'. Shall I put a biece uf baper roundt id?"

"I won't buy it at any price."

"Moses in der pulrushes! Do you vant me to gif him to you? I vill dake
tree tollar, und dat vas der rock-pottom brice. Here you haf him."

But the detective still declined to take the weapon, which made Solomon
exceedingly disgusted and angry.

"You vas der meanest man vat I nefer met!" he cried. "Uf I hat known how
mean you vas, I vouldn't helluped you capture dot ropper! I hat better
do pusiness vid der ropper anyhow."

Burchel Jones was well satisfied with himself. At Yukon he sent a
dispatch to Hank Kildare, the sheriff at Elreno, saying:

     "Have captured Black Harry. Bringing him in irons. Have Miss Dawson
     at station to identify him when train arrives.

                                                 BURCHEL JONES,
                                                    "Private Detective."

Jones was surprised at the quiet manner in which Frank had submitted to
arrest, but he felt that the lad had been cleverly taken by surprise,
and had seen by the eye of the man with the revolver that the best thing
he could do was to give in without a struggle.

The boy saw it was quite useless to attempt to convince the man that any
mistake had been made, and so, after the first effort, ceased to waste
his time in the vain struggle. He remained calm and collected, much to
the dismay of the some nervous passengers, who were certain the train
would be held up by Black Harry's Braves, who would be on hand to rescue
their chief.

Jones heard one man declaring over and over that he knew the train would
not reach Elreno without a hold-up, and the detective immediately
declared:

"If an attempt is made to rescue Black Harry, it will be very
unfortunate for Harry, as I shall immediately shoot him. I do not
propose to let him escape, to continue his career of crime and
devastation."

The boy smiled, in a scornful and pitying way.

When the train drew into Elreno, a great crowd was seen on the platform
of the station, and, for the first time, a troubled look came to the
face of the youthful prisoner.

"The whole town has turned out to see Black Harry and the man who
captured him," said Jones, swelling with importance.

Frank said nothing; he knew well enough that such a crowd was dangerous
in many cases. What if it were generally believed that he was, in truth,
Black Harry, and the mob should take a fancy to lynch him? His chance of
escaping a speedy death would be slim, indeed!

The train stopped, and, with his hand clutching the boy's shoulder,
Jones descended to the platform.

"Thar he is!"

The cry went up, and the crowd surged toward the two.

"Stan' back hyar!"

A man that was six feet and four inches in height, and weighed at least
two hundred and fifty pounds, forced his way through the throng, casting
men to the right and left with his muscular arms. He had a hard,
weather-tanned face, and looked as if he did not fear the Evil One
himself.

"Are you Burchel Jones, ther detective?" asked this man, as he loomed
before Jones and his captive.

"I am, sir," was the dignified reply; "and this is Black Harry. I
surrender him to you, and claim the reward offered for his capture."

"Thet ther skunk known as Black Harry?" said the giant sheriff, in
evident surprise. "He don't look like a desperado. Wal, we'll soon
settle all doubts on thet yar point, fer Miss Dawson is hyar, an' she
will recognize him ef he is Black Harry. Come on, boy."

Kildare, the sheriff, for such the giant was, again forced a path
through the crowd.

In the station door, a woman and a girl were standing. The girl was not
more than seventeen, and was very pretty, despite the traces of grief
upon her face.

Kildare led the boy up before the woman and girl, and he spoke to the
latter:

"Take a good, squar' look at this yar kid, Miss Dawson, an' see ef yer
ever saw thet face afore."

The girl looked at Frank, and then fell back, horror and loathing
depicted on her face. She stretched out one hand, with a repellent
gesture, as if warning them to keep him away, and with the other hand
she clutched at her throat, from which came a choking sound. The woman
offered to support her, but she sprang up in a moment, pointed straight
at the youthful captive, and literally shrieked:

"He is the wretch who shot my poor father!"



CHAPTER IV.

FOR LIFE AND HONOR.


A sudden, mad roar went up from the crowd on the station platform. They
swayed, surged, struggled, and shouted:

"Lynch him!"

That cry was like the touching of a torch to dry prairie grass. Men
climbed on each others' shoulders; men fought to get nearer the
prisoner, and the mob seemed to have gone mad in a moment.

"Lynch him!"

A hundred throats took up the shout, and it became one mighty roar for
blood, the most appalling sound that can issue from human lips.

The face of the menaced boy was very pale, but he did not cower before
that suddenly infuriated mob. He showed that he had nerve, for he stood
up and faced them boldly, helpless as he was.

Burchel Jones, the detective, looked as if he would give something to
get away from that locality in a hurry.

A black scowl came to the face of Hank Kildare, and his hands dropped to
his hips, reappearing from beneath the tails of his coat with a brace of
heavy, long-barreled revolvers in their grasp. The muzzles of the
weapons were thrust right into the faces of the men nearest, and the
sheriff literally thundered:

"Git back thar, you critters, or by thunder, thar'll be dead meat round
hyar! You hyar me chirp!"

Lona Dawson, the banker's daughter, was badly frightened by the sudden
outbreak of the mob, and, with her older companion, she retreated into
the waiting-room of the station.

"Death to Black Harry!"

A man with strong lungs howled the words above all the uproar and
commotion.

"Bring the rope!" screamed another.

And then, as if by magic, a man struggled to the shoulders of those
about him, waved a rope in the air, and yelled:

"Hyar's ther necktie fer Black Harry!"

And then, once more, there was a roar, and a surge, and a struggle to
get at the handcuffed boy.

"Stiddy!" sounded the voice of Hank Kildare. "Back! back! back! or, by
the eternal skies, I'll begin ter sling lead!"

But twenty hands seemed reaching to clutch the lad and drag him away.
The sheriff saw that he would not be able to retain his prisoner if he
remained where he was.

"Inter ther station, boy!" came from the giant sheriff's lips. "It's yer
only chance ter git clear o' this yar gang!"

"Howly shmoke!" cried a familiar voice just behind the handcuffed youth.
"Pwhat are they doin' wid yez, Frankie, me b'y?"

"Yes," quavered another voice, likewise familiar, "what is this crazy
mob trying to do? This is something appalling!"

"Barney! Professor!" cried the boy, joyously. "Now I can prove that I am
what I claim to be!"

"I've got him!"

A big ruffian roared the words, as he fastened both hands upon the
manacled lad, and tried to drag him into the midst of the swaying mob.

"Thin take thot, ye spalpane!" shouted the Irish boy, who had appeared
in company with a little, red-whiskered man at the door of the station.

Out shot the hard fist of the young Irishman, and--smack!--it struck the
man fairly in the left eye, knocking him backward into the arms of the
one just behind him.

"It's toime ye got out av thot, me b'y," said Barney Mulloy, as he
grasped the imperiled youth by the collar, and drew him into the
waiting-room of the station.

"That's right, that's right!" fluttered the little man, who was
Professor Scotch. "Let's hurry out by the back door, the way we came in.
We were detained, so we did not arrive in time for the train, but we
came as quickly as we could."

"And arrived just in time," said Frank. "I am in a most appalling
position."

"Well, well!" fluttered the professor. "You can explain that later on.
Let's get away from here."

"Look!"

Frank held up his hands, and, for the first time, his friends saw the
irons on his wrists. They cried out in amazement.

"Pwhat th' ould b'y is th' m'anin' av thot?" demanded Barney Mulloy, in
the most profound astonishment.

"It means that I have been arrested; that's all."

"Pwhat fer?"

"Robbing, shooting, murdering."

"G'wan wid yez!"

"This is no time to joke, Frank," said Professor Scotch, reprovingly.
"Are you never able to restrain your propensity for making sport?"

"This is a sorry joke, professor. I am giving you the straight truth."

"But--but it is impossible--I declare it is!"

"It is the truth."

"Who arristed yez?" asked Barney, as if still doubtful that Frank really
meant what he was saying.

"A private detective, known as Burchel Jones. He surrendered me to the
sheriff of Canadian County, Hank Kildare. That's his voice you can hear
above the howling. He is trying to beat the mob back, so he can get me
to the jail before I am lynched."

"Before you are lynched!" gurgled the little professor, in a dazed way.
"What have you done that they should want to lynch you?"

"Nothing."

"Pwhat do they think ye have done?" asked Barney.

"I presume you have heard of Black Harry?"

"Yes."

"Well, they say I am that very interesting young gentleman."

Small man though he was, Professor Scotch had a deep, hoarse voice, and
he now let out a roar of disgust that drowned the stentorian tones of
Hank Kildare.

"This is the most outrageous thing I ever heard of!" fumed the
professor, in a rage. "Somebody shall suffer for it! You Black Harry!
Why, it is ridiculous!"

Barney Mulloy seemed to regard it as extremely funny, for he laughed
outright.

"Thot bates th' worruld!" he cried. "But it's dead aisy ye kin prove
ye're not Black Harry at all, at all!"

"I don't know about that. I have been identified."

"Pwhat's thot?"

"I have been recognized by a person who has seen Black Harry's face."

"Who is that fool person?" demanded Scotch, furiously. "Show me to him,
and let me give him a piece of my mind!"

"There is the person."

Frank pointed straight at Lona Dawson, who was regarding him with
horrified eyes from a distant corner of the waiting-room.

"Thot girrul?"

"The young lady?"

"Yes."

"Who is she?"

"Miss Dawson, daughter of Robert Dawson, the banker, whom Black Harry
shot during the train hold-up last night. Dawson tore the mask from the
young robber's face, and she saw it. A few moments ago she declared that
I was the wretch who shot her father."

The girl heard his words, and she started forward, panting fiercely:

"You are! You are! I will swear to it with my dying breath! I saw your
face plainly last night, and I can never forget it. You are the
murderous ruffian from whose face my father tore the mask!"

Professor Scotch was fairly staggered, but he quickly recovered, and
swiftly said:

"My dear young lady, I assure you that you have made the greatest
mistake of your life. I know this boy--I am his guardian. It is not
possible that he is Black Harry, for----"

"Were you with him last night?"

"No. We were----"

"Don't talk to me, then! Black Harry or not, he shot my father!"

"But--but--why, he would not do such a thing!"

"He did!"

It seemed that nothing could shake her belief.

"Av yez plaze, miss," said Barney, lifting his hat, and bowing politely,
"it's thot same b'y Oi have known a long toime. Oi went ter school with
thot lad, an' a whoiter b'y nivver drew a breath. He'd foight fer ye
till he died, av he didn't git killed, an' it's nivver would he shoot
anybody at all, at all, onless it wur in silf-definse. Oi give ye me
wurrud thot is th' truth, th' whole truth, an' nothing but th' truth."

The girl was unmoved.

"I have sworn to avenge my poor father!" she declared. "He shall not
escape!"

"It is useless to talk here," said Frank. "She believes she is right,
and her mind will not be changed till she sees the real Black Harry at
my side. It must be that the fellow is my double, and so my life will be
in peril till he is captured, and meets his just deserts. From this time
on for me it is a fight for life and honor."



CHAPTER V.

HURRIED TO JAIL.


At this moment another wild roar rose outside the station, telling that
something had again aroused the mob:

Hank Kildare was in the doorway, blocking it with his gigantic form, his
long-barreled revolvers holding the crowd at bay, while he hoarsely
cried:

"You galoots know me! Ef yer crowd me, some o' yer will take his
everlastin' dose o' lead!"

They dared not crowd him. He could hold them back at that point, but
there were other ways of reaching the interior of the waiting-room,
where the prisoner was.

"Ther back door!" howled a voice. "We kin git at him thet way!"

"Hear that?" fluttered Professor Scotch. "They're coming, Frank! We must
get out before they get in that way! Quick!"

He caught hold of the boy, and started to urge him toward the rear door;
but Lona Dawson placed herself squarely in their path, flinging up one
hand.

"Stop!" she cried, her eyes flashing. "You cannot pass! You shall not
escape!"

A look of admiration came into Frank's eyes, for she was very beautiful
at that moment.

"As you will," he bowed, gallantly. "I may get my neck stretched by
remaining, but your wish is law."

"Well, I like that!" roared the professor, in a manner that plainly
indicated he did not like it.

"Av ye choose ter make a fool av yersilf, Frank, it's not yer friends
thot will see ye do it in this case!" cried Barney.

The Irish lad grasped Frank by one arm, while the professor clutched the
other, and they were about to rush him toward the door, for all of any
opposition, when the door flew open with a bang, and a man pitched
headlong into the room. This person carried a bundle, which burst open
as he struck the floor, scattering its contents in all directions.

"Moses in der pulrushes!" exclaimed the nasal voice of Solomon Rosenbum,
and the Jew sat up in the midst of the wreck. "Dat vas vat I call comin'
in lifely, vid der accent on der lifely!"

"The dure!" shouted Barney. "They're coming round to get in thot way!"

The frightened station agent thrust his head out of an inner office, and
said:

"The door can be braced. The brace is just behind it."

Not a moment was to be lost, for the mob was at the very door, and would
be pouring into the station in a moment. Barney sprang for the heavy
brace, but he would have been too late if it had not been for the
singular Jew.

Solomon leaped to his feet, sprang for the door, and planted his foot
with terrific force in the stomach of the first man who was trying to
enter, hurling that individual back against those immediately behind.

"Good-tay!" cried the Jew. "Uf I don'd see you some more, vat vos der
tifference!"

Slam! The door went to solidly. Bang! The bar went against it, being
held in position by heavy cleats on both door and floor.

"Holdt der vort!" rasped Solomon, with great satisfaction. "Dot was very
well tone. I didn't vant dose beople comin' und drampin' all ofer mine
goots. Id vould haf ruint me."

The mob beat against the door, howling with baffled rage.

"Thot wur a narrow escape, Frankie, me b'y!" said Barney.

"That's what it was," admitted Frank, who realized that his chance for
life would have been less than one in a thousand if the crowd had burst
into the room.

"Vell, I don'd sharge nodding vor dat, uf you puy a goot pill uf goots
vrom me," said the Jew.

"The window!" came from Professor Scotch. "They are about to come
through the window!"

Crash! Jingle! Jangle! The window was smashed, and the mob was seen
swarming toward it.

Suddenly, Solomon Rosenbum sprang toward the opening, a revolver in his
hand.

"Holdt on, mine friendts!" he cried, waving the weapon. "Uf anypody
dried to get in py dis vindow, he vill ged shot, vid der accent on der
shot!"

"Begobs, thot is roight!" shouted Barney Mulloy, as he suddenly produced
a "gun," and took his place at Solomon's side. "Kape off, me jools, av
ye want ter kape whole skins!"

The mob hesitated. Thus it had been baffled at every turn, and the mad
heat of the moment was beginning to subside. Still, it could be aroused
again in a twinkling.

Hank Kildare alone could not have protected his prisoner from the crowd,
but he had done all one man could possibly do. Now, of a sudden, he
retreated into the station, closing and bolting the door.

"That," he said, with a breath of satisfaction, "so fur, everything is
all right. An' now it is ter see ef----"

He was interrupted by pistol shots outside, and bullets began whistling
in at the broken window.

With an exclamation of anger, the fearless sheriff flung his massive
body into the window, roaring:

"Hold up thar, you critters! Don't you know anything a tall? Thar is
ladies in hyar, an' yer might shoot 'em ef yer keep flingin' lead round
so promiscuous like!"

"We want Black Harry!" yelled a voice.

"Wa-al, ye'll hev ter want!" returned the sheriff. "You galoots know me
purty well, an' ye know I ain't in ther habit o' talkin' crooked. I
tells yer right yar an' now thet ye can't hev Black Harry. I offered
ther reward fer ther critter, an' I'm goin' ter hold him, you bet! He'll
be lodged in jail, ur Canadian County will be minus a sheriff!"

It was plain that his words impressed them, but they were reluctant to
give over the hope of lynching the boy prisoner.

"Look yere, Kildare," said a thin, wiry, iron-jawed man, who wore a huge
sombrero and leather breeches, "I'm Bill Buckhorn, o' 'Rapahoe, an'
thet's a place whar we don't 'low no critter like this yere Black Harry
ter go waltzin' round more then sixteen brief second by ther clock. We
ketches such cusses, an' then we takes 'em out an' shows 'em how ter do
a jog on empty air. Over in 'Rapahoe we allows thet thar is ther way ter
dispose o' sech cases, and I'm ready ter show you people o' Elreno ther
purtiest way ter tie a runnin' knot in a hemp necktie. Whatever is ther
use o' foolin' around an' dallyin' with ther law when it's right easy
ter git rid o' critters like this yere Black Harry without no trouble a
tall, an' make things lively in ther town at ther same time? Pass him
out, sheriff, an' I'll agree not ter do ye ary bit o' damage!"

"Wa-al, you are kind!" returned Kildare, contemptuously. "You're mighty
kind, an' I allows thet I 'preciates it. I reckons you galoots over in
thet forsaken, 'way-back, never-heard-of hole called 'Rapahoe sets
yerselves up fer a law unto ther rest o' Oklahoma an' all other parts o'
creation! You allows thar don't nobody else but you critters know what
is right an' proper, an' so you has ther cheek ter come over hyar an'
tell us what ter do! You even offers ter show me how ter tie a runnin'
knot in a rope, an' I will admit thet I've tied more knots o' thet kind
then you ever heard of! Take my advice, my gentle stranger frum
'Rapahoe, an' go get right off ther earth, afore something happens ter
yer which yer won't like none whatever!"

This bit of sarcasm was appreciated by the assembled citizens of Elreno,
and they raised a howl at Bill Buckhorn, scores of voices hurling
derisive epithets at the lank stranger.

Buckhorn grew intensely angry, and he howled:

"You galoots make me sick! You're short on fer hawse sense, an' thet's
plain enough!"

"Take a tumble!"

"Puckachee!"

"All right! All right!" cried the man from 'Rapahoe, waving his hands,
each of which clutched a huge revolver. "You kin run yer blamed old town
ter suit yerselves, an' I allows thet Black Harry fools yer all an' gits
erway! I hopes he does, an' I draws out o' this yere game right now."

He thrust his revolvers into leather holsters made to receive them, and
strode away, forcing a passage through the crowd, and pretending not to
hear the derisive epithets hurled at him.

Hank Kildare smiled, with grim satisfaction.

"Thet wuz ther best thing could hev happened," he muttered. "It took
their 'tention erway fer a minute, an' now it's likely I kin talk them
inter reason."

He tried it, without delay. He urged them to disperse, promising that
Black Harry should be lodged in Elreno jail, and properly tried for his
life.

"This yar lynchin' is bad business," concluded the sheriff. "I will
allow thet I hev taken a hand in more than one lynchin' party, but I'm
derned 'shamed o' it. Law is law, an' no gang o' human critters has a
right ter take ther law in their han's. I hev swore never ter let one o'
my prisoners be lynched, ef I kin help it, an' I'll set 'em free, an'
furnish 'em with guns ter fight fer their lives, afore I'll see 'em
strung up by a mob. At ther same time, I'd ruther be shot then forced
ter do such a thing."

Kildare was so well known that every one who heard him felt sure he was
not "talking wind," that being something he never did.

There was muttering in the crowd. The worst passions of the mob had been
aroused, and now it hated to be robbed of its prey.

"Hank Kildare means whatever he says," declared more than one. "He'll
fight ter hold Black Harry."

Some cursed Kildare, and that aroused the anger of the sheriff's
friends, so it seemed at one time as if the mob would fall into a
pitched battle among themselves.

"Let 'em fight," muttered the giant, who still held the broken window.
"Ef they git at it, I'll find some way ter slip 'em and put my man inter
ther jail."

But they did not fight. Kildare called on them to disperse, and a few
went away; but a great crowd lingered in sullen silence outside the
station, waiting and watching.

"They want ter git another look at Black Harry," muttered the sheriff,
knitting his brows. "Ef they do thet, they're likely ter break loose
again, like a lot o' wild tigers. How kin I make 'em disperse, so I kin
kerry him ter ther jail?"

"I will appeal to them," said a musical voice at his elbow.

He turned, and saw Lona Dawson there.

"You?"

"Yes. It is possible they will listen to me."

"They mought. I'd clean forgot you wuz hyar. Go ahead an' try yer luck,
little one."

He stepped aside, and she appeared in the window. The moment she was
seen, all muttering ceased in the crowd, and every one gave her
attention.

"Gentlemen," she began, speaking clearly and loud enough for all to
hear, "you must confess that I have as much interest as any one here in
seeing this youthful ruffian brought to justice. I do not wish to see
him lynched, but I wish him to receive such punishment as the law may
give him."

"Ther law is slow!" cried a voice.

"An' it often fails!" came from another direction.

"In this case there is no reason why it should fail, for there is proof
enough to convict Black Harry. It will not fail."

"He may escape from jail."

"That is not likely. Now, for my sake, I ask you all to disperse--to
allow the officers to take Black Harry to jail. If you do not disperse,
I shall remain here, and I will protect the prisoner with my own body
and my life, for I am determined that he shall be legally tried and
properly punished."

There was a moment of silence, and then a voice shouted:

"Thar's stuff fer yer, pards! Ther leetle gal has clean grit, an' I'm
fer doin' as she asks. Who's with me?"

"I am!" a hundred voices seemed to roar.

"Then come on. Good-by, leetle gal; we're goin'."

Every head was bared, and the crowd began to disperse with swiftness, so
that, in a very few minutes, all had departed.

Then came the deputy sheriffs, with horses, and arrangements for
conveying the prisoner to the jail were swiftly completed.

Frank had advised the professor and Barney not to be too outspoken, for
fear they might also be arrested. He advised them to keep quiet, but to
work for him to the best of their ability, and lose no time.

A handshake, a hurried parting, and the boy was borne away to jail.



CHAPTER VI.

SOLOMON SHOWS HIS NERVE.


The jail at Elreno was a wooden building, hastily constructed in the
feverish days of the early boom, with many weak points and few strong
ones.

Not for long were prisoners confined there, as "justice" in the new
Territory moved swiftly, and an arrest was quickly followed by a trial.

Hank Kildare and the guard moved swiftly with their prisoner, avoiding
the most public streets, and taking the boy to the jail by a roundabout
way.

It was well they did so, for, although the mob had dispersed, at the
request of Miss Dawson, the street along which it was believed the
sheriff would take Black Harry was thronged with citizens eager to get a
square look at the boy outlaw, who had become famous within ten days.

It is possible that Frank might have been taken along that street
without trouble, but it is much more likely that the sight of him would
have aroused the mob once more, and brought about another attempt at
lynching.

In fact, Bill Buckhorn, the man from 'Rapahoe, had gathered an
interested knot of tough-looking citizens about him, and he was dilating
on the "double derned foolishness" of wasting time over a person like
Black Harry by taking him to jail and giving him a trial.

"Over in 'Rapahoe we hang 'em first an' try 'em arterward," boastingly
declared the man in leather breeches. "We find that thar is ther
simplest way o' doin' business. Ef we makes a mistake, an' gits ther
wrong galoot, nobody ever kicks up much o' a row over it, fer we're
naterally lively over thar, an' we must hev somethin' ter 'muse us
'bout so often.

"Now, ef we hed ketched this yere Black Harry--wa'al, say! Great cats!
Does any critter hyar suspect thar'd been any monkey business with thet
thar young gent? Wa'al, thar wouldn't--none whatever. Ef we couldn't
found a tree handy, we'd hanged him ter ther corner o' a buildin', ur
any old thing high enough ter keep his feet up off ther dirt.

"Hyar in Elreno, ye'll take ther varmint ter jail, an' it's ten ter one
he'll break out afore twenty-four hours, arter which he'll thumb his
nasal protuberance at yer, an' go cayvortin' 'round after ther same old
style, seekin' whomsoever he kin sock a bullet inter. Then you'll hate
yerself, an' wish ye'd tooken my advice ter hang ther whelp, sheriff or
no sheriff. You hear me chirp!"

There were others who thought the same, and it was hinted that Hank
Kildare might not be able to take his prisoner to the jail, after all.

Burchel Jones, the private detective, was in the crowd, and he hustled
about, loudly proclaiming that he was the man who captured Black Harry.
Bill Buckhorn heard him, stopped him, looked him over searchingly.

"Look hyar!" cried the man from 'Rapahoe. "Is it a straight trail ye're
layin' fer us?"

"What do you mean by that?" asked the man with the foxy face, in a
puzzled way.

"Dern a tenderfoot thet can't understand plain United States!" snorted
Buckhorn. "Ther same is most disgustin', so says I! Ye've got ter talk
like a Sunday-school sharp, ur else ther onery critters don't hitch ter
yer meanin'. Wat I wants ter know, tenderfoot, is ef yer tells ther
truth w'en yer says yer roped Black Harry."

Jones stiffened up, assuming an air of injured dignity.

"The truth! Why, I can't tell anything but the truth! It's an insult to
hint that I tell anything but the truth!"

"W'at relation be you ter George?"

"George who?"

"Washington."

"Sir, this attempt at frivolity is unseemly! Why should it seem
remarkable for me to capture Black Harry?"

"Ef a galoot with his reputation let an onery tenderfoot like you rope
him, it brings him down in my estimation complete!"

"I took him by surprise. I clapped a loaded revolver to his head, and he
could do nothing but put up his hands."

"Wa'al, you might ram a loaded cannon up ag'in my head, an' then I'd
shoot yer six times afore you could pull ther trigger," boasted
Buckhorn. "Black Harry ain't got no license ter live arter this, an' I
thinks it's ther duty o' ther citizens o' this yere town ter git
tergether an' put him out o' his misery."

"That ith wight," drawled a voice that seemed to give the man from
'Rapahoe an electric shock. "The w'etch ith verwy dangerwous, and I
weally hope you will hang him wight away, don't yer know. It ith
dweadful to think that the cwecher might get away and stop a twain that
I wath on, and wob me of awl my money--it ith thimply dweadful!"

"Great cats!" howled Buckhorn, staring in amazement at the speaker. "Is
thar ary galoot hyar kin name thet critter?"

"Uf anypody vill name id, I vill gif id do 'em!" cried a nasal voice,
and Solomon Rosenbum, with his pack, newly bound up, was seen on the
edge of the crowd, having just arrived.

"My name, thir, ith Cholly Gwayson De Smythe," haughtily declared the
dude. "I do not apweciate youah inthulting manner, thir. I demand an
apology, thir!"

"Apology!" howled Buckhorn, looking savage. "Of me?"

"Ye-ye-yeth, thir," faltered Cholly, shivering.

"Wa'al, I'll be derned!"

"Do you apologize, thir?"

"Ter a thing like you? No!"

"Then I'll--I'll----"

"What?"

"Thee you lataw, thir."

And the dude took to his heels, breaking from the crowd and running for
dear life, literally tearing up the dust of the street in his frantic
effort to get away in a hurry.

"Haw!" snorted Bill Buckhorn. "See ther varmint go! I reckon I'll hurry
him up jest a little!"

Then the man from 'Rapahoe jerked out a big revolver, and sent three or
four bullets whistling past Cholly's ears, nearly frightening the poor
fellow out of his clothes.

Buckhorn supplied the revolver with fresh cartridges, at the same time
observing:

"Over in 'Rapahoe such a derned freak as thet thar would be a reg'ler
snap fer ther boys. They'd hev more fun with him then a funeral.
Somehow, this yere place seems dead slow, an' it makes me long ter go
back whar thar is a little sport now an' then."

"Vell," said the Jew, with apparent honesty, "v'y don'd you go pack?
Maype uf you sdop a vile, you don'd pe aple to do dat."

"Haw? What do you mean, Moses?"

"My name vas nod Moses."

"Wa'al, it oughter be, an' so I'll call yeh thet."

"All righd, Mouth; led her go."

"Wat's thet?" shouted Buckhorn, surprised. "Whatever did you call me
jest then, I want ter know."

"Mouth."

"Mouth!"

"Dat vas righd."

"Thet ain't my name."

"Vell, id oughter peen; your mouth vas der piggest bart uf you."

Buckhorn literally staggered. He looked as if he doubted his ears had
heard correctly, and then, noting that the crowd was beginning to laugh,
he leaped into the air, cracking his heels together, and roaring:

"Whoop! Thet settles you, Moses! You'll hev a chance ter attend your own
funeral ter-morre!"

The Jew quietly put down his pack, spat on his hands, and said:

"Shust come und see me, mine friendt, und I vill profe dat your mouth
vas der piggest bart uf you."

"I ain't goin' ter touch yer with my hands," declared the man from
'Rapahoe, once more producing the long-barreled revolver; "but I'll
shoot yer so full o' holes thet ye'll serve fer a milk-skimmer! Git down
on yer marrerbones an' pray!"

"Look here, mine friendt," calmly said the Jew, as the crowd began to
scatter to get out of the way of stray bullets, "uf you shood ad me, id
vill profe dat you vas a plowhardt und a cowart. Uf you shood ad me, der
beople uf dis blace vill haf a goot excuse to holdt a lynchings."

"Wa'al, I'm good fer this hull derned county! This town is too slow ter
skeer me any ter mention. Git down!"

"Uf I don'd do dat?"

"I'll shoot yer legs out from under yer clean up ter ther knees!"

"Vell, then, I subbose I vill haf to--do this!" Solomon had seemed on
the point of kneeling, but, instead of doing so, he ducked, leaped in
swiftly beneath the leveled revolver, caught Buckhorn by the wrist, and
wrenched the weapon from his hand, flinging it aside with the remark:

"I don'd vant to peen shot alretty, und, if you try dat again, you vill
ged hurt pad, vid der accent on der pad!"

Buckhorn seemed to be stupefied, and then, uttering another roar, he
lunged at the Jew, trying to grapple Solomon with his hands.

"I'll squeeze ther life out of yer!" snarled the ruffian.

"Oxcuse me uf I don'd lofe you vell enough to led you done that," said
the Jew, nimbly skipping aside. "Your nose shows you vas a greadt
trinker; shust dry my electric punch."

Crack! The knuckles of the Jew struck under the ear of the man from
'Rapahoe. It was a beautiful blow, and Buckhorn was knocked over in a
twinkling, striking heavily on his shoulder in the dust of the street.

The fall seemed to stun the man in leather breeches, but he soon sat up,
and then, seeing Solomon waiting for him to rise, he asked:

"Whar is it?"

"Vere vas vat?"

"Ther club you struck me with."

"Righd here," said the Jew, holding up his clinched hand.

"Haw! Ye don't mean ter say you didn't hit me with a club, or something
like a hunk o' quartz?"

"Dat vas der ding vat I hit you vid, mine friendt. Shust ged up, und I
vill profe id py hitting you again."

"Say!"

"Vell?"

"I don't allow thet I'm as well as I might be, an' I ain't spoiling' fer
trouble none whatever. I'm onter you. You're a perfessional pugilist in
disguise. If you'll let me git up, I'll go right away and let you
alone."

"Vell, ged up."

"You won't hit me when I do so?"

"Nod if you don'd tried some funny pusiness."

Buckhorn struggled to his feet, keeping a suspicious eye on Solomon all
the while. He then picked up his revolver, but made no offer to use it,
for the Jew was watching every movement, and he noted that Solomon had
one hand in his pocket.

"A critter thet knows tricks like he does, might be able ter shoot
'thout drawin'," muttered the man from 'Rapahoe. "I don't allow it'd be
healthy ter try a snap shot at him."

A roar of laughter broke from the spectators, as they saw the ruffian
put the revolver back into its holster, and turn away, like a whipped
puppy.

"Hayar, you mighty chief from 'Rapahoe," shouted a voice, "do yer find
this yar town so dead slow as yer did? Don't yer 'low yer'd best go back
ter 'Rapahoe, an' stay thar? Next time, we'll set ther dude tenderfoot
on yer, an' he'll everlastin'ly chaw yer up!"

"How low hev ther mighty fallen!" murmured Buckhorn, as he continued to
walk away.



CHAPTER VII.

IN JAIL.


Great was the disgust of the crowd when it was found that Hank Kildare
had taken his prisoner to jail without passing along the main street of
the town. It was declared a mean trick on Hank's part, and some excited
fellows were for resenting it by breaking into the jail at once and
bringing the boy out and "hangin' him up whar everybody could see him."

The ones who made this kind of talk had been "looking on the bug-juice
when it was red," and they finally contented themselves by growling and
taking another look.

In the meantime, Frank found himself confined in a cell, and he began to
realize that he was in a very bad scrape.

Throughout all the excitement at the railroad station, he had remained
cool and collected, but now, when he came to think the matter over, his
anger rose swiftly, and he felt that the whole business was most
outrageous.

Still, when he remembered everything, he did not wonder that the mob had
longed to lynch him.

Black Harry was a youthful desperado of the worst sort. He had
devastated, plundered, robbed, and murdered in a most infamous manner,
his last act being the shooting of Robert Dawson, the Eastern banker.

And Lona Dawson, the banker's daughter, had looked straight into our
hero's face and declared that he was Black Harry!

"It is a horrible mistake!" cried Frank, as he paced the cell into which
he had been thrust. "She believed she spoke the truth. This young
outlaw must resemble me. I cannot blame her."

The manacles chafed his wrists.

"Are they going to leave those things on me, now that they have me safe
in jail?" he cried.

His door opened into the corridor, and he called to the guard, asking
that the irons might be removed.

"I believe Hank has gone fer ther key," said the guard "He didn't take
it from ther detective what put them irons on yer."

"Will they be removed when he returns with the key?"

"I reckon."

"Then I hope he will hurry. I am tired of carrying the things."

He turned back, to pace the cell once more.

"This is a flimsily-constructed building," he said. "It would be an easy
thing to break in here and drag a prisoner out. I escaped death at the
hands of the mob because I had friends at hand to fight for me, and
because Hank Kildare is utterly fearless, and was determined to bring me
here. But the whole town may become aroused, and to-night---- What if
Robert Dawson should die!"

The thought fairly staggered him, for he knew the death of the wounded
banker would again inflame the passions of the citizens, and a night
raid might be made on the jail.

"They would stand a good show of forcing their way in here, and then it
would be all up with me."

It was a terrible thing to stand in peril of such a death. Frank felt
that he could not die thus; he would live to clear his honor.

But what could he do? He was helpless, and he could not fight for
himself. Must he remain impassive, and let events go on as they might?

"I do not believe fortune has deserted me," he whispered. "I shall be
given a chance to fight for myself."

It seemed long hours before the sheriff appeared, accompanied by Burchel
Jones, the foxy-faced private detective.

"Has he been disarmed?" cautiously asked Jones, as he peered at the boy
through the grating in the door.

"Yep," replied Kildare, shortly. "Do you think I'm in ther habit o'
monkeying with ther prisoners yar?"

"H'm! Ha! No, no--of course not! But, you see, this fellow is
dangerous--very dangerous. He is not to be trusted."

"Wa'al, he's been mild as milk sense he fell inter my hands."

"Trickery, my dear sir--base trickery! By the time you have handled so
many desperate criminals as I have, you will see through them like
glass."

Kildare grunted.

"Now," continued Jones, with the wisdom of an old owl, "mark the curl of
his lip, and the bold, defiant stare of the eye. Mark the covert smile
on that face, as if he were really laughing at us now. All those things
are significant--mighty significant. You do not dream of the treachery
hidden beneath that boyish exterior; but I, sir, can see by his eye that
he had rather cut a throat than eat a square meal. The peculiar shape of
his lips denote blood-thirstiness, and his nose, which seems rather
finely formed to the casual observer, is the nose of a person utterly
without conscience. His forehead indicates a certain order of
intelligence, but this simply makes him all the more dangerous. He has
brain power and force, and that explains why he has succeeded in
becoming a leader of desperadoes. That chin is a hard, cruel feature,
while the shape of his ears indicates an utter disregard for anything
sweet and harmonious of sound, like music. That is an ear which finds
more music in the shrieks of murdered victims than in anything else."

Frank literally staggered.

"Great Scott!" he gasped. "I never before dreamed that I was such a
villainous-looking creature!"

Kildare began fitting a key to the lock of the door.

"Are you sure he is disarmed?" asked the private detective.

"Yep."

"Well, you are at liberty to do as you like, but I should not remove
those irons. It would be far better to keep them on him."

"Why?"

"Well, you see--that is--hum!--ha!--such a creature cannot be held too
fast. There is no telling what he is liable to do."

Kildare gave a grunt of disgust, entered the cell, and removed the
manacles from Frank's wrists.

"Thank you," said the boy, gratefully. "They were beginning to get
irksome. I am glad to get them off."

"Ther man what calls hisself Professor Scotch has dispatched East fer
yer," said the sheriff. "He sw'ars thar has been a mistake made, an' he
kin prove you are what ye claim, an' not Black Harry at all."

"That can be easily proven," smiled Frank. "All we want is a little
time."

"Trickery! Trickery!" cried Jones from the corridor. "They will do their
best to get his neck out of the noose; but he is Black Harry, and I
shall receive the reward for his capture."

"You'll receive it when it is proved thet he is Black Harry, so don't
yer worry," growled Kildare, who had taken a strong dislike to the
foxy-faced detective.

"He has been identified by Miss Dawson; that is proof enough."

To this Kildare said nothing; but he spoke again to the boy:

"Make yerself as easy as yer kin, an' be shore ye'll hev a fair show
from Hank Kildare. Thar's talk in town about lynchin', but they don't
take yer out o' hyar so long as I kin handle a shootin' iron. I'm goin'
ter stay hyar ter-night, an' I'll be reddy fer 'em ef they come."

"Thank you again," said Frank, sincerely. "All I ask is a square deal
and a fair show. I know it looks black against me just now, but I'll
clear my honor."

Burchel Jones laughed, sneeringly.

Kildare said nothing more, but left the cell, locking the door behind
him.

At noon Frank was brought an assortment of food that made his eye bulge.
He asked if that was the regular fare in the jail, and was told it had
been sent in by his friends.

"The professor and Barney, God bless them! I wonder why they have left
me alone so long? But I know they are working for me."

It was late in the afternoon when Barney appeared, and was admitted to
the cell. The Irish lad gave Frank's hand a warm squeeze, and cried:

"It's Satan's own scrape, me lad; but we'll get ye out av it if th'
spalpanes will let yez alone ter-noight. Av they joomp yez, we'll be
here ter foight ter ther last gasp."

"I know you will, Barney!" said Frank, with deep feeling. "You are my
friend through thick and thin. But, say, do you think there is much
danger of lynchers to-night?"

"Av Mishter Dawson dies, there will be danger enough, and, at last
reports it wur said he could not live more than two ur thray hours."



CHAPTER VIII.

THE LYNCHERS.


When Barney returned to the hotel he found Professor Scotch in a very
agitated and anxious mood.

"This is terrible--terrible!" fluttered the little man, wringing his
hands. "How can we save him?"

"Phwat has happened now, profissor?" asked Barney, anxiously.

"I have received no reply to my telegrams."

"Kape aisy; the reploies may come lather on."

"And they may not till it is too late. I leaned out of the window a
short time ago, and I heard a crowd talking in the street below. That
horrible ruffian, Bill Buckhorn, was with them, and he was telling them
how to make an attack on the jail. Some of the crowd laughed, and said
Hank Kildare had been very slick about getting his prisoner under cover,
but he would not be able to keep him long after night came."

"Av they make an attack on th' jail, it's oursilves as should be theer
to foight fer Frankie," said the Irish lad, seriously.

"Fight!" roared Scotch, in his big, hoarse voice. "Why, I can't fight,
and you know it! I can't fight so much as an old woman! I am too
nervous--too excitable."

"Arrah! Oi think we have fergot how ye cowed Colonel La Salle Vallier,
th' champion foire-ater av New Orleans."

"No, I have not forgotten that; but I was mad, aroused, excited at the
time--I had completely forgotten myself."

"Forget yersilf now, profissor."

"I can't! I can't! It's no use! I would be in the way if I went to the
jail. I shall stay away."

The professor was an exceedingly timid man, as Barney very well knew, so
he did not add to his agitation by telling him that, while returning
from the jail, he had heard it hinted that the boy prisoner had two
friends in the hotel who might be treated to a "dose of hemp necktie."

The professor, however, suspected the truth, and he kept in his room.
Danger could not keep Barney there, and, having reported the result of
his conversation with Frank, he went out to learn what was going on.

Two persons very much in evidence since the arrival of the train were
the Jew and the dude. The Jew had a way of insinuating himself into the
midst of any little knot that was gathered aside from the general
throng, and, if they were speaking guardedly, he seemed sure to hear
what they were saying and enter into the conversation. As a rule, this
was not what would be called a "healthy" thing to do in such a place and
on such an occasion; but the report of Solomon's encounter with Bill
Buckhorn, the Man from 'Rapahoe, had been circulated freely, and the Jew
was tolerated for what he had done.

While he appeared very curious to hear anything that seemed like private
conversation, the Jew did not neglect any opportunity to transact
business, and he made so many trades during the day that the size of his
pack materially decreased.

The dude seemed scarcely less curious than the Jew. He had a way of
listening with his eyes and mouth wide open, but he lost no time in
getting out of the way if ordered to do so. For all of his curiosity, he
seemed very timid.

The day passed, and night came. Still Professor Scotch had received no
answers to his telegrams.

Shortly after nine o'clock that evening, the report spread rapidly that
Robert Dawson, the Eastern banker, was dead.

Immediately there was a swift and silent stirring of men--a significant
movement.

"Thot manes throuble!" was Barney Mulloy's mental exclamation. "Th'
sheriff should know av it."

The Irish lad believed that he was watched, but he hurried to the
professor's room, telling him to lock the door and keep within till the
storm was over, and then he slipped out of the hotel.

Barney did not hurry toward the jail at once, but he took a roundabout
course, dodging and doubling, to bother any one who might attempt to
follow him.

Finally, having doubled on his own course, he struck out for the jail.

There was a moon, but it was obscured at times by drifting clouds,
something rather unusual in that part of the country for a night that
was not stormy, and did not threaten to become so.

Coming suddenly to the main street of the town, which led straight from
the hotel to the jail, Barney paused and listened.

He heard a sound that caused his heart to beat faster, while he held his
breath and strained his ears.

Tramp! tramp! tramp! It was the swift and steady rush of many feet.

There was no sound of voices, but the crouching boy knew a body of men
was approaching.

Barney drew back, concealing himself as well as he could, and waited.

Nearer and nearer came the sound.

A cloud passed from the face of the moon, and then the watching boy saw
a band of men rushing swiftly past his place of concealment.

The men were masked, and all were armed.

They were moving straight toward the jail.

"Th' lynchers!" panted Barney. "They are afther Frankie! Oi must get to
th' joail ahead av thim!"

He ran back along the side street till he came to another that led in
the same direction as the one along which the mob was rushing. Turning
toward the jail, he ran as he had never ran before in all his life.

On the front door of the jail was a push-button that connected by a wire
with a gong within the building. A push on that button set the gong to
clamoring loudly.

"Rattle-ty-clang-clang! rattle-ty-clang!

"Wa'al, what's thet mean?" growled Hank Kildare, as he leaped up from
the couch on which he had been reclining lazily. "What derned fool is
punchin' away at thet thar button like he hed gone clean daft! Hyar ther
critter ring!"

Kildare looked at his revolvers, then picked up a short-barreled
shotgun, and went out into the corridor that led to the door. Reaching
the door, he shot open a small panel and shouted:

"Whatever do yer think ye're doin' out thar? Will yer stop thet thar
racket, ur shall I guv yer a dost out o' this yar gun!"

"Mr. Kildare, is thot yersilf?" panted a voice, which the sheriff had
heard before, and which he immediately recognized.

"Wa'al, 'tain't nobody else."

"Will yes be afther lettin' me in?"

"What's ther matter?"

"Th' lynchers are comin'!"

Kildare peered out, and the moon, which did not happen to be hidden at
that moment, showed him the boy who stood alone at the door.

Clank, clank, clank!--the sheriff shot back the bolts which held the
door, open it swung a bit, out shot his arm, and his fingers closed on
Barney Mulloy's shoulder.

Snap--the boy was jerked into the jail. Slam--the door closed, and the
bolts shot back into place.

"Howly shmoke!" gasped Barney. "Is it all togither Oi am, ur be Oi in
paces?"

"Ye're hyar," came in a growl from the sheriff's throat. "Now tell me
w'at yer mean by wakin' me an' kickin' up all this yar row."

"Th' lynchers are comin'."

"How do yer know?"

"Oi saw thim. Less than thray minutes ago."

"Where?"

"Back a short pace."

"How many of them?"

"I didn't count, but it's a clane hundred, sure."

Kildare asked Barney several more questions, and he was satisfied that
the boy spoke the truth.

The deputy sheriff had slept in the jail that night, and, together with
the guard, he was now at hand.

"Look out fer this yar boy," directed Kildare. "One o' yer git ther hose
ready. I'm goin' ter try my new arrangement fer repellin' an attack."

He rushed away.

The deputy sheriff, whose name was Gilson, opened a small square door in
the wall of the corridor, and dragged forth a coil of hose.

"Pwhat are ye goin' ter do with thot?" asked Barney, in surprise.

"Wait, an' ye'll see," was the reply.

Then the deputy spoke to the guard.

"Tyler, be ready ter let ther prisoner loose if the mob breaks in an'
gits past me. You kin tell by watchin'. You know it's Hank's order thet
ther cell be opened an' ther poor feller give a chance ter fight fer his
life."

"Where is he?" palpitated Barney. "Oi'll shtand by him till he doies!"

"Ye kin do better by stayin' hyar," declared the deputy. "Ye may be
needed."

Bang! bang! bang!

The lynchers had arrived, and they were hammering on the door. The gong
began to clang wildly.

"Open this door!"

"Why don't Hank turn on ther water up above?" came anxiously from the
lips of the deputy. "Kin it be thet his tank on ther roof has leaked
dry? Ef so, his new scheme fer repellin' an attackin' party won't work
very well."

"Open this door!" shouted a commanding voice outside.

The deputy sprang to the small panel and flung it open.

"What d'yer want yere?" he demanded.

"We want to come in," was the answer.

"Wa'al, yer can't."

"We'll agree to stay out on one condition. If you will pass out
something, we'll agree not to break in."

"What's ther something?"

"Black Harry."

"I reckoned so."

"Will you give him up?"

"No."

"Then we shall break down the door, and I warn you that it will be very
unfortunate if any of us is injured. It might bring about the lynching
of other parties besides Black Harry."

"Wa'al, I warn yer ter keep away from yere. We're goin' ter defend ther
prisoner regardless, an' somebody's bound ter git hurt."

"For the last time, will you open?"

"No."

"Down with the door!"

Crash! crash!--the assault on the door began.



CHAPTER IX.

THE ASSAULT ON THE JAIL.


"Why don't Hank put on ther water?" groaned the deputy sheriff. "Et'll
be too late in a minute!"

Crash! crash! The assailants were using a heavy battering ram, and the
door was beginning to give.

"Oi'm afraid it's all up with poor Frankie!" gasped Barney.

A wild yell came from the mad mob at the door.

"Death to Black Harry!"

Bang--splinter--crash! The door was breaking, and the battering-ram was
being driven against it with renewed force.

There was one last great shock, and down went the door before the
assault.

"No water yet!" cried Gilson. "Now it is too late!"

He flung down the hose, taking to his heels before the gang of masked
men that swarmed into the doorway.

Barney Mulloy heard a hissing noise, and then he leaped forward and
caught up the nozzle of the hose. He turned the large stop-cock, and a
bar of water shot out, striking the leader of the lynchers in the neck,
and hurling him, gasping and stunned, back into the arms of those
behind.

"Hurro!" trumpeted the Irish lad, in delight, his blood aroused. "Come
on, an' git washed off th' face av th' earth!"

This method of defense proved unpleasantly surprising to the attacking
party. The stream of water swept men off their feet and flung them,
half-drowned, back from the doorway into the night. In less than half a
minute Barney had cleared the doorway.

"Hurro!" he shouted, once more. "This is th' kind av sport! We'll howld
th' fort till th' last drop av warther is gone!"

There was a lull, and Hank Kildare came panting to the side of the lad
with the hose. When he saw the broken door an exclamation of dismay came
from the lips of the sheriff.

"Something wuz ther matter, so I couldn't turn ther water on," he said.
"An' now they've got ther door down!"

"But Oi bate 'em off!" shouted the Irish lad, triumphantly.

"They'll come in when ther water fails."

Barney had not thought of that, and his feeling of triumph turned to
anxiety and dismay.

"Pwhat kin we do?"

"Where is Gilson?"

"Th' spalpane run whin the dure wur broke."

"We might fight, but what if we did shoot down a few o' ther critters?
It w'u'dn't stop 'em, an' we'd hev killed somebody. Stay hyar--hold 'em
back long as yer kin."

"Pwhat are ye goin' ter do?"

"Git ther prisoner up onter ther roof. Mebbe we kin hold 'em back from
gittin' up thar."

"All roight. Oi'll do me bist here."

Kildare ran back along the corridor and disappeared.

Of a sudden rocks began to whistle about Barney's head, and then one
struck him, knocking him down. The nozzle of the hose fell from his
hands, and he lay prone and motionless on the floor.

Wild yells of savage delight broke from the mob.

Then, with a clatter of hoofs, a band of masked horsemen came tearing
down the street, whirled into the open space before the jail, and began
shooting into the mob. The horsemen were dressed in black, and every man
was masked.

"It's Black Harry's Braves!" screamed a voice that was full of fear.

Twenty voices took up the cry, and the mob, utterly demoralized, broke
and ran in all directions.

Some of the masked horsemen sprang from their animals and dashed into
the jail, springing over the prostrate body of the unconscious Irish
lad.

Kildare was removing Frank from his cell when those masked men came upon
them. In a moment the boy had been torn from the sheriff, and the men
whirled him away.

Out of the jail rushed Black Harry's Braves, the boy was placed astride
a horse, and away they went, with him in their midst.

Frank had believed them lynchers, and he thought them lynchers as they
bore him away.

"It's all up with me," he mentally said.

But his hands were free, and he was watching for an opportunity to
escape. He meant to make one more effort for life, if given an
opportunity.

Through the town tore the wild horsemen, yelling like so many fiends,
shooting to the right and left.

Out of Elreno they rode, and then the man on the right of Frank leaned
toward the boy, saying:

"We came just in time, chief. If we'd been ten minutes later, the
lynchers would have had you sure."

"The lynchers?" gasped the bewildered boy. "Why, you----"

"They had the door down when we reached the jail, but a dozen shots set
them scattering."

"But--but--I don't understand."

"We didn't mean to strike before midnight, but Benson brought word that
they were liable to lynch you, and so we lost no time in getting here.
We rode twenty miles like we were racing with an express train. You must
allow we did a good job this time, chief."

"Chief? Why I----"

Frank stopped short, choking the words back. At last he realized who
these men were.

They were Black Harry's Braves, and they believed him to be Black Harry!

He reeled upon the horse he bestrode.

"What's the matter?" asked the man, quickly. "Are you hurt any way?"

"No."

The boy's voice was hoarse and unnatural.

"What can I do?" he thought. "How long will it be before they discover
their mistake? I must keep up the deception, and I may find an
opportunity to escape."

In a moment he had recovered his composure. As old readers know, Frank
was a boy of nerve, and he began to feel very well satisfied with the
situation.

"I have escaped lynching," he thought, "and these men believe me their
leader. I am out of jail and now I shall be given a chance to fight for
my life and honor. In order to prove my own innocence, I must capture
Black Harry. This may lead me to the opportunity."

But for one thing his heart would have been filled with exultation. That
one thing was the memory of Barney Mulloy, whom he had seen lying prone
and motionless just within the broken door of the jail. Had they killed
his faithful friend?

He feared the Irish lad had met death while trying to hold back the
lynchers.

The outlaws did not seem to fear pursuit, and they slackened their pace
somewhat as soon as they were out of town.

"Where shall we go, chief?" asked one.

Frank was at a loss to answer, for he knew that a slip might betray him,
and he was determined to be on his guard all the time. His hesitation
was observed, and the man said:

"I reckon it will be safe to return to Cade's Canyon for a while."

"I reckon so," said Frank. "We'll go there."

"I warned you that you would make a mistake if you ventured into
Elreno," said the talkative outlaw, "but you were determined to have
another look at that girl, and so you took chances. Girls have caused
more trouble in this world than everything else combined."

"That's right," admitted Frank, who was wondering what girl the fellow
meant.

"Did you see her?" asked the man, with a sly chuckle.

"Oh, yes, of course."

"Ha, ha! I like the way you say that, chief. No offense, but Benson said
you saw her in the railway station as soon as you landed in Elreno."

Now Frank knew that Lona Dawson was meant.

"Yes," he said, "she was there, and she informed the public in general
that she had seen me before."

"I don't suppose you will bother with her any more, and so we'll move on
as soon as possible, and get out of this part of the country? It's
getting right hot here."

"It is all of that," admitted Frank; "but I am not for running away, as
if we were scared out."

"Well, you know our original plan."

"Certainly."

Frank spoke as if he knew it well enough, but he was wondering what it
could be. However, the man soon explained.

"We are to carry the expedition through into Indian Territory, and
disband when the Arkansas line is reached. Then we can scatter and defy
pursuit, and we can come together at Ochiltree, in the Panhandle, at the
time set."

Frank felt like thanking the fellow for the information.

"That's right," nodded the boy, speaking carefully; "but this little
affair has made me rather mad, and I don't feel like running away so
very fast."

"Especially from the girl."

"Hang the girl!"

Frank felt that it would not do to allow the fellow to become so
familiar.

"You didn't talk that way after seeing her last night. Why, you were
sorry we didn't carry her off when we left the train."

"Oh, well, a fellow has a right to change his mind. I have seen her by
daylight."

"And she didn't look so well?"

"Hardly."

"Still, she is something of a daisy."

"She'll do; but I can't waste my time with her. There are others."

"Now you're beginning to talk right, chief. The boys felt a little
doubtful of you when you went racing off after that girl, and they will
be mightily relieved to know you have come to your senses."

Frank grunted, but spoke no word. During the entire ride, he talked as
little as possible, but he kept his ears open.



CHAPTER X.

IN CADE'S CANYON.


The moon had swung far down to the west when the outlaws entered Cade's
Canyon amid the mountains and finally reached an old hut, where they
halted.

"You must be rather pegged, chief," said one of the men, addressing
Frank.

"Well, I am not feeling too frisky," said the boy. "I didn't sleep much
in Elreno jail, for I wanted to be wideawake when the lynchers came."

The men had removed their masks, but their faces were shaded by
wide-brimmed hats, and Frank was not able to study their features.
However, he had heard the voices of several, and he felt sure he would
not forget them.

He was not going to be in a hurry about escaping. There was plenty of
time, and he was beginning to believe that he must be the perfect double
of Black Harry, else why should these men be thus deceived?

He wondered if none of them would detect the difference when daylight
came.

"If they do--well, I can't be worse off than I was in Elreno jail. I'll
have weapons, and I can fight. I may be able to make it hot for them
before they down me."

Frank was reckless, and he felt a strange delight in the adventure
through which he was passing. Somehow, now that he had escaped being
lynched, he believed he would be successful in bringing Black Harry to
book and proving his own innocence.

Frank's first care was to obtain some revolvers, and he was soon in
possession of a pair of fine weapons. With these loaded and ready to his
hand, he breathed easier.

Of course he had no idea of sleeping, but he entered the hut and looked
the place over.

Morning was not far away, and the time soon passed, while Frank
pretended to sleep. At daybreak he was astir, and looking the place
over.

The cabin was built in a strange spot, standing close to the verge of a
chasm that opened down into the lower depths of the canyon, through
which ran a stream of water.

Dan Cade, the man who had built the cabin there, was said to have been
crazy. He had lived there years before the opening of Oklahoma to
settlement, and had died there in that wild gorge. His only friends were
the Indians, as he hated and mistrusted his own race.

It had often been remarked by those who passed through the canyon that
no man in his right mind would have built a cabin in such a place. It
looked as if the building was crouching on the verge of the chasm,
preparing to spring headlong into the creek below.

Here the outlaws had camped.

Frank found a flight of stairs that led to the cabin loft. They were
shaky, but he ascended to investigate.

There was a square door, shaped like a window, at the back end of the
cabin, and this the boy opened. He thrust his head out, and found he was
looking down the face of the bluff straight into the stream far below.

The light that shone into the loft revealed, to the boy's surprise and
wonder, a coil of rope. He examined this, and found a stout clasp-hook
at one end. The other end of the rope was made fast to a rafter.

For some time Frank wondered to what use old Cade had put the rope, but
it came to him at last.

"With this he drew his water from the stream down there."

This seemed evident, as there was no other apparent means of procuring
water.

The outlaws slept heavily, apparently fatigued by their exertions of the
night. They had left sentinels in both directions, up and down the
canyon, so that they could not be taken by surprise should they be
followed by enemies.

The sun had not risen when Frank went forth into the morning air.

The horses were tethered near the cabin, and a half-blood Indian was
watching them. As Frank approached, the half-blood peered out from
beneath the blanket, which was drawn up over his head. The boy saw the
fellow's beady eyes regarding him, and then the blanket was drawn
closer, indicating that the Indian was satisfied.

Once more Frank thought that he must be the perfect counterpart of Black
Harry, else he would arouse the suspicion of the fellow who owned those
eyes.

Frank believed it would be an easy thing to mount one of the horses and
ride away, as if he was going a short distance. He believed he could do
so without being challenged or questioned, and the desire to attempt it
was almost ungovernable.

Then came another thought.

Where could he go?

Surely he could not return to Elreno, for, now that he had been carried
away by Black Harry's Braves, he was branded in that town as the
youthful outlaw beyond the shadow of a doubt.

He did not know which way to turn, and the thought that his situation
was most remarkable forced itself upon him. If he remained among the
outlaws, they were liable to discover how they had been fooled, and that
would make them furious. If he escaped and hastened to any of the
nearby towns, it was pretty certain that he would be taken for Black
Harry and lynched.

"This is a real jolly scrape!" thought the boy, ruefully. "What can I
do?"

Well might he ask himself the question.

He walked a short distance down the canyon, and thought it over. The
impulse was on him to get away as soon as possible, but his sober
judgment told him that he would leap from the frying-pan into the fire.

Frank did not care to be lynched. He seemed helpless for the time.
Although he longed to fight for his honor, he was unable to strike a
blow.

The result of his walk was a determination to stay with the outlaws and
keep up the deception as long as he could.

Black Harry himself must appear sooner or later, and Frank longed to see
the young rascal whom he so much resembled.

Most boys would have improved the opportunity to get away, but Frank was
not built of ordinary material, and it was like him to do the
unexpected.

He strolled back to the cabin, seeming quite at his ease.

It was not far from sunrise, and the men began to stir. Several of them
came out of the hut, and a fire was built.

Of a sudden, from far up the canyon, came the musical blast of a bugle,
causing the outlaws to start and look at each other in surprise.

They listened, and it was repeated.

One of the men turned sharply on Frank, hoarsely crying:

"What does that mean?"

"I don't know," replied the boy, at the same time feeling for his
revolvers, with the idea that there was trouble on hand.

"It is your signal!" burst from the man's lips. "And that means
trickery! There is something wrong!"

"You're right!" cried several voices.

More of the braves came running out of the cabin, there was a hustling
for arms, and the men prepared for trouble.

"My signal?" repeated Frank, to himself. "By that he must mean it is the
signal of Black Harry! He is coming!"

Frank felt the blood tingling in his veins.

Black Harry was coming!

"Now," muttered Frank, "I shall have a chance to strike a blow for
myself! Let Black Harry come on!"



CHAPTER XI.

BLACK HARRY APPEARS.


There was a clatter of hoofs, and a doubly burdened horse swept into
view, bearing straight down upon the Braves, who were waiting as if
ready to fight or take to flight.

The horse was foam-flecked, and it was plain he had been driven to the
limit of his endurance.

The person who handled the reins was a youthful chap, and, as he came
nearer, Frank gasped with surprise.

"Cholly Grayson De Smythe, the dude! Is it possible?"

In his arms, held upon the horse, was a bundle, like a human form,
wrapped in a blanket.

The outlaws looked for a posse of armed men to follow the boyish
horseman, but he was not followed, and he did not hesitate or turn back
when he saw the party awaiting him.

Straight down upon them he rode, and Frank drew aside, shielding himself
behind one of the men.

"It can't be possible!" muttered Frank. "It's ridiculous!"

Straight down upon the desperadoes rode the dude, seeming utterly
fearless.

"Halt, thar!" cried one of the men, leveling a rifle at the young
horseman. "Hold up, ur chaw lead!"

The youth gave a surge that flung the horse upon its haunches.

"Steady Bolivar!" his voice rang out. "Would you shoot me?"

"Who be you?"

"Don't you know me? Ha, ha, ha! Well, I do not wonder. I'll look
different when I peel this mustache and wash off my make-up. I have her!
See here, boys!"

The blanket was flung back, and the face of Lona Dawson, the banker's
daughter, was revealed!

The girl was not unconscious, and she suddenly squirmed from the grasp
of her captor, slipped from the horse, and ran into the midst of the
outlaws, crying:

"Save me! Protect me!"

"Stop her, boys!" laughed the youth on the horse. "Don't let her get
away. I've had trouble enough, and taken risk enough to get her."

"Wa-al, who be you?" roared one of the band.

"Who am I? Look here; do you know this sign?"

He made a swift motion with his hand, and nearly every man cried:

"The chief's sign! But you are not the chief! He is here with us! You
are an impostor!"

"Am I? Look!"

He tore off a false wig, jerked away a false mustache, took a vial from
his pocket, turned some of its contents in his hand, and seemed to sweep
the make-up from his face.

The result was a wonderful transformation, and the face revealed was
almost exactly like that of Frank Merriwell.

The men stared in bewildered astonishment.

"It is the chief!" gurgled one of them.

"Of course I am," laughed the unmasked youth. "You wasted your time in
carrying off that other fellow who looks like me. Why didn't you leave
him to be lynched? Then the fools would have thought they had put Black
Harry out of the way."

"The other fellow?" repeated more than one of the men. "Who is the other
fellow?"

"He is the fellow who looks like me," laughed Black Harry, for the new
arrival was the boy chief of the marauders.

In the meantime, while this unmasking was taking place Frank had not
been idle. He had longed to meet Black Harry face to face, but now he
realized that his situation was perilous in the extreme. He must act at
once.

But the sight of the captive girl and her appeal for aid had bestirred
all the chivalry of his nature. He longed to do something to save her.

Swiftly moving near her, he suddenly caught her up, swung her over his
shoulder, and, with her held thus, regardless of the shriek of terror
that broke from her lips, he dashed straight for the open door of the
hut.

Cries of amazement broke from the lips of the outlaws.

"There he goes!" shouted Black Harry. "That is the fellow who looks like
me, and he has the girl! After him!"

The men leaped in pursuit.

Into the hut bounded Frank, and the door went to with a slam. The
foremost man, who flung himself against it, found it had been fastened.

"Well, we have him fast," said Black Harry, easily. "He can't get away
in a thousand years. We'll dig him out at our convenience."

The men now gathered round their boy chief, eager to hear his
explanation. It was difficult for them to realize that they had been
deceived--that the boy they rescued from the lynchers at Elreno jail was
not their leader.

"I was not fool enough to go into Elreno without disguising myself,"
said Harry. "I knew I should be recognized if I did. I fixed myself up
in the outfit I just threw off, and, with this English tourist rig and a
sissy lisp, I succeeded in deceiving everybody.

"You may imagine how surprised I was when I saw this other fellow, who
is nearly my perfect double. He took the train at Oklahoma City, and I
sat directly behind him. I was there when the private detective, Burchel
Jones, who fancies he is so shrewd, arrested him.

"If they had lynched him, I could have disappeared, and it would have
been thought that Black Harry had gone up the flume. But you fellows
thought that I was in the scrape, and you came round in time to save
him.

"I watched my opportunity to scoop the girl, and I have brought her
here, although I was hotly pursued for a time, and I did not know but
I'd have to drop her and get away alone. I succeeded in fooling the
pursuers, and I arrived here at last.

"My double and the girl for whom I have risked so much are in that hut.
I propose to break down the door and go in."

A wild shout came from the men. They were furious to think they had been
so wonderfully deceived.

"Down with the door!"

"Drag him out!"

"Shoot him!"

With a hoarse roar of rage the Braves rushed toward the cabin, and flung
themselves against the door, which went down with a crash, letting them
into the hut.



CHAPTER XII.

A CHANCE IN A THOUSAND.


Frank, with his usual daring and gallantry, had resolved to make an
effort to save the unfortunate girl--to rescue her from the clutch of
Black Harry.

Having determined on such an attempt, he lost no time in catching her up
and dashing into the hut with her in his arms.

Dropping her upon her feet, he whirled, slammed the door shut, found the
wooden bar with which old Cade had made it fast, dropped the bar into
its socket, and cried:

"Hurrah for us! This is the first step to freedom!"

Turning, he found the girl was leaning against the wall, staring at him
in a wondering way, but without fear being expressed on her handsome
face.

"I trust you are quite unharmed, Miss Dawson?" he said, swiftly. "My
unsavory double has----"

"He has not harmed me," she broke in, swiftly, "but I feel that I have
done you a harm I can never repair."

"Nonsense! How have you harmed me?"

"By declaring that you were the one who shot my father."

"You believed it when you said so, and that----"

"Yes, I believed it, but that is nothing that will lessen the injury I
did you. And to think of the terrible peril in which I placed you! Then,
when it was reported that father was dead, they were determined to lynch
you."

"And your father is not dead?"

"He was not when I last saw him, and the doctor said he might come out
all right."

"That is indeed fortunate."

"I heard them crying that he was dead, I saw them preparing to make an
assault on the jail, and I left father's side to stop them if I could."

"Brave girl!"

"Then it was that I fell into the hands of this wretch who brought me
here--the real Black Harry. He was waiting for an opportunity to capture
me--he told me so. He told me how I had imperiled the life of one who
was innocent, and he laughed at my horror and remorse. He is a heartless
creature!"

"He seems to be all of that."

"And you have placed your life in greater peril for me--you did so after
what I did to you! Why should you do such a thing?"

"Why, Miss Dawson, you were not to blame for thinking me Black Harry.
The fellow is my double, and I ought not to have a double. Do you
suppose I would think of leaving you in his power if there was any
possible way for me to save you?"

"You are a noble fellow! But you cannot save me--you cannot escape
yourself! They will soon break in here, and then----"

Frank was listening at the door, and he heard Black Harry complete his
explanation to his Braves, heard their wild cries, and knew they were
going to charge on the door.

"It will not stand before them!"

He looked around and saw the stairs.

"Up!" he cried to the girl. "Don't lose a moment!"

He motioned toward the stairs, and she ran toward them, hearing the roar
that came from the outlaws as they made the rush for the cabin.

"Come!" she panted, looking over her shoulder, and seeing Frank with a
revolver in either hand. "Don't stay there! They will kill you!"

"Up!" he shouted again. "I will follow!"

She sprang up the stairs, which creaked and swayed beneath her.

There was a great shock, and the cabin seemed to totter on the brink of
the chasm. Then the door fell, and the ruffians swarmed into the cabin.

Frank Merriwell was right behind the girl, and he seemed to lift her and
fling her into the loft.

"There they go!" rang the voice of the real Black Harry. "Up the
stairs!"

"This is no time for talk!" cried Frank, as he crouched at the head of
the flight, his teeth set, and the light of desperation in his eyes.

The braves came rushing up the stairs, and the boy above thrust out both
hands, each of which held a revolver.

Frank fired four shots, and the smoke shut out the faces of the fierce
rascals on the stairs. He heard cries of pain and the sound of falling
bodies.

"I didn't waste my bullets," came grimly from his lips.

But what could he do now? He had repulsed them for the time, but they
were in the cabin, and it would not be for long that he could keep them
back. They would soon find a way to reach him.

He leaped to the swinging window and flung it open, thrusting the
revolvers lightly into the side pockets of the coat he wore. He looked
down into the depths of the chasm, through which ran the stream of
water.

"It is a long distance down there," came hoarsely from the lad's lips.
"I will try it! It is our last hope."

With a bound, he caught up the coil of rope, then he rushed to the
window and flung it out. As one end was made fast to a rafter, it hung
dangling from the window.

Frank looked out, and he saw that the rope reached to the stream of
water.

At the same time, he heard Black Harry calling on his braves to follow
him up the stairs.

"Come!" said Frank, hurrying to the side of the girl, and grasping her
arm. "There is one chance in a thousand that we may do the trick and
escape alive. We'll make a try for that chance."

She did not question him, she did not hold back, but she bravely trusted
everything to his judgment.

Frank passed through the window in advance. He twisted the rope around
one leg, and he secured a good hold on it with his hands. Then he said
to the girl:

"Be lively now! Get through the window, put your arms about my neck,
cling for your life, and trust to Frank Merriwell and Providence."

She did so, and they were soon descending the rope.

Frank went down, hand under hand, as he did not dare slide at first,
knowing that his hands would be torn and bleeding, and that he must lose
his hold before the bottom was reached. With the twist about his leg to
aid him, he managed to sustain himself and his living burden very well.

The girl whispered in his ear:

"Courage! You are the noblest fellow I ever saw--the greatest hero in
the whole wide world!"

He made no reply, for his teeth were set, and he was mentally praying
for strength and time.

Down they went--down, down. And then, when nearly half the distance had
been covered, a shout came from above.

"Here they are! Ten thousand fiends! They shall not get away alive!"

It was the voice of Black Harry himself.

"Oh, for a little more time!" panted Frank.

But no more time was to be given him. He heard the voice of the boy
outlaw crying:

"Look up here, Frank Merriwell--look up! I have a little trick to show
you."

Frank looked upward, and he saw Black Harry leaning far out of the
window. A knife glittered in the hand of the young desperado.

"I am going to cut the rope!" came down to the ears of the boy and girl.
"Poor fools! Did you think to escape me! You will go down to your death
in the creek!"

Frank clung with one hand to the rope, although the strain was terrible.
With his other hand he drew one of the revolvers from his pocket, lifted
it, took aim, fired.

The weapon spoke just as Black Harry slashed at the rope.

There was a shriek of pain, a human body shot out from the window, and,
as it went whirling downward, the rope parted!

Then down shot Frank and Lona to fall into the stream. They struck where
the water was quite deep, and they were unharmed, although the girl was
unconscious when our hero bore her to solid ground.

As for Black Harry, he struck where some jagged rocks reared their heads
from the water, and he lay there, in a huddled heap, and dead, forever
past harming any living creature.

And yet, as was afterward discovered by examination, he had not been
touched by the bullet which Frank had fired up at him. He had been
startled by the shot, had lost his balance, and had fallen to his death.

Frank was trying to restore Lona to consciousness when he heard the
rattle of rifle and revolver shots, the sound coming down faintly from
above. Following it there was wild and continued cheering, and still
more shooting.

"It sounds like a battle," thought the boy. "I believe the outlaws have
been attacked."

He was right. For all that he fancied he had thrown his pursuers from
the trail, Black Harry had been tracked to Cade's Canyon. The guard was
captured while the assault on the hut was taking place, and then Hank
Kildare, at the head of the trailers, swept down on the astonished
braves.

The battle was short and sharp, and but few of the outlaws escaped. Some
were killed, and some were captured.

One of the captured ruffians told them where to find Black Harry, Frank
and the kidnaped girl.

Lariats were tied together, and a line was made long enough to reach the
bottom of the chasm.

Lona Dawson was drawn up first, and then Frank tied the rope about the
body of his double, permitting them to draw him to the top of the bluff.
Frank came up last, and he found the men from Elreno in a rather dazed
condition.

"Is thar two Black Harrys?" asked one, staring at the dead boy, and then
at his living counterpart.

"Moses in der pulrushes!" groaned Solomon Rosenbum, who was on hand.
"There vas only von, und he vas deat, vid der accent on der deat. Dat
leds me oudt, und I don'd vas aple to take him pack East vor murter."

"Take him back East for murder?" questioned a man. "What do you mean by
that."

"I mean that he is wanted in the East, and I have been tracking him for
the last two months," said the supposed Jew, suddenly speaking without a
trace of accent.

"Who are you?"

"I am Burchel Jones, a detective."

"Burchel Jones! Impossible! Jones was the fellow who arrested this boy
for Black Harry."

"That fellow was not Burchel Jones; he is an impostor, and he was
working for the reward offered for Black Harry's capture. If he is in
Elreno when we get back there, I shall have a little settlement with
him."

Then Lona Dawson, who had recovered, told them how bravely Frank had
fought for her, and the boy suddenly found himself regarded as a hero by
the very ones who had been fierce to lynch him a short time before.

"Hurro!" cried Barney Mulloy, who was on hand. "Oi knew ye'd come out at
th' top av th' hape in th' ind, Frankie, be b'y!"

And the delighted Irish boy gave his friend a "bear's hug."

It was a triumphant party that returned to Elreno. Lona Dawson was
restored to her wounded father, the body of Black Harry was placed on
exhibition, and Frank was cheered and stared at by admiring eyes
wherever he went.

The bogus detective heard what had happened in time to leave the place
and avoid meeting the real Burchel Jones.

Robert Dawson did not die from his wound. He recovered in time, but, as
he lay on his bed, with his daughter restored to him, he held out a hand
to Frank, who had been summoned to that room, saying, fervently:

"God bless you, young man! My daughter has told me everything. You shall
be rewarded by anything it is in my power to give you."

Frank laughed, his face flushing, as he gallantly returned:

"Mr. Dawson, I have already been rewarded by the pleasure it gave me to
be of service to your daughter in a time of peril."

A week later Frank and his friends continued their journey westward,
where fresh adventures awaited them.



CHAPTER XIII.

A THRILLING RESCUE.


"No, sir!" roared Professor Scotch, banging his clinched fist down on a
rough wooden table that stood in the only "hotel" of the town of Blake,
Utah. "I say no, and that settles it!"

"But," urged Frank, who sat opposite the little professor at the table,
"wait till I tell you----"

"You have told me enough, sir! I do not want to hear any more!"

Barney, who sat near, could restrain his merriment no longer.

"Begobs!" he cried; "th' profissor is on his ear this toime, Frankie, me
b'y. He manes business."

"That's exactly what I do!" came explosively from the little man's lips.
"It is my turn now. You boys have been having your own way right along,
and you have done nothing but run into scrape after scrape. It is
amazing the troubles you have been into and the dangers you have passed
through. Several times you have placed me in deadly peril, and but for
my coolness, my remarkable nerve, my extremely level head, I must have
been killed or gone insane long ago."

Both boys laughed.

"Allow me to compliment you on your remarkable nerve, professor,"
chuckled Frank. "You are bold as a lion--nit."

The final expressive word was spoken in an "aside," but the professor
heard it, as Frank had intended he should.

"Laugh, laugh, laugh!" shouted the little man, in a hoarse tone of
voice. "The time has passed when you can have fun with me; I decline to
permit you to have fun with me. I have decided to assert myself, and
right here is where I do it."

"Ye do thot, don't yez, profissor!" cried the Irish lad, in a way that
made the little man squirm.

"You can bet I do! Judging by the past, any one would think Frank my
guardian. They'd never dream I was his. He has gone where he pleased,
and done as he pleased. Look where he has dragged me! Where is this
forsaken hole on the face of the earth? It's somewhere in Utah."

"Blake is very easily located," said Frank, glibly. "Any schoolboy will
tell you it is in Eastern Utah, on the line of the Grand Western
Railway, at the point where the railroad crosses Green River. You are a
little rusty on such things, professor, and so you fancy everybody else
is as much a back number as yourself."

"Back number!" howled the little man, leaping into the air and dashing
his hat to the floor. "That is more than I can endure. You have passed
the limit."

Neither of the boys had ever before seen him so far forget his dignity
without greater provocation, and they were not a little surprised.

"Steady, professor," laughed Frank. "Don't fly off the handle."

"Howld onter yersilf, profissor," chuckled Barney. "Av ye don't, ye may
get broken."

"This is terrible!" cried the professor, his face crimson with anger.
"Frank Merriwell, you are an ungrateful, reckless, heartless young
rascal!"

"Oh, professor!"

Frank seemed deeply touched. He grew sober in a moment, out came his
handkerchief, he carried it to his eyes, and he began to sob in a
pitiful way.

Behind the handkerchief the mischievous lad was laughing still.

The professor rushed about the room a moment, and then he stopped,
staring at Frank and beginning to look distressed.

"That I--should--ev-ev-ever live--to--see--this sad--hour!" sobbed the
boy, with the handkerchief to his eyes. "That I should be called
ungrateful and heartless by a man I have loved and honored like--like
a--a sister! If my poor uncle had not died----"

"Goodness knows you cannot feel worse about that than I do!" came from
the little man's lips. "I suppose he fancied he was doing me a favor
when he appointed me your guardian and directed that I should accompany
you as your tutor in your travels over the world. Your tutor indeed!
Why, you insist on giving me points and information about every place we
visit. You do exactly as you please, and it is a wonder that either of
us is alive to-day. You have dragged us through the most deadly perils,
and now that I object when you want to go ranting away into a wild and
unexplored region of Southern Utah, where you say there dwells the last
remnant of the murderous and terrible Danites, you--you--you----"

"What have I done?" sobbed Frank.

"Why, you've--you've said----"

"What?"

"I don't remember now; but I'd give seventeen million dollars if Asher
Merriwell, your uncle, was living and had to travel around with you!"

"Now my heart is broken!" came mournfully from behind that handkerchief.

That was more than Scotch could stand. He edged nearer Frank, who fell
face downward on the table, still laughing, but pretending to quiver
with sobs.

"There, there, there!" fluttered the little man, patting the boy on the
shoulder. "Don't feel so bad about it."

"I--I can't help it."

"Oh, I didn't mean anything--really I didn't. I'll take it back,
and----"

"Your cruel words have pierced my tender heart as the spear of the
fisherman pierceth the unwary flounder."

"I was too hasty--altogether too hasty."

"That does not heal the bleeding wound."

"Oh, well, say--I'll do most anything to----"

"Will you permit me to go on this expedition?"

"No, never!" cried the little man. "There is a limit, and that is too
much."

"But you have not heard the story of this Walter Clyde, to whom I owe my
very life," said Frank, pretending to dry his eyes with the
handkerchief.

"You owe what?" shouted the professor, astonished. "How do you owe him
so much?"

"Well, sir," spoke the boy, "it was like this: I had fallen into the
hands of a band of murderous ruffians, and----"

"When did this occur?"

"At about half past six. Please do not interrupt me again. These
ruffians, after relieving me of my valuables and wearing apparel, so
that I was clad in nothing but a loose-fitting suit of air, proceeded,
with fiendish design, to tie me to the railroad track."

"Terrible!" gasped Scotch, his face pale and horrified. "But where did
this take place?"

"Directly on the line of the railroad. Will you be good enough not to
interrupt! I was helpless in their power, and I could do nothing to save
myself. I begged them to spare me, but they laughed at my entreaties."

"The wretches!" roared the little professor. "Ah! Er! Excuse me for
breaking in."

"Having tied me firmly across the polished rails," continued Frank,
growing dramatic in his method of relating the yarn, "they told me the
express would be along in fifteen minutes, and then they left me to my
fate."

"The dastardly scoun---- Beg pardon! Go on! go on!"

"I tried to wrench myself free, but it was impossible; they had tied the
knots well, and I began to believe I was doomed. The rail sang beneath
my head, and I knew the express was approaching at terrible speed."

"This is too much--too much!" groaned the little man, flopping down on a
chair. "It actually overcomes me!"

"I fully expected the express would come over me," the boy went on. "I
gave up hope. Looking along the track, I saw the engine swoop into view
round a curve in the road. Down upon me with the speed of the wind it
swept."

No sound but a groan came from the lips of Professor Scotch.

"Staring with horrified eyes and benumbed senses at the engine, I heard
it shriek a wild note of warning. I had been seen! But the train was on
a down grade, and it could not stop in time. I was doomed just the
same."

The professor was ready to fall off his chair.

"Then," cried Frank, dramatically, "out along the side of the engine
crept a boy, who carried something in his hand. That boy was Walter
Clyde, to whom I owe my very life. The something he carried in his hand
was a lasso, and with that he saved me."

"How--how could he do it?" palpitated the professor. "You were tied to
the track!"

"Yes, but Walter Clyde is an ingenious fellow, and he saw how to get
around that difficulty."

"But how--how?"

"Well, close beside the railroad was the stump of a great tree that had
been cut down. I saw him point at it, and above the roar of the train I
heard him shriek for me to lift my head and look at it."

"Yes, yes! Go on!"

"I saw him whirling the lasso-noose about his head, making ready for the
cast, having first hitched the other ends to the cow-catcher of the
locomotive."

"Well, well?"

"I lifted my head as high as possible, and I saw the noose shoot through
the air. Excuse me while I shudder a few seconds!"

"Did he drag you from the track in time?" shouted the professor. "Did
the noose fall over your head?"

"No," answered Frank; "but it fell over that stump, and, when the
express reached the end of the lariat, having come so near that the nose
of the pilot brushed my hair, the lariat brought up. It was a good stout
rope, and it yanked that engine off the track in a second, and piled the
entire train in the ditch. I was saved--saved by a brave boy, and only
forty of the passengers on the train were killed."

Professor Scotch gasped for breath and sank from his chair to the
floor.



CHAPTER XIV.

WALTER CLYDE'S STORY.


Barney Mulloy had been holding on to keep from shouting with laughter,
and now he exploded.

"Ha! ha! ha!" he roared. "Pwhat do yez think av thot, profissor? Thot
wur th' narrowest escape ivver hearrud av, ur Oi'm a loier!"

"Send for the undertaker!" came in a hollow groan from the lips of the
professor.

"You do not seem to feel well?" said Frank, hastening to the man's
assistance. "What is the trouble?"

"If I die of heart failure you will be responsible!" fiercely grated
Scotch.

"Doie!" cried Barney. "Whoy, ye'll live ter pick daisies on yer own
grave, profissor."

"This is terrible!" faintly rumbled the little man, as he regained his
chair, and began to mop cold perspiration from his face with a
handkerchief.

There was a knock at the door.

"Come in," cried Frank.

The door opened, and a boy about seventeen years of age entered the
room. He was a slender, delicate-appearing fellow, but he had a good
face and steady eyes.

"Hurrah!" cried Frank. "Here is my preserver! Professor Scotch, permit
me to introduce you to Mr. Walter Clyde."

The professor held out a limp hand to the boy, saying:

"Excuse me if I do not rise. Frank just robbed me of strength by telling
how you saved his life by derailing an express train and killing forty
passengers."

Clyde was quick to catch on. A faint look of astonishment was followed
by a smile, and he said:

"Mr. Merriwell is mistaken."

"Ha!" cried the professor. "Then you denounce the whole story as false?"

"I said Mr. Merriwell was mistaken--but thirty-nine passengers were
killed," said the newcomer, who had caught the end of Frank's yarn.

The professor came near having a fit, and Barney Mulloy held onto his
sides, convulsed with merriment.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Clyde," said Frank. "I may have stretched the
yarn a trifle."

"Just a trifle!" muttered the professor.

"If I had used giant-powder instead of dynamite in blowing up the
track," said Clyde, "it is possible there might have been a smaller loss
of life."

"But you did not blow up the track at all," hastily put in Frank. "You
yanked the train off the rails with a lasso."

"So I did! I was thinking of another case. In this instance, if I had
not stood so far from the railroad----"

"But you were on the pilot of the engine."

"Was I? So I was. Excuse me if I do not attempt any further
explanations."

Then the three boys laughed heartily, and the professor was forced to
join in at last.

Having restored Scotch to good nature, Frank requested Walter Clyde to
tell his story. Clyde's face clouded a little, and he slowly said:

"I will tell it briefly. Years ago, when I was a very small child, my
father left his home in the East to make a trip to California. Business
called him out there, and, on his way, he entered this Territory. He
never reached California.

"My father had a deadly enemy--a man who had sworn to kill him some
day. That man's name was Uric Dugan. Father had been instrumental in
sending him to prison for robbery, but he had escaped, fled to the West,
and, it was said, joined the Mormons.

"Fate led Uric Dugan and my father to meet in Utah. What happened then
is known to Dugan alone. Months passed, and mother heard no word from
father. She grew thin and pale and desperate. At length, a letter came
to her. It was from Uric Dugan.

"That letter told my mother that father had died in a living tomb, where
he had been placed and kept by Dugan till he went mad. Dugan gloated
over his frightful crime. He told how father had raved in his delirium,
called wildly for his wife and his boy, and how her name was last on his
lips when he died."

"The monster!" broke in Professor Scotch, who was intensely interested.

"He was in truth a monster," agreed Clyde. "The effect of that letter on
my mother was terrible. It nearly drove her mad, and she was ill a long
time. When she recovered, she took measures to find and punish Dugan,
but she never succeeded. She learned, however, that Dugan, after joining
the Mormons, had been one of that terrible organization known as the
Danites. He had disappeared, and no trace of him could be found.

"The detective who was in my mother's employ was aided by an old guide,
miner, and fortune-hunter in general, known as Ben Barr. Barr learned
the whole story of my father's disappearance, and it happened that he
knew Uric Dugan--that Dugan had once done him an injury. He took a great
interest in the case, and did his best to trace the man. As I have said,
Dugan was not found, nor did the detective learn anything further of my
father.

"Years passed, and I grew up. The years wrought their changes in Utah,
and the Destroying Angels ceased to be a menace to every Gentile in the
Territory. The younger Mormons regretted that such an organization had
ever existed, and had been in any way connected with the Mormon Church.
Danites who had been powerful and feared, found their former friends
turning against them. Even the Mormon Church pretended to denounce them.
John D. Lee, chief in the Mountain Meadow butchery, was captured, tried,
found guilty, and shot. There were others as guilty as Lee, and they,
who had been the hunters, found themselves hunted. They fled to the
mountains, hid, disguised themselves, changed their names, and did
everything they could to escape retributive justice.

"It seems that Dugan was still with them, and he found himself a
fugitive like the others. Somewhere in Southern Utah, west of the
Colorado, and amid the wild mountains that are to be found to the north
of the Escalante River, the hunted Danites found a home where they
believed they would be safe from pursuit, and there the last remnant of
the once terrible Destroying Angels are living to-day.

"In his wanderings, Ben Barr came upon this retreat of the Danites, and
there he saw Uric Dugan, who is now the chief of the band. Barr barely
escaped with his life, and he lost no time in writing to my mother,
telling her what he had discovered.

"This was enough to revive old memories and set mother to brooding over
it. Her health was not very good, and I am sure that she worried herself
to death. Before she died she told me of a dream that had come to her
for three successive nights. In that dream she had seen my father, and
he was still living, although he was unable to return to her. Just why
he could not return was not very clear, but it was because of Dugan.

"As she was dying, my mother called me to her side and told me of the
dream. 'My boy,' she said, 'I know your father is still living, and I
want you to find him. Something has told me that you will be successful.
Promise me that when I am gone you will not rest until you have found
him or have satisfied yourself beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is
dead.'

"I gave that promise, and I am here to search for my father and for Uric
Dugan. If father is not living, I may be able to avenge him, and that
will set me at rest.

"By accident I was thrown in with Mr. Merriwell, and we became somewhat
friendly. I told him my story, and he was intensely interested in it. He
asked me to let him go along. I did not refuse, and he said he would
obtain your consent. That is all."

"Young man," said Professor Scotch, "I sympathize with you, and I
sincerely hope you may be successful; but I do not care to have Frank
thrust himself into such perils as you may encounter on that search."

"Hold on, professor!" cried Frank. "Just wait and----"

Scotch waved his hand.

"The time has come for me to assert my authority," he said, sternly;
"and I propose to assert it."

"You will not let me go?"

"No, sir!"

"All right. You'll be sorry, professor."

"That sounds like a threat, young man. Don't threaten me. This search
looks like a wild-goose chase. How do you propose to reach this retreat
of the Danites?" he asked, turning to Clyde.

"By cruising down the river in a strong boat which I have bought and
provisioned for the trip."

"And did you boys think of going alone?"

"Oh no."

"Who was going with you?"

"Two explorers."

"Their names."

"Colton Graves and Caleb Kerney."

"What do you know about them?"

"Nothing, except that they wish to take a cruise through the canyons."

"Young man," said the professor, "let me give you a bit of advice."

But before he could do so there came a sharp knock on the door.



CHAPTER XV.

PROFESSOR SEPTEMAS SCUDMORE.


The door opened with a quick, jerky movement immediately after the
knock, and, without waiting to be invited to enter, a tall, angular,
thin-legged, knock-kneed man walked into the room with a peculiar
movement that seemed to indicate that his legs were in danger of
breaking at every step.

This man had a very long, thin neck, on which was set a long, narrow
head, crowned with an out-of-date silk hat. He wore a suit of rusty
black, a flaring high collar, that was sadly wilted and lay out over the
collar of his coat, and a black string necktie, which was tied in a
careless knot. His face was shaven smooth, and a pair of gold-bowed
spectacles clung convulsively to the end of a long, thin nose.

"Excuse me," he said, in a high-pitched, cracked tin-pan sort of voice.
"I seek a fellow laborer in the field of science. You know the Good Book
says: 'Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.' I
knocked--didn't stop for it to be opened--am in a hurry. Ahem!
You"--pointing a long, slim finger at Scotch--"you must be the one I
seek."

The little professor looked startled.

"What have I ever done to you?" he asked, hesitatingly.

"Not anything, my dear sir, but I believe you are Professor Scotch, are
you not?"

"That is right; but I do not know you, sir."

"I am Professor Septemas Scudmore, of Pudville Classical Institute, in
the State of Ohio."

"Never heard of you, sir."

"And I never heard of you till a few moments ago, when one of the polite
and obliging citizens told me you were here, and asked me why I did not
call on you, as you seemed to be a bigger fool than I am, and we might
make good company for each other."

"What's that?" roared Scotch. "Who dared to say anything like that? The
insulting wretch!"

Professor Scudmore waved a long, lank hand at the little man.

"Do not get agitated," he chirped. "It is not well for a man of your
years. You should preserve a calm and even demeanor. Excuse me if I do
not always follow my own teaching. We tutors never do."

Scotch stared at the strange man as if doubting his sanity.

"You seem to enjoy being called a fool!" he growled.

"Not at all--not at all. But I have been called that so much that I do
not mind it. Genius is ever regarded as folly till it astounds the
world. I am a man of genius. You may think that is boasting, but I
assure you it is not. I am naturally modest--very modest. But I have
found that, in order to be thought anything of by others, I must think
well of myself. I am so exceeding frank and honest that I never hide my
thoughts, therefore, I tell you candidly what I think of myself."

"Well, well!"

"It is possible you do not believe in this sort of thing--few do.
Duplicity I despise. You are not a man of genius yourself, but you have
led others to think you pretty smart, and you have succeeded in getting
through the world thus far pretty easy. You are naturally slothful; in
fact, I may say you are lazy, and you----"

"Hold on there!" thundered the little man. "You may be as frank as you
please about yourself, but you had better be careful what you say about
me!"

"Touchy, eh?" sniffed Septemas Scudmore. "Not strange at all. Studious
inclination, close application to work, baffling researches, midnight
oil--these things irritate the nerves and make a man crusty. But then, I
don't think you ever hurt yourself by close application to work. You
must be naturally irritable."

Professor Scotch pranced up and down the room like an angry bantam.

"Sir," he cried, "you are altogether too free with your mouth."

"The Scudmores are naturally generous, so I can't help it. Keep calm,
sir. In some things we have an affinity. I can see it in your eye. I did
not anticipate meeting an affinity out here in this wild and heathenish
country."

"Affinity!" cried Scotch, scornfully. "A man with your tongue would be
an affinity for a cackling old woman!"

"That is your hastily formed opinion. Permit me to warn you against
forming opinions too quickly. It is a bad habit to get into, and----"

"Sir!" shouted the little man, "there is the door!"

Scudmore bowed profoundly.

"I noticed it when I came in," he chirped. "Very ordinary door, but I
don't suppose we can expect anything better out in this wild section of
the country."

Scotch was ready to tear his hair.

"Will you take a hint, or do you need a kick?" he bellowed, in his
hoarsest tone.

"A man with hair and whiskers colored like yours should always beware of
undue excitement. Don't think of kicking anybody, for you may lose your
dignity. Speaking about aërial navigation, beyond the shadow of a
doubt, I, Septemas Scudmore, A. M., B. A., LL. D., and B. C, have solved
the problem. I say beyond the shadow of a doubt, and I mean exactly what
I say. It is not a matter of fans and wheels----"

"I think it is a matter of wheels," broke in Scotch, "and they are in
your head."

Scudmore waved one thin hand loftily, his nose high in the air.

"Peace, professor, peace," he said. "It ill becomes you to interrupt a
fellow scientist. Hear me out."

"I had much rather see you out--of the door."

"I see you are skeptical--you doubt the practical and practicable value
of my invention. But you shall be convinced--you shall be my fellow
passenger on my first voyage through space."

"Not if I know myself!" shouted the little man. "You may be a fool,
but----"

"There are others, sir--there are others. I beg you to grant me this
favor. Think what an honor it will be to have it go abroad that you
accompanied Professor Septemas Scudmore on his first voyage in his new
airship."

"Oh, you make me very languid!" cried the little man, using a bit of
slang which he had heard from the lips of one of his youthful
companions.

"I am shocked--shocked beyond measure," declared the lank professor,
sinking his chin upon his bosom and looking reproachfully over his
spectacles at Scotch.

The three boys were enjoying this immensely. It was sport to Frank, who
saw in Septemas Scudmore a character worth studying. Barney laughed
heartily.

"Begorra!" cried the Irish lad, "it's shocked we all are. Th' profissor
has gone crazy, sure."

"If I have, it is not surprising, after what I have passed through. It
has been enough to drive any man insane."

"I fancy you are a person whose brain would not stand a severe strain,"
put in Scudmore.

"Oh, you do! Well, I have stood just all of this I can from you! There
is the door--get out!"

"And you decline the honor I have attempted to confer upon you?"

"I decline to talk further with a crank. Get out!"

Septemas Scudmore shook his head dolefully.

"I will do as you have so politely requested; but you will regret this
to your dying day. I shall hold no hardness against you. In fact, I am
sorry for you, as you----"

The little man could stand no more, and he actually drove Scudmore from
the room. When he came back, he found the boys laughing heartily, and
this caused him to drive them out also.

"It is doubtful if he will consent to allow me to accompany you, Clyde,"
said Frank, when they were outside. "He is an obstinate man when he sets
his mind on anything."

"Well," declared Walter, "I am sorry. We met by accident, and I took to
you in a moment. When you had heard my story and expressed a desire to
accompany me on my search for Uric Dugan, I was delighted."

"And I had no idea the professor would object. This is the first time he
has done anything of the sort; but it is true that we have run into many
perilous adventures, and he wishes to prevent such things in future."

"Whoy not run away an' go, Frankie?" asked Barney, whose thirst for
adventure was whetted to a keen edge. "It's mesilf thot would loike to
go hunting fer this colony av Danites."

Frank shook his head.

"I hardly feel like doing that," he said. "There is a bare chance that
the professor will relent. We will wait and see."

"There can be little waiting," said Clyde. "I start in the morning.
Everything is ready, and Graves and Kerney are eager to be off."

"Well, we'll see what the next few hours will bring forth."

Little did they dream of the surprising things the next few hours would
bring forth.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE MAD INVENTOR.


Frank and Barney were strolling about the place when they came upon
Professor Scudmore.

"Ha, young gentlemen!" cried the eccentric old fellow; "come with me. I
am about to start upon my trial voyage. The _Eagle_ is inflated and
ready to soar. I wish you to witness my triumph."

He took them outside the town to a secluded glen, in which was an old
cabin and a huge, odd-shaped arrangement of silk, fine wires, and
wickerwork. It was, in fact, a balloon, shaped like an egg, and inflated
with gas. To it was attached a large and comfortable car, and there were
two huge fore and aft rudders, together with some fan-like arrangements
that seemed to be sails. This strange contrivance was secured to the
ground by strong ropes.

"There!" cried Scudmore; "you now behold the _Eagle_, a flying-machine
that will fly, or, rather, sail. With the wind it will travel at
wonderful speed, and it can beat to windward like a vessel. I have been
at work upon it for years. Some time ago I perfected it, and I brought
it here for my trial voyage. I have set it up and inflated it without
attracting attention or advertising myself. I should not have called on
Professor Scotch, but I was full of enthusiasm, and thought it would be
a fine thing to have an eminent man like him accompany me on my first
voyage."

The boys looked at each other.

"Phwat do yez think av it, Frankie?" asked Barney.

"Can't tell," was the reply. "Let's look her over."

"That's right, look her over," urged Professor Scudmore. "I am going to
start at once, but I must first get aboard a few things that are in this
hut."

So the boys examined the airship, while the inventor brought bundles
from the hut and placed them in the car.

"Phwat do yez think now?" asked Barney, when they had looked it over
quite thoroughly. "Will she sail?"

"She will rise in the air, like an ordinary balloon," said Frank; "but I
am not satisfied that the rudders and sails will work."

"I will soon satisfy you on that point," said the professor, who
happened to be near enough to overhear their words.

Immediately he set about explaining everything in connection with the
handling of the singular craft, and it did not take him long to make it
seem an assured thing that the _Eagle_ could be steered in almost any
direction, and that, with the aid of horizontal rudders, she could be
brought to the ground or sent soaring into the air, without a change of
ballast or the body of gas.

Frank was intensely interested.

"It is remarkable, professor!" he cried. "Scotch made a mistake when he
refused to accompany you on your trial trip."

"Ha! You are a boy of sense! Saw it the first time my eye rested on you.
I will make you famous."

Frank looked surprised.

"How?"

"You shall accompany me on my trial trip."

"How long will it be?"

"As long, or as short as we choose to make it. What do you say? Decide
quickly. I am eager to be off."

"Can you take Barney along?"

"I can, but two is enough. I do not care for too many."

"Can you drop us in Blake by nightfall?"

"Yes."

"Well, if you will take us both, we'll go along, professor."

Scudmore considered, his right elbow resting in the hollow of his left
hand, the long forefinger of his right hand touching his forehead.

"I will do it!" he cried, with a snap. "Get in. We'll lose no more time.
In a few moments we shall be sailing away like a bird."

"Here goes, Frankie," grinned the Irish lad. "Av we're both killed, Oi
want yez to tell me ould mither how Oi died."

They entered the car, and Scudmore prepared to cast off. He was full of
anxiety and excitement.

At length but a single rope held the now swaying and surging air ship to
the ground.

"Here goes the last strand that ties us to earth!" cried the professor,
as, with the slash of a knife he severed the rope.

Up shot the air ship.

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the inventor. "Who said I would fail! We are off!"

"Thot's all right," muttered Barney; "but will we ivver come back?"

"Look!" cried Frank, pointing downward; "there is Professor Scotch! We
are already passing over the town."

It was true; in a remarkably brief space of time the air ship had sailed
out of the glen and was rising above the town. Looking downward, they
saw Professor Scotch and a number of persons, including Walter Clyde and
two rough-looking companions, staring up at the _Eagle_.

"Good-by, professor," shouted Frank, leaning out of the car and waving
his hat. "We're off in search of the last of the Danites."

They saw the professor dance wildly around and beckon to them. Then his
voice came faintly to their ears:

"Here, here, you rascals! come right back here this minute! If you
don't, I shall have to----"

They could understand no more, for the swiftly rising air ship carried
them beyond the reach of his voice.

Professor Scudmore was chuckling to himself, as he worked at the
apparatus which controlled the sails and rudders.

"It is a success, and my fortune is made!" he was saying. "I shall
become richer than Jay Gould ever was! Ha! ha! ha! I shall not only be
rich, but I shall be honored!"

"Oi don't loike th' way he is actin', Frankie," whispered Barney. "Thot
laugh does not sound natural at all, at all."

"You are right," admitted Frank. "Is it possible we have started out on
this kind of a cruise with a man whose brain has been turned?"

"It may be thot."

"The situation will not be at all pleasant if it turns out that way."

"He is getting control av th' ship. See how he handles her now, me b'y."

It was true that the inventor was getting control of the _Eagle_, and he
was beginning to "put her through her paces," as it were. He ran before
the wind, then luffed and took first one tack and then the other. The
remarkable craft behaved very well.

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the professor, wildly. "I am the king of the air!
I am the first man to make a successful air ship. The world and all its
countries are mine! I can destroy armies and change the destiny of
nations! I am the greatest man who ever lived!"

"By Jove!" muttered Frank, in alarm; "I believe the man is going mad!"

"It looks loike thot," admitted the Irish boy.

"In which case, this will be the worst scrape we ever got into, Barney.
That is plain enough to see."

"Roight, me laddybuck! An' th' professor will soay it wur judgment on us
fer runnin' away."

"He will. But we ought to be able to handle this man between us, if it
comes to a struggle with him."

"We can; but can we handle th' ship afther thot, Oi dunno?"

"That is a question we cannot answer till we try the trick. But there
may be no trouble at all with Scudmore if we do not anger him."

Below them lay a wild panorama of broken country, through which ran
Green River to plunge deep into the winding mazes of Labyrinth Canyon,
away to the southward.

Away to the west, beyond the San Rafael Swell, rose the Wasatch
Mountains; being much nearer than the Rockies to the eastward, and,
therefore, looking nearly as lofty.

To the north were Desolation Canyon and the Roan Cliffs, the latter
rising brown and bleak at the southern boundary of the Ute Reservation.

To the south of mighty Colorado, rolling through the dark depths of
canyons which seemed to sink deep into the bowels of the earth. Farther
to the south, beyond the Fremont, which as yet could not be seen, Mount
Pennell lifted its snow-capped summit eleven thousand feet in the air.

Mount Pennell was in the very heart of the mountain region in which the
last of the Destroying Angels had found homes.

"Professor!" said Frank, speaking gently.

"Ha! ha!" muttered the inventor, as he threw over a lever and sent the
_Eagle_ scooting in a breathless sweep toward the earth. "She is like a
bird! Up or down, to the right or left, she will sail in any direction."

"Professor!"

"Don't bother me now--don't bother me!" he almost snarled.

"I was a fool to take you along! I should have retained all the honor
for myself. Now you will share it. It will be published all over the
world that you accompanied Professor Scudmore on his trial trip in his
wonderful air ship."

He glared at them a moment, as if he longed to cast them overboard, and
then the handling of the craft claimed his entire attention.

"How do yez loike it, Frankie, me b'y?" asked Barney, with a sly nudge
at his companion.

"It is decidedly uncomfortable."

"Phwat shall we do--jump th' son-av-a-goon at wance?"

"Nothing of the sort. We will keep still, as if we are quite satisfied
and content. I will draw him into conversation when I think it proper,
and he may be brought round all right."

So the boys remained silent and passive, one of them constantly watching
Scudmore, so that they might not be taken by surprise, in case he took a
fancy to attack them.

He continued to mutter and talk to himself, now and then laughing in a
way that was not pleasant to hear.

The boys fell to wondering what the various bundles contained. Opening
one of them, covertly, they found it was a supply of dried beef.

"Great shmoke!" gasped Barney. "He has laid in a supply av provisions to
larrust a wake!"

Frank nodded.

"It looks that way; but these things are not all provisions. See there
at his side--one of those bundles contains firearms, for you may see the
muzzles of two rifles protruding. I fancy the bundle next to that
contains ammunition."

"Whoy, thot's enoogh to shtock a small arumy, Frankie!"

"A man like Professor Scudmore has very little notion as to what he
needs or desires, and so he is liable to obtain four or five times what
is necessary."

"Are you talking of me?" harshly demanded the inventor. "Then speak up
distinctly. I may think you are plotting against me--plotting to keep me
from reaching the land beyond the ice."

"The land beyond the ice?" cried Frank.

"That is what I said."

"Well, what did you mean? Whither are we bound?"

"For the South Pole," was the answer. "Ha! ha! ha! We will pass over the
ice floes and reach the land beyond them!"



CHAPTER XVII.

GONE.


All that day and far into the night the mad inventor held control of the
flying-machine, refusing to listen to reason or argument, and keeping
the boys at bay.

Some time in the night he fell asleep, and, when he awoke, he was
enraged to find himself bound hands and feet, while the boys were trying
to handle the _Eagle_.

"Let me go!" howled the mad professor. "You will send us to destruction!
You will plunge us to ruin!"

"Keep still!" commanded Frank, sternly. "You are no longer master here."

"Villain!" screamed the helpless man; "I know your scheme! You mean to
steal the _Eagle_! You mean to get rid of me, and then you will steal
the work of my brain and hands!"

"Don't fool yourself. If I ever get to solid ground again, you may have
your old air ship and sail away to the South Pole with it. I am figuring
on getting back to Blake."

"Te, he!" laughed the madman, suddenly. "Is that all you ask? Why, it is
very easy to fix that matter."

His voice was full of craft and deception.

"How would you fix it?" asked Frank.

"Set me at liberty, and I will take you back there."

"That sounds all right, but it is plain enough that you cannot be
trusted. I prefer to experiment a little myself, before letting you have
charge again."

"And you will bring us all to destruction!"

"Possibly I may. Keep still now, while I study out the working of these
levers and wheels."

But Scudmore would not keep still. He shouted and talked, urging them to
release him, begging and threatening by turns.

Meanwhile Frank and Barney were studying over the levers and wheels, and
they finally discovered how to send the air ship down toward the earth,
which lay asleep in the white moonlight.

They were directly over a mountainous region, having been soaring over
the loftiest peaks. The boys were somewhat benumbed by the chilly air,
but, as they came nearer to the earth, this numbness passed away.

"Are yez goin' ter land here, Frankie?" asked Barney, anxiously.

"I don't know," was the answer. "If we should happen to see a town----"

"Where do yez think we are?"

"That is another thing I don't know."

Down they went until Frank conceived a notion that they were near enough
to the earth; but when he tried to reverse the lever and ascend again,
it would not work.

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the inventor. "It is retribution! We shall be
smashed into a thousand pieces when we strike. You will never steal the
_Eagle_ from me!"

Frank worked with all his energy, for they were sweeping toward the
earth at an alarming rate of speed.

The laughter of the deranged professor rang out louder and wilder than
ever.

"Oi think we're in fer it, me b'y!" gasped Barney.

"It looks like that," confessed Frank, as they barely cleared the crest
of a mountain and went diving down into the unknown depths of a valley.
"This confounded thing----"

Snap!--something broke, and their swift descent was suddenly checked,
but they continued to settle gently.

"Ah!" breathed Frank, with relief. "If this keeps up, we'll come down
all right."

"But it's nivver a bit can we tell where we'll land, me laddybuck."

"We'll have the satisfaction of getting on solid ground again, at least.
I am yearning to feel it beneath my feet once more."

It was not long before the _Eagle_ sank gently into the valley, settling
to the ground as lightly as a bird.

Out leaped the boys, ropes in their hands, and they quickly made the air
ship fast.

"Well, we are still living," said Frank.

"It's mesilf thot belaves we've much to be thankful fer," declared
Barney.

"I wonder where we are, and how near we are to civilization. I am
inclined to believe we cannot be far from the very region where the
colony of Danites is said to be located."

"Suffering cats!" gasped the Irish boy. "If thot is the case, how are we
ivver goin' to get out av here?"

"We'll have to trust to luck."

"Oi'll nivver thrust mesilf to thot air ship again."

"I do not care to do so, but we may have to do so whether we want to or
not."

"Well, we have enough to ate, an' some guns to protict oursilves with.
Oi am fer ixplorin' th' country before we do anything ilse."

"We can't do any exploring to-night."

"But we can early in th' marnin'."

So they provided themselves with two of the rifles, plenty of
ammunition, and much of the provisions in the car.

In the shelter of the valley the night was no longer cool, but was warm
and pleasant.

They found an overhanging shelf of rock where they could get close up
under a bluff, and it made quite a satisfactory camp.

For some time the boys lay and talked over their adventure, wondering if
they would get out of the predicament all right. At last they became
drowsy, and finally fell asleep.

They slept soundly till morning. Frank was the first to awaken, and he
shook Barney to rouse him.

"Come, you bit of the Old Sod," called Frank. "Turn out and pay for your
lodging."

"Begobs! Oi fale loike th' bed had been shtuffed with bricks. Hurro! Oi
must have fell out av bed in th' noight, an' dropped clane out av th'
windy. It's a bit av a kink Oi have in th' small av me back."

Barney sat up, making a wry face, and staring about in a bewildered way.

"Phwat howtil is this, Oi dunno?" he cried. "Have Oi been slapin', or
have Oi been in a thrance?"

"We came here in a flying-machine, you will remember."

"In a floying-machine? Oi thought Oi dramed it."

"It was no dream."

"Well, may Oi nivver live to see th' back av me neck!"

It took some time for the Irish boy to recover from his amazement.

"Where is thot floying-machine, Frankie?"

"It is just beyond this line of bushes, where we left it last night.
Professor Scudmore is tied up in the car, and I fancy he must be a bit
uncomfortable by this time. I did not mean to leave him that way so
long. It was rather heartless."

"Ye can't be aisy wid his koind, me b'y. There's no tellin' phwat
they'll do."

"That is true; but it is our duty to handle him as gently as possible.
He is a most unfortunate man. His air ship seems an assured success, and
yet he has lost his reason working over it."

The boys arose and passed round the bushes, Frank being in advance. A
cry of wonder and amazement broke from Merriwell's lips.

"The air ship!" he gasped.

"Phwat's th' matter?" asked Barney, quickly.

"It's gone!"



CHAPTER XVIII.

MISKEL.


"Gone!"

"That's what!"

"Where?"

"Sailed away."

It was true that the _Eagle_ was not where they had left it the night
before, and, looking all around, they could find no trace of it.

"Thot bates me!"

The knees of the Irish boy seemed to weaken beneath him, and he sank in
a limp heap on the ground.

"It beats the band!"

Frank was scarcely less broken up than his companion.

"How did it happen, Frankie? Th' ould thing didn't go off av itsilf, did
it?"

"Not much!"

"Phwat thin?"

"Professor Scudmore must have succeeded in releasing himself."

"Roight, lad; an' thin he skipped."

"As soon as he was free, he sailed away in the _Eagle_, and we are left
here in the heart of this mountainous region."

"Oi'm homesick! Oi wish Oi hadn't come!"

Frank laughed.

"This is not the worst scrape we have been in, by any means. We'll pull
out of this, with our usual good luck."

But a feeling of loneliness and desolation did settle heavily upon them,
for all that Frank made an effort to throw it off. The mountains lifted
their heads on every hand like mighty sentries that hemmed them in, and
they felt shut off from all the rest of the world.

When they fully realized that Professor Scudmore had released himself
and escaped in the air ship, they walked round the place where the
_Eagle_ had been left the night before, but they discovered nothing
beyond some severed bits of rope.

Then Frank became philosophical.

"We may as well take it easy," he said. "It is useless to make a fuss
about it. Here we are, and---"

"Where we are Oi dunno!"

"You know quite as well as I do, old man."

"All roight. Phwat will we do?"

"Find some water to wash down our breakfast to start with. After we have
eaten, we will feel better. Then we can settle on what we'll do next."

By rare good luck, they were near a spring of clear water, and it was
found without trouble.

"It was fortunate we took the rifles and provisions out of the car last
night," said Frank.

"Thot it wur," nodded Barney.

For all of their situation, they ate heartily, and, breakfast over, they
felt better. Then they sat and talked the matter over a while, finally
deciding to make an effort to get somewhere, and trust to fortune.

With the aid of the pieces of rope, they tied the provisions into
bundles, which were easily carried, and before long they struck out.

Barney trusted everything to Frank who took the lead, and they headed
for what seemed to be an outlet to the valley, away to the west.

During the next five days the boys passed through a few adventures, none
of which, however, have any bearing on this story. They wandered round
and round amid the mountains, finally coming back to the valley from
which they had started.

This was discouraging, but they started over again, and they finally
came to a narrow cut that seemed to lead into the very heart of the
mountain that loomed before them.

"We will try it," said Frank, leading the way.

They passed through the cut, after traveling many miles, and came into a
vast basin, with mountains looming on every hand.

"Pwhat do yez think, me b'y?" asked the Irish lad.

"It is not easy to tell what to think," was the reply. "However, I fear
we are in Water Pocket Canyon."

"Phwat about Water Pocket Canyon?"

"It is said to be fifty miles in length to ten or fifteen in width, and
to have no outlets."

"Well, this can't be th' place, me b'y, fer it has an outlet roight
here."

"But one that would not be easy to find, and so it might go forth there
were no outlets to the place."

"Begorra! it looks loike we naded Profissor Scudmore's floying-machane
to git out av this scrape."

"It does look that way. We seem to be getting tangled more and more. All
we can do is to make the attempt to get out."

"Av this is Warter Pocket Canyon, we may not be able to foind this pass
if we lave it."

"We will mark the spot some way."

"How?"

"That is the question. Wait till I find a way."

It was not easy, but Frank finally decided that he could tell the
mountain through the base of which the pass had seemed to wind.

Then they went into the wild and picturesque valley, while Frank
continued to look back at intervals in order to impress the appearance
of the mountain on his mind.

That night they camped beside a little stream that bubbled out from
beneath the base of a cliff, and it was found that their stock of
provisions was getting very low, even though they had preserved it as
far as possible by shooting and cooking wild game.

"We have got to get out av here soon, Frankie," said the Irish boy,
soberly.

Frank nodded.

"That is evident; but we are doing our best, and so we can do no
better."

Frank was somewhat disheartened, but he did not wish Barney to know it,
and so he pretended to be cheerful.

Darkness settled over the canyon, and the light of a tiny fire shone on
the faces of the young adventurers.

Frank seemed to be dreaming, for, with a far-away stare, he was gazing
straight into the flames, apparently quite unaware of his surroundings.

In the flaring fire he saw strange pictures of events in his own
career--a career such as had never before fallen to the lot of a boy of
his years.

He seemed to behold the scores of perils through which he had passed,
and before him seemed to flit the faces of the many friends and foes he
had made.

He saw the foes of his school days--Snell, Bascomb, Gage, and all the
others--skulk past in procession. Snell had a sneaking, treacherous look
on his face, Bascomb swaggered along in the old bullying manner, and
Gage seemed to be driven along by the Evil One, who was constantly
goading him to rash and desperate things. Then he saw the face of his
most deadly enemy, his own cousin, Carlos Merriwell; but it no longer
bore a look of malignant hatred, for it was white and cold in the last
long sleep.

There were other enemies who had sprung up along his path, but they
seemed like shadows in comparison to the ones of his school days.

Following these came others, and the dark look faded from his
countenance. He saw Bart Hodge, who had once been his bitter enemy, but
who had become his stanchest friend. Hodge held out a hand to him, as if
longing to render aid in this hour of need.

Then came scores of others, the cadets at Fardale, the professors, and,
last of all, the girls who had admired him and believed him noble and
true.

Elsie Bellwood smiled at him sadly, and pointed to a mighty barrier that
lay between them; Kate Kenyon tried to reach him, and then drew back,
with a hopeless shake of her head; others came and flitted past, and
last of all Inza Burrage was there, holding out her hands to him, her
dark eyes full of trust.

"Inza!"

The name fell from his lips, and it aroused him. Barney had fallen
asleep, and was snoring beside the fire.

But what was that? Did he still dream?

Just beyond the fire, within the outer circle of light, stood a girl!

Frank rubbed his eyes and looked again.

She was still there, and she was pressing a finger to her lips, as if
asking for silence.

"Great Scott!" muttered Frank, in a dazed way.

"Sh!" came back across the fire. "Do not wake him." She motioned toward
the sleeping Irish lad.

Frank pinched himself.

"Yes, I am awake myself," he said, guardedly. "And it is a girl--a
pretty girl at that! How in the name of all that is wonderful does it
happen there is a girl here?"

"You have no time to ask questions," came back swiftly, in a low,
musical voice. "You are in a bad snare, Frank Merriwell."

The boy started violently.

"How is it that you know my name?" he demanded, astonished beyond
measure.

"I tell you you have no time to ask questions. Why did you come here?"

"You seem inclined to ask questions. I came because I could not help
it."

"That is not true. You came to search for the hiding place of the last
of the Danites. You may as well confess it."

"But I tell you I had no idea of coming here when I started."

"I know more than your name, Frank Merriwell; I know that you were eager
to come in search of the place where Uric Dugan and a few of his former
friends have hidden themselves from the world, hoping to remain there in
peace to the end of their days."

Frank was filled with wonder unutterable.

"Are you a supernatural creature--a phantom?" he demanded. "If not, how
do you know that I ever heard of Uric Dugan?"

"I am not the only one who knows. Uric Dugan and his companions know it.
They are ready for you, and you have walked into their snare. You are
meshed."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean that there is not one chance in ten thousand that you will ever
be able to escape alive."

"By Jove! the prospect is pleasant!"

"I am in earnest. The pass by which you entered this basin is already
guarded, and you cannot get out that way."

"Then we will have to get out some other way."

"There is but one other way, and that is also guarded. Do you see you
are snared?"

"If you are not mistaken, it looks that way. What can I do?"

The girl made a despairing gesture.

"I don't know," she admitted. "I have begged them to spare you--to shed
no more blood; but they say it is absolutely necessary in order that we
may continue to live here in peace. The world at large must not know
where to find the last of the Danites."

"If I give my pledge----"

"It will not be accepted. You are not the first to stray in here. Not
one of them has ever gone away to tell the tale."

Frank shuddered a bit, beginning to realize that the situation was
indeed a desperate one.

"If there is no chance for us to escape, why are you here to tell us?"

"I could not help warning you. I saw your fire twinkling, and I knew
that you would sleep beside it. In the night death would come down upon
you, and you would never awaken."

"Jupiter! That is interesting! I won't sleep for a week."

"Ah, but you cannot escape, even though you never again close your eyes
in sleep. You can only avoid your doom for a little time. My heart is
full of pity for you, but I am unable to do anything."

Her voice told him that she was sincere, and Frank thrilled with
gratitude toward her.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"I am Miskel," she answered.

"Miskel! What an odd name! But you seem to be a most remarkable girl.
How does it happen that you are here?"

"My father is one of the last of the Danites, and I live here with him."

"Your father--who is he?"

"Uric Dugan!"


[Illustration: "You must not linger here. * * * Even now the Destroying
Ones may be moving to fall upon you." (See page 124)]



CHAPTER XIX.

OLD SOLITARY.


Frank uttered a low cry, causing Barney to start up.

"Pwhat's th' matter?" asked the Irish boy, reaching for his rifle. "Is
it Injuns, Oi dunno?"

"Easy, Barney!" cried Frank. "You will frighten her away from--Cæsar's
ghost! She's gone!"

"Pwhat's thot? Who is she, me b'y? Is it dramin' ye wur, or have ye
wheels in yer head?"

"Neither. She was here a moment ago, and I was talking with her."

"Who is she?"

"Miskel."

"An' a broth av a name thot is! It's wheels ye have in yer head, me b'y;
Oi can hear thim goin' round."

Frank sprang up and passed round the fire.

"She disappeared like a phantom. I cannot understand how she came here,
or how she went away so swiftly."

Not a trace of her could be seen.

All at once, Frank whirled about and kicked the burning brands in all
directions.

"That fire shall provide no beacon for Uric Dugan and the Danites!"
exclaimed the boy.

"Pwhat do yez mane by thot?" asked the puzzled Irish lad. "Is it daft ye
have gone all at wance?"

Frank came swiftly to the side of his companion, a hand falling on
Barney's shoulder, as he said:

"We must get out of this, for it is likely our fire has been seen by
the Danites, who are somewhere near at hand."

"How do yez know thot, Frankie?"

"Know it? Why, she told me. She was here a minute ago, and you
frightened her away when you awoke."

Barney looked at his friend in a doubting way.

"Be aisy now, Frankie, and if ye can't be aisy, whoy jist be aisy as ye
can. This loife has affected yer brain, me b'y."

Frank saw Barney really thought he spoke the truth.

"You are wrong," he said. "I will explain what I mean, and I assure you
that I am in my sober senses."

Whereupon, he told Barney everything, and the Irish lad listened with
drooping jaw.

"Th' saints protict us!" he cried. "Pwhat are we goin' to do, Frankie?"

"Get out of this before Uric Dugan and his gang make us a call."

"They move swiftly as an arrow, and strike deep and sure. You have no
time to spare."

The voice was hollow and blood-chilling, coming out of the darkness as
from the depths of a mighty cavern, causing both lads to whirl,
clutching their weapons, ready for an attack.

"Who is there?" challenged Frank, sharply.

"One who will do you no harm," was the answer. "And I alone am able to
save you from Uric Dugan."

"Who are you?"

"I am known as Old Solitary."

Not far away could be seen the figure of a man, who seemed to be leaning
on a stout staff. He made no menacing move.

Barney's teeth were chattering.

"Tin to wan it is th' Ould B'y himsilf!" gasped the Irish lad.

Barney was very superstitious. While he was not afraid of anything made
of flesh and blood, whatever seemed supernatural filled him with the
greatest terror.

"Steady," warned Frank. "It is a human being, and he seems to be alone.
One man will not harm us."

"Not av he is a man."

"I am a man, and I mean you no harm," declared the same deep voice. "If
you will trust me, I may be able to save you. Look--I will advance, and
you may keep your weapons turned upon me."

The figure came forward through the gloom, and in a few moments he stood
close at hand, so they could see he was a man whose head was bare, and
whose white beard flowed over his chest. What seemed to be a staff at
first glance, proved to be a long-barreled rifle.

Barney was intensely relieved.

"It must be Santy Claus himsilf!" exclaimed the Irish lad.

"You must not linger here," said the stranger. "Even now the Destroying
Ones may be moving to fall upon you. They would wipe you from the face
of the earth, as they have wiped away hundreds and thousands. They are
terrible, and they are merciless. Their tongues are forked, and the
poison of adders lies beneath their lips. For the Gentile they know not
mercy. If the Mormon Church decrees that they destroy the babe at its
mother's breast, they snatch it away and dash out its brains. On their
knees innocent girls have pleaded in vain to be spared. Fathers and
mothers have fallen before them. Old men with snowy hair have been
slaughtered without pity. And chief among these inhuman monsters is
Dugan of the dark face. I know him, and I know that his heart is made of
adamant. But he shall not always escape the wrath to come. His days are
numbered, and the days of his merciless comrades are numbered! All are
doomed! Not one shall escape!"

"Easy, old man!" warned Frank. "Do you wish to bring them upon us? I
shall think you are in league with them."

"Not I! Come; I will lead you to a place of safety."

The boys hesitated.

"Shall we thrust th' spalpane?" whispered Barney, doubtfully.

"I don't see as we can do better," returned Frank. "We must take
chances."

"He may be wan av th' Danites, me b'y."

"He may be, but something tells me he is not."

"Thin how does it happen thot he is here?"

"That is something you can answer as well as I. Come, we will follow
him. Keep your weapons ready for instant use."

So they followed, and, old man though he was, they found it no easy
task, for he moved with a swinging cat-like step that carried him
swiftly over the ground.

All at once, he turned, with a low hiss, motioned for them to follow,
and, crouching low, crept behind some bowlders.

The boys followed, ready for a trap.

When they were behind the bowlders, the stranger whispered:

"They are coming--I hear their footsteps afar. They come swiftly, but
they will not find their prey. They are the last of the Danites, and
they are in hiding here amid these mountains, but they have not
forgotten how to strike and destroy. Crouch low, keep still, and you
shall see them pass."

It seemed that the old man's ears must be good, for it was quite a while
before the boys heard a sound. At length, with a sudden rush of feet,
six or eight dark figures flitted past and quickly disappeared.

"They come like shadows, and like shadows they go," softly breathed Old
Solitary. "The day has passed forever when their power is felt and
dreaded throughout Utah. Once they were far more dreadful than a
pestilence. Started upon the trail of a man who had been doomed by the
church, there was not one chance in ten thousand for him to escape. No
man could seek his bed at night and be sure he would not become the
victim of the Destroying Angels before dawn. No man could be sure he had
not done something to offend Brigham Young. If by any means he became
aware that 'the decree of death' had been made against him, it was no
better than useless for him to take to flight. He might flee to the
desert, but the Destroyers tracked him through shifting sands and across
waterless wastes till he was run to earth and his body was left for the
vultures and coyotes. If he plunged into the mountains, the canyons and
ravines were not deep enough or dark enough to hide him from the keen
eyes of the death-dealers on his track. Knowing his doom had been
decreed, he might flee madly from his home and his loved ones, his heart
alternating between hope and despair, knowing all the while that those
deadly pursuers were on his track, hurrying on and on when he was in
desperate need of rest, fearing to close his eyes in sleep, lest he open
them to look upon his murderers, weak for want of food, his throat
parched for a swallow of water, his blood pouring like melted lead
through his veins, his brain on fire, and still all his struggles were
unavailing. Relentless, unwearying, bloodthirsty and sure as death, the
Destroying Ones tracked him down. He might begin to fancy that he had
escaped, that he had thrown them off his trail. At last, overcome by
his terrible exertions, he might sleep, feeling certain that in a few
more hours he would be beyond their reach. They would come upon him like
shadows, and they would leave him weltering in his gore. A curse they
have been, and a curse they shall remain till the last one of them all
is perished from the face of the fair earth which they have polluted."

The boys were spellbound by the intense language of the strange man. All
fears that he might be one of the Danites departed from their minds.

"Begobs!" gasped Barney; "it's Satan's oun brewing they must be!"

"Come," said Old Solitary, "we must move on again. They will not find
you, and the morning will see them on your trail."

"If what you say is true, it were better to be trailed by bloodhounds or
wild Indians," said Frank.

"Far better. The Destroying Ones hastened to the slaughter with no more
mercy in their hearts than is to be found in the heart of a fierce
Apache. If they were instructed to kill, they believed it their
duty--more than that, they would suffer the tortures of hell if they
shirked or shrank from committing the deed."

"Oi'm not faling well at all, at all!" sighed Barney. "An' it's caught
we are in a place where such craythurs be! Och, hone! Whoy didn't we
shtay with th' profissor?"

Old Solitary again flitted away, and they hastened along at his heels.
Now he was silent of lip and silent of foot. He seemed more like a
shadow than anything else.

For more than an hour he led them forward with great swiftness, and then
they came to a small stream.

"You must cover your trail," said the old man. "Follow me."

He stepped into the running water, walking along the bed of the stream.

They did not hesitate to follow in his footsteps.

Before long they came to where the stream fell splashing and tinkling
down the mountain.

"Up," said Old Solitary.

It was a difficult climb, but the boys were young athletes, and they
would have been ashamed to let the man with the white hair and beard
climb where they could not go.

The stream was left, and, clinging to the points of rock with hands and
feet, the old man still mounted higher and higher. He seemed to know
every inch of the way, which became more and more difficult for the
lads.

"Begorra!" gurgled Barney; "we'll nivver get down from here, Frankie, me
jool."

"Well, we'll have no call to kick, if the Danites do not get up to us."

"Thot's right."

"But I cannot help thinking of Miskel's words. She declared that we were
hopelessly snared."

"She may have troied to scare ye to death, lad."

"Well, what Old Solitary has said about the Destroying Angels has not
made me feel any easier."

At last they came to a shelf of rock, along which they crept, inch by
inch, clinging fast and feeling their way, with a blue void of night
above and beneath them.

All at once a black opening in the face of the bluff yawned before them,
and they saw the man of the white hair and beard standing in the mouth
of a cave.

"This is my home," declared Old Solitary. "They have not dared attack me
here, even though they know where to find me. They consider me
harmless, but some day they shall know the difference. Uric Dugan shall
know my power!"

He turned and entered the cave, and, still trusting all to him, they
felt their way along after him.



CHAPTER XX.

MOUTH OF THE CAVE.


After a time, Old Solitary lighted a torch, and they were enabled to
follow him with greater ease.

He led them into a circular chamber, where there was a bed of grass and
some rude furniture of his own manufacture.

"This is my home," declared the strange man. "For the present, you are
safe here; but there is no way of getting out of here without passing
through territory where the Danites will be found."

"Then we are still in the meshes," said Frank.

"You are still in the very heart of Danite land."

"If what you say is true, then we cannot be safe here, for those human
beasts know we are somewhere in the net, and they will find us, no
matter what our hiding place may be."

"That is true, but it will take time, and they fear me. They will not
rush hither. You may sleep without fear to-night."

"Surely we have need enough of sleep."

"Then do not hesitate to slumber, for I need little sleep, and I will
see that no harm comes to you."

Frank would have questioned the man, but when he tried to do so in a
manner that would not be offensive, Old Solitary suddenly became dumb,
paying no heed to anything that was said.

Frank and Barney talked for a long time. They were impressed with the
belief that they were in the gravest peril, and yet they could do
nothing more to save themselves till the opportunity came. To a large
extent, they were in the hands of fate.

Never before in all his life had Frank been utterly controlled by a
feeling of utter inability to avert destruction by any effort of his
own, even though his hands were free and he was armed. It seemed as if
they had been doomed and were in a snare from which there could be no
possible escape.

Everything must be trusted to Old Solitary, that was certain. Feeling
thus, Frank flung himself down on the bed of grass, and was soon
sleeping soundly.

It did not take Barney long to follow the example of his friend.

They slept for hours. When they awoke the torch had burned out, and the
chilly darkness of the cave was dense around them.

"I wonder where Old Solitary is?" said Frank.

They called to him and their voices echoed hollowly along the passages.

No answer came.

"Begorra!" cried the Irish boy; "It looks loike he had left us to
oursilves."

"It does seem that way," admitted Frank.

Our hero remembered seeing in a niche the night before a collection of
sticks that he fancied were for torches, and so, lighting a match, he
sought them. He had made no mistake, for one of them lighted readily.

"Our weapons are all right," he said, having made an examination. "It is
probable that Old Solitary will soon return."

They waited an hour, but the strange man did not appear. Both grew
restless, and finally started out to explore the cave.

With the aid of the torch, they picked their way along one of the
passages. They were surprised at the distance traveled, and wondered
when and where they would come out.

Finally, a gleam of light was seen ahead, and, as they came nearer, the
torch was extinguished.

Climbing up a steep slope, they lay on their stomachs and peered out
into the depths of a circular pocket that was inclosed by mountains on
three sides.

An exclamation broke from the lips of both.

"A camp!" cried Frank.

"It's a town, me b'y!" Barney almost shouted. "We're all roight, afther
all!"

"Easy!" cautioned Merriwell, quickly. "Keep your voice down. It is a
town, but it is not the kind of a town we care to enter."

"Pwhat's th' matther wid it?"

"It is the town of the Danites. This is their retreat, where they have
hidden themselves from the rest of the world."

Barney was soon convinced that Frank was right, and the boys drew back a
bit, taking care not to be seen by anybody below them.

There was a collection of eight buildings upon which the morning sun was
shining, six of which were dwelling houses, and two of which seemed to
be stables. Taken all together, they made quite a little village.

The doors of many of the houses were open, and men were seen lounging
about. Occasionally a woman could be seen, and there were a few children
at play.

"Here live the last of the terrible organization that has shed the blood
of hundreds of Gentiles," said Frank. "These men were known to be
leaders, and the fate of John D. Lee was a warning to them. They saw the
church could no longer protect them, and so they fled here. It is
possible that some of those old men down there were concerned in the
Mountain Meadow Massacre."

"It's the divvil's own set they are, to be sure."

"They have never hesitated to shed blood, and our lives will not be
worth a pinch of snuff if we fall into their hands."

"Pwhat are we goin' to do?"

"That remains to be seen. For the present, we seem to be safe where we
are. It is plain this cave extends through a spur of the mountain, and
we are looking out on a side far from where we entered. It is also
possible that, even now, some of these creatures may be climbing to the
other entrance."

"Howly shmoke!"

"I said possible, not probable. I am trusting much to Old Solitary."

The boys lay there a long time, talking and peering down into the
village of the Danites. They did not see a lithe, agile figure that was
climbing in their direction. At length, having climbed as far as
possible, this figure reached a stopping place, still below and at one
side.

"Great shnakes!" gasped Barney, clutching Frank's arm. "Will yez take a
look at thot!"

He pointed toward the figure.

"Cæsar's ghost! It is Miskel!"

"Pwhat is she doin' there, me b'y?"

"She seemed to be looking this way. I wonder if she has seen us here?"

"Oi dunno."

"She acts as if she has."

"Thot she does."

"She is hidden from the camp below by that mass of bowlders beside her,
and she acts as if she were trying to keep out of sight of them down
there."

"Pwhat's thot she has in her hand?"

"A bow. That is a perfect picture of the nymph Diana."

"Ay she ounly had some hounds an' a stag at hand."

"See--she has taken an arrow from a quiver at her back, and she seems to
be attaching something to it. By the way she looks up here I should say
she is measuring the distance with her eye, to see if she can make the
arrow reach."

It certainly looked that way, and the boys watched her every movement
with the keenest interest, still keeping as far concealed as possible.

Once Miskel lifted the bow and drew it taut, but something did not
satisfy her, and she lowered it. After some moments the bow was lifted
again, and then the arrow sailed upward through the air.

"It's coming!"

Both boys dodged.

Zip--click! The arrow cut through the air, sailed in at the opening of
the cave, struck the face of the rock, and dropped to the ground.

Frank quickly picked it up.

"Ha!" he exclaimed. "Look, Barney--a bit of paper is attached here!
There is writing on it! Ten to one it is a message!"

Eagerly he removed the bit of paper that was tied to the arrow, and he
soon read aloud what was written on it.

     "FRANK MERRIWELL: It is known that you are there, but you are safe
     for the present, although still meshed and unable to escape. My
     father fears Old Solitary; but there are others who do not, and
     your refuge will not long continue a safe one. Your friends have
     arrived, and they are already in the snare, so it is not likely you
     will ever see either of them alive.                        MISKEL."

The last sentence filled both boys with the utmost wonder and
perplexity.

"What does it mean?" asked Frank.

"Thot Oi'll nivver tell!" cried Barney.

"My friends? Whom can she mean? Who is it that is already within the
snare?"

"Ax me something aisy!"

"And the Danites know where we are hidden!"

"Thot's pwhat she says, av ye read it roight."

"It is very comforting to know it! Uric Dugan fears Old Solitary, but
there are others who do not."

"It's the others we nade to be afeared av, me lad."

"You are right. We must be constantly on our guard. Both of us must not
sleep at the same time; we must take turns at sleeping. In that way we
should be able to know when they try to come upon us, and we will sell
our lives as dearly as possible."

"Av we've got to doie, Oi'd loike to wipe out the gang av spalpanes down
there."

"Were they other than the murderous wretches they are, I should feel
pity for them; but, as it is, there is no pity in my heart. It is a just
retribution that they are outcast from their fellow-creatures, are
forced to hide like hunted beasts, that they live in terror each day and
each night of their lives."

"But this will nivver tell us who our friends are thot have entered th'
snare, Frankie."

"No; nor do I know how we are to find out."

"Th' girrul----"

"Is descending."

It was true. Having accomplished her purpose in climbing up there,
Miskel was descending. She was as sure-footed and agile as a mountain
goat, and it was a pleasure to watch her.

"Frankie, she is a jool! An' do yez soay her fayther is ould Uric Dugan
hissilf?"

"So she told me."

"It's a shame! Av it weren't fer thot, Oi'd thry me hand at makin' a
mash on th' loikes av her."

Frank was silent; he seemed to be thinking.

"I have it!" he finally cried, striking his hands together.

"Kape it," advised Barney. "It's th' ounly thing ye're loikely to get
around this place, my laddybuck."

"By my friends she must have meant Walter Clyde and his companions,
Graves and Kerney. They have had time to cruise down the river, and they
are here. I'll wager that I am right!"

"Ye may be. But soay! Look down there. So hilp me, there come some ay
th' spalpanes, an' they have a prisoner!"

Barney was right. Several Danites were entering the pocket, conducting
in their midst a captive. He was a small man, with red hair and
whiskers.

"Heavens above!" gasped Frank, thunderstruck. "It's Professor Scotch!"



CHAPTER XXI.

HUMAN BEASTS.


It was indeed the little professor, who had, in some unaccountable
manner, fallen captive to the Danites.

How it had happened the boys could not conceive.

"Be jabez! thot bates me!" gurgled Barney Mulloy, his eyes bulging.
"It's hundreds av moiles from here Oi thought th' professor wur this
minute."

"And I thought the same," said Frank. "How it comes that he is here I
cannot understand."

"It's a moighty bad scrape he is in, me b'y."

"That is right. Now I know what Miskel meant when she said my friends
had arrived and were already in the snare."

"The profissor makes but wan, an' she said 'friends.'"

"That is right. She must have meant Clyde and the others. That would
make it appear that the professor came with them."

"Sure."

"In that case, where are Clyde and the two explorers, Graves and Kerney?
Have they been killed already?"

"It moight seem thot way."

"It appears likely; but, if such is the case, I cannot understand why
Professor Scotch was spared."

"No more can Oi, Frankie."

The boys were at their wits' end, and they were in an intensely agitated
frame of mind.

Suddenly Frank clutched Barney's arm, pointing down into the pocket, and
crying:

"Look! look! the professor has broken away! He is running for his life!
But he cannot escape! They are hot after him."

It was true. The little man had made a desperate break for liberty, but
it was folly to do so, as the Danites soon overtook him. One of them, a
stout man, with a short white beard, held a revolver in his hand. He
reversed the weapon, grasping it by the barrel, and struck the professor
down with the butt.

The sight made Frank's blood boil.

"I will remember that wretch!" grated the boy, his eyes glowing. "If we
do not get out of here, I may be able to square a score with him!"

Barney was scarcely less wrought up.

"Poor profissor!" he exclaimed. "It's loikely the divvils will finish
him now."

The Danites stood over the man, who had fallen on his face, and lay in a
huddled heap. They were talking loudly and making excited gestures. It
was plain that they were discussing the advisability of dispatching
Professor Scotch without delay, and, judging from his movements, the man
with the short white beard was for finishing him without delay. Twice
the man pointed his revolver at the prostrate figure, and twice a
younger man seemed to urge him to spare the unlucky man's life.

"If he shoots, I'll try a shot at him from here!" cried Frank. "I may
not be able to reach him, but I'll try it."

A third time the man pointed his revolver at the motionless form of the
man who lay huddled on the ground. This time no one of the group
interfered; all stood back, and the younger man, who had twice saved
Scotch's life, turned away, plainly unwilling to witness the deed.

"He's going to shoot!" panted Frank, pulling forward his rifle, and
bringing it to his shoulder. "I will----"

"Wait a bit, me b'y. Look there! Th' litthle girrul is thrying to save
him."

"God bless her!"

Miskel had rushed into the midst of the men, and she was seen pleading
with the man who seemed determined to kill the professor. At first, it
seemed that she would fail, but she finally prevailed, and the man put
up his weapon, with a gesture of angry impatience. Then he seemed to
give some orders, and the unconscious captive was lifted and carried
toward the camp.

"He is saved for the time," breathed Frank, with relief; "but it is
simply a respite."

"Thot is betther than nothing, me b'y."

"Yes, it is better than nothing. Barney, I have a scheme."

"Spake out, Frankie. Me ears are woide open to-night."

"If they spare Professor Scotch till to-night, we will go down there and
attempt his rescue."

"Oi'm wid yes, me b'y, to th' ind."

They watched the men bear the unfortunate professor into the camp, and
noted carefully the building into which the man was taken.

"We must make no mistake to-night, Barney. It is our duty to do our best
to save Professor Scotch."

"An' we'll do our duty av we nivver do anything ilse, begorra!"

"You are bold lads," said a voice behind them; "but you cannot save him
from Uric Dugan."

They whirled swiftly, and found Old Solitary had come up behind them,
without being heard.

"I found you had awakened," said the strange man; "and I wondered if you
had come here."

"And we wondered where you had gone."

"I went forth to see what I should see," he said, in a peculiar manner.
"Voices far away in empty space were calling to me--calling, calling,
calling!"

The boys shot hasty glances at each other, the same thought flitting
through the minds of both.

They had dealt with one maniac, and now was it possible that they were
to encounter another?

It had been dark when Old Solitary came upon them the night before, and
so they were unable to study his face; but now they saw that his eyes
were restless and filled with a shifting light, while his general
appearance was that of a man deranged.

Quickly leaning toward Barney, Frank whispered:

"He must be humored; don't anger him."

The man, although he could not have heard the words, noted that
something was said, and he cried:

"Why do you whisper together. Would you betray me? Is there no one in
the wide world I can trust?"

"Betray you?" said Frank. "To whom can we betray you? You have us in
your power, and you can betray us to the Danites, if you choose. You
need not fear that we shall betray you."

"Then it must be that you are afraid of me. All the world seems to fear
me. Why is it so? What have I ever done to make men afraid of me?"

"Nothing evil, I am sure."

"And you are right. It cuts me to have men shrink from me; but they do,
and I have become an outcast. There is something wrong about me--I feel
it here."

His hand was lifted to his head, and his face wore a look of deep
distress. He seemed to realize, in an uncertain way, that he was not
quite right in his mind.

"You have lived so much by yourself that you have grown unsocial," said
Frank. "That must be the trouble."

Old Solitary shook his head.

"That is not it. Listen, and I will tell you something. Uric Dugan
hates and fears me. I do not care for that; it gives me satisfaction.
Still I do not know why it gives me satisfaction, for it pains me when
others shrink away in fear. Dugan would kill me if he could, and still
he seems to regard me as one risen from death. Can you tell me why?"

He paused, looking at them in an inquiring way.

"You can't tell," came swiftly from his lips, as Frank was about to
speak. "No one can tell. I do not know myself. My memory is broken into
a thousand fragments. Some things I remember well; some things I do not
remember at all. There was a time when I was young, and I had friends.
Who were my friends? What has happened to rob me of my memory? I believe
Uric Dugan can tell me. If I had not believed so, Dugan should have died
long ago. Scores of times I have held his life in the hollow of my hand.
I have longed to slay him--to kill him for some wrong he has done me. My
hand has been held by a power I could not see. A voice has whispered in
my ear, 'Wait.' I have waited. For what? I do not know."

He bowed his head on his breast, over which flowed his long white beard,
and his attitude was one of intense dejection.

The boys were silent, wondering at the strange man who had befriended
them.

Some moments passed.

"By going forth early I saw many things," the man finally declared,
speaking quietly. "You are not the only ones who have strayed into the
net of the Danites."

"We have been informed there are others," said Frank.

"Informed? How?"

Frank told how Miskel had shot the message into the mouth of the cave.

"I have seen her hundreds of times," slowly spoke Old Solitary. "She
has a good face. It does not seem possible that she is his daughter--the
daughter of Uric Dugan. I think the memory of her face has spared his
life at times. But it will not be ever thus. The time will come when I
shall steel my heart."

"We have just seen the Danites bear a captive into their village, and
that captive is my guardian."

"A small man with reddish hair and beard?"

"Yes."

"I saw him captured. He had wandered from others. From a height I saw
them all."

"How many are there?"

"There were four, but two of them are Danites."

"What's that?"

"It is true. The man of the sandy beard and the boy came here with two
of Uric Dugan's wretched satellites."

"Howly saints!" gasped Barney.

"He must mean the explorers, Graves and Kerney," said Frank.

"They were not explorers; if they said so, they lied. Caleb Kerney is
one of the old band of Danites, as bloodthirsty and relentless as the
worst of them. Colton Graves is the son of Pascal Graves, once a leader
of the Destroying Angels--a man whose hands were dyed with innocent
blood. They went forth, with others, to bring provisions from the
settlements. All of the others have returned before them."

"And they led Walter Clyde and Professor Scotch into this snare!" said
Frank. "They found out that Walter was coming this way to search for the
retreat of the Danites, and they led him here, with the intention of
destroying him."

"Thot's roight, me b'y," nodded Barney.

"Kerney slipped away, and hastened ahead to tell Uric Dugan who was
coming," said Old Solitary, who seemed to know all that had taken
place. "Graves remained to guide the victims to their doom."

"Is it possible such monsters can continue to live and carry on their
murderous work?" exclaimed Frank.

"Some day Ko-pe-tah will find the way in here," laughed Old Solitary.

"Who is Ko-pe-tah?"

"A Navajo chief who hates Uric Dugan, and has tried to kill him. Twice
within two years has Ko-pe-tah brought his braves into these mountains,
searching for some access to this valley. The last time he was here, he
found the passage by which you entered. Four of the Danites held the
passage against a hundred warriors, and the Navajoes were repulsed. But
Ko-pe-tah swore he would come again. If he ever gets in here, woe unto
the Danites!"

"How did it happen that we came through that passage without being
stopped?"

"You were alone, two boys. You were seen, and were allowed to enter, for
they knew you could not escape. They made sure of you by letting you
walk into the trap."

"But Ko-pe-tah was held out."

"Because he had a hundred warriors behind him, and he would destroy the
Danites if he got inside."

This was logical enough, and, at that moment Old Solitary scarcely
seemed like a person deranged.

Frank spent some moments in thought, and then asked:

"Are Clyde and Graves still together?"

"They are."

"And Clyde has no knowledge that Graves is other than what he
represented himself to be?"

"It is not likely that he has."

"He must be warned."

"It is too late.'

"Why?"

"Before you can reach him the Danites will have him in their power."

"That is not certain," cried Frank, starting up. "Come, we will try to
save him. Lead us to him."

"You shall see that what I say is true," said Old Solitary.

He motioned for them to follow, and led the way back along the passage,
the torch having been relighted.

Through the main chamber they passed, and came to another passage, which
finally brought them out far from the mountain pocket in which was the
home of the Danites.

"Look," directed Old Solitary, touching Frank's arm and pointing across
the wide canyon. "Away there you see figures moving amid the rocks. They
are human beings with hearts of beasts. They are Danites, and they are
creeping like panthers upon their victim, the boy you call Walter
Clyde."



CHAPTER XXII.

PROFESSOR SCUDMORE RETURNS.


"We must aid him!" cried Frank.

"Thot's right," agreed Barney.

"It's too late," declared Old Solitary.

"Too late--why?"

"Long before we can get down into the valley the boy will be killed or
captured."

"And must we remain idle and witness the butchery? It is terrible! I
feel that I must do something."

"An' Oi fale th' soame, Frankie, me b'y."

"Look again," directed the strange man of the mountains. "The boy has
discovered his enemies. See--he has leaped behind some rocks! Graves is
with him. The man is playing his part still. It must be that the boy has
called on his enemies to halt. They are hiding. See there! one of them
is preparing to shoot at the boy. Watch! The boy will be killed! No, he
has changed his position. The man fired too late."

Frank and Barney were intensely excited as they watched what was taking
place in the canyon. Clyde, after leaping to the shelter of the rocks,
had changed his position just in time to save himself from being shot.
One of the Danites took careful aim, a puff of smoke shot from the
muzzle of his rifle, and, some time later, the report of the weapon
reached the ears of the trio at the mouth of the cave.

But Providence must have watched over Walter Clyde then, for the boy
moved a moment before the rifle sent forth its dead messenger, and he
escaped the bullet. Whirling swiftly, he brought the butt of his rifle
to his shoulder, and fired straight into the midst of the puff of smoke.

"Hurro!" shouted Barney.

"He nailed the wretch!" cried Frank, with satisfaction.

It was true, Clyde's bullet knocked the man over in a twinkling, and he
lay writhing amid the rocks.

"He is a brave boy," muttered Old Solitary. "It is a pity he cannot
escape! He is but one of hundreds of brave hearts butchered by the
Danites."

There was a lull far across the canyon.

"What is coming now?" speculated Frank. "The Danites seem dazed."

"Look, and you shall see what is coming," said Old Solitary, his fingers
again closing on our hero's arm. "You can see Clyde's companion, the
treacherous Graves. Watch; ah! I knew it!"

Graves was seen to rise behind Clyde, uplift some weapon in his hand,
and strike the boy prostrate.

Then, with a yell that faintly reached the ears of the watching three,
the Danites scrambled over the rocks.

"The tragedy is over," said Old Solitary, solemnly. "The deadly work is
done. Poor boy!"

"Poor boy!" echoed Frank.

"It's dearly th' spalpanes will pay fer this noight!" grated Barney
Mulloy. "It's nivver a bit will Oi hesitate about stoppin' wan av th'
divvils from b'rathin' av Oi get a chance."

"I do not think my conscience will trouble me much if I am forced to
finish one of them," said Frank, huskily.

"They are beasts--human beasts!" declared Old Solitary. "It is not a sin
to place such where they can do no harm to the rest of the world."

"Sin!" exclaimed Barney. "It's a deed av charity!"

The Danites were seen leaning over their victim. In a few moments they
lifted Clyde to his feet, and then it was evident that the boy had not
been slain outright, but had been stunned long enough for them to make
him their captive.

"It were better if they had killed him quickly," said Old Solitary.

"I don't know about that," panted Frank. "Where there is life there is
hope."

"All who enter this canyon may leave hope behind."

"Av they let th' poor lad live till to-night, we'll do our bist fer
him," said Barney.

"That we will," nodded Frank.

Clyde seemed to have recovered, and now he was marched along in the
midst of his captors, who moved straight toward the pocket where the
homes of the Danites were located.

For all of their situation, Frank Merriwell had not given up hope. He
was young, and he still believed that all evil things come to an evil
end, and all good things eventually triumph. He had not grown cynical
and pessimistic.

Drawing back into the mouth of the cave, the trio watched the Danites
march across the canyon with their captive.

Graves was with the men, and he no longer pretended to be friendly to
the boy. At last Clyde knew him for what he actually was.

At length the entire party passed from view on their way to the pocket.

Then Old Solitary led the boys back into the cave, where they ate
breakfast, such as it was, and attempted to lay plans for the coming
night.

It was a long, dreary, wretched day they spent in the cave. Many times
they went to the opening where they could look down into the Danite
village. Once they saw Uric Dugan, and once they saw Miskel, his
daughter.

But the day passed on, and, to their intense relief, they saw nothing to
indicate that the captives were executed.

Night came at last.

The boys were eager to be astir. Their blood was throbbing hotly in
their veins, and they felt capable of any deed of daring.

They looked to their weapons, making sure everything was ready for
business, and then they followed Old Solitary from the cave.

The descent was slow and tedious, fraught with much peril, and long in
the accomplishment. To the eager boys, it seemed that they would never
get down.

The task was finally accomplished, and then they moved onward, with Old
Solitary in the lead.

They had not gone far when a gasp of astonishment came from Frank's
lips, and he clutched Barney, softly crying:

"Look up there! What do you make of that?"

Barney looked upward, as directed, and, high in the air, he saw a bright
light that was swiftly settling toward the earth.

"It's a shooting shtar, begobs!" exclaimed the Irish lad.

"Not much!" broke from Frank. "That is no star. It looks like a light,
with a reflector behind it."

"Well, who knows but thot's th' woay a shtar looks?"

"It is not a star," said Old Solitary; "but what it is I cannot say."

"I know!" cried Frank.

"What is it, then?"

"The _Eagle_."

"What is the _Eagle_?"

"An air ship."

Old Solitary gave a muttered exclamation of incredulity.

"Impossible!"

"It is not impossible," asserted Frank. "It was in the _Eagle_ that we
came here from Blake."

"Thot's roight," agreed Barney.

Then in a few words Frank told the man of their trip from Blake, how
Professor Scudmore had gone mad, and how they had captured the ship from
the professor, who afterward escaped and got away with the _Eagle_ in
the night.

The boy's apparent sincerity convinced Old Solitary that he spoke the
truth, and by the time Frank had finished, the air ship had settled
close to the earth. They could see its outlines through the darkness,
and could see a man in the car.

The _Eagle_ came down gently, and the man stepped out.

"It was somewhere amid these mountains that I left those poor boys," he
murmured. "There is not one chance in ten thousand that I shall ever
find them again."

"You have stumbled on that one chance," said Frank, speaking distinctly,
and advancing fearlessly toward the man.

"Eh!"

Professor Scudmore seemed on the point of leaping into the air ship and
taking to flight, but he suddenly changed his mind.

"Can't get away quick enough to escape," he said. "Have let off enough
gas so the ballast brought her down, and I could not throw out the rest
of the ballast and get away. If enemies come, I am lost."

"We are not enemies," assured Frank. "We are the boys you left not many
miles from here."

"It can't be possible!" cried the lank professor, in the greatest
surprise and delight. "Then this is the work of Providence--it must
be!"

His joy was almost boundless.

"I was mad at the time," he explained; "I must have been. Otherwise, I'd
never done such a thing. I came to my sober senses after a time, and
then I resolved to come back here, hoping to find you, but not expecting
to."

"Begorra! ye done a great thrick thot toime!" put in Barney Mulloy.
"Frankie, me b'y we'll get away in th' _'Agle_, an' th' Danite thot
catches us will have to have wings."

"That is right," said Frank. "This will provide a means of escape for
us, if the professor will take us along."

"I am here to take you along," assured Scudmore.

"But we cannot go till we have done our best to rescue Professor Scotch
and Walter Clyde."

"Roight, me lad."

They then explained to Scudmore what had happened to the professor and
the boy.

"If my gas generator is all right, so I can inflate the _Eagle_ to its
full extent, I shall be able to take four persons with me," said the
tall professor. "While you are doing your best to rescue the captives, I
will remain here and try to put the ship in condition to sail at short
notice."

He seemed perfectly sane, and there was nothing to do but to trust him,
and so this plan was agreed to by the boys.

Old Solitary kept in the background, saying nothing.

When everything was arranged, Frank and Barney left the professor, and
once more followed the strange man of the canyon on their way to the
village of the Danites.

They urged Old Solitary to lose no time, for they were eager to do
their best in the effort to save Professor Scotch and Walter Clyde and
get away from the canyon.

It was not long before they drew near the pocket, and they advanced with
great caution, although it was not thought absolutely necessary, as
there was not one chance in a hundred that the Danites would expect them
to make such an audacious attempt.

Deep in the canyon the shadows lay thick, which was to their advantage.
They succeeded in entering the pocket without being challenged.

Lights twinkled from two or three windows. Somewhere in the village a
beautiful but untrained voice was singing the chorus of a love song.

"That is Miskel," whispered Frank.

They lay in the darkness, watching and waiting.

Of a sudden an unexpected thing happened. The door of the very building
into which Professor Scotch had been carried was flung wide open,
allowing a broad bar of light to shine out. Then, out of this lighted
doorway streamed a dozen men, and a bell began to clang in a doleful
manner.

"What does it mean?" whispered Frank, wonderingly.

"It means that the tribunal of death has pronounced doom upon the
captives," answered Old Solitary. "The session has just broken up, and
the captives will be executed without delay."



CHAPTER XXIII.

LAST OF THE DANITES.


"How do you know?"

"I have witnessed other executions here."

"Then no time is to be lost."

"What would you do?"

"I do not know--something, anything to save them!"

Old Solitary held Frank back.

"Do not throw your life away," he said. "Wait a while. See, they are
lighting two bonfires, the piles of wood having been prepared in
advance."

"What is that for?"

"That there may be plenty of light for the execution, which the entire
camp will witness. See, a few moments ago the place seemed asleep, but
now it is all astir with life."

"I see," groaned the wretched boy; "and it seems to me that there is
very little chance for us to get in there and save Scotch and Clyde."

"Not one chance in a hundred. See those two posts in the full glare of
light? Well, to those posts the captives are to be tied. It is plain
that the tribunal have doomed them to death by shooting. What a farce!"

"That's right!" grated Frank; "it is a farce! As well might they have
killed them in the first place. There was no chance for them to escape."

"Not the least."

"Look, Frankie," whispered Barney, "there comes th' poor profissor, an'
Cloyde is clost behindt him."

The Danites were marching their captives out to execution!

In a very few moments the professor and the boy were tied to the
death-posts.

Uric Dugan directed the movements of the Danites.

"Where is Miskel?" hoarsely breathed Frank. "Will she do nothing to
prevent this?"

"She has done all she could," muttered Old Solitary. "It is probable she
was not aware the tribunal was in progress. She will be prevented from
interfering now."

And now six men, with rifles in their hands, formed a line in front of
the prisoners.

Everything was done with startling swiftness.

Frank Merriwell was trembling with eagerness and excitement, and he
appealed to Old Solitary:

"Are we to remain inactive and see this frightful deed? Are we to do
nothing now that we are here?"

"We will do what we can," declared the strange man. "The time has come
for Dugan's career to end! I feel that I must strike. He shall never
give the fatal signal!"

The man lifted his old rifle, and the hammer clicked as he cocked it.

Dugan stepped forth to give the signal, and his harsh voice rang out
distinctly:

"Ready!"

The firing squad lifted their rifles.

"Take aim!"

The fatal moment was at hand.

The butt of Old Solitary's rifle came to the man's shoulder. He was
resting on one knee, and the weapon was held as steady as the hills.
"One!" counted Dugan.

It was the last word he ever uttered, for a spout of flame leaped from
the muzzle of Old Solitary's weapon, and the bullet sped on its fatal
mission.

Without a cry or a groan, Dugan flung up his hands and plunged headlong
upon his face.

There was a wild shriek, and the form of a girl rushed into the
firelight. Down beside the fallen man she dropped, lifting his head and
staring wildly into his face.

It was Miskel, but she could not save her wicked father, for the aim of
Old Solitary had been accurate.

The Danites were thrown into the greatest confusion, and Frank Merriwell
held back no longer.

"Come on, Barney!" he shouted.

"Oi'm wid yez!" assured the undaunted Irish lad.

Forward they rushed, each firing a shot as they did so, and adding to
the dismay of the Danites.

Straight up to Professor Scotch ran Frank, and, with one slash of a
sharp knife he had drawn, he released the man.

Barney did the same thing for Walter Clyde, and the two were set at
liberty before the Danites realized what was happening. Then bullets
began to whistle around them.

At that moment a wild, strange cry cut the night air, filling the hearts
of the Danites with the utmost terror.

It was the war cry of the Navajoes!

A hundred dusky forms seemed to materialize from the darkness, and a
hundred savage warriors, deadly enemies of the Danites, came charging
into the camp.

Old Solitary had rushed to the side of Uric Dugan, into whose face he
glared, as he cried:

"Look, Dugan, look! You robbed me of reason, of memory, of everything I
held dear; but I have been avenged, for it was my hand that laid you
low!"

"He is dead!" screamed Miskel, and she fainted on her father's body.

"Yes, he is dead!" said the avenger, in a half-regretful tone. "And he
never knew who killed him."

Then he suddenly caught up the girl and rushed away into the darkness,
with her flung over his shoulder.

How Frank and his companions escaped from that spot without falling
before the Danites or the savages they scarcely knew. A dozen times they
fancied all was lost. They emptied their weapons, they struck down every
one who blocked their way, and they finally succeeded in getting out of
the pocket.

That they did so at all was due to the fact that the Navajoes, who had
surprised and overcome the guard in the pass, believed they held the
only exit from the canyon, which made it impossible for any one to get
away, even though they might escape temporarily. If two or three were to
escape for the time, the Indians felt that it was impossible for them to
get away entirely.

But Professor Septemas Scudmore, with his air ship, was in the canyon,
and the boys, half lugging the exhausted Professor Scotch, found him
waiting for them, greatly alarmed and excited by the sounds of the
battle.

"What does it mean?" cried the lank professor, as the party rushed up.
"What is all that shooting and yelling?"

"There is no time to explain now," said Frank. "Get in, everybody, and
let's get out of this infernal place as soon as we can! There is not a
moment to lose."

"I am bewildered," declared Scudmore. "A moment ago an old man with
white hair and beard rushed up to me, bearing a girl in his arms. She
had fainted, and he thrust her into the car, telling me to wait for you,
and take her away with us."

"It was Old Solitary, and the girl must be Miskel. Is she in the car
now?"

"Yes."

"And the man?"

"He is gone."

"It was Old Solitary, sure enough, and he will be able to hide from the
savages. We cannot wait for him."

"The _Eagle_ would not carry so many, even if we could wait. I have her
inflated, and she is tied down. Get in, get in! We'll throw out every
bit of ballast, and make the attempt to rise out of the canyon. It may
be a failure, but I think it will succeed, if we can get high enough to
strike the strong wind which is blowing above us. We can try."

They got into the car, and the bags of ballast were tossed overboard.
Then the ropes were cut, and the air ship rose slowly with its heavy
burden.

       *       *       *       *       *

Four days later five persons were seated in a room in the town of Loa,
which is located amid the mountains of Southern Utah. The five were
Professors Scotch and Scudmore, and the three boys, Frank, Barney and
Walter Clyde.

"Then you are determined to go back to Water Pocket Canyon and the place
where the camp of the Danites was, are you, Clyde?" asked Frank.

"I shall not be satisfied till I do so," was the answer. "I must find
Old Solitary, if he is living, for I believe he is my father."

"I have thought that such might be the case," said Frank. "In some way
he has been wronged by Uric Dugan. He did not seem to know exactly how,
but he was sure of it. It was only at times that he seemed deranged, but
he did not remember much of his past."

"It would be most remarkable if he should turn out to be my father, whom
I have believed dead all these years."

"It would be a miracle," declared Professor Scotch. "But do you know you
can find Water Pocket Canyon again?"

"Yes, for I have Ben Barr to guide me. He will take me there."

"Well," said the little professor, "I wish you success, but I would not
go back there for the worlds, and I absolutely refuse to let my boys
go."

"I suppose we'll have to humor the professor in this instance," laughed
Frank. "Our last escapade came near being fatal for all of us."

"You owe your salvation to Professor Septemas Scudmore," declared that
individual, importantly. "But for his marvelous invention, the _Eagle_,
you would have fallen victims to untamed savages."

"Begorra, thot's roight!" nodded Barney. "Th' _'Agle_ is a great
birrud."

"It is bound to make me famous the world over, and send my name ringing
down the corridors of time."

"But what of poor Miskel?" asked Frank. "She is heartbroken over the
death of her father. She knows nothing of the world at large, and----"

"Under the circumstances," said Walter, "I feel that it is my duty to
see that she does not come to harm. As long as she wants it, she shall
have a home with my folks, if she will accept."

"Be aisy, me b'y!" chuckled Barney, roguishly. "It's a swate purty face
she has, an' Oi'm thinkin' ye're a bit shtuck on her."

"Oh, come!" protested Walter, blushing. "I have known her but four days,
and----"

"Ye've made good progress, me lad. Oi notice thot you have done
firrust-rate comfortin' her. It's an invoite to th' weddin' Oi warnt,
an' Oi think Frankie would look foine as th' bist man."

"If the wedding ever takes place, you shall be invited."

The mystery of Old Solitary remains still, for he was never found;
although Walter and Ben Barr did make their way into Water Pocket
Canyon once more. The ruins of the Danite village were found, also human
bones, picked clean by wolves and vultures. No living thing seemed to
remain in the vicinity, and the silence and shadow of death hung over
the place.

Old Solitary's cave was deserted. It is possible that, after all, the
strange man fell a victim to the savages; but it is more likely that,
being deranged, he was spared by them, and they made him a great
medicine man among them. Perchance he is living with them to-day on the
Navajo reservation.

"I think we are well out of that," said Frank, when it was all over. "I
want no more of the murderous Danites."

"Humph, I told you to keep off," grunted Professor Scotch. "But you'll
soon run into equal peril, I'll warrant."

"No, professor--only sight-seeing in the future."

"And where?"

"Yellowstone Park, the great National reservation."

"Hurro!" cried Barney. "Just the sphot Oi've been wantin' to see."

"Yes, I'd like to see the park myself," said the professor. "We'll be
safe there."

But were they? Let us wait and see.



CHAPTER XXIV.

YELLOWSTONE PARK.


"Hurro!"

"What is it, Barney?"

"Boofaloes, Frankie!"

"Buffalo?"

"Sure, me b'y!"

"Where?"

Frank scrambled eagerly to the crest of the ridge on which his friend
was perched.

They were in the heart of that picturesque wonderland about the head
waters of the Yellowstone River, known as the National Park.

Frank had a camera slung at his back, and for three days he had been
trying to get a "shot" with it at a buffalo, having been told there was
a small herd of the nearly extinct creatures somewhere in that region.

Neither of the boys had the least desire to kill one of the animals, and
a "shot" with the camera at close range would have satisfied them.

And now, in the grassy valley below them, at a distance of half a mile,
they could see five of the animals they sought. The creatures were
grazing, with the exception of the largest of the herd, which seemed to
be standing on guard, now and then snuffing the wind.

The moment Frank saw them he clutched his companion, drawing him
backward and down behind some bowlders.

"Pwhat's th' matther wid yez?" spluttered Barney, in surprise.

"If we expect to get near enough to photograph those creatures, we must
get out of this right away."

"Whoy?"

"Did you observe the old fellow who is standing on guard? Peer out and
you can see him. He is headed this way."

"Pwhat av thot? He can't see us, me b'y."

"He might not see us, but he is liable to smell us."

"At this distance? Go on wid yer foolin', Frankie!"

"I am not fooling; I am in earnest when I say he is liable to smell us.
We are on the wrong side of that herd, if so few may be called a herd."

"Whoy on th' wrong soide?"

"We are to windward."

"Not doirectly."

"No, not directly. If we had been, those creatures would be scampering
off already. Their sense of scent is remarkable."

"Is it a jolly ye're givin' us?"

"Not a bit of it, Barney; I am in earnest. Their power of sight is not
particularly acute, but it is said that they 'can smell a man a mile.'"

"Thin how can we ivver induce th' bastes to sit fer their photygrafs?"

"We'll have to get on the other side of them, and creep up behind that
small clump of timber."

"It will take an hour to get round there, me b'y."

"All of that; but I shall be well repaid if I can obtain a picture of
some real wild buffalo. What a sight it must have been to behold one of
those immense herds which once covered the plains 'from horizon to
horizon,' as we are told. Now it is a known fact that there are less
than fifty wild buffaloes in existence. A little more than fifteen years
ago it was said that about three hundred thousand Indians subsisted
almost entirely on the flesh of the buffalo."

"An' is thot roight?"

"It is right, Barney. The hide-hunter has destroyed the buffalo. The
creatures were slaughtered by thousands, stripped of their hides, and
their carcasses left to rot and make food for wolves and vultures."

"An' wur there no law to stop th' killin' av thim?"

"No. If there had been, it could not have been enforced on the great
plains. The railroad, civilization, and the white man's lust for
killing, which he calls sport, doomed the buffalo.

"But this is not getting a picture of 'real wild buffalo.' I have
pictures of Golden Gate Pass, Fire Hole Basin, Union Geysers, and almost
everything else but wild buffalo, and I have vowed I would not leave the
park till I had one of the latter. Come on."

He backed from the crest of the ridge and down the slope, Barney
following. In a few moments the boys could rise to their feet and make
their way along.

Both were armed, for it was not known what danger they might encounter,
and wild animals of all kinds were plentiful enough, from the beaver to
the grizzly bear, thanks to the very effective policing of the park by
two troops of United States Cavalry. Two regiments could not entirely
prevent poaching, but two troops were very successful, and the boys had
found sections of the American Wonderland exactly as primitive as when
the lonely trapper Coulter made his famous journey through it.

Frank and Barney had taken care not to slaughter any of the game they
saw, although they had been tempted by wild geese, which were so tame
they would hardly get out of the way, and by deer and bears innumerable.

The lads believed in the laws which protected these creatures, and knew
that this great game preserve and breeding-ground, if not disturbed,
must always give an overflow into Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, which
will make big game shooting there for years to come.

Frank led the way at a swift pace, keeping the ridge between them and
the buffalo for a time, and then making use of other shelter.

It was nearly an hour before they came round to the windward side of the
herd and began working in upon it.

All at once, with a low exclamation, Frank stopped, shifted his position
quickly, and hissed:

"Down, Barney!"

"Pwhat is it, Frankie?"

"Be careful! Look there by the base of that bluff. Can you see them?"

"Oi see something moving. Pwhat is it?"

"Hunters, I reckon."

"Afther th' boofalo?"

"Yes. They are nearer than we are, and they will be taking a shot at the
creatures in a minute. It's a shame! If the soldier-police were only
here!"

"Nivver a bit do Oi loike th' oidea av seein' thim boofalo shot onliss
Oi can do th' shootin'."

"No more do I, and I am not going to stand it! Come on, Barney. We'll
get after those fellows. We may be able to stop them before they shoot,
and then get a picture of the buffalo afterward. Lively now."

The boys sprang to their feet and went running toward the spot near the
base of the bluff, where they had seen men moving. As they ran, they
crouched low, holding their rifles at their sides, and taking great
pains not to be seen by the buffalo. In fact, they paid so much
attention to this that they did not note how near they were to the
bluff, till they almost ran upon the very men they had seen moving
there.

Then there was a shock and a surprise, for they found themselves face to
face with a dozen Blackfeet Indians!

"Howly shmoke!" gurgled Barney, as he came to a sudden halt.

"Jupiter!" muttered Frank, also stopping quickly.

The Indians stared at them, and grunted:

"How, how! Ugh!"

One of them, a villainous-looking half-blood, spoke up:

"What white boys do? shoot buffalo?"

"No," answered Frank, promptly, "we are not here to shoot them, but we
want to get a picture of them."

"Pic'ter? Hugah! No good!"

The half-blood was doubtful; he believed they had intended to shoot the
buffalo, and his eyes glittered with greed as he noted the handsome
rifles carried by the lads.

"Lemme looker gun," he said, stepping toward Frank, and holding out a
hand, nearly one-half of which had been torn away by some accident.

Now Frank knew there would not be one chance in a thousand of getting
back his rifle if he let the fellow have it, and so he decisively said:

"No, I will not let you look at it. Keep off! The soldiers will have you
for killing game in this park if you do not make tracks back to your
reservation."

"Ha! Soldiers fools! Half Hand not afraid of soldier. He watch up. They
be way off there to north, ten, twenty, thirty mile. No soldiers
round--nobody round. White boy lemme looker gun."

Again he advanced, his manner aggressive, and the boys realized they
were in a decidedly perilous situation.



CHAPTER XXV.

FAY.


"Th' spalpane manes ter kape it av he gits his hand on it," whispered
Barney. "It's murther he has in his oies."

Frank knew well enough that Barney was right, and he had no intention of
relinquishing his hold on his rifle for a moment. He fell back a step,
lifting the weapon in a suggestive manner, and Half Hand halted,
scowling blackly and smiling craftily by turns.

"Hold up!" came sharply from the lips of the boy. "Keep your distance,
or you will get damaged."

"Ha! White boy threaten Half Hand! Be careful! Half Hand good when him
not threatened; heap bad when him threatened. White boys two; Injuns big
lot more. White boys make Injuns mad, then where um be?"

"I have no desire to make you mad, but this is my rifle, and I mean to
keep it."

"Half Hand want to look."

"You may look at a distance, but you can't lay a hand on it."

"White boy heap 'fraid. Give gun back pretty quick bimeby."

"I fancy it would be bimeby. No, you cannot take it, and that settles
it."

"Mebbe Half Hand trade with boy."

"I do not wish to trade."

"Mebbe Half Hand give um heap good trade."

"Possibly, but that makes no difference."

"White boy fool!" snarled the half-blood. "If um don't lemme take gun,
Half Hand take it anyhow, and then white boy no git a thing for it."

This was quite enough to startle Frank, and he sharply declared:

"If you attempt to take this rifle, you will get a pill out of it in
advance! That is straight business, Mr. Half Hand."

"Hurro!" cried Barney, his fighting blood beginning to rise. "Av it's
foight ye want, ye red nagurs, jist wade roight inter us! We'll give ye
all th' foight ye want, begobs!"

The Blackfeet jabbered among themselves a minute, and it was plain that
they were not all of one mind. Some seemed to be for attacking the boys,
while others opposed it. Half Hand hotly urged them on.

"Fall back," said Frank, speaking softly to the Irish lad. "Be ready for
a rush. If they come, give it to them. I will take Half Hand myself. You
take the fellow with the red feather. If they kill us, we'll have the
satisfaction of getting two or three of them in advance."

The boy's voice was cool and steady, and his nerves seemed of iron. He
glanced over his shoulder in search of some place of shelter, but could
discover none near by, much to his disappointment.

Barney was also cool enough, although the hot blood was rushing swiftly
through his veins. He was holding himself in check, in imitation of his
friend and comrade.

In truth, the two lads were in a tight corner. It was plain that the
Indian poachers were made up of rebellious Blackfeet, who could not be
kept on the reservation, and their faces showed they were the very worst
sort. Having been caught almost in the act of killing game within the
park, and believing the two lads had no friends near by, the dusky
villains might not hesitate at outright murder spurred on by their greed
for plunder, lust for blood, and a desire to keep the boys from
notifying the soldiers of the presence of Indians on forbidden ground.

Frank fully understood their peril, and he felt that they would be lucky
indeed if they escaped with their lives.

He blamed himself for running into the trap in such a blind manner, and
still he felt that he was not to blame. He had seen moving figures at a
distance, and, as the Indians were keeping under cover, in order to
creep upon the buffalo, he had no more than caught a glimpse of them.
They were dressed in clothes they had obtained by trade or plunder from
white men, and so, at a distance and under such circumstances, it was
not remarkable that Frank had not noted they were savages.

In a few moments Half Hand seemed to bring the most of the Indians to
his way of thinking, and he again turned on the boys.

"Good white boys," he croaked, craftily. "Don't be 'fraid of Injuns.
Injuns won't hurt um."

"We are not afraid of you," returned Frank; "but you want to keep your
distance, or you will get hurt by us."

"Thot's roight, begorra!" cried Barney, fingering his Winchester. "It's
stoofed to th' muzzle, this ould shootin' iron is, wid grapeshot an'
canister, an' av Oi leggo wid it, there won't be a red nagur av yez left
on his pins."

"Injuns want to talk with white boys," said the half-blood, edging
nearer, inch by inch. "Injuns want to hold powwow."

"We are not at all anxious to hold a powwow with you. Stand where you
are!"

Up came Frank's rifle a bit.

It was plain that the red ruffians meant to make an assault, and the
moment was at hand. They were handling their weapons in a way that told
how eager some of them were to shed the blood of the boys.

Barney, in his characteristic, devil-may-care manner, began to hum, "My
Funeral's To-morrow." He seemed utterly unable to take matters
seriously, however great the danger.

A moment before the rush and encounter must have taken place, all were
startled to hear a merry, childish laugh, and a voice saying:

"I knowed I'd find tomebody tomewhere. I wants to tome down. Tate me
down, please."

On the top of the bluff, forty feet above the heads of the Indians,
stood a little girl, dressed in white. She had golden hair and blue
eyes, and, on her lofty perch, she looked like a laughing fairy.

"Mother av Mowses!" gurgled Barney.

"A child!" exclaimed Frank, astonished. "Here!"

The Indians muttered and hesitated. Half Hand still urged them on, but
it was plain that they believed there was a party of white persons near
at hand, and they feared to attack the boys. The urging of the
half-blood was in vain, and he was forced to give it up.

Then he turned fiercely on the boys, snarling:

"Good thing for you your friends come! They no come, we kill you and
take your guns! Mebbe we see you 'gain some time bimeby."

Then the Indians turned and quickly scudded away, soon disappearing from
view amid some pines.

Frank drew a breath of relief.

"That was a close shave," he muttered.

"Begorra! It was thot," nodded Barney. "Av it hadn't been fer th'
litthle girrul, we'd lost our scoolps Oi belave."

"The little girl!" exclaimed Frank. "She appeared like a good fairy,
and----"

"Dat's my name. Mamma talls me Fairy Fay."

She was still standing on the bluff, and she had heard Frank's words.
Now she held out her arms to him, crying:

"Tome tate me down. I wants to tome down."

"Get back from the edge, dear," Frank quickly called. "You may fall. We
will come up to you as soon as possible."

"Tome wight away."

"Yes, we will come right away."

"I's tired playing all alone--an' I's hundry," said the sweet little
voice. "I's awsul hundry. You dot somet'ing dood to eat?"

"You shall have something to eat very soon, if you will keep back from
the edge, so you'll not fall down," assured Frank.

He then directed Barney to remain there and watch her, cautioning her to
keep back, while he found a way to reach the top of the bluff.

Frank hastened away, looking for some mode of getting there. In a short
time, he found a place to ascend, and lost no time in doing so.

When he came panting to the top of the bluff, the little girl was
waiting, having seated herself contentedly on a stone, where she could
call down to Barney.

Seeing Frank, she held out her arms, crying:

"I's awsul glad you tome! I'll be your Fairy now."

"You have been my good fairy to-day, little one," he earnestly said, as
he lifted her in his arms and kissed her cheek. "Without doubt you saved
my life."

"Mamma says I's pritty dood Fairy all the time."

"I haven't a doubt of it."

"But I's awsul hundry now. I touldn't find mamma, and I walked and
walked, and I falled down and tored my dress, and I dot tired and awsul
hundry, and I cwyed some, and nen I 'membered mamma told me it wasn't
nice to cwy, and I walked again, and I heard somebody talkin', and I
looked down and it was you."

She ended with a happy laugh, clasping her arms about his neck.

"Where is your mamma?"

"Oh, I don't know now," she answered, a little cloud coming to her face.
"I touldn't find her. You tate me to her."

"You do not live near here?"

"We live in New Yort."

"New York?"

"Yeth, thir. Dat's a dreat bid place wif lots and lots of houses."

"Then you must be traveling with your mamma?"

"I's trafeling wizout her now. We has had jes' the longest wides on the
cars. And we stopped in lots of places, but we didn't find papa."

"Then your papa is not with you?"

"Papa goed away long time ago, and that made mamma cwy. I seed her
weadin' a letter and cwyin' awsul hard, and papa didn't tome bat some
more. You know where to find my papa?"

"No, little one, I do not; but I will help you find your mother. What
did you say your name is?"

"Fay. Tometimes mamma talls me Fairy."

"What is all your name--the rest of it besides Fay?"

"Why, jes' Fairy. I's awsul hundry. Dot a tookie?"

Finding himself unable to learn her full name from her lips, Frank
started for the foot of the bluff, bearing her in his arms.



CHAPTER XXVI.

OLD ROCKS.


Barney was waiting, and he drew a breath of relief when Frank appeared
with the child.

"Oi wur afraid th' litthle darlint would tumble off bafore ye could
rache her," he said.

"But I tept wight away from the edge, same as you toldt me to," chirped
Fay, cheerfully. "If I did tumbled, you tould catch me."

"Begorra! Oi wur ready to thry it, me swate."

"You never wanted to see me fall and hurt myself bad, did you?"

"Nivver a bit."

Frank told Barney how much he had been able to learn from her lips, and
they were not long in deciding it would be folly for them to attempt to
find Fay's mother.

"The guide is the one to do that," said Frank.

"Roight, me b'y. Ould Rocks knows ivery inch av th' parruk."

"Then we had better return to camp at once."

"Sure."

"But the buffalo--I had forgotten them. We have not obtained that
picture."

"An' nivver a bit we will this doay, Frankie."

"Why not?"

"Th' boofalo have shkipped."

"Gone?"

"Thot's roight."

"Too bad!"

Frank felt that he must satisfy himself with his own eyes, and so he
hastened to a spot that commanded a view of the place where the
creatures had been feeding.

Sure enough, they were gone.

"That's hard luck!" he muttered. "Here we have been hanging a whole week
in the park just to enable me to get a snap at some of the creatures,
and we lost our only opportunity. Well, I suppose we should be satisfied
to get off with our lives."

He knew this was true, and so there was reason to be thankful, instead
of grumbling.

He returned to where Barney was talking to Fay. The child was anxiously
watching Frank's movements.

"You ain't doin' away and leave me, is you?" she asked.

"No, dear."

"I was 'fraid so, and I's awsul hundry."

"An' wouldn't ye go wid me av Oi'd take ye where ye'd get plinty to
ate?" asked the Irish lad.

"Him tome, too?" She held out her hands to Frank.

"An' wouldn't ye go av he didn't come?"

"I dess not," she said. "I like you pitty well; but I kinder like him
better. Him goin' to find my mamma. I dess him dit me somefin to eat."

Frank caught her up in his arms.

"Yes, dear," he laughed, his heart swelling with a feeling that
convinced him he would lay down his life in defense of her, if needs be.
"I will find you something to eat as soon as possible, and I will take
you to your mother."

"Dat's all wight. I ain't doin' to cwy. You don't like little dirls
we'en they cwy, does you?"

"In your case, I do not think crying would change my feelings. Little
girls have to cry sometimes."

"I dess dat's wight," said Fay, very soberly.

Frank surrendered his rifle to Barney, who insisted on taking the
camera also, and then, with the child in his arms, followed the Irish
lad on the return tramp to camp.

It proved to be a long, tiresome trudge, and the sun was setting when
the boys came in sight of a white tent that was pitched near a spring of
cool water and a growth of pines down in a pretty valley.

Once or twice Fay had murmured that she was "so hundry," but when the
camp was sighted, she was asleep in Frank's arms, her head of tangled
golden curls lying on his shoulder.

A fire was blazing in front of the tent, sending a thin column of smoke
straight up into the still air.

Near the fire, with a pipe in his mouth, was sitting a grizzled old man,
whose appearance indicated that he was a veteran of the mountains and
plains.

This was Roxy Jules, generally known as "Old Rocks." He was one of the
professional guides who make a business of taking parties of tourists
through the park and showing them its wonders.

Between two trees a hammock was strung, and another man, a little fellow
with fiery-red hair and whiskers, was reclining. Gold-bowed spectacles
were perched on his nose, and he was studying a book.

All at once Old Rocks gave a queer kind of a grunt. As it did not arouse
the man in the hammock, he grunted again. That not proving effectual, he
growled:

"Wa-al, I wonders whut kind o' game them yar kids hev struck now?"

"Eh?" exclaimed the little man. "Did you speak to me? My name is Scotch,
as you very well know--Professor Horace Scotch."

"Wa-al," drawled Old Rocks, with a sly grin, "I reckons I has heard them
yar boys call yer Hot Scotch enough to know whut yer handle is."

"Those boys are very disrespectful--very! They should be called to
account. I object to such familiarity from others, sir--I distinctly
object."

Old Rocks grunted derisively, having come to regard the timid little man
with contempt, which was natural with him, as he looked with disfavor on
all "tenderfeet."

That grunt stirred the blood of the quick-tempered little man, who sat
up, snapping:

"I should think there was a pig somewhere round, by the sounds I hear!"

The guide grunted again.

"I detest pigs!" fumed Scotch. "They're always grunting."

"Thar's only one thing I dislike wuss'n pigs," observed Old Rocks,
lazily.

"What is that, sir; what is that?"

"Hawgs," answered the guide, with his small, keen eyes fixed on the
professor. "Of course, I don't mean to be personal, nor nawthing, an' I
don't call no names; but ef you want ter know who I mean, you kin see
whar I'm lookin'."

"This in an insult!" squealed the little man, snapping himself out of
the hammock. "I'll discharge you at once, sir--at once!"

"All right. Just you pay me whut you owe me, an' I'll leave ye ter git
out o' ther park ther best way ye derned kin. You'll hev a heap o' fun
doin' it."

The professor blustered about, while Old Rocks sat and smoked, a
patronizing smile on his leathery face.

Suddenly Scotch observed the approaching boys, and saw the child Frank
carried in his arms.

"Goodness!" gurgled the little man, staring. "What does that mean?"

"Oh, you have jest woke up!" said the guide, continuing to pull at his
black pipe. "I wuz tryin' to call your 'tention to thet thar. Whut has
ther boy found? An' whar did he find it?"

"You know quite as well as I. It is surprising--very much so!"

Frank and Barney came up, and explanations followed. Old Rocks pricked
up his ears when Frank told of the Blackfeet, and how near they came to
having a fight with the Indians.

"Is thet onery skunk in hyar again?" exclaimed the guide. "Why, he's
wuss'n sin, is ole Half Hand. He'd ruther cut a throat than do anything
else, an' ye're derned lucky ter git away. It wuzn't by yer own nerve ye
done it, howsomever. Ef ther gal hedn't 'peared jest as she did, you'd
both be food fer coyotes now."

"Two or three Indians, at least, would have kept us company," declared
Frank.

Old Rocks grunted.

"Yah! I'll bet a hawse you wuz so derned scat ye shivered clean down ter
yer toes. Ef ther red skunks hed made a run fer ye, ye'd drapped right
down on yer marrerbones an' squealed."

A bit of warm color came to Frank's face, and he said:

"It is plain you have a very poor opinion of my courage."

Barney was angry, and he roared:

"Oi'd loike ter punch yer head fer yez, ye ould haythen! It's mesilf
thot's got nerve enough fer thot!"

This awakened Fay, who looked about in a wondering manner with her big,
blue eyes, and then half sobbed:

"Where is my mamma? I was jes' finkin' I was wiz her, and she was divin'
me somefin' dood to eat. I's awful hundry!"

In the twinkling of an eye, Old Rocks changed his manner. His pipe
disappeared, and he was on his feet, saying, softly:

"Don't you go to cryin', leetle gal. You shell have something to eat in
abaout two shakes, an' I'll see thet you finds yer mother all right.
Ye're a little angel, an' thet yar's jest what ye are!"

Straightway there was a bustle in the camp. Frank sat on the ground and
entertained Fay, while Old Rocks prepared supper. The child was given
some bread, and she proved that she was "awsul hundry" by the way she
ate it.

There was not a person in the camp who was not hungry, and that supper
was well relished.

Fay was questioned closely, but no one succeeded in obtaining much more
information than Frank had already received.

When she had eaten till she was satisfied, Old Rocks tried to coax her
to him, but she crept into Frank's arms and cuddled close to him,
whispering:

"I likes you the bestest."

So Frank held her, and sang lullaby songs in a beautiful baritone voice,
while the blue shadows settled over the valley and night came on. Long
after she was sound asleep he held her and sang on, while the others
listened.

Beyond the limits of the camp was a man who seemed enraptured by the
songs, whose eyes were wet with tears, and whose heart was torn by the
emotions which surged upward from his lonely soul.



CHAPTER XXVII.

THE HERMIT.


At last little Fay was placed within the tent on the softest bed that
could be prepared for her.

"In ther mornin'," said Old Rocks, "I'll hunt up her mamma."

The fire glowed pleasantly, being replenished now and then by Barney.

Professor Scotch occupied the hammock, Frank stretched himself at full
length on the ground, and the guide sat with his back against a tree,
still pulling away at the black pipe, his constant companion. He had
smoked so much that his flesh seemed cured, like that of a ham.

At heart Old Rocks was tender as a child, but he had a way of
spluttering and growling that made him seem grouty and cross-grained. He
seemed to take real satisfaction in picking a quarrel with any one.

Professor Scotch was alarmed by the story Frank had told of the
encounter with the Blackfeet, and he was for leaving that vicinity as
soon as possible.

"Not till I get a photograph of real wild buffalo," said the boy,
stiffly.

Old Rocks grunted derisively.

"I reckon you came as nigh it ter-day as ye will at all," he said.
"You've clicked yer old machine at everything from one end o' ther park
to t'other, an' I ain't seen nary picter yit."

"They have not been developed."

"Woosh! Whatever is thet?"

Frank explained, and the guide listened, with an expression of derision
on his face.

"I'll allow you don't know northin' abaout takin' picters," drawled the
man. "I hed my picter took up at Billings last winter, an' ther man as
took it didn't hev ter go through no such fussin' as thet."

"How do you know?"

"Wa-al, I know."

"But how do you know?"

"I jest know, thet's how!"

Frank laughed.

"You are like some other people who know everything about anything they
don't know anything about."

That was quite enough to start the old fellow, and he seemed ready to
fight at the drop of the hat; but, at this moment, something happened to
divert his attention.

Out of the darkness stalked a man, who calmly and deliberately advanced
toward the party.

"Halt thar!" cried Old Rocks, catching up a rifle and covering the
stranger.

The man did not pay the least attention to the command, but continued to
advance.

"Halt, or I'll shoot!" shouted the guide.

Still the unknown refused to obey, and, to the bewilderment of Old
Rocks, he walked straight up to the muzzle of the weapon, where he
stopped, saying:

"I knew you wouldn't shoot. If you had, you could not have killed me.
Nothing can kill me, because I have sought death everywhere, and I have
not been able to find it. It is he who flees from death who finds it
first."

Then he sat down.

"Wa-al, dern me!" gasped Old Rocks. "I dunno why I didn't soak yer; but
thar wuz somethin' held me back."

"It was the hand of fate."

The man was dressed roughly, but he carried a handsome rifle. His
wide-brimmed hat was slouched over his eyes, so the expression of his
face could not have been seen very well, even if it had not been covered
by a full brown beard. His hair was long and unkempt.

Having seated himself on the ground, he sat and stared into the fire for
some moments before speaking again. Finally he turned a bit, saying:

"Who was singing here a short time ago?"

Frank explained that he had been singing, and the stranger said:

"I don't know why I should wish to take a look at you, for you caused me
more misery than I have known for a year."

"Thot's a compliment fer ye're singing, Frankie!" chuckled Barney.

"I tried not to listen," said the stranger; "but I could not tear myself
away. What right has a man without a home to listen to songs that fill
his soul with memories of home and little ones!"

He bowed his face on his hands, and his body shook a bit, betraying that
he was struggling to suppress his emotions.

After a moment, Old Rocks said:

"I reckons I knows yer now. You're the hermit."

The man did not stir or speak.

"Ain't yer the hermit?" asked the guide.

"Yes," was the bitter reply, "I am a man without a home or a name. Some
have said that there is trouble with my brain, but they are wrong. I am
not deranged. This is the first time in a year that I have sought the
society of human beings, unless it was to trade for such things as I
need to sustain life. It was those songs that brought me here. They
seemed to act like a magnet, and I could not keep away."

Then he turned to Frank, and asked him to sing one of the lullabys over
again.

For all of his peculiar manner, the man seemed sane enough, and the boy
decided to humor him.

Frank sang, and the man sat and listened, his face still bowed on his
hands. When the song was ended, and the last echo had died out along a
distant line of bluffs, the man still sat thus.

Those who saw him were impressed. Beyond a doubt, this man had suffered
some great affliction that had caused him to shun his fellows and become
one "without a home or a name."

All at once, with a deep sigh, he rose. He was finely built, and,
properly dressed and shaved, he must have been handsome.

"Thank you," he said, addressing Frank. "I will not trouble you longer.
I am going now."

"Look yar," broke in Old Rocks, in his harsh way; "I wants ter warn you
ag'in comin' round yere ther way you done a short time ago. It ain't
healthy none whatever."

"What do you mean?"

"Jest this: I might take a fancy ter shoot fust an' talk it over
arterward. I don't want ter shoot yer."

A strange, sad smile came to the man's face.

"You need not fear," he said. "If you were to shoot at me, you would not
hit me."

The guide gave a snort.

"Whut's thet?" he cried. "I allow you hain't seen me shoot any to speak
of, pard. I ain't in ther habit of missin'."

"That makes no difference. A man who seeks death cannot die. Fate would
turn your bullet aside."

"Wa-al, I don't allow thet I wants ter try it, fer Fate might not be
quick enough. Jest you keep away, 'less you hollers out ter let us know
when ye're comin'."

As the hermit turned away he happened to glance into the tent, the front
of which was still open. The firelight shone in and fell on the face of
the tired child, who was sleeping sweetly.

The man paused, staring at the face revealed by the flickering light.
His hand was lifted to his head, and he swayed unsteadily on his feet,
his face marked by a look of astonishment and pain.

Old Rocks, Professor Scotch, and the boys watched the hermit's every
movement with breathless wonderment. They were impressed, they were held
spellbound, they scarcely breathed.

For some moments the strange man stood there, and then, inch by inch,
step by step, he advanced toward the tent. He seemed trying to hold
back, yet there appeared to be some power dragging him toward the
sleeping child.

Frank's first thought was that the man might harm Fay, but the look on
the face of the hermit told that he had no such intention. Into the tent
he crept, and he knelt beside the bed on which little Fay was sleeping,
gazing longingly into her pretty face. A sob came from the depths of his
broad breast, and, finally, he stooped and lightly kissed the child's
cheek. As he did so, the little girl murmured in her dreams:

"Papa!"

The hermit sprang up, leaped away, and, with a low cry of intense pain,
fled into the darkness.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

VANISHING OF LITTLE FAY.


For some moments after the strange man had disappeared the guide, the
professor, and the boys sat staring into the darkness in the direction
he had taken.

"Wa-al, dog my cats!"

The exclamation came from Old Rocks, who had ceased to pull at the black
pipe for the time being.

"Thot bates th' band!"

Barney Mulloy could not express the astonishment he felt.

"What can that mean?"

Professor Scotch rose from the hammock, asking the question in a
bewildered manner.

"I can tell you what it means," said Frank, also rising to his feet. "It
seems to me there is but one explanation. Fay told me her father was not
with her mother, that she had not seen him for a long time, and that her
mamma cried when he went away. I believe there was some kind of trouble
between the child's parents, and that the one who is known as the
hermit, who calls himself 'the man without a name or a home,' is the
father of that child."

"Wa-al," drawled Old Rocks, "you may be a tenderfoot an' a kid, but yer
has a little hawse sense. Ef you ain't right, I'll chaw my boots fer
terbacker!"

"It certainly seems that you are right, Frank," nodded the little
professor. "The man was drawn into the camp by your songs, he was
fascinated when he saw the sleeping child, and he fled, with a cry of
pain, when she murmured 'papa.' Yes, it seems quite certain that the
hermit is the child's father."

"Ef thet is right, things is comin' round sing'ler," said the guide. "Ef
you kids hedn't seen ther Injuns crawlin' up on ther bufferler you
wouldn't got inter ther scrape ye did; ef ye hedn't got inter thet
scrape ye wouldn't found ther babby; if yer hedn't found ther babby it's
likely she might hev starved ur bin eaten by wild critters; ef Frank
hedn't sung them songs ther hermit w'u'dn't come inter camp; ef he
hedn't come inter camp he w'u'dn't seen ther leetle gal; an' ef he
hedn't seen ther leetle gal we'd never suspected he wuz her father."

This was an unusually long speech for Old Rocks, who was given to short,
crusty sentences.

"Do you know where this man lives?" asked Scotch.

"Wa-al, I dunno prezactly, but I reckon I kin find him ag'in."

"That is important; he must be found. The mother of this child must be
taken to him. In that way a reunion may be brought about. Probably the
unfortunate woman is quite distracted to-night. In the morning we will
lose no time in finding her and restoring the child to her arms."

For some time they sat about the fire, discussing the strange events of
the day. Finally, all became sleepy, and it was decided that they had
better "turn in."

As Old Rocks seemed to sleep "with one eye open," they had not found it
necessary to have any one stand guard since he had been with them. No
wild animal could come prowling about the camp without arousing the old
fellow in a moment.

The fire was replenished, the flap of the tent left open, so the warmth
might enter, as the nights were rather cool, and the party retired.

In a short time all were sleeping soundly.

Frank's slumber was dreamless, but he was finally aroused by being
shaken fiercely.

"Git up hyar!" commanded a snarling voice.

In the twinkling of an eye he was wide awake and sitting up.

"What is the matter?" was the question that came from his lips, as, by
the dim light that came from the dying fire, he recognized Old Rocks
bending over him.

"Ther dickens is ter pay!" grated the guide. "She's gone!"

"She? Who?"

"Ther leetle gal."

"Fay?"

"Yep."

"Gone?"

Frank was dazed. He looked around and saw Barney and the professor
sitting up near at hand, but, sure enough, he could see nothing of the
child.

"Yep," nodded Old Rocks. "She ain't in this yar tent."

"But--but how----"

"Dunno how she done it 'thout wakin' me, but she's gone."

"It must be that the Hermit crept in here and kidnaped her."

"Begorro!" cried Barney; "Oi belave thot is roight!"

"It seems reasonable," said the professor.

"Whut d'yer think!" snarled Old Rocks; "fancy I'd snooze right along an'
let anything like thet happen? Wa-al, I guess not! Dog my cats ef I know
how it kem about, but there gal jest vanished."

"She appeared like a fairy, and like a fairy she has disappeared," said
Frank. "But she may be near the camp. We must lose no time in making a
search for her."

"Right ye are!" cried Old Rocks, as he led the way from the tent.

Hastening outside, they called to the child, but received no answer.

"Wait a little," advised the guide, as he replenished the fire. "Don't
go ter trompin' round yar too much. I wants ter look fer sign."

In this emergency they knew it was best to rely on his judgment, and so
they remained quiet, watching his movements.

Having started up the fire, the guide began looking for "sign." His eyes
were keen, and it did not take him long to find what he sought.

"Hyar's whar she left ther tent," he declared.

The others looked, but the ground told them nothing.

"That's foolishness," said Professor Scotch, sharply. "You don't mean to
say you can see anything here?"

"Wa-al, thet's whut I mean. You're a tenderfut, an' so yer can't see
anything. She wuzn't carried off."

"It is not likely she went away alone."

"Likely or not, thet's whut she done."

Bending low, Old Rocks followed the trail as far as the light of the
fire reached.

"I reckon I kin torch her," he muttered.

"What do you mean by torching her?" asked Scotch.

Old Rocks made no answer, but returned to the little pile of fuel he had
accumulated. This he quickly pulled over, selecting several sticks. He
thrust the end of one into the flames, and, in a few moments, had a
lighted torch.

"Git yer guns," he directed, "an' come erlong with me."

They did so, with the exception of the professor, who never touched a
weapon if he could avoid it. However, he followed the others, and Old
Rocks quickly took up the trail once more.

Frank was filled with anxiety for the safety of little Fay. He wondered
greatly that the child should arise and creep from the tent without
disturbing any one, and then flee into the darkness, but he did not
doubt that Rocks had read the sign correctly.

It almost seemed that the guide was able to follow the trail by scent,
for he moved swiftly, bending low, and holding the torch close to the
ground.

In vain Frank looked for a footprint. The ground did not seem soft
enough to yield such a mark, and still Old Rocks seldom hesitated a
moment.

Along the valley they went, stringing out one after the other, their
hearts throbbing with anxiety.

In this manner they proceeded at least half a mile, and then they came
to a stretch of timber. The trail led straight into the woods.

Old Rocks growled and shook his head, and it was plain that he was quite
as anxious as any of them.

For a moment they paused on the border of the strip of woods, while the
guide got down on his hands and knees and closely inspected the trail.

"Was she alone when she reached this spot?" asked Frank.

Old Rocks nodded.

"It's ther dernedest thing I ever heerd of!" he grumbled. "How a little
babby like thet should git up o' her own accord and go prowlin' off
inter ther night gits me."

"It is ridiculous," said Professor Scotch. "Such a thing never happened
before, and I can't believe it happened on this occasion. Why, she would
have been frightened out of her senses. Somebody must have lured her
away. That man you call the Hermit must have done it, and I will wager
something she joined him as soon as she left the tent."

The guide gave a snort.

"Thet's enough to say I'm a derned fool! Ef ther babby left a trail, you
will allow ther man must hev done ther same."

"Of course he did."

"Wa-al, looker yere. Hyar's a bit o' soft ground, an' you kin see whar
she crossed over, but I'll be derned ef you kin see any track but ther
ones she made."

He held the torch for them to examine the ground, and the tracks left by
the child were plainly visible. It was true that she had passed into the
timber alone.

"There's a mystery about this that I cannot understand," murmured Frank.

"It looks loike she wur a sure enough fairy," said Barney. "Av not thot,
thin this is th' Ould Nick's oun worruk!"

At this moment all were startled by a cry that came from the timber--the
cry of a child, broken and smothered.

Old Rocks straightened up, and the light of the torch fell on four pale,
startled faces.

"Something has happened to her!" panted Frank. "Forward, man, forward!
She may have been attacked by a wild beast!"

In another instant the guide was striding swiftly along the trail,
making it necessary for the others to run in order to keep up with him.

They penetrated the timber for a considerable distance, and then, of a
sudden, Old Rocks stopped short, stooping low to stare at the ground,
grinding an exclamation of dismay through his teeth.

"What is it?" demanded Frank fearing the worst.

After a hasty survey of the ground, the guide replied:

"Injuns! Ther leetle gal has been ketched by ther p'izen varmints, sure
as shootin'!"



CHAPTER XXIX.

FACE TO FACE.


"Th' saints defind her!" cried Barney.

"Indians?" panted Frank. "Are you sure?"

"Wa-al, I reckon! Hyar's ther marks. See them hoof prints thar. Notice
they toe in. Thet is Injun sign."

"I--I think we had better return to the camp at once," fluttered
Professor Scotch.

"Not much!" exclaimed Frank, fiercely. "If she has fallen into the hands
of those red wretches, we must follow them and rescue her."

Old Rocks nodded.

"You talk all right, youngster; but I reckon yer sand would ooze out on
a pinch. All ther same, we must foller ther skunks."

"Go on!" came from Barney. "Begobs! we'll show yez av we've got sand!"

"But I am not feeling well," protested the professor.

"Then ye'd better go back," snarled Old Rocks. "You'll be more bother
then good, anyhow."

"I--I can't go back through the darkness. I should lose my way. You must
accompany me to the camp."

"An' waste all thet time? Wa-al, I ruther guess not! Time is too
valuable just now."

"This is a terrible scrape!" fluttered Scotch. "I expect we'll all be
killed before we get out of it!"

The guide seemed to hesitate, casting a sidelong look at the professor,
as if he longed to get rid of the man in some way, but did not know
how.

"I kin do as much erlone as I kin with ther hull o' yer," he finally
said. "I reckons ye'd best all go back."

"I guess not!" cried Frank. "I am with you through thick and thin! You
will remember that I found the child, and she called herself my fairy.
It is my duty to help rescue her."

"Wa-al, I 'lows ye'll stick ter thet," growled Old Rocks; "an' so I'll
hev ter take yer erlong."

"An' Oi'm wid him, begobs!"

But the guide would not agree to that.

"Somebody's got ter go back ter camp an' look out fer things," he said.
"I reckons you an' ther professor is ther ones."

Barney groaned.

"Profissor, can't yez go alone?" he asked. "It's nivver a chance have Oi
had ter take a hand in a bit av a ruction loately, av ye will except th'
chance Oi had th' doay."

But Professor Scotch had no fancy to return through the darkness to the
camp, and he insisted that Barney should accompany him. The Irish boy
was forced to succumb, and he parted from Frank with the utmost
reluctance and regret.

"We have fought an' bled togither," he said, "an' it's harrud to be
parruted loike this."

In a short time Barney and the professor were returning to the camp,
while, with Frank Merriwell at his heels, Old Rocks again took up the
trail.

Frank marveled at the swiftness with which Old Rocks swung over the
ground.

Through the timber they made their way, and then through a narrow
ravine, and four or five miles had been covered before the guide paused
to speak.

"They're makin' straight fer ther lake," he said. "I don't like that."

"Why not?"

"Ef ther p'izen varmints has canoes--wa-al, we won't be liable ter
foller 'em farther than ther lake."

"That is true. We will hope they have no canoes."

Onward they went once more, Old Rocks having lighted a fresh torch,
which left but one remaining.

The night was on the wane. Already the sounds of the middle night were
hushed. The owls had stopped their hooting, and now, on noiseless wing,
were making their last hunting rounds before day should come.

Afar on the side of a mountain a wolf was howling like a dog baying to
the moon. The stars which filled the sky seemed to prophesy of dawn.

Bending low, now and then swinging his torch to fan it into a stronger
flame, Old Rocks almost raced along the trail, while the boy at his
heels kept close.

They were like two tongueless hounds upon a hot scent.

And thus they came, at last, to the lake.

Not a word did Old Rocks say for several minutes, but he moved up and
down the shore, reading the "sign," while his companion waited with the
greatest anxiety.

At length, with a grated exclamation of rage and dismay, the man flung
himself on the ground.

"It's jest as I feared," he growled. "Ther onery varmints hed canoes hid
hyar, an' we kin trail 'em no farther."

"Then what can we do?" fluttered the discomfited boy.

"Northin' but wait fer daylight."

Now on the still air very faintly was heard a distant tone of music; a
sweet whistle, at first low, rising and falling, and then gradually
becoming more distinct. It came nearer and nearer till it seemed to fill
the air all about, and then, looking upward, they saw dark forms
flitting between them and the stars.

The wild ducks were flying.

The musical note passed on, receded, grew fainter and fainter, till, at
last, it died out in the distance.

From the lake came a far-off trumpet call, and then another--the mellow
note of the wild geese.

The world was awakening; the day was near.

The stars were growing paler now. In the eastern sky was a bit of gray,
which slowly broadened, pushing upward and blotting out the stars.

Where all before was dark, the morning twilight began to show the black
forms of things.

The outlines of tree trunks could be seen, and they seemed to stand like
ghosts, reaching out shadowy arms, as if feeling their way through the
dimness.

The birds which through the long night had slept in the low bushes were
beginning to chirp and flutter.

All at once, Old Rocks started and clutched Frank's arm.

"Listen!" he whispered.

The sound of footsteps told them some one was approaching.

"Back!" whispered the guide, leading the way. "We must see who ther
critter is, an' he musn't see us."

Hastily they drew into the deep shadows, holding their rifles ready for
use in case they should need them.

Nearer and nearer came the footsteps, and then the dark figure of a man
appeared, advancing through the dusky darkness.

The man was alone, and he halted on the shore of the lake, within a
short distance of the crouching man and boy. They saw him bow his head
on his breast and stand there in silence.

Several minutes passed. At last, the unknown lifted his head, stretched
out his arms, and uttered a long, mournful cry that seemed to come from
a breaking heart.

Old Rocks rose and glided swiftly and silently toward the stranger, who
did not hear him approach. The guide's hand dropped on the man's
shoulder, and he said:

"Hello, Hermit. Whatever be yer doin' hyar?"

The strange man turned, and Frank saw that it was indeed the Hermit of
the Yellowstone.

"Doing?" he said, hoarsely. "I am seeking rest--seeking rest! I'll never
find it till I rest in the grave!"

"You must hev a derned bad liver, or somethin' o' ther sort," sneered
Old Rocks. "I don't understand a critter like you none whatever."

"I do not expect you to understand me. You do not know my story. If I
were to tell you----"

"We ain't got time ter listen; but I'll tell you a leetle story. You
know ther babby-gal whut yer saw at our camp?"

The hermit bowed, and then, as if a suspicion of the truth had flashed
over him, he fiercely grasped the guide with both hands, hoarsely
demanding:

"Has anything happened to her? Tell me--tell me quick!"

With a few well-chosen words, Old Rocks told exactly what had happened.
The hermit seemed overcome with horror and dismay.

"She must be saved!"

"You're right; but how wuz we ter foller ther red varmints 'thout a
canoe. Now they hev got clean away."

"I will find her!" cried the hermit, with one hand uplifted, as if
registering a vow. "I will find her and restore her to--hold! How did
she happen to be with you?"

A further explanation was in order. Frank told how Fay had appeared in
time to save himself and Barney from being attacked by Half Hand and the
Blackfeet, what she had told them, how they had taken her to the camp,
and how Old Rocks had agreed to find her mother with the coming of
another day.

The guide and the boy believed the Hermit must be little Fay's father,
and they watched him closely as he listened. When Frank had finished,
the strange man eagerly asked:

"Her name--her full name--did you learn it?"

"No. She told us her name was Fay, and that her mother sometimes called
her Fairy Fay; but we were unable to learn her last name."

"From whut we saw in ther camp, we allowed as how it wuz likely you hed
seen ther babby afore, an' you knowed her proper name," insinuated Old
Rocks.

The Hermit did not answer the implied question.

"Come," he said, "follow me. I have a canoe."

"I s'pose we can't do any wuss," mumbled Old Rocks; "though I don't
prezactly know how we're goin' ter trail them critters through ther
warter."

The Hermit moved along at a swinging stride, and they followed him
through the morning twilight.

Less than half a mile had been covered when the man in advance suddenly
paused, uttering an exclamation of surprise.

Straight ahead, amid the trees of a little grove on the shore, they
beheld the snowy outlines of a tent.

In a little park beyond the camp could be seen the dusky outlines of
horses feeding. Close to the open flap of the tent two dogs were curled,
both sleeping soundly, so silent had been the approach of the trio.

The light in the eastern sky was getting a pink tinge, and, with each
passing moment, objects could be seen more distinctly.

A tiny column of blue smoke rose from the white ashes of the camp-fire,
telling that a brand still smoldered there.

There was a stir within the tent. There were muffled grunts, a yawn or
two, the rustle of clothing, faint sounds of footsteps, and then the
flap of the tent was flung wide open, and a man came out into the
morning air. He paused and stretched his limbs, standing so the trio
obtained a fair view of him.

With a sudden, hoarse cry, the Hermit rushed forward and confronted the
man.

"Foster Fairfax!" he shouted, with savage joy; "at last we are face to
face!"



CHAPTER XXX.

SEARCH FOR THE TRAIL.


"Preston March!"

The man who had just stepped out of the tent fell back, a look of
astonishment, not unmingled with fear, on his face.

"Yes, Preston March!" cried the Hermit. "You know me, and I know you,
treacherous friend, base scoundrel that you are!"

The man called Foster Fairfax lifted his hands, as if to ward off a
blow.

"Preston, it was a mistake--a fearful mistake."

"For you--yes! I have sworn by the heavens above to have your life if
fate ever threw you across my path. I shall keep that oath!"

"I expect it."

"Then draw your weapon, and defend yourself! I shall not murder you in
cold blood. Draw, draw!"

"No! Shoot, if you will! I'll never lift a hand against you."

"Coward?"

The Hermit was quivering with fury, while the face of the other man was
still ghastly white.

Other men came from the tent, rubbing their eyes, all of them very much
surprised. One of them attempted to intervene.

"Here!" he cried, addressing the Hermit; "what do you mean by coming
into this camp and raising such a row? Are you insane? You are not going
to do any shooting here!"

Old Rocks strode forward, Frank Merriwell at his heels.

"I'll allow as how the Hermit has fair play," said the guide, grimly.
"He ain't alone in this yar deal."

"Who are you?" demanded the man, haughtily. "Are we to be assailed by a
band of desperadoes?"

"None whatever. I'm hyar ter see fair play. I'll allow thar's some
deeficulty atwixt these yere gents, an' ther Hermit feels like settlin'
right now an' yere."

"It is an outrage! You have no right to come here and make trouble.
Fairfax, if that ruffian touches you----"

Foster Fairfax motioned the speaker to be silent.

"This man is not a ruffian," he declared, speaking as calmly as
possible. "There is a misunderstanding between us. I have wronged him,
and he has a right to seek satisfaction."

The man's companions were astonished by his words. They looked at him in
a dazed way.

Even the Hermit seemed a trifle surprised, but he said:

"It is true, and I demand satisfaction. Draw and defend yourself,
Fairfax!"

"No; you have not wronged me. Here, March--here is my heart! Shoot! You
cannot miss it at this distance."

Preston March, the Hermit of Yellowstone Park, half lifted the weapon
which he had drawn. Then he fell back a step, hoarsely saying:

"Would you put a curse upon me by making me a murderer? You have a
weapon. Draw it, and we will play fair and even. It shall be a duel to
the death at twenty paces. One of us shall die! The other can go back
to----"

"Hold! Speak not the name here! I tell you, Preston, there was a
blunder--a frightful blunder. If you will listen----"

"You will tell me a mess of lies. A man who would deceive his best
friend as you deceived me would not hesitate to lie with his last
breath!"

"You shall judge if I lie. If you demand that I meet you, I demand that
you first listen to my explanation."

"If I must----"

"On no other condition will I meet you."

"But there are others to hear. Will you speak before them?"

"No. Come aside where no one but ourselves may hear."

The Hermit bowed, and they walked away, keeping several feet apart.

"Wa-al," drawled Old Rocks, "we don't seem ter be in thet none whatever,
an' so we'd best make ourselves easy."

He flung himself down upon the ground, produced his black pipe and a
plug of tobacco, and began preparing for a smoke, whittling off the
tobacco with his bowie-knife.

The campers drew aside and talked among themselves, regarding their
uninvited visitors with suspicion, which did not disturb the guide at
all.

Frank was restless. He walked up and down, keeping his eyes on Fairfax
and the Hermit, who had halted at a distance and were talking earnestly.

In the east the streaky clouds had flushed to a deep red and paled again
to richest gold. To the west the mighty mountains which rose beyond the
lake were wrapped in garments of rose. The light of day had spread
itself over all the heavens, and the sun was shooting glittering glances
above the horizon.

The campers began to move about. Wood was piled upon the ashes where
the last embers of the old fire still smoldered, and the crackling of a
match was followed by a blaze.

Some of the campers prepared breakfast, while one of them approached Old
Rocks, whom he questioned concerning the Hermit.

"Yer know purty derned nigh ez much 'bout him ez I do," grunted the
guide. "All I know is thet he's bin hyar in ther park fer ther last y'ar
ur so. Some galoots has said as how he wuz cracked in ther upper story,
but I'll allow thet's a mistake. Yer heard t'other gent admit thet he'd
done the Hermit a crooked turn, an' I reckons thet's whut makes ther
Hermit whut he is. Now I've tol' yer whutever I know 'bout ther Hermit,
mebbe ye'll give me a few p'ints 'bout t'other gent?"

"We know nothing in particular of him, save that he seems to be a man of
leisure and means, rather melancholy, given to fits of despondency,
followed by spells of wild hilarity."

A queer look came into the guide's eye, and he asked:

"How much o' it does he drink a day?"

"How much what?"

"Hilarity. Does he kerry it in quart bottles, or by ther gallon?"

"He does drink at times," admitted the camper; "but he declares that he
hates liquor, and I believe him. He seems to take it to drown memory."

"Wa-al, he may drown memory fer an hour ur so, but he'll find it comes
back a derned sight harder when he lets up on drinkin'."

Rocks lighted his pipe, settled himself into a comfortable position, and
began to smoke.

The fire was burning brightly, and a blackened coffee-pot was brought
forth. As soon as there were some coals, the pot was placed upon them,
and it soon began to simmer and send forth a delightful odor, making
Frank ravenously hungry.

Old Rocks was hungry, but he showed no symptom of it, smoking on
indifferently, all the while keeping an eye on the Hermit and Fairfax.

Frank offered to pay for something to eat and a cup of coffee; but the
campers declined to take anything, telling him he was welcome. They then
offered Old Rocks something, and the guide accepted gracefully.

For nearly an hour the Hermit and Foster Fairfax talked. The manner of
both became subdued, and the strange man of the park seemed to have lost
his desire to meet Fairfax in a deadly encounter.

All at once they parted, and the Hermit hurried away, while Fairfax
walked back toward the camp.

Old Rocks shouted to the Hermit, but the man paid no heed to the call.

"Come, youngster," said the guide, getting on his feet and picking up
his rifle. "We'd best foller thet critter. He said he hed a chance, an'
thet wuz whut we wuz arter."

Frank thanked the campers for their hospitality, and then hastened after
Old Rocks, who was striding away after the Hermit, who had already
vanished from view.

"Whatever's got inter ther man?" growled the guide. "He seems ter hev
clean fergot we're on earth."

For at least a mile Old Rocks followed on the trail of the Hermit, and
it finally ended at the shore of the lake, where it was seen that the
man had taken a canoe.

And far out on the lake he was paddling swiftly away.

Putting his hands to his mouth, the guide sent a call across the water:

"Oh, Hermit!"

The man paddled on without looking back. Rocks repeated the cry several
times, but without apparent effect, and then gave up in disgust.

"I'll allow this is onery!" he growled, as he sat down and lighted his
pipe once more. "Dog my cats ef it ain't!"

Frank was disheartened.

"Poor little Fay!" he murmured, sadly. "What will become of her?"

"We'll find her," declared Old Rocks, grimly. "We'll find her ef we hev
ter tramp clean round this yar lake ter strike ther trail o' them p'izen
Blackfeet!"

"Do you think we can ever find their trail?"

"Wa-al, I'll allow! Ain't we got ter find 'em? Ain't they got ter come
ter shore somewhar? You bet yer boots! Old Rocks is on ther warpath, an'
ther measly varmints want ter look out!"

The guide seemed very much in earnest, which gave Frank fresh hope. The
boy was ready to spend any length of time in the search for the missing
child.

Having smoked and meditated a short time, Old Rocks arose.

"Come," he said, and he struck out once more.

Along the shore they went, the eyes of the guide always searching for
the trail. Sometimes they were forced back from the water by steep
bluffs and precipices, but the guide missed no places where the Indians
could have landed.

It was about midway in the forenoon that the trail was struck. The
canoes were found craftily concealed, and in the soft ground near the
lake were the imprints of tiny feet.

"Thar!" cried Old Rocks, looking at the marks; "thet shows we ain't on a
wild-goose chase. Now we don't hold up none whatever till we overtakes
ther p'izen skunks an' rescues ther gal. You hear me!"


[Illustration: "The grizzly folded Frank in his embrace, crushing the
lad against his shaggy breast." (See page 205)]



CHAPTER XXXI.

A FIGHT WITH GRIZZLIES.


Frank found Old Rocks a hard man to follow, and the guide was amazed by
the endurance of the boy.

It was long past midday when Rocks sat down on a fallen tree, and filled
his pipe.

"Say," he drawled, surveying his companion, "you beat all ther tenderfut
kids I've ever seen, dog my cats ef you don't!"

"How is that?" asked Frank, who was glad to have a few moments' respite.
"What do you mean?"

"Wa-al, I hev bin expectin' all along as how you'd peg out, but I'm
derned ef you don't seem fresh as a daisy now!"

"Oh, I am good for a few miles more," said the boy, smiling.

Rocks nodded.

"Thet's whatever. You've got buckram; but I know yer ain't got sand.
Tenderfeet never has any."

"I don't suppose you have ever found any exceptions?"

"Derned few! Now I've got somethin' ter say."

"Say it."

"It's plain these yar red varmints are makin' a run fer it, kinder
thinkin' they might be follered. It's liable ter be several days afore
they're overtook."

"Well?"

"Wa-al, we ain't fitted fer such a tramp."

"What's that?" cried the boy in dismay. "You do not think of giving it
up, do you?"

"Nary bit; but I kinder 'lowed you might feel thet way."

"I guess not!"

"Stiddy! Don't be too quick. Wait till I tells yer whut yer may expect."

"Go ahead."

"Jest ez long ez I'm on this yar trail I shell keep up ther pace I hev
bin makin' this day su fur."

"That is good."

"Huah! Think yer kin stan' it, eh? Wa-al, thet ain't all."

"Give us the rest of it."

"It'll be a case o' sleepin' in ther open, 'throut kiver, eatin' w'en
yer kin, an' gittin' anything we kin shoot an' havin' it hafe cooked ur
not cooked at all, an' lots o' other inconveniences thet'll make yer
long fer ther comforts o' home."

"And you fancy I'll not be able to stand it?"

"I kinder 'lowed it'd be hard on a tender kid like you be."

Frank had flung himself on the ground, but now he arose and faced the
guide, speaking firmly and calmly:

"Rocks, you heard the child say she'd be my fairy, you saw that she took
to me, I sung her to sleep, and she clung to me. I will tell you now
that I am ready to go through anything for Fairy Fay. She is in terrible
danger. If she is not rescued, her fate is frightful to contemplate. I
shall never rest till she is saved! I want to go along with you; but I
shall continue the hunt alone, if you will not have me."

The old fellow grunted sourly, and puffed away at the black pipe for
some moments. At last, he got upon his feet and held out his hand to
Frank.

"Put ther thar!" he cried. "You talk all right; we'll see how yer pan
out. You kin go erlong."

They shook hands, and Frank was well satisfied.

"You stay right yere by ther trail," directed the guide. "I'm goin' over
yon a piece ter see ef thar is some mud geysers down thar. It's been
some time sence I wuz in this yar part o' ther park, an' I wants ter git
my bearin's. I'll be back yere directly, an' you kin be restin'
meantime."

Frank felt like demurring, but he believed it best to do exactly as the
guide directed, and so he nodded and sat down again, while Old Rocks
strode away and soon disappeared.

Nearly thirty minutes passed, and then, of a sudden, the boy was
startled by the report of a rifle, the sound of the shot coming from the
direction in which the guide had disappeared.

"I wonder what it can mean?" speculated Frank.

He was uneasy. He knew the guide might have fired at some kind of small
game, but for some reason he fancied such was not the case.

Was Old Rocks in trouble?

Catching up his rifle, Frank started on a run in the direction taken by
the guide.

Down into the valley he went, his eyes wide open. Suddenly, a short
distance before him, there was a hissing, rushing roar, and a column of
mud and water shot into the air.

There were the mud geysers Old Rocks had started out to look for.

Toward the geyser hurried Frank, still looking for his companion.

Before the column of mud and water had ceased shooting into the air,
Frank came upon a startling spectacle.

Not far from the geysers Old Rocks was engaged in a hand-to-hand
encounter with a huge grizzly bear!

On the ground near by lay the body of another bear, telling how accurate
had been the guide's first shot.

The guide was using his bowie knife, which was already stained with
blood to the hilt.

Frank did not hesitate about rushing straight toward the battling man
and beast, and Old Rocks saw him coming.

"Keerful, boy!" panted the man; "keerful with thet thar rifle! Don't
shoot yere, fer yer might bore me."

"I won't hit you," promised Frank. "I will shoot the bear."

"You don't know whar ter put yer lead, an' yer might fire a dozen
bullets inter this varmint 'thout finishin' him."

It was evident that the old man was badly winded.

Thus far he had avoided the bear's hug, but he could not hold out long.
Barely had he uttered the last words when, with a sudden blow of one
paw, the grizzly struck him to the ground.

Frank rushed in, seeing the monster settle on all fours over Old Rocks.

"I'll fix him!" grated the boy, as he thrust the muzzle of his rifle
almost against bruin's head and pulled the trigger.

For the first time on record the weapon missed fire.

With a fierce growl, the bear whirled and knocked the rifle out of
Frank's grasp.

In a dazed manner, Old Rocks saw everything.

"Ther kid's a goner!" thought the guide. "We're both done fer!"

Out Frank snapped a revolver, and then, taking a step toward the bear,
he fired five bullets into the creature in marvelously rapid succession.

A roar came from the bear's throat, and the beast reared on its hind
feet, its jaws dripping blood and foam, and rushed upon the dauntless
boy.

Frank flung aside the revolver, just as Rocks struggled to a sitting
posture, thickly crying:

"Run, kid! run fer yer life!"

"Not much!" came through Frank's set teeth. "Think I'd run and leave you
to the bear! I guess not!"

"Dog my cats!" murmured the guide, weakly.

The bear, dripping blood from its many wounds, still fierce as a raging
tiger, came at Frank. The boy dodged, managed to avoid the rush, and
gave the beast a wicked stab with the knife.

"Dog my cats!" murmured the dazed guide once more.

Frank Merriwell's face bore a look of fearless determination, and he was
ready for the bear to charge again.

It came.

Frank tried to repeat the trick, slipped a bit, saw he could not escape,
and then met the formidable beast.

"Now he is a goner!" gurgled Old Rocks, faintly.

With outstretched paws the bear closed in.

Frank saw he was not going to be able to escape the hug, and he placed
the haft of the knife against his own breast, with the point directed
toward the bear.

The grizzly folded Frank in his embrace, crushing the lad against his
shaggy breast, and, in this way, the creature drove the knife home to
its own heart.

Uttering a great groan, it relaxed its hold, dropped on all fours, hung
its head, and then sunk in a heap upon the ground, dying.

Frank felt as if his ribs had been crushed, and he was covered with
blood, but he had conquered.

Old Rocks was so dazed that he sat on the ground, staring at the
"tenderfoot kid," and faintly gasping:

"Dog my cats!"

Frank flung the knife to the ground, and then sat down, panting, in a
desperate endeavor to get a full breath.

Old Rocks got up very slowly, stood looking at the dead bear some
moments, and then looked at the boy.

"This beats me!" he grunted. "Whoever heard o' a tenderfut doin' sech a
thing! An' he didn't seem ter be scart a tall!"

Then he came nearer Frank, at whom he still stared.

"It ain't a mistake, none whatever. This yar kid done it, and he done it
in great shape! Say, youngster."

"What?"

"I wants ter 'polergize."

"What for?"

"Fer sayin' tenderfeet never has sand. I'll take it all back. You've got
sand enough fer anything, you hev! Do you know whut you done? Wa-al, a
grizzly is harder ter kill then a hull tribe o' Injuns! I wuz dead lucky
ter kill t'other one by a chance shot, an' I'd never done it ef I hedn't
been so nigh ther muzzle o' my rifle wuz right up ag'in' ther varmint.
You worked an old hunter's trick on him. Thet fust jab you gave ther
whelp kinder spruced him up, an' he wuz ready ter crush ther stuffin'
outer yer. By holdin' ther knife ez yer did, yer made him kill hisself.
Guv us yer hand! I'll swar by you through thick and thin!"

So they shook hands again.



CHAPTER XXXII.

TRAILED DOWN.


"Ther trail's gittin' derned hot, boy!" said Old Rocks, near sunset.
"Ther p'izen varmints can't be fur ahead."

They were passing through one of the wildest sections of the park.
Mountains, capped with eternal snow, were on every hand. Their sides
were seamed with mighty chasms and strewn with huge bowlders, many of
which, it seemed, the weight of a hand would send crashing and
thundering into the dark depths below.

Some of the mountains bore traces of vegetation, pine and cedar showing
darkly on many a jagged cliff. Some were bleak and barren, but none the
less grand, impressive, and awe-inspiring.

Amid these mountains were desolate canyons, which seemed to hold some
dreadful secret locked fast in their silent bosoms.

Since the encounter with the grizzlies Old Rocks and Frank had paused to
eat a square meal of bear-steak, and it had braced them for the tramp,
so they were able to cover ground swiftly without fatigue or discomfort.

They had passed through a region of boiling geysers, where the water
shot more than a hundred feet into the air, and came down in a rain,
across which a beautiful rainbow formed, the roaring sound which
accompanied this exhibition being as loud as the exhaust of a thousand
locomotives.

In one marshy valley they had passed pools of water, sulphur yellow,
bright green, pink, crimson, and nearly all colors of the rainbow, the
pools being from twenty to fifty feet apart.

They had seen other things which were not given a second glance by Old
Rocks, but which Frank longed to stop and examine.

But it was no time for sight-seeing, as the boy well knew, and he held
close to the heels of the unwearying guide.

And now, near nightfall, Old Rocks declared that the trail was getting
hot.

"Shall we be able to overtake them before dark?" asked Frank, with the
greatest anxiety.

"I dunno," was the answer. "But it's derned certun thet we ain't goin'
ter come fur from it."

"Oh, for two hours more of daylight!" sighed the boy.

"We'd run ther critters down dead sure in thet time. But I don't want
yer ter git ther idee thet they're goin' ter give up ther gal 'thout a
murmur."

"But they will have to give her up."

"Thet's whatever. All ther same, we may hev ter fight, an' ole Half Hand
is a mighty bad critter ter buck agin'; you hear me shout!"

"I am ready to fight, if necessary."

"Ef I'd heerd yer say so this mornin', I w'u'dn't putt no dependence on
it; but now I'll allow thet yer means whut yer says, an' yer've got sand
ter give erway. Boy, you're a holy terror on trucks, an' you may quote
me ez sayin' so."

Frank did not smile.

"Wait," he said. "I may not show up so well in the encounter with the
Blackfeet. I was lucky in the bear fight."

"Wa-al, dog my cats ef you ain't ther fust tenderfut I ever saw thet
wouldn't hev bragged his head off ef he'd killed a grizzly! Why, boy,
you don't seem ter know whut ye've done! You've made a record. Ary other
tenderfut I ever saw'd go back East an' publish ther story in all ther
papers. He'd be hailed ez a mighty chief an' a tin god on wheels."

"Tenderfeet are not all braggarts, any more than Westerners are all
brave men."

"Thet's whatever," nodded Rocks; "but it's took me a gaul derned long
time ter find it out."

The sun was low behind the western mountains, and darkness was filling
the great canyons.

The guide swung onward at a steady pace, following the trail with the
same readiness and ease that had proved a source of wonder all along to
his companion.

It was evident the Blackfeet had not anticipated hot pursuit, and so
they had made little or no effort to hide their trail after passing
across an arm of the lake.

The trail grew hotter and hotter, but night came on swiftly, and Old
Rocks was forced to bend low and keep his eyes on the ground.

"Watch out ahead, boy," he directed. "I've got all I kin' tend ter in
follerin' ther trail. Don't let us run plump onter ther varmints, fer
they might take a notion ter wipe us out."

So Frank followed the guide, keeping his eyes to the front, and watching
for danger.

Darker and darker it became. Rocks was forced to proceed more slowly, as
there was danger of losing the trail entirely.

Finally he found it necessary to stop now and then and examine the
ground thoroughly.

"We shall not overtake them before dark, shall we?" asked Frank,
anxiously.

"Hard tellin'. Watch out. May run onter 'em any time."

When they halted again, Frank suddenly uttered a low cry of warning,
caught hold of the man, and exclaimed:

"Look there!"

Through the darkness they saw the twinkle of a camp-fire.

"Thet settles it!" breathed Old Rocks, exultantly. "The skunks are thar!
We've run 'em down!"

He gave no further attention to the trail, but straightway made sure
that every weapon he possessed was ready for use.

"Now, boy," he whispered, "keep yer nerve. Thar'll be need enough o' it
afore long."

"I am with you," assured Frank. "I do not think I shall lose my nerves
in this case."

"Wa-al, I don't," confessed the man. "I've got heaps o' conferdence in
yer now. We'll creep up."

Then followed something that sorely tried the patience of the boy, for
Old Rocks seemed to crawl forward like a snail, taking advantage of
every cover that would shield them from the sight of any one in front.

The guide warned Frank to "hug ther ground," and made him creep, and
skulk, and wiggle along when there seemed no need of it.

In this way they slowly drew near to the fire, about which figures moved
now and then.

"It's ther onery Blackfeet," the guide finally announced. "We hev done a
good job so fur ter-day, an' now we wants ter finish it right, you bet!"

"What do you mean to do?" asked Frank.

"Make a bluff," was the answer.

"What kind of a bluff?"

They had reached a point where they could look into the camp and see the
savages feasting on some kind of game they had killed and cooked by the
fire.

"I'm goin' in thar an' demand ther gal," said the guide.

"Won't that put us in their power?"

"You won't go with me."

"No?"

"No. You'll keep in ther background."

"What for?"

"As a reserve force. You must keep yer peepers open, an' ef you see ther
skunks is goin' ter do fer me, jest open up on 'em. I reckon you kin
shoot some?"

"Yes."

"Take good keer not ter bore me."

"I will."

"But, ef yer start, pump ther lead ter ther critters ter beat ther Ole
Nick."

"I will do it."

"Make sure whar ye're puttin' yer bullets, fer ye don't want ter kill
ther leetle gal."

"You may depend on me."

"While you're slingin' lead I'll try ter git ther gal an' git erway with
her."

"Won't we get into trouble if I should kill one of these Indians?"

"How?"

"Why, the Blackfeet are peaceable, and it may create a disturbance. We
may be hauled over the coals."

"Haul an' be derned! Ther onery varmints hev kidnaped a white gal, an'
they're poachin' on forbidden territory, besides bein' off ther
reservation. Ef they try ter kill me, it will be a case o' self-defence.
I'll allow as how we kin defend ourselves. You do ez I say, an we'll
come out all right, dog my cats ef we don't!"

"All right."

"But don't shoot 'less yer hev ter, remember thet."

"I will remember it."

"Ef I hedn't seen ther b'ar, an' seen hwar yer putt five bullets inter
him inside ther space uv a silver dollar, I might be skerry 'bout
lettin' yer shoot inter thet camp while I wuz thar; but I'll admit ez
how I reckon ye kin shoot."

They now crept forward till they were within easy shooting distance of
the camp, and then Rocks paused once more, putting his lips close to
Frank's ear, and whispering:

"See them rocks down thar?"

The boy nodded.

"Wa-al, jest you creep down behind them an' take yer position ready ter
sling lead."

"What are you going to do?"

"Git inter ther camp. I'm goin' ter walk in from t'other side, so
they'll be lookin' fer any further danger frum thet quarter. Don't git
impatient, fer it'll take me some time ter git round thar. Wait easy."

"I'll wait."

Then the old man crept away into the darkness, and Frank began working
his way down to the rocks.

He finally reached the position, and there he waited, being able to look
into the camp and see every figure revealed by the flaring fire.

The little girl was there, exhausted by the day of hardships, sleeping
soundly. One of the Indians had thrown a greasy blanket over her, so she
was protected from the night air, which is always chilly in Yellowstone
Park.

Frank's heart throbbed with sympathy as he gazed down on her.

"Poor little Fairy!" he thought. "How she did cling to me! I am ready to
wade through fire and water for her. We will save her to-night if we
live!"

He found it difficult to restrain his impatience as the time crept
slowly away and Old Rocks failed to appear. Some of the Indians rolled
themselves in their blankets and prepared to sleep. Others sat and
smoked in grim silence.

Frank had spotted Half Hand, and he felt that it would be some
satisfaction to send a bullet after the villainous half-blood.

"He is at the bottom of this business," thought the boy. "He would not
hesitate at murder."

Nearly an hour passed after Old Rocks crept away before the guide
appeared. At last, to the astonishment of Frank and the utter
consternation of the Indians, the man seemed to rise up in the very
midst of the camp, as if he had suddenly sprouted from the ground.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE RESCUE.


A yell of astonishment broke from the throats of the Indians who were
awake, and it brought the sleepers out of their blankets in a moment.

With the utmost coolness, Old Rocks stepped toward the fire, sat down on
a log near the sleeping child, and took out his black pipe.

"Any o' you fellers got any good smokin' terbacker?" he asked, coolly.
"I ain't got northin' left but chawin', an thet's derned pore stuff ter
burn."

"Ugh!" grunted the Blackfeet, staring at him in unutterable amazement.

"Hey?" questioned the guide. "Whut did yer say?"

"Where white man come from?" demanded Half Hand, harshly.

"Over yon," was the answer, and Rocks made a sweep of his hand that took
in half the horizon.

"What white man want here?"

"Terbacker."

The Indians looked at each other, and then looked at the cool visitor,
their amazement not a whit abated.

"Ugh!" they grunted in chorus.

"Wa-al, I'll allow thet you fellers know whut thet means all right,"
drawled Old Rocks, whimsically; "but dog my cats ef I do! Do I git ther
terbacker? ur do I hev ter pull my liver out tryin' ter make chawin'
terbacker burn?"

"Ain't got no 'backer," declared Half Hand, sullenly.

"Thet may be so," admitted the guide, "an' may be 't'sn't. Howsomever,
I don't s'pose I've got any license ter search ye."

He then appealed to the other Indians, but they all affirmed that they
did not have a morsel of tobacco in their possession.

"Blamed ef I ever saw sech a pore crowd," grunted Old Rocks. "Wa-al, I'm
goin' ter smoke."

He pretended to search round in his pockets, and, after a time, he drew
forth a small bit of tobacco, uttering an exclamation of satisfaction.

"Dog my cats ef I ain't got a leetle mite o' smokin' terbacker left, an
I 'lowed I wuz all out! I kin git erlong with this yere comfortable
like."

He drew his knife, and began whittling at the tobacco, seeming to pay
not the least attention to the Indians around him.

The Blackfeet were troubled, for they did not know what to make of the
old fellow. Some of them put their heads together and spoke in their own
language, but Rocks had sharp ears, and he understood them well enough
to get the drift of what they said.

They were wondering if he had come there alone, or if he had companions
near.

"Where come from?" Half Hand again asked.

"Over yon," the guide once more replied, with a sweep that was fully as
wide as before.

"Ugh! Where others?"

"What others?"

"Others that be with you?"

"Over yon."

Again that wide and baffling sweep of the hand.

Half Hand scowled blackly.

"What white man here for?"

"Terbacker."

Old Rocks was most aggravating in his answers. He calmly filled his
pipe, and then lighted it with a coal from the fire.

"Thar," he said, flinging one knee over the other and settling into an
easy position, "now I kin enjoy a good squar' smoke."

Up behind the rocks the boy saw Rocks had not taken his rifle into the
camp, and Frank knew well enough that was so he might not be incumbered
with it if forced to take to flight suddenly and make an attempt to get
away with the child.

The little girl heard his voice, and sat up, rubbing her eyes. She
stared at him in wonderment, but he still pretended that he did not see
her, puffing on.

One of the Indians attempted to grasp the child and draw her back, but
she saw him, avoided his hands, and ran to Rocks, crying:

"Oh, I's awsul dlad you've tome! Tate me to my mamma! I don't lite dese
drefful mans!"

The Indian made a jump for her, but Old Rocks caught her and swung her
beyond the Indian's grasp, exclaiming:

"Hello! hello! Whatever is this yar? Dog my cats ef it ain't a
babby--an' a white babby, at thet!"

"Don't you 'member me?" asked Fay, innocently. "I 'members you."

"See hyar, Half Hand," said Old Rocks, grimly; "this yar looks kinder
queer. How did you come by this white babby?"

"Found her," sullenly answered the half-blood.

"Is thet so?"

"Ugh."

"Wa-al, whar wuz yer takin' her?"

"Nowhere."

"Seems ter me it didn't look thet way."

The half-blood said nothing, but he and his companions were beginning to
finger their weapons.

"You may hev found her all right," admitted Old Rocks; "but yer made a
mistake in keepin' her. I'll take her now."

"Dunno 'bout that," muttered Half Hand.

"Whut?" roared the old man, suddenly aroused, having thrust his pipe
into his pocket. "You dunno? Wa-al, I will allow thet I know! Look yar,
you'll be gittin' inter one o' ther derndest scrapes you ever did ef you
tries ter kerry off this yere gal. It'll be reported, an' ther United
States soldiers will take an' hang yer all!"

"Bah!" sneered the half-breed. "Who care for soldiers! We find gal; she
b'long to us."

"Not much!"

"What white man do?"

"Take her."

"Him can't."

"Dog my cats ef I don't!"

"Him can't git erway."

The Blackfeet had formed a circle about Old Rocks.

"Stiddy, critters!" he warned. "Don't try ter stop me, fer ef yer does,
som' o' yer will bite ther dust."

"White man give up gal, we let um go 'thout hurtin'."

"Thet's kind; but I reckons I'll hev ter be hurt, fer I'll never give
her up."

"Then white man dies!"

One of the Indians slipped up behind Old Rocks and lifted a hatchet to
split open the head of the guide.

Crack! the report of a rifle rang out.

A yell of agony broke from the lips of the Indian, and the hatchet
dropped from his hand. A bullet had shattered his forearm.

Frank's aim had been true, and he had saved the life of Old Rocks.

At that instant, just as the guide stooped to lift the child, a man
broke through the circle of savages and snatched up the child, tearing
it from the fingers of the guide, to whom he cried:

"Hold them off, and I will get away with her!"

It was the Hermit.

Out came a brace of revolvers in the hands of the weather-tanned guide,
and the yells which broke from his lips awoke a hundred echoes. He began
shooting to the right and left.

Over the top of the rocks, behind which he had been concealed, Frank was
sending a shower of bullets whistling. After the first two shots, he
aimed high, counting on demoralizing the savages by terror, instead of
taking chances of hitting Old Rocks or the child.

The trick worked long enough for the guide to get away, and he followed
close at the heels of the Hermit.

By chance the man with the child passed near Frank, and then Old Rocks
came along, shouting:

"Up an' dig, boy! Ther trick is did!"

In a moment Frank dashed after the old man.

The Blackfeet recovered quickly, and they leaped in pursuit, uttering
fierce cries.

Old Rocks was surprised by Frank's fleetness on foot.

"Derned ef you can't run, ez well ez do other things!" he muttered, as
the lad forged along by his side. "You're a holy wonder, boy. It's twice
you saved my life this day. I trusted everything ter you this last time,
an' yer didn't fail me."

"I broke the Indian's arm as he was on the point of striking."

"Thet wuz ther only mistake yer made. You oughter broke his head, an'
thar'd bin one less. They're arter us hot foot, an it's a race fer life
now."



CHAPTER XXXIV.

IN SAND CAVE.


Behind them the enraged Blackfeet began shooting, and the bullets
whistled over the heads of the fugitives.

"I pray none of those hits little Fairy," panted Frank.

"Ef we could strike some kind o' cover an' hed a minute to spar', we'd
be able ter stan' ther varmints off," came from Old Rocks.

"My rifle is empty."

"I ain't got mine, an' I'll allow my small guns are empty; but I kin
load 'em as we run."

"We may have to fight anyhow."

"Right, boy. Ef we do, dog my cats ef we don't make some o' them onery
skunks gaul derned sick!"

Still running, Old Rocks snapped the empty shells from his revolvers,
and replaced them with fresh cartridges.

At times it was not easy to keep track of the Hermit, who ran through
the night with the speed of a deer and the tirelessness of a hound.

Now and then the frightened child cried out, and this aided Frank and
the old guide in following.

Rocks soon replenished his revolvers, and said:

"Thar, I kinder 'lows we kin make it interestin' fer them varmints ef
they press us too hard. Dunno ez I kin find ther place whar I hid my
rifle, but I reckons I oughter."

"If we escape."

"Ef we escape! Whut's ther matter with you, boy? Think we can't dodge
them red whelps in ther dark?"

"We might alone; but the man ahead of us may make no attempt to do so,
and we must stand by him. It would not do to let the child fall into the
hands of those wretches again. They would surely murder her."

"They'd be likely ter, an' that's facts. Oh, we'll back up ther Hermit,
an' thar won't be no trouble 'bout gittin' erway, 'less them varmints
behind manages ter hit one o' us with a lead pill."

The flight and pursuit continued, the Blackfeet seeming to have the eyes
of owls or the scent of hounds. They pressed the fugitives hard, and Old
Rocks feared that some of the flying bullets which whistled around them
would find a mark.

At length the guide gave an exclamation of satisfaction.

"Reckon I knows whar ther Hermit is headin' fer," he said.

"Where?" asked Frank.

"Straight fer Sand Cave."

"Where is Sand Cave?"

"Not very fur ahead. Thar is some bowlders at ther mouth o' ther cave,
and we oughter be able ter stand ther red niggers off thar."

"Are you sure the Hermit is going there?"

"I ain't sure, but it looks thet way. It ain't likely he kin keep up
this pace much farther, an' kerry ther child."

However, Old Rocks feared the man ahead might not be making for Sand
Cave, and so he called to the Hermit, asking him if he knew where to
find the cave. The Hermit replied that he did, and Rocks urged him to go
there.

"Git in with ther gal--git in out o' ther way o' bullets," advised the
old guide. "Ther boy an' me will stand ther red dogs off all right."

To this the Hermit agreed.

A short time later, as they were rushing along the base of a bluff, the
Hermit was seen to disappear.

"Hyar's ther cave!" panted Old Rocks, catching hold of the boy. "Right
yar behind these boulders. In with yer!"

Frank saw the dark mouth of the cave behind the bowlders, over which he
vaulted.

The cry of the child came out of the darkness of the cave.

The Hermit and little Fay were there.

"Reddy!" hissed Old Rocks, crouching behind the bowlders--"reddy ter
repel invaders!"

The Blackfeet were coming on, and their dusky forms suddenly appeared
near at hand in the darkness.

On his knees behind a bowlder, Frank had drawn a revolver, and he began
firing with Old Rocks.

The flash of the weapons blinded the boy for the moment, and he stopped
shooting when he had fired three times.

Old Rocks stopped at the same moment, growling:

"Thet's ther way with ther onery skunks! They'll never come up and be
shot down ther way they oughter!"

The Indians had disappeared.

"Where are they?" asked Frank, wonderingly.

"Right near yere, you kin bet yer dust," answered the guide. "They
drapped down ther instant we begun slingin' lead, an' they're huggin'
ther yearth, you bet!"

"Did we kill any?"

"Wa-al, I dunno; but I'll allow thet I didn't do any shootin' fer fun. I
don't b'lieve in thet under such circumstances."

"This affair may bring on an Indian war."

"Let'er bring! It'll be er good thing ef it does, an' ther hull Injun
nation is wiped out. But ther chances are thet it'll never be heard of
by anybody except them we tell it to. Ther varmints will make tracks
outer ther park, fer they're on forbidden ground."

"If the soldiers should turn up----"

"It'd be a mighty good thing fer us. Still, I kinder reckon we'll be
able ter hold Half Hand an' his gang off till they git weary."

They took care that their revolvers were replenished with cartridges,
and then Frank loaded his rifle.

A sudden silence seemed to brood over the whole world.

Old Rocks stirred uneasily.

"I don't like it," he muttered, speaking to himself.

"Don't like what?" asked Frank, who felt a foreboding of some coming
catastrophe.

"This yare stillness. Why, thar ain't even an owl hootin'."

"What do you think it means?"

"Dunno; but it means somethin'. Keep yer eyes an' ears open, an' be
ready fer what may come."

Little Fay had ceased her sobbing, and the silence was finally broken by
her voice:

"Who's doin' to tate me to my mamma?"

Then the Hermit was heard trying to comfort and reassure her.

"Dog my cats ef I wouldn't like ter smoke!" muttered Old Rocks; "but
I'll allow thet it w'u'dn't do ter light a match hyar."

"No; it might be fatal. The light----"

The sharp report of a rifle rang out, and Frank fell backward behind the
bowlder.

With a grated exclamation, Old Rocks flung up his revolver, and took a
snap shot at the spot where he had seen the red flash of the weapon as
it was discharged.

"Did you get him?" asked Frank, as he sat up.

"Dunno," was the answer; "but I wuz afeared he'd got you."

"The bullet whistled so close to my head that I felt the wind of it. It
must have penetrated the cave."

To their ears came the sound of a deep groan, and then the voice of the
Hermit reached them:

"The bullet came in here. I am shot!"

"Holy cats!" gasped Old Rocks.

"The child!" panted Frank. "What if the red wretches fire again, and
their bullets reach her? She must be placed where she will be safe."

"Right."

"Can you hold the mouth of the cave?"

"I kin try it."

"I will go in there and see how badly the Hermit is injured, and will
see if both cannot be placed beyond the reach of bullets."

"Thet's easy. Ther cave is a big one, but this hyar is ther only
entrance ter it."

Frank crept back into the cave, softly calling to the Hermit. The man
was groaning, and, as Frank crept near, a pair of soft arms suddenly
closed about the boy's neck, while a sweet voice sounded in his ear:

"I knows you w'en I hears you speak. You singed me to sleep. I tolt you
I'd be your Fairy."

"So you did, dear," said the boy, giving her a tender embrace; "and I
have done my best in the work of saving you from the Indians."

"Bad Injuns!" exclaimed Fay. "Dey tarry me off fwom my mamma. You tate
me to my mamma?"

"We will, dear."

Frank's hands found the wounded man, and he asked:

"Where did the bullet strike you, Hermit?"

"Here in the side," was the faint answer. "I think I am done for! I have
found death at last!"

The boy shivered, for the words were uttered exultantly, as if the man
actually rejoiced.

"Are you able to creep back farther into the cave?" Frank asked.

"I don't know. Why should I do so? It is too much exertion."

"If not for your own sake, you should do so for the child. Another
bullet may reach her."

The man stirred and sat up.

"That is true," he panted. "She must be returned uninjured, and Foster
Fairfax must know that I did my best to save her."

"Foster Fairfax! He is the man you saw this morning?"

"Yes."

"What is he to this child?"

"He is her father."

"And you--what are you to her?"

"Nothing."

Frank was somewhat dazed, for he had felt sure that the Hermit was Fay's
father.

"We were friends," explained the wounded man. "I can't tell all the
story. We both loved Marian Dale. Our rivalry was fair and square, and
we swore that the one who won her should still retain the friendship of
the other. At last, she promised to be mine at the end of six months.
Business took me into the Southwest, and there I met Fairfax, who had
rushed away as soon as he learned of my success. He was somewhat bitter
toward me, and accused me of using unfair means to win Marian. We
parted, and the very next day I was in a railroad collision, being
injured about the head, so I did not know my own name. I recovered, but
I was still unable to tell my name or remember anything of my past. In
this condition, I wandered over the country four years. I was able to
make a living, and seemed all right, with the exception that I could not
remember anything back of the accident. One night in Omaha I was in a
hotel fire, and I jumped from the window to escape. They took me up in
an unconscious condition, and carried me to a hospital. I recovered, and
my memory came back to me. Then I hurried East to Marian, and I found
her married to Foster Fairfax, who had told her that I was dead, and
that he had seen my dead body. This little girl is their child."

"While you are talking, you are losing blood," said Frank. "Move back,
and let me see if I cannot stop the flow."

He induced the Hermit to move back into the cave, where he was able to
light some matches and examine the wound. Not being a physician, Frank
could not tell how severe it was; but, with considerable difficulty, he
finally succeeded in stanching the flow of blood to a certain extent.

"It is useless," declared the Hermit. "I am booked, and I am glad of
that. I have nothing to live for."

"Yes, you has!" cried little Fay, creeping close to him. "I dess you is
pretty dood man. One time I had a birdie that die, and it was all
tovered up in the dround. You don't want to be all tovered up like dat.
I don't want you to be."

"God bless you!" murmured the Hermit, thickly. "You are a dear, sweet
child, and I shall not live to make more trouble for your father and
mother."

All was quiet at the mouth of the cave. Frank was longing to hear more
of the Hermit's story, and so he questioned the man.

"How does it happen that Foster Fairfax and his wife are not living
together?"

"I separated them."

"How?"

"I appeared like one risen from the dead, and Marian was prostrated by
the sight of me. I denounced Foster, called him a false friend and a
dastardly traitor. I was insane at the moment, and it is remarkable that
I did not kill him. However, I swore to have his life if we ever met
again. Then I left them."

"And you did not see Fairfax again till you met him here in the park?"

"No."

"How did it happen he left his wife?"

"When I met him I did not know they were not living together. He forced
me to listen, and he told me how he had taken a mangled corpse from the
wreck and buried it as me--how he had firmly believed me dead. Then he
bore the news to Marian, and she was prostrated.

"He loved her, but it was long before she consented to marry him. At
last, she did so, and they married, both believing me in my grave."

Frank was fascinated by the story.

"Go on," he urged.

"When I appeared both were horrified. When I left them, Marian accused
Foster of treachery. She was unreasonable and would listen to nothing he
could say. She bade him leave her and never return. He departed, and
they have not seen each other since. He does not know she is somewhere
in the park, as she must be, else the child would not be here. I did not
tell him of the peril of his child, but I resolved to save her and
restore her to his arms. I have saved her, but I shall be unable to take
her to him. I shall not live to see the light of another day."

"Oh, you may not be so badly injured as all that."

"I am. I am sure of it. I will leave the child in your care. Take her
to him, and tell him that I forgive everything. Never again will I rise
like one from the dead to come between Foster and Marian."

Frank remained with the man a while longer, and then, telling Fay to
stay there that she might keep beyond the reach of bullets, he returned
to the mouth of the cave.

"I'm glad ye've come, boy," said Old Rocks. "Ef them pesky varmints
ain't gone away entirely, they're up ter mischief, an' I needs yer
hyar."

They crouched behind the bowlders and waited, while the minutes slipped
away, and the same silence reigned.

At least an hour passed, and then came a sudden sound that filled both
with surprise and alarm.

Behind them there was a faint dropping in the cave, a movement, a rush,
and a roar. Then a cloud of dust swirled out and nearly smothered them.

"What is the meaning of that?" said Frank, bewildered.

"A cave-in!" shouted Old Rocks, making a hasty examination. "By ther
livin' gods! ther hull derned cave is blocked, an' ther Hermit an' ther
leetle gal is both buried beneath ur beyond thet fall!"

Frank was horrified beyond measure.

"It is terrible!" he gasped. "Poor little Fay!"

"What you want?" asked the familiar voice of the child, near at hand.
"It was lonetome in dere. The mans goed to sleep, an' I tomed out to see
you."

"Thank God!" came fervently from Frank's lips, as he caught her up in
his arms and covered her face with kisses.

"Wa-al, thet's whut I call luck!" gurgled the guide.

"Luck!" cried Frank, rebukingly. "It was the hand of Providence! Can you
doubt the wisdom and goodness of an Overruling Power after this?"

"Dunno ez I kin," admitted the old man. "It duz look like something a'
ther kind took her out o' thar jest at ther right time."

A complete examination showed that the whole roof of the cave had
apparently fallen in, and the passage was blocked with tons upon tons of
earth and sand.

"This yar's ther end o' Sand Cave," said Old Rocks.

They kept the child with them and waited behind the rocks for the attack
of the Blackfeet, but no attack came. Thus the long night passed, and
another day came round.

Then it was found that the Indians had departed.

"They didn't dar' stay hayer longer," said Old Rocks. "Ther whelps wuz
afeared o' ther soldiers. I'd like ter run onter ther soldiers an' set
'em arter Half Hand an' ther gang."

Led by the guide, they left the spot. Frank carried Fay in his arms.

Old Rocks first proceeded to the spot where he had hidden his rifle,
and, with that again in his possession, he expressed himself as feeling
ready to "chaw up ther hull Blackfeet tribe."

They found some game for breakfast and dinner, and before nightfall they
reached the camp on the shore of the lake, where Preston March and
Foster Fairfax had met.

A large party of tourists had gathered there, and the appearance of the
man and boy, the latter bearing Fay in his arms, created the greatest
excitement. Several persons rushed into the tent and drew forth a man
and woman, the latter white and grief-stricken, and pointed out the
child, who was sitting on Frank's shoulder and waving her hand, as she
laughingly called:

"I dess my mamma is dere! I knowed you'd tate me bat to my mamma!"

The man and woman were Foster Fairfax and his wife, who had met by
accident there in the Wonderland of America. She had told him how little
Fay had wandered away and become lost, and both had feared that they
would never see their child again.

Their unutterable joy cannot be depicted in words. Frank and Old Rocks
were the heroes of the occasion.

"Yer don't want ter give me too much credit fer this yar," said the
guide. "I done ther trailin', but this yar tenderfut saved me frum bein'
killed twice, an' he's got nerves o' steel. It ain't often I take ter a
tenderfut, but I will allow thet this yar chap is a boy ter tie to. Ther
babby sticks by him; he has won her heart. Dog my cats ef I blame her
either!"

Then the old man told how Frank had saved him from the grizzly, how the
boy had been tireless on the trail, how he had not murmured at any
hardship, and how he had broken the arm of the Blackfoot Indian who was
about to brain the guide.

As a result, Frank found himself regarded with unspeakable admiration by
all the tourists, while Foster Fairfax and his wife could not say or do
enough to express their feelings.

Frank told them of the death of Preston March, and, later, when
Professor Scotch and Barney had been found by Rocks and brought into the
party, all visited the spot where the Hermit of Yellowstone Park lay
buried beneath tons of earth.

At the mouth of the cave Foster Fairfax caused a cross to be erected,
bearing the name of the unfortunate man, the date of his birth and of
his death.

Frank remained in the park till he succeeded in photographing some "real
wild buffalo," and then he was well satisfied to move on to other fields
of adventure.

Half Hand was shot while trying to get away with a stolen horse about a
year later.

When the time came to part from Frank, little Fay was almost
heart-broken. She clung to him, sobbing:

"Is you doin' to leave me? I don't want you to! You know I is your
Fairy."

"You will ever be my Fairy," said the boy, with deep feeling. "Your
mamma has promised me your picture, and I shall keep it with me ever.
Some time by and by, dear, I will come back to you again."

And he kissed her farewell.



CHAPTER XXXV.

A PECULIAR GIRL.


The remainder of the stop in Yellowstone Park proved a delightful time.

"I wish I could sthay wid ye, Frankie, me b'y," said Barney, one day.

"Stay with me? What do you mean?" asked Frank.

"Oi have news from home. Oi must go back to Fardale to rasume me
studies."

"I'll be sorry to lose you Barney." And Frank spoke the truth, for he
loved his Irish chum a good deal.

Just then Professor Scotch burst in on the pair, telegram in hand.

"I must return East at once," he cried. "A relative of mine has died and
I must settle up his affairs."

"Two at once!" ejaculated Frank. "Then I'll be left to continue my
travels alone."

"Not for long, my boy," answered the professor. "I will soon return to
see that you fall into no more danger."

Two days later found Frank alone, the professor and Barney have taken
the eastbound train the evening before. Frank proceeded to Ogden, Utah,
where he spent three days in sight-seeing.

But he was anxious to go farther West, and one fine day found him a
passenger on the Pacific Express, bound for San Francisco.

Every seat in the parlor cars was taken, as Frank discovered, on
endeavoring to obtain one. Then he decided that any kind of a seat would
do, but nearly every one was occupied.

As he passed through the train, he noticed a girl of seventeen or
eighteen who seemed to be sitting alone. She was reading, and, as Frank
came along, she dropped the book in her lap, looked up, and smiled.

Frank touched his hat, paused, and asked:

"Is this seat taken, miss?"

"No, sir."

"Would you object----"

He paused significantly, smiling back at her.

"Not at all," was her immediate reply, as she drew a bit nearer the
window, and he sat down.

The book in the girl's lap was a noted one of detective tales. Frank
caught his breath in astonishment as he noted this.

"Queer literature for such a girl to be perusing," was his mental
observation.

He cast a sly glance at her. She was looking out of the window, but the
side of her face was toward him. Frank noted that she had a beautiful
profile, and that there was a most innocent and winsome expression about
her mouth. Her hair was golden and her eyes were blue.

There was a refinement and delicacy about the girl which impressed Frank
favorably.

Still, he wondered that a girl like her should be reading a book of
detective tales. She was the sort of a girl he would have expected to
see perusing love stories of the "Bertha M. Clay" class.

He longed to get into conversation with her, and yet, for all of the
smile with which she had seemed to greet him, something held him back
and told him it was not wise to be too forward.

At last she resumed reading again. She did not read long. With a faint,
scornful laugh, she dropped the book in her lap.

Frank fancied he saw an opportunity to "break the ice."

"You do not seem to like those stories," he observed.

"They are very amusing, and utterly improbable and impossible," she
said.

The boy laughed.

"Then you fancy the author overdrew his hero?" he asked.

"To be sure he did. There is no detective living who can do such
astonishing things as this one is credited with. No such detective ever
lived."

"Possibly not."

"Surely not. You cannot make me believe that a detective could come in
here, look me over, and then tell everything about me almost to my name
and the hour of my birth. Rubbish!"

Frank's wonder at the girl was on the increase. She did not talk much
like the ordinary girl of seventeen.

"If you dislike the stories so much how does it happen you are reading
them?"

"Oh, I do not dislike them. I confess that I found them very amusing,
but I am beginning to weary of them."

"I consider it remarkable that you attempted reading them."

"Why?"

"Young ladies like you seldom care for this kind of literature."

"Oh, I see. I presume not. They are too sentimental--soft, some call it.
Well, I am not sentimental."

"Perhaps not."

She lifted her eyebrows and pursed her lips a bit.

"You say that as if you do not believe me. Never mind. It makes no
difference whether you believe me or not."

She did not seem offended, and still she gave him to understand that
what he thought was of little consequence to her.

"Well," laughed Frank, "I have never yet met a girl who did not declare
she was bound to be an old maid, and those are the very ones who get
married first."

"And you think, because of that, that I must be sentimental, as I have
said that I am not, do you?"

"Oh, well--you see--I--I----"

She interrupted him with a merry laugh.

"Do not be afraid to answer. I don't mind. We are strangers, and why
should I be offended?"

"It is true we are strangers," said Frank; "and, as we may be seatmates
for some time to come, I will offer my card."

He drew out a cardcase and gave her a delicate bit of cardboard, with
his name engraved upon it.

"Frank Merriwell," she read. "Why, that is a splendid name, and it seems
to fit you so well! I like you all the better for your name."

"Whew!" thought Frank. "That is point-blank, and still she says she is
not sentimental. She may not be, but she is decidedly complimentary on
short acquaintance."

Aloud, he said:

"I am happy there is something about me that you admire, if it is no
more than my name."

She smiled, looking at him in a big-eyed, innocent way.

"Why, I didn't say that was all. I have not known you long enough to
tell. I am no gifted detective, and I cannot read your character at a
glance."

"Well, supposing we say the detective was a freak or a myth, and
relegate him to the background."

"That goes," she said.

Then she clapped her hand over her mouth, with a little exclamation of
dismay, quickly exclaiming:

"That is dreadful! I completely forgot myself! You see, I have been away
to school, and I caught on to some slang there, and I find I can't shake
it, although mamma doesn't like to have me make such breaks."

She paused, a look of the utmost dismay coming to her face, as if she
just realized what she had been saying.

It was with the utmost difficulty Frank restrained his laughter. At the
same time he felt his liking and admiration for the strange girl growing
swiftly. The little slip into slang seemed to add to her innocence,
especially when followed by such utter dismay.

"I am bound to do it occasionally," she said, after a few moments. "I
can't seem to get out of the habit, although I have tried. I trust you
will pardon me."

"Certainly."

"Thank you. I'll keep this card. I have none of my own with me. My name
is Isa Isban."

Somehow, that name was a shock to Frank. He could not have told why, to
save his life, but there was something unpleasant about it. It did not
seem to fit the girl at all.

However, this feeling soon passed, and they were chatting freely in a
short time. Their conversation drifted from topic to topic, and Frank
was delighted to find his fair companion wondrously well informed on
subjects such as are given little attention by most young girls. She
could even talk politics rationally, and she rather worsted Frank on a
tariff discussion.

"You are beyond my comprehension," he declared, admiringly. "Where you
ever learned so much is more than I can understand."

"Do you fancy that young men are the only ones who know things? If you
do, you are sure to find there are others---- Oh, dear! there I go
again."

Having become so well acquainted, Frank asked if she were bound for San
Francisco, and, to his disappointment, she informed him that Carson City
was her destination.

The conductor came through the train for tickets. Frank had his ready,
and the girl began searching for hers, but had not found it when the
conductor came along.

"Oh, dear!" she exclaimed, and Frank was about to offer to aid her, if
she needed a loan, when she opened her purse and took out several bills,
every one of them new and crisp, and of large denominations.

"The smallest I have is fifty dollars," she said. "Papa gave me large
bills, as he said they would not be so bulky."

"I can't change a bill of that size," said the conductor.

"I can," put in Frank, immediately producing his pocketbook. "I will
break it for you."

So he took the new bank-note, and gave her two twenties, a five and five
ones for it, enabling her to pay her fare without difficulty.

The conductor gave the girl a rebate ticket and passed on.

"Thank you so much!" she said to Frank. "I believe I may have trouble in
getting those large bills broken. Would you mind giving me small bills
for another fifty?"

Frank did not mind, and he gave them.

Thereby hangs a tale.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

FRIENDS AND FOES.


The Pacific Express drew into Reno on time, and Frank Merriwell was
about to bid adieu to the beautiful girl whom he had first met the day
before.

"I shall not soon forget this pleasant journey," he said, sincerely.
"Your company has made it very agreeable, Miss--Isban."

Somehow, he stumbled over that name, to which he had taken such a strong
dislike.

"Thank you," she said, and he half fancied her lip quivered a bit. "You
have been very kind, Mr. Merriwell."

Frank's heart fluttered a bit; the train was drawing into the station;
the boy leaned toward her, his eyes shining, a flush in his cheeks.

"And now we are to say good-by, without the least probability of ever
seeing each other again," he said, his voice not quite steady.

She turned away for a moment, and then, as she turned back, she swiftly
said:

"It is possible we may never see each other again, but you have given me
your home address, and you say any letter I may send will be forwarded
to you. You may hear from me--some time."

"I may--but if you would promise to write----"

"I have told you I cannot promise that."

"And you will not give me your address?"

"I cannot for reasons known to myself. Do not ask me."

"Miss Isban, I believe you are in trouble--some things you have told me
have led me to believe so. If you need a friend at any time, let me hear
from you."

She gave him her hand, looked straight into his eyes, and said:

"I will."

The brakeman thrust open the door and shouted:

"Reno. Change here for Carson, Virginia City, Candelaria and Keeler."

The train came to a dead stop.

Frank escorted Isa from the car, carrying her traveling bag, which he
gave to her when the station platform was reached.

"Remember!" he breathed in her ear.

Her hand touched his, she smiled into his eyes, whispering:

"I will! Good-by."

He lifted his hat, as she turned away.

At that moment a youth came hurrying forward, lifted his hat, his face
radiant, and accosted Isa:

"Vida," he said, "I am here. You did not come when you said, but I have
been watching for you."

Frank staggered back.

"Cæsar's ghost!" he palpitated. "Is it possible, or do my eyes deceive
me? Can that be Bart Hodge, my schoolmate, chum, and comrade of Fardale?
As I live, I believe it is! And he knows Miss Isban! What's the matter?
She does not seem to know him!"

The girl had drawn back, with an expression of alarm.

"I think you have made a mistake, sir," she said, rather haughtily.

"A mistake!" gasped the handsome youth, astonished and dismayed. "Why,
you know me! There is no mistake."

"But there is. I do not know you."

"Vida, you say that? Why, I am----"

"An impertinent young scoundrel!"

Smack!--an open hand struck Bart Hodge on the cheek, sending him
reeling. The blow was delivered by a large man, with a heavy black
mustache and the manner and appearance of a "gentleman rowdy." His
clothes were flashy, and he "sported" several large diamonds.

Frank was not the boy to stand idle and see a friend struck. Without a
word he made a leap for the big man. His fist was clinched, his arm shot
out, and his knuckles took the fellow under the left ear.

It was a beautiful knock-down blow. The man measured his length on the
platform in an instant.

"All aboard!"

The train was about to start, the conductor was giving the signal.

"Let it go," said Frank, quietly. "It is possible I had better stay here
and see this matter through. Bart may need me."

The train began to move.

With a cry of dismay, the girl had knelt beside the fallen man.

A bit dazed, Bart Hodge had faced around in time to see Frank strike
that telling blow. Bart stared, almost doubting the evidence of his
eyes.

"Great guns!" he gasped.

Then he sprang forward, his hand outstretched, shouting:

"Frank Merriwell!"

"Bart Hodge!"

They shook hands, both laughing forth their delight.

"You are a sight for sore eyes, old man!" cried Bart.

"You're another!" flung back Frank.

The man with the black mustache pushed away the girl and sat up,
staring, in a dazed way, at the two boys.

"Who struck me?" he asked.

"I believe I had that pleasure," smiled Frank.

"You? Did you knock me down? Why, you're a kid! I can kill you with one
blow!"

He got upon his feet, his face dark as a thundercloud.

The girl caught him by the arm, crying, in distress:

"Don't Paul--don't harm him! He has been kind to me on the train. I beg
you not to hurt him!"

This seemed to anger the man still more.

"Kind to you, eh?" he snarled. "And the other one tried to flirt with
you. I will----"

His hand went round to his hip, and there was a mad, deadly gleam in his
eyes. He looked murderous.

Neither of the boys made a move to draw a weapon.

"I wouldn't do it," said Frank, coolly. "I know this section of the
country is called 'the wild and woolly West,' but it is not sufficiently
wild and woolly to overlook a cold-blooded murder. If you take a fancy
to shoot two boys you will be pretty sure to get yourself beautifully
hanged."

"Oh, I won't shoot!" growled the man, his hand dropping away from his
hip. "But I will----"

"Easy, there!" came sharply from the lips of a police officer. "Somebody
is going to get yanked here."

He forced his way through the crowd that had formed a circle about the
principal actors on the scene.

"Who is talking about shooting here?" he demanded. "Where is the man who
carries concealed weapons?"

"Come away, Paul," whispered the girl, pulling at the man's arm.

"All right," he muttered--"all right, but there are other days. Those
young whelps had better keep out of my way."

"Disperse, here!" ordered the officer, commandingly, flourishing his
stick. "Be lively about it, too."

The crowd began to disperse.

The big man turned away, and the girl took his arm. Bart Hodge took a
step after them, but Frank caught hold of his arm, saying, sharply:

"Easy, old boy! Let her go."

"But----"

"Are you looking for further trouble right here?"

"No, but----"

"Then mind me."

"I suppose I'll have to, as you always were the boss. But I know that
girl, and she refused to recognize me."

"Well, what do you think you can do about it?"

"I was going to demand an explanation, and----"

"You would have received it--from the man who accompanies her."

Frank drew Bart away, but the latter still grumbled.

"If you understood it--if you knew, Frank. Why, I have chased across the
continent to meet her, and then to have her cut me dead! It is
terrible!"

Frank smiled.

"I should fancy it would seem a bit hard," he confessed. "But you may
have made a mistake."

"Not much!"

"Still, it is possible you did, Bart--it is probable."

"Probable! Get out! I----"

"Wait a minute. It happens that I am slightly acquainted with the young
lady."

"You? She never mentioned you to me."

"Still, I am slightly acquainted with her," smiled Frank, who knew well
enough why she had never mentioned him. "I heard you call her Vida,
and----"

"That is her name--Vida Melburn."

"It's just as I thought--you have mistaken this girl for some one else.
The name of this young lady is Isa Isban."

"Impossible!"

"It is the truth. I traveled with her from Ogden, and she left me a
moment before you observed her. Now, I know what I am talking about, and
you are twisted, old boy."

Bart smote his hands together, his dark eyes glowing.

"I will not believe it yet; but, if it is true, there are two girls in
the world who look exactly alike."

"Come away from here," said Frank. "Where can we obtain something to
eat? We can talk it over----"

"Hold on, Frank. I believe those people are going to take the next train
south, which leaves immediately."

"That is right. Miss Isban is on her way to Carson."

"Then I shall take that train."

Frank looked his friend over from head to foot.

"Say," he chuckled, "you are hard hit! I will confess that I was a bit
stuck on the girl, but I did not have it this way."

"She is in trouble," asserted Bart. "I mean to be on hand to help her,
if she needs assistance."

"All right; we'll take the next train south."



CHAPTER XXXVII.

BOY SHADOWERS.


And so they took the next train for Carson City.

Isa Isban and her companion of the dark mustache were on the same train,
as they learned without difficulty.

The girl and the man were in the same car with the boys, but neither of
them seemed to pay the least attention to the latter.

"Look here, Frank," said Bart, "tell me how you happened to get
acquainted with her."

Frank did so, and Bart's face clouded as he listened.

"I know you are great at catching on with the girls," Bart observed;
"but I swear I did not believe Vida Melburn was the sort to take up with
a chance acquaintance, under any circumstances."

Frank laughed.

"Now, you are jealous, old man," he said. "It came about naturally
enough, and she acted like a lady."

"But not like the Vida Melburn I know."

"I do not believe she is the Vida Melburn you know. You have been
deceived by a resemblance, my boy."

Bart shook his head.

"Not much! Don't take me for a fool, Frank! I am not such a dunderhead
as that--oh, no!"

"Then she lied to one of us."

Bart's face lighted a bit.

"Possibly she did not care to give you her right name, having made your
acquaintance in such a manner. That must be the real explanation."

"Look here, Bart, that girl is too unsophisticated, too innocent to
work that kind of a game. She has the most innocent face I ever saw."

"You are right," the dark-haired lad confessed, "Vida would not be
likely to do such a thing. She is frank and open as the day."

"Well, what do you make of it?"

"I don't know what to make of it."

"Tell me how you came to know her."

"She was visiting at Fardale, and I became acquainted with her. She
liked me and--I liked her. We were together a great deal. She did not
tell me much about herself, but, still, I learned a few things. Her home
is in Sacramento, but she has relatives in Carson City. I found out that
there had been trouble between her father and mother, and they had
separated. That is how her father happened to send her East. Her
relatives at Fardale did not regard me with favor for some reason, and
they ordered me to have nothing more to say to her. Still, we met
occasionally, and--to tell the truth, old boy--I fell in love with her.
They found out we were seeing each other secretly, and they made a
rumpus about it. Then they wrote to her father, and they sent for her to
return to the West. She was shipped off in a hurry, so we would see no
more of each other; but she wrote me a short note, telling me to address
her at Austin, Nevada. I did so, and, as I happen to have a rich old
uncle in California, I proposed to come out here. She answered, saying
she would be in Reno just three days ago, and for me to meet her at the
railway station, if possible. It looked impossible then, but I was hard
hit, and I made a big hustle to get away from school and come out here.
I worked all kinds of schemes on the governor, and he finally agreed to
let me come West to visit Uncle Hiram. I came, and I was in Reno on the
date set, but she did not appear. I have been there every day since, and
to-day she came. You know the rest."

Frank regarded his friend steadfastly for some moments, smiling
covertly.

"You are a queer fellow, Bart," he said. "You go to extremes in
everything. Now, stop and think of chasing away out here after a girl.
It is----"

Bart interrupted him with a sharp gesture.

"Oh, I know--I don't deny that I am a fool! At the same time I can't
help it. I never saw a girl before this one that I cared a snap for. She
seems to be my affinity."

Frank's laugh rang out merrily.

"Affinity is good!" he exclaimed. "You are hard hit. And the girl threw
you down when you appeared on the scene. What do you make of that?"

Bart scowled.

"I am sure of one thing."

"And that is--what?"

"She is in trouble."

"Who is the man with her?"

"That is what I'd like to know. I am sure she fears him. She must have
seen him, and she must have feared to recognize me. There can be no
other explanation."

"He is not her father, is he?"

"That creature the father of that girl? Well, not much!"

"No, he is not. If I remember right, she called him Paul. Can he be her
brother?"

"Never!"

"Then, what is he?"

"You tell."

"I can't."

"More than ever am I sure she is in trouble--great trouble. I am
determined to know the truth. I will learn it from her own lips."

"How?"

"By following her till I get an opportunity to speak with her."

"Well, Bart, you are so badly struck that all I can do is hang by you
and see you through. We will solve the mystery of this girl, if we are
capable of doing so."

"Right you are, Frank."

Then they spoke of other matters, old friends at Fardale, and how things
were moving there. Bart told all about the events that had taken place
at the academy since Frank left, how they had missed him as a leader in
sports of all kinds, how often he was spoken of with admiration and
affection by his old comrades, and how even the professors held him up
as a model to be emulated.

"They seem to have forgotten the pranks you were up to and the larks you
were in," said Bart; "but they remember that you stood at the head in
everything you undertook."

Then Frank told of his own adventures in knocking about, and Bart
regarded him with still greater admiration.

"You are the luckiest fellow alive!" declared the dark-haired lad. "I
wish I had a rich and eccentric old uncle to kick the bucket and leave
me a big fortune on condition that I would 'travel over the world to
advance my education and broaden my ideas.' Say, that uncle of yours was
a good thing!"

"Uncle Asher was original in everything."

"I should guess yes. When are you going abroad?"

"Very soon. Professor Scotch will make arrangements for such a move
while he is in the East."

"You are the envy of Fardale. Hans Dunnerwust returned with a stock of
tales of astounding adventures, which he managed to bungle badly in the
telling. And now I suppose Barney Mulloy will take his turn. Between
them they will make you out one of the most remarkable heroes of modern
times."

Thus the boys chatted till Carson City was reached.

All the while Bart was watching the girl closely, and he saw that she
really intended to get off at Carson.

The boys slipped out of the car, and were on the platform as soon as the
pair they were following reached it. It happened that the station
platform was crowded, and they were swallowed by the throng, so they
found it easy to keep out of sight of the man and girl.

The man seemed to watch to see if the boys left the car, while the girl
tried to draw him away. After some moments he submitted, and they
entered a closed carriage.

"Here!" exclaimed Frank, catching hold of a sleepy driver and giving him
a whirl; "see that carriage?"

"Yep."

"Don't lose sight of it for a moment, but do not seem to follow it.
Understand?"

"I reckon."

"Good! If you do the trick well, you get a tenner."

"Got it?"

"See."

Frank showed his roll, on the outside of which were the bright new
fifty-dollar bills.

"Get in."

The boys sprang in lively, the door closed on them, the driver leaped to
his seat, the whip cracked, and away they went.

"This is the first time I ever played the detective," said Bart.

"But it is not the first time for me," declared Frank. "I have found it
necessary, several times, in New York, Chicago, New Orleans and
elsewhere."

"I noticed how ready you were to do the proper thing. You did not give
them the start."

"Not a bit of it."

"You are the same old, self-reliant, hustling, go-ahead Frank Merriwell.
The only changes I can see in you are for the better."

"Thank you."

The driver in advance was a hustling fellow, and he had two good horses.
He sent them right along. Now, it was fortunate that, although, the
driver behind was a sleepyhead, he, also, had some fine horses, and he
did not make any great effort to keep them at a clipping pace.

It is probable that the man with the black mustache regarded the boys
with no little contempt, for he surely made no effort to give them the
slip. It is likely he did not fancy they would follow him so hotly.

At length the carriage in advance stopped before a certain house, and
the driver got down to open the door.

The driver who was carrying the boys continued past, turned the first
corner, stopped short, jumped down, opened the door, and said:

"Got 'em? They're just round the corner back yon."

"And you have earned your X," said Frank, springing out.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

"QUEER" MONEY.


"This is counterfeit!"

It was in the First National Bank of Carson, between nine and ten
o'clock of the day following Frank's arrival in the city.

Frank had found it difficult to get either of the new fifty-dollar bills
changed, and so he stepped into the bank and asked if he could be
favored there.

The bill had been scrutinized closely, the cashier had examined it
beneath a magnifying glass, after which he questioned the boy concerning
his manner of obtaining the paper, and Frank had told the truth fully
and without hesitation. Then the boy had been called into a private
room, and the cashier had declared the bill counterfeit.

Frank had been prepared for such an assertion by what went before it,
and he immediately opened his pocketbook and produced the other bill
which he had received of Isa Isban.

"Please look at this, and see if it is also counterfeit," he asked, with
remarkable coolness.

In a moment the cashier said:

"It is a mate for the first one. Both are 'queer.' My boy, this is bad
stuff to be carrying around. It is liable to bring you into no end of
trouble."

As he said this he was regarding Frank's face with a searching stare, as
if seeking to discover if the lad were honest or crooked.

Frank knew he was under suspicion, and he bore himself as quietly as
possible.

"This is the first intimation I have received that the bills are bad,"
declared the lad. "I received them as I have explained, and I have tried
in several places, this morning, to get one of them broken, but did not
succeed. I finally came here."

The cashier's brows lowered. He partially closed his eyes, and regarded
the boy steadily. Then he began once more to ask questions.

Frank knew he was in an unfortunate situation, and he decided the best
thing he could do was to answer every question truthfully, which he did.

It happened there was not much business going on in the bank. The paying
teller and the receiving teller listened to the questions and answers.
The receiving teller was a young man, and his face wore a sneering look
of incredulity. He regarded Frank with open doubt, and, once or twice,
muttered, "Ridiculous!" "Nonsense!" "A clever lie!" or something of the
sort.

The face of the paying teller was calm and unexpressive. It seemed that
he had not determined in his own mind if the boy were telling the truth.
He was listening to hear everything before he decided.

Frank explained how he came to be in Carson City, having given his name,
age, his guardian's name, told where his home was, and answered more
than a score of other questions.

The sneers of the receiving teller angered the boy; but he held his
feelings in check, and did not seem to hear the man when he proposed
that Merriwell be handed over to the special policeman in front of the
bank.

"Mr. Merriwell," said the cashier, "I shall have to take possession of
these bills."

"Why is that?"

"It is my duty. I have such instructions. You are getting off easy at
that."

"But I shall not recover my hundred dollars."

"No; that is lost. Let me tell you something: There is a band of
queer-makers somewhere in this vicinity. They do not attempt to run
their stuff into circulation around here; the most of it is put out in
Chicago. But they have been traced to this part of the country.
Detectives are at work on the case--Secret Service men, in the employ of
the government. Who these detectives are no one can say, although it has
been reported that Dan Drake is in it. Up to this time they have been
putting out tens and twenties. This fifty must be a new bit of work. And
I have something more to tell you. It is said that the queen of this
gang of counterfeiters is a beautiful young girl, who does not look to
be more than seventeen years of age. It is possible----"

But he made a gesture of anger, because such a thing should be thought
for a moment.

"It is not possible!" he said, sharply. "She is innocent of such a thing
as that! You cannot make me believe----"

He stopped, noting that the look of scorn on the face of the receiving
teller was deepening. Then, slowly and surely, the thought that the girl
had deceived him, that she was not as innocent as she looked, came upon
him. The mystery that surrounded her deepened, and a sudden longing to
know the truth grasped him.

The receiving teller laughed shortly, as he saw the changes which
flitted across the lad's face.

"There's guilt for you!" he muttered.

Frank stiffened up, giving the man a cutting look.

"What became of this girl for whom you changed two fifty-dollar bills?"
asked the cashier.

"I do not remember what became of her," declared Frank. "She was a
passenger on the Pacific Express. I left the express at Reno."

"And she went on? Bound for 'Frisco, it is likely."

Frank had not said she went on. He explained that he met a friend at
Reno, and that was how he happened to leave the express; that friend was
coming to Carson, and that was how he happened to come to Carson.

He did not tell that they had followed the girl to Carson, had shadowed
her to the house where she had stopped, and that his companion or
himself had watched that house constantly, ever since.

"Bart is watching it now," he told himself. "She can't get away. She
must explain to me how that bogus money came into her possession. I
believe I know! The man with the black mustache must have given it to
her!"

That the man with the sinister mustache was a villain he did not doubt,
but he still doubted that the girl was anything but what she
seemed--young, innocent, incapable of crime.

The cashier spoke a low word to one of his companions, and a sudden fear
came upon Frank. Was the man ordering his arrest? He could not afford to
be detained and bothered at that time. How would he solve the mystery if
they placed him under arrest?

But Frank had nerve, and he would not take to his heels, knowing such an
act would make it seem certain that he was guilty.

The receiving teller spoke sharply to the cashier, seemingly urging him
to some action; but the boy heard the cashier reply:

"It will spoil the whole thing to be too hasty."

"The boy can be made to peach on the gang," said the teller, in a
guarded tone.

"That's folly!" declared the cashier, shortly. "The boy is not
connected with the gang. Think they would send him here--to a bank--if
he were! Have a little sense, Burton!"

The teller mumbled, looking sullen and rebuffed, while Frank felt
relieved.

Then the cashier once more questioned Frank, as a lawyer might question
a witness. He tried, in various ways, to entrap the boy, but Frank made
no blunders.

After a time, the cashier seemed satisfied.

"I am sorry for you," he said. "You have lost a hundred dollars, but you
are fortunate to escape arrest and imprisonment."

"I suppose I am," admitted Frank; "and I will tell you something, now; I
propose to solve the mystery of this money. I am going to find that
girl, I am going to find out how she came to have the bogus stuff, and I
am going to bring this band of queer-makers to book, if possible."

The receiving teller laughed scornfully.

"A fine bluff!" he muttered.

The cashier gave him a crushing glance.

"You have undertaken a big job, my boy," said the latter. "I hardly
think you will be able to carry it out when government detectives are
bothered."

"I'll do my best."

"And you'll be pretty sure to get into further trouble."

"I may, but I am lucky about getting out of trouble."

"Yes, you are dead lucky," muttered the receiving teller.

The cashier gave Frank some outspoken advice, and then told the boy he
might go.

Frank left the private office and walked out of the bank. There was a
look of determination on his face.

"I don't fancy being beaten out of a hundred dollars," he said to
himself. "It's not the money so much; but if that girl knew--if she
played me----"

He stopped short, anger and disgust expressed on his face. His pride was
touched. He did not like to think that he had been thus deceived.

"I am going to know!" he vowed. "I am going to know the truth!"

He walked away, his head down, thinking. He was trying to form a plan of
action. Within a short time the mystery that surrounded the beautiful
girl with two names had deepened. He must find a way to learn the truth;
he would not be satisfied till he knew the truth.

For some time he walked along, paying little heed to his surroundings,
and then, all at once, a thought came to him:

"I am followed!"

He was confident of it. He did not look back, but he seemed to see the
shadower on his trail. They were determined to know at the bank if he
had told the truth, and a detective had been detailed to keep watch of
him.

Frank loitered along, looking into windows. He betrayed no uneasiness.
At last he came to a restaurant. Into this he wandered, proceeding to a
table at the farther end. Here he sat and gave his order.

The boy had taken a seat where he could watch the front door. In a short
time a small man entered quietly, walked straight to a table, sat down,
without glancing round, having hung his hat close at hand, and looked
over the bill of fare.

"You are the shadower," decided Frank. "I wonder how I can give you the
slip?"



CHAPTER XXXIX.

PURSUED.


Fortune gave the boy the opportunity he desired.

Along the street came two runaway horses, attached to a carriage. In
front of the restaurant they crashed into another team, and there was a
rush to see how much damage had been done. The attention of every one
seemed diverted toward the front.

Frank had observed an open door at the back of the room, and through
this he quickly sprang, ran along a narrow passage, and burst into the
kitchen.

"Hello, here!" cried the cook, in astonishment. "What's the matter?"

"Terrible smashup, out in front," replied the boy. "Don't know how many
have been killed. It is awful!"

"That so?" came stupidly from the bewildered man in white. "How did
it---- Well, he was in a hurry!"

But Frank had sprung out by an open door and was gone.

The boy reached a side street, sprinted round a corner, doubled and
turned at every opportunity, and settled to a swift walk.

He soon discovered which direction he should take without having asked
to be directed toward any particular point.

"This is an unpleasant scrape," muttered the boy; "and it came about
through my readiness to exchange my good money for bad. If I remain in
this town I am liable to be arrested at any moment."

He wondered what Bart would say when he was told. What could Bart think
about a girl who carried two bright new counterfeit fifty-dollar bills
in her purse?

Frank began to doubt. He was forced to confess to himself that such a
thing was remarkable. If the girl had had but one bad bill in her
possession, it would have seemed that she had obtained it unwittingly;
but two--and exactly alike----

"Can it be possible she is, in some way, connected with a gang of
counterfeiters?" Frank asked himself. "I will not believe it! Her face
is too innocent."

Then he remembered how, in the city of Chicago, he had encountered a
beautiful girl who was connected with counterfeiters; but he also
remembered that she was an unwilling tool, and had embraced the first
opportunity to get clear of the meshes of the net into which she had
fallen.

"If Isa Isban is connected with such a gang, I am certain it is against
her will."

Then he thought how, when she had discovered that he had plenty of
money, she had hastened to get him to change two fifty-dollar bills, and
his faith was shaken.

"It looks bad," he confessed.

As he approached the place where he had left Bart on guard over the
house in which the girl was believed to be, he passed a livery stable.
He was hurrying on when some one ran out of the stable and clutched him
by the arm.

"Just in time!" palpitated the voice of Bart Hodge.

"Hello!" exclaimed Frank, surprised. "Just in time for what?"

"They're gone!"

"Who?"

"Vida Melburn and that man."

"Gone where?"

"Taken the lake road. Something has caused them to hustle out on the
jump. I do not believe they are coming back here."

"Then we must follow."

"Sure."

"How----"

"Here--in the stable. I have ordered a horse. We'll have two. They'll
not slip us easily."

"How did they travel?"

"Horseback."

"How much of a start?"

"Twenty minutes."

Together the boys ran back into the stable, and another horse was
ordered saddled.

"Look here," cried Frank, displaying his money. "We wish to overtake
some people who have a start on us. Give us the best animal in the
stable."

The proprietor of the stable was on hand, and he looked the boys over
doubtfully.

"How do I know I'll ever see my critters again?" he asked.

"We'll make a deposit," declared Frank. "We'll stick up a hundred
dollars apiece on 'em. If they are worth more you can afford to take
chances. If we're horse thieves you won't have much trouble in tracing
us. Besides that, horse thieves do not work in this way. If they did
they'd get the worst end most of the time, for they'd have to chance it
on the horses being worth a hundred each."

The proprietor was rather bewildered. He believed something was wrong,
but still he did not wish to refuse to let the boys have the horses.

The money was counted out and thrust into his hands.

"Hustle!" cried Merriwell. "We can't afford to lose a moment."

The stable-keeper roared out an order to his assistants. The horse that
Bart had ordered was quickly brought out, ready for mounting, and then
he was followed by another, onto which a saddle was flung. Frank looked
the animals over with a critical eye.

"They'll do," he said, approvingly.

In a few seconds the lads were mounted and dashing away from the stable.
The proprietor stood looking after them, doubt written on his face.

"Gee whiz!" he muttered. "I never thought of that! Bet I've made a
derned fool of myself! Well, I reckon I'll git the critters back."

"What is it you did not think of?" he was asked.

"Why, it's remarkable kids like them should be so flush with money. And
they looked scared. They're runnin' away. I reckon they've been stealin'
an' they wuz hustlin' to get away before they wus arrested."

The boys disappeared down the street.

Frank allowed Bart to take the lead.

"I suppose you know the shortest cut to the lake road?" he asked.

"I do," said Bart. "You follow close, that's all."

As they rode, Frank related his adventure in the bank.

Bart whistled in astonishment.

"Bogus money?" he cried. "And you received it of the girl? That is
strange."

"It looks bad," said Frank.

"I don't understand it. How do you suppose she happened to have it? It's
not at all probable she knew what it was."

"I am not so sure of that."

The dark-eyed boy gave his companion a reproving look.

"She is as innocent as a flower! I will not believe she could do such a
thing! But she is in trouble."

They were regarded with some surprise as they dashed along the streets.
The citizens wondered why two boys were riding at such speed. A sleepy
policeman shouted at them, but they gave him no heed.

Soon they came to the outskirts of the city. Before them lay the lake
road.

"This is the way they came?" questioned Frank.

"Sure," nodded Bart. "They are somewhere ahead."

"What makes you think they are skipping the city? It strikes me they may
be simply out for a canter. Perhaps they are going to take a look at
Tahoe up there among the mountains."

"They did not buy horses for a canter of a few hours."

"They bought horses?"

"Yes."

"Then it is pretty certain they have no notion of coming back to Carson.
You have a level head, my boy. Forward!"

The road became rugged and steep. They were looking for a mounted man
and girl in advance, and they constantly urged forward their sweating
horses.

"I do not see anything of them."

"The road crooks away up yonder, so they would be hidden. They have
quite a start, and they are in a hurry."

A cloud of dust rose behind the galloping horses, drifting away to the
left. The road was rough, but the boys did not mind that.

"Tahoe must be on the top of a mountain," grumbled Bart, after a time.

"It is six thousand, two hundred and eight feet above the level of the
sea," said Frank. "That is elevated somewhat."

"I should say so. It must be the highest body of water in this country,
if not in the world."

"It is higher than the peaks of many lofty mountains."

"And this so-called 'lake road' is hardly better than an ordinary trail.
We are in for a hard pull of it."

"But the ones we are pursuing are in for just as hard a pull."

"That's right, and one of them is a girl."

The mountains loomed formidably before them. The bleak heights seemed to
block their way. But the road wound onward and upward, and they followed
it.

"What was that?" questioned Frank.

"What? I did not hear anything."

"It sounded like a cry. There it is again."

"I heard it that time. It did not seem to be ahead of us, and so it----
Great Scott! Look back!"

Frank looked back down the road. Far away, several horsemen were riding
toward them. They were urging forward their animals, and the sunlight
glinted on polished weapons.

"We are pursued, partner!" said Frank, grimly. "We are in for a hot
chase."



CHAPTER XL.

ELUDED.


"Who are our pursuers?" asked Bart, angrily. "What do they want? They
are shouting and waving their hands."

"They are shouting for us to stop. They want me."

"For what?"

"Have you forgotten, as soon as this, what I told you about the queer
money I tried to get changed at the bank?"

"Think that is why they are after you, eh?"

"Without a doubt?"

"Then they must be officers."

"It is certain that at least one of them is an officer. The others he
may have called to his aid hastily."

"It will not do for them to overtake us."

"Surely not. I would be arrested and taken back into Carson. Even if I
were sure of proving my innocence, the man and girl would get away."

"And you cannot be sure you could prove your innocence. The working of
the law is sometimes strange and erratic. That money has placed you in
great danger, Frank."

"You are right. I wish I had kept my money in my pocket, and had not
been so ready to break fifty-dollar bills for a pretty girl."

Frank said this laughingly, but Bart's dark face wore a very serious
look. He was not at all inclined to regard serious matters in a humorous
light, while Frank had faced deadly dangers many times, and had come to
laugh in the face of the gravest peril.

"We'll have trouble in escaping those men," came soberly from Bart's
lips. "It is still rather wild up around Tahoe, I fancy, and this road
must end at the lake."

"Well, we'll leave the road and ride over the mountain tops, if we do
not overtake the man and girl."

"What if we do overtake them?"

"It will be a good plan to freeze onto them, and hold them for the
officers."

"No," cried Bart, sharply. "I will not agree to that."

"You will not?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"It would place the girl in peril. She would be----"

"That's where you're off, my boy. It might rescue her from peril. If she
is in trouble, as we imagine, it would be the very best thing that could
happen for her."

"How is that?"

"She could tell her story truthfully, and it might get her out of
trouble by putting the man with the black mustache in a box. At the same
time it would clear me."

Bart was obliged to confess that Frank had made a point, and still he
did not like to think of turning the girl over to the officers of the
law.

"Perhaps she would not 'peach' on the gang, if there is a gang behind
her, which I doubt. She might keep her mouth closed, might swear she
never let you have the queer money."

"And I can prove she did by the conductor of the Pacific Express. He saw
me give her the small stuff for the two bills."

"Still, I do not feel like nabbing her and turning her over to the
officers. We might not be able to nab her, anyway."

"That is true enough. I rather fancy her companion would be likely to
put up a stiff fight. He looks to me like a dangerous man."

Frank fancied that he was beginning to understand Bart's feelings. He
believed the boy was afraid the girl might prove to be one of a gang of
counterfeiters, and he was so badly smitten that he did not wish to be
instrumental in her arrest.

Frank, himself, had been highly interested in Isa Isban; but events had
transpired which caused him to doubt that she was all her innocent face
would lead a casual observer to believe, and his admiration for her had
waned swiftly.

Having been brought beneath a cloud of suspicion, Frank was determined
to vindicate himself in some manner. He sincerely hoped it might turn
out that the girl was innocent. If she were innocent, then she must be
in trouble, and he hoped to be instrumental in relieving her.

It was well the lads had obtained two good horses, for they were able to
keep well in advance of the pursuers.

Once or twice they fancied they saw rising dust in the far distance,
which led them to believe the man and girl were there.

If they were right, then the couple in advance were urging their horses
to the limit, for they kept beyond view.

The road grew rougher and rougher. The mountains shut in on either hand,
and still they climbed upward. The horses panted and perspired, while
horses and lads were covered with dust.

"Do you know how far it is to the lake by this road?" asked Bart.

"It can't be over ten miles."

"Well, it is the longest ten miles of road I ever passed."

The windings of the road shut the pursuers out from view. They were
coming on when last seen, but had not seemed to gain in the least. At
last an exclamation of satisfaction broke from Bart's lips.

"There they are!"

Far up the road, halted and looking back, were the man and girl, mounted
on two dust-covered horses.

"Sure as you live!" cried Frank. "We have been gaining on them."

The boys were seen by the ones in advance, and the man made a gesture of
rage, while the girl reached out and caught him by the arm, seeming to
speak earnestly to him. He listened a moment, and then both touched up
their horses, quickly galloping from view.

Now the chase became hot, although the road became more difficult and
perilous. Several times the lads obtained glimpses of the man and girl.

Finally, with appalling suddenness, they came out upon the shore of Lake
Tahoe, resting like a blue gem upon the mountain tops, upheld like a
perfect mirror to a cloudless sky.

Cries of surprise and admiration broke from the lips of both boys, for
never before had they beheld such a lovely sheet of water. The surface
of the lake was unbroken by a ripple, and the water, into which the
heated horses thrust their noses, was clear as crystal.

Afar, the mountain peaks rose like sentinels, their outlines softened to
a purple shade. Along the shores were unmarred forests.

For a few seconds the boys sat silent, gazing in speechless admiration
on the beautiful scene, and then Frank gave a start and drew the nose of
his horse from the water, saying:

"Don't let your animal drink too much, Bart. They are very hot."

"That's right," nodded the dark-haired lad, following Frank's example.
"But where are the man and girl?"

"They must have hidden up or down the shore of the lake. Look for the
tracks of their horses."

It did not take them long to discover which direction had been taken,
and away they went.

"I don't see how they are going to escape us," said Bart. "We have them
cornered."

"And we must be ready to fight, for that man will raise a rumpus."

They looked at their revolvers, making sure they were in good working
order. There was a look of resolution on Frank's face that contrasted
strongly with the expression of doubt and uncertainty which had been
growing on the face of his companion.

They rode round a point and came in view of a beautiful cove. Then they
again uttered exclamations of surprise, for out of the cove a light
canoe was skimming, and the canoe contained the man and the girl. The
man was handling the paddle with strength and skill.

"Tricked!" exclaimed Frank, somewhat dismayed. "They have slipped us
after all."

As he saw this, the expression of doubt on Bart's face turned to one of
intense anger. He was enraged at being baffled. Riding his horse into
the edge of the water, he drew a revolver, pointed it at the canoe, and
shouted:

"Hold on, there! If you don't come back, you are liable to find yourself
dodging bullets."

The reply of the man was a scornful laugh, the sudden uplifting of one
hand, a puff of smoke, and the singing of a bullet that passed over
Bart's head.

"Don't shoot!" cried Frank. "You might hit the girl."

Bart was in a white rage; he quivered with anger.

"Oh, I won't shoot!" he said; "but, if he were alone I'd give him a few
lead pills, hang him!"

After the shot, which seemed flung at the boys in derision, the man
resumed paddling, and the canoe glided on.

But that shot had aroused some on the opposite side of the cove, for a
man came bursting out of the trees, rushed down to the shore, and stared
after the canoe.

He was a gigantic fellow, being at least six feet and six inches in
height, roughly dressed in woolen clothes, wearing long-legged boots and
a wide-brimmed hat. He had a heavy mustache, and a long imperial.

Suddenly his voice rang in a roar across the cove:

"Hold on, thar! Whatever are you doin' with my canoe? Ef yer don't bring
it back, burn my hide ef I don't turn a cannon on yer an' sink yer at
sea!"

The man in the canoe made no immediate reply, but pulled the harder at
the paddle.

"Derned ef yer don't git grapeshot an' canister!" howled the big man.
"I'll riddle yer!"

Then the man in the canoe shouted:

"Don't shoot! You will find two horses hitched to a tree near where we
obtained this canoe. They're yours in exchange."

"W'at do I want uv hawses!" roared the big man. "Bring back thet canoe
instanter! I won't take yer hawses!"

But the man in the canoe continued to pull at the paddle, and the little
craft glided straight out on the tranquil bosom of the lake.



CHAPTER XLI.

BIG GABE.


The big man roared and raged, but he did not do any shooting.

"I'll see yer ag'in," he shouted, "an' burn my eyebrows, ef I don't make
yer settle fer this yar!"

Then he saw the mounted boys on the opposite side of the cove, and he
stared at them inquiringly.

"Wa-al," he shouted, "who be you, an' what do yer want?"

"We will meet you and make an explanation," Frank shouted back.

The two lads began riding along the shore of the cove, and the big man
moved to meet them, regarding them with no little suspicion.

They finally met at the head of the cove, where the giant stood, with
folded arms, scowling blackly at them.

A short distance away two dust-covered horses were standing, hitched to
trees, their heads hanging low, while they still breathed heavily.

They were the animals abandoned by the man and girl.

"Ef you youngsters want ter steal anything, ye'd best mosey outer this
yar part uv ther kentry," growled the big man, sullenly. "First it's a
gang uv pleasure seekers thet comes an' takes my sailboat, then it's a
man an' gal thet kerries off my canoe, an' next it's two boys as ain't
got anything yit, but looks like they want something."

"We do," palpitated Frank. "We want some kind of a boat in which to
follow those people--the man and the girl."

"Wa-al, yer won't git it."

"We will pay you--we have plenty of money."

"Ter thunder with yer money! What duz Gabe Blake want uv money! All I
want is ter be let alone. Ther fust crowd promised me money fer my boat,
but I told 'em ter take her an' bring her back before night. They took
her, an' I ain't seen hide ner ha'r uv 'em sense. Ther man an' ther gal
took my canoe without askin' leave."

"They left those horses----"

"Burn their hawses! What do I want uv hawses! Hawses ain't no good
harabouts. Ther fust gang left four hawses, an' I've got ther critters
ter feed. Hyar's two more! Burn ther hawses!"

It was plain the giant was in anything put a pleasant frame of mind. He
scowled blackly at the boys.

"If you will furnish us with a boat----" began Frank.

"Ain't got no more boats. Can't go out fishin'. An' I'm too blamed lazy
ter build another boat. Built ther sailboat an' canoe afore I got lazy
livin' hyar. Man thet lives hyar six weeks gits too blamed lazy ter
work. What 'm I goin' ter do when I want ter go out fishin'?"

Bart Hodge made a gesture of dismay.

"Do you know where we can get a boat?" he asked.

"Thar's none round hyar."

"Then we cannot follow that man and girl?"

"Not 'less yer kin walk on ther water."

"It's hard luck," declared Frank. "I did not believe they would be able
to slip us."

"What did yer want uv 'em?" asked the big man, his curiosity getting the
better of his anger.

Frank dismounted.

"Might as well get off and give the horses a breathing spell, Bart," he
said. "They are blowed."

"But the party pursuing us--what of them?"

"Let them come."

"Are you going to give up thus easily?"

"No; but I am not going to run like a criminal. Why should I? Let them
come."

"You do not mean to fight?"

"Not if a regular officer attempts my arrest."

"What they goin' ter arrest yer fer, youngster?" asked the man, becoming
still more curious. "Hev yer bin stealin' hawses?"

"No."

"Wa-al, yer needn't tell ef yer don't want ter!" resentfully said the
giant. "I don't keer."

"I will tell you the whole story," said Frank. "When you have heard it
you may be able to advise us about continuing the pursuit."

Bart dismounted, and the boys sat down on the ground. The man took a
seat near at hand, and brought forth a cob pipe, which he leisurely
filled and lighted. He was brawny, weather-tanned, and healthy in
appearance. He did not look like a person who had ever seen an hour of
illness.

"Fire away, youngster," he urged. "Somehow, I kinder take ter you.
You've got an honest face on yer, burn me ef yer hain't!"

Frank expressed thanks for the compliment, and then, as concisely and
plainly as possible, he told of his experiences since meeting the girl
on the train.

The big man listened closely, his interest growing each minute. When the
boy had finished, the man slapped his thigh and cried:

"Brand me deep ef I don't reckon ye've guv it ter me fair an' squar! I
know somethin' about this yar gang uv queer-makers."

"You do?"

Both lads ejaculated the words.

"You bet!"

"What do you know?"

"I hev heard ez how they has a young gal who is queen uv ther band, an'
she shoves ther queer on ther market fer them."

"Is that all?" asked Frank, with a trace of disappointment.

"Hold yer critters!" advised the big man, with a lazy wave of one hand.
"Don't git too oneasy. I said I know something erbout 'em. What I told
yer wuz what I had heard."

"Well, tell us what you know."

"See them mountains over thar, beyond ther lake, right whar I'm
p'intin'?"

"Yes."

"Purty wild place over thar."

"Well?"

"Thet's whar ther den uv them thar counterfeiters is."

Frank clutched the man's arm, his face full of eagerness.

"How do you know?"

"I hev bin over thar."

"What did you discover?"

"Say, I don't keer ter mix in no rows, an' so I ain't troubled myself
ter inform on 'em."

"But you will tell us what you discovered? We will pay----"

"Pay be derned! I tell yer I don't keer a hoot erbout money. Ef I git
enough ter buy some terbacker an' clothes, an' sech provisions ez I
want, thet's all I ask. I don't keer how much bad money is in
circulation, an' thet's why I ain't meddled with them critters. Ef I
blowed, they might take a notion ter call on me, some time, an' make it
derned onpleasant fer me."

The hopes of the boys dwindled.

"But think what it may mean to me--my liberty, honor, everything!"
cried Frank. "You must understand the situation in which I am placed."

"I do. Ef them critters hedn't run off with my boat, I might hev kept my
mouth shet; but now, burn me deep, ef I don't git squar!"

The hopes of the lads rose again.

"I'll tell yer whut I found over thar," the big man went on, slowly. "I
found ther place whar ther queer-makers hang out."

"You did?" fluttered both lads.

"Thet's whatever. Thar's a hidden cabin on a cliff, an' thet thar is
their headquarters."

"Will you guide us there?"

"Wa-al, what do you two youngsters think you could do? Thar's a gang.
You say yer wuz pursued by officers. Wa-al, I know Jack Long, ther
sheriff, an' I kin fix it with him, ef he is in ther crowd. He wuz one
as brought me hyar ter die uv consumption two years ago."

The boys looked at the giant in amazement.

"Brought you here to die of consumption?" cried Frank. "You--you?
Impossible!"

The giant smiled lazily.

"I don't look like a consumptive, now, do I? Wa-al, ther doctors said
thar warn't one chance in a thousan' fer me. They hed guv me up. I come
hyar ter die; but I got well. This is ther greatest place I ever struck
fer bracin' up a feller's lungs; but it takes all ther ambition outer
him. It hes made me so I don't care ter do anything but be lazy. Let
ther old world wag, Gabriel Blake won't bother with her none whatever."

"How can we reach the mountains over there?" asked Frank.

"Reckon we'll hev ter go round ther shore, thet's all ther way."

"And you will guide us?"

"Ef Jack Long shows up an' wants ter go, I s'pose so."

Blake said this somewhat reluctantly, as if he dreaded the exertion.

"If Long should not show up--what, then?"

"It won't be nary dern bit uv use fer one ur two uv us ter go rampin'
off over thar. Ef Jack Long locates their hangout, he'll bring a posse
an' scoop 'em."

The boys found the giant was set in his ways, and it was not strange
that, as they were boys, he should consider them of minor importance in
case of a collision with the counterfeiters.

He once more expressed his conviction that the lads were "squar," and it
was his belief that he could thus convince Jack Long.

"Can we use our horses in getting round the lake?" asked Frank.

"Wa-al, I dunno but I kin pick out a trail fer yer; but fer me it'd be
as much work ter travel hawseback ez afoot."

He then invited them to his cabin, and they followed him, leading the
horses. He gave no heed to the animals the man and girl had abandoned.

Big Gabe's cabin was tucked away in a secluded nook, close to the shore
of the lake, and not far from the cove. It was fairly comfortable in a
rude way.

"Long will come hyar," he said. "Ef he wuz with yer pursuers he'll show
up afore a great while. Make yourselves comfertable till he comes."

The lads did so.



CHAPTER XLII.

OVER THE PRECIPICE.


In time the sheriff appeared, but one man--a rough, awkward-looking
fellow--was his only companion.

Long uttered a cry of satisfaction when he saw the boys.

"Well, I have caught you, after all!" he exclaimed. "The boys allowed
you had given me the slip, and they went back."

His hands fell on the butts of ready revolvers, and he ordered them to
surrender without resistance.

"Hold on hyar a bit, Jack," said Big Gabe, stepping between the lads and
the officer. "Let's we hold a little plarver. You know me, I'll allow."

"To be course I do, Gabe, and I am mighty glad to see you alive and
well. You once had the name of being the strongest man in Nevada; but
you didn't look very strong when we brought you up here, two year ago.
You'll be up to the old tricks again, before long."

The giant shook his head.

"I reckon not," he said. "Liftin' bolders an' wrastlin' with four men at
a time is outer my line ferever, arter this. I'm too lazy, an' besides
thet, I'll allow it wuz a strain I got at that business as brought on my
first bleedin' spell arter I hed ther grip. I'm purty well, now, but I
don't make no exerbitions uv my strength, burn me ef I do!"

"Wait till you get away from here. Everybody that comes here gets lazy,
and stays lazy as longs as they stay here."

At this Big Gabe nodded.

"Thet's sure as preachin'. It's ther derndest place ter make a critter
feel ez if he don't keer a hoot whether school keeps ur not!"

The sheriff had half drawn his revolvers. He now thrust one of them back
into its holster, but motioned for Blake to stand aside.

"I judge you don't know the kind of youngsters these are as I have found
here," said Long.

"And I judge I do," returned the big man, quietly. "I know all about
'em, an' they're all right."

The officer looked surprised.

"How does it happen you know about 'em?" he asked, wonderingly.

"They're old acquaintances uv mine," asserted Gabe, greatly to the
surprise of the lads; "an' they're on the dead level. They came hyar to
see me, sayin' as how they wuz in some trouble down at Carson over some
counterfeit money as they hed got by accident."

Long was scowling and looking disgusted. He listened in silence,
motioning for the giant to go on.

"I hev listened ter their story," said Blake, "an' knowin' 'em ez I do,
I'll allow it's straight, an' you ain't got no cause whatever ter rope
'em, Jack."

"Mebbe you're right," admitted the sheriff, fishing in a pocket and
drawing forth a paper; "but here is a warrant for the arrest of one
Frank Merriwell, and I must serve it. It is sworn out by Ezra Coburn, a
leading citizen of Carson."

"Burn Ezra Coburn!" roared Big Gabe, becoming somewhat excited. "Burn
him and double burn him! I tell yer them youngsters is my friends, an'
I'm standin' by 'em! You an' I don't want any trouble, Jack."

"No, we don't want any trouble; but, at the same time, I'll have to do
my duty," came firmly from the lips of the sheriff.

"By thet yer mean yer'll hev ter arrest Frank Merriwell?"

"Exactly."

"Stiddy, Jack! Don't be too quick ter lay yer paws on ther boys. You
know me."

"I do, and I do not fancy having trouble with you. At the same time I
must do my duty."

"Wa-al, hold hard a bit. Don't be in a hurry about nabbin' them. I'll
give yer my pledge as how yer kin hev 'em any time. Does thet go?"

The sheriff hesitated a bit, and then said:

"It goes, if you are responsible for 'em, Gabe."

"All right. Boys, this yar is Jack Long, sheriff from Carson, a white
man clean through. He'll guv yer a squar' deal."

The boys shook hands with the officer, after which the latter said:

"This man with me is Silas Jones, of Michigan, relation to my wife,
somehow or other. He is thinking of locating out this way."

Jones grinned all over his bearded face, shook hands in a strong,
blundering fashion, and said:

"I swan if this ain't a great country, out here! Beats all natur! But I
don't feel to hum, fer I was raised right in ther middle of the woods,
an' there's too much open land out this way. I don't mean right round
here, you understand; but I've seen more'n forty thousan' miles of
prairie sence comin' out this way, an' it makes me lonesome."

Having expressed himself thus, he sat down on a box and relapsed into
silence, listening to the others and grinning now and then, but seldom
speaking unless addressed.

Big Gabe urged them all to sit down, and they did so. He then directed
Frank Merriwell to relate to the sheriff the story of his adventures
since meeting Isa Isban on the train, and the boy was obliged to go
over the ground once more.

Bart was impatient, thinking how much time was being wasted; but he held
himself in check as far as possible.

The dark-eyed boy noticed that Silas Jones listened to Frank's story
with great attentiveness, apparently greatly interested in the
narrative.

When the boy had finished, Blake explained how his sailboat had been
engaged by a pleasure party of four persons, two men, a woman and a
girl, and how they had failed to return with it, making it impossible
for him to pursue the man and the girl who ran off with his canoe.

"Then you saw the man and girl?" asked Long.

"I did that," nodded the giant. "An' I said a few things ter them, but
it wuz a case uv wasted breath."

The sheriff seemed to hesitate, doubtfully, and then Frank spoke:

"Mr. Blake believes he knows where the retreat of the counterfeiters is,
and he has offered to guide us there."

"How about it?" asked Long, quickly. "Is it right?"

"Wa-al, purty nigh right. I reckon I do know whar they're located, an' I
offered ter guide ther party ef you brung a good crowd with yer. You
only brung one man."

"Here are five of us, in all," said Frank. "Two of us may be boys, but
it is possible we can fight harder than you imagine."

"If such a thing can be avoided, we do not want to fight at all," said
Long. "We want to take the makers of the queer by surprise and capture
them in a strategic manner."

Silas Jones nodded.

"Either that or send for plenty of officers ter ketch 'em on ther jump,"
he said. "Ther United States Secret Service men would be mighty tickled
ter git such a show."

Long gave Jones a peculiar look.

"The Secret Service men may be mighty glad if they get an opportunity to
play second fiddle in this affair," he said.

Whereat the man from Michigan grinned, but made no further remark.

The sheriff was for taking the boys back to Carson, leaving them in
custody, and then seeking the retreat of the counterfeiters.

To this Big Gabe would not agree.

"Give ther youngsters a show," he said. "I hev pledged myself ter stand
good fer 'em. Take 'em erlong on ther expedition."

There was considerable discussion over this, and Long finally gave in,
although he expressed himself as certain that the boys would prove a
great incumbrance.

Both Frank and Bart resolved to show him his mistake, in case an
opportunity was offered.

They made preparations for the trip, which Big Gabe declared would take
the better part of four days, as they would have to pick their way
carefully through the mountains.

The two horses left by the man and girl were brought up and stripped of
their saddles, packs being substituted.

Big Gabe was almost entirely cleaned out of provisions, but he did not
murmur because of that.

The giant insisted on making the jaunt on foot, saying he did not wish
to be incumbered with a horse.

When everything was ready, they started out, Gabe in the lead, carrying
his Winchester at his side.

It did not take the giant long to convince them that he was far from an
invalid. He seemed built of iron, and he was sure footed as a mountain
goat.

Before long they were forced back from the shore of the lake and
compelled to pick their way through a rough and rocky region, where
progress was exasperatingly slow.

It was midafternoon, when they halted at the beginning of a desperate
and dangerous climb amid mighty bowlders, with yawning chasms on every
hand.

Here they opened one of the packs and brought forth provisions enough
for the party to satisfy their hunger, the food being washed down with
water from a tinkling brook that ran toward the lake.

After they had satisfied their hunger, and allowed the horses to feed,
the animals were saddled again, the packs made fast, and once more they
started onward.

Although Big Gabe had explored the greater part of the rough region
lying around the lake, he had never before attempted to find a road for
horses along the precipices and black ravines.

After eating, they set about the most severe and dangerous part of the
journey yet reached. Up amid the giant bowlders they climbed, at times
working around some part of the mountain where there would be a bare
bluff on one hand and a yawning chasm on the other.

The giant guide warned them to look out for the loose bowlders, saying
that some of them could be sent crashing down the mountain almost by the
pressure of a hand.

The dangers from these huge rocks were made apparent before they had
passed beyond that region.

Frank's horse proved far more skillful in climbing, keeping close to Big
Gabe's heels, and the others were left at a considerable distance, so it
became necessary to pause once or twice for them to come up.

A nearly level bit of the mountain had been reached, and they were
pausing before the next climb, when a rumbling jar was heard, and a cry
of warning broke from the guide.

"Loose bowlder! Look out fer it, boy!"

The others were yet some distance away, so that Frank and Gabe were
together, the boy being astride his heavily breathing horse.

With each moment the roaring grew louder, till it swelled to jarring
thunder, and then past them shot a huge black mass, enveloped in a cloud
of dust. This mass leaped down into the black depths of a great chasm
that yawned close at hand.

Frank's horse was frightened and began to plunge. The boy tried to quiet
the animal, which was no easy task. In its mad plunging the creature
reached the edge of the chasm. Big Gabe leaped forward with a second
shout of warning, but it came too late.

Horse and rider went over the brink!



CHAPTER XLIII.

A FRIGHTFUL PERIL.


Not a sound came from the lips of our hero as his horse went plunging
into the chasm, although, in the moment when he went over the brink, the
boy fully expected to be dashed to death in the dark depths below.

He saw Big Gabe leap to clutch him, but realized that the giant was too
late.

In that fateful moment Frank cleared his feet from the stirrups and made
a desperate effort to save himself.

Too late!

All he could do was to clutch at the high pommel of the Mexican saddle,
to which he clung tenaciously.

A wild, half human scream of terror came from the throat of the horse.

"Whoa up, thar!" roared the giant, as he made a clutch at the horse.

By rare good fortune the man clutched the flowing tail of the animal
fairly and firmly. His heels settled into a rift of the rocks, and he
surged backward.

Over went the horse, dangling, head downward, above the terrible chasm,
while the giant held it thus by clinging to the creature's tail!

And our hero held fast to the Mexican saddle!

Frank was amazed when he found the horse was not going downward, and,
being unable to see the big man, he wondered what held the animal
suspended in the air.

In a moment the man above cried:

"Are you gone, boy? Are yer done fer, youngster?"

"No," replied Frank, with sudden hope. "I am hanging to the saddle.
Drop a rope to me, and pull me up--quick, before the horse falls!"

"Can't do it."

"Why not?"

"I'm holdin' ther critter by ther tail, an', burn me, ef yer both won't
go to ther bottom ef I leggo!"

Then the boy realized what had saved him, impossible as it seemed, and
he marveled at the astonishing strength of the strange giant who had
been sent to Lake Tahoe to die of consumption.

"But he can't hold out long!" thought the lad. "He must give up in a
moment, and then we'll go down to death!"

It was not a pleasant thought, and still Frank was not terrified. He
wondered at his own coolness. He speculated on the length of time they
would be falling. Would he be conscious when they struck, or would the
fall rob him of his senses?

He looked down. Far below, ragged points of rocks jutted out from the
chasm wall, seeming to beckon to him. They would bruise and tear him,
and it seemed that they were awaiting, with impatience, for him to fall.

He could not see the bottom of the chasm!

"It is sure death!"

Without knowing that he did so, he uttered the words aloud.

"Not ef I kin hold on a little longer, boy."

The giant had heard him and made reply, much to his surprise, for he had
seemed to forget that Blake was holding him from falling.

Then he marveled more than ever at the strength of the man, for it began
to seem that he had been suspended thus many hours. Surely Gabriel Blake
possessed supernatural prowess.

Something like a laugh came from the boy's lips.

"It is foolish to try to hold on longer," he said, a bit wildly. "Let
go, before you, too, are dragged over to death."

"Hyar, hyar!" called the man from above. "Don't git nutty, boy! I kin
hold yer some time yit."

Still Frank was sure it was all folly; it could only end in one way.

"I must fall at last!"

The giant heard these hoarsely muttered words, and he feared the boy
would let go.

And now Bart Hodge and the two men had become aware of Frank's peril,
and they were spurring their horses madly forward, having reached the
top of the climb.

The giant saw them coming, and it gave him new strength.

"Hold fast, down thar, youngster!" Big Gabe shouted to Frank. "Thar's
help comin' hot-foot an' hustlin'. We'll hev yer out uv thar in two
shakes, brand me deep ef we don't!"

Still, Frank did not dare to hope. Once or twice it seemed that the
horse, wild-eyed and snorting with terror, slipped a bit, and the boy
fancied Gabe was losing his grip.

It was a fearful strain on the giant, but he held fast as if his own
life depended on it. The cords stood out on his neck and forehead, and
perspiration rolled down his face. He could hear his own heart thumping
like a hammer in his breast.

The sheriff, Sile Jones and Bart Hodge came tearing up to the spot,
flung their horses back with a surge at the bit, and leaped to the
ground.

In a moment Jones had leaped to the side of Big Gabe and obtained a hold
on the tail of the horse, relieving the giant a bit.

A lariat dangled from the sheriff's saddle, and this he had freed before
he brought his horse to a halt. With it in his hand, he sprang to the
ground and leaped toward the brink of the chasm, on which Bart was
already kneeling.

"Hang on, old boy!" breathed the dark-haired lad. "The horse will not
fall now. You are all right. We will have you out of that in a moment."

Frank looked up and saw Bart peering down. The sight of his friend's
face gave the imperiled lad new hope.

"It's all right, if you say so, partner," he said, coolly. "But I don't
care how quick you get me out of this."

Jack Long reached the brink of the chasm, lariat in hand.

"Say," he cried, "whatever are you trying to do, boy? Think you can slip
me this way? Not much!"

He ended with a reassuring laugh, which was meant to encourage Frank. In
a moment the rope was lowered, and the end dangled close by the boy.

"Catch hold!" cried the sheriff.

Frank did so, first getting a firm hold with one hand, and then with the
other. By the time he had hold of the lariat Bart was ready to pull with
Long.

"All right!" shouted Frank. "Lift away, up there."

They did so, carefully lifting him over the edge of the ledge, so his
hold would not be broken, and he was drawn safely to the solid ground.

Some boys would have been completely overcome and unmanned by such a
close call, but such was not the case with Frank. The moment all peril
was past for him, he exclaimed:

"Save the horse!"

"Don't know as we can," said the sheriff, breathing heavily. "We'll try
it. If we can get the beast up without strangling it we'll be dead
lucky."

Long was skillful with the lariat, and he dropped the noose over the
horse's head with a wide sweep. He did not draw it tight till the time
came, and that was when every man and boy were ready to lift to the
extent of their strength.

"Heave!" shouted Big Gabe, in a stentorian tone.

After a desperate struggle they dragged the horse up over the brink, but
the unfortunate creature was more dead than alive, and nearly an hour
passed before it recovered.



CHAPTER XLIV.

A GIRL'S MAD LEAP.


By nightfall they were encamped--or bivouacked--in a sheltered pocket,
close by a clear bubbling spring. A fire was lighted, and, having eaten
supper, they sat around and talked over the journey and adventures of
the day.

The men smoked. The horses fed on some tender grass near at hand. Bart
said:

"Do you know, Frank, I never touched a cigarette since you induced me to
swear off at Fardale?"

"I am glad to hear that," said Frank. "There is nothing more hurtful
than cigarettes used to excess, and one who smokes them regularly is
almost certain to use them to excess, after a time."

"When you left Fardale I told you I feared I might fall back into my old
ways--might become reckless and dissipated as I was before you gave me a
helping hand and pulled me out. You remember it?"

"Yes."

"And do you remember that you said you were confident I would not go
back--that you felt sure I had stamina of character enough not to take
up with my old associates?"

"Yes."

"Well, Frank, by saying so you saved me. Whenever I have been tempted to
do a mean thing, or to take up with any of the old gang, I have always
thought of your words, and knowing you had faith in me has given me
strength to resist."

"I am glad of it, old fellow. For all that we were enemies to begin with
at Fardale, I found you had good stuff in you, and so I stood by you
when others were against you."

"You stood by me when I was falsely accused of a theft, even though I
had treated you shamefully, and it was that which made me ashamed and
disgusted with myself. I saw you were white clean through, and I
resolved to mend my ways if I ever pulled through the scrape I was in."

"You kept your resolution."

"With your aid. I did not expect you would accept me for a roommate,
after what had happened, but you did. I do not believe I should have
been able to remain in Fardale Academy but for that. Now----"

"Now what?"

"Well, it may sound like boasting, but you know I am not given to that,
Frank."

"I know. Go on."

"Now, to a certain extent, I have taken the place you left vacant at
Fardale. I was captain of the football team last fall, and we came out
champions in the series we played. This year I was unanimously chosen
captain of the baseball team, and we have had a most successful season
thus far. The fellows who would have nothing at all to do with me
originally are ready to stand by me to the last gasp now. All this came
about through your influence, Frank."

"You make me blush," laughed our hero. "Don't tell me anything more, or
you will give me a case of swelled head."

"There is no danger of that," Bart declared. "For a fellow who was so
popular at school, you were and are reprehensibly modest. You had a way
of holding your own, and still you never thrust yourself forward, which
is something I cannot understand, for, as a rule, if a person does not
push himself right ahead, he does not get there. Modesty may be all
right, but, in most cases, the modest fellow gets left. Not that I
believe in the braggart and blowhard, but a chap must have nerve to put
himself ahead if he wants to keep in the game. I have seen lots of
inferior individuals get a start on those with ability simply because
they had the gall to sail right in and make their bluff. I believe there
are two kinds of modesty, and one kind is closely allied to cowardice.
The fellow who has confidence in himself, thinks he can do a thing, says
he can do it, and does his level best to do it, is the one who will come
out on top. If a chap wants an opportunity to try at anything, he makes
a fool of himself if he says, 'I don't know, perhaps I can do it.' The
one who says, 'I can and will' is the one people have confidence in,
even though he may not be so smart as some modest coward."

Frank whistled softly.

"Hodge," he said, gravely, "you are a philosopher. Your philosophy may
be a trifle mixed, but it will untangle itself later on. Such words from
your lips rather daze me. I think I'll have to sleep and rest in order
to recover."

He ended by a light laugh, in which, however, Bart did not join.

The dark-haired boy would have been glad to talk of the mysterious girl,
but Frank rolled himself in a blanket, with his feet toward the fire and
showed no desire to continue the conversation.

Bart soon followed this example, but the men continued to smoke and talk
for some time.

Bart was awakened by feeling himself vigorously shaken, but, when he
started to speak, a hand was over his mouth, and a voice whispered, in
his ear:

"Easy, old boy; don't make a racket. We want to take a little stroll by
ourselves, and there might be objections."

He knew it was Frank who spoke, although it was still dark, with just a
hint of approaching dawn in the east.

When Frank was sure Bart understood he removed his hand from the
latter's mouth, and the dark-haired boy crept softly from his blanket.

"Where are you going?" whispered Hodge, in surprise.

"Never mind," was the answer. "Take your rifle and come along."

The men were sleeping heavily. The horses stamped restlessly at a
distance of two or three rods. The stars were fading before the gray
light that slowly spread in the east.

Bart secured his rifle. Frank had his already, and they stole out of the
bivouac.

Frank led the way, walking swiftly, and making no noise.

Bart wondered what the boy meant to do. Surely he did not think of
skipping the party, for the horses were abandoned.

The dark-haired lad could not restrain his curiosity long, and he asked
a question as soon as they were beyond earshot of the camp.

"What do you mean to do, Frank?"

"Take a morning stroll," was the laughing reply. "It is good for one's
health. Why, it's a regular tonic."

Bart was puzzled, for he knew Frank was not out for his health.

"You are not skipping them?" he asked.

"Not for long," was the reply.

"But what will they think when they awaken and find we are gone?"

"I have left a note."

"Where?"

"Pinned to Big Gabe's breast."

"What did you say?"

"That we would be back, and for them not to think we were running away."

"They will think so, all the same."

"They are likely to."

"And I fail to see the object in this move. If they catch us before we
return, Jack Long is liable to tie us up and take us back to Carson
without delay."

Frank laughed softly.

"They will not catch us till we are ready to return. I will tell you
just what this move means."

"Fire away."

"Last night, after we both seemed to be asleep, Big Gabe told his
companions just where this hidden cabin of the counterfeiters is
located. I was not asleep, although I seemed to be, and I heard every
word."

"Well?"

"Well, we are going there."

"For what reason?"

"To see what we can do. I also overheard the men talking, and they
seemed extremely doubtful as to our ability to do much of anything. In
fact, they regarded us as an incumbrance. That touched my pride. I
resolved to see if we could not convince them that they had made a
mistake."

"Are you sure you can find this hidden cabin?"

"No; but I can try. I remember every word Gabe spoke, and I'll come
pretty near it, you may bet."

"Go ahead. I am with you."

Bart did not question his friend further, although it seemed a foolish
move to him. But he remembered that, in the past, Frank had seldom made
a mistake when he set out to do anything.

Merriwell moved at a swinging pace, and Hodge held close to his heels.

The light in the east broadened, flushed, and rose to the zenith. The
stars were blotted from the sky; but there were deep shadows far down in
the ravines and gorges when the sunlight lay on the mountain peaks.

Having left the pocket, Frank led the way along a twisting ravine. Out
of this he climbed at a certain point, and they made their way over a
ridge into another ravine, from which they branched into yet another.
Finally, with the bare face of a great mountain rising abruptly on their
left, the boys advanced slowly.

"It cannot be far from here," said Frank, keeping his eyes about him.
"We shall not be able to see the cabin from this ravine, but we may
locate the cliff on which it is built."

"How can we locate it?"

"Big Gabe said there was a wide streak that ran perpendicularly in the
rocky precipice not far from the cliff--and there it is!"

The boys fell back a bit, gazing intently at the wide, white strip that
seemed to hang along the face of black stone, like a wide streak from a
monster whitewash brush.

"I am certain we are very near the place," said Frank. "We will look for
the cliff."

This they did, and, in a very short time, they fancied they had
discovered it.

"There seems no possible way of reaching the ledge up there," said Bart,
somewhat despondently.

"But there must be a way, if the hidden cabin is built there," declared
Frank.

"I don't doubt it. At the same time, we are not likely to find it.
Instead of making queer money in a city, where they would be in constant
danger of discovery and arrest, they have come here to this wild region,
where they are not likely to be discovered, and where there is very
little chance that they will be arrested if they are discovered."

For some time the boys speculated concerning the possibility of reaching
the ledge. They were about to seek a way out of the ravine when
something happened that astonished them both.

"Look, Bart!" softly cried Frank, catching the shoulder of his
friend--"look there!"

He pointed upward to the ledge.

On the very verge of the sheer descent a girl had suddenly appeared. In
her hand she carried a huge umbrella, which she was struggling to open,
her movements seeming to indicate that she was in great terror. Her
unbound golden hair was falling over her shoulders.

"It's Vida!" palpitated Bart Hodge.

"It's Isa!" asserted Frank Merriwell.

"What does she mean to do?"

"Wait! Look!"

"Merciful goodness!"

Both lads were horrified, for, having succeeded in opening the huge
umbrella, the girl suddenly turned, and, with a wild cry, leaped out
into space from the edge of the ledge.


[Illustration: "Frank brought the butt of his Winchester to his
shoulder, and began to work the weapon." (See page 296)]



CHAPTER XLV.

QUEEN OF THE COUNTERFEITERS.


It seemed an act of madness.

A moment after she made the frightful leap a man came rushing to the
edge of the ledge and clutched at her.

He was too late.

Already she was shooting downward toward the depths of the ravine.

With no small difficulty he saved himself from toppling over the brink.

Down in the ravine two boys gazed in unutterable horror at the falling
form of the girl.

Then they beheld what seemed like a marvel.

To a certain extent the umbrella acted like a parachute, and, assisted
by the girl's clothing, served to check the swiftness of her fall.

Down she came into the ravine, alighting within a few rods of the boys,
collapsing in a motionless heap, while the huge government umbrella,
which must have been stolen from its former owners, turned bottom up and
rolled a few feet away.

Frank was the first to recover. With a low cry, he sprang toward the
girl, knelt beside her, and lifted her in his arms.

"Is she dead?" fluttered Bart, over his friend's shoulder.

"I do not think she struck hard enough," said Frank. "No--she moves. She
is alive!"

The beautiful girl, whose face was very pale, opened her eyes, caught
her breath convulsively, looked straight past Frank, saw the face of the
other boy, and murmured:

"Bartley!"

In a moment Bart Hodge was on his knees, and he almost tore her from
Frank's hands.

"Give her to me!" he panted. "She knows me now! She will not refuse to
recognize me here!"

Seeing how agitated his friend was, Frank surrendered the girl, asking:

"Are you severely harmed, Miss Isban?"

She looked at him in a bewildered way, but did not reply.

Bending over her, Bart echoed the question:

"Are you severely harmed, Miss Melburn?"

"I--I think not," she replied, faintly. "I lost my breath, and I feared
I would lose my hold on the handle of the umbrella before I reached the
bottom. I did not strike very hard, but everything seemed to float away
when I knew I was at the bottom."

"It is wonderful--marvelous! What made you do such a mad thing?"

"The horrid wretch who insisted on making love to me! I became awfully
afraid of him. He was pursuing me."

"But it seemed like a leap to certain death."

"I didn't care much. I was crazy with fear. I saw this old umbrella,
and, remembering how I had once seen a man descend by means of a
parachute from a balloon, I caught it up, rushed out of the cabin,
slamming the door in his face, opened it, and jumped when he came
hurrying after me."

"The brute!" grated Bart.

"He is a brute!" echoed the girl, "I had rather die than fall into his
power again!"

"You shall not fall into his power. We will protect you."

"But how does it happen you are here?" she asked, bewildered. "I cannot
understand that."

"This is no time or place for explanations," Frank cut in. "That fellow
has disappeared from the cliff, but he will be back. We must get out of
this."

To this Bart fully agreed, and he lifted the girl to her feet. She was
rather weak, and so she was forced to lean on his shoulder.

They had moved but a little way when a shout came from the cliff, and
they saw three men looking down at them. These men were armed, and Frank
saw them taking aim with rifles.

"Look out!" he shouted. "They're going to send bullets after us!"

A second later the men on the cliff began shooting, the white smoke
puffing from their rifles, the reports of which awoke the echoes.

The bullets whistled about the trio in the ravine.

"Run!" shouted Frank, wheeling and flinging his rifle to his shoulder.

He sent several bullets up at the cliff and then turned and dashed after
Bart, who had lifted the girl in his arms, and made a rush for a place
of safety.

The bullets spat spitefully against the rocks as he ran, whistled about
him, dislodged pebbles and tore up little sprays of earth, but not one
of them touched him.

The trio reached a turn in the ravine and passed beyond view of the
cliff, so they were safe from the bullets of the men above.

For some moments they paused, panting from their exertions.

The girl looked at her companions in admiration.

"You are strong and brave," she said. "I feel that you will save me."

"But we are not out of the woods yet," said Frank. "Those fellows will
be sure to give us a chase."

"How can they get down from the cliff?" asked Bart.

"There is a way to do that, you may be sure. As soon as we get our
breath we must hasten on. We will be fortunate if we strike Blake, Long,
and Jones without delay."

They did not wait long before hastening forward. The boys took the girl
between them, both assisting her, sometimes carrying her over the worst
places.

Her strength came back to her, after a time, and they were surprised by
her skill and fleetness of foot.

Out of the ravine they made their way, and dropped over into the other,
beginning to feel relieved by the non-appearance of their enemies.

But they were not to escape without a further encounter.

Five minutes after entering the second ravine they heard a clatter of
hoofs behind them. There was no time to get out of the ravine, and it
happened that they were unable to find a place of concealment in time to
escape observation.

Six men came riding madly toward them, sending up a wild shout when they
were observed.

"Behind these rocks here!" cried Frank. "We must stand them off. It's
our only show. Put the girl behind that large one, so that she will be
safe from bullets."

Bart was desperate. His teeth showed, his face was very pale, and he
grated:

"They shall not touch her again--I vow they shall not touch her!"

Behind the bowlders plunged the trio, just as a bullet whistled over
Frank's head.

Dropping on one knee behind a stone on which he could rest his elbow,
our hero brought the butt of his Winchester to his shoulder, and began
to work the weapon.

Even then Frank was not quite ready to shoot straight at the breasts of
human beings, and so his first five shots brought down three of the
horses, throwing the band into confusion.

Bart was more desperate, as his words indicated, for he half snarled:

"Don't kill the poor horses! Shoot the human brutes!"

Then he began firing, and, if his nerve had been as steady as Frank's,
scarcely one of the six would have escaped. As it was, he quickly
wounded two of them.

This was a reception the men had not counted on. Those whose horses had
not been shot made haste to rein about and dash away, one with a
dangling arm, while the others leaped to the shelter of the rocks.

"Now they have us cornered!" came fiercely from Bart's lips. "If you had
not wasted your bullets, Frank, we would have the advantage now."

"Don't you care," laughed Frank, lightly. "We are hotter company than
they were looking for, and I rather fancy we'll be able to give them a
jolly good racket."

Frank was in a reckless mood. Danger ever seemed to affect him thus. A
bullet tore his hat from his head, but he picked it up, laughing, as if
it were all sport.

For some minutes the boys and their enemies popped away at each other,
and then, from the opposite direction along the ravine, came the sound
of galloping horses.

"Here come our friends!" cried Bart, joyfully. "We are all right now!
Those chaps will have to take to their heels."

Suddenly a sharp whistle rang through the ravine from above, and the
party below answered in a similar manner.

The boys looked at each other in astonishment.

"Shield yourselves as far as possible in both directions," cried Frank.
"If I am not mistaken, we have enemies above and below!"

Crouching behind the rocks, they saw the second party dash into
view--four in all. Three of them were men, but their leader was a girl,
who wore a mask over her face.

"There!" exclaimed Frank--"there is the queen of the counterfeiters!"



CHAPTER XLVI.

AFTER THE FIGHT.


The masked girl seemed to have the eyes of an eagle, for she immediately
located the trio behind the rocks. A wild cry broke from her lips, and
then she caught the rein in her teeth, snatched out two revolvers, and
charged straight down upon the boys and the girl they were defending,
firing as she came.

The men followed her.

With hoarse shouts, the first party of pursuers joined in the charge,
and the trio of defenders were between two fires.

"Shoot to kill! Shoot to kill!" screamed Bart. "Do not waste bullets
now! It will be fatal if you do."

Only too well did Frank realize that he must seek human targets for his
bullets. It was not the first time in his life that he had been
compelled to do such a thing, but he always regretted the necessity, and
did so only when forced to the last ditch.

It is a very easy thing to sit down quietly and think or write of
shooting a human being in self-defense; but such a thing is not easy for
conscientious persons to do. When the time comes, they either shoot in
desperate haste, before they can think much about it, or hold off as
long as possible.

Frank held off as long as possible, but now he realized it would not do
to hesitate longer. Bart was shooting in one direction, and he began
shooting in the other. Through the smoke that leaped from the muzzle of
his rifle he saw one man fling up his hands and plunge forward on his
face.

Either the men were utterly reckless, or they had not believed the boys
would offer much resistance, for they exposed themselves fearlessly and
rushed fiercely on the rocks behind which the trio crouched. It is
possible they fancied that by shooting recklessly among the rocks they
could keep the lads quiet till the barrier was reached.

This was a fatal mistake for some of them. The ones who were mounted
came forward more swiftly, but some of them were toppled from the
saddle, others were thrown into confusion, the horses were wounded and
frightened, and the riders who could escape, reined about and made haste
to do so.

All but the masked girl!

With the utmost reckless abandon, she charged right up to the rocks.
Being a girl, neither of the boys had shot toward her, or her horse.

Now, however, Bart Hodge rose to his feet, took good aim at the animal,
and shot it dead.

The creature fell, flinging the girl headlong.

She struck solidly, and lay still, in a huddled mass upon the ground.

"Hurrah!" cried Frank, seeing the enemy was repulsed. "I fancy they have
had about enough of us."

He hastened to replenish the magazine of his rifle.

Bart's first thought, on seeing the fight was over, was of the girl they
had been defending. He turned and found her safe where she had been
placed behind the large bowlder, but she was still holding her hands
over her ears, and her face was very pale.

Frank sprang outside the rocks, caught up the other girl, and leaped
back quickly, placing her gently on the ground.

"I hope she is not harmed," he said, as he deftly removed the mask.

The moment the girl's face was exposed a shout of amazement broke from
the lips of both lads. They stared first at one girl and then at the
other, looking bewildered.

The girls were almost counterparts of each other!

"They are doubles!" exclaimed Frank. "Taken separately, it would be
impossible to tell one from the other."

Then he turned on the girl they had been defending, stared straight into
her face for a moment, and asked:

"What is your name?"

"Vida Melburn."

"It is not Isa Isban?"

"No, sir."

"Did I not change two fifty-dollar bills for you on the Pacific Express,
shortly after leaving Ogden?"

"I never saw you till this morning."

"That settles it!" cried Frank; "the other girl is Isa Isban, and she is
queen of the counterfeiters. She was the one for whom I changed the
money, and she completely fooled me by her innocent face and manner."

"And I mistook her for Miss Melburn," said Bart. "Such a thing seems
impossible, but it actually occurred."

"But how Miss Melburn came to be here is what I cannot understand,"
asserted Frank.

"I came up to Tahoe with my father, an uncle, and an aunt," said the
girl, who was recovering from her terror. "My uncle and aunt live in
Carson, and father and I were visiting them. We hired a sailboat of a
big hermit who lives somewhere on the shore of the lake, and sailed over
here, coming ashore to have a picnic dinner. The wind went down, and we
could not get back. That evening I took a little stroll from camp, and I
was suddenly seized from behind, nearly smothered in a blanket and
carried away. I was held a captive in a cabin, far up on a high cliff.
Back of the cabin was a cave through which the men reached the spot.
Last night, or this morning, before daybreak, a man with a heavy dark
mustache came to see me. I had not undressed, and he made me get up, so
he could look me over. After some minutes, he cried, 'I swear she is
handsomer than the queen!' Then he told me how he had seen me in Carson,
and had mistaken me, at first, for some one else. How he found out his
mistake, when he received a message from the other, who had been away to
the east. How he vowed to know me better, and how, when he found our
party were going to visit the lake, he sent word to friends of his to
kidnap me. The monster! Then he tried to make love to me. I repulsed
him, and he went away in an angry mood, swearing he would come back. He
did so, in the morning, and once more tried to make love to me. I was
filled with terror, and, clutching the big umbrella, I rushed out of the
cabin. When he followed, I opened the umbrella and jumped from the
cliff."

"You did not meet me in Reno, as you agreed," said Bart.

"Because father got hold of your letter, and he watched me constantly. I
could not."

The other girl suddenly sat up. Her eyes had been wide open for some
moments, and she had heard the whole of the story from the lips of her
double, at whom she now stared, her face working strangely.

"So he made love to you--the traitor!" she cried, passionately. "Said
you were prettier than I! I saw he had begun to tire of me! He would not
let me see you; now I know why. You are a fine half-sister to steal my
husband!"

"Half-sister!" gasped the other girl, shrinking back. "What do you
mean?"

"Don't you know. Why, we are half-sisters. You are two years the older,
although you do not look so. You do not remember your mother, for she
left you when you were a baby. Your father must have kept the story from
you. Mother told me everything. Your father has been forced to pay well
to have the secret kept. He was proud, and his pride has been
expensive."

Vida seemed dazed.

"I can scarcely believe it," she murmured.

Isa laughed rather harshly.

"I don't suppose it makes you feel any happier to know you have such a
sister. What do I care! You robbed me of my happiness, for you made Paul
fall in love with you."

"I repulsed him as best I could. He is repugnant to me."

"Well, I suppose you tell the truth. I was longing to strangle you till
I heard your story. I shall not molest you now. Where is Paul? Where are
the men?"

"Some of them are dead," answered Bart. "We did not wish to shoot them,
but they forced us to do so in self-defense."

At this moment shots and cries came from up the canyon, and, a few
seconds later, a man came into view and rode his horse down toward the
bowlders which had served the boys as a fort.

It was Jack Long, the sheriff.

"Hurrah!" cried Frank, leaping to his feet and waving his hat. "Our
friends are coming!"

Long rode up slowly, gazing in unutterable amazement at dead horses and
men stretched on the ground.

"Well," he said, as he drew rein, "it looks like there had been a right
smart scrimmage here. Who was in it?"

"We were attacked, and had to stand them off," explained Frank.

"You?" cried the sheriff, his amazement increasing--"you youngsters? Did
you do all this shooting?"

"We didn't do all the shooting you may have heard, but we did some of
it, and what you see shows we did not waste all our bullets."

"Holy smoke! We captured two fellows, back there, both wounded, and they
said you boys did it; but I couldn't hardly credit that. You must have
fought like wildcats! This knocks me. If I ever open my trap about kids
again I hope I may choke!"

In a few moments Big Gabe and Sile Jones appeared, escorting the wounded
prisoners, and the boys felt that there was no further danger of another
attack from the counterfeiters.

Paul Scott, the husband of Isa, had been killed in battle. Great was her
grief when she came upon his dead body.

The men slain in the struggle were buried there in the ravine.

The counterfeiters' cave and the hidden cabin were visited. Dies and
presses, together with a large amount of "queer" money, were found. The
counterfeiters who had escaped from the battle had taken to their heels,
and they were not captured.

Then it transpired that "Silas Jones, of Michigan," was, in truth, Dan
Drake, of the Secret Service, a fact which had been known to Jack Long
all the while. Drake had been working for a long time to find the den of
this band of counterfeiters.

On the return to the lake Vida Melburn's nearly distracted father,
uncle, and aunt were found, and the girl was restored to them.

Then Bart Hodge and Frank Merriwell were introduced, and the girl
somewhat maliciously informed her father that the person who had fought
to save her from her kidnapers was the very boy he had forbidden her to
see or correspond with.

It is needless to say that Bart and Frank were treated with great
courtesy.

Drake did not wish to make anything unpleasant for Isa, so she
accompanied the party as if she were one of them, although the detective
tried to keep an eye on her. But she was shrewd, and she gave him the
slip before Carson was reached. She was not overtaken and recaptured.

The detective was not forced to call Frank and Bart to testify against
the captured counterfeiters, as both fellows confessed freely.

Big Gabe parted from Frank with a show of affection.

"'Low yer wuz squar' when I fust saw yer, burn me deep ef I didn't!"
said the lazy giant. "I wuz right, too. No, I ain't goin' ter leave
Tahoe. Reckon I'll live ther rest uv my natteral days hyar. Ef yer ever
git round this yar way, don't yer fail ter call on Gabe Blake. Yer'll
alwus be welcome at his shanty. Ef yer ain't, you may brand me."

When Frank left Carson City Bart was the guest of Vida Melburn's uncle.
Vida and her father were stopping there, and Frank was urged to remain
longer.

But Frank made haste to get away. He had a secret locked fast in his
heart; he knew he, too, might become smitten by Vida's charms, if he
remained, and he did not wish to "cross the trail" of his friend.

The boys parted with a warm handshake and a sincere wish to meet again,
before long.

"And where will you go next?" asked Bart.

"To San Francisco, and from there to South America," answered our hero.

He told the truth, and his many adventures that followed will be related
in the next volume of this series, entitled "Frank Merriwell's Hunting
Tour." In this story we will meet not only Frank, but also many other
old friends, and learn what they did while after big game.

And now good-by to Frank Merriwell, a typical American lad of to-day, as
honest as he is brave.


THE END.



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Gilbert, the Boy Trapper



ANNIE ASHMORE.

A splendid story, recording the adventures of a boy with smugglers.

Smuggler's Cave, The



CAPT. RALPH BONEHILL.

Capt. Bonehill is in the very front rank as an author of boys' stories.
These are two of his best works.

Neka, the Boy Conjurer
Tour of the Zero Club



WALTER F. BRUNS.

An excellent story of adventure in the celebrated Sunk Lands of Missouri
and Kansas.

In the Sunk Lands



FRANK H. CONVERSE.

This writer has established a splendid reputation as a boys' author, and
although his books usually command $1.25 per volume, we offer the
following at a more popular price.

Gold of Flat Top Mountain
Happy-Go-Lucky Jack
Heir to a Million
In Search of An Unknown Race
In Southern Seas
Mystery of a Diamond
That Treasure
Voyage to the Gold Coast



HARRY COLLINGWOOD.

One of England's most successful writers of stories for boys. His best
story is

Pirate Island



GEORGE H. COOMER.

Two books we highly recommend. One is a splendid story of adventure at
sea, when American ships were in every port in the world, and the other
tells of adventures while the first railway in the Andes Mountains was
being built.

Boys in the Forecastle
Old Man of the Mountain



WILLIAM DALTON.

Three stories by one of the very greatest writers for boys. The stories
deal with boys' adventures in India, China and Abyssinia. These books
are strongly recommended for boys' reading, as they contain a large
amount of historical information.

Tiger Prince
War Tiger
White Elephant



EDWARD S. ELLIS.

These books are considered the best works this well-known writer ever
produced. No better reading for bright young Americans.

Arthur Helmuth
Check No. 2134
From Tent to White House
Perils of the Jungle
On the Trail of Geronimo
White Mustang



GEORGE MANVILLE FENN.

For the past fifty years Mr. Fenn has been writing books for boys and
popular fiction. His books are justly popular throughout the
English-speaking world. We publish the following select list of his
boys' books, which we consider the best he ever wrote.

Commodore Junk
Dingo Boys
Golden Magnet
Grand Chaco
Weathercock



ENSIGN CLARKE FITCH, U. S. N.

A graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, and thoroughly
familiar with all naval matters. Mr. Fitch has devoted himself to
literature, and has written a series of books for boys that every young
American should read. His stories are full of very interesting
information about the navy, training ships, etc.

Bound for Annapolis
Clif, the Naval Cadet
Cruise of the Training Ship
From Port to Port
Strange Cruise, A



WILLIAM MURRAY GRAYDON.

An author of world-wide popularity. Mr. Graydon is essentially a friend
of young people, and we offer herewith ten of his best works, wherein he
relates a great diversity of interesting adventures in various parts of
the world, combined with accurate historical data.

Butcher of Cawnpore, The
Camp in the Snow, The
Campaigning with Braddock
Cryptogram, The
From Lake to Wilderness
In Barracks and Wigwam
In Fort and Prison
Jungles and Traitors
Rajah's Fortress, The
White King of Africa, The



LIEUT. FREDERICK GARRISON, U. S. A.

Every American boy takes a keen interest in the affairs of West Point.
No more capable writer on this popular subject could be found than
Lieut. Garrison, who vividly describes the life, adventures and unique
incidents that have occurred in that great institution--in these famous
West Point stories.

Off for West Point
Cadet's Honor, A
On Guard
West Point Treasure, The
West Point Rivals, The



HEADON HILL.

The hunt for gold has always been a popular subject for consideration,
and Mr. Hill has added a splendid story on the subject in this romance
of the Klondyke.

Spectre Gold



HENRY HARRISON LEWIS.

Mr. Lewis is a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and has
written a great many books for boys. Among his best works are the
following titles--the subjects include a vast series of adventures in
all parts of the world. The historical data is correct, and they should
be read by all boys, for the excellent information they contain.

Centreboard Jim
King of the Island
Midshipman Merrill
Ensign Merrill
Sword and Pen
Valley of Mystery, The
Yankee Boys in Japan



LIEUT. LIONEL LOUNSBERRY.

A series of books embracing many adventures under our famous naval
commanders, and with our army during the War of 1812 and the Civil War.
Founded on sound history, these books are written for boys, with the
idea of combining pleasure with profit; to cultivate a fondness for
study--especially of what has been accomplished by our army and navy.

Cadet Kit Carey
Captain Carey
Kit Carey's Protegé
Lieut. Carey's Luck
Out With Commodore Decatur
Randy, the Pilot
Tom Truxton's School Days
Tom Truxton's Ocean Trip
Treasure of the Golden Crater
Won at West Point



BROOKS McCORMICK.

Four splendid books of adventure on sea and land, by this well-known
writer for boys.

Giant Islanders, The
How He Won
Nature's Young Nobleman
Rival Battalions



WALTER MORRIS.

This charming story contains thirty-two chapters of just the sort of
school life that charms the boy readers.

Bob Porter at Lakeview Academy



STANLEY NORRIS.

Mr. Norris is without a rival as a writer of "Circus Stories" for boys.
These four books are full of thrilling adventures, but good, wholesome
reading for young Americans.

Phil, the Showman
Young Showman's Rivals, The
Young Showman's Pluck, The
Young Showman's Triumph



LIEUT. JAMES K. ORTON.

When a boy has read one of Lieut. Orton's books, it requires no urging
to induce him to read the others. Not a dull page in any of them.

Beach Boy Joe
Last Chance Mine
Secret Chart, The
Tom Havens with the White Squadron



JAMES OTIS.

Mr. Otis is known by nearly every American boy, and needs no
introduction here. The following copyrights are among his best:

Chased Through Norway
Inland Waterways
Unprovoked Mutiny
Wheeling for Fortune
Reuben Green's Adventures at Yale



GILBERT PATTEN.

Mr. Patten has had the distinction of having his books adopted by the
U. S. Government for all naval libraries on board our war ships. While
aiming to avoid the extravagant and sensational, the stories contain
enough thrilling incidents to please the lad who loves action and
adventure. In the Rockspur stories the description of their Baseball and
Football Games and other contests with rival clubs and teams make very
exciting and absorbing reading; and few boys with warm blood in their
veins, having once begun the perusal of one of these books, will
willingly lay it down till it is finished.

Boy Boomers
Boy Cattle King
Boy from the West
Don Kirke's Mine
Jud and Joe
Rockspur Nine, The
Rockspur Eleven, The
Rockspur Rivals, The



ST. GEORGE RATHBORNE.

Mr. Rathborne's stories for boys have the peculiar charm of dealing with
localities and conditions with which he is thoroughly familiar. The
scenes of these excellent stories are along the Florida coast and on the
western prairies.

Canoe and Camp Fire
Paddling Under Palmettos
Rival Canoe Boys
Sunset Ranch
Chums of the Prairie
Young Range Riders
Gulf Cruisers
Shifting Winds



ARTHUR SEWELL.

An American story by an American author. It relates how a Yankee boy
overcame many obstacles in school and out. Thoroughly interesting from
start to finish.

Gay Dashleigh's Academy Days



CAPT. DAVID SOUTHWICK.

An exceptionally good story of frontier life among the Indians in the
far West, during the early settlement period.

Jack Wheeler



The Famous Frank Merriwell Stories.

BURT L. STANDISH.

No modern series of tales for boys and youths has met with anything like
the cordial reception and popularity accorded to the Frank Merriwell
Stories. There must be a reason for this and there is. Frank Merriwell,
as portrayed by the author, is a jolly whole-souled, honest, courageous
American lad, who appeals to the hearts of the boys. He has no bad
habits, and his manliness inculcates the idea that it is not necessary
for a boy to indulge in petty vices to be a hero. Frank Merriwell's
example is a shining light for every ambitious lad to follow. Twenty
volumes now ready:

Frank Merriwell's School Days
Frank Merriwell's Chums
Frank Merriwell's Foes
Frank Merriwell's Trip West
Frank Merriwell Down South
Frank Merriwell's Bravery
Frank Merriwell's Races
Frank Merriwell's Hunting Tour
Frank Merriwell's Sports Afield
Frank Merriwell at Yale
Frank Merriwell's Courage
Frank Merriwell's Daring
Frank Merriwell's Skill
Frank Merriwell's Champions
Frank Merriwell's Return to Yale
Frank Merriwell's Secret
Frank Merriwell's Loyalty
Frank Merriwell's Reward
Frank Merriwell's Faith
Frank Merriwell's Victories



VICTOR ST. CLAIR.

These books are full of good, clean adventure, thrilling enough to
please the full-blooded wide-awake boy, yet containing nothing to which
there can be any objection from those who are careful as to the kind of
books they put into the hands of the young.

Cast Away in the Jungle
Comrades Under Castro
For Home and Honor
From Switch to Lever
Little Snap, the Post Boy
Zig-Zag, the Boy Conjurer
Zip, the Acrobat



MATTHEW WHITE, JR.

Good, healthy, strong books for the American lad. No more interesting
books for the young appear on our lists.

Adventures of a Young Athlete
Eric Dane
Guy Hammersley
My Mysterious Fortune
Tour of a Private Car
Young Editor, The



ARTHUR M. WINFIELD.

One of the most popular authors of boys' books. Here are three of his
best.

Mark Dale's Stage Venture
Young Bank Clerk, The
Young Bridge Tender, The



GAYLE WINTERTON.

This very interesting story relates the trials and triumphs of a Young
American Actor, including the solution of a very puzzling mystery.

Young Actor, The



ERNEST A. YOUNG.

This book is not a treatise on sports, as the title would indicate, but
relates a series of thrilling adventures among boy campers in the woods
of Maine.

Boats, Bats and Bicycles



DAVID McKAY, Publisher, Philadelphia.





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