Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Through Apache Lands
Author: Ellis, Edward Sylvester, 1840-1916
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 "Through Apache Lands" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                              THROUGH APACHE LAND

                             BY LIEUT. R. H. JAYNE

AUTHOR OF "LOST IN THE WILDERNESS," "IN THE PECOS COUNTRY," "THE CAVE IN
THE MOUNTAIN," ETC.

NEW YORK
THE MERSHON COMPANY
PUBLISHERS

Copyrighted, 1893,
BY THE PRICE-MCGILL CO.



[Illustration: THE WARRIOR HAD NOT TIME TO RECOVER * * * WHEN TOM
GRASPED HIM BY THE THROAT.]



CONTENTS.


I--Moonlight on the Rio Gila

II--Tom Hardynge's Ruse

III--Pursued by the Apaches

IV--Outwitted

V--An Alarming Message

VI--The Two Scouts

VII--The Cavalry Escort

VIII--In Devil's Pass

IX--Among the Apaches

X--Lone Wolf

XI--Surrounded by Danger

XII--"The Hour has Come"

XIII--The Flight

XIV--Pursued

XV--In the Solitude

XVI--Among the Mountains

XVII--A Mysterious Camp Fire

XVIII--The Indian Fight

XIX--A Terrible Meeting

XX--White vs. Red

XXI--Friends Together

XXII--Anxious Waiting

XXIII--The Death Shot

XXIV--The Buffaloes

XXV--Alone Again

XXVI--Capturing a Mustang

XXVII--A Run for Life

XXVIII--A Great Misfortune

XXIX--The Lone Camp Fire

XXX--Fighting a Grizzly

XXXI--Sleep

XXXII--Reunited

XXXIII--Closing in

XXXIV--Hurricane Hill

XXXV--The Sentinel

XXXVI--A Desperate Scheme

XXXVII--The Two Defenders

XXXVIII--Hand to Hand

XXXIX--Conclusion



THROUGH APACHE LAND.



CHAPTER I.

MOONLIGHT ON THE RIO GILA.


Along the eastern bank a small Indian canoe, containing a single
individual, was stealing its way--"hugging" the shore so as to take
advantage of the narrow band of shadow that followed the winding of the
stream. There were no trees on either side of the river, but this
portion was walled in by bluffs, rising from three or four to fully
twenty feet in height. The current was sluggish and not a breath of air
wrinkled the surface on this mild summer night.

It was in the wildest part of the Indian country, and Tom Hardynge, the
hunter, runner and bearer of all dispatches between the frontier posts
in the extreme southwest, knew very well that for three days past it had
been his proverbial good fortune, or rather a special Providence, that
had kept his scalp from ornamenting the lodge of some marauding Comanche
or Apache. Tom was one of the bravest and most skillful of borderers in
those days, and had been up in the Indian country to learn the truth of
numerous rumors which had come to the stations, reports of a general
uprising among the redskins, with whom the peace commissioners had
succeeded in negotiating treaties after months of diplomacy. After
spending more than a week in dodging back and forth, in the disguise of
an Indian he had learned enough to feel that there was good foundation
for these rumors, and that the exposed stations and settlements were in
imminent peril. As soon as he was assured of this fact he started on his
return to Fort Havens, which still lay a good three days' travel to the
southwest. It was Tom's purpose to continue his descent until the
following night, when, if nothing unexpected should intervene, he hoped
to reach the point where he had left his mustang, and thence it would be
plain sailing for the rest of the way. He knew the country thoroughly,
and was confident that it was safer to perform a part of the journey by
water than by land, which explains how it was that he was still in the
paint and garb of an Indian, and still stealing his way down toward the
Gulf of California.

"Them Apaches are a cute set," he muttered, as he glided along through
the bank of shadow; "I believe they've larned I've been up among them
lookin' around. I can't tell 'zactly how they larned it. I've played
Injun so often that I know I can do it purty well; but they know there's
somethin' in the air, and them signs I spied yesterday showed plain
'nough that they was lookin' for me. They'd give a dozen of their best
warriors, with a chief throwed in to make good weight, to keep me from
reachin' Fort Havens with the news that the Apaches are makin' ready to
raise Old Ned along the border. Fact is, I do carry big news, that's
sartin. Hello!"

This exclamation was caused by the appearance of a bright point of light
on the edge of the bluff, several hundred yards down the river, and upon
the opposite side. At first glance it resembled some star of the first
magnitude, which a sudden depression of the bluff had made visible. The
scout ceased paddling, and, suffering the canoe to drift slowly with the
tide, fixed his keen gray eyes upon the fiery point.

"That ain't any more of a star than I am," he added, a second later.
"There she goes again!"

The torch, for such it was, remained stationary for scarcely a minute,
when it began revolving swiftly from right to left, the gyration being
of such a nature as to prove that it was swung by the hand of some
person. Three revolutions, and then it suddenly reversed and made three
in the opposite direction, then two back, then two forward, then one
back and forth, and then it vanished in the gloom of the night. Tom
scarcely breathed while viewing this pantomime, and when it ended he
still held the paddle motionless while he chuckled to himself, for he
knew what it all meant. He had seen Indian telegraphy before, and had
learned to comprehend a great deal of those mysterious signs and signals
by which news is carried across mountain and prairie with incredible
speed. He had ridden his fleet mustang to death to head off some of
these telegrams, and yet in every case the Indians, by some trickery
unexplained to him, had outsped him.

"Yes, I can read that," Tom growled, still drifting with the current.
"That ere redskin is signalin' to some other scamp, and it's all about
_me_. It says that I'm on the river somewhere, and a lookout must be
kept for me."

Such was the fact. The Indian who swayed the torch meant thereby to
appraise some confederate that the scout who had dared to penetrate such
a distance into their country, and to unearth their most important
secrets, was seeking to make his way down the Rio Gila and out of their
country again. This much said the torch in language that could not be
mistaken. Although it added no more, yet the sequence was inevitable,
and Tom needed no one to apprise him that the river both above and below
him was closely watched, and that he was in the greatest peril of his
life. Being entirely shrouded in shadow, he could not see the moon,
which rode high in the sky, scarcely touched by a floating cloud.

"I wish the moon would go out of sight altogether," he said to himself,
as he viewed the clear sky. "I'd like to see it as black as a wolf's
mouth, and then I'd teach these scamps somethin'; but there's too much
confounded moonlight layin' loose for a chap to show any scientific
tricks."

The fact that a redskin had indulged in signaling suggested that there
must be some one to whom he had signaled, and the hunter devoted himself
to learning where the second Apache was located.

"As near as I kin calc'late, the chap must be on this side of the
stream, and purty close to where I'm rockin' in the cradle of the deep
this very minute."

He now moved his paddle slightly--just enough to hold the boat
motionless while he looked and listened. The stillness was profound; not
even the soft sighing of the wind reaching his ears. He had peered
around in the gloom only a few minutes when he discerned the reply to
the signal already described, and so close that he was startled.
Scarcely fifty feet below him, and on the edge of the bluff, several
yards in height, a light flashed into view. A second glance showed him
that it was a flaming torch held in the hand of an Indian, who began
whirling it around his head with a swiftness that made it seem like a
revolving wheel of fire. The rapid motion of the torch, as the reader
may infer, caused an equally rapid increase of the flame upon it, so
that it revealed the Indian himself; and the hunter, as he looked toward
it, saw the figure of the warrior standing like some pyrotechnist in the
center of his own display.

A better target could not have been asked, and Tom, quick as thought,
raised his rifle and sighted it; but with his finger upon the trigger,
he refrained, lowered the piece and shook his head, muttering as he did
so:

"He deserves it, and I'd like to give it to him, but it won't do. They'd
know what the rifle-crack meant, and I'd have a hornet's nest about my
head quick as lightnin'."

Tom was not certain of the meaning of the exhibition he had just seen,
but believed that it was intended as a mere reply to the other--the same
as if the Apache had shouted "All right!" in response to the
notification. The Indian must have circled the torch in this manner for
more than a score of times, when he threw it from his hand into the
river, where it fell with a hiss, and was instantly extinguished.

The scout was in a quandary. If he continued down stream he must pass
directly beneath the spot where his foe was standing, and the shadow was
by no means dense enough to make it possible for him to escape
observation. He was confident, however, that if he could change places
with the warrior, he could discern the canoe without any closer
approach. He was at a disadvantage, for the bluff was perfectly
perpendicular and so high that he could not reach the ground above
without retreating up the river for at least a quarter of a mile, where
the bluff was depressed enough to permit him to draw himself upward upon
it. Had the bank been low and wooded, it would have been the easiest
matter in the world to have shoved the canoe into the shelter, or to
have circumvented the Indian by lifting it bodily from the water and
going around him, and striking the river again below. But Tom hesitated
only a few minutes. He was anxious to get forward, for delay was
dangerous and he felt annoyed at the manner in which he was dogged.

"Here goes," he exclaimed, starting the canoe forward again. "If that
Apache is anxious for a scrimmage, he can have one."



CHAPTER II.

TOM HARDYNGE'S RUSE.


Hardynge was too skillful a hunter to place himself directly in the way
of the Apache whom he knew to be the most treacherous kind of an enemy.
His purpose was to indulge in a little strategy and to seek to outwit
the redskin, as he had done on many an occasion before. It required but
a second for him to slide his rifle over upon his back, the stock being
hastily wrapped with a leathern sheath, which he always carried for such
an emergency, when he gently let himself over the stern of the canoe,
taking care to make no splash or noise in doing so. He then permitted
his body with the exception of his head to sink entirely beneath the
surface, while he floated with the boat, lying in such a position that
he made it effectually screen him from the view of any one who might be
upon the bank above. It was hardly to be expected, however, that if the
Indian saw the boat, he would permit it to pass unquestioned. Tom did
not anticipate it, and he was prepared for that which followed. For
several minutes the most perfect silence prevailed. At the end of that
time, the scout knew that he was exactly beneath the spot whereon he had
seen the answering signal, and scarcely stirred a muscle, keeping his
head as close as possible to the boat, and so nearly submerged, that he
could scarcely breathe.

"Hooh! hooh!"

The Apache had noted the empty canoe drifting below him in the shadow,
and surveyed it with something of the feeling of the detective who
suddenly stumbles upon a clue, the precise meaning of which is at first
a mystery to him.

It is hardly to be supposed that he intended this outcry as a hail to
the boat, which he must have seen contained no one. Its appearance would
naturally suggest to one in his situation that the occupant had been
alarmed by the signs of danger and had taken to the land. This
supposition was so natural that Hardynge would probably have got safely
by the dangerous point but for a totally unlooked-for mishap. The water,
which up to this time had been fully six feet in depth, suddenly
shallowed to less than a quarter of that, so that he struck his knees
against the bottom. The shock was very slight, and scarcely caused a
ripple; but it takes only the slightest noise to alarm an Indian,
especially when he is on the watch. That faint plash caused by the jar
of the body caught the ear of the listening, peering redskin, who
instantly slid his body over the bluff, and balancing himself for an
instant, dropped with such precision that he struck the canoe in the
very center, and preserved its gravity so well that it tipped neither to
the right nor left.

At the very moment the Apache dropped, the hunter rose to his feet,
knife in hand. The water rose scarcely to his knees, and the bottom was
hard, so that it was almost the same as if he stood upon dry land. The
warrior had not time to recover from the slight shock of his leap, when
Tom grasped him by the throat and used his weapon with such effect that
it was all over in a few seconds.

"There! I reckon you won't go into the telegraph business again very
soon!" he growled, as the inanimate body disappeared down the stream,
and he coolly re-entered the canoe, which had floated but a short
distance away.

He had scarcely done this when a new idea struck him, and, hastening
after the receding body, he carefully drew it into the boat again. Here
it was the work of but a few minutes to place it in a sitting position
in the stern in the most natural posture imaginable, so that any one
looking upon the figure would not have suspected for an instant that it
was anything but an animate being. Making sure that its pose could not
be improved, the scout then turned the boat directly away from the bank,
never changing its course until the very middle of the Gila was reached,
when he began paddling in as leisurely a manner as if no danger
threatened. It was a daring stratagem, but it is only by such means that
men are enabled to escape from peril, and although fully aware of the
danger he was incurring, he kept on his way with that coolness that
years of experience had given him.

As he approached a point opposite that where he had seen the first
signal he did not turn his head, but he looked sideways and scanned the
bank with the most searching scrutiny. Sure enough, at this moment he
plainly discerned the figures of fully a half-dozen Indians standing
upon the bluff and apparently watching the canoe with a curiosity that
was natural.

"All right," thought the hunter; "so long as you let me alone I won't
hurt you."

Had there been but the single occupant of the canoe the Apaches would
not have stood debating in this fashion as to what they should do, if,
indeed, they should do anything at all. Unity in the question would have
shown that it was the identical individual for whom they were searching,
for they knew that he was alone; but the fact that there were two, and
both in the guise of Indians, could be explained upon no other
hypothesis than that they were really what they seemed to be.

"Hooh! Hooh!"

It was precisely the same exclamation which had been uttered by the
warrior who sat so cold and inanimate in the stern of the canoe, and
Tom, without the least hesitancy, ceased paddling for the instant,
straightened up, and responded in the same gutteral fashion, resuming
the use of the oar at the same time, as if he meant that that should be
the end of it. But the Apaches immediately followed up their
ejaculations with some other sounds, which were doubtless intended as a
summons for the craft to heave to and "show her papers." Tom did not
understand the Apache tongue well enough to comprehend the precise
meaning of these words, although he was pretty well convinced of what
the others were driving at. He did not dare to attempt to reply, nor did
he dare to move faster; so he did the only dignified thing possible
under the circumstances. He continued that automatic paddling, and,
assisted by the current, was rapidly leaving his enemies in the rear
when they called to him again, moving at the same time down the bank in
a fashion which showed that they meant business. The hunter, not yet
ready to make the desperate dash which he had reserved for the last
final effort, if he should be driven to the wall, ceased work again and
called out:

"Hooh!"

He said it as impatiently as he could in the hope of "cutting off
further debate," and resumed paddling, knowing that a comparatively
short distance down the river the banks were so depressed that he could
readily make his way from the boat to the land, so that after getting
fairly below the Apaches his chances of ultimate escape were greatly
increased.

The Indians must have been exasperated at the refusal, for Tom had taken
scarcely a dozen strokes when he saw the flash of several guns upon the
bank, and the whizzing of the bullets around his head left no doubt of
the target at which they aimed.

"I can do somethin' of that myself," growled the hunter, as he laid down
his paddle and took up his gun.

Without the least hesitation, he fired directly into the group, and the
wild cry that instantly followed told with what a fatal result also. All
diplomacy was ended by this act, and without pausing to reload his
piece, he dropped his gun and bent to the task. The long ashen paddle
was dipped deep into the water, and the light vessel shot like an arrow
down stream. It seemed, indeed, to be imbued with life, and fairly
skimmed over the surface. The unexpected and defiant response to the
summons of the Apaches threw them into temporary bewilderment, and the
minutes thus lost to them were golden ones gained to the fugitive, who
shot the canoe as close to the opposite shore as was prudent, and
wielded the paddle with the skill of a veteran.

Having now no need of the dummy that had stood him so well for the time,
Tom did not hesitate to throw him overboard as a useless incumbrance,
and, thus relieved of the dead weight, he sped forward with wonderful
speed. In a short time after that the redskins had vanished from view,
and almost any one would have supposed that the danger was passed; but
Tom was well aware that it was only a temporary lull in the storm. The
Apaches were like bloodhounds, who, having once taken the trail of their
prey, would relax no effort so long as there was a chance of capturing
him, and so he abated not a jot of his tremendous exertions.



CHAPTER III.

PURSUED BY THE APACHES.


As stealthily as a phantom did the canoe bearing the scout skim along
the shore of the Gila, hugging the banks as closely as possible, so as
to take advantage of the ribbon of shadow which followed the winding of
the stream. The moon was creeping higher up the sky, and this advantage
would soon be denied the fugitive altogether, so every minute was
improved to the utmost. Now and then Tom ceased paddling, and as the
boat shot forward with undiminished speed, bent his head and listened.
This was continued until he had passed fully a quarter of a mile, when
he rested for a longer time than usual.

"I guess they'll have to give it up," he said to himself, with a
peculiar chuckle. "They ketched me in a bad box, that's sartin, where I
couldn't climb out on either side. But things are a little better here,"
he added, as he looked from side to side at the bluffs, which were so
low that the tops could be easily reached from his boat. "I don't much
want to tramp over-land, but if it is necessary I've got somethin' of a
chance, which isn't what I had before."

He might well prefer the water to the land; for on the former, whether
he went fast or slow, there was no trail left for the keenest bloodhound
to follow; on the latter it was impossible to conceal his most cautious
footsteps from the eyes of the redskins. The surface of this portion of
Arizona was of such a nature that everything was against the hunter.
There was no wood nor tributary streams for miles. If he left the Gila,
and struck across the country, it would be over an open plain, where he
could be seen for miles. He would be on foot, while his enemies would
all be mounted on their fleet mustangs. How, then, could he elude them
by leaving his boat? His only hope was in traveling at night, but night
must always be followed by day.

"I wonder what ideas will creep into their skulls," he muttered,
reflecting upon the view the Apaches had gained of him a short time
before from the bank. "A dead Injun is a good deal better than a live
one, as that 'ere critter proved to me. If I hadn't fired back agin,
they might have thought I was one of their own warriors--mebbe they'll
think so now. Great Scott!"

The scout was paddling along in his leisurely manner, when his eyes, by
the merest accident, happened to rest upon the other shore, at a point a
short distance below him. While thus looking, he saw distinctly a point
of light appear and vanish three times! It performed no such gyration as
those which he had first seen, but simply came forward and receded until
it was gone altogether, leaving the same misty darkness as before. More
by instinct than from any other cause, Tom turned his eyes to the point
opposite where he had seen this exhibition. He had scarcely done so when
precisely the same thing was seen!

"Jest what I expected," he said as he checked the downward progress of
his boat. "The varmints have 'spicioned that one of the chaps in that
'ere canoe which passed before 'em is myself, and they're goin' for me
like lightnin'. They've mounted their horses, and kept it up till they
knowed they'd struck a p'int below me, and there they've signaled to
each other that I'm still above 'em on the river, and still to be
ketched."

The scout was certain that his theory was correct, and that, distasteful
and dangerous as it might be, the time had come for him to leave the
river. To continue further would be to precipitate a collision in which
there was no possibility of the good fortune that had followed him in
the first place. Besides this the night was so far advanced and the moon
so high up in the sky, that the shadow had narrowed to a band which was
practically useless.

"No use makin' faces when you've got a dose of medicine to take," he
added, as he ran the canoe close to the shore.

There he found that by standing upon his feet he could easily reach the
edge of the bluff above and thus draw himself up when he chose. This he
proceeded to do, but he was too skillful a hunter to leave behind him
such tell-tale evidence as the canoe itself would have proven. Were he
to leave that as it was, it would be sure to catch the eye of the
Apaches within a quarter of an hour and tell them precisely what had
been done. And so, as the hunter hung thus by his hands, with his long
rifle secured at his back, he caught the toe of his moccasin in the
craft in such a way that it dipped and took water. He held it thus until
it could contain no more; but its composition was such that even then it
would not sink. There were loose boulders in the bank, and the hunter
proceeded to drop these carefully into the boat below. It required
several for ballast, when it quietly went to the bottom, where it was
certain to stay. This done he addressed himself to the task before him.

As he straightened up and looked off in the moonlight, a very
discouraging, although familiar sight, met his eye. The moonlight was
quite strong, and he was enabled to see objects indistinctly for a
considerable distance. It was everywhere the same. A level, treeless
prairie, where for miles there was not a drop of water to be obtained,
and over which, as has been already shown, in case he attempted to make
his way, he would be placed at the greatest disadvantage possible,
especially as his own mustang was still a good hundred miles to the
southwest, if he had succeeded in avoiding capture up to that time. But
the life of a frontiersman, besides being perilous at all times, is
hardly ever anything but disagreeable, despite the curious fascination
which it holds for those who follow it. Tom did not hesitate a moment
longer than was necessary, now that a disagreeable expedient was forced
upon him.

His first precaution was to make sure that none of the Apaches were in
sight. The point at which he had seen the answering signal was so far
below that he was certain it would be beyond his vision, and, this much
determined, gave him just the "leverage" needed to work upon. It needed
but a few seconds to assure himself upon this point, and then he struck
off to the southwest. This course, while it took him away from the Gila,
would eventually bring him back to it, the winding of the stream being
such as to make this junction certain, if continued. The great thing now
required was haste; for a great deal depended upon the ground that could
be passed over during these favoring hours of darkness. He had taken
scarcely a dozen steps when he struck into a long, loping trot, not
particularly rapid in itself, but of such a character that it could be
kept for hours at a stretch. It was the genuine Indian dog trot, which
is so effective in long distances. As the runner went along in this
fashion, his thoughts were busy, and all his senses on the alert. He
concluded that it was nearly midnight, and that he had, consequently, a
number of hours at his command; so he aimed to get as far below the
intercepting Apaches as possible, with the intention of returning to the
river, before daylight, where he was hopeful of discovering some canoe,
or at least of hitting upon some feasible method of hiding his trail
from his lynx-eyed pursuers.

This loping trot was kept up for fully two hours, at the end of which
time Tom was certain that he was approaching the river again. He still
pressed forward for another hour, when he came to a halt. Although he
had continued this great exertion for so long a time, yet so good was
his wind that when he paused there was no perceptible quickening of the
respiration. Years of training had made him capable of standing far more
trying tests of his strength than this. The scout carefully turned his
head from side to side, looking and listening. All was still, and his
ear caught no ominous sound. Then he moistened his finger and held it
over his head. Yes, there was the least possible breath of air stirring,
as was told him by the fact that one side of the moistened finger was
slightly chilled. Everywhere, right, left, in front or rear, so far as
the bright moonlight permitted his vision to extend, was the same dead
level of treeless plain. Kneeling down he applied his ear to the ground.
Could it be? There _was_ a sound thus carried to his ears--the very
sound which above all others he dreaded to hear. It was a faint, almost
inaudible, tapping upon the earth. Far away it was, but drawing nearer
every minute.

The scout knew what it meant. It was the sound of horse's hoofs!



CHAPTER IV.

OUTWITTED.


"I'll match them Apaches agin the world for shrewd deviltry," exclaimed
Hardynge, unable to suppress his admiration even in the moment which
told him of his own increased personal danger. "By some hook or crook,
the Old Boy only knows what, they've found out my game, and are after
me. Ah! if I only had my mustang, Thundergust, with me!"

Tom now changed his direction more to the north, his intention being to
strike the river much sooner than was his original purpose. It was the
only thing he could do to escape the redskins, who showed such a
wonderful skill in following him up.

As near as he could judge, something like ten miles still intervened
between him and the friendly stream--a distance which he was confident
of passing before daylight, if he did not find his pursuers in his path.
The greatest care was necessary to keep out of the way of these
creatures, and the fugitive had run but a short distance when he paused
and applied his ear to the ground again. Only for an instant, however,
when he bounded up and was off like a shot. The alarming sounds came to
his ear with such distinctness as to prove that the Apaches were close
at hand. Guided by some strange fatality, they were bearing directly
down upon him at full speed. More than all, those pattering footfalls
were such as to indicate that the swarthy horsemen were not approaching
in a compact group. They had separated so as to cover a wide area of
ground, and were advancing in such an array that the difficulty of
escape was increased tenfold. Everything conspired against poor Tom. The
bright moonlight, the broad level stretch of plain, the fact that he was
on foot, and his pursuers, besides being well mounted, were among the
most skillful riders of the Southwest, made his situation about as
desperate as it is possible to imagine.

A few minutes later the fugitive paused again, but this time it was not
necessary that he should apply his ear to the ground. The sounds of the
mustangs' hoofs came to him very plainly through the midnight air, and
as he looked around he half expected to see the shadowy figures of the
horsemen plunging forward in the gloom toward him! Nothing was to be
seen, however, of them, and, feeling that the situation was becoming
desperate, he changed his course again, his purpose being simply to get
by the approaching marauders without caring in what direction he went.
Had he been five minutes earlier he might have succeeded, but he was
just that much too late.

He was stealing forward in his cautious manner, with the sound of the
horses' hoofs growing more distinct every second, when, sure enough, the
figure of an Indian horseman suddenly came in sight, bearing down upon
him as straight as an arrow. The very instant Tom saw it he sank down
upon his face, scarcely daring to hope that his pursuer would pass him,
and prepared for whatever he chose to do.

The scout turned his head so that he could watch every movement and
guard against it, his hand being extended beneath his body in the most
natural position possible, but grasping his loaded revolver.

It may have been that the Apache would have gone by but for the action
of his mustang. These intelligent animals seem to know, in many cases,
far more than their masters, and the one in question was yet some yards
distant from the prostrate form, when he halted with a snort. This
opened the ball, and the scout anxiously awaited the fight which seemed
inevitable.

Fortunately, the Indian party had separated to such an extent that no
others were in sight of the fugitive, who thus had but a single man to
contend against, although there was no question but what any number of
others could be summoned to the spot in a twinkling. The foeman
understood the situation at a glance; that is, he knew that the man for
whom he was seeking was prostrate upon the ground before him, but he had
no means of judging whether he was dead, asleep, or feigning. Under
these circumstances he advanced very cautiously, his mustang betraying
considerable reluctance at walking up to a man stretched out at full
length.

This was precisely what Hardynge desired, as every minute that matters
remained in _statu quo_ placed the friends of his adversary further away
and simplified the encounter, which he considered as certain to take
place.

Something like ten minutes were occupied in this stealthy advance of the
horse, at the end of which time he stood so that his head was directly
over the shoulders of the prostrate man, who still lay as motionless as
a statue.

"Hooh!" exclaimed the rider, holding himself ready for any demonstration
upon the part of the suspected white man. But the latter never stirred,
although he shivered a little at the fear that the mustang might place
his hoof upon him.

Tom's peculiar peril will be understood when it is stated that the
Apache was master of the situation from the instant they came in sight
of each other. Had the fugitive fired at him the moment he caught sight
of his horse, he might have tumbled him to the ground, but it would have
brought the rest of the party around him in an instant. As matters now
stood, the Apache would have fired at the first movement he made, no
matter how dexterous, to draw his hand from beneath his body, and so Tom
bided his time.

"Hooh!"

This was repeated several times, when the warrior tried to force his
mustang to step upon him; but the animal was too timid to be forced into
doing such a repugnant thing, and, when angrily urged thereto, leaped
clear of the body with a sniff of terror, and galloped several rods
before he could be brought round and compelled to face the unknown
again. This seemed to convince the Apache that the man was dead, and
without any further hesitation he slid down from the back of his horse,
and advanced to the figure for the purpose of scalping him.

He had just stooped down, knife in hand, when the form turned like a
flash. There came a blinding flash, then a report and a cry, almost
together, and Tom Hardynge seemed to leap up from the ground as if a
bomb had exploded beneath him, and, dashing toward the mustang, seized
his rein and vaulted upon his back before the animal really knew what
had taken place.

It was a daring deed, but it succeeded to perfection. The scout had not
only extinguished his foe, but had captured his horse as well. The sound
of the pistol might reach the ears of other Apaches, but he cared
nothing for that. He was as well mounted as they, and, with the start
which he had gained, they were welcome to do all they could. In view of
this, it was impossible for him to restrain his exultation, and the
moment he realized that he was fairly astride of the mustang he let out
a shout that might have been heard a mile away. The steed which bore him
was an excellent one, and he had no fear of being overtaken by any of
them. He knew in what direction to take his flight, and away he sped
with his horse upon a dead run. He scarcely drew rein until daylight
broke over the prairie, when he found himself pursuing a direction
parallel with the river, and making good headway toward the point where
he hoped his own matchless Thundergust was awaiting him.

Hardynge scarcely halted during the greater portion of the next day,
except when his mustang required it, and shortly after the sun crossed
the meridian he was gratified at catching sight of the rolling prairie
and wooded hills where he had turned his horse loose nearly a week
before. While at a distance he gave utterance to several sharp whistles,
which produced the response he desired, the beautiful glossy mustang
galloping forth to meet him with every appearance of delight. The
creature had taken good care of himself during his absence, having
feasted upon the rich, succulent grass, and was in the best possible
condition.

Turning the Indian horse loose Tom bestowed no further attention upon
him, but leaped upon his favorite animal and galloped away to the rocks
where he had carefully concealed his saddle and riding gear and where
they had lain untouched while he was gone.

Just as he dismounted, his eye rested upon a piece of dried buffalo-skin
which was pinned against a tree, the inner side turned outward. The
first glance told him there was something unusual, and his curiosity led
him to approach and scan it closely. There was some writing scrawled
upon it, which he read with little difficulty. The words were startling
enough, and as the hunter finished them he exclaimed, in a frightened
undertone:

"Thunderation! can it be possible?"



CHAPTER V.

AN ALARMING MESSAGE.


As the scout rode his mustang up to the tree whereon the buffalo skin
was fastened, he read the following words:

     "To Tom Hardynge:--The stage which left Santa Fe on the 10th inst.,
     is due at Fort Havens between the 20th and 25th, _but it will never
     reach there_. It has an escort of a dozen mounted soldiers, but
     they can't save it. The Apaches have arranged to attack it near
     Devil's Pass, which you know is about a hundred miles northeast
     from this point, among the mountains. You can't do anything to help
     it; but Ned Chadmund is with it, and his father, the colonel,
     offers you and me a thousand dollars apiece to save _him_. I leave
     to day--Thursday--for the pass, and you must follow the minute your
     eyes see this. I will be on the lookout for you. Remember there
     isn't an hour to spare.

     "Dick Morris."

Colonel Chadmund was the commandant at Fort Havens, whither he was
hastening with his news from the Indian country. His family dwelt in
Santa Fe, and his only child, a bright boy, about a dozen years of age,
had been permitted to start to join his father in accordance with a
promise made him a long time before. The escort with which he had been
provided would have been ample under ordinary circumstances, and in
fact, was larger than was generally customary; but it was not
sufficient.

Dick Morris held a position then known as "hunter to the fort" at the
post under the command of Colonel Chadmund. It was similar to that which
the renowned Kit Carson filled for a number of years in the old days at
Bent's Fort. The man was selected on account of his skill in the use of
the rifle, and his knowledge of the habits of the game, his duty being
simply to supply the command with all the fresh food possible--a
position which, it will at once be understood, was no sinecure,
involving constant activity and many long, rapid journeys.

Dick was as skillful and shrewd a man as could be found in the whole
Southwest. Tom Hardynge, his friend and companion in many a perilous
adventure, understood what it all meant the instant he had finished
reading the writing upon the buffalo skin. By some means--probably
through the Indian runners encountered while hunting his game--he had
learned the particulars of the expedition that had been arranged to
attack and massacre the escort. Very probably these swarthy wretches
were mainly incited to the deed by the knowledge that the son of Colonel
Chadmund was to be with the party. It was under the direction of this
vigilant officer that the marauding Indians of the border had received
such a number of severe blows. They were excited to the highest point of
exasperation, and would seize upon any means of revenge at their
command.

Alarmed by the danger which threatened his beloved child, the colonel
had sent Dick Morris to the rescue at once. He would have sent a hundred
men from his fort, had he believed it possible that they could do any
good, but it was clearly out of the question for them to reach Devil's
Pass until nearly twenty-four hours after the stage was due there. It
was one of those cases wherein all depended upon shrewdness and
strategy, and where nothing was to be gained by mere force of arms. The
expectation was that the Apaches would hold the boy at an enormous
ransom, or probably as a hostage for the safety of such of their
blood-stained chiefs as were in the hands of the Americans. This will
explain the haste of the hunter, and his anxiety to have the
companionship of Tom, who had tramped so many hundred miles through the
Indian country.

Ten minutes after reading the dispatch Tom had fastened on the
accoutrements of his mustang and was galloping away to the northeast on
the trail of his friend. He did not pause even to hunt a little game,
after having been so long without food. He was accustomed to privation
and hardship, and, if it were required, was good for twenty-four hours
longer without permitting a particle of food to pass his lips.

He was leaving the treacherous Gila far to the south. It may be said
that his course along this stream, on his return from the Apache
country, was like the base of a triangle, while he was now following the
hypothenuse. This latter route was preferable in every sense to that
which he had been using for the last few days. The country itself was
more varied, better watered and abounded with vegetation, its only
drawback being the ever-present danger from the marauding redskins.
Another advantage that belonged to the traveler over this path was that
it was really a path--so clearly defined that a stranger could follow it
without trouble. It was, in fact, the trail between Fort Havens and
Santa Fe, over which, at certain intervals, messengers were regularly
dispatched back and forth.

The money with which the soldiers at Fort Havens and several other posts
were paid came down by express from Sante Fe over this road, in charge
of a proper escort, and the coach which started from that city with
little Ned Chadmund carried also one hundred thousand dollars in crisp,
crackling greenbacks stowed away in the bottom of the vehicle.
Consequently it will be seen that the Apaches, who understood very well
the value of these printed slips, had every inciting cause to organize
an overwhelming expedition against the coach and its escort.

The day is waning, but his steed was fresh and fleet, and had enjoyed
such a long rest, that it would be a mercy to him to put him through his
best paces. Tom did not hesitate to do it. The glossy black animal gave
a neigh of delight as he felt the familiar hand of his master upon the
bridle, and he stretched away like one of the Arabian coursers of the
desert, fleet as the wind and capable of keeping up the tremendous rate
of speed for hours at a time.

The greater portion of this journey led through the wildest mountain
scenery, and the afternoon was scarcely half gone when a striking change
in the surface was observable. Instead of that long, dreary expanse of
endless prairie, the hunter was forced to make long detours to escape
the obstructions constantly interposing in the way. Now it was around
some pile of rocks, then winding among a mass of hills, then over a
level plain for some distance, but with the scenery steadily increasing
in ruggedness at every mile traversed. Far ahead could be discerned the
chain of mountains, their peaks looking blue and misty in the distance.
It was among these that the trail wound its way--one portion, in the
very heart of the mountains, being known as Devil's Pass, from its wild
and dangerous character; and, as the scout strained his eye in the
direction and contemplated the blue waving line against the sky, he
almost fancied he could see the smoke from the rifles of the vengeful
Apaches.

"Shouldn't wonder if they are at it this very minute," he muttered, as
he glanced down at the ground in front of him.

All the afternoon, as he sped along, he saw constantly in front of him
the footprints of another mustang, such as are made by an animal when
under full speed. So they were, as he knew very well. Dick Morris had
been over the same trail a few hours before, at scarcely less speed than
his own.

Every time Tom came in sight of an elevation he looked hastily at it in
the hope of catching sight of some signal from his friend. In such a
desperate enterprise as this he felt the need of companionship,
especially of such a tried and daring man as Dick Morris. But the sun
gradually went down in the western sky without bringing him the coveted
sight, and he began to believe that he would not be overtaken before
reaching Devil's Pass, which he hoped to reach on the morrow. Then, as
the sun disappeared and darkness crept over mountain and prairie, Tom
turned the head of his animal in the direction of a clump of trees where
he knew there was an abundance of grass and water, and where, in all
probability, something in the way of food could be had for himself. The
mustang needed rest and refreshment, and the rider required them
scarcely less.



CHAPTER VI.

THE TWO SCOUTS.


The hunter was within a hundred yards or so of the clump of trees, when
he suddenly checked his mustang, or rather the mustang checked himself,
at the light of a camp fire, which all at once flashed out from among
them.

"That's either Dick or a lot of varmints," he muttered. "I think it's
varmints, for I don't b'lieve he meant to wait there."

However, it was a question easily settled. He slid from his horse, and,
rifle in hand, stole forward in the direction of the grove, moving as
silently and stealthily as a shadow, while his beast stood as if he were
an equestrian statue awaiting the placing of some metallic hero upon his
back. A phantom itself could not have glided forward with less noise
than did he, and yet he was fully twenty yards away from his
destination, with his eyes fixed upon the point of light, when he was
discovered by some horse that belonged to the stranger, or strangers,
which gave out a loud neigh, as a signal to his friends of the approach
of danger. At that moment, Tom dropped flat upon his face, as he had
done before at the approach of the Apaches, and the luxuriant grass
gathered about his form in such a way that he could not be seen by
anyone at a moderate distance. But close upon the heels of the neigh
came a low, tremulous whistle, scarcely uttered when Tom replied in a
precisely similar way, leaped to his feet and trotted toward the grove.

"That's Dick!" he exclaimed to himself, the signals which they had used
being the same that they had adopted years before, when approaching each
other in a dangerous neighborhood.

The next minute the two met and shook hands. There were many points of
resemblance and difference between the two comrades. Each was in middle
life, embrowned, hardened, and toughened by years of exposure and the
wild life of the border; but Tom Hardynge was taller, more sinewy and
active than Dick Morris, who was below the medium stature, with a
stunted appearance; but he was a powerful man, wonderfully skillful in
the use of the rifle, and the two friends together made the strongest
possible kind of a team.

"Ah! that's the talk," exclaimed Tom, as he snuffed the odor of the
cooking meat by the camp fire. "I'm hungry enough to chaw up my
moccasins. What have you there--buffalo, mule or grizzly bar?"

"Neither one," replied the other. "I fetched down an antelope a couple
of hours ago, and as I was expectin' you, I cooked enough of it for
both."

"You had to cook his hoofs and all to do that; but why don't you spread
the dining table?"

Little ceremony was indulged in at such a time. The toasting meat,
brown, crisp and juicy, was served in two equal portions, each of
immense size, and then, with no culinary articles but their keen hunting
knives, and their incisors, almost as keen, they went at the business
with the gusto of famishing wolves. Meanwhile the two mustangs were
feasting upon the rich grass which grew abundantly about them, and so
all members of the party were enjoying themselves to the fullest extent.

The two hunters scarcely spoke while this piece of mastication was going
on. They understood each other so well that there was no necessity of
any hurry in the way of inquiry or conversation. When at last they had
filled themselves to repletion, they drew their fingers through their
bushy hair, using the latter by way of napkins, and then, after a good
long draught from the brook running near at hand, lit their pipes and
leaned back in the very acme of bliss.

"How soon shall we start?" asked Tom.

"In a couple of hours," was the reply.

"Think the Apaches are through by this time?"

"No doubt of it."

If the hunters seemed to exhibit indifference in referring to the
terrible occurrence, it was not because they felt thus; but the lives
which they led had accustomed them to such frightful experiences.

"S'pose they've spared the younker?"

"Guess they have."

The conclusion to which both came was that the Apaches were incited to
this attack more by the desire to get possession of the lad than by
anything else, in view of the intense hatred with which Colonel Chadmund
was viewed by the hostile Indians of the Southwest. He had been
stationed over two years at Fort Havens, during which his administration
had been marked by extreme vigor, and he had retaliated upon the Apaches
especially in the severest way for many outrages committed by them.

"Yas, they've gone for that little younker," added Dick Morris, after
the discussion had been continued for some time. "Of course they haven't
killed him; for that would have sp'iled their game. The colonel, finding
what they'd done, would come down on 'em harder than ever, and you kin
make up your mind they'd get the worst of the bargain before he was
through with 'em; but as long as they hold the boy, you see, they've got
the hands of the old fellow tied, for he thinks a heap of his boy, and
he'll do anything to save him."

"And that's why he sends us arter him," said Tom.

"He knows that if he let a lot of the men go, they might get all chawed
up, and it wouldn't help the boy any, so he thinks we kin get him out of
their hands by some hocus pocus or other."

"And what do _you_ think, Tom?" asked his companion, in a confidential
voice. "Is there much show for ever saving the skulp of little Ned?"

His brother hunter looked into the fire for several minutes, with a very
serious expression upon his countenance. He was thinking intently upon
the situation, and trying to extract some comfort from the prospect.

"Wal, Dick, you know as well as me that it's mighty hard to tell in such
a case. We've both got the best of hosses, that kin hold thar own agin
anythin' the reds can scare up; but if they go to such pains to get the
chap into thar hands, they'll take the same pains to keep him thar."

"Exactly; but they won't be expectin' any such move as we're at so early
in the day, don't you see? and there's where we gain the advantage by
hurryin' on, afore they kin get off in the mountains with him."

There seemed to be reason in this conclusion, and both agreed upon it.

At the end of a couple of hours their horses had rested sufficiently,
and they were mounted again. They had trusted to the mustangs to act as
sentinels while they spent their time in eating and talking, and, no
alarm having been given, they were satisfied that there was no one in
the vicinity, and they rode off toward the northeast, without any
concern of present danger threatening them. By this time the moon was in
the sky; but a few clouds were occasionally scudding before his face, so
that the prairie was not illuminated with as much clearness as upon the
preceding night. The two hunters galloped along at a swinging gallop, a
rate of speed which their mustangs were capable of continuing for hours
and which it was the purpose of the riders to keep up until their
destination was reached. Now and then, through the stillness of the
night, the cries of wild animals came to their ears, and once or twice
these sounded very much like signals from parties of Indians.

Tom and Dick never once relaxed their vigilance, but, as far as the
gloom would permit, scanned the country about them in every direction.
Besides, they occasionally caught the glimmer of camp fires, but they
were all at such a distance that they paid no attention to them, but
continued on the even tenor of their way.

Just as day was breaking, they found themselves fairly among the
mountains. The wildest crags and peaks were all about them, and they
were compelled to keep close to the pass they were following. This wound
in and out among the fastnesses, not more than a hundred feet in width
in some places, while in others it was fully a quarter of a mile broad.
Here they were in constant apprehension of meeting with their old
enemies; but there was an air of solitude and desertion about them that
was impressive in the extreme. They halted but a short time to let their
animals "blow," while they themselves made an observation. Still nothing
new or alarming was discovered, and they hurried forward as before.

Just as the sun reached meridian, the two hunters came upon that place
known as Devil's Pass, which they were certain had witnessed a fearful
tragedy during the previous twenty-four hours.



CHAPTER VII.

THE CAVALRY ESCORT.


The stage which left Santa Fe on that beautiful spring morning, bound
for Fort Havens on the journey heretofore referred to, carried two
passengers. One was Corporal Hugg, a soldier who had been engaged a
dozen years upon the plains--a rough, good-natured, chivalrous fellow,
who, having lost a leg in the service of his country, enjoyed a pension,
and had become a sort of family servant in the employ of Colonel
Chadmund. He was devotedly attached to little Ned and his greatest
delight was in watching or joining him at play, exercising a
surveillance over him something like that which a great, shaggy
Newfoundland holds over a pet child. The corporal was able to stump
about upon his cork leg, and when the time came for the lad to make the
journey through the mountains to Fort Havens--a journey which he had
been looking impatiently forward to for fully a year--it followed as a
natural sequence that the corporal should bear him company.

Ned bade his mother an affectionate good-bye, and she pressed him to her
breast again and again, the tears filling her eyes, and a sad misgiving
chilling her heart. The reports at the time were that the Indians to the
southwest were unusually quiet, no word having yet reached the capital
of New Mexico of the formidable raids that were being organized in the
Apache country. Besides this, the stage, which was properly an
ambulance, drawn by a single powerful horse, was escorted by twelve
Indian fighters armed to the teeth, every one of whom had performed
similar duty before, and so, according to all human probabilities, there
seemed to be less cause than usual for fear. Yet the mother felt a
woeful sinking of the heart, natural, perhaps, under the circumstances;
but she could not break the promise of herself and husband to the boy,
who was overflowing with joy at the prospect of that long journey
through the mountains, and a several months' sojourn at the fort in the
far Southwest.

Finally, the cavalcade lost sight of Santa Fe, and the first night they
encamped a good distance away from that historic, then primitive, town.
The lieutenant who had charge of the escort was more concerned about the
treasure in their possession than he was about the Indians. So far as
possible, the fact that he was carrying a large sum of money to one of
the frontier posts had been kept a secret from the general public; but
he was apprehensive that they might be followed by some of the desperate
characters which infested Santa Fe at that time. But nothing of danger
or lawlessness was seen during their first day and night, and when they
resumed their journey on the morrow, they began to dismiss all thoughts
of danger from that direction.

As they progressed toward Arizona, the country gradually grew wilder and
more rugged, but the trail was followed without trouble, and when they
encamped the second night, they had the satisfaction of reflecting that
they had progressed much further than they had counted upon at first.

Those were days of delight and happiness to young Ned Chadmund. The
weather was not oppressively warm, and the ever-changing scenery was
like the most entrancing panorama passing before his eyes. Sometimes he
rode upon one of the horses with the lieutenant or one of the soldiers.
Then again he ran along-side the ambulance until he was tired, when he
climbed within, and seated himself beside Corporal Hugg, and listened to
his tales of battle and adventures.

On the second day the Indians began to show themselves. A party of
horsemen would be seen upon the top of some hill or bluff, apparently
contemplating the little cavalcade, or they would circle around at a
distance upon the prairie, whooping and indulging in all sorts of
tantalizing gestures, in the hope of drawing out a portion of the party
in pursuit. Their hearts' delight would have been to get them into some
exposed position, where they could be cut off to a man--and had the
cavalry been unaccustomed to border life, the artifice would have
succeeded; but they were not to be seduced to their ruin by any such
transparent stratagem.

Now and then these redskins, a number of Comanches, sent in a rifle ball
or two by way of reminding the cavalry that they were accustomed to that
business. The lieutenant commanding permitted his men to reply
occasionally, but no thought of pursuit was entertained. None of the
soldiers were injured by these shots, although a number passed
uncomfortably close, and the ambulance was pierced several times.

At one time Corporal Hugg checked his horse, and pointing his gun out of
the stage, took deliberate aim at the nearest redskin, who was
displaying his horsemanship by shooting from beneath the neck and belly
of his mustang, and then, as the latter wheeled, flopping upon the other
side of the animal, and firing as before. The corporal held his fire
until he attempted one of these turn-overs, when he pulled the trigger
and "took him on the wing." The result was a whoop, a beating of the air
with a pair of moccasined feet, and the mustang galloped away without a
rider.

This skillful shot was a good thing for the party, as it taught the
Comanches the very lesson they needed. They instantly retreated to a
further point upon the prairie, and finally vanished from view
altogether.

The company had been on the road for nearly a week. Six of them,
including the lieutenant, were riding at the head, and the remainder
were in the rear of the ambulance. Corporal Hugg was holding the reins
of his horse, who was stepping along with his heavy, ponderous tread,
while the driver was drowsy and indolent from the long, monotonous ride
in which he had been engaged for so many days, and for so many hours
during this last day. It was near the middle of the afternoon, and Ned
Chadmund was the only one of the company that seemed to be full of life
and spirits. He had run along by the side of the vehicle, until he was
pretty well jaded; he had crawled in again, and was chatting away to the
corporal in a fashion that left no room for his giving way to
drowsiness. The men sat like statues upon their horses, indifferent and
silent, and wishing, in a general way, that the day were over and the
time had come for going into camp, where they might stretch out their
legs and smoke their pipes to their hearts' content.

"Yes, that 'ere is the place they call Devil's Pass," said the corporal
in reply to a question from the boy. "You see that it was so wide back
there at the beginning that you couldn't see how wide it was, and it
keeps geting narrower and narrower till it reminds me of the canyon of
the upper Yellowstone."

"How is that?" was the question that came when he paused to take breath.

"So narrow that you could toss a ball from one side to the other, and a
thousand feet from the top to bottom, clean and square, and there are
some places where it is all of a half mile."

"But this don't seem as narrow as that."

"I don't s'pose it is; but don't you notice ahead, yonder, that it ain't
more than a hundred yards broad? Well, it keeps it up for all of two
miles just like that."

"Why do they call it Devil's Pass, corporal?"

"I suppose because, if the Old Boy wanted to gobble up a lot of folks,
that is just the place. The walls on each side are straight up and down,
and several hundred feet high, so that a man can't dodge to the right or
left, unless he has a pair of wings to help him. The only thing he can
do is to go forward and backward, and if he happens to have Injuns in
front and rear, you can understand what a purty muss he would be in.
That, I s'pose, is the reason why it's called the Devil's Pass."

"Do you think they will attack _us_?" asked Ned, in a scared voice.

"I can't say," replied the corporal, striving to banish the expression
of alarm from his face. "If they've got any idea of disturbing us, just
here is where they'll do it. It's the worst place on the route, and if
we can get through to the other side all right, I'll feel as safe as if
we was inside the stockades of your father's fort."

"Have you ever been through here before?"

"Yes; all of half a dozen times."

"Did you ever get into trouble?"

"I never traveled through in all my life without having a scrimmage with
some of the redskins. If you'll take a look round as we drive along,
you'll see the bones of men scattered all along. Some belong to white,
and some to redskins; but they all fell fighting."

"How far ahead is the worst part of the route?"

"We're close upon it now, and I may as well tell you, Ned, that I think
we're going to have a fight."



CHAPTER VIII.

IN DEVIL'S PASS.


By this time Ned Chadmund was pretty well frightened. Corporal Hugg had
said enough to convince him that they were in the greatest danger of the
whole journey. The lieutenant drew his men close together, and two of
the most experienced scouts rode a short distance in advance of the
others, glancing from side to side, and on the watch for the first signs
of the approach of Indians.

The sides of the pass as already shown, were high and precipitous, so
that there was no possibility of escape except by going backward or
forward. Furthermore, the canyon, as it must have been at some distant
day, wound in and out in such a fashion that there were many places
where it was impossible to see more than a hundred yards in front or
rear. There was no conversation between the soldiers, and even the
corporal spoke in a lower tone to his young friend.

"If anything _does_ happen," he said, looking down in the handsome
upturned face, "I want you to behave yourself, Ned."

"Don't I always do it?"

"I should say not!" was the emphatic response. "Haven't I ordered you to
stay in the wagon, and then looked round to see you slipping out while I
was talking to you? But things are different now. If you see anything
unusual, or hear rifle balls whizzing about you, don't go to poking your
head out to see what the matter is."

"What shall I do, then?" asked the boy, who was really desirous of
following the directions of his friend.

"Just lie down in the bottom of the ambulance and wait till I tell you
to get up again. The sides are bullet-proof, and there ain't any danger
of your getting hurt there."

The afternoon was drawing to a close, and the high walls, rising up on
each side, so shut out the rays of the sun, that a somber twilight gloom
filled Devil's Pass; a deep, oppressive heaviness was in the atmosphere,
that seemed in keeping with the place which had been the scene of so
many tragedies, which was now entered with more or less misgiving upon
the part of the entire company.

"I'd make a journey of two hundred miles extra if there was any way of
gitting around this infernal place," said the lieutenant; "but as there
isn't, all we can do is to push ahead."

It was about half an hour after the warning words of the corporal to the
lad, and the eyes of the entire company were fixed upon the lieutenant
and his comrade, who were riding a short distance in advance. All at
once they were seen to rein up their horses simultaneously, as if
something in front had caught their attention. As by a common impulse,
the others did the same, and breathlessly awaited the next signal. It
came in a dozen seconds. While the hunter and his mustang remained
motionless, the lieutenant wheeled his horse about, and rode back and
the others noticed that his face was pale and expressive of great alarm.

"I knew we shouldn't get through here without a fight. There's a whole
pack of Indians ahead of us. Jake, take a turn back a short distance and
see whether they have fixed it so as to shut us in."

The man addressed turned to do as ordered, while the others anxiously
awaited his report. He was another Indian fighter, who knew precisely
what to do, and he was gone but a short time when he came thundering
back, calling out the instant he came in view around a curve in the
pass:

"We're in for the biggest scrimmage of our lives! There's five hundred
Apaches coming up the pass, and they'll be here inside of ten minutes."

The man who made this terrifying announcement was not one given to
exaggeration, and, although he might have overestimated the number in
this case, every one of his hearers knew that an overwhelming force was
in their rear, and, whatever they did to save themselves, the last thing
to be thought of was to turn back.

Scarcely had the news been announced when the scout from the other
direction galloped back.

"Well, what is it?" asked the lieutenant.

"Some of the redskins are ahead of us, that's certain."

"What tribe?"

"The Jiccarilla Apaches, I think; the worst set of scamps this side of
the Llano Estacado."

"How many?"

"I can't make out more than a dozen, and there may be less."

A hasty consultation was held, and all agreed that the appearance of
these few Indians in front was for the purpose of turning the party back
upon the main force in the rear. Consequently, the proper course was to
charge ahead, fighting their way, if necessary, through those before
them, and keeping all the distance possible between themselves and the
war party coming down from the opposite direction. Only a few seconds
were necessary to form this decision, and the cavalry started at a
gallop down the pass, Corporal Hugg lashing his powerful steed into a
much more rapid pace than he was accustomed to, or was agreeable to him.

"Now, Ned, keep your head down," said the wooden-legged soldier to the
boy. "The bullets will soon be buzzing all around us."

As he spoke he stretched out on the flat bottom of the ambulance,
allowing his head to be elevated just enough to permit him to peer over
the foreboard and guide the horse, which was now forced into a furious
gallop. Earnest in his desire to obey, Ned Chadmund did the same,
awaiting the result of this desperate attempt to escape from a most
perilous position.

The bottom of the pass was quite level and hard, but the ambulance
bounded and leaped from side to side in a way that threatened to
overturn it, and made anything like connected conversation impossible.
The speed of the party was about the same, the horsemen retaining their
position a short distance in advance of the vehicle and all nerved to
the fiery charge they believed to be inevitable. The lad, still lying
flat on his face in the bottom of the ambulance, raised his head just
enough to peer over the shoulder of the corporal at the galloping horse
and the figures of the cavalry beyond.

Suddenly the reports of a score of rifles sounded in the pass, and the
horrified lad saw fully one half of the soldiers topple out of their
saddles, riddled by the balls that had been fired from a skillfully
arranged ambush. At the same time several horses reared, plunged and
fell, fatally wounded by others of the missiles.

"Down!" shouted the corporal to Ned, who, in the excitement of the
moment, had placed his hands upon the shoulders of his friend and risen
to his knees. "Down, I say! Don't you see that they are firing at us?"

The rattling sound of the returning fire of the cavalry was heard, each
man being armed with a rifle, and the corporal rose to his knees and
lashed the galloping horse to a still greater speed.

Instead of a dozen Apaches, fully a hundred came swarming toward the
little band of soldiers, the painted warriors seeming to spring, like
the dragon's teeth of old, from the very ground. Hemmed in on every
hand, the cavalry, throwing away their rifles, which were useless in
such an emergency, and drawing their revolvers, charged straight through
the yelling horde closing in around them. Fascinated by the terrible
scene and scarcely conscious of what he was doing, Ned crawled forward
again and stared out from the front of the ambulance, while the corporal
added his voice to the terrible din by shouting to his horse, which was
plunging forward at a rate that threatened to overturn completely the
bounding vehicle.

The horsemen that were left were comparatively few and they fought like
Spartans; but Ned saw them drop one by one from their animals, until
there was only the lieutenant left, and he, poor fellow, was lying upon
his steed, both badly wounded, as they strove with the madness of
desperation to escape. But it was useless. The Apaches were all around
them, pouring in their shots with such precision that a moment later the
dying horse sank heavily to the ground and the wretches that dashed
forward to slay his rider found that he was already dead.

Corporal Hugg saw all this as a huge warrior dashed forward and seized
the rein of his own horse; but the next instant he dropped to the earth,
was trampled upon by the iron hoofs and run over in a twinkling. Still
the Indians swarmed in around and ahead of the team, against which all
the avenues of escape seemed hopelessly closed.



CHAPTER IX.

AMONG THE APACHES.


Having run down one Apache warrior, Corporal Hugg, unmindful of his own
personal danger, leaned forward out of the ambulance and shouted and
lashed the furious horse, which was already on a dead run.

"Go it, good fellow," he yelled, his voice rising above the horrid din
of cracking fire arms and whooping assailants. "Keep it up a little
longer, and we shall be clear of the whole crew."

They were the last words the brave soldier uttered. Ned Chadmund, who
had again crouched back in the swaying vehicle, was horrified to see his
friend pitch forward upon the foreboard, and then, as the carriage gave
one unusually violent plunge, he went out head foremost, and vanished
from sight. He had been pierced by a dozen balls, and was dead before he
reached the ground.

The horse, like his human assailants, was frantic, and abated not a jot
of his tremendous speed, though the reins fell slack and dangled around
his feet, and the familiar voice was heard no more. He, too, was wounded
by more than one cruel rifle ball, but he seemed capable of undergoing
far more than his comrades that had fallen at the first fire.

The situation of the lad was fearful, and he was in imminent danger from
more than one form of death. He was cowering in the bottom of the
ambulance, too much terrified to speak or to attempt to help himself in
any way. Bruised and stunned by the terrific bounds of the vehicle, he
was dazed, bewildered and only dimly conscious of the awful pandemonium
reigning around him. Suddenly he felt himself lifted in the air; then
there was a crushing and grinding, as if he was being ground to atoms
between two millstones, then another terrible crash and his senses
forsook him.

The ambulance had overturned and smashed. It was dragged a short
distance, when the infuriated steed broke loose, tore a short distance
further down the pass and fell dead.

When the boy recovered his senses, his eyes opened upon a very different
scene. The sounds of strife had ceased, and the struggle was ended, for
the reason that there were no men left to resist the victorious Apaches.
It was night, and a company of something like fifty were encamped in a
gorge in the mountains. The attacking party, which, including those who
had followed the escort into the pass, but were not in time to
participate in the engagement, numbered several hundred, and had, after
the contest was over, separated and vanished, leaving the chief,
Mountain Wolf, with half a hundred of his best warriors gathered about
him. After securing the treasure in the ambulance, and taking three
horses of the company, which had escaped harm during the massacre, the
Apaches moved on in a westerly direction through the pass for half a
mile, and turned to the left in a sort of ravine or gorge. Several
hundred yards up this the gorge widened into a valley, wherein were a
number of trees and a small stream of water. There they went into camp.
An immense fire was kindled, and as it roared and crackled in the night,
it threw out a glare that made it like midday for many feet away.

Ned Chadmund had been picked up, limp and apparently lifeless, by the
chief, Mountain Wolf, and carried to this spot with as much care and
tenderness as if he were a pet child of his own. The boy still showed a
certain stupor upon reaching the camp, but after he had lain a short
time upon a buffalo robe he revived, and, with wondering eyes, looked
around upon the strange and weird scene. The Indians were passing to and
fro, as if making preparations for some sort of festivity. There was
little noise, but a great amount of activity. Close by the fire were a
half dozen warriors, engaged in cooking several carcasses, and had the
persons concerned been civilized instead of savage, the scene would have
suggested an old-fashioned barbecue.

When the lad arose to a sitting position upon the buffalo hide, he
became sensible of a sharp, stinging sensation in the head, and a sore,
bruised feeling along his side, both caused by the shock received at the
overturning of the ambulance. His action was observed by a number of the
Apaches, but none approached, nor did they pay the least attention to
him; so he had every opportunity for a careful observation of what was
going on around him.

After recovering from the first sensation of terror and amazement, his
thoughts naturally reverted to the tragedy that had been enacted a short
time before in Devil's Pass. It was a fearful scene for a lad like him
to look upon, and he was sure it must remain vividly impressed upon his
memory so long as he lived.

"I'm the only one alive," he repeated to himself, with a shudder. "Poor
Corporal Hugg was the last man left, and I saw him killed. I wonder why
they spared me?"

He had no suspicion of the intention of the Apaches in preserving his
life, and which has already been hinted at in another place; so it was
very natural that he should feel puzzled to understand why it was that
he had been selected from such a party to escape the hatred which these
wild Jiccarillo Apaches had shown toward the whites ever since the
latter encroached upon their domains.

"I guess they're going to make an Indian of me," was his conclusion. "I
wonder what father will think when he hears of it? Poor mother! I know
how she was worried when she bid me good-bye. I hope she won't hear
anything till I carry her the news myself."

Fortunately for his peace of mind it never occurred to Ned that he might
have been spared for the purpose of torture and indignity. There was no
fear of present danger, as he sat upon the buffalo skin, viewing the
strange scene about him. Something like fifteen minutes had passed while
thus engaged, when the figure of a tall, athletic Indian strode slowly
toward him, apparently attracted by the interest which the boy showed in
the proceedings. This warrior was fully six feet in height,
magnificently formed, with long horse-hair like shreds hanging from his
crown, which, like his face, was daubed with startling colors, giving
him the appearance of a variegated zebra of the hues of the rainbow.

It was Lone Wolf, one of the most famous leaders of the Jiccarilla
Apaches.

But the most noticeable feature about this warrior was his dress. He was
enveloped from head to foot in a sort of cloak, of a greenish tinge,
which rattled and crackled as he walked, as if made of paper. And so it
was; for, as he approached, Ned saw that his outer garment was composed
entirely of greenbacks, carefully stitched together in such a way that
they made a blanket of half a dozen feet square. No redskin probably
ever paraded so costly a blanket as this, which included several hundred
new and crisp bank notes, varying in value from twenty to a hundred
dollars each.

They had been united in such a careful manner that he was able to handle
it with as much ease and facility as if composed of a single sheet of
paper of the tough texture of which our national issues are made. He
seemed quite proud of his novel garment, so unique of its kind, and
strode forward with the pompous tread of an Indian chief until he was
within a few feet of where Ned sat, when he paused a few moments to give
the latter full opportunity to admire his envelope.

"That must have taken a good deal of the money that belonged to the
soldiers," was his reflection, "but the country can lose it better than
it can the soldiers themselves."

Lone Wolf was one of the most dreaded, because he was one of the most
skillful and treacherous, of the Apache chiefs. He went to Washington
twice during his life with a delegation from his tribe, visited the
principal cities in the North, was treated in the most hospitable
manner, and professed the most unbounded love for his white brothers. He
announced his deliberate intention of making all haste back to his
tribe, and henceforth devoting his life to peace. He would summon his
brother chiefs about him, he said then, and make known to them the
goodness and love of the whites for the red men. He would explain to
them their invincible power, and make very clear the folly of attempting
to resist their wishes in any way. Furthermore he agreed to show the
numerous gifts that had been showered upon him, and he would explain
that if they conducted themselves aright a similar future was before
them as well. All this Lone Wolf promised; but he had no sooner got
among his own people again than he chose to forget his promises and went
upon the warpath.



CHAPTER X.

LONE WOLF.


Lone Wolf spoke English like a native; and, having waited until the
admiration of Ned Chadmund had been given time to expend itself, he
spoke in a deep, guttural voice:

"Does the child of my white brother mourn for those who have fallen?"

The lad was so surprised at hearing himself addressed in this manner,
that he stared wonderingly at him for a moment without making reply.
Then he rose to his feet, and, looking up in the painted face, replied:

"I am all alone, and long to go to my father."

"What is the name of your father?" asked the chief, in the same
excellent English.

"Colonel Edward Chadmund."

"Is he at the fort, yonder?" continued Lone Wolf, stretching out his
hand so as to point toward the southwest.

"Yes; he is the commandant there, and has a large number of brave
soldiers, and will send them out to take me to him."

Had Ned been a few years older, he would not have made this reply. It
was not politic to threaten the chief; and he had no suspicion that the
confession of the identity of his father only intensified the hatred of
these redskins before him. But perhaps, after all, it was as well; for
Lone Wolf was sagacious enough to recollect that he was talking to a
child, from whom he was more likely to hear truth than from an older
person.

"He has sent some brave soldiers to take you to him," said the chief,
with a wolf-like grin, displaying his long, yellow teeth. "But they have
left you on the way; they have given you to Lone Wolf, and they will not
go back to the fort, nor to Santa Fe. If he sends more, they will do the
same."

"There were only a dozen of them, while you had hundreds. If they had
had anything like an equal chance, not one of the Apaches would have
been left alive! We would have killed them all!"

This was a brave answer, in a certain sense, but it was not a very
prudent one; for Lone Wolf was known to be the possessor of a fearful
temper, easily excited into a tempest of passion; and the words of the
boy were not calculated to be very soothing to him. There was too much
paint upon the face of the chieftain for the boy to observe the flush
which overspread it at hearing himself addressed in this manner, but he
could understand the lowering of that gruff voice and the quickening of
the utterance.

"Lone Wolf and his brave Apaches care nothing for the soldiers of the
Father at Washington. His agents deceive us; they make treaties and do
not keep them; they lie to us, and then we turn upon and rend them. Do
you see that?"

As he uttered this inquiry in the fiercest kind of language, he whipped
out from beneath his blanket the reeking scalp of one of the soldiers
that had fallen in the gorge a short time before, and shook it in the
face of the terrified lad. The latter could not fail to see what it was,
and drew back in horror and disgust, realizing what a bloodthirsty
monster stood before him. He saw that it would never do to excite the
other's anger, and he endeavored to turn the conversation into another
channel.

"Do you and your brave warriors mean to stay here till morning?"

"It is as Lone Wolf wills," was the instant answer, in a voice not quite
so severe, indicating a subsidence of the troubled waters.

"And what are you going to do with me?" was the next question, which no
one besides a lad of Ned's age would have dared to put, when placed in a
similar position.

"That, too, is as Lone Wolf wills," was the rather non-committal answer.

"And that is the reason why I asked you. How soon can I return to my
father? When I reach him I will tell him that it was Lone Wolf that sent
me back and he will be friendly toward him."

"Lone Wolf asks not his friendship," said the chieftain, with something
of the old fire gleaming in his eye. "He has killed our bravest and best
warriors. He has followed them to the mountains and slain them by their
camp fires, when they dreamed not that the white man was near. He has
murdered their squaws; and Lone Wolf shall not die until he tears his
scalp from his head."

The poor boy was horrified. He was too young to understand fully the
causes of such deep enmity upon the part of the chieftain, but he was
not too young to understand that his own life had been spared through no
sentiment of mercy. The leader had some other cause, but Ned did not see
much hope of making a favorable impression upon this intractable chief,
and he would have been very much relieved had he taken himself off and
left him alone.

Some fifteen minutes had passed since the lad had opened his eyes upon
the strange scene by which he was surrounded, and the preparations which
seemed to be going on were completed. The entire Apache troop suddenly
broke out in a series of whoops and yells that would have appalled a
hundred famishing wolves. At the same instant they began dancing--not a
motion of the feet, such as we are accustomed to see in civilized
regions, but a series of demoniac gymnastics, risking the dislocation of
all the bones in their bodies. They leaped up and down, swung their
arms, threw out their legs, and circled around each other--the whole
forming a wild and appalling revelry more like that of wild beasts than
of human beings.

Boy-like, Ned Chadmund forgot everything else for the time but the scene
which was passing directly before his eyes. There was a weird attraction
in watching the flitting, fantastic figures, whose hands were yet
reeking with the blood of innocent men and whose greatest delight would
have been to scalp every man, woman and child in the territory.

This hullaballoo lasted all of half an hour, when it died out as
suddenly as it began. It was not from exhaustion, for Indians have been
known to keep up such a performance through the entire night; but it was
in obedience to a signal from Lone Wolf, whose imperious will no one
dared defy. He had simply raised his arm, and, giving utterance to a
single whoop that rose above the horrid din, silence "fell like a
blessing." This lasted but a few minutes, when the bustle began in a
lesser degree, and the Apaches fell to eating the meat which had been
abundantly prepared for them by several of their number. They continued
to act like wolves as they did so, using hands and knives, but more
frequently tearing the meat to shreds without the aid of any implements
except such as nature had furnished them in the shape of teeth.

The terrific strain, mental and physical, which Ned had undergone during
the last few hours, was succeeded by a reaction which made him feel weak
and faint. He was conscious of the need of food, and was feverish and
thirsty.

"I don't see as I'm likely to get anything to eat," he muttered, as he
sat down on the blanket, and looked upon the glittering scene. "I ain't
so very hungry, but I would like a good drink of water."

The firelight shone upon the small stream which ran through the middle
of the valley; and, as it was so near at hand, he thought there would be
no harm in walking to it, and helping himself to a refreshing draught.
He had walked but a few steps, however, when he became aware that some
one was following him. A careless glance over his shoulder showed that
it was Lone Wolf. The lad concluded at once that he suspected an attempt
at escape, and he thought he might do himself some good by a faithful
return to his former position after he had helped himself to a drink,
without appearing to notice that he was watched. This was the more easy
of accomplishment, as the Apache moved off to one side, as if his desire
was to conceal his real purpose. Accordingly, Ned walked quietly forward
until he reached the stream, where he knelt down and took one long,
refreshing drink, which seemed to give him new life and strength. Then,
rising to his feet, he started back to the camp fire. As he did so, he
found himself face to face with Lone Wolf.

"What do you mean?" demanded the latter, gruffly.

"I was thirsty and went to get a drink. I thought I would not bother
you."

"When you try to run away, then you will die!"

"What's the use of trying to run off, when there isn't any show?" asked
the young prisoner, with a laugh, an assumption of jollity which was far
from genuine.



CHAPTER XI.

SURROUNDED BY DANGER.


Lone Wolf no doubt meant to warn Ned against any attempt at escape; for,
where the surveillance was relaxed, as it would probably be now and then
in his case, he was certain to see many occasions when he would be
tempted to give them the slip.

On the way to this place, Corporal Hugg had given the lad an insight
into the ways of the redmen, and the boy began to use his knowledge. The
perilous position in which he was placed helped to sharpen his wits, for
he began to see things in their true light. The chief had expressed his
hatred of Colonel Chadmund in too vigorous language to be mistaken; and
Ned now believed that in sparing his life the Indian had been actuated
by some other motive than mercy because of his age.

"He means to strike father through me," he concluded, as he sat upon the
blanket in deep thought. "He will kill me in some way more horrible than
the rest, and he is waiting until he has a good chance to do it, so that
father will be sure and know it. He thinks he has scared me out of
trying to get away, but the next chance I get I'll do it. I believe I
can dodge him. But I'll have to shut his eye up, so as to have the
better show."

At this juncture Lone Wolf came toward him, bearing in his hand a large
bone, rather bountifully covered with meat, which he was gnawing as he
walked, grasping either end of it with his hand, and fixing his black
eyes upon the lad as he advanced.

"Do you want something to eat?"

"I should think I did," replied Ned, with a laugh which he forced so
well that no one would have suspected its sincerity. "I'm about half
starved to death, and was afraid I was not going to get any supper at
all!"

"Take that, and go to sleep."

The large bone was given a flirt by the huge warrior, and fell directly
into his lap. It was not very pleasant to take it second-hand, but a boy
in his situation could not be very fastidious, and, thanking the chief
for his princely liberality, Ned fell to and gnawed away like a famished
dog. It struck him as curious that none of the warriors appeared to note
his presence, but he knew better than to believe that such apparent
blindness was real. He was as securely within their power as if bound
hand and foot.

"He told me to go to sleep," he said, as he stretched out upon his
blanket; "I guess I'll try and do it. I don't see any use of sitting up
and watching such a set of wretches as they are. I'd rather have a pack
of wolves about me than such as they."

The night was too mild to require the blanket wrapped over him; besides
which the warmth from the camp fire was very perceptible; so he lay upon
his back looking up at the stars and endeavoring to shut out from his
thoughts the hateful beings gathered around, and whose grunting voices
and loud exclamations were never quiet, but continued so long that they
acquired a certain monotony, like the rattle and hum of the mill, which
lulls the miller to sleep.

"It's strange," he murmured, as his imaginings became as wayward as a
boy's will. "Father is off yonder, I don't know how many hundred miles,
and mother is just the opposite way in Santa Fe, and here I am about
half way between them. We were never so scattered in all the world
before. I wonder what father will do when he finds out about Lone Wolf?
The chief has put his blanket of greenbacks away somewhere, and I guess
he knows how to take care of them. I declare, but that was a big
haul--one hundred thousand dollars at a lick! I should think Lone Wolf
might afford to retire now on what he has made. But the poor men," added
Ned, with that sudden throb of the heart which always came when lie
recalled the fearful attack and massacre in Devil's Pass. "Not one of
them left alive! Oh, I wish I could forget it all! but I never, never
can. The Indians have done such things many a time before, but I never
saw them. It'll kill me if I don't keep it out of my thoughts."

There seemed to be less moon that night than on the previous evening,
and as the boy lay looking upward, he could see a number of stars
twinkling in the sky. He reflected that beyond them was One who could
not forget his pitiful condition, who could bring him out of all his
troubles, and who was the only Being unto whom he could go in this dark
hour. Ned prayed to Him, as he had been taught to pray at his mother's
knee, and, recalling the words which he had so often heard from her dear
lips, he believed that God could not forsake him, but that all would
come out right. He had lain thus perhaps an hour, when he turned upon
his side for the greater comfort of position. As he did so, he was
reminded of Devil's Pass by a sharp twinge in his side. It was sharp
enough to make him gasp with pain; also to put an idea into his head.

Having fully made up his mind to attempt to get away from the Apaches at
the very first opportunity which he could seize, it struck him that he
might help himself by engaging in a piece of deception, justifiable
under the circumstances. The bruise which he had received was not severe
enough to interfere with his walking, but Lone Wolf might as well
believe that it did. If he thought his prisoner was too lame to do much
in the way of locomotion, his watchfulness would be certain to become
quite lax, all of which would be a great point in favor of the one
mainly concerned.

"At any rate, I'll try it on," he said, as he shut his eyes.

The excessive fatigue of the lad caused him to drop off into a sound
slumber--a slumber filled with sweet dreams of home, father and mother
and all that was pleasant. But it was interrupted in the rudest possible
way.

The night was nearly gone, when a terrific uproar aroused him as
suddenly as if a cup of cold water had been dashed in his face. Looking
around, he saw two warriors, within six feet of him, engaged in a savage
dispute. From some source, a number of the Apaches had obtained a supply
of fire-water, and several desperate fights had already taken place. A
swarthy redskin, daubed with paint and intoxicated to that degree which
brought to the surface all the deviltry in his nature, was striving,
with knife in hand, to get at the sleeping boy, while another, in about
the same condition, was disputing his right to do this, and claiming
that it was peculiarly his own province to slay the young prisoner. Both
agreed that death should be awarded, and each claimed that justice
demanded that he alone should do the righteous deed. This difference of
opinion had already produced high words, the warriors pulling and
shoving each other, and threatening each instant to go at each other
with their knives.

Ned could not understand the words spoken, but the actions of the
redskins needed no interpretation. The affrighted boy sprang to his
feet, and, forgetful of the lameness which he had arranged, ran back
several yards to a group of redskins who were squatted upon the ground,
smoking.

At this instant, the two disputants, wearied with hurling words at each
other, went in with their knives, and the conflict became of the most
desperate and sanguinary nature.

"Where is Lone Wolf?" was the question he asked, as he paused by the
group of smokers and looked inquiringly at them.

But if any of them understood the words uttered, they did not choose to
give the information sought, and smoked away as placidly as if seated
around their own firesides at home.

Just beyond were two other warriors engaged in conversation, and Ned was
sure he had heard one of them speak in broken English during the earlier
part of the evening. Hoping to gain the knowledge he desired, he went to
him.

"Where is Lone Wolf, the chief?"

"He go way--much time ago--off in the mountains."

"When will he come back?"

The redskin shook his head to signify that he did not know; but added,
the next minute:

"Be back to-morrer--mebbe--don't know--can't say."

This rather indefinite information was all that could be obtained by the
lad, who was in a shiver of terror; for he believed now that his life
was not safe for a single moment.



CHAPTER XII.

"THE HOUR HAS COME."


Ned Chadmund was too terrified to think of further sleep, nor did he
dare to return to where he had been lying upon the blanket when aroused
in such a startling manner. As he turned his horrified gaze in that
direction, he saw the two combatants clutching and striking each other
upon the ground, their blows growing feebler as their strength rapidly
departed. The most alarming thing about this revolting contest was the
fact that it did not attract the interest of a single spectator beyond
the little fellow. There were plenty of Indians around, some of whom
were within a dozen feet, and yet they paid no more attention to it than
if the two were quietly smoking their pipes.

This showed, as a matter of course, the indifference of the others as to
what befell the defenseless prisoner. The next Indian who advanced upon
him with drawn knife would not be so likely to find himself disputed by
another, anxious to perform the same job. It seemed certain that no one
would interfere in the interests of the prisoner himself.

The latter stood debating what he should do, if, indeed, he could do
anything at all. He turned his head and looked back in the gloom, which
appeared so inviting that he was tempted to turn and make a dash for
freedom. If he could only secure a start of a hundred yards, it seemed
to him that he might escape. That would give him a chance to steal away
and hide until he could renew his flight, with a prospect of eluding
them altogether. He glanced at the darkness and then again at the
Apaches. Not a single one of them, so far as he could see, showed any
consciousness of his presence, and none were between him and the gloom
in which he meant to take shelter.

His heart throbbed with excitement as he stood debating the question,
and he hurriedly concluded to make the attempt. But on the eve of
starting, his straining vision detected the faintest shadowy outline of
a figure, which silently receded in the gloom as he looked toward it.
Ned understood on the instant what this meant. It was Lone Wolf who was
waiting to receive him, whenever he should choose to make his attempt to
get away.

The whole trick flashed upon him at once. Lone Wolf, with a view of
thoroughly testing the lad, had purposely thrown this opportunity in his
way, and was waiting beyond in the gloom to receive him with open arms.
Poor Ned's heart sank as he realized more vividly than ever that he was
as much a prisoner as if immured within the walls of Sing Sing. Still,
he affected not to notice the presence of the sentinel, but walked back
toward the camp with that affectation of indifference which he had used
on more than one occasion before. He recollected this time to put on the
limp--his lameness being of such a decided character that there could be
no mistaking it by any one who happened to look in that direction.

"Never mind, I'll get the chance yet," he muttered, putting himself upon
his mettle. "I'll play lame till they think there is no need of watching
me at all, and then, before they know it, I'll be off."

The knowledge that Lone Wolf was so near at hand gave him enough courage
to go back to where the blanket lay, and seat himself upon it. He had
sat thus but a few minutes, when he noticed that it was growing light in
the East. The night was gone and day was breaking.

"I'm glad of it, for I'm tired of this place," he exclaimed. "I'll never
get any chance to do anything for myself here."

Before it was fairly light, the Apaches began their preparations for
leaving the scene of their encampment. Their mustangs were picketed at
some distance up the stream, under charge of a couple of sentinels,
where they had not been disturbed during the entire night.

"I wonder if they'll give me a horse?" was the next thought of Ned, as
he watched these preparations.

In a few minutes all were mounted upon their animals, which seemed in a
splendid condition. Among them were three that had belonged to the
cavalry, and which were easily identified by means of the saddles,
bridles and accoutrements. Ned hoped that one of these would be placed
at his disposal, and he looked around for the chief only to find him at
his elbow.

"You walk or ride?" he asked, his painted countenance as cold and hard
as steel.

"That depends upon you," replied Ned, "but I do hope you will let me
ride upon somebody's horse for this is mighty rough, I can tell you,"
and he emphasized his complaint by limping, apparently with great pain,
for a few steps. The chief looked at him very sharply for a few seconds,
and then showed that he believed him, if indeed, he held any doubt at
all. He motioned to one of the warriors who was leading a captive horse,
which was brought immediately to the spot. The stirrups were shortened,
so as to be in place for the boy's feet when he was helped into the
saddle.

"Oh! my leg! my leg!" he screamed, with an expression of intense agony,
when, actually, he felt not a particle of pain; "it seems to me, you
would rather hurt a chap than not."

No attention was paid to his complaint, and a minute later the whole
cavalcade was in motion.

The boy was a skillful horseman, having been taught to ride from the
time he could walk, and he found himself astride of one of the best
steeds that had belonged to the cavalry, although he could not identify
it. As he looked about him and examined the saddle, he caught sight of
the handle of a revolver in the holster, jammed down in such a way that
it had escaped the notice of their captors.

"That's to be mine," he whispered to himself, not a little pleased at
the discovery he had made.

He knew if this caught the eye of Lone Wolf or any of his warriors they
would not permit him to retain it, and he was so fearful that they would
see it that he began maneuvering with a view of getting it into his
possession. No one is more skillful at this sort of business than a boy
about his age. Ned groaned, and twisted forward and backward, as if to
seek relief, and when he finally secured a little more comfort and
resumed his upright position the revolver was safely hid beneath his
waistcoat, he having placed it there without attracting the eye of any
one. The little fellow felt braver on the instant. He suspected that if
he encountered Lone Wolf alone, and the chieftain dared to bar his
passage, he could use the revolver upon him with the same coolness that
Corporal Hugg would have done had he been alive.

"None of them suspect that I've got such a thing about me, and that
gives me the better chance," was his very sensible conclusion, as he
endeavored to put on an expression of blissful serenity.

When the sun was fairly up, the fifty Apache warriors were galloping in
a direct line toward the south, Lone Wolf at their head, and Ned
Chadmund riding at his side. The lad had made several inquiries of his
leader, but the latter repelled him so savagely that he wisely held his
peace. He supposed the Indians were going southward toward their
village. He remembered hearing his father speak of Lone Wolf as dwelling
pretty well to the southward, and that he had pronounced him to be one
of the most dangerous leaders among the fierce tribes of the Southwest.

The Apaches were now in a mountainous region, following a sort of trail
that was generally wide enough to permit a dozen to ride abreast if they
wished to do so. Occasionally it was rough and precipitous, winding in
and out, and now and then difficult to travel; but the wiry little
mustangs went along as unhesitatingly as mountain goats. Although they
were among the mountains, at times the air was oppressively hot, not a
particle of breeze reaching them.

It was little past noon when the party drew rein in a place very similar
to that wherein they encamped the night before. As the mustangs came to
a halt, their riders leaped to the ground, and, turning them over to the
care of a half dozen of their number, they refreshed themselves at a
stream running near at hand, the water of which was clear and cold, and
equally inviting to man and beast. Ned climbed down from his horse,
apparently with great difficulty and pain.

"May I go and get a drink?" he asked of Lone Wolf.

"Go," was the savage reply; "am I a dog to help you?"

"No; you're a dog without helping me," muttered the lad as he limped
away toward the wood, seeking a point a short distance below where the
others were helping themselves.

It took but a minute to reach a spot where for the time he was beyond
observation.

"The hour has come to make a stroke for freedom!" he exclaimed, suiting
the action to the word.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE FLIGHT.


Ned had enough sense not to undertake to run away from the Apaches until
there was a reasonably good chance of succeeding. He had played the game
of lameness so well that he had secured considerable liberty thereby;
and when, therefore, he went limping beyond the further limit of the
Indians, no one supposed he had any other purpose in view than to obtain
a better place in which to help himself to water. The trees among which
he entered were almost without undergrowth, and, fortunately, were in
exactly the opposite direction from where the mustangs were grazing.
This left the way entirely open for him to do his utmost in the way of
his dash for freedom. It may seem to have been unfortunate in the one
thing, that it caused the lad to go away without his horse; but he would
have left the latter had he been given his chance, for he believed that
while the trail of the animal could be followed without trouble, and
might secure his being run to the ground in the end, yet he could
readily find the means of hiding his own footsteps from the most
skillful of the Apaches.

It is hardly necessary to say that the instant he found himself beyond
the immediate sight of his captors, his lameness disappeared as if by
magic, and he dashed down the stream with all the speed at his command.
After running nearly two hundred yards he suddenly paused and listened.
Nothing could be heard but his own hurried breathing and throbbing
heart.

"They haven't found out anything about me yet," was his hurried
exclamation, as he started off again, continually ejaculating a prayer
that he might succeed, for he needed no one to tell him that it was
really a matter of life and death; for, if Lone Wolf should place hands
upon him again, he would never forgive the attempt.

A hundred yards further in this headlong fashion, and all at once he
found himself at the termination of the wood, which had been such an
advantage to him thus far. On the right and left, over the high,
precipitous mountains back of him, was the small wood, on the other
border of which was the Apache camp. The gorge or valley, in the center
of which he found himself standing, wound in and out among the mountains
before him,--a Devil's Pass on a smaller scale,--so sinuous in its
course that he could trace it only a short distance ahead with the eye.
Directly at his side flowed a mountain stream, varying from a dozen to
twenty feet in width, so clear that in every place he could see
distinctly the bottom. The current was quite swift, and in some places
it dashed and foamed over the rocks almost like a cascade.

Ned dared not hesitate, but, pausing only an instant to catch breath, he
dashed away again until he reached the curve in the ravine, beyond which
he would be hid from view of the encampment. The moment this was reached
he paused long enough to cast back a searching glance. But all looked as
calm and peaceful as if no human being had ever entered the ravine.

"They haven't found it out yet! They haven't found it out yet!" he
exclaimed, his heart rising with hope. "That was a pretty smart thing in
me to pretend to be lame, and if it hadn't been for that I wouldn't have
got half the start."

Passing the turn in the ravine, he felt that it would not do to wait any
longer without some effort to hide his trail. There was but one feasible
way of accomplishing this, and that was by entering the stream and
keeping along it far enough to throw the wolves off the scent. It was
not a very pleasant task to enter the water and move along, where, at
any moment, he was liable to drop down over his head; but he did not
dare to stand upon trifles, and in he went. By keeping close to the
shore, he managed to avoid any such unpleasant ducking, while at the
same time he effectually hid his footsteps from the eyes of the
keenest-sighted Indian. A short distance ahead he found the trees were
growing fully as thickly as in the grove which he had left but a short
time before, and he made all haste thither, continually glancing back,
dreading least he should catch sight of some of the Apaches on the hunt
for him.

Imagine his consternation, when, on the very margin of the wood, he
looked back and saw the forms of two Indians only a short distance away!
They were mounted upon their mustangs and riding at a walk almost in a
direct line toward him, and, as he stared at them he was sure that their
slow pace was due to their careful scrutiny of the trail which he was
satisfied he must have left.

"They have found me out," he gasped, as he turned and hurried down
stream again.

Ned was too frightened to reflect that their actions were such as to
indicate that they were hunters, who were out merely for game, and there
is no telling how far he would have kept up his flight in the stream,
had he not been checked by what he believed to be a providential
interference in his behalf.

The water was broad, moderately deep, and quite clear; but the
overhanging trees threw out so much shade that the bottom was invisible,
so that, scrutinize as much as they chose, the redskins could not detect
the slightest trace of his footprints upon the bed of the stream. The
only difficulty that remained was to leave the water in such a way that
his pursuers should be baffled in any attempt to discover the point.
This was an exceedingly difficult question to solve, and while he was
searching for some suitable place, and growing terribly frightened lest
his two foes should pounce down upon him, he noticed a large tree that
projected over the water. The foliage was dense and the tree seemed to
be hollow. Besides this, one of the limbs hung so low that, by making an
upward spring, he was able to catch it with both hands. He then drew
himself upward, and carefully crawled along until he reached the trunk.
To his surprise and delight, he found it the very concealment he needed
above all others. The trunk was large and hollow, and on the upper side
was an aperture, probably caused by the rotting away of a limb, large
enough to permit the passage of his body.

After peering for a few seconds into the impenetrable darkness, Ned
shoved his feet through, and carefully followed with his body. He
cautiously shoved himself along, until his head was below the level of
the opening, when he paused, believing that he was concealed in the best
manner possible. The lad had absolutely left no trace behind him; the
searching Apaches were without any means of discovering what he had
done, and all he had to do was to remain where he was until the hunt was
over. The tree, slanting out over the water, made his posture a half
reclining one, and as comfortable as it is possible to imagine. His
limbs were somewhat chilled by the wetting they had received, but that
troubled him very little, his whole thoughts, naturally, being centered
upon the one of getting away from the Apaches. It seemed to him that his
senses were preternaturally sharpened, and the rustling of a fallen leaf
startled him into the belief that one of the redskins was crawling out
upon the trunk; but a full half hour passed without presenting anything
of a tangible nature, and hope became very strong in his breast again.

"I wonder whether those horsemen were hunting for me?" he muttered, as
he became more deliberate in his speculations. "I was sure a little
while ago that they were, but it may be that I was mistaken. I don't
think they would come on their mustangs if they wanted to find me, for
they couldn't make much use of them in following me to a place like
this."

Whether or not these two men were his pursuers mattered very little; for
there could be no doubt that his absence had been noticed or that the
most skillful trailers were in pursuit. They could not fail to learn
that he had taken to the stream and would naturally hunt along the shore
to discover where he had left it. This would be likely to bring them
very close to where he was hidden, and he trembled as he reflected upon
the possible, if not probable, result.

The sun was going down in the west; the shadows in the wood gradually
deepened; in his reclining position, Ned Chadmund found a heavy
drowsiness stealing over him. The afternoon was no more than half gone
when his eyes closed in a refreshing sleep, which continued several
hours, and might have lasted still longer had it not been broken. It was
far into the night when the sleeping lad suddenly opened his eyes
without understanding the cause of his doing so. Something had aroused
him, but he could not divine what it was. His posture had become
somewhat cramped from his long continuance in it and he shifted about so
as to rest upon the other side. As he did so, he became aware that some
one or something else was near him. The slightest possible rustling at
the base of the trunk directed his attention there, but there was too
much intervening shrubbery for him to detect anything at all. Everything
in that direction was shrouded in the densest gloom. The moon was
directly overhead, and shining so that he was able to see for some
little distance when he turned his glance from the trunk. Remembering
his revolver, the boy reached down and drew it from within his
waistcoat, where he had concealed it.

"If anybody wants to run against that, let him do so," he said to
himself. "It has five good charges which I will use up before they shall
lay hands upon me or Lone Wolf shall call me his prisoner again."

It seemed to him that, in case of discovery, his position might place
him at a great disadvantage, so he carefully drew his head and shoulders
out of the trunk, so as to leave his arms free to use. This was scarcely
done when he caught the same sound below him, repeated so distinctly
that he knew on the instant what it meant. It was a scratching, rattling
of bark, such as would be made by the claws of an animal in picking its
way along, and as he strained his eyes through the gloom, he saw very
faintly the outlines of some wild animal approaching him, a low,
threatening growl at the same time establishing the identity of the bear
beyond question.

Ned was about to give him the contents of one barrel, when he was
restrained by the recollection that his ammunition was exceedingly
precious and that the report of the pistol was likely to bring some one
whom he dreaded more than the fiercest wild beasts of the forest. So he
decided to try milder means at first. Accordingly, the endangered lad
tried to see whether the animal could not be frightened away without
really hurting him. Breaking off a piece of bark, he flung it in his
face, giving utterance, at the same time, to a growl as savage as that
of the beast himself. The latter instantly paused, as if puzzled to
understand what it meant, but he did not retreat. He merely stood his
ground and growled back again. Encouraged even by this dubious success,
Ned threw more bark, made more noise, and flung his arms so wildly that
he came very near throwing his revolver out of his grasp into the creek.

But it would not work. The bear was not born in the woods to be
frightened by any such trifles, and, halting for scarcely twenty
seconds, he advanced with the calm deliberation of a brute bent upon
clearing up the mystery without any unnecessary delay. Instead of giving
him the contents of one of the chambers of the revolver, the young
hunter drew back within the hollow of the tree, as a turtle is seen to
retreat within his shell when affrighted at the approach of some enemy.
It was a tight squeeze, but he insinuated himself along the open space
until quite sure that he was beyond the reach of the monster. There he
found he had barely room to use his arms, but, pointing his weapon
toward the opening, he awaited the action of bruin.

There was sufficient moonlight to perceive the opening, but he had
scarcely time to glance at it when it was darkened by the bear, which
thrust its head in with a thunderous growl that made the lad shiver from
head to foot. Certain that it would not do to wait any longer, and
believing that he meant to force his entire body through, the sorely
frightened Ned discharged one barrel squarely in the face of the bear.

This settled matters. The latter had his snout and enough of his head
shoved into the opening to receive a bad wound from the weapon,
discharged within a foot or two of his face. He gave a sort of snarling
howl, and jerked out his feet so suddenly that he must have injured
himself still more by doing so, and, with a relief that can hardly be
understood, Ned heard him clawing hastily along the trunk until he
reached the land, when he scampered away into the woods, and nothing
more was seen of him.

"If I had plenty of ammunition, I would not begrudge that shot,"
muttered Ned, as he carefully worked his way along the hollow again.
"But that leaves me only four shots, and there's no telling how soon
I'll have to use the rest."

He found, upon reaching the opening again, that the night was past and
the day was breaking. He had obtained a good night's rest, but he was
anxious to get ahead.

"I wonder where Lone Wolf is?" he thought, hesitating whether he had
better descend from his hiding place or not. "It is all of twelve hours
since I ran away and they must have done a good deal of hunting. Some of
them have passed close to where I am, and they must be lurking about
this very minute."

It was this uncertainty which caused the lad to wait some little time
longer before venturing forth. He had been so fortunate up to this time
that he could not afford to throw the chances away. When he found that
the sun was far above the treetops, however, he began to grow impatient,
and finally came to the conclusion that he was losing valuable time. So
he began crawling carefully out, with the idea of resuming his flight
homeward.

Ned was not yet fairly out from the tree, when he paused, for his ear
detected something alarming. It was the soft splash of water, such as is
made by a person who is carefully wading along, and it sounded fearfully
near to where he was.

He assumed at once, because of the peculiar sound, that it must be
caused by some one who was hunting for him, and no one could be hunting
for him except some of the Apaches from whom he fled. If any doubt
remained in his mind, it was removed a moment later, when he heard a
whistle from the same quarter whence came the sound of the wading. The
signal was instantly responded to in the same manner by some one upon
shore.

"They're Indians," he said. "They know that I must be somewhere in this
neighborhood and they've made up their minds to search until they find
me."

For two or three minutes all was as still as the tomb. It seemed as if
the redskins were listening, in the hope of learning something of the
fugitive through their sense of hearing when their eyes had failed them
so long. If such were the case, they were disappointed, for the boy
crouching in the gnarled tree would have suspended his very breathing,
had it been in his power to do so, lest he should betray himself.

When the splashing noise was heard again, it sounded almost beneath him,
and, yielding to a most dangerous curiosity, which, however, he could
not restrain, he reached one hand into the foliage, drew it aside and
looked down.

Not more than twenty feet distant he saw the figure of Lone Wolf, the
Apache chief!

He stood in the water up to his knees, and, at the moment the fugitive
looked, had passed a short distance beyond the tree, so that his back
only was visible. Had it been a few minutes sooner, the warrior would
have assuredly seen the white, scared face that peered upon him from
among the leaves. But, as it was, he was all unconscious of the fact
that he was so near the prize for which he and several of his best
warriors had been searching for hours.

Two of them had paused beneath the tree and carefully examined the
branches without discerning the hiding place, and they were now moving
forward again, carefully examining everything on each side of the stream
where it seemed possible for a cat, even, to conceal itself. Lone Wolf
would have given his right arm, almost, rather than have his prisoner
elude him. He had been completely deceived by that little artifice of
lameness, and it was not until a full half hour after Ned's
disappearance that he began to suspect that something was amiss. The
trail was taken up at once and followed without trouble to where it
entered the water. Here the real task began, for the hardness of the bed
of the creek prevented them from tracing the footsteps where the
clearness of the current would have enabled them to do so, had the
circumstances been otherwise.

Consequently, the only thing possible for them to do was to find the
place where he had taken to the land again. For this they hunted until
dark and renewed the work again in the morning. But as Ned had not yet
placed his foot upon dry land, the enterprise up to that moment was not
a success.



CHAPTER XIV.

PURSUED.


Ned Chadmund's only fear was that the chief would hear the throbbing of
his heart. He dared not draw his head into the tree, fearing that the
action would attract the notice of the Apache; so he remained as
motionless as the trunk of the tree itself, waiting for the danger to
pass. Finally, the Indian was heard moving forward again, and the
cramped and aching fugitive began to breathe more freely. He could
detect that soft rippling through the water, such as is made by an
angler who is hunting some choice place in the brook, and who examines
every foot of the water which he passes. At last it was beyond hearing,
and all was still again; but our young hero, impatient and anxious as he
was to get forward, dared not leave his concealment while so many of his
enemies were in the immediate neighborhood. He was confident that if he
attempted flight and escaped running against some of these dusky
wretches, they would speedily detect his trail and run him to the
ground. He concluded to remain where he was until dark, when he would
make another start, confident that by traveling all night, and taking
advantage of all the means that came in his way, he could place a goodly
distance between himself and the perilous neighborhood.

Nothing more was seen or heard of the Apaches during these long waiting
hours, unless the distant report of a gun could be construed as their
work, and the summer day gradually wore away. By this time the condition
of the boy was truly pitiable. He was thirsty and nearly famished,
feverish from his long abstinence. Yet with water within a few feet of
him he refrained, for the reason that he was fearful of imperiling his
safety.

"I'll wait till it is nearly dark," he said, as he looked down at the
cool water flowing beneath; "for this is the only chance I shall ever
have of giving them the slip."

The time he had fixed upon to venture forth had not yet arrived when he
observed a large tree floating along below him. It had probably become
displaced at some point up the stream, and would drift along until it
should again catch some obstruction, and remain moored for an indefinite
time. Yielding to a sudden inspiration, Ned crept hastily out of his
concealment, and dropped lightly upon the trunk, which was heavy and
buoyant enough to bear his weight without sinking below the surface.

The course of the stream was such that this proceeding carried him back
directly over the ground that he had passed, and, in case the Apaches
were in camp, would take him near it. But there was real woodcraft in
this act, imprudent as it seemed; for nothing could be conceived, which,
if successful, would more effectually throw the Indians off his trail.
Knowing that he had gone northward, what inducement could there be for
looking toward the south for him? The next thing after getting upon his
raft was to stoop over and get a drink from the stream, which, having
its source up among the mountains, was cold, clear, and pure.

Oh! the refreshing draught! None but those whose frames have been
consumed with flaming fever can appreciate the delicious nectar, the
invigorating, permeating life that lay in that wonderful fluid, which is
without smell, taste or color, and to which no other liquid can be
compared.

"Oh dear!" groaned the lad, as he raised his head. "Another drink like
that and there'll be nothing left in the creek."

But thirst satisfied left him with such a tormenting sense of hunger
that the question of something to eat speedily became paramount to all
others. He almost ceased to think of Apaches in his wild desire for
something with which to satisfy the cravings within.

The heavy trunk, covered with a few knotty protuberances, kept very
nearly in the center of the stream and shifted on below the wood, across
the open space and around the curve which has been already referred to,
by which time it was fairly dark. Beyond this he could discern the
outlines of the grove in the encampment of the day before, and where his
own rush for liberty had been made. Were the Apaches still there,
awaiting the conclusion of the hunt for him? This was the question, and,
in his desire to answer it, he carefully steadied himself until he stood
upright upon the log, so as to look across the intervening space to the
wood beyond.

"If they're there, they'd be sure to have a camp fire," was the truthful
conclusion; "but I can't catch sight of anything."

Had a point of light twinkled through the foliage, it is doubtful
whether he could have had the courage to continue on down the stream to
the point where it passed so close to the camp. No doubt he would have
dodged it. But all continued dark and silent, and he was quite confident
that they had gone. He crouched upon the raft again, and drifted with
the current.

As he neared the rapids and narrow places where the water dashed over
its rocky bed, it looked as if he would be unable to keep his seat upon
the raft; but as this was the very section, where, above all others, he
wished to keep his feet off the ground, he grasped the limbs and held
on. He went safely on, although considerable water was splashed over
him, and in a few minutes was in the broad, smooth current below, and so
close to the grove that he trembled with fear.

In the dim moonlight he easily recognized the place, and for a few
seconds he believed he had committed a fatal error in retracing his
route in this fashion; but the silence remained unbroken, and he began
breathing more freely, when all at once one end of the trunk struck the
shore; the other end swung round, but it remained fast, and his journey
for a time was at an end.

Ned was dismayed and at a loss what to do, for the only way of breaking
loose that he could see was to step ashore and shove off. He remained
quiescent a moment or two, in the hope that the raft would loosen
itself; but, as it did not, he sprang ashore for that purpose. As he did
so, he looked around for some sign of his enemies, but there was none,
and the fact gave him assurance that they had really gone.

"They must have had dinner there," was his conclusion, "and maybe they
have left something that I can make use of."

Encouraged by this hope, he moved over the intervening space, and
speedily reached the spot where Lone Wolf and his band had encamped
twenty hours before. As he had taken his departure from the savages
before dinner, he was not really certain that that important meal had
taken place; but he made diligent search, resolved that he would find
out beyond all peradventure. The very best good fortune attended him. He
had hunted but a few minutes, when he trod among the ashes where the
camp fire had been burning. This proved that a meal had been partaken
of, and in this country, so prodigal in the different species of game,
the Indians were not economical in the use of food. Groping around in
the dark, his hands soon came upon a goodly-sized bone, plentifully
covered with meat, which had not been cooked so that it could be called
overdone. A starving wolf could not have devoured this with greater
gusto than did he, nor could a dozen starving wolves have enjoyed it
more than did the poor fellow who had been so long without any
nourishment.

When it was gnawed clean he hunted around for more. There was no lack of
the material, and Ned was thankful beyond expression for this wonderful
piece of good fortune, by which he had escaped from Lone Wolf and his
warriors, and then, when starving, had obtained the food he needed from
them. He ate and ate, and then rested and ate again, until he had
gormandized himself to his utmost capacity, when with a sigh of
happiness, he rose to his feet, and stole back toward the stream where
he had left his craft. It was found there as if waiting expressly for
his return, and, shoving it loose, he made his way to near the middle,
where he crouched down and looked around with a feeling of misgiving and
fear.

"I wonder if it can hold me after such a supper? It is a little lower in
the water, but I guess it can stand it."

Whither the stream was tending was a question for the wanderer to
consider; but as he was without any possible means of determining, he
did not devote much time to the consideration thereof. His purpose was
to get ahead without leaving a trail behind, and that was what he was
doing.



CHAPTER XV.

IN THE SOLITUDE.


Ned designed to drift down stream for a mile or so, by which time he
expected to be at such a distance that there was no further possible
danger of pursuit. It would then be necessary for him to get forward as
fast as he could, taking care to avoid the redskins who were in front,
rather than those in the rear.

He was a little alarmed to find, after going scarcely half that
distance, that the stream was broadening very rapidly. The current as a
consequence, became slower, and when he descried seemingly a large
forest looming up before him, he concluded that the time had about come
for him to disembark, and use his heels. But, prompted somewhat by
curiosity, he remained a while longer, until, before he was aware, he
discovered that the stream had debouched into a lake, nearly circular in
shape, and fully a couple of hundred yards in diameter. The impetus of
the current kept the tree moving slowly and still more slowly, until it
had reached a point near the middle, when it gradually settled down to a
complete standstill.

"That's odd!" exclaimed the lad, looking about him, and seeing the broad
sweep of water on every hand. "If I knew this I think I should have got
off."

It only remained for him to work his way to land, and this he began
doing by using his hands as paddles. It was slow progress; and he was of
the opinion that he had made a rather foolish blunder in permitting
himself to be "carried out to sea" in this fashion. He was disturbed
still further by the appearance of the sky. Dark, threatening clouds
were gathering and sweeping across it, frequently shutting out the light
of the moon and causing the most grotesque shadows to whisk over the
surface of the lake.

The indications were that a violent storm was close at hand, and he used
both hands with all the vigor at his command, and saw himself gradually
nearing land--the rate being so moderate that it could not keep pace
with his impatience. He was tempted more than once to leap into the
water and swim or wade ashore, but he restrained himself. On one of
these occasions, just as a heavy cloud approached the moon, and while
his raft was a dozen yards or so from shore, he was alarmed at sight of
something approaching him through the water. What it was he could not
conjecture, as it was low down, and very indistinct on account of the
gathering gloom.

As the cloud touched the moon and obscured the light, this suspicious
object disappeared, and he awaited with no little alarm the outcome of
the mystery. He was sitting motionless, looking and listening, when the
end of the tree was suddenly elevated a full foot, while the other
correspondingly descended.

With a gasp of terror, Ned clutched the limb near him and held on, not
knowing whither he was about to be flung. A muttering growl at the same
instant explained what it all meant, and he hastily retreated still
further upon the tree, expecting every moment to feel the claws of the
wild animal fastened upon him.

"It seems to me that these beasts are after me more than the Indians,"
was his thought, as he drew out his revolver, and awaited the necessity
of using it.

Further than placing his paws upon one end of the trunk, and giving out
a threatening growl, the animal did nothing for a few minutes, while the
boy, fully sensible of the value of his ammunition, was equally lacking
in offensive proceedings. Thus matters stood, while the great heavy
cloud floated slowly by the moon, and the head of the unwelcome stranger
gradually came to view.

It was some wild beast, beyond question, but it wasn't a bear. Its eyes,
shining with a phosphorescent glow, and the cavernous growling that
issued from the red jaws, made it seem the most frightful kind of a
monster. Hoping that it was not particularly hungry, Ned tried the scare
game again, flinging up his arms and shouting, and making noises
horrible enough to frighten any one to whom they remained unexplained.
In this case it succeeded admirably. The creature, whatever it was, must
have concluded that it was something besides a boy with which it had
taken passage, and, after indulging in one prolonged stare, dropped back
into the water and paddled straight for shore.

[Illustration: NED TRIED THE SCARE GAME AGAIN, FLINGING UP HIS ARMS AND
SHOUTING]

"I don't think Lone Wolf can follow me all along this route," concluded
the boy, as he resumed his paddling toward shore, and reached it in the
course of the next ten minutes. He had been cramped up in one position
so long that he felt the need of exercise, and started off at a rapid
pace, with no more idea of the precise direction he was following than
if he were blind.

The clouds sweeping across the sky grew heavier and darker, and the
wind, strong and chilling, soughed through the trees of the forest with
a dismal, wailing sound that would have frightened one of more years
than young Chadmund. Even he would have shrunk from the task of going
through the wood had the circumstances been different, but he was so
actuated by the one all-controlling desire of escape that he forgot the
real danger which encompassed him. Besides the risk of encountering the
Apaches, there was the ever-present peril from wild beasts and venomous
serpents. None of the latter as yet had disturbed him, but he was likely
to step upon some coiling reptile, unseen in the dark, whose sting was
certain death.

It soon became apparent that a storm of a most violent character was
about to burst forth. The wind grew stronger and colder, lightning
flashed athwart the darkening sky, and the thunder boomed with an
increasing power peculiar to warm countries. The wanderer had been
fortunate thus far in preserving himself from a ducking, and he was
still desirous of doing so. There was nothing to be gained by pressing
forward, and he began groping around for some kind of a shelter. This
was difficult to find, as the gloom was so dense that eyesight was
useless, and he could only use his hands.

"I guess I'll have to climb a tree," he thought, running his hand along
the bark of one.

But at this juncture he ran against a rock, striking with such violence
that he saw stars. As soon as he recovered he began an examination, and
was not a little pleased to find that under one portion of it there was
a hollow big enough for him to crawl in and protect himself from the
tempest. He had scarcely done so when the storm burst forth.

First a few large drops pattered upon the leaves, and then it seemed as
if the windows of Heaven had been opened. The rain descended in
torrents, the firmament flamed with a blinding intensity--and the earth
trembled with the reverberating thunder. The vivid sheets of electric
fire made the darkness and gloom deeper by contrast. The trees, with
their swaying branches, and the spear-like columns of rain, stood out
and vanished again so rapidly that the vision of the appalled lad was
dazzled and bewildered. The terrific shocks coming simultaneously with
the lightning, proved that the thunderbolts were falling all around him,
and again and again he thanked that Providence which had dissuaded him
from taking refuge in some of the trees.

_Crash!_

Directly in front of him, an immense giant of the forest was smitten
from top to base, the limbs, leaves, and splinters hurled in every
direction, as if a thousand pounds of powder had been exploded within.
The air was so surcharged with electricity that Ned felt the effect. A
prickling sensation down one entire side of his body was followed by a
partial numbness and paralysis that alarmed him. With his other hand he
hastily rubbed his limbs, and turned and twisted, fearing that he was
becoming helpless.

In a few minutes he regained the strength which had temporarily
departed, and then noticed that the storm was subsiding as rapidly as it
had arisen. The thunder died out in sullen mutterings; the lightning
flashed fitfully, often without any perceptible report following, and
the deluge diminished to a few drops.

"The storm is over, thank heaven!" he exclaimed. "As I have such a good
bed, I may as well stay here till morning."

But at this instant his blood almost froze at the sudden discovery of a
new and deadly peril.



CHAPTER XVI.

AMONG THE MOUNTAINS.


Young Chadmund heard the unmistakable warning of a rattlesnake that was
somewhere near him, and on the very point of striking. Precisely where
it was, it was impossible to determine with any certainty; but there was
no time to consider the matter. It seemed to him in that brief second he
devoted to thought that the venomous reptile lay a little to the left,
and he scrambled out of his place with all the celerity at his command.

The wonderful quickness of this usually sluggish snake, when about to
deal its deadly blow is well known, and, had the boy moved with twice
the rapidity that he did, Ned could not have escaped that lightning-like
dart of the snake, which was aimed straight at his foot, that being the
part of the body which was nearest his coil. The fangs struck the side
of his shoe, which happened to move at the very instant the blow was
made, and, piercing the leather, held the reptile fast,--"Hoist by his
own petard," as it were,--so that, when Ned scrambled out from his
shelter, he felt the horrid thing dangling at his heels.

With presence of mind hardly to be expected at such a time, he arose to
his feet, and holding the attached foot motionless, with the other he
hastily stamped all the life from the writhing rattlesnake. This done he
freed the shoe by a jerk, although it tore the fangs of the reptile from
its jaws.

"I think I'd better dust out of here," said the lad, breathlessly. "I
remember that Corporal Hugg told me that where you found one of those
things you are pretty sure of running against another close by, and I
don't care about seeing any, especially when it's so dark you can't see
at all."

He stepped carefully forth in the darkness, and, moving a few feet,
paused to listen. The rain had ceased falling entirely, and only the
faintest mutter of the distant thunder reached his ears. The darkness
was absolutely impenetrable, and the wind, as it soughed through the wet
branches, made the most dreary and dismal wailing--enough to strike
despair to the bravest heart.

The boy had listened but a moment when a slight rustling among the
leaves at his feet filled him with a sudden conviction that a second
rattlesnake was after him. He left the spot expeditiously, not halting
until he was sure that he was beyond reach of the unwelcome visitant,
which, it is well known, is not much given to pursuing its prey.

"Hang it!" he exclaimed, "there ain't much fun in this. I wish daylight
would come, so that I could see what to do."

His situation was exceedingly uncomfortable. Everything was soaked with
water, and he could not walk without shaking down the moisture from the
laden branches and undergrowth. He knew of but one place wherein he
could secure protection and that was beneath the rock where he had so
narrowly escaped the rattlesnake, but he was not very anxious to make
his way back there.

While he stood debating what to do, he noticed that the sky was rapidly
clearing, the black, tumultuous clouds rolling away from the face of the
moon, which soon shone out with all its wonted power. This was a vast
help, for, despite the dense shadows made by the heavy branches
overhead, he was able to see enough to pick his way and noticed that the
forest directly in front was quite open, indicating that he was close to
the termination. Thus encouraged, he pressed ahead and soon had the
satisfaction of finding that he was through the woods and on the border
of an open, rocky ravine, through which he could hear a stream rushing
with great violence, and which he took to be the outlet of the little
lake that had been overcharged by the recent severe storm. So far as he
could see by the moonlight, great masses of rock, boulders and broken
prairie stretched out before him, and he asked himself how he was to
make his way.

He concluded not to make the attempt just then, but, hunting out a place
among the rocks, he crawled into it, first making sure, by a careful
reconnaissance that no rattlesnakes had crept in ahead of him. He was
permitted to remain undisturbed through the night, and when he opened
his eyes the sun was shining directly in upon him. The boy then hastily
sprang up, his heart full of gratitude to God for the wondrous manner in
which his life had been preserved, and the remarkable success which had
followed his attempt at escape from the Apaches.

With the coming of the glorious sunlight, Ned naturally felt buoyant and
hopeful. He was not without considerable appetite, but he had eaten so
heartily, on the previous evening, that he felt that he could afford to
wait until night again; and he still had that impatient, almost
unreasoning desire to get forward, which made him feel like breaking
into a run, and keeping it up until he was out of breath.

But, young as was the little fellow, he was old enough to feel that the
time had come when he must use all the brains in his command. Up to that
hour, as will be understood, he had been journeying entirely at random,
his sole purpose being to get beyond reach of Lone Wolf and his band. He
had accomplished this, and a radical change of tactics must be made.

If Ned Chadmund had been a half dozen years older, he would have
recoiled at the prospect before him; but he was so young and full of
animal spirits that he did not really comprehend the difficulty and
danger. He had traveled very little more than half the distance between
Santa Fe and Fort Havens, and his purpose was to press ahead until the
latter was reached. To do this, it was necessary that he should make his
way through the mountains in which he now found himself, and then to
journey a couple of hundred miles through or over prairie, and across
streams, before he could reach the frontier post, where his father was
so anxiously awaiting his coming. The project seemed nothing short of
madness; but its justification lay in the fact that the wanderer had the
choice of attempting that or lying down and dying where he was. He could
do nothing but choose the former.

Ned climbed up to an elevated position and took an observation--his
purpose, after learning whether any present danger threatened, being to
learn the direction it was necessary to follow in order to reach Fort
Havens.

"Corporal Hugg told me that after we reached Devil's Pass, it was in a
straight line West. The trail winds in and out, as it has to do, but all
one had to do was to dig ahead, and he would be sure to come out right
in the end--that is, if the Indians and wild animals would only let him.
Well, right yonder rose the sun," he continued, very carefully
continuing his observation. "That must be the east, and all I have to do
is to keep that at my back until it gets over my head and wears round to
the front. So off we go."

There was one favorable accompaniment of this first thoughtful effort to
reach home. The valley-like depression that had caught his eye upon
rising ran precisely in the direction to be desired--due east and
west--so that he had the best facility in the world for getting through
the mountains. Still another favorable augury was that the general
direction pursued by the Apaches was the same, and the fact was, there
was very little still intervening between him and the open prairie
beyond. Should his progress remain uninterrupted through the day, by
nightfall he would be close to the prairie, which stretched away so many
miles in the direction of the frontier post.

"I don't think it's as much as two hundred miles," he said, as he
started off at a rapid walk. "I can make thirty miles a day, so that I
will be there at the end of a week, if nothing unexpected gets in the
way. Won't father be surprised when he sees me walk up, and won't I be
surprised if I manage to do it, also!"



CHAPTER XVII.

A MYSTERIOUS CAMP FIRE.


For a couple of hours young Chadmund had difficulty in traveling.
Despite the fact that he was in a sort of valley, with towering peaks
and bluffs upon either hand, a great many boulders and obstructions
obtruded themselves in his path, and he did some climbing, clambering,
and jumping that would have reflected no discredit upon a mountain goat.
The forenoon was about half gone, and he was felicitating himself upon
the excellent progress he was making, when he was brought up all
standing by finding himself upon the bank of a mountain stream, which
crossed his route exactly at right angles, issuing from the mountains on
the left with a rush and roar and pouring tumultuously forward with
irresistible power and velocity.

"I can't wade that," said the lad, scratching his head in perplexity,
"and it won't do to try and swim it. If I once got in there it would be
the last of me."

There could be no doubt of that, for the stream was fully twenty feet in
width, very deep, and sped forward like the volume of a river when
suddenly compressed into a mountain canyon. It was walled in on either
side by solid rock, the surface of the water being a couple of yards
below the level where he stood.

"I wonder whether I can't go round it?" he said, after spending some
time in mental debate. "It can't run all the way through the mountain,
but must start somewhere not very far away."

This was not a very plausible theory; but as nothing was to be gained by
standing still, he started out upon his tour of exploration. Better
success followed than he expected. He had started toward the head of the
stream and had clambered along less than a hundred yards, when he
reached a place where it was so narrow that he was confident of his
ability to leap across.

"Yes, I can do that," he said, approaching close to the edge and looking
over the boiling abyss to the solid rock upon the other side. "But
suppose I should miss my footing, wouldn't I catch it!"

It was a pretty good leap, but Ned was active, strong and swift, and he
had made many a longer leap than the one before him. For a minute longer
he stood, measuring the distance with his eye. Then going backward a few
steps, he suddenly ran forward with all the speed at his command, and,
concentrating all his strength, made such a leap that he cleared the
chasm by a couple of feet.

"There!" he exclaimed, with some satisfaction, "if none of the streams
are broader than that, I'll jump them all."

Still full of hope and in the best of spirits he pressed forward until
the sun was at the meridian and the heat became so oppressive that he
concluded to rest awhile. He was in a section of country where, at
certain seasons, the heat is like that of the Desert of Sahara. There
are portions of Arizona and Lower California where the fervor of the
sun's rays at noonday smite the earth with the withering power of the
sirocco.

At times, when Ned was down in the lowest portions of the valley, the
heat was almost intolerable; and then, again, when he clambered to the
top of some elevation, and the cool breezes from the upper regions
fanned his cheeks, it was like a draught of water to the fever-parched
patient.

He had lain on the ground under the protecting shadow of a rock but a
short time when his eye rested upon something which convinced him that
he was not the only one in the valley. Looking dreamily off toward the
west, up the valley, with the mountains sloping down on the right and
left, he noticed what at first seemed a thin bluish cloud, resting
against the sky. Then he observed that its form was a little out of the
usual order, it being column-shaped, tall, and like a shaft of almost
invisible vapor, thrown against the white background beyond.

"That ain't a cloud," he suddenly exclaimed, starting to his feet and
scrutinizing it more closely. "It's the smoke from a camp fire and I've
got to go right by it."

There could be no doubt of the truth of what he said, and he became
deeply interested.

"I wonder whether they're Indians or white men? I suppose it's most
likely they are Apaches, and they may be Lone Wolf and his companions.
I've got to keep a sharp lookout and keep from running into them. If
they are white hunters, that I've heard are sometimes in these
mountains, it will be a lucky thing for me."

Somehow or other he became impressed with the idea that the camp fire
ahead of him was that of friends instead of enemies--that the assistance
which he so sorely needed was thus placed within his reach. He had
learned, long before, that one is apt to miscalculate the distance when
placed as he was; but, making allowance for all that, he was confident
that the camp fire was not more than a mile away. Yielding to a natural
curiosity to learn its meaning, he shortened the hour which he had
intended to devote to rest, and started ahead again.

Once or twice it seemed to him that he had dropped into some sort of
trail, which he was following. Here and there were traces showing that
the route had been traveled before. It seemed to be one of those natural
roads or passes which are found at intervals in all great mountain
chains, and without which, many of of them for vast distances would be
literally impassable for man or animal.

The conviction that he was not the pioneer over that section caused the
young wanderer some misgivings and suggested several discomforting
questions. If Apaches had used the trail already, might not some of them
be upon it? If some of them were coming from the opposite direction, how
was he to avoid running into their arms? These queries were not of the
most cheerful character and they served to tone down the enthusiasm
which had marked his start in the morning. They also caused him to
examine, more times than was really necessary, the revolver which had
already done him such good service, and he went through a preliminary
drill, consisting of placing it inside his waistcoat, a couple of
buttons being left carelessly unfastened; next thrusting his hand
within, in an indifferent manner, then instantly jerking out and
pointing the weapon at an imaginary foe in front of him. This maneuver
he repeated scores of times, narrowly escaping the firing of the weapon,
until he satisfied himself that he could do it to perfection.

"Now, if Lone Wolf comes at me alone, I think I can manage him. He won't
suspect that I've any weapon, and so won't be prepared for it; but I
hope he won't show himself," he added the next minute. "If there's any
way of avoiding him, I'll do it."

However, he was bent upon solving the mystery of the distant camp fire,
which he still hoped might belong to some party of white hunters, who
would take him under their protection and conduct him safely over the
wide and dangerous stretch of territory which still intervened between
him and his destination.

In spite of the careful calculation he had made, he soon learned that he
had committed an error. Although the tell-tale smoke at first seemed
scarcely a mile away, it was more than three times that distance. The
way being more obstructed by rocks and the sinuous winding of the trail,
he saw the sun sinking low in the west and found that he had still no
little traveling to do.

"It can't be that they are shifting that camp fire all the time," he
growled, as he clambered upon an elevation, and was again disappointed
to find it so far away. "Blamed if it don't look as if somebody was
playing a trick on me. I've heard of a jack-o'-lantern bobbing around in
that style, but nothing else."

He finally concluded that the laws of nature were not violated in this
case, and with renewed courage pressed ahead again. The sky was clear
and cloudless, the weather remained oppressively warm, and poor Ned was
so jaded that he felt scarcely able to drag one foot after the other,
but he was stout-hearted, and, just as the sun dipped out of sight
behind the mountains, he found himself within a hundred yards of the
mysterious camp.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE INDIAN FIGHT.


In spite of his great anxiety to learn all there was to be known about
the camp fire, Ned remained where he was for half an hour, until he had
rested somewhat from his severe labor.

The place in which the fire was kindled was elevated, rocky, uneven, and
inclosed by a few stunted trees and undergrowth, so that while the young
scout could catch a glimmer, now and then, of the fire, he could see
nothing more. The only way in which he could perfect his information was
to crawl up still nearer. This he proceeded to do, using all the care
and caution possible, until, after the lapse of nearly an hour, he
reached a point where his view was unobstructed and perfect.

A severe disappointment awaited him. He saw four Indian warriors grouped
around the fire, their dress, and the peculiar manner in which they were
painted, proving that they belonged to some tribe other than the
Apaches. Three of them were occupied in cutting up and preparing the
carcass of some animal, which they had shot, while the fourth was on his
knees in front of the fire, carefully doctoring it for culinary
purposes.

Succeeding Ned's first feeling of disappointment was an undercurrent of
hope that he was in a fair way to obtain another good meal.

"It isn't likely they'll eat up all they've got," he reflected, "and I
don't suppose they're going to settle down there for life. All I've got
to do, then, is to hang round until they go away, and then, if I can get
the chance, I'll stuff enough to last a week."

Having made his reconnaissance he withdrew to a more secret place, where
he would not be seen in case some of the warriors should take a look
around before retiring for the night. It was fortunate that he did so,
for he had scarcely crawled away beneath a dense mass of undergrowth
when he made the discovery that he had placed himself in a curious and
singularly dangerous position.

Twice he fancied he heard a faint rustling in the rear of where he was
crouching, and he was puzzled to know what it meant. He was sharp enough
to protect himself from observation from this direction as well as from
the front, and was no more than fairly secure when he caught the slight
sound again, and the next moment detected the figure of an Indian
stealing along, with his gaze fixed upon the camp fire and the forms
around it.

The lad was naturally puzzled to understand the meaning of this. There
was just enough fire light penetrating to where he was to show him that
this redskin belonged to a different tribe from those in camp. Only a
few minutes passed when he caught the glimpse of another warrior on the
left, crouching along in the same manner as the other. Then followed the
softest possible hiss, such as is made by the disturbed serpent, and, at
that moment, the truth of the whole matter suddenly broke upon Ned
Chadmund.

The strange Indians were quietly preparing their supper, unaware of the
fact that, while they were thus employed, a party of Apaches, their
deadly enemies, were closing in upon them. Thus, it was, too, that,
without the knowledge of either side, the lad was directly between them,
where it would seem impossible that he should escape being involved in
the conflict that was rapidly drawing to a head.

There was no hope of withdrawing, for the slightest movement would be
sure to make known his position, and he could only wait, therefore, the
issue of the encounter with an intensity of interest which it is
impossible to imagine. What could be more painfully interesting, for
instance, than to watch the movements of the strange Indians as they
engaged themselves in preparing their supper, conversing with each other
in their grunting fashion, and to note their unconsciousness that a
circle of death was slowly but surely closing in around them; to know,
which they did not suspect, that the most deadly kind of encounter was
close at hand? The endangered party certainly showed a lack of
precaution which belongs to their people in the most ordinary cases when
they went into camp in this fashion, and left the way open for such a
deadly and fatal assault to be made upon them. It must have been that
while engaged in the chase during the day they had made their
observations, and satisfied themselves that none of their enemies were
in dangerous proximity.

The odor of the cooking meat crept through the bushes to the nostrils of
the hungry lad, who was almost maddened into charging upon the party
himself in quest of some of the brown, crisp, roasting meat; but he
restrained himself, in the hope that the issue of the unpleasantness
would furnish him an opportunity to procure something for the inner man.

An Indian upon the warpath is as patient as the Esquimau who watches for
a dozen hours beside the airhole, waiting for the seal to come to the
surface. According to all human reasoning, there was no earthly
necessity for any delay upon the part of the attacking Apaches, and yet,
for full an hour longer, they maneuvered and reconnoitered, without
striking a blow. Despite the tense condition of the lad's nerves, he
began to grow drowsy and weary at the prolonged delay, and had the
attack been deferred a short time longer, he would have dropped into a
sound slumber.

The four strange Indians were permitted to finish their supper, and to
engage in a comfortable smoke. This, however, was never completed. They
were stretched out upon the ground in the most indolent manner
imaginable, when several rifles suddenly broke the stillness, the Apache
war whoop rang out with startling power, and a number of figures charged
through the bushes like a horde of demons, all converging upon the group
around the camp fire. Two of the latter had been instantly killed by the
first volley poured in upon them. The others were wounded, but they were
on their feet in an instant, fighting with the fury of tigers.

The battle was of the hurricane order, the third defender going down
within a minute after the assaulting party closed in about them. The
fourth, who was only slightly hurt seemed to have been caught at less
disadvantage. He was a warrior of wonderful activity and strength, and
used his hunting knife with good effect upon his first and second
assailants with lightening-like quickness. Then as they began to crowd
in upon him faster than he could provide against he circled his weapon
around his head several times, so as to clear a brief open space, when,
with a yell of defiance, he bounded high in the air, and vanished in the
forest, his speed so amazing that it was vain for any one to think of
pursuing him.

The battle ended as abruptly as it began. It was over in an instant, and
the petrified spectator could scarcely realize what had taken place
directly under his own eyes. He lay motionless, peering through the
leaves that shut him in, scarcely daring to breathe as he watched the
movements of the victors. He could scarcely suppress an exclamation of
terror when he recognized among them his old captor and enemy, Lone
Wolf.

"Just think of it," whispered Chadmund. "I have spent hours and hours,
and have traveled night and day to get away from him, and here he is,
within fifty feet of me again. How can I keep him from seeing my trail
again in the morning? It does beat everything how this thing is getting
mixed."

He took heart again, however, when he came to reflect that the greater
part of the night was still before him, that Lone Wolf had undoubtedly
given up all expectation of finding him, and, by using ordinary caution,
he could still keep clear of him.

The Apaches did not remain long upon the scene of the encampment. The
two of their own number that had been killed were lifted up, and then
Lone Wolf and his few intrepid warriors took their departure. Thus it
happened that within fifteen minutes after the first gun had been fired,
and the first yell uttered, the boy found himself alone upon the scene
of the terrible fight. Dreadful as were the place and the associations,
he could not forget that he was nearly famished, and stealing his way to
the fire, he hunted around until he found enough to satisfy the cravings
within. This done, he made up his mind that it was best for him to do
some traveling during the darkness, without waiting for the rising of
the morrow's sun.



CHAPTER XIX.

A TERRIBLE MEETING.


As he moved along, weary and worn, the memory of the horrid fight he had
seen by the camp fire, and especially the picture of those three stark,
bloody forms that lay stretched upon the earth, seemingly watching every
movement he made, followed and weighed him down like some smothering
incubus. Then he saw, more vividly than ever before, the mountainous
task ahead. With no horse, and the hundreds of miles of mountain and
prairie, with the dangers besetting him on every hand, what possible
hope had he for believing he was ever to reach his destination? The
gloom of the night, the shadow of what he had so recently witnessed, and
his own exhausted condition, no doubt had much to do with the distress;
for his prospects were certainly as good as at morning, when he was so
full of enthusiasm.

"I can't travel any further," he finally exclaimed, "and what's the use?
It won't do any good."

When he paused in his wearisome tramp, he happened to be close to a
tree, quite lofty, with numerous limbs, some of which were quite near
the ground. It struck him at once that it would be a good plan to climb
into this, and ensconce himself among the branches. At any rate, he was
certain to be out of the way of the crawling snakes, and no wild animal
could steal upon him while he was unconscious.

Without pausing more than a moment to consider, he ascended the tree,
and, a short distance from the ground secured the very position he
wanted. Here the limbs crossed and recrossed, and gnarled themselves in
such a way, that the most pleasant kind of bed imaginable was found, and
he stretched out his weary limbs upon it, thanking Heaven that had
guided him to such a favorable place.

"I hope Lone Wolf won't be able to follow me here," was the wish he
expressed, as he resigned himself to slumber.

But gentle sleep had not yet closed his eyelids when he was alarmed by
hearing something beneath him. His first supposition was that it was
Lone Wolf, for the sound resembled the stealthy tread of some person
upon the soft earth; but after listening a few minutes he became
satisfied that it was some animal instead.

"It's a wolf or panther that has scented my trail," was his conclusion,
as he leaned over and peered cautiously down among the branches.

The moon shone more brightly than upon any night since he had started,
but the shadow of the trees themselves obscured his view so much that
his vision was of little use to him. It seemed to him, however, when he
looked downward in this fashion, that once or twice he caught sight of a
shadowy creature, whisking back and forth, leaping about like a dog, and
apparently ready to make a bound upward among the branches.

But he could not make certain of what he saw, although there could be no
doubt but that he heard something, and that some kind of a dangerous
creature was close at hand.

"I guess he isn't going to hurt me," was his conclusion, after watching
and listening a half hour, and after finding a heavy drowsiness was
stealing over him. In this comfortable state of mind, he soon closed his
eyes, and relapsed into a deep, refreshing sleep, which lasted an hour
or more, when it ended in a peculiar manner. Very few boys are apt to
lie quiet in their beds, and Ned Chadmund, in turning over upon his
side, turned completely out of bed, and dropped through the branches to
the ground.

The fall was so slight that it did not hurt him, except in the
disagreeable shock that was inevitable. It flashed on him on the
instant, and, recalling those stealthy footsteps that had so frightened
him, he instantly sprang for the trunk, and began climbing with all the
haste at his command. He was almost within reach of the limbs, when he
heard a growl, and some denizen of the forest came plunging toward him.

With a thrill of terror, the lad made a tremendous effort, caught the
limb with one hand, swung his leg over and drew himself up. As he did
so, he felt distinctly the wind made by the body of the beast, as it
leaped upward, and snapped with his huge jaws at his legs, which were
withdrawn from its fangs just as they closed together. The creature,
whatever it was, made a running leap, that carried him some distance
beyond, when he struck the ground and ran a few leaps before turning
about and retracing his steps.

Without waiting to gain a more distinct view, the lad crept back to his
perch, where he tremblingly awaited the moment when it was to bound up
among the limbs and attack him. After gaining his former position, he
sat for a few minutes shivering like one with the ague, forgetting even
to think of the revolver with which to defend himself in case the brute
assaulted him. But it may have been that the dumb creature believed that
he was already frightened to death, and there was no occasion for
attempting anything further. At any rate nothing more was seen or heard
of him.

Ned had been too thoroughly shaken up to gain any more sleep. He sat
through the remaining hours of the night without closing his eyes a
moment in slumber. They were the longest and the dreariest that he ever
spent, but when the welcome light of morning came his foe had departed.

The wanderer waited a half hour or more, and carefully reconnoitered the
grounds before descending; but, assured that the coast was clear, he
came down to _terra firma_ again and took up his line of march. His fear
now was that his presence in the neighborhood might be discovered by
Lone Wolf or some of his band, and, scarcely pausing long enough to
swallow a few mouthfuls of water from a stream near at hand, he hastened
forward, with his face toward the west.

It became evident, after journeying a short distance, that he was again
following a distinctly-marked trail, one that was originally made by
animals, most probably buffaloes, in their migrations from one section
to another, and had been taken advantage of by men whose business or
inclinations called them in the same direction. Here and there he saw
marks that had been made by the hoofs of horses, and more than once he
was certain he observed the trail of moccasins. The path was more direct
and less laborious to travel, and he began to believe that, if he were
left alone, he might succeed in reaching safety at some time or other.

For some two hours he tramped along through a section that gradually
lost its mountainous character as he neared the rolling prairie beyond.
He kept continually looking back and around him, on the alert for
Indians; but not a sign was discovered, until he approached an
exceptionally rocky place, where the trail wound round the masses of
stone at such a sharp angle that the view was less than a dozen feet.

With no thought of danger, Ned walked around this corner, and on the
instant found himself face to face with a swarthy Indian warrior who
must have seen him approaching, and, dismounting from his horse, stood
back and awaited his approach. That astounded look revealed not only
this, but that the Indian was Lone Wolf.

Fate had brought the two together again, at the very time the heart of
the weary fugitive was beating high with hope. There was no chance for
retreat or hope of avoiding him. The eyes of the painted Apache glowed
with a demoniac light, and his fingers twitched as he placed his right
hand upon the buckhorn handle of a knife at his girdle.

"You run away--you see well--you lie--now I will cut out your eyes, and
you will not see to run away again!"

There was no doubt that such was the purpose of the warrior, as he
advanced upon the lad, who suddenly thrust his hand into his waistcoat
for his revolver.

It was gone!

During the night it had dropped out without being noticed, and he was
absolutely defenseless. He was breathless, paralyzed with terror.

"Yes, I will cut out your eyes, and then you will not see to run away,"
added the chief, striding toward him.

"Hold on thar, my copper-colored friend! This 'ere is a little row you
kin settle with me, instead of that boy thar. Try that knife on my eyes,
and while you're doing it, I'll try mine on yourn."

[Illustration: "THIS 'ERE IS A LITTLE ROW YOU KIN SETTLE WITH ME,
INSTEAD OF THAT BOY THAR."]

It was Tom Hardynge, the scout, who spoke thus opportunely.



CHAPTER XX.

WHITE VS. RED.


The hunter seemed to step forth from some crevice in the rocks, wherein
he had been concealed, and strode forward in such a manner that Lone
Wolf saw him at the very instant the first word was uttered.

The latter withdrew his gaze from the boy and turned with lightning-like
swiftness upon his adversary, while the latter, as cool and
self-possessed as if he were about to slice up an antelope or buffalo,
continued approaching with his hunting knife firmly clasped in his right
hand. The Indian, perceiving the character of the fight, flung his rifle
several yards from him, where it was beyond the reach of both, and
recoiling a single step, put himself in form to receive the charge of
his assailant.

"Ned, my boy," said the latter, without looking at him, "get back.
There's no telling what may happen."

This was no more than a prudent caution. The fight was over the boy, and
if Lone Wolf should find the battle going against him, he would resort
to any treacherous trick by which to destroy the prize,--such, for
instance, as a sudden dart upon the unsuspecting spectator and the
plunging of his knife to his heart before the active hunter could thwart
him. Ned obeyed his rescuer, whom he had never seen before, and stepped
back full a dozen yards from the combatants, but with his eyes intently
fixed upon them.

Tom was not the man to advance blindly to the assault, for none knew
better than he did the character of the foe he was about to assail.
When, therefore, he was just within striking distance, he paused, and,
with his grey eyes centered upon the black, snake-like orbs of the
chief, began circling around him in a stealthy cat-like movement, on the
lookout for some opening of which he might take advantage.

"Lone Wolf is a coward and a dog," he growled between his set teeth. "He
fights with pappooses, but he is afraid of men."

This was said with the sole purpose of exasperating the warrior, who
would thus have been placed at a slight disadvantage; but he was already
like a concentrated volcano--calm outwardly, but surcharged with fire
and death within. The taunt did not move his nerves an iota, and he
replied in words which were scarcely less irritating.

"It is the boasting dog which never hurts. If Lone Wolf is a dog, why
are you so afraid to come within his reach?"

The words were yet in his mouth when the scout dashed forward like a
catapult and struck a tremendous blow, driven with such directness and
swiftness that it could not have been parried. At the very instant
Hardynge made the charge, Lone Wolf did the same, and the two similar
blows, aimed at the same moment, encountered half way with such terrible
violence that both knives were hurled twenty feet beyond over the cliff
at their side, and irrevocably beyond their reach. This left them with
no weapons except such as nature had provided them with, and, now that
their blood was up and each was smarting under the pain of the first
collision, they immediately closed in and grappled each other like a
couple of infuriated gladiators.

Hardynge was a marvel of strength and activity, and so was the Apache.
The two were nearly evenly matched, a slight superiority in wrestling
attaching to the white man, who, after a furious struggle of a minute or
so, flung his antagonist as flat as could be, upon his back. He struck
like an India-rubber ball, and, before Tom could fasten him down, so as
to hold him, bounded up again and renewed his fight without a second's
hesitation.

"The devil take you!" growled the maddened hunter, as he let drive a
sledgehammer-like blow straight from the shoulder.

It encountered the chief fairly upon the forehead, with a force
apparently sufficient to crush his skull, but it only sent him reeling
back several paces, when his sinewy activity saved him from falling.
With the same unhesitating promptness he charged as before.

"If that skull ain't more than six inches thick, it'll go this time,"
muttered Tom, as he gathered all his strength and sent out his fist like
the thrust of a piston rod.

But Lone Wolf was expecting it and a quick flirt of the head to one side
let the mallet go harmlessly by, while the impetus of his own blow threw
Hardynge forward several steps, and narrowly escaped carrying him off
his feet altogether. With an exasperating taunt the chief landed a blow
upon the face of his antagonist as he shot by, and, catching him about
the shoulder before he could recover, flung him to the ground with great
violence, falling heavily upon him.

Had the knife of the Apache been in his hand at this juncture he would
have ended the struggle in short order; but he was without the means of
improving his advantage, and before he knew it he was turned from the
chest of the prostrate man. And this critical moment, when the issue of
the contest was very doubtful, a second figure came out from the rocks,
and approached the combatants. It was that of Dick Morris, who coolly
asked:

"Sha'n't I knock him on the head, Tom, and end this little row?"

"No," fairly shouted the enraged hunter, as they hammered away at each
other. "If you do it, I'll knock you on the head. This is a fair and
square fight in which the best man wins. If I can't knock thunder and
lightning out of this redskin, let him knock it out of me. Stand back!"

"All right," replied Dick, very contentedly, walking to where the
enthralled Ned Chadmund stood and asking him whether he wished to stake
a little wager on the result.

The appearance of this third party ended the contest in a manner neither
of the whites anticipated. The words of Tom Hardynge, declining the
assistance of his friend, were understood by Lone Wolf; but, treacherous
and faithless himself, he regarded them as only a part of a trap in
which he was to be caught, and his whole purpose was to get out of the
dilemma as quickly as possible. However hopeful he might be in a single
hand-to-hand encounter with one of the men, he was not vain enough to
think that he could master both. In their struggling they had approached
quite close to the cliff, and Lone Wolf made a determined attempt to
throw Tom over. By a little feinting and dodging, he managed to get him
between himself and the edge and then began pressing him furiously.

"That's your game, is it?" exclaimed the scout. "If it is, sail in, and
may the best man win."

Both were striking very wildly, when, hastily parrying several blows,
Hardynge made a sudden rush, closed in, grasping the chief around the
waist, and, lifting him clear of the ground, ran to the edge of the
cliff and flung him over!

But Hardynge was outwitted. This was the very thing for which Lone Wolf
had maneuvered so slyly. The cliff was not more than twenty feet in
height, and when the hunter peered over the margin, expecting to see his
enemy dashed to pieces at a great depth below, he saw him land as
lightly as a panther upon his feet and then whisk out of sight among the
rocks.

"Thunder and blazes!" he exclaimed, when he comprehended the little
trick that had been played upon him. Jerking off his hat, he slammed it
impatiently to the ground, and turning to his comrade, said:

"Did you ever see a bigger fool than me?"

"Don't think I ever did," was the serious reply.

"Never thought what the Injun was after till it was too late to hinder
him."

"I knowed it all the time. This ere little chap could have seed as much
himself," was the tantalizing reply.

"Why didn't you sing out, then, when you seed me pick him up and start
to throw him over?"

"'Cause I thought you was only fooling. Do you know there's a reward of
five hundred dollars offered for Lone Wolf, dead or alive? See what you
have lost?"

"Who offered it?" demanded Tom.

"Colonel Chadmund told me that old Captain Alvarez, that owns a big
ranch near Santa Fe, lost a thousand cattle by a stampede that he had
got up, and he's the man that has promised a hundred times to give that
reward to whoever wipes out the chief."

"Anything else to tell?" said Hardynge, disgustedly.

"Yes. When Colonel Chadmund told me that, he punched me slyly in the
side, and says, 'And yes, Dick, I'll put another five hundred on top of
it.'"

"Hain't you got a little more such news?" asked poor Tom, who was
wondering whether it was possible to feel any more angered or disgusted
with himself than he now felt.

"No--that'll do just now. I think you've had enough."



CHAPTER XXI.

FRIENDS TOGETHER.


Up to this stage the two hunters had found no opportunity to pay much
heed to Ned, who had been rescued so narrowly from horrible cruelty. Tom
Hardynge now advanced to where he stood, and thrust out his hand, his
face one broad grin.

"How are ye, my lad? We've had a long tramp for ye, and come mighty nigh
bein' too late."

"Have _you_ been looking for me?" asked the boy, in amazement.

"Yes, sir, we've been on the hunt for some days."

"How is that?"

Dick Morris briefly explained how Colonel Chadmund had received warning
through a friendly Indian runner of the projected massacre of the
cavalry escort. Knowing that it was impossible to forward reinforcements
to them in time, and that Lone Wolf was aiming specially to get his
hands upon his little boy, he had sent Dick post-haste with orders to
intercept Tom, if possible, and both had been instructed to secure
possession of the lad by any possible means in their power.

After a cautious investigation at the outset, when they arrived at
Devil's Pass, they found that the massacre had taken place almost
twenty-four hours before. The sight was a terrible one, such as made
even them shudder. The horses and soldiers lay scattered here and there,
just as they fell. The beasts of the forest had offered them no
disturbance, probably because there were more inviting feasts elsewhere.
But in the warm summer air the bloody, hacked faces were discolored and
swollen beyond recognition. The hunters rode carefully along, and
counted the whole thirteen, and when they found the overturned and
wrecked ambulance and the dead horse a short distance beyond they were
able to hit the right theory. It was in this carriage that young
Chadmund had been riding when he was captured, and the scouts set out at
once upon the trail of the Apache war-party.

It was all easy enough to follow the warriors, but Tom and Dick were
hopelessly puzzled when they came up with the redskins, saw Lone Wolf
and his brother warriors, and made the discovery that the boy was not
with them. It was a most trying problem to them--the only solution being
that they had grown impatient with the boy and put him to death; and
yet, as the trail had been followed and narrowly watched, it seemed
impossible that such a thing should have taken place without the
pursuers finding it out before this. Dick Morris suggested that the
captive, by some providential interference, had managed to give them the
slip, but Tom could not believe it among the possibilities. If such were
the case, there were no means of learning when or where it had been
done, and the scouts were as completely cut off from pursuit of the boy
as were the Apaches themselves.

In this dilemma there was little to do except to make a general hunt for
him, keeping all the time within striking distance of the Apaches, as
they did not think that the fugitive could have gotten very far from
them. The hunters carefully secreted their animals, and tramped over the
mountains and through ravines, gorges, and woods, until, on this
eventful forenoon they discovered Lone Wolf ahead of them, acting as
though he had detected something particularly gratifying. The shrewd
scouts suspected the truth on the instant. The Apache was also searching
for the lad, and, guided by a greater knowledge, had discovered him. And
so he crouched down in the rocks, not knowing that two other figures
shortly after crouched behind him. Then, after the story had been told,
as the three moved off together, Dick Morris having picked up the rifle
which Lone Wolf cast from him as the contest was about to open, Ned
Chadmund gave him his version of that terrible attack and slaughter in
Devil's Pass, and of what had followed since. When he came to explain
the clever manner in which he dodged the Apaches, his listeners were
delighted. Dick slapped him upon the back, and Tom insisted upon shaking
hands again. It was a favorite way the old fellow had of expressing his
overwhelming delight at anything he saw or heard.

"If you'll put yourself under our trainin'," he added, "we'll make a
hunter of ye in the course of a dozen or fifteen years, more or less."

But Ned had no interest in hunting matters just then. He wanted to get
out of that dangerous neighborhood, and to reach Fort Havens with as
little delay as possible.

"How far is it?" he asked, as the trio moved along the trail.

"We can make it in two or three days, I think," said Tom. "Some parts of
the way, though, is rather rough, and it may take us longer."

"You don't expect to walk it, do you?"

They assured him that they had no intention of doing any such thing.
Their horses were secreted in a gorge about three miles distant, and as
soon as they could be reached they would mount them and speed away for
Fort Havens.

"And we'll do it, too, at a gait that'll beat any mustang that Lone Wolf
has ever straddled," added Dick, exultingly. "When a chap goes into the
Injun country, he must fetch the best hoss flesh he can steal."

"But I haven't any horse," said Ned, with a laugh. "What's to become of
me when you're riding?"

Tom explained that there could be no difficulty about that. Such a
trifling additional weight would not be suspected by either of the
animals.

"Where do you suppose Lone Wolf is?" asked the boy, looking furtively
around, unable to free himself of the belief that they were not through
with him yet.

"He's gone back to his party; they've split since you left 'em. About
thirty started yesterday forenoon for the Apache villages to the
south'ard, and the tother twenty are in camp off here a mile or so."

As Tom spoke, he pointed to the west, in among the mountains, and in a
direction at right angles to what he was pursuing himself.

"Our road twists round a little," he added, "and when we get to where we
left the animals, we'll be 'bout as far away from the Apaches as we are
now. What's better, there's some mighty rough travelin' between us and
them, such as no hosses can git over."

"But Indians can, can't they?"

"I rather guess so. What's the matter, my boy?" asked Tom, looking down
upon him as they picked along. "You're talkin' as if you was thinkin'
'bout Injuns all the time."

"That's what I've had to do for the last three or four days. Lone Wolf
managed to get away from you, and where do you think he is? What do you
think he means to do?"

As the boy asked this question, he glanced around in such a timid,
apprehensive way, that his companions laughed. It was natural that the
lad should have these misgivings, especially as it seemed to him that
his friends were using no precautions at all to prevent a treacherous
surprise upon the part of the Apaches. To relieve his fears, they
convinced him that they were on the alert, and did not fail to note
everything.

They expected, in the natural course of events, that Lone Wolf would
make all haste back to camp, and take every means of revenging himself
and securing possession of the boy again. Indeed, this was all he could
do. He had no rifle with which to fire a stealthy shot at them, and it
was necessary that he should first return to his warriors before
striking a blow. To do all this required time sufficient to permit the
three to reach the gorge, mount their animals, and get fairly under way
before he and his warriors could possibly put in an appearance. Tom and
Dick, therefore, could not be accused of undue recklessness in taking
matters in such a leisurely fashion. They assured their young friend
still further that they were on the eastern margin of the prairie, and,
after starting with their mustangs, had a clear, open course before
them.

It was somewhat past noon when they entered the ravine, which had
already been described to Ned, and, while the latter remained to talk
with Morris, Tom moved on further and down in a more secluded place, in
quest of their mustangs, which had been left grazing upon the rich,
succulent grass, beside a running stream of mountain water. All were in
high spirits, and our hero was as buoyant and cheerful as the others,
when they saw their friend returning empty-handed.

"What's up?" asked Dick.

"The Injuns have stole our mustangs!"

"Sure?"

"Yes--plenty of moccasin tracks--but not cussed sign of a single hoss,"
was the sour reply.



CHAPTER XXII.

ANXIOUS WAITING.


This was astounding news, indeed, and for a few minutes the two veteran
hunters were completely taken back. They had considered the place where
their animals were picketed as being so secure that the contingency of
losing them was not thought of until it came upon them with the
suddenness mentioned.

"They didn't find them themselves," growled Tom, as if determined on
finding consolation in that fact; "they've stumbled onto 'em
accidental-like, and then rid off, as though they were smart enough to
be reg'lar hoss-thieves."

"Have you seen the trail?" asked Dick.

"Yes."

"Whereaway does it lead?"

The hunter replied by pointing toward the northwest, among the hills and
mountains in the wildest portion of the country.

A hurried consultation now took place between them, and it was resolved
to recover the two mustangs. They counted it easy to secure a couple of
the Indian ponies; but among them all were none which, in their own
estimation, could compare with their own, and they were determined not
to leave the country until they were regained. The most skillful Apache
may succeed in hiding his own trail at times, but he cannot cover that
of his horse so that the trained scout will fail to find it.

It was found that the mustangs had been ridden away without being
accompanied by other animals. The number of moccasin tracks at a certain
point showed that a party of warriors had accidentally detected the
animals, each of which was mounted by a single Indian and ridden away,
the warriors taking altogether a different direction. This simplified
matters, and was not displeasing to Dick and Tom, for two of these
active redskins could, as a matter of course, be circumvented with much
more ease than could ten times that number.

Accompanied by Ned, the hunters led the way up out of the hollow,
crossed as it was by the stream of icy cold and clear water and covered
with the richest grass, and entered a more rocky section, where the
horses must have experienced considerable difficulty in traveling, as
numerous places showed where their hoofs had slipped upon the stones.

"We can beat them on that," said Dick, when they had trailed them for a
short distance. "They can't be many hours ahead of us, and when we do
catch up with 'em, Tom, we'll warm 'em; what do you say?"

Tom nodded his head to signify that he agreed with these sentiments
exactly, and the trio pressed forward harder than ever.

There were many places in which the thieves had progressed with no
little trouble, and their pursuers, unimpeded by the mustangs, were
gaining rapidly upon them; but this by no means insured success. A
hundred difficulties remained in the way, and the most that the two
hunters could hope was that the two Apaches had no suspicion of being
followed. If they believed themselves secure, it followed as a matter of
course that they would take no precautions against any surprise from the
rear. The hunters went forward at a rate which was exceedingly trying to
Ned, but he bravely held up until something like a mile was passed, when
Tom, who acted as a leader, suddenly paused.

"We must wait here till we make an observation," said he, in a low tone.
"I take it that we aren't very far from the scamps, and we must look out
and not spile the whole thing when we've got it all in shape."

For the entire distance they had been steadily advancing upon higher
ground, and having now reached the culminating point, it was necessary
to look ahead and learn whither they were going before making any rash
venture into an entirely different section. While Dick and Ned,
therefore, remained where they were, Tom stole cautiously forward for
some distance further, until he reached a high, flat rock, the edge of
which he approached on his hands and knees, and stealthily peered over.

Only a few seconds did he spend thus when he began retrograding, like a
crab.

"I think I've hit the spot," he said in an undertone, as he rejoined his
friends. "There's a sort of path which leads down into the lower
country, and as that's the only way the hosses can travel, it follers
that they must have gone that way. That 'ere place that I was speakin'
of goes down into a spot a good deal like the one where we expected to
find the animiles and didn't, and there's where I think we'll find 'em
awaitin' for us."

"Do you see any sign?" inquired Dick.

"Not yet; they wouldn't be likely to kindle a camp fire at this time of
day, and afore they jined the others. Come ahead, we must be mighty
keerful now, when we're gettin' so close."

As before, Tom took the lead, and they advanced with the greatest
caution. If the Apaches had any fear of being followed, they were very
likely to detect the men stealing down upon them; but much reliance was
placed upon the likelihood of their holding no such suspicion.

The afternoon was half gone when the locality pointed out by Hardynge
was reached, and the three halted again. As soon as they had concealed
themselves Tom continued his reconnaissance, making it with such care
that he consumed fully a half hour before concluding it. When he
reappeared, with the silence of a shadow, he whispered:

"They're there--both of 'em."

He explained that he had approached close enough to recognize his own
animal as well as Dick's. He saw nothing more, not even an Indian, but
it followed, of course, that they were near at hand. From this point
forward, therefore, the presence of the lad could be nothing but an
incumbrance, and it was agreed that he should stay where he was until
the animals were recaptured, when he could ride away with one of them.

"Remember, the varmints are close onto you," said Tom, by way of
caution; "and you must keep mighty shady. Don't go to crawling about,
and trying to peep into what's none of your business."

The boy promised obedience, and the two left him. As near as he could
judge he was within a hundred yards of the camp of the horse thieves,
and there was no certainty that, if they discovered the approach of the
hunters, they might take a course which would bring them back over the
same path. So, to avoid any unpleasant discovery, he crept in beneath
some dense shrubbery, where he felt secure against observation, and
anxiously awaited the result.

Ned had not been in this place of concealment five minutes, when he was
startled by a slight noise behind him, such as would be made by the
cautious approach of some person or creature. He turned his head, but
his view was too much obstructed by the vegetation around him. The
slight disturbance continued until Ned's curiosity got the better of his
judgment, and he stealthily parted the leaves with one hand sufficiently
to permit him to see out.

As he dreaded, he detected an Indian warrior, whose actions indicated
that he knew what was going on. He was stepping along as if fearful that
the slight rustling would catch the ears of parties who were far beyond
the range of hearing. Fortunately for Ned, at the moment he looked forth
in this stealthy manner the Apache afforded only what may be termed a
three-quarter view, having passed slightly beyond where he was hidden;
and, as he continued to move in the same direction, nothing but his back
was visible a few minutes afterward. But the lad saw enough to render
him uneasy. At first glimpse he took the Indian to be Lone Wolf, but he
caught sight of enough of his visage to make certain that it was another
warrior altogether; but he was large, powerful, and very formidable
looking, and Ned dreaded an encounter between him and one of the
hunters.

Curiously enough, he carried no gun with him, and, as the boy still
retained possession of Lone Wolf's, it seemed to young Chadmund that he
could want no better opportunity of wiping out one of those pestilent
redskins. With this purpose in view he cautiously shoved the end of the
weapon through the bushes and aimed at the back of the warrior, who, at
that moment, could not have been more than a dozen yards from him. There
could be no mistaking a target so conspicuous and so close at hand; but
when the aim was sure and Ned's finger was pressing the trigger, he
restrained himself by the self-imposed question whether it was right to
pick off a foe, savage though he was, in that fashion. He was well aware
that no mercy would have been shown him had the position been reversed;
still, he could not justify in his own mind an act that looked so much
like murder.

"No," said he, when this inward conflict had continued a minute or so.
"I s'pose Tom and Dick would laugh at me if they knew how I acted: but I
don't believe father would like to have me fight that way. Anyhow, my
conscience don't, so I won't."



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE DEATH SHOT.


It took Ned about a minute to reach his merciful conclusion and to lower
the hammer of his gun. This done, he looked out to see how the Indian
was getting along. To his amazement nothing was seen of him. He had
vanished as suddenly as if the ground had opened and swallowed him up.
Wondering what it all could mean, the boy rose to his feet, and peered
out, parting the bushes still more and advancing a little from his
concealment. The ground was quite level, covered here and there with
boulders and a scrubby undergrowth, but there was nothing to be seen of
the warrior. During the second or two occupied in lowering the hammer of
his rifle, the Apache had disappeared, flashing out, so to speak, into
nothingness.

"That's mighty queer," reflected Ned, as he resumed his seat under the
bushes. "I know those redskins are pretty lively, but I didn't think
they could get up and leave as fast as that."

There was something in the manner of this thing which alarmed him. The
Apache, when last seen, was advancing carefully in the direction taken
by the scouts. Why this sudden diversion? What did it mean but that the
redskin had made an important discovery, and what could that discovery
be but that he was threatened by danger from the rear? Such being the
case, it followed that the peril had been transferred from one to the
other. Instead of the lad threatening the Indian it was _vice versa_.

"I bet he'll be back here," was the conclusion of our hero, as he once
more raised the hammer of his gun. "He must have heard me when I moved
the bushes, and he'll be trying some of his tricks upon me."

He concluded that if the Indian made him a visit it would be from
another direction, and so he shifted his position somewhat, managing to
face the other way, while he kept all his senses on the _qui vive_ for
the hostile visit which he was confident would not be long delayed. At
the same time he had a strong hope that the scouts would return in time
to prevent any such encounter as he pictured in his own mind, and which
he thoroughly dreaded.

In his excited mental condition it was impossible to judge accurately of
the passage of time, but it seemed to him that he had been in waiting
fully fifteen minutes, yet not the slightest sound reached him from that
direction. The lad remained in a state of suspense which was intensified
by his fears of a flank movement upon the part of the Apache whom he had
seen but a short time before.

"It must take them a long time to make a reconnaissance--"

He suddenly ceased, for his ear, more than usually alert, caught a
slight but suspicious sound, and quick as a flash he turned his head. He
was not an instant too soon, for there was the crouching figure of the
Apache warrior, no more than a dozen feet distant, his gleaming knife
clutched in his right hand, and his eyes fairly aflame with passion. He
was not moving along inch by inch, but with that soft gliding motion,
which was more like the approach of a serpent than of a person.

Ned still held his rifle with the hammer raised, and ready for just such
an emergency. Partly expecting the visit, he was fully prepared. When he
turned his head and encountered the gaze of the Indian, the latter gave
utterance to a low gutteral exclamation, and started more rapidly toward
him.

"If you must have it, there it is."

The flash from the muzzle of the rifle was almost in the face of the
Apache, who, with a death-shriek horrible to hear, threw both arms above
his head, and, with a spasmodic twitching of the limbs, breathed his
last in a single breath.

Ned was scarcely less terrified than the redskin must have been at the
first flash of the gun; and, forgetful of the warning of the scouts, he
leaped out from beneath the bushes, and dashed away in the direction
taken by his friends.

He had run but a rod or two when he suddenly found himself face to face
with Tom Hardynge, who demanded, in a hurried undertone:

"What's up, now?"

"I've just shot an Indian."

"Did you wipe him out?"

"Oh, yes; oh, yes."

"Then what are you running away from him for? If you've wiped him out,
he can't hurt you."

"But I don't want to stay near him," added the lad, who was in a
distressing state of anxiety; "take me away."

"That's just what I'm going to do," replied the hunter, turning about
and hurrying off. "Keep close to me and I will take care of you."

Instead of retracing their steps, they kept ahead, and a short distance
further on made an abrupt turn and suddenly came upon Dick Morris,
seated upon the back of his mustang, with Thundergust, as Tom called
him, standing near, and a third one visible in the background.

"Whose is that?" asked the astonished boy.

"We fetched him for you. Come, bounce upon his back and let's be off."

The animal alluded to was a handsome black pony, spirited and fleet,
with a valuable blanket strapped to its back, and a leathern
bridle-rein. He showed some opposition to Ned's mounting him, but with
the assistance of Tom he quieted down and showed as much docility as the
others.

The hunters, in approaching the camp, used as much care and deliberation
as if they were certain that there were a hundred of the fiercest
warriors there. They speedily learned, however, that there were but the
two Indian horse thieves, who, in bringing the plunder to that place,
had returned to the spot where their own animals had been left previous
to their starting out upon the raid.

The Apaches were entirely unsuspicious of any pursuit, and they were
lolling upon the ground at such a distance from the mustangs, that the
three were secured without much trouble. Dick Morris insisted upon
sailing in and clearing out the two marauders; but Tom was equally
strenuous in demanding that they should not be disturbed. He was certain
there were other warriors near by, and any such attempt would complicate
matters. Accordingly they stole away with their recaptured animals and
the one which was not exactly recaptured, and as soon as a convenient
spot was selected Hardynge turned back for the boy, encountering him on
the way.

Since all three were mounted upon good beasts they made all haste
possible to leave the section, which beyond all question was a most
dangerous one in every sense.

The trio had several important advantages on their side. Although the
Apaches were on every hand, and doubtless would make an attempt to
revenge themselves upon the hunters, yet it was already growing dark,
and between now and morning the Caucasians could accomplish a great
deal. Furthermore, they were close to the prairie, reaching which, they
had all the opportunity they could desire to leave their enemies behind.
In a fair trial of speed, neither of the hunters had any misgivings as
to the fleetness of their animals, even if it should become necessary to
place the additional weight of the lad upon one. Still, the route was
difficult, and in many places it seemed almost impossible to make their
way along, the horses stumbling, and on one or two occasions the party
came to a dead halt.

But Tom Hardynge had been there before, and insisted each time there was
some way out of the difficulty without turning back. Dismounting from
his animal he groped around for a few minutes in the dark, and on every
occasion called out in an undertone that he had found the path. In this
manner they kept it up for a couple of hours, when the route became much
more easy to travel. Occasionally they paused and listened and looked,
but nothing threatening was discovered. Quite a distance on the left,
the twinkle of a camp fire was discerned, but it was so distant that it
gave no concern. All remained quiet in the rear, though pursuit from
that quarter was to be expected.

The three rode along in silence for something like half an hour longer,
when Hardynge, who was slightly in advance, abruptly reined up his steed
and said:

"We're through the mountains. There's the prairie afore us."



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE BUFFALOES.


The moon was now well up in the sky, and the members of the party were
enabled to discern objects at a greater distance than at any time since
starting. When Tom Hardynge announced that they had passed through this
spur of mountains, the three instinctively turned their eyes to the
westward, where the prairie stretched away until it vanished in the
gloom.

"There's a clean hundred miles or more of level plain," added the
hunter. "I've traveled it many a time and I ought to know."

"You're right," said Dick. "That's a good sweep of prairie, and we ought
to make good time over it, for our horses have had a long rest."

"There's only one thing that troubles me," ventured Ned Chadmund, when
the heads of all their animals were turned westward; "I'm so hungry and
faint that I can hardly sit on my horse."

"That's bad," said Tom, feelingly. "I never thought of that when we had
a good chance among the mountains to fetch down some game. We ain't apt
to run agin anythin' in the hash line while riding along on the prairie;
but we'll try it, and if we don't we'll turn off to a little spot where
I know we shall hit it."

Ned expressed his willingness to do this, and the company started.
Instead of going in Indian file, as they had done while among the
mountains, they rode side by side at an easy swinging gallop, the
prairie lightening up as they advanced, and the surface continuing of
the same impact character, which rendered it the most favorable possible
for horseback riding. To one who, like the boy, had tramped and trudged
along until scarcely able to stand, this change was of the most pleasing
character. He felt comfortable and anxious to ride ahead for hours, the
only drawback being that gnawing hunger, that weary faintness, which
could only be dissipated by food.

Occasionally, while riding along in this manner, the three would halt
and listen, and then, when certain that they heard nothing, move on
again. This was repeated several times, until the two hunters remained
motionless longer than usual. When Ned asked the cause of this, Tom
replied by asking him whether he heard anything. He answered that he did
not.

"I hear it," added the scout, as he dismounted and applied his ear to
the ground.

"What do you make it?" inquired Dick.

"Can't tell."

Hardynge remained standing beside his steed for several minutes, looking
off to the southward, and then he knelt down and bent his ear to the
ground again.

"It is off yonder," he added, pointing to the southward, and leaping at
the same time upon the back of his mustang.

Ned listened to catch some explanation; but at this interesting
juncture, for some reason only known to themselves, the two men began
talking in the Indian tongue. It was interesting to hear their gutteral
exclamations, but it would have been much more interesting could he have
understood what they were saying, and to know why it was, when talking,
that they laughed and looked meaningly toward him. The lad affected not
to notice all this, although it piqued his curiosity not a little.

A half mile more was ridden at a leisurely gait, when all three drew up
their mustangs, and Dick Morris looked meaningly at their young comrade.

"Do you hear anything _now_?"

Yes, there could be no mistaking it, faint though it was. All three sat
motionless and listened. At first, it might have been taken for the
far-off rumble of thunder--a fluttering, distant rattle, such as is
occasionally heard during the hot summer months. It was not exactly of
that character, either, being more like a continuous rattle, coming from
some point many miles away.

"What do you suppose it is?" asked Tom, of the lad.

"I never heard anything like it before. What is it?"

"Does it sound like the tramp of animals?"

"Not much, it seems to me. It can't be that."

"That's just what it is."

Ned started.

"So it is--so it is. I can notice it now. I hear the sound of horses
hoofs on the prairie. The sound is growing more distinct, too, and they
must be coming this way, Tom. Is that so?"

"That's just what's the matter. We'll see 'em all inside of half an
hour, unless we turn tail and run."

"Let's do it, then, for there can't be much time to spare."

The hunters showed no disposition to flee from the danger approaching,
and Ned began to grow alarmed.

"Why do you stay here?" he asked. "If your horses are so fleet that no
one can catch them, what is the use of letting them do it?"

"Don't get scart, my boy," returned Tom Hardynge. "We'll take care of
you."

He much preferred that they should all take care of themselves by giving
their animals the rein and permitting the Apaches to make no nearer
approach. But the scouts were obstinate and remained as motionless as
statues. The tramping of myriad feet came nearer and nearer, until the
sound partook of one general, thunderous undertone of the most trying
character to the lad. It seemed to him so much like suicide--this
waiting for a terrible danger as it steadily approached--that he was
strongly tempted to start his horse away on his own account.

"Look!" called out Morris, pointing toward the southwest.

Following the direction indicated, the lad saw what appeared to be a
heavy cloud lying low down in the horizon, but creeping slowly upward,
like the sulphurous vapor that sometimes hovers over a battle field.

"What is it?" he asked, terrified, knowing that it was not the presage
of a storm such as sometimes sweeps over the prairies.

There was something strange and unnatural in its appearance,
accompanied, as it was, by the tremulous, thunderous rumbling. By and
by, as this uproar came nearer and nearer, a still more curious sight
presented itself. The prairie seemed agitated, trembling and quivering
with a peculiar, wave-like motion, such as the ocean shows when it is
subsiding after a severe storm. There was a sea, a living sea, spreading
tumultuously over the plain. Dark, heaving masses were constantly
verging nearer, as they moved rapidly toward the northeast. Suddenly
light broke in upon the mind of Ned Chadmund.

"I know what it is!" he exclaimed. "They are buffaloes."

"Correct," assented Tom, with a laugh. "They are passing pretty close,
but we're out of their way."

The buffaloes surged so near to where the three horsemen stood that more
than once Ned started with a fear that they would be overwhelmed; but
the hunters showed such calmness and self-possession that he was
reassured. All at once a furious trampling was heard, and two of the
animals that had become separated from the others in some way, dashed
directly by the horsemen and out upon the prairie.

"Now, Ned," called out Tom; "there's your chance! Take that head one! He
will make you a good supper if you can fetch him down!"

The lad and his animal were seized with a sudden inspiration seemingly
at the same time. Just as the heart of the young hunter swelled with a
wild desire to bring down the noble game, the mustang bounded away in
pursuit of the very buffalo which had been indicated by the trapper. As
the rider saw himself drawing rapidly near the huge body, lumbering
awkwardly but rapidly along, he was seized with a fluttering which,
perhaps was natural, but which, unless overcome, was fatal to any hopes
of procuring any supper. The mustang drew steadily nearer, Ned's
agitation increasing every minute, until pursuer and pursued were
running side by side.

This was the critical moment when the rider should have fired, and when
the horse had been taught to expect him to do so; but when our hero
raised the heavy Indian gun to his shoulder, his trembling, together
with the jolting of his mustang, now upon a dead run, told him that it
would be useless to fire, when the only chance of hitting his prey was
by the merest accident. Accordingly, he lowered his gun, in the hopes of
quieting his nerves, so as to bring himself up to the self-appointed
task. As he did so, his horse began shying off from the buffalo. He was
afraid of the horns of the enraged creature, and having given him all
the opportunity he could expect, he was not willing to keep him company
any longer. The paths continued to diverge until they were twenty yards
apart, when the mustang appeared to think all danger was passed. By this
time Ned Chadmund felt that he was master of himself, and he turned the
head of his horse toward the immense fugitive, still gliding forward at
the same terrific rate.

"I'll fetch him this time," he muttered, with a determined air.



CHAPTER XXV.

ALONE AGAIN.


The mustang, trained as he was to this sort of hunting, steadily drew up
again to the buffalo, which was plunging forward with unabated speed,
while Ned held his rifle ready to fire whenever the critical moment
should come. He concluded that the proper place at which to aim was the
head, and, drawing his gun to his shoulder, he did not hesitate,
although he knew the aim was anything but a good one. It struck the
bison beyond all question, but did no more than irritate him; for,
without any other warning than a sudden lowering of the head, he
wheeled, and turned directly upon the horse, with the evident purpose of
disemboweling him.

But the latter had seen this sort of business before, and was prepared
for it.

Without attempting to turn to the one side or the other, or to check his
speed in the least, he made a terrific flying leap upward, going clear
over the head of the buffalo, landing upon the other side, and
continuing his flight at his leisure, as it may be said.

This was a clever trick of the mustang, but it proved the undoing of his
rider, who had no other saddle than the Indian blanket strapped to the
horse's back. This was good enough, except in such a sudden emergency as
the present, when Ned was entirely unprepared for it. It was done in a
twinkling, the end of it being that he found himself lying upon the
green sward of the prairie, considerably bruised, and with horse and
buffalo rapidly speeding from view.

"This is a go," said the lad, rising to his feet and looking about him.
"I don't see where the fun of buffalo hunting comes in."

During the minutes of excitement when the mustang was coursing with such
speed over the prairie, the rider had no idea of the direction taken,
nor could he conjecture how far he had gone; but the result was that he
was separated by a much greater distance than he supposed from his
friends. Ned stood and gazed carefully about him. Off to the west were
the dust, and thousands upon thousands of buffaloes. The latter were too
far removed to be distinguished, but that tramping and the heavy cloud
indicated where the mass of life was plunging tumultuously forward
toward some destination unknown even to themselves. Nothing was to be
seen of the hunters. They had sent the lad off on this hunt on purpose
to give him a taste of buffalo hunting, not supposing, of course, that
any accident would result.

"What shall I do?" was the question the boy asked himself, as he stood,
rifle in hand, and looked around him. "If there was some way in which I
could get a good supper, I wouldn't mind this camping out, for Tom and
Dick will be sure to find me in the morning."

Looking toward the north, he fancied that he dimly discerned the dark
outline of something which resembled a grove of trees, and he turned his
footsteps in that direction.

"If they are trees," he reflected, as he trudged along, "it's more than
likely there's water there, and now that I've got a gun, I've some
chance of shooting something; and that reminds me of poor Corporal
Hugg's warning, always to reload my gun the first thing after firing
it."

He had enough sense to carry out this resolution on the spot, and then
he resumed his journey in the direction of the object that had attracted
his attention. A short distance further he was pleased to find his first
impression correct. He was approaching a clump of trees where he could
rest with a much greater sense of security than upon the open prairie.
Thoroughly weary and worn out, faint with hunger, he felt like throwing
himself upon the ground and sleeping for a week. But, continuing, he
entered a grove of trees something like a hundred yards in extent,
through which, in the stillness of the night, he caught distinctly the
ripple of flowing water. It required but a moment to discover this and
he lay down upon the margin, quaffed his full and flung himself upon the
grass to sleep until morning. Five minutes after his eyes were shut he
was wrapped in a sound slumber which remained undisturbed until morning
when, as he opened his eyes, he found the sun shining through the
branches upon him.

"Gracious!" he exclaimed, starting up. "Where am I?"

It took several minutes before he could collect his senses and tell
where he was; and then as he recalled the separation from his friends,
he hurried out to the edge of the wood in the hope of discovering them
somewhere near at hand; but, look in whatsoever direction he chose,
nothing was to be seen but the broad sweeping prairie, stretching away
until sky and earth joined in the distance. Far off, low down in the
horizon, the blue wavy outline of a mountain spur was to be seen. Miles
and miles away, it would probably require days of traveling before it
could be reached.

"That's strange!" murmured Ned, as a feeling of alarm began stealing
over him. "Where can Tom and Dick be? They must be somewhere in this
neighborhood, and yet I cannot see any signs of them."

He moved around the grove, carefully gazing in every direction; but
after making the complete circuit he came back without having detected
anything that told him what had become of his friends.

The grove in which he had taken shelter abounded with undergrowth, so
dense in many places, that he made his way with considerable difficulty.
He had no thought of any one else being in the same place, but, while
moving along in his careless manner, he was aroused to a sense of
imprudence by the sound of something on his right. Turning his head, his
surprise may be imagined when he saw a solitary buffalo standing
scarcely a dozen feet distant, and staring straight at him. Ned was so
astonished that for the moment he forgot that he carried a loaded gun,
and stared at the creature in turn, the two forming as striking a
tableau as it is possible to imagine.

The buffalo may have known the capacity of the weapon which the boy
carried in his hand, for, with a sniff of alarm, he wheeled and started
away on a run. As quick as thought the lad seemed to awake to a sense of
his situation, and, raising his gun, he blazed away.

The shot, fired at random, could not have been better aimed by the most
veteran of hunters. The ball entered directly behind the fore-leg just
as it was thrown forward in the act of running, and, penetrating to the
heart, the result was that the animal never made another bound. His own
momentum carried him a few feet forward, when he tumbled and rolled over
in a heap.

"Now I'll have a meal!" exclaimed the delighted lad, as he ran forward
to claim his prize. "I feel as if I could eat the whole buffalo."

There seemed to be no reason why he should not provide himself with the
most substantial kind of dinner. He knew very little about a buffalo,
but it was no difficult task to cut off a good sized piece, which he
placed upon some green leaves, while he looked about for some means of
starting a fire.

"Well, there!" he exclaimed in delighted amazement, "if that isn't the
most wonderful thing yet!"

This exclamation was caused by the sight of a smoking wad lying at his
very feet, just as if Providence had sent it that he might be provided
with the indispensable fire. Picking it up and blowing it, he saw that
it was in a vigorous state, and could be utilized without trouble. A few
leaves were hurriedly gathered together, dried twigs placed upon these,
and then the tiny blaze that required considerable blowing to produce,
was carefully nursed into a larger one until a good roaring, crackling
fire was the result.

Leaving this to burn by itself, Ned took the meat to the side of the
stream, where he carefully washed and dressed it, ready for cooking.
When this was completed, he skewered it upon some green twigs, and began
toasting it. The process was rather tardy, but as soon as a bite of the
meat had spluttered and crisped for a moment, Ned bit it off, and went
to masticating it. The cooking continued rapidly enough to keep his jaws
going, and was a good arrangement, for it prevented his eating too fast,
and gave him the fullest enjoyment imaginable of the meal. All of an
hour was occupied in this way, during which Ned was in as happy a frame
of mind as can be conceived. For the first half of the time he seemed to
be growing more hungry with each mouthful he swallowed. Then came a
standstill, and soon he began to gain upon it, the end being that he
thoroughly satisfied that appetite which at one time had seemed
unappeasable. With no further necessity of thinking of the wants of the
inner man, the lad began to debate as to what he should do to get out of
the rather unpleasant position in which he was placed. There he was, his
horse gone, his two friends missing, and himself still a long distance
from home. He knew not in what direction to turn to reach Fort Havens,
and, even if he did, he had little assurance of ever reaching it.
Indeed, with the exception of the rather important fact that he had
secured possession of a rifle and some ammunition, it may be said that
his position was very similar to what it was before he came across Dick
Morris and Tom Hardynge.



CHAPTER XXVI.

CAPTURING A MUSTANG.


It struck Ned that there was something very strange in the continued
absence of the two hunters.

In thinking over the particulars of that rather curious buffalo hunt, he
could not believe it possible that he was more than two miles from where
he had made his start after the creature, and where he separated from
them. All three were upon the easterly side of the herd, so that the
trail made by his own animal could not have been obliterated by the
hoofs of the buffaloes, and nothing could be easier than to follow it.
Where, then, were they? What was the cause of their absence? These were
questions which he asked himself again and again, and which he was
unable to answer in any manner satisfactory to himself.

Suddenly it occurred to him that by climbing one of the trees near at
hand, he might extend his view, and perhaps gain a portion of the
knowledge he was so desirous of obtaining. He acted upon the thought at
once, and, selecting the tallest, first concealed his rifle, and then
climbed to the very topmost branches. There he was rewarded by a
magnificent view, and one which promised him some of the results he was
seeking. With this extension of his field of vision he discovered more
than one evidence that he was not in a solitude. In the first place, by
looking to the southward, a mass of dust and vapor was visible,
indicating the presence and progress of some sort of herd, perhaps a
drove of sheep from New Mexico, under the convoy of Indians who had shot
the rightful owners and stampeded their property. Looking westward,
another clump of trees was discerned, from the center of which came just
enough smoke to show that there must be a camp fire beneath.

"I'll bet they are there!" exclaimed Ned, to himself, "and it may be
they have started the fire on purpose to guide me to them."

The point to which his attention was thus directed was no more than a
mile distant, and he wondered that he had not noted it before. It
resembled in many respects the one in which he passed the night, and he
saw from the course of the stream which ran through the latter, that it
most probably watered the former where he believed the hunters were in
camp.

Turning his eyes in another direction, the young wanderer was greeted by
a sight which agitated him scarcely less. There, no more than a quarter
of a mile distant, quietly grazing beside the winding stream which
flowed at the base of the tree, was the very mustang which had been
captured by the hunters and from whose back he had been thrown when in
pursuit of the buffalo. He instantly lost all interest in the smoke of
the camp fire in the greater interest he felt in the question of
securing possession of the steed. Could he but remount him he would not
care particularly whether he met the hunters or not, for, once upon the
back of such a steed, he would consider himself competent to make the
rest of the journey alone.

"What's to hinder?" he asked himself, as he fixed his eyes longingly
upon the steed. "Dick says none of the Apaches have any animal that can
overtake him, and all I have to do is to keep his head turned toward the
southwest. There is a trail through the mountains yonder, and Corporal
Hugg told me that there is a trail all the way. But can I catch him?"

He enjoyed in anticipation the pleasure he would feel when, possessing
rifle, ammunition and horse he should resume his journey westward and
the delight and joy of his father when he should clasp him in his arms
again. He could have spent several hours building his air-castles in
this manner, had he not checked himself and resolutely faced the
difficulty before him. Looking again at the mustang, he was to be seen
with his beautiful Indian blanket somewhat soiled from contact with the
dirt, but cropping the grass with the air of an equine which expected to
spend the day at it.

Ned decided to try and steal upon him from the rear, thinking, possibly,
that he might get so close that when the frightened animal discovered
him, he could step forward and grasp the bridle before the mustang could
gallop away. Accordingly, he circled out upon the prairie until he got
directly behind the animal, when he began his approach. The horse
continued quietly eating until he was within a hundred feet, when he
shifted his position so that his side was exposed. Startled lest he
should be seen, Ned dropped down upon the grass and waited for him to
resume his first attitude. After crouching in this manner for something
like ten minutes, without any change taking place, he decided that as
"the mountain would not come to Mohammed then Mohammed should go to the
mountain," and he began crawling through the grass, with his eye upon
his prize. To accomplish this without attracting notice was a delicate
task, but he succeeded perfectly. Getting the mustang in exact range, he
resumed his advance upon him, advancing until he was within twenty feet.

This was more favorable than he dared hope, and his heart beat high with
expectation. He almost felt the warm body of the noble steed beneath
him. And now, inch by inch, he stole forward, like an Indian scout
moving upon a sleeping enemy until he could reach a point where he could
bury his tomahawk in his skull.

"I wonder whether he will use those heels upon me?" reflected the lad,
when he had reduced the intervening distance to a dozen feet. "If he
were only blind in one eye, and I could get upon that side; but then he
isn't."

It seemed to him that the greatest danger was the mustang hearing the
throbbing of his heart, which was now beating like a trip-hammer; but
the horse was as unconscious as if he were made of stone. Still nearer,
until it appeared as if he had to make but a single leap forward, and he
could grasp the long, flowing tail, and he felt that the moment had come
when he must make the attempt. Crouching with one hand thrust out, he
lifted one foot and advanced a few inches. Another step, and he could
lay his hand upon him. At this exciting juncture, the horse abruptly
ceased eating and raised his head. Ned saw it, and paused in an agony of
suspense.

[Illustration: STILL NEARER, UNTIL IT APPEARED AS IF HE HAD TO MAKE BUT
A SINGLE LEAP FORWARD.]

Looking straight off upon the prairie, the mustang gave a faint whinney,
as if he scented danger from a point directly opposite to where the
figure of the boy was stealing upon him. For a minute the two held these
stationary positions; and then, as the lad moved a few inches again, the
keen ears of the mustang told him the truth.

Pricking his ears forward, he turned his head half way round, so that he
saw the crouching figure directly at his heels. Then he turned his head
still further, and gathered himself for a leap. But Ned was expecting
this; and, as quick as a flash, he leaped forward and caught the tuft of
hair hanging over his forehead, dropping his gun and seizing at the same
moment, with the other hand, the bridle-rein. The mustang made his leap,
but the lad held on, and, by a quick, powerful effort threw one leg over
his shoulders and slid upon his back in a twinkling. The horse was
outwitted, defeated, and the boy was his conqueror.

"Hurrah!" shouted the latter, overflowing with exultation. "Thank the
Lord! I've had better fortune than I expected."

The mustang was not an ugly-tempered creature, but would have given the
lad the slip, could he have done so. It may have been that because he
was nothing but a boy, he underestimated his capacity too much; but he
had been fairly outgeneraled, and he submitted with a grace which cannot
be too highly commended. He instantly became docile, and turned in ready
obedience to the rein, and trotted back to where the gun lay upon the
ground. Here Ned was obliged to descend again, but he kept a tight grasp
upon the strap, and scrambled back again as soon as he had recovered it.
It seemed to him, as he did so, that there was something like a
mischievous twinkle in the eye of the pony. He appeared to say:

"It don't do to trust my species too far, my lad; for we prefer to be
free rather than slave. However, you are a brave little fellow, and have
done so well that I think I must stand by you hereafter."

Now that Ned was himself again, he turned the head of his animal toward
the grove, where the thin smoke could still be seen creeping up through
the tree tops.

"I will have quite a story to tell Dick and Tom," he reflected, as he
rode along at an easy gallop. "I killed my buffalo, lost my horse, and
caught him again. I don't believe that they themselves could have done
much better."



CHAPTER XXVII.

A RUN FOR LIFE.


A few minutes' ride at a swinging, easy, gallop brought Ned to the edge
of the grove where the camp fire had first arrested his attention. As he
reached the margin he threw himself from the back of the mustang,
fastened the bridle-rein securely to a limb, and, with his rifle slung
over his shoulder, strode forward toward the center. He was not yet in
sight of the fire when it suddenly occurred to him that possibly he was
mistaken. He checked himself and began moving very much as he did when
approaching his mustang, and it was fortunate that he did so, for the
next moment he discovered that he had committed a most serious mistake
indeed. Instead of seeing the well-known figures of the hunters sitting
by the camp fire and quietly smoking their pipes, he caught a glimpse of
half a dozen warriors very similarly engaged.

Ned shuddered as he reflected how narrowly he escaped running into
destruction, and then he crept forward until he could get a little
better view. There they were, six Apache Indians lolling and lounging
upon the grass. They had evidently returned from a long and wearisome
ride, and were devoting the early portion of the day to rest, both for
themselves and animals, which were picketed near at hand. The lad
naturally wondered whether any of them belonged to Lone Wolf's band, and
he crept nearer than was prudent in order to make certain.

"It may be that Lone Wolf himself is there," he reflected, drawn on by
that strange fascination which often seizes a person at the proximity of
some dreaded danger. "It would be queer if the chief had crossed my path
again."

By and by, after moving along for some distance upon his hands and
knees, he secured a favorable point, where, by waiting a few minutes, he
was able to gain a view of all the faces. They were all strangers. He
had never seen any of them before.

"That's good," he said to himself, as he began retrograding, "they won't
be expecting me--"

At this juncture, one of the Indian horses, a short distance away,
raised his head and whinnied. It was instantly responded to by the
mustang which Ned had ridden to the place. The Apaches very naturally
noticed this significant fact, and started to their feet to learn what
it meant. Terribly alarmed at the unexpected mishap, Ned sprang up, not
daring to trust the tardy, crab-like gait he was following, and,
regardless of discovery, dashed away as hard as he could run in the
direction of his steed. He could not mistake the true course, for the
animal seemingly aware that something was wrong, kept up a continual
whinnying, that guided him as unerringly as it did the Apaches who were
hurrying after him. A few seconds and the boy stood beside the creature,
which showed, by its excited manner, that he was as desirous as his
master to leave the spot. He was tugging at the rein so lustily that it
threatened to break every instant, and Ned trembled at the fear that he
would be left alone.

The impatient, eager haste with which the rein was unfastened, the
seemingly impossibility of getting the loosely fastened knot untied, the
little obstructions that constantly obtruded themselves--these cannot be
described nor imagined. It would have been unnatural in the highest
degree had Ned not found himself "nervous." He was ready to yield to
despair more than once, and what were really seconds were as many
minutes to him. The Indians could be heard moving through the
undergrowth, their progress cautious as it always is when they have
reason to fear that enemies are close at hand.

It was this deliberation which gave Ned his only chance. The rein was
unfastened at last, and, with a desperate effort he mounted the mustang,
which came very near bounding from beneath him while in the act of
springing upward, and, turning his head toward the southwest, the very
direction he wished to follow, Chadmund struck his sides with his heels,
gave a regular Indian shout and was off. The steed scarcely needed all
this to incite him to his highest efforts. Stretching out his neck, he
sped away like an arrow, while the young rider constantly urged him to
still greater effort. But no urging was required. The fleet-footed
courser was already going with the speed of the wind.

Scarcely had he gotten under way, however, when the crack! crack! of
rifles was heard, and the singing of bullets around his ears told the
fugitive at whom they were aimed. He instantly threw himself forward
upon the neck of the mustang, and shouted again, in a voice that must
have been heard by the redskins themselves:

"Go it, my horse! Don't let them catch us! We mustn't lose now!"

One or two more shots were heard, and then all was quiet again.

"We've got beyond their range," concluded the boy, "and there's no need
of wasting their powder on us."

Still he remained with his head bent on the neck of his animal, the
latter upon a dead run, until they had gone a considerable distance
further. Then believing all peril past, he drew him down somewhat, for
the gait was more trying to him than to the steed himself, and it was
simply prudent to husband his strength, when there was no necessity of
putting it forth.

For the first time since starting, Ned turned and surveyed the ground
over which he had passed. The view was not a reassuring one by any
means. Instead of seeing the Apaches standing in mute despair upon the
margin of the grove, and staring in wonder at his flight, he saw instead
the whole party mounted and in full pursuit. They were adopting what
seemed to him a strange course. Instead of charging along in a body,
they were separating and spreading out like a fan.

"I wonder what it is for," said the fugitive to himself, as he urged his
horse to a renewal of the arrowy speed he had shown at the beginning.

When he came to reflect upon it more fully, he divined the cause. The
Apaches had recognized in him a prize worth striving for, and had set
about it in their usual cunning fashion. By separating in this manner,
they could close in again whenever they chose, and at a time, too, when
it might be out of the power of the fugitive to escape by means of the
superior speed of his horse. If he should turn to the right or left, or
to the rear, he would come in collision with some of them, whereas, if
they remained in a compact body, and he should find his way shut in
front, he might elude them by turning to either side.

Such was young Chadmund's solution of their actions, and such,
undoubtedly, was the true one. He looked ahead; but all remained open
and clear. Only far away in the very horizon could be seen that blue,
misty outline of some mountain chain, seemingly hundreds of miles in
advance.

"It can't be that _that_ is the place," he mused, as he looked ahead;
"that is too far to be reached before to-morrow, and between now and
then I shall have plenty of chances to give them the slip."

But the mountains were to be crossed at some time or other, and those
Apaches were likely to follow him with the persistency of bloodhounds.
The mere fact that he had distanced them at the beginning, and obtained
such a favorable start, was no evidence that he was to be relieved from
further danger, even after the night should have come and gone. But Ned
enjoyed to the full the thrilling pleasure of observing that he was
steadily and rapidly drawing away from his pursuers. Every few minutes,
when he looked back, he could see they were dropping further and further
behind. His gain in this respect was clearly perceptible to himself, and
when, at the end of an hour or more, he observed that the Apaches had
ceased the effort to overhaul him, he could scarcely repress his
exultation.

"They made a good selection!" he exclaimed, alluding to the steed which
the hunters had taken from the Indians in the mountains. "They could not
have done better."

Drawing his mustang down to a dead halt, he carefully scanned the
prairie behind him. Only three of his pursuers were visible, and, if his
eyes did not deceive him, they were turning back. A few minutes careful
scrutiny assured him of the fact. He had outwitted the redskins again.

"Now, you may rest yourself, my pet," he said to his horse, fondly
patting the neck of his steed.

"You have done nobly, and I feel like trusting you alone to graze."

As near as he could judge it was close upon noon, and his animal was in
need of rest, although capable of continuing his arrowy flight until the
sun should sink in the west. It was wise to indulge him all he could,
and for the next two hours he was permitted to walk at a moderate gait.
At the end of that time he headed toward a ravine, in which a few
stunted trees were growing, and where he hoped to find grass and water.
He did not forget the lesson he had learned, and before trusting himself
in the inviting shade and coolness, he carefully circled about the place
until assured that no peril lurked there, when he rode forward at the
same leisurely pace.

He was yet a hundred yards distant, when his mustang abruptly paused of
his own accord, pricking up his ears as if he scented danger.

Ned urged him, and he advanced a few steps, and then halted again,
raising high his head and snuffing the air, accompanied at the same time
by a peculiar stamp of the foot.

"There must be something wrong," thought the boy in alarm.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

A GREAT MISFORTUNE.


Ned Chadmund was too wise to go contrary to the instincts of the
mustang, which, at such a time knew more than did he of the dangers of
the country. The boy, however, supposed that it was some wild animal,
probably a grizzly bear, which alarmed the steed. He wondered however,
that if such were the fact, why the brute did not give some more
tangible evidence of his presence. He sat for a moment debating whether
he should make an attempt to enter the wooded ravine from another
direction. He had fixed upon this place as the one in which to spend a
couple of hours or more, and as no similar resting-place was in sight,
he was reluctant to start ahead again. But something whispered to him
that the best thing he could do would be to leave without an instant's
delay. That strange stillness resting upon those stunted trees and
undergrowth had a meaning more significant than anything in the shape of
a grizzly bear.

"Come, Pet, we're off again."

The mustang wheeled to one side, and bounded away with the old speed,
which was more enjoyable to him than a moderate pace. At the very
instant of doing so, a mounted Apache shot out from the far end of the
ravine, and his horse bounded directly across the path of the young
fugitive. The steed of the latter saw the game so well that he needed no
direction, and he turned with such suddenness that Ned narrowly escaped
being thrown off his back. Quick as he was he had scarcely time to
change the direction he was pursuing, when the rider, to his dismay,
observed a second Apache issue from the other end of the ravine, and
thus, in a twinkling, as it may be said, he was placed between two
fires.

It all took place with such marvelous suddenness that the lad was
completely baffled and bewildered, and, not knowing what to do, wisely
left the course of action to the mustang. At the same moment, he
comprehended how it was that, while he assured himself that he had
outwitted the Apaches, they had completely checkmated him. Their falling
back and giving up the chase was simply a ruse to throw him off his
guard. It had succeeded to perfection. While he was plodding along over
the prairie, the Apaches had circled around, gone ahead of him, and,
ensconcing themselves in the woods, had patiently waited for him to ride
into their arms.

The sagacious mustang made another quick whirl, and shot to the right,
aiming to pass directly between the two horsemen. Seeing this, they both
did their best to head him off. At the best it was to be a narrow
chance, and Ned again threw himself forward and clasped his arms about
the neck of the faithful pony. He could not shut out the sight of his
ferocious pursuers, and as the three neared each other with the speed of
the whirlwind, he observed that each was loosely swinging several coils
of rope about his head. He knew what that meant. Determined upon
capturing him, they were about to call the lasso into requisition.

But they could not "noose" him when his head was thrown forward in this
fashion, and resting closely against the soft mane of the mustang. He
was certain of that, for there was nothing for the spinning coil to
seize. And yet he saw distinctly the warrior who was nearest him
whirling the thong in swifter and swifter circles above his head in a
way that showed that he meant to fling it at something.

What could the target be?

Whiz--whiz! Out shot the loop like the dart of a rattlesnake, not at the
head of the frightened lad, but at that of the mustang!

Ah! but the animal was intelligent and equal to the occasion. That
round, clear eye saw what was coming, and he was ready.

The loop, guided with unerring precision, and thrown with great power,
was scarcely over the ears of the creature, when he dropped his head
like a flash. The coil, instead of passing over his nose, dropped like a
tossed wreath upon the top of his head, slid along his neck, and over
the crown and back of Ned Chadmund, who shivered as if he felt the
squirming of a cobra along his spine. The mustang burst into a
tremendous gait at this moment, and was drawing away from his pursuers
so rapidly that the lasso dropped off his haunches and the flying pony
was almost instantly beyond its reach.

But the second Apache was near at hand and threw his thong from a closer
point, and with a venomous spitefulness that would not be evaded. He
evidently knew the horse, and was determined upon securing him. The
wonderful mustang, however, was equal to the occasion, and, with the
same flash-like motion, his beautiful head dropped still lower than
before, and the same useless sliding along his back was repeated.

His speed was now tremendous, and he drew away so rapidly from both
horsemen that neither of them gained a second opportunity to try the
lasso upon him. Ned did not seek to control the motions or direction of
the noble steed. It knew better than did he what to do, and the boy only
clung to him the tighter, and prayed to Heaven to guard them both from
harm.

It was not to be expected that the Apaches would submit quietly to be
baffled in this manner. Unable to capture either horse or rider, they
still had their rifles, and did not hesitate to call them into
requisition the moment it became apparent that no other recourse was at
their command.

At the moment of firing perhaps fifty yards separated pursuer and
pursued. The two guns were discharged so nearly simultaneously, that
they might have well been mistaken for one. The escape of Ned was a
narrow one. He felt one of the bullets pierce his clothing, and a sting
in the hand told him that he had been slightly wounded. At the same
moment he felt a peculiar twitch or quiver of the steed, which indicated
that he also had been hit. It was like the jar of the smoothly-moving
machinery when some slight obstruction gets into the works. Still there
was no abatement of the tremendous speed of the magnificent little
animal, and Ned concluded that the hurt was not a serious one. A minute
later two more reports were heard, but they were faint and far away, and
the bullets sped wide of the mark.

All danger was passed from that quarter, and once more Ned straightened
up, and, looking about him, felt that the Indian mustang he bestrode had
been the means of saving his life. But for him he would have been in the
hands of the Apaches long since.

"I wonder whether there are Indians in every bush?" he said, as his eyes
roamed over the prairie in search of some place of shelter. "They seem
to be watching for me from every tree in the country. Well, my good
horse, we shall have to keep on the go till dark comes, when we'll get
some chance to creep off and hide."

Looking to the southward, a wooded section was to be seen, but Ned
concluded to give all such places a wide berth for the present. He had
missed recapture by too narrow a chance to risk it blindly again. A long
distance to the northwest he discerned a range of hills of moderate
elevation, and it occurred to him that there was a suitable place in
which to spend the coming night. By journeying forward at this easy,
swinging pace, he calculated upon reaching them about nightfall, and in
the shelter which they offered he was confident of being able to hide
away beyond the vision of the most vigilant Apache or Comanche.

"What has become of those fellows?" he abruptly asked himself, as his
eye glanced hastily around in search of the hunters from whom he had now
been separated the better portion of twenty-four hours. "I can't
understand how we got so far apart. If they meant the whole thing as a
joke, I think it is played out by this time."

He was a little nettled when he came to reflect that the parting was
probably arranged by Dick and Tom for the purpose of giving him a lesson
in prairie traveling and prairie life. Perhaps they believed that some
amusement might be obtained in this way.

"If they think I can't get along without 'em, I'll show them their
mistake," he said to himself. "There can't be many days' travel between
me and Fort Havens, and so long as I've got such a horse--he knows
better than they can how to keep me out of such scrapes--"

At this juncture he was startled by the action of the mustang. He was
walking along, when he began staggering from side to side. Then he
paused, as if to steady himself. A groan followed and he sank heavily to
the ground, rolling upon his side so quickly that his rider narrowly
escaped being crushed beneath him. And then, as the dismayed Ned sprang
to his feet, he saw that his loved mustang was dead!



CHAPTER XXIX.

THE LONE CAMP FIRE.


When the pursuing Apaches first fired their two shots, one of them
slightly wounded the hand of young Chadmund, while the other,
unsuspected by the lad, buried itself in the body of the mustang and
inflicted a fatal wound. It was characteristic of the noble creature
that his indomitable courage should remain to the last. He kept up his
astonishing speed until his rider voluntarily checked him, and then his
gait remained his natural one until nature succumbed and he dropped
dead.

It would be hard to say which emotion was the most poignant in the
breast of the young wanderer. He had learned to love the noble mustang
during their brief companionship, and he had discovered, too, how
impossible it was for him to make any substantial progress without a
good horse to ride. He had lost the best steed he had ever bestrode, and
was again thrown upon his own resources. It was natural and creditable
to the lad that, as he looked at the fallen steed, and reflected how
faithfully he had served him, his hands should seek his eyes. So they
did, and he spent full ten minutes in a regular old-fashioned cry, such
as he had not enjoyed since receiving a good trouncing at the hands of
his parent.

When his grief had subsided somewhat, he bade the unconscious form
good-bye, and with his rifle over his shoulder started ahead again. He
could not bear even to remove the blanket which was strapped around the
body of the mustang, and which was likely to be of great service to him
in his wanderings.

It was already growing dark, when he aimed for the hills, and, as his
eye swept over the the prairie, he saw no Indian or sign of danger. He
was hopeful that for the time being, at least, he was free from
molestation. His greatest trouble was, that he was ravenously hungry
again, and he counted upon considerable difficulty in securing the
wherewithal with which to satisfy his cravings. True, he had gun and
ammunition, but the game which he wished to meet seemed to be, as a
rule, reluctant to put itself within his reach.

After reaching the hills, the lad's next proceeding was to hunt up some
suitable spot in which to pass the night. The air was so warm and sultry
that he could have made no use of the blanket, had he possessed it. The
place was full of stunted trees and undergrowth, with jagged, irregular
masses of stone lying here and there, and constantly obtruding
themselves in such a way that he received a number of severe bruises.

After tramping about for a short time he discovered that the hills were
mainly in the form of a ridge, passing over the crest of which he went
down the opposite slope and found himself among a mass of larger rocks,
and in a still wilder section. There, while searching, it occurred to
him that he might find a suitable retreat among the rocks. The sound of
trickling water directed his steps a little to the left, where a tiny
rivulet was found dripping down from the dark stones. After quenching
his thirst he renewed his hunt.

Although he continued for some time, he was not as successful as he
desired. Nothing in the shape of a regular cavern presented itself, and
he finally nestled down beside one of the largest rocks which could be
discovered, with the intention of sleeping until morning.

Ned thought it strange that he should feel so frightened. With the
gathering of darkness he grew so nervous that all possibility of sleep
was driven away. He examined his rifle several times--a curious mistrust
taking possession of him--and then arose to his feet and listened.

All seemed as quiet as at creation's morn. There was a soothing
influence in the faint sound of the dripping water, and an almost
inaudible roar seemed to steal forth from the great prairie, such as is
sometimes noted when in the vicinity of the becalmed ocean. Without any
thought he thrust his hand into an inner pocket, when he felt a small
package wrapped up in paper. Wondering what it could be, he drew it
forth.

It was a box of matches!

Suddenly he remembered how they came there. On the day before leaving
Santa Fe it occurred to him that he would be likely to need such a
convenience, and he had carefully wrapped up a box and placed it in this
out-of-the-way corner, where it had lain forgotten.

"That's lucky!" exclaimed the delighted lad, as he drew them out,
recognizing them more by the touch than by sight. "Now I'll build a big
fire, and fix things splendidly."

A fire was his great desideratum, and, had he believed it possible
without great trouble and work, he would have kindled one before that.
The capture of a new horse could have pleased him scarcely more than the
discovery of the matches, and he set about reaping the advantage at
once.

In such a place there was little difficulty in procuring fuel, and it
took Ned but a short time to gather all he could possibly need; but, to
guard against all contingencies, he continued collecting until he had a
huge pile, made up of dead limbs, branches, and a number of green sticks
thrown in. In a few minutes the flames were under way. He had kindled
them against the face of a rock, and they burned with a cheery
heartiness that did much to dispel the gloom which had begun settling
over him. He seated himself as near the fire as he could without being
made uncomfortable by the reflected heat, and then he assumed as easy a
position as was possible in such a place.

"I wonder if anybody will see that?" he asked himself in a whisper,
after it had continued burning some time.

Rising and reconnoitering the ground, he was gratified to learn that the
light was better screened than he had reason to expect, considering the
carelessness with which he had kindled it. The rock at the rear shut off
all view from that direction, while the undergrowth was so matted and
dense in front, that it seemed impossible for any one to see it from the
prairie. Having made this survey, he returned to his position, feeling
much easier in mind than before.

"Strange what has become of Dick and Tom," he muttered, following up
this train of thought, as usual whenever he was left undisturbed for a
few minutes. "Can it be that they have been killed by the Apaches? It
might be, and yet I don't know how it could happen, either."

He was still meditating upon this ever-interesting query, when he was
roused to a sense of his situation by the sound of something trampling
through the bushes behind him.

"Indians!" he exclaimed, springing to his feet, rifle in hand, and
casting his terrified glance in the direction from whence came the
sound.

The words were yet in his mouth, when he felt that he had committed a
blunder. No Indian would approach in that manner.

"It must be some animal," was his conclusion, as he stepped back, so as
to bring himself as close to the fire as possible.

The next moment, a huge, dark, unwieldy body advanced from the gloom
with a growl, and he saw an immense grizzly bear lumbering toward him.
As quick as thought his rifle was at his shoulder, and he fired full at
him, the distance being so short that he could not fail to hit the mark;
but the wound, however severe it might have been, was not fatal, and did
not deter bruin's advance in the least. Knowing that it would be sure
death if he were once seized by the powerful monster, and aware of the
dread which all animals have of fire, he dropped his gun and caught up a
blazing brand, which he flung in the very face of the brute.

This was more than a bear, as courageous as was this giant grizzly,
could stand, and he retreated with an awkward haste which was
ridiculous. For the instant he was panic stricken, and continued falling
back until he was invisible in the gloom. But he was not disposed to
give up the contest by any means. Ned knew he would be back again, and
fortified himself as well as possible by hugging his own camp fire,
stooping down and holding himself ready to hurl another torch in the
brute's face if he should persevere in his attack.

For several minutes all was quiet, and he began to hope that his fright
was such that he would keep at a respectful distance. Such was not the
case, however. A growl from another direction warned him that the brute
was about to advance from that quarter. The lad peered out into the
gloom, wondering whether the creature would eventually overcome his
dread to such an extent as to press him to the wall. At any rate, he was
not disposed to wait and hastily ran around to the other side of the
blaze, by which maneuver it was interposed directly between him and his
enemy.

"I wonder what he will do now?"



CHAPTER XXX.

FIGHTING A GRIZZLY.


The grizzly could not fail to detect the ruse of the boy, and he
countered by moving around to the other side of the fire, so that he
regained his former advantage. The nocturnal visitor had evidently set
his mind upon making his supper upon the little chap, whose plump,
robust appearance must have been a very tempting bait to him. The latter
was reluctant to repeat his maneuver, as, by doing so, he would be
forced to pass so near his foe that a big paw might reach out and grasp
him while on the way.

"I'll have to fight you with fire," he said, as he seized a large stick,
one end of which was blazing.

In the hope that he might give him a greater scare than before, the lad
swung it rapidly around his head until it was fanned into a roaring
flame. While this was going on, he was surrounded, as it appeared, by a
fiery circle, his appearance being such that the bravest quadruped
living could not have been induced to approach within his reach. Not
content with this, Ned assumed the aggressive. Stooping low, he emitted
a wild yell, and repeating this, pointed the torch forward and toward
him, moving it more rapidly and in a smaller circle, while at the same
time he kept slowly advancing upon him.

No bear could be expected to withstand such a demonstration. The figure
of the yelling urchin, with his head surrounded by a blazing serpent,
must have struck terror to his very inmost being. Without pausing to do
more than to utter a short growl, he wheeled around and went crashing
through the undergrowth as if under the belief that a battery had been
suddenly unmasked and was about to open upon him. When he had retreated
a few rods he paused to see how matters appeared, when he again beheld
the horrid figure closer than ever and drawing nearer every moment. It
was appalling, and he plunged away at a greater speed than ever. Ned
pursued him until he was fearful of getting so far away from the camp
fire that he would lose it altogether. When he paused he could hear the
bear still tramping off, as if he already felt the torch blistering his
nose. Turning again, the lad ran with all speed to his "headquarters,"
where he flung down his torch and caught up his gun.

"Now I think I've got time to load it," he said, as he began the
operation at once, a little alarmed, however, to discover that the
supply of ammunition furnished him by Tom Hardynge was growing
alarmingly small.

He succeeded in ramming the charge home, and then as he placed the cap
upon the tube, he felt something of the old confidence that was his when
astride the mustang and coursing over the prairie at a speed which no
horse could equal. When first charged upon by the monster he had fired
with such haste that he had no time to make any aim; now fortified by
his camp fire, he meant to improve upon that. Everything being ready, he
looked off into the gloom, but nothing was to be seen of the creature,
nor did the slightest sound betray his whereabouts.

"He'll be sneaking back pretty soon," said the lad to himself, who was
resolved to remain on the watch.

He was not kept waiting. A minute later he caught the slow crackling and
trampling of some heavy creature through the undergrowth, and he was
confident that his old enemy was close at hand. The lad sank down upon
one knee, so close to the fire that it scorched him, and awaited his
approach. But the grizzly had been so thoroughly scared that he hadn't
entirely recovered from it. When something like twenty feet away he
halted, and evidently began debating whether it would be prudent to
approach.

Chadmund could not make out his figure distinctly, although he knew
precisely where he was; but, by and by, when the head moved a little, he
caught the phosphorescent glitter of the eyes. As the fire light shone
upon the gun-barrel he wanted no better opportunity, and, supporting the
weapon upon one knee, he pointed it straight at the center--that is,
directly between those glowing orbs, which remained stationary, as if in
waiting for the fatal messenger. It came the next moment. True to its
aim, the tiny sphere of lead entered the head of the bear at the most
vulnerable point, and the life went out from that huge mass. A rasping
growl, a few spasmodic throes, and it was all over.

Ned was naturally exultant over his exploit, and he reflected that if
matters went on in the same fashion, he could soon lay claim to being
quite a hunter. He had shot an Indian, a buffalo, and a grizzly bear,
besides performing some other exploits not always accomplished by men.

"I guess the best plan is to load again," he muttered, as he adopted
this precautionary measure. "That isn't the only grizzly bear in the
country."

By this time the fire was running down, and the lad, throwing some more
fuel upon it, seated himself directly in front, prepared to watch for
further visitors. He had scarcely ensconced himself in this position
when his hair fairly rose on end at hearing a low but distinct, growl,
proving that some other unwelcome caller was about to pay him his
respects.

He hurriedly looked in every direction, but could see nothing to explain
the cause of this alarming manifestation. It was so different from the
warning uttered by the grizzly that he knew it must be some other sort
of creature. Holding his rifle ready for instant use, he glanced
hurriedly about him, but, although the camp fire was throwing out a long
stream of light, no sign of an animal could be detected.

"I'm sure I heard something," he repeated, still wondering and looking
around in search of the cause. "Hello! there it goes again. It sounds as
if it were somewhere up in the air--it is in the air!"

The fire had been kindled against the face of a rock. This rock rose
perpendicularly a dozen feet above the ground below, where the fire was
burning, and where the lad was standing. As he looked up he saw the
gaunt figure of a large mountain wolf standing on the very edge of this,
looking down upon him, its lank jaws distended, its eyes glaring, and
its whole appearance that of a ferocious beast about to leap down upon
his head. The suggestion was so startling, that Ned uttered an
exclamation of terror, and leaped back several feet.

It must be that when a wild beast comes across a boy, he concludes that
even though he carries a gun there is nothing to be feared from him. The
grizzly bear had shown a sublime indifference to Ned's capacity, and his
life had paid the forfeit. And now, although the mountain wolf must have
seen him raise that rifle and point it as straight as the finger of fate
directly at him, he paid no attention to it whatever; but there he
stood, snarling and growling, and on the very point of leaping.

Suddenly there was a short, sharp crack, and it was all over with the
wolf. He must have gathered himself for a leap at that very moment; for
the bullet that bored his brittle skull through and through did not
prevent an outward bound. A faint yelp and the creature bounded full a
dozen feet directly out from the rock, and, owing to some curious quirp
of the muscles, turned a complete somerset, and would have landed
directly upon the head of Ned if he hadn't sprung to one side as the
carcass fell to the ground.

"That settles your case," remarked the boy, with the indifference of an
old hunter. "Now it's time to load up again."

This done he settled himself to watch and listen and play the part of
his own sentinel for the rest of the night. A faint moaning of the
night-wind was all that reached his ears. Once he fancied he heard the
report of a gun far away in the distance, but it was so faint that he
might have been mistaken. Then a cry, somewhat resembling that made by a
panther, was borne on the wind, but that, too, seemed to come from the
mountains that were miles away to the westward. No sound indicated the
presence of any further danger close at hand. Everything was quiet, and
seemingly at rest.



CHAPTER XXXI.

SLEEP.


The sentinel on his rounds, the watchman upon his beat, or the sailor
pacing the deck of his vessel in mid-ocean, keeps his senses awake by
the constant motion of his body. To sit down to rest for a few minutes
only is fatal. Sleep has the power of stealing over the faculties, and
wrapping them up in its embrace so insidiously, that no watchfulness can
guard against it unless artificial means, such as walking, are resorted
to. When Ned Chadmund resumed an easy position in front of his own camp
fire, the inevitable result followed. He resolved to keep his ears and
eyes open, and almost immediately closed them. A few minutes passed and
then his head began to nod. Several times he narrowly escaped tumbling
over, and, finally rousing, he vigorously rubbed his eyes, yawned, and
arose to his feet.

"My gracious! this won't do," he exclaimed, with a shuddering sense of
the danger he was running. "A bear might steal right up to me and eat me
up before I could help myself. If I'm going to play sentinel, I must do
it like a man."

Straightway he began pacing back and forth in front of the blaze, his
beat extending some twenty feet back and forth. He carried his rifle on
his shoulder and proved the thoroughness of his vigilance by an
occasional glance at the top of the rock, from which the mountain wolf
had made its death leap. The coast remained clear. The far-off sounds
which had attracted his attention a short time before were not repeated,
and, as the labor of walking back and forth grew a little wearisome, he
began to argue the question with himself.

"I wonder whether there isn't some way of resting without working? If
I've got to walk all night, what shall I be good for to-morrow? I don't
see any fun in this sort of business. Ah, I know how I'll fix it; I'll
kindle two fires."

He acted upon the idea at once. He had gathered such an abundance of
fuel that he had no fear of the supply running out. In a few minutes he
had a second fire started, about a dozen feet from the other, while he
stowed himself away directly between them. His position, he soon
discovered, was rather warmer than he anticipated, but he speedily
remedied this by permitting each fire to subside in a slight degree.

"This is nice," he muttered, shrinking up against the rock. "I don't
think any wild creature would harm me unless he tumbled over the top of
the rock there and dropped on my head. Even then I think I should wake
up soon enough to use my gun on him. But then, I guess I won't go to
sleep."

Five minutes later his head was nodding again, and utter unconsciousness
speedily followed. But one of the brands in the fire on his right fell,
and there was a slight crackling explosion of the embers--as is often
the case. A glowing spark flew outward and dropped upon the limp hand of
the sleeping youngster.

Simultaneously there was a yell, and the lad leaped several feet from
the ground, dancing about like a rejoicing warrior and flinging his hand
as if he were trying to shake off some clinging reptile.

"I should like to know who did that?" he exclaimed, a little confused by
the startling manner in which he had been aroused. "I guess I understand
how it all came about, though," he added, as he examined the stinging
blister upon the back of his hand.

The pain from this little wound effectually banished all sleep for the
time. Ned busied himself in replenishing the fire, and then walked out
in the gloom and looked about. Everything was the same. The night was
dark,--no moon being visible,--and an oppressive sultriness was in the
atmosphere. It seemed as if some elemental disturbance were close at
hand, but in looking to the sky no presage of it could be discovered.

After wandering about for some time, the lad spat upon some earth, and,
plastering it over the smarting blister, succeeded in shutting out the
air from it and secured considerable relief.

"It must be that I am all alone," he added, standing still and
listening. "No one is near and no one sees me but God. He has taken care
of me in the past, and He will not forsake me in future," he added,
looking reverently upward.

The old feeling of drowsiness again stole over him and he determined to
secure a night's rest--that is, during the portion of the night that
remained. Still the fact that the fires had run down somewhat raised the
inquiry in his mind as to what was likely to happen in case they went
out altogether. If any more grizzly bears should put in an appearance,
his situation would not be of the most inviting nature, but he had
argued himself into the belief that no further peril of this character
threatened. By placing a goodly amount of fuel upon the fires he hoped
to keep them going until daylight, or until his slumber was over. Had he
been able to find a suitable tree, he would have made his bed in that,
even at the risk of another disagreeable fall, but nothing of the kind
could be seen, and he had already grown weary of hunting for some hiding
place among the rocks. Accordingly, the camp fires were replenished and
he resumed his former position between them, covering his hands very
carefully, lest another spark should drop in the same place.

"I wish it was colder!" he exclaimed, when he found the place growing
uncomfortably warm. "If it was winter now, I shouldn't want anything
nicer."

He stood it like a hero, however, and by and by his place became more
pleasant, for the reason that the fuel was rapidly burning down. About
this time sleep regained possession of his senses, and, cramped up
though he was, with his back against the rock, his slumber was scarcely
less sound than if he were stretched out upon his blanket beneath a tree
in the forest.

At the time young Chadmund relapsed into unconsciousness it was nearly
midnight, and for nearly two hours following there was scarcely the
slightest change in the surroundings. The fires burned low, until the
figure of the lad braced up against the rock grew dim and shadowy in the
deepening gloom. Scarcely a breath of air stirred the vegetation about
him, and everything seemed to be calculated to lull one into a deep,
soothing, dreamless sleep. But at the end of the time mentioned,
something came out of the undergrowth and advanced stealthily toward
him. It was vague, shadowy, and so dimly outlined that at first its form
could not be recognized; but as it glided closer to the fire, there was
enough light remaining to disclose the figure of another wolf.

Like a phantom born of the gloom itself, it moved toward the unconscious
lad, until scarcely a dozen feet intervened. Then, as if directed by
Providence, one of the embers snapped apart, throwing out a sudden
flame, which momentarily lit up the surrounding darkness. Like a flash
the wolf slunk back, and then, pausing, stood and stared at the lad,
licking his jaws as if in anticipation of the feast he expected to enjoy
upon him.

As the flames subsided again, and the same gloom crept over the scene,
the hideous creature stole up again, resolved to have the meal displayed
so temptingly before him. Once more he was within reach, still advancing
with jaws distended--ready to leap upon him. The boy slumbered
dreamlessly on. Still nearer crept the wolf until Ned was at his mercy.

At this critical juncture, something whizzed from the upper surface of
the rock, with the velocity almost of a bullet. It was a tomahawk,
which, speeding true to its aim, struck the unsuspicious wolf fairly and
with such terrific force that his skull was cloven in twain as
completely as if smitten by the headsman's ax. There was scarcely time
for the wild yelp as he tumbled over backward. But, such as it was, it
aroused Ned, who sprang to his feet and gazed about him with an alarmed
and bewildered air. Before he could fairly comprehend what had taken
place he saw figures descending and approaching. It was too late to
retreat. He was surrounded.

"I'm a goner now!" he muttered.

But as the firelight brightened, he saw the kindly faces of Tom Hardynge
and Dick Morris.



CHAPTER XXXII.

REUNITED.


"How was it that you came to leave me for so long a time?" inquired Ned,
after he had welcomed his two friends with boyish enthusiasm and
congratulated himself upon his timely deliverance.

"Wal," replied Tom, as the three took up a comfortable position before
the fire, "we started you off on that hunt on purpose to give you a
little taste of buffaler huntin', calc'latin' to foller on after ye in
the course of an hour or two. Afore we could do so, a war-party of a
hundred redskins got right atween us--didn't you see 'em?"

"No such party as that."

"In course they shut us out altogether. The worst of it was, we
exchanged a few shots back and forth with 'em, and they give us a brush;
so by the time we had dodged out of their way, we was a long ways off
from you. We couldn't do nothin' till mornin', and by that time the
buffaloes and Injuns had trampled out your trail, so that there was
nothin' to be seen of it, and we had to go it on general principles. We
had 'bout made up our mind that some of the varmints had gobbled you,
when we put eyes on this fire, and there ain't any use of tellin' any
more."

The lad now in compliance with their request, related his entire
experience since their separation. Old and veteran hunters as they were,
and chary of praise as was their custom, they did not hesitate to
compliment him highly upon the courage he had displayed in the most
trying emergencies in which he was placed. His experience had, indeed,
been a most remarkable one, and Providence had protected him in a
wonderful manner.

Everything being understood, and the past cleared up, it now became them
to look to the future. There were only two horses to three persons, and
as there were no means of obtaining one, it became necessary to divide
the lad between the two hunters--an arrangement which was easily made.

But, although it might seem that the greatest danger of the company had
passed, the truth was, however, that the greatest was still before them,
and both Dick and Tom knew it. They were pursuing a journey in an almost
due south-westerly direction--precisely the course necessary to take in
order to reach home, as they had come to look upon Fort Havens. But
directly in their path was a broad level patch of country, interspersed,
here and there, with rocks and vegetation, over which both the Comanches
and Apaches were so constantly roaming that it would be impossible for a
white man to cross it without being discovered by some of the
war-parties.

When Dick and Tom were coming from the other direction, they were seen,
and escaped only by the superior fleetness of their horses. But the
trouble was that while they were not expected and not watched for then,
now they were. The redskins were cunning enough to know that if two
hunters rode at full speed through their country in the direction of
Santa Fe, they would be very likely to return again in the course of a
few days, and, as Dick said, the reds "would be ready for 'em."
Consequently, it became not a question of fleetness; for, if it were,
the hunters could afford to have very little apprehension over the
result; but Tom Hardynge was well convinced that the Apaches, to the
number of a hundred or more, were distributed at different points, and
on the lookout for them. Indeed, he had already seen such evidence of
the fact that it could not be doubted. He did not consider it necessary
to tell their young friend all this, for he would learn it in due time.

Such being the case it would have been a waste of time for the three to
remain where they were, while they had the sheltering darkness to screen
them in their flight; but the two mustangs had done a good deal of
traveling, and it was wise to give them the rest while it could be
gained. Here were water and grass, of which the animals were taking the
advantage. It was wise to husband their strength and endurance until the
following day.

The hunters extinguished one camp fire entirely, and toned the other
down so that there was no possibility of its attracting the notice of
any one unless he passed very near at hand. Fortunately for Ned, they
had some very good and substantial lunch with them, with which his
hunger was fully satisfied. There still remained a little stock on hand,
which was reserved more for him than themselves. They were accustomed to
such privations and could stand it very well, but the lad was of too
tender years not to suffer keenly.

The night was so far gone that no one attempted to obtain any sleep. The
hunters went out and examined the dead grizzly, learning his dimensions
by the sense of feeling alone. Tom picked up the tomahawk, and, wiping
off the blade upon the grass, shoved it down in his belt, with the
remark that it might come handy again before they reached Fort Havens.
The two then made an observation for the purpose of learning whether any
of the Indians were in the neighborhood. Nothing important was
discovered, however, and in due time the night ended and the morning
came again.

The sun was scarcely up when they were under way. Ned at first was
placed upon the back of the mustang ridden by Dick Morris, and side by
side, the two fleet-limbed creatures left the ridge and took the
shortest route to Fort Havens. The gait was an easy, swinging one, which
the horses were capable of keeping up from rise of morn until set of
sun. The day was warm and sunshiny, but the air was so clear and pure
that the oppressiveness was much less than would have been the case in a
more northern latitude.

Beyond the ridge, the country remained open, as the prairie was inclined
to be rolling than otherwise, but with a surface which permitted the
utmost swiftness of which an animal was capable. Occasionally patches of
wood and rocky elevations were discernible, but these were given a wide
berth in all cases, as they were the very places where the treacherous
enemies would have wished them to come. A herd of buffaloes, probably
the same seen a short time before, was discerned far to the south, but
they were passed by while still a long distance away.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

CLOSING IN.


The party pushed on until the greater portion of the forenoon was
passed, when Ned was transferred to the back of Tom's horse. The lad had
noticed that the hunters were acting in a strange manner, as though they
were ill at ease, and were apprehensive that peril of some kind was
approaching.

Dick Morris rode fully a hundred yards in advance of his comrade, and
the motion of his head showed that there was no part of the horizon that
was not under his surveillance. Tom was equally busy while riding in the
rear. Neither of the hunters addressed a word to the other, but the boy
detected a sort of telegraphy occasionally passing between them. They
were working by a preconcerted arrangement, like corresponding parts of
some machine, understanding each other so well that there was no need
for explanation. The boy also used his to the best advantage possible,
often turning his head and scanning the prairie and horizon, but not a
single time did he discern anything that looked like Indians. Had he
been alone, he would have journeyed serenely forward, certain that no
danger of any kind threatened.

At noon, a brief halt was made as they struck the margin of a small
stream, the water of which was rather warm and muddy, the buffaloes
having probably disturbed it at some point above. The horses quaffed
their fill, and upon the suggestion of Tom, Ned did the same. There was
a good deal of significance when he uttered the words.

"It may be a good while before you get a chance at another."

It did not escape the notice of the lad, either, that both his friends
filled to the full their old canteens, after which they repaired to one
side, where they conversed for some time in low tones, and with such
earnest, excited gestures, that it was plain they were in deadly
earnest.

"I don't see why they keep everything from me," he muttered, as he
observed this. "I think I've seen as big sights as they have for the
last few days, and if there's any trouble coming, I wonder whether I
haven't got to take my chance the same as them? But I'll let them alone
till they get ready to tell me."

He was watching the two as they were talking to each other, when Tom
beckoned to him to approach.

"There's no use of talkin'," said the hunter, in a low voice; "we're
gettin' into the worst scrimmage of our lives. We're right in the middle
of a dangerous tract. We've been seen by the Apaches and they're arter
us."

"Why don't you wait until night and go through when they can't see you?"

The hunter shook his head at this seemingly reasonable query.

"The darkness is worse for us than it is for them. They can lay flat on
the perarie and hear the sound of the hosses' feet a good deal further
off than they can see 'em, and the scamps are so cunnin' they would have
drawn us right into some ambush afore we'd knowed anythin' about it. No,
we must try it with our eyes open and the sun shinin'."

"But what of it?" asked Ned, who did not see why their position need be
looked upon as so critical. "Your mustangs are as fleet as theirs. How
are they going to catch you?"

The whole difficulty was then made clear to the lad. If the Apaches were
nowhere but in the rear, it would be an easy matter to give them the
slip, but they were on the right and left, and in front, and signs that
had been seen through the day indicated very clearly that the Indians
were carrying out to the letter the plan of which the hunters had
spoken, and which they dreaded so much. They had already surrounded
them, the circle being quite a number of miles in diameter, and were now
simply drawing in their lines.

This, as a matter of course, made a collision inevitable, unless the
hunters could manage to steal between these redskins, and, by striking
the open country beyond, place the entire company in their rear. Such a
plan as this was scarcely possible of accomplishment.

If attempted during the daytime, it would be instantly detected by some
of the redskins, who would notify the proper ones, when an immediate
concentration would take place in front of the fugitives. If tried
during the darkness of night, it would fail. The Apaches would take
every imaginable precaution against it and there was no means of
concealing the noise made by hoofs. By going on foot they could get
through the lines without difficulty; but they could not commit the
imprudence of leaving their horses. The situation, therefore, was
critical. Tom made known two most important facts. The first was that
beyond a doubt Lone Wolf was at the head of the whole enterprise, and
they were likely to meet with this treacherous chief again. The second
was that, in case they were driven to the wall, the hunters had
determined upon taking refuge in a place known as Hurricane Hill.

"It's nothing more than a pile of rocks," added Hardynge. "I've been
there before, and it's just the spot to make a desp'rit stand. Two men
like us, if we can reach the right p'int, can keep a hundred of the
redskins back."

"Won't they get there ahead of us?" asked Ned.

"I think not," replied the hunter, in that hesitating manner which
showed that he had thought of the contingency before; "for the reason
that I b'leve they'd like to have us run there; but, come, let's be
off."

That the mustangs might be relieved, the lad was now taken on the back
of Dick's, and the journey toward the southwest was resumed at the same
sweeping gallop. Tom took the lead, carefully scanning the ground over
which they traveled. For an hour all went well, and then he reined up
his steed with startling suddenness.

"Look yonder!" he said, pointing to the south.

Glancing in the direction indicated, the boy saw a number of moving
specks, apparently on the very horizon.

"Injuns," said Dick, in a low voice, although the boy scarcely needed
the explanation to know they were their old enemies--mounted Apaches.

"Do you see 'em?"

"Yes."

"Now take a peep off there."

This time the hunter pointed exactly opposite, where almost precisely
the same thing was visible.

"Now, I s'pose you understand how it all is? They've been keeping along
with us all day, a little ahead, and all the time closing in a little.
They've got things down to a dot, and mean bus'ness, you can bet."

"But are we anywhere near Hurricane Hill?"

"Yonder it is."

Several miles in advance, a dark, mound-like obstruction appeared
against the sky. It was so far away that it was seen only indistinctly,
but its character was evidently such as described by the hunter.

"Are you going for it?"

"We are."

And, suiting action to his words, they immediately broke into a gallop
which was more rapid than before.

The situation, especially to the boy, became painful in its thrilling
intensity. He required no telling to know that the dreaded programme
described by his friends was being carried out to the letter. The
Apaches were steadily closing in upon them, and it was evident that, if
they chose to do so, they could effectually shut them out from reaching
their vantage ground. Young Chadmund dreaded such a course upon their
part. Somehow or other he had grown to look upon Hurricane Hill as their
haven of safety. The few words of recommendation that Tom Hardynge had
given it caused this belief upon his part. He did not pause to ask
himself what was to be done after reaching it.

Suppose it could be gained in perfect safety, what then? If they should
prove themselves fully able to keep a whole host of Apaches at bay, how
was the siege to end? If the Indians should content themselves with
merely waiting until hunger and thirst could do their work, what more?
These questions naturally occurred to the men themselves, but it came
back to Hobson's choice after all. And so they dashed ahead, gradually
increasing their speed, while the Apaches, with the regularity of
machine work, as gradually drew in upon them.

"Will they cut us off?" inquired Ned, when the chase had continued for
some time.

"Guess not," replied Dick; "but it don't make much difference."

"Why not?"

"'Cause it begins to look as if they had a dead sure thing of it," said
the scout, sententiously.

"I hope not--I hope not," said the trembling lad, who could only pray
that Heaven would not desert them in the peril which was encompassing
them on every hand.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

HURRICANE HILL.


While yet at a considerable distance, the full force of the Indians
became developed. They were divided almost equally, fifty being on
either hand, and their speed still remained such that the main portion
kept ahead of the fugitives, with about half a mile intervening between
them and their pursuers. It may have been fancy, but Tom Hardynge
maintained that he was able to recognize Lone Wolf among the redskins on
the right, and when a short time afterward Dick Morris emphatically
asserted the same thing, it began to look as if the belief were well
founded.

The sun was quite low in the sky, and the gait of the mustangs began to
tell upon them. The two were galloping side by side, and going nearly at
full speed. Both Tom and Dick were angry at being forced into such a
position, which, to them, was a cowardly flight from a lot of wretches
whom they despised and hated.

"I must give 'em my compliments," suddenly exclaimed the latter, when
they were within rifle shot of each other. As he spoke, he raised his
gun, and fired into Lone Wolf's band.

He seemed to take no aim at all, and, indeed, there was little necessity
for it, as the Indians were so numerous and compact. A yell followed and
then a commotion, showing very plainly that the shot had told.

"I reckon I'll try it again, it works so well," said Dick, repeating the
demonstration, except that he aimed to the company on the left. He took
a little more pains to guard against throwing his shot away and the
result was similar to the first.

"Now we'll catch it," said the terrified Ned, crouching down beside the
hunter, who like his friend was engaged in reloading his gun.

But there was no return fire. The Apaches, evidently, had concluded that
they could wait. The shots, however, resulted somewhat advantageously
for the fugitives, who, during the momentary confusion thus created,
managed to crowd a little ahead. The horses were then put to a dead run
and the final rush made for Hurricane Hill, the last refuge for which
the fugitives could flee, seeing which, the Indians converged toward
them, and made every effort to shut them off.

Although the hunters had apparently used their utmost endeavors up to
this time, they had husbanded the strength of their animals so cleverly
that their pursuers themselves were deceived, and when they expected to
interpose themselves directly across the path, they beheld them flying
like a whirlwind toward the rocks.

The few hundred yards remaining between the latter and Hurricane Hill
were passed in a few seconds by the fleet-footed mustangs. Ned was
fairly dazed by the bewildering rush of events, and hardly able to keep
track of their order. He saw the hurrying warriors directly behind them,
and the rough, cragged mass of rocks in front. The next moment he was
off the mustang. The scouts had checked their beasts at the same instant
at the base of Hurricane Hill, and, leaping to the ground, skurried up
the steep incline by which its surface was reached. The feet of the lad
did not touch the earth. Dick, who was slightly in advance, carried him
under his arm as if he were an infant snatched up in haste, and the men
bounded toward the top of the hill, the whole howling horde at their
heels.

Hurricane Hill, it should be stated, was a pile of rocks about one
hundred feet in diameter, with half that height. On one side a narrow
path led upward at an angle of forty-five degrees, and, as it permitted
only one to pass at a time, the place, with a few defenders, was
impregnable against almost any force. This path upward was filled with
loose, rattling stones, which sometimes made one's foothold treacherous,
and it also made several curious turns, so that, after ascending a rod
or so, one was shut out from the view of those upon the ground below.

The very instant this point was reached Dick Morris dropped the lad and
exclaimed:

"Now run like thunder, and don't stop till you reach the top."

Then, wheeling about, he leaped back several paces to the assistance of
Tom, who was defending the pass like a second Leonidas against the
swarming warriors.

A huge, stalwart redskin, who probably believed his strength to be
superior to that of the scouts, advanced boldly and seized him, with the
evident purpose of drawing him down among the others and making him a
prisoner in spite of himself. But he found he had made a slight
miscalculation when he was lifted like a child from the ground and
hurled over the heads and among the glowering redskins crowding below.
The momentum of his body was such that a half dozen were forced backward
and almost off their feet. Had the Apaches chosen to do so, it would
have been an easy matter to have shot all three of the fugitives, or
even two of them, and taken the lad; but they had some old score against
Tom and Dick, which could not be wiped out by mere death alone. Now that
such a fine opportunity was presented for securing them and indulging in
all the luxury of torture, they were not the ones to throw away the
chance. Hence, they persistently refused to fire and as persistently
forced their way upward.

This check, which might have been simply temporary, was emphasized and
made more permanent in its character by Dick, who at the critical moment
seized a goodly sized rock, which he drove down among the wretches like
the discharge from a fifty pounder. It made terrible work and the
discomfited Apaches retreated tumultuously to the bottom, while the
hunters hastened away again to the top of the hill. Ned was there
awaiting their coming with the most painful misgiving about their coming
at all. He knew from the uproar that a desperate fight was raging in the
narrow pass, and he feared that the resentful Apaches would overcome the
braver hunters, who were defending themselves so desperately. But there
they were at last, with the announcement that their enemies had fallen
back and a temporary peace was given them.

"Can't expect it to last long, howsomever," added Tom, who breathed
scarcely any faster from his terrific exertions. "Them skunks are bound
to swallow us whole, and we've got to kick hard to prevent it."

As soon as a little breathing time had been gained, the besieged made an
examination of their immediate surroundings, to learn the probable form
in which this business was likely to end. The hunters removed all
superfluous articles from their persons,--in the shape of canteens and a
few appurtenances,--like pugilists who are stripping for a fight.

The surface of Hurricane Hill was generally level, and free from the
boulders and obstructions which one would naturally expect to find
there, which Tom Hardynge explained by saying that they had all been
rolled down upon the Indians below by parties who had been driven to
this _dernier resorte_ years before. The position of the three,
therefore, was very much as if they were upon the extensive top of a
tower which was reached by a narrow stairway, their province being to
defend it against all comers.

For some time after the repulse of the Apaches, all remained quiet. Of
course, they took charge of the two mustangs that the fugitives had been
compelled to leave behind in their flight and then disposed themselves
around the refuge, like those who had made up their minds to wait until
the fruit dropped into their hands.

The afternoon was drawing to a close, and Ned naturally viewed the
coming night with distrust. Darkness seemed to be the appropriate time
for the fiends to work, and more than once he shuddered as he pictured
in his imagination the merciless wretches swarming up the narrow path
and spreading over the top, like the rush of waters when bursting up
from some hidden fountain.

"All we've got to do is to keep our eyes open," said Dick, with a most
reassuring manner. "If I could have plenty to eat and drink, with the
privilege of sleeping a little now and then, I wouldn't want any better
fun than to stay up here for a few months and crack their heads as they
come up."

"Shall I do the watching to-night?"

"Not much," grinned Dick. "Tom takes the first half, me the last, and
that's as good a way as we can fix it."

"And what shall I do to help?"

"Go to sleep as soon as it is dark, and don't wake up for three or four
days--and even then you must not be dry or hungry."



CHAPTER XXXV.

THE SENTINEL.


Ned then understood why the two scouts had taken pains to fill their
canteens at the brook during the day, and why, also, they so religiously
preserved the little lunch still remaining in their possession. It was
to guard against just such a contingency.

As the sun approached the horizon, the lad seated himself upon a rocky
protuberance and looked off over the surrounding country. To the west,
the blue, misty outlines of a moderately high range of mountains shut
off all further view.

"Just beyond that," he said to himself, as he fixed his eyes upon the
elevation, "Tom tells me is Fort Havens, where father is waiting for me.
If he only knew we were here, he might come to our relief. Wouldn't he
scatter the redskins down there? But I don't know how he will find it
out. Oh! if we were only among those mountains, it wouldn't take us long
to go the rest of the way. I suppose the fort can be seen from their
top."

To the south, a stratum of yellow vapor stretched for forty degrees
along the horizon. There were no buffaloes there, but there had been,
and it was the evidence of their passage. To the north, the view was
broken by ridges, patches of wood, and curious irregularities of
surface, but there was no sign of life among all, nor could it be
detected except by peering over the edge of Hurricane Hill down upon the
assembled besiegers below. He noticed that Tom Hardynge, shading his
eyes with his hand, was gazing off with a fixed intensity in the
direction of the mountains which intervened between them and Fort
Havens. He said nothing, but there was a significance in his persistency
which aroused the curiosity of the lad in no small degree. Could it be
that his keen vision detected something tangible toward the setting sun,
which was hidden from view by the mountain range? Or was it the mere
searching for something upon which to hang his hopes?

Dick Morris was very differently occupied, acting, indeed, as if unaware
that anyone else was upon the hill-top besides himself. Crawling to the
edge, he was stretched out flat upon his face, his hat removed, while he
peered stealthily downward upon the crowd below. Probably, he, too, was
searching for something or somebody. There was so much meaning in his
actions that the interest of the lad centered upon him, and he watched
every motion.

The hunter fidgeted around for a few minutes, as if his posture was not
exactly comfortable, and then hastily projecting his gun over the
margin, he took a quick aim and fired, and then flinging the weapon
aside, looked down again to see the result. All at once, he sprang to
his feet, and stamped back toward the center of the plateau, in a
terrific rage.

"Ain't it awful!" he exclaimed, adding a forcible expletive. "Did I ever
make a bigger mistake?"

"What do you mean, Dick?"

"Hit the wrong skunk."

"How is that?" asked Tom, turning toward him.

"I've been figuring around for half an hour so as to draw a bead on Lone
Wolf, and just as I pulled the trigger, I found I'd hit the wrong one.
It's trying to one's feelings to be disappointed that way."

"I don't b'leve you'll get a chance at him," said Tom, as he seated
himself and resumed his patient scrutiny of the western horizon.

However the scout was not quite in despair, and, reloading his piece, he
returned to his position and resumed his watch. But the mistake he had
made operated against him in every way. It apprised the Apaches of their
danger from this sort of sharp-shooting, and the whole force fell back,
while Lone Wolf, who was shrewd enough to know that his life was in
special demand, made sure that he was out of range of those fatal
rifles. Besides this, it was rapidly growing dark, and before Dick could
gain any kind of a chance at all, the light was too dim to afford him
the indispensable aim.

The hunters showed a business-like manner of doing things. As soon as it
was fairly dark, Dick Morris gave up his hunt for Lone Wolf, and,
remarking that there would be no fun until the morrow, rolled over and
away from the margin, and was sound asleep within ten minutes.

"You'd better do the same," said Tom to the lad, as he left him alone,
and moved down the incline to the position he intended to occupy while
acting as sentinel during the first portion of the night.

Ned remained up a considerable time, when, as there seemed to be nothing
going on of an alarming nature, he concluded to step out and do the
same, if he could control his nerves enough to do so. He was both hungry
and thirsty, but not to a very great degree, and as his companions said
nothing about eating or drinking, he made up his mind to wait until the
morrow. It was about an hour before he became entirely unconscious, but
when he shut his eyes they were not opened until morning.

Before that time, however, Tom Hardynge became involved in a little
difficulty. The point where he located was about half way between the
base and top of Hurricane Hill. Here the path made such an abrupt bend
that it was easy to conceal himself, and still keep a sharp watch upon
any one coming from below. It was the hunter's belief that an attempt
would be made by the Apaches to steal upon them before morning; for,
while their enemies were ready to wait three or four days, or as long as
was necessary, yet it was to be expected that they would prefer to force
matters to a conclusion as speedily as possible. If they could crowd up
to the top of the hill and overwhelm the fugitives, they were willing to
incur the risk of losing several lives that they might do so.
Accordingly, when he assumed his position it was with the expectation
that there would be something on the carpet before long.

Nor was he disappointed. For two hours not the slightest sound reached
his ears, and then a pebble softly rattled down the incline below him.
There might have been no human agency in this slight occurrence, as the
loose _débris_ was likely to do the same thing at any moment, but Tom
believed that it was caused by the moccasin of an Apache stealing
upward. He stealthily peeped around the edge of the rock, but nothing
was to be seen. There was a moon in the sky, but its position was such
that the path was thrown in shadow, and he could not have detected a man
a dozen feet distant.

Fifteen minutes more passed and then the scout became certain that an
Indian was stealing up the path toward him. It was a wonder how the
thing could be done, without sending streams of gravel and pebbles
rattling to the bottom. Hardynge straightened up, still peering around
in the gloom.

The moments wore away and still he was able to detect that soft, faint
gliding, as if a rattlesnake were getting into a position to strike its
prey. By and by--yes, he could now make out the crouching figure
approaching through the darkness and he drew back lest he should be
seen. Nearer and nearer it drew, while he remained as motionless as the
solid rock beside him. Finally, after great delay it stood opposite.

At the very instant it was passing the hand of Tom Hardynge shot
straight out with lightning-like quickness and force, and the knife
clutched in his iron-like grasp did its duty well. No outcry proclaimed
the deed. There was only a gasp and all was over. The moment it was done
the hunter straightened up and listened.

"Mebbe there's another behind him."

But the most patient, careful listening failed to detect anything, and,
leaving the body lying where it had fallen, he went noiselessly to the
top where Dick was sleeping. A gentle touch aroused the latter and he
instantly rose to his feet. A few words told him all that had happened
and then the two hurriedly discussed the scheme which had occurred to
Hardynge a short time before. Two minutes only were needed for them to
reach a conclusion.

"I'll do it," muttered Tom, as they arose and began picking their way
down the path.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

A DESPERATE SCHEME.


The two scouts carefully descended until they reached the spot where the
dead Apache lay. They moved as noiselessly as shadows until they stood
directly by the inanimate form. Then, while Tom Hardynge began adjusting
his outer garments, Dick Morris stooped over and drew forth the blanket
which was crumpled beneath the dead warrior.

The Apaches and Comanches and different tribes of the southwest nearly
always carry their blankets with them when traveling, and when this
particular Indian essayed his perilous reconnaissance on a sultry summer
night that garment was flung over his shoulders. These savages as a
rule, do not wear their hair done up in the defiant scalp-lock form seen
among their more northern kindred. It hangs loosely about their heads
and shoulders, being ornamented with stained feathers, the hair itself
frequently daubed with brilliant paint.

Tom gathered the blanket about him precisely as did the warrior, and
then, his own cap being thrown aside, the feathers were stuck in among
the tresses with all the skill of the veteran warrior. As he wore
leggings the same as the redskin, his _tout ensemble_ was complete.
Beneath his blanket he carried his rifle, pistol and knife, and even
took the tomahawk from the girdle of the fallen brave, and managed to
stow that about his clothing. Even now the two comrades spoke not a
word. They merely shook hands in a silent, cordial grasp, and almost
immediately became invisible to each other. Dick remained where he was
for several minutes, listening and looking, and then, hearing nothing,
moved back toward his former position, muttering as he went:

"If anybody can get through 'em, Tom's the boy--but it's a powerful
desprit scheme--a powerful desprit one!"

Reaching the top, he crawled again to the margin, and stretched out with
his head partly over. Eye-sight was of no avail now, and he depended
upon hearing alone, believing that by that means he would be able to
learn the success or failure of the maneuver. But not until nearly an
hour had passed did he begin to feel anything like a real hope that his
comrade had succeeded.

In the meantime, Tom was doing his best. It was no easy task for him to
pass safely through the Apache lines in the guise of an Indian. The
redskins would be on the lookout for the return of their scout, and the
ordeal through which he would have to pass would be a much more severe
one than usual. But he was accustomed to desperate schemes, and ready
for any sort of encounter. If discovered immediately, he meant to dash
back again up the rocks; but if he could get any distance away, he would
make a determined effort to elude his enemies altogether.

Following out his plan with the deliberation of a veteran, he stole
slowly downward, consuming fully half an hour before he reached the base
of Hurricane Hill. When, at length, he stood upon hard ground below, he
was taken somewhat back by seeing no one near him.

"That's queer," he said; "what's become of the skunks?"

He had scarcely uttered the words when a tall form suddenly appeared at
his side, coming up as if he had risen from the very ground.

"Do the hunters sleep?"

This question was asked in pure Apache, and Tom, somewhat distrustful of
his own ability in that line, managed to muffle his blanket up in front
of his mouth as he replied in the same tongue:

"They sleep not."

"Where is their scalps, Mau-tau-ke?"

"On their heads."

The warrior was no more than ten feet distant, and from the moment the
scout detected him he began edging away, the Indian naturally following
along while these words were being uttered, so as to keep within easy
ear-shot. Upon hearing the second reply to his question, he paused, and
Tom, dreading a betrayal, grasped the handle of his knife under his
cloak, and was ready to use it on the instant. But the Indian remained
standing, while Tom, still moving away in his indifferent manner, soon
passed beyond his view.

"I guess he's stopped to think," was the conclusion of the scout, as he
looked back in the gloom, "and it'll be some time before he's through."

But the trouble now remained as to how he should pass through the Apache
lines beyond. If the redskins had any suspicion of any such movement, or
if the warrior whom he had just left were suspicious, serious trouble
was at hand.

The hunter sauntered aimlessly along, using his eyes and ears, and a
walk of something over a hundred yards brought him up against a number
of figures that were stretched out and sitting upon the ground, with
several standing near at hand.

They showed no surprise at their "brother's" approach, and he was
confident that, if they didn't undertake to cross-question him too
closely, he stood a good chance of getting through. As they were
gathered too closely at this point he made a turn to the right, and, to
his amazement, not a word was said or the least notice taken of him, as
he walked directly by. That was succeeding, indeed; but Tom was not yet
ready to leave the neighborhood. He wanted his horse, Thundergust, and,
once astride of him, his heart would be light as a bird; but in looking
around he could not discern a single horse.

It would be useless to attempt to reach Fort Havens on foot. The Apaches
would detect his flight by daylight, which was only a few hours away,
and they could overhaul him before he could go any distance at all. No,
he must have his horse, and he began his search for him. This was a
delicate task; but he prosecuted it with the same skill and
_nonchalance_ that he had displayed heretofore.

He had stolen along for a short distance, when he descried some twenty
horses corraled and cropping the grass, while a still larger number were
lying on the ground. Was his own among them? he asked himself, as he
stood looking in that direction, while he dimly discerned the figures of
the warriors upon his left. Very cautiously he gave utterance to a
slight whistle. There was no response, although he suspected it was
heard by the redskins themselves. Then he repeated it several times,
walking a little nearer the group of equines.

All at once one of their number rose from the ground with a faint
whinney, and came trotting toward him. At the same time several Indians
came forward from the main group, their suspicions fairly awakened by
these maneuvers.

One of these suddenly broke into a run, as he descried the mustang
trotting toward the warrior-like figure shrouded in his blanket. There
was no doubt in his mind that something was wrong. The scout stood like
a statue, as though he saw not the approach of the man or horse. The
latter as if distrustful of the shape of things moved so reluctantly
that the redskin beat him in reaching the goal.

"What means Mau-tau-ke?" he demanded, in a gruff voice, as he clutched
his shoulder. "Is he a dog that--"

The poor Apache scarcely knew what disposed of him. It was with the
suddenness of the lightning stroke, and, flinging back the dirty blanket
that had enshrouded his form, the scout pointed his revolvers at the
others, fired three shots, accompanied by a screech loud enough to wake
the dead. Then, springing toward his mustang, he vaulted upon his back,
wheeled about, and thundered away, like the whirlwind across the
prairie.

This demonstration was so unexpected and so appalling that the Apaches
were effectually checked for a time. Before they could recover, mount
their horses, and start in pursuit, the fugitive was beyond their sight.
It was useless to pursue, at any rate, for there was no steed among them
all that could overtake the flying mustang, whose hoofs were plainly
heard upon the prairie, rapidly growing fainter as the distance
increased. In a few minutes it had died out altogether, and, ferocious
as was the hatred of the redskins toward the hunter who had outwitted
and injured them so often, no one made any effort to overhaul him.

Tom Hardynge, every few seconds, let out a regular Apache war-yell,
intended as exultation, taunt and defiance. He could afford it, for he
had triumphed as completely as heart could covet. The magnificent
Thundergust instinctively knew their destination, and the reins lay
loosely upon his neck as he sped away. He was aiming for Fort Havens. It
was a long distance away, and many hours must pass before its flagstaff
could be detected against the far-off horizon.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

THE TWO DEFENDERS.


Dick Morris, stretched out full length upon the top of Hurricane Hill,
peering down in the impenetrable gloom, understood all that had passed.
There was no mistaking that yell of Tom Hardynge; he had heard it many a
time before in the heat of conflict, and it generally meant something.

"Go it, old chap!" he shouted, swinging his hat over his head, as he saw
the whole thing in his imagination. "Them 'ere pistol-barks show there's
been some bitin' done. Business is business."

He noted, too, the sounds of the mustang's hoofs growing fainter and
fainter, until the strained ears could detect them no longer. Tom
Hardynge had safely passed through the Apache lines. It was a daring and
desperate feat indeed, but it had succeeded to perfection. Nothing now
remained to hinder his flight direct to Fort Havens.

"I rather think somebody's mad," exulted Dick, who was fully as proud
over the exploit of his comrade as was Tom himself. "There ain't much
doubt but what there'll be lively times here before long. They know
there's only two of us, counting in the little chap, and they'll make a
rush. Let 'em do it. If they can get up by that corner where the other
fellow dropped they're welcome, that's all."

And with this conclusion he left the top of the hill and picked his way
down the path, until he reached the spot where he had parted from his
comrade. Here he stooped down with the purpose of picking up the body of
the warrior and flinging it down upon the heads of those below. To his
astonishment, it was gone!

He searched around for several minutes, venturing to descend some
distance, but it was missing.

"I don't think he could have got up and walked away," said the hunter,
as he scratched his head over the occurrence. "No, it couldn't have been
that, for Tom don't strike any such blows any more than I do."

It followed, then, as a matter of course, that after the discovery of
the trick, some brother Apache had stolen his way up the path and
removed the body, a proceeding which Dick Morris hardly suspected until
he was really compelled to believe it.

"If I'd only knowed he was coming," he growled, "how I would have lammed
him; but he's come and gone, and there ain't any use in cryin' over it."

He waited and listened carefully, and once or twice a slight rattling of
the gravel caused him to suspect that some of the redskins were
attempting to steal upon him; but if such were the case, they must have
contented themselves by not approaching within striking distance.

Finally the night wore away, and the dull light of morning began
stealing over the prairie. As soon as objects could be distinguished, he
returned to his position upon the top of the rock and made his
observations.

Little, if any, change was discernible in the disposition of the
besieging Indians. Their horses were gathered at some distance, where
the grass was quite rank. The warriors had assumed all the indolent
attitudes which are seen in a body of men that have more time at their
disposal than they know what to do with. They had shifted their position
so far back that they were beyond good rifle range; for although a
hunter like Dick Morris could have picked off a redskin nine times out
of ten, yet he could not "pick his man." Lone Wolf had attired himself
precisely as were the rest of his warriors, and at the distance it was
impossible to distinguish him from them, so the scout wisely concluded
to hold his fire until he could be certain of his target.

As soon as it was fairly light, Dick naturally turned his eyes off
toward the southwest, in the direction of the hills, whither his comrade
had fled during the night.

"He is gone," he muttered, when he had made certain that no object was
to be seen. "I might have knowed that before I looked, 'cause the hoss
knows how to travel, and Tom's made him do his purtiest."

"Hello! what's the news?"

The query came from Ned Chadmund, who had aroused himself from slumber,
and was standing at his side.

"Where is Tom?"

"About fifty miles off yonder, goin' like a streak of greased lightnin'
for Fort Havens."

"What?"

Whereupon Dick Morris explained. Of course the lad was astounded to
think that all this had taken place while he was dreaming of home and
friends, and he hardly knew whether to rejoice or to be alarmed at the
shape matters had just then taken. True, Tom Hardynge was speeding away
on his fleet-footed mustang for Fort Havens, but it would take a long
time to reach there and return. There was something startling in the
thought that a man and a boy were all that were left to oppose the
advance of the force of the Apaches from below. What was to prevent
their swarming upward and overwhelming them? Nothing, it may be said,
but the strong arm of Dick Morris. He might have been a Hercules, and
still unable to stem the tide, but for the vast advantage given him by
nature in constructing Hurricane Hill. He could be approached by the
enemy only in single file. Dick, however, was of the opinion that
something of the kind would be attempted, for the Apaches could not but
know the errand of him who had so nicely outwitted them.

"Ain't there some way of blocking up the way?" asked Ned, as they
discussed the plan.

"I've been thinkin' it over, and there is," returned Morris, crossing
his legs, and scratching his head in his thoughtful way. "Three years
ago, me and Kit Carson had to scoot up here to get out of the reach of
something like two hundred Comanches, under that prime devil
Valo-Velasquiz. They shot Kit's horse, and mine dropped dead just as we
reached the bottom of the hill, so we couldn't do anythin' more in the
way of hoss-flesh.

"Them Comanches hated Kit and me like pison; they knowed us both, and
they went for us in a way that made us dance around lively; but it was
no go, and we tumbled 'em back like tenpins, but they kept things so hot
that me and Kit tipped over a big rock in the path. Of course they could
climb that easy enough, but it gave us so much more chance that they
didn't try it often, and they fell back and tried the Apache
dodge--waiting until hunger and thirst made us come down."

"How was it you got out of the trouble?"

"It was in a mighty queer way--a mighty queer way. On the next day arter
the brush we had with 'em, a bigger party than ever came up, and we
calc'lated things were goin' to be redhot. But as soon as the two
parties jined, some kind of a rumpus took place. We could see 'em
talkin' in the most excited way, and a high old quarrel was under way.
Kit Carson knowed all about Injins, but he couldn't make out what all
this meant. We was in hope they'd git into a wrangle themselves, and
swaller each other, and I can tell you they came mighty nigh it.

"Just as it begun to look as if it was goin' that way, one of their
chiefs walked forward, swingin' a dirty rag on the end of his ramrod as
a flag of truce. Kit looked at him very closely, and then exclaimed that
it was Quizto, a great rival of Valo-Velasquiz. They were always at
swords points, and whichever happened to have the strongest party at his
back when they met, outranked the other. The beauty of it all was that
Quizto was a friend all his life to Kit Carson--a regular redskin
friend, who was ready to scalp all his brothers and sisters if they
tried to harm him--and when he came to learn that Kit was treed, he
swore that he'd burn at the stake any Injun that laid a straw in his
way.

"This made a time, and, as I's tellin' you, the biggest kind of a fight.
At one time it only lacked a word to set it a-goin'; but Quizto's braves
stood by him, every one, and the others had to knock under.

"When Quizto come forward with his flag of truce, he called out to Kit
and told him that he was at liberty to go wherever he chose without
harm; but as Valo-Velasquiz would be so disappointed, he thought Carson
would turn over his friend, who wasn't of much account, that they might
have the pleasure of torturing him to death. That was lovely for me, and
you ought to have heard Kit laugh. He told Quizto that he couldn't do
that--both would go or stay together. That made another wrangle, but the
friendship of the chief to Carson saved the lives of us both. He
wouldn't consent that the guide should run the least risk, and they told
us to come down and clear out. We expected a big fight, for
Valo-Velasquiz had some ugly men with him, and he was a regular devil
himself; but when we got to the bottom, there was two mustangs awaitin',
and we straddled 'em, and warn't long in leavin' those parts. Old
Valo-Velasquiz and a dozen of his warriors tried to sneak along after
us, but we was as well mounted as they, and we rode into Santa Fe
without tradin' rifle shots with any of 'em. That was a strange thing,
but," added the scout, significantly, "I don't think you've got any
Quizto among them skunks down there."



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

HAND TO HAND.


The Apaches surrounding Hurricane Hill were more closely watched through
the forenoon, for Dick more than once gave it as his opinion that they
would make a rush before the day was over. To protect themselves as much
as possible, the rock of which the hunter had spoken was forced into the
passage-way, and an unremitting guard maintained, to prevent any sudden
surprise.

It was near noon, when three Apaches were seen to leap upon their
mustangs, one going north, another south and the third due west.

"Spies," explained Dick. "Lone Wolf is a little anxious about what Tom
may do, and he sends them out to watch. If they find out anythin'
they'll manage to telegraph him in time to get ready for anythin'
comin'."

"Can you see Lone Wolf among them?"

"Can't make sartin of it," returned the hunter. "He knows that if I can
get a crack at him he'll go, and so he takes care not to let me have the
chance. Can you see anythin' off toward the mountains in the west?"

"Nothing but that Apache horseman going away like an arrow."

"There's the p'int from which our friends will come, if they ever come
at all. Keep your eye on it while I take a look below."

The scout moved down the declivity, until he reached the place where it
had been barricaded, when he stationed himself behind the obstruction,
quite certain that something stirring would soon take place. It was his
belief that when the time came, the Apaches, at a preconcerted signal,
would rush tumultuously up the steep in a determined effort to overwhelm
them all. Such a movement, of course, from the very nature of things,
would give timely notice of its coming. His astonishment, therefore, may
be imagined when, after he had stood in his position for a few minutes,
rather listlessly and looking for no immediate demonstration, he
perceived a dark body suddenly pass over his head. Turning about, he saw
an Indian warrior speeding like a deer up the path toward the top of
Hurricane Hill, where Ned Chadmund stood, all unconscious of his coming.

The hunter, astonished as he was at the daring feat, was not thrown off
his guard. He knew that the Apache was not seeking the life of the lad,
but only to open the way for the rest of the warriors to follow over the
barricade. They believed that in the excitement Dick would turn and dash
after the redskin, leaving the way open for the whole horde to swarm to
the top of the Hill. But the clear-headed Dick maintained his position,
only uttering a shout of warning to Ned Chadmund, in the hope that he
might be prepared and "wing" the redskin the instant he should appear in
view. Then, having done this, he stood back behind the jutting rock and
held his rifle ready.

Within ten seconds a second Apache scrambled over the barricade, and
started at full speed up the pathway, but he had no more than fairly
started, than he fell headlong to the ground, pierced through and
through by the rifle fired almost in his face. Almost the same instant a
second appeared, when he tumbled backward, driven thence by the revolver
of the hunter, who was as cool as an iceberg. This stemmed the tide, the
crowding warriors hurrying back before the lion that lay in their path.
All this was the work of a very few seconds, but it was scarcely
effected, when a cry from the lad on top of the rock showed that he had
discovered his danger. The next instant, white-faced and scared, he came
dashing down the path, shouting to the hunter:

"Oh, Dick, save me! save me! there's an Indian after me!"

The savage, however, did not follow, and Dick, as the lad rushed into
his arms, shook him rather roughly, and said:

"Keep still! Why do you make such a thunderin' noise?" The lad speedily
controlled himself, and then the scout placed his revolver in his hand,
and said: "Stand right here, and the minute a redskin shows himself,
crack him over. Can you do it?"

"Haven't I proved it?"

"Yes; but you made such a racket here that I've lost faith in you."

"Try me and see."

Adding a few hasty words, the scout left him, and hurried to the top of
the hill, without pausing to approach with his usual precaution.

His expectation was to encounter the redskin at once upon reaching it,
but, to his surprise, he was nowhere to be seen, and he paused somewhat
bewildered.

"I wonder whether he's got scart 'cause none of the rest followed him,
and jumped overboard--"

At that instant something descended like a ponderous rock, and he
realized that he was in the grip of the very redskin about whom he had
been meditating. The miscreant had managed to crouch behind a rocky
protuberance, and then made a sudden leap upon the shoulders of the
hunter. As the Apache's scheme had miscarried thus far, and instead of
being backed up by the other warriors, he was left alone to fight it
out, he did not pause to attempt to make him prisoner, but went into the
scrimmage with the purpose of ending it as briefly as possible. As he
landed upon the shoulders of Dick the latter caught the gleam of his
knife, and grasped his wrist just in time. Fearful that it would be
wrenched from him, the Apache managed to give his confined hand a flirt,
which threw it beyond the reach of both. By a tremendous effort Dick
then succeeded in flinging him over his shoulder, although the agile
redskin dropped upon his feet, and instantly flew at his antagonist like
a tiger.

For several minutes the struggle raged with the greatest fury; but the
Apache, in a contest of this kind, was overmatched. The hunter was much
the superior, and he began crowding his foe toward the margin of the
rock. Divining his purpose, he resisted with the fury of desperation;
but it was useless, and the two moved along toward the brink like the
slow, resistless tread of fate. Neither of them spoke a word, nor was a
muscle relaxed. The scout knew that the instant the struggle was
detected by those below, there would be a rush up the incline such as
Ned Chadmund with his loaded and cocked revolver could not withstand.
The fighting, therefore, was of the hurricane order from the beginning
to the close.

There was one terrific burst of strength, and then, gathering the
writhing savage in his arms, Dick Morris ran to the very edge of the
plateau and hurled him over.

Down, down from dizzy heights he spun, until he struck the ground far
below, a shapeless, insensible mass, falling almost at the feet of the
horror-bound Apaches, who thus saw the dreadful death of one of their
most intrepid and powerful warriors.

Without waiting to see the last of the redskin, the scout turned and
hurried down to the relief of his young charge, and to be prepared for
the rush which he was confident would be made the next minute. But it
was not. The redskins had learned, from dear experience, the mettle of
this formidable white man, and they had no wish to encounter it again.

The time wore away until the sun was at the meridian, and the heat
became almost intolerable. Even the toughened old scout was compelled to
shelter himself as best he could from its intolerable rays, by seeking
the scant shadow of jutting points of the rock. Ned Chadmund suffered
much, and the roiled and warm water in the old canteen was quaffed
again, even though they were compelled to tip it more and more, until,
toward the close of the day, Dick held it mouth downward, and showed
that not a drop was left.

"No use of keeping it when we are thirsty," was the philosophic remark
of the hunter. "It's made to drink, and we needn't stop so long as any
is left; and bein' there ain't any left, I guess we'll stop. I've a
mouthful or two of meat left, and we may as well surround that."

So they did; and when the sun sank down in the west, not a particle of
food nor a drop of water remained to them.

"Now, Ned, my boy," said Dick, who always maintained a certain
cheerfulness, no matter what the circumstances might be, "go to the
lookout and tell me what you see."

The lad was absent some ten minutes, during which he carefully scanned
every part of the horizon and took a peep down upon their besiegers.

"I find no sign of a living soul," he said, when he returned, "except
the Apaches, and they're waiting until they can get us without
fighting."

"Stay here while I take a peep."

Long and carefully Dick Morris gazed off to the west, in the direction
of the mountains, and then something like a sigh escaped him, as he
shook his head and muttered:

"It looks bad, it looks bad. If Tom succeeded, he ought to be in sight
by this time. I see nothing of 'em, and from the way the redskins act
down there, they seem to be sartin he's gone under. I don't mind for
myself, for I'm ready to go any time; but I feel powerful sorry for the
little fellow down there."



CHAPTER XXXIX.

CONCLUSION.


Long and hard rode Tom Hardynge after his escape from the beleaguring
Apaches, for he was determined to save Ned and Dick if the thing were
within the range of human possibility. His mustang seemed to understand
what was expected of him, and he required no urging from his master to
maintain his arrowy flight. It was a literal race between life and
death. If he could reach Fort Havens in time to procure succor, the man
and the boy were saved. If not, then they were doomed.

At daylight he was among the mountains, and the steed paused a few
seconds to swallow a little water from a tiny stream. An hour later he
ascended an elevation, and from his back the rider took a survey of the
plain stretched out before him.

Far away in the distance a dark, stationary object was discerned. A keen
eye could detect something fluttering above it in the wind. That was the
star-spangled banner, waving above Fort Havens. Yonder was the
destination toward which the little party had been laboring for days and
which there was no assurance of still reaching. The scout had not yet
passed half the distance intervening between the fort and Hurricane
Hill. Mercy to his beast compelled him to give him a brief rest and an
opportunity to eat a little food. Then, away again.

It was the middle of the afternoon, and Tom was nearing the fort, which
was in distinct view a few miles ahead, when his attention was arrested
by the sight of a number of men moving along to the north, and in a
contrary direction to that which he himself was following. They suddenly
emerged from some hills, and rode at a sweeping gallop. What surprised
the hunter was the discovery that they were United States cavalry, that
had evidently come from Fort Havens itself! How their appearance could
be explained was more than he could understand; but he saw at once that
if their co-operation could be secured, several hours' valuable time
might be saved. He turned the head of his mustang in that direction and
rode at the same tearing speed as before.

The cavalry detected his coming, reined up and awaited his approach. The
afternoon was well advanced when the hunter drew rein in front of the
company, and saluted the chief officer, who was Colonel Chadmund
himself, the commandant of Fort Havens, at the head of seventy-five
veteran cavalry. He recognized the scout, and rode forward to meet him.

"Any news of my little boy, Tom?" he asked, before their palms crossed.

"Alive and well."

"Thank God! thank God!" exclaimed the white-faced officer, trembling
with joy. "Have the Indians caught him?"

"No; but he is in danger. What are you doing with these men here?"

"An Indian came into the fort several hours ago, with the word that Lone
Wolf and a party of Apaches had driven two or three persons to the top
of Hurricane Hill, where they would soon be caught unless assistance was
sent them. The Indian is one of our regular scouts, in whom we have much
confidence, and thinking it might be you, with possibly my little Ned, I
put myself at the head of the company and started out to see. I had very
little hope, however, of seeing him alive, for news had reached us of
the massacre of the escort party in Devil's Pass."

Hardynge, in a few minutes, explained the situation, and the colonel was
all excitement to be off again. Every hour--every minute, indeed--was
precious to him, and, as the two rode back, the advance was resumed
without a moment's delay. Instead of proceeding back in a direct line,
however, over the path traveled by the scout, they made a detour to the
northward, the configuration of the country being such that a much
nearer approach, undiscovered, could be made from this direction than
from any other.

There were several extra horses in the company, one of which was
appropriated by Tom, while he left his own to roam over the plain and
reach the fort whenever his disposition should take him in that
direction. Colonel Chadmund had taken the precaution to mount all his
men upon the best steeds at command, and they were driven into a rapid,
telling pace. They made good progress, but when the sun set they had not
yet reached a point from which the most distant view of Hurricane Hill
could be obtained. A more moderate speed was kept up until midnight,
when they went into camp, picketed their animals, and resumed the march
at daybreak. The horses were forced to the greatest possible endurance,
but never did miles seem so long. It was high noon before a point among
the hills on the north was reached from which a fair view of the pile of
rocks could be obtained. Colonel Chadmund produced his glass, and
scrutinized the towering-like mass, in quest of some sign of the
defenders. Not the least could be obtained; but he saw at the base the
band of Apaches, spread out like a miniature besieging army, and this,
to the minds of all, was proof that the garrison of Hurricane Hill were
still at the post of duty.

It was necessary to approach as close to the spot as possible without
discovery, and then to charge down upon the Indians with such fiery
impetuosity that they would have no time to inflict any damage upon the
brave defenders. The appearance of the cavalry would apprise them that
the siege was at an end, and in the gnawing rage thereat, they might
charge up the incline and open a fire, which would riddle Dick and Ned
and from which there would be no escape.

Colonel Chadmund understood Indian warfare so well as to know that Lone
Wolf had his scouts out, and it would be a difficult matter to avoid
them. Still the attempt was made, and by the middle of the afternoon,
the cavalry had reached a point barely two miles away without his
presence being suspected.

"I've been watching the place for half an hour," said the colonel, as he
lowered his glass, and handed it to Tom Hardynge, standing at his elbow,
"and it seems to me that the top of Hurricane Hill is deserted, although
the Apaches at the base seem to point the other way."

"Of course, of course," replied the hunter, impatiently. "You don't
'spose they'd stand up in sight all the time, like a couple of spoonies
gettin' their pictures took? They're watchin' the path that leads up to
where they be."

It required but a few minutes to conclude their preparations, when the
seventy odd cavalrymen, armed to the teeth, burst forth from the hills
like a mountain torrent, and charged straight for Lone Wolf and his
band. The latter, of course, were quick to detect it, and drew up with
the purpose of making a fight; but when they took in the strength of the
company approaching, they changed their minds, and broke and scattered
like chaff before the whirlwind.

This was a severe disappointment, for the colonel and a dozen of his
best Indian fighters had arranged to make a determined effort to rid the
country of this pest. These were the best mounted in the company, and in
their eagerness they sped straight ahead after the redskins, still
hoping that some turn of fortune's wheel would give them the coveted
chance. But the mustangs of the Apaches were fresh and fleet, and they
had no purpose of meeting the United States cavalry where there was
anything like an equal advantage; so they continued their flight with
such persistent celerity that they soon vanished from view.

The heart of Colonel Chadmund misgave him as he galloped toward
Hurricane Hill and saw no sign of life there. But while he was
alternating between hope and despair, the figure of a man appeared
around the corner of the rock, and then the form of a little boy was
discerned, as he came running across the prairie with out-stretched
arms.

"Oh, father! father!"

Colonel Chadmund leaped from the back of his horse and ran to meet him.

"My darling boy! God be thanked!"

The stern old soldier wept like a child as he caught him in his arms and
hugged him to his breast, while more than one rough soldier, looking on,
dashed the tears from his eyes and tried to look as if he were thinking
of something else.

The danger was passed. Little Ned, carried in triumph to the fort,
remained the appointed time with his father at this advanced frontier
post, and when he returned to Santa Fe to his beloved mother it was with
an escort which guaranteed his safety.

Thus ended his adventures with what were then the scourges of the great
Southwest, but the memory of them is indelible and not to be subdued by
the lapse of years. In his manhood days he looks back upon those
troublous times when the wild riders left the bones of venturesome white
men to whiten upon the banks of the Gila; and, although remembrance
brings its thrill of excitement, it is coupled with a shudder whenever
Ned Chadmund thinks of his passage "Through Apache Land."


Volume III of The War Whoop Series is entitled "In the Pecos Country."



SPECIAL CIRCULAR TO EDUCATORS

"Masterpieces of the World's Literature"

THE PREMIUM LIBRARY


Is extensively used by schools and colleges for supplementary reading.
It is issued in attractive 16mo shape, paper covers, printed from clear,
readable type, on good paper. Many of the volumes are illustrated.

        1. Abbé Constantin. Ludovic Halévy.

        2. Æsop's Fables.

        3. Black Beauty. Anna Sewell.

        4. Bracebridge Hall. Irving.

        5. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. Byron.

        6. Coming Race. Bulwer.

        7. Cranford. Mrs. Gaskell.

        8. Crown of Wild Olive. Ruskin.

        9. Discourses of Epictetus.

        10. Dreams. Olive Schreiner.

        11. Dream Life. Ik Marvel.

        12. Drummond's Addresses.

        13. Emerson's Earlier Essays.

        14. Ethics of the Dust. Ruskin.

        15. Frankenstein. Mrs. Shelley.

        16. Uncle Tom's Cabin. Mrs. Stowe.

        17. Lady of the Lake. Scott.

        18. Lalla Rookh. Thomas Moore.

        19. Lamb's Essays of Elia.

        20. Lamb's Last Essays of Elia.

        21. Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, I.

        22. Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, II.

        23. Lays of Ancient Rome. Macaulay.

        24. Lays of Scottish Cavaliers.

        25. Light of Asia. Sir E. Arnold.

        26. Longfellow's Poems.

        27. Lowell's Poems.

        28. Mornings in Florence. Ruskin.

        29. One of the Profession. M. White, Jr.

        30. Paul and Virginia. B. St. Pierre.

        31. Pleasures of Life. Sir J. Lubbock.

        32. Poe's Poems.

        33. Princess. Tennyson.

        34. Queen of the Air. Ruskin.

        35. Rab and His Friends. Dr. J. Brown.

        36. Rasselas. Johnson.

        37. Reveries of a Bachelor. Ik Marvel.

        38. Representative Men. Emerson.

        39. Sartor Resartus. Carlyle.

        40. Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne.

        41. Sesame and Lilies. Ruskin.

        42. Ships that Pass in the Night. Beatrice Harraden.

        43. St. Mark's Rest. Ruskin.

        44. Thoughts from Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

        45. Tillyloss Scandal. J. M. Barrie.

        46. Twice-Told Tales, I. Hawthorne.

        47. Twice-Told Tales, II. Hawthorne.

        48. In Memoriam. Tennyson.

        49. Vicar of Wakefield. Goldsmith.

        50. Whittier's Poems.

        51. Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. Holmes.

        52. Heroes and Hero Worship. Carlyle.

        53. Mosses from an Old Manse, I. Hawthorne.

        54. Mosses from an Old Manse, II Hawthorne.

        55. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

        56. Song of Hiawatha. Longfellow.

        57. Evangeline, and  Poems.  Longfellow.

        58. Sketch Book. Irving.

        59. Stickit Minister. S. R. Crockett.

        60. House of the Seven Gables. Hawthorne.

        61. Poetical Works of Robert Browning.

        62. Paradise Lost. Milton.

        63. Hamlet. Shakespeare.

        64. Julius Caesar. Shakespeare.

        65. Book of Golden Deeds. Yonge.

        66. Child's History of England. Dickens.

        67. Confessions of an Opium Eater. De Quincey.

        68. Ten Nights in a Barroom. Arthur.

        69. Treasure Island. Stevenson.

        70. Tanglewood Tales. Hawthorne.

        71. In His Steps. Chas. M. Sheldon.

        72. Natural Law in the Spiritual World. Henry Drummond.

        73. Imitation of Christ. T. à Kempis.

        74. Paradise Regained. John Milton.

        75. Water Babies. Kingsley.

        76. Flower Fables. L. M. Alcott.

        77. Blithedale Romance. Hawthorne.

        78. Prue and I. G. W. Curtis.

        79. Grandfather's Chair. Hawthorne.

        80. Bacon's Essays.

        81. Idylls of the King. Tennyson.

        82. Wonder Book. Hawthorne.

        83. Cricket on the Hearth. C. Dickens.

        84. Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow. Jerome K. Jerome.

        85. Inez. Augusta J. Evans.

        86. Kidnapped. R. L. Stevenson.

        87. Lucile. Owen Meredith.

        88. Phillips Brooks' Addresses.

        89. Prince of the House of David. Professor Ingraham.

        90. Three Men in a Boat. J. K. Jerome.



THE FAMOUS HENTY BOOKS

The Boys' Own Library


G. A. Henty has long held the field as the most popular boys' author.
Age after age of heroic deeds has been the subject of his pen, and the
knights of old seem very real in his pages. Always wholesome and manly,
always heroic and of high ideals, his books are more than popular
wherever the English language is spoken.

Each volume is printed on excellent paper from new large-type plates,
bound in cloth, assorted colors, with an attractive ink and gold stamp.

    A Final Reckoning
    A Tale of Bush Life in Australia

    Among the Malay Pirates

    By England's Aid
    The Freeing of the Netherlands

    By Right of Conquest
    A Tale of Cortez in Mexico

    Bravest of the Brave
    A Tale of Peterborough in Spain

    By Pike and Dyke
    The Rise of the Dutch Republic

    By Sheer Pluck
    A Tale of the Ashantee War

    Bonnie Prince Charlie
    A Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden

    Captain Bayley's Heir
    A Tale of the Gold Fields of California

    Cat of Bubastes
    A Story of Ancient Egypt

    Colonel Thorndyke's Secret

    Cornet of Horse
    A Tale of Marlborough's Wars

    Facing Death
    A Tale of the Coal Mines

    Friends, though Divided
    A Tale of the Civil War in England

    For Name and Fame
    A Tale of Afghan Warfare

    For the Temple
    A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem

    In Freedom's Cause
    A Story of Wallace and Bruce

    In the Reign of Terror
    The Adventures of a Westminster Boy

    In Times of Peril A Tale of India

    Jack Archer A Tale of the Crimea

    Lion of St. Mark
    A Tale of Venice in the XIV. Century

    Lion of the North
    A Tale of Gustavus Adolphus

    Maori and Settler
    A Tale of the New Zealand War

    Orange and Green
    A Tale of the Boyne and Limerick

    One of the 28th A Tale of Waterloo

    Out on the Pampas
    A Tale of South America

    Rujub the Juggler

    St. George for England
    A Tale of Crécy and Poictiers

    Sturdy and Strong

    True to the Old Flag
    A Tale of the Revolution

    The Golden Cañon

    The Lost Heir

    The Young Colonists
    A Tale of the Zulu and Boer Wars

    The Young Midshipman

    The Dragon and the Raven
    A Tale of King Alfred

    The Boy Knight
    A Tale of the Crusades

    Through the Fray
    A Story of the Luddite Riots

    Under Drake's Flag
    A Tale of the Spanish Main

    With Wolfe in Canada
    The Tale of Winning a Continent

    With Clive in India
    The Beginning of an Empire

    With Lee in Virginia
    A Story of the American Civil War

    Young Carthaginian
    A Story of the Times of Hannibal

    Young Buglers
    A Tale of the Peninsular War

    Young Franc-Tireurs
    A Tale of the Franco-Prussian War



FLAG OF FREEDOM SERIES

By CAPTAIN RALPH BONEHILL


BOYS OF THE FORT; or, A Young Captain's Pluck

Captain Bonehill is at his best when relating a tale of military
adventure, and this story of stirring doings at one of our well-known
forts in the Wild West is of more than ordinary interest. The young
captain had a difficult task to accomplish, but he had been drilled to
do his duty, and he did it thoroughly. Gives a good insight into army
life of to-day.

THE YOUNG BANDMASTER; or, Concert Stage and Battlefield

In this tale Captain Bonehill touches upon a new field. The hero is a
youth with a passion for music, who, compelled to make his own way in
the world, becomes a cornetist in an orchestra, and works his way up,
first, to the position of a soloist, and then to that of leader of a
brass band. He is carried off to sea and falls in with a secret-service
cutter bound for Cuba, and while in that island joins a military band
which accompanies our soldiers in the never-to-be-forgotten attack on
Santiago. A mystery connected with the hero's inheritance adds to the
interest of the tale.

OFF FOR HAWAII; or, The Mystery of a Great Volcano

Here we have fact and romance cleverly interwoven. Several boys start on
a tour of the Hawaiian Islands. They have heard that there is a treasure
located in the vicinity of Kilauea, the largest active volcano in the
world, and go in search of it. Their numerous adventures will be
followed with much interest.

A SAILOR BOY WITH DEWEY; or, Afloat in the Philippines

The story of Dewey's victory in Manila Bay will never grow old, but here
we have it told in a new form--not as those in command witnessed the
contest, but as it appeared to a real, live American youth who was in
the navy at the time. Many adventures in Manila and in the interior
follow, giving true-to-life scenes from this remote portion of the
globe. A book that should be in every boy's library.

WHEN SANTIAGO FELL; or, The War Adventures of Two Chums

Captain Bonehill has never penned a better tale than this stirring story
of adventures in Cuba. Two boys, an American and his Cuban chum, leave
New York to join their parents in the interior of Cuba. The war between
Spain and the Cubans is on, and the boys are detained at Santiago de
Cuba, but escape by crossing the bay at night. Many adventures between
the lines follow, and a good pen-picture of General Garcia is given. The
American lad, with others, is captured and cast into a dungeon in
Santiago; and then follows the never-to-be-forgotten campaign in Cuba
under General Shafter. How the hero finally escapes makes reading no
wide-awake boy will want to miss.

       *       *       *       *       *

Press Opinions of Captain Bonehill's Books for Boys

"Captain Bonehill's stories will always be popular with our boys, for
the reason that they are thoroughly up-to-date and true to life. As a
writer of outdoor tales he has no rival."--_Bright Days._

"The story is by Captain Ralph Bonehill, and that is all that need be
said about it, for all of our readers know that the captain is one of
America's best story-tellers, so far as stories for young people
go."--_Young People of America._

"We understand that Captain Bonehill will soon be turning from sporting
stories to tales of the war. This field is one in which he should feel
thoroughly at home. We are certain that the boys will look eagerly for
the Bonehill war tales."--_Weekly Messenger._



MRS. L. T. MEADE'S

FAMOUS BOOKS FOR GIRLS


There are few more favorite authors with American girls than Mrs. L. T.
MEADE, whose copyright works can only be had from us. Essentially a
writer for the home, with the loftiest aims and purest sentiments, Mrs.
Meade's books possess the merit of utility as well as the means of
amusement. They are girls' books--written for girls, and fitted for
every home.

Here will be found no maudlin nonsense as to the affections. There are
no counts in disguise nor castles in Spain. It is pure and wholesome
literature of a high order with a lofty ideal.

The volumes are all copyright, excellently printed with clear, open
type, uniformly bound in best cloth, with ink and gold stamp.

THE FOLLOWING ARE THE TITLES

        The Children of Wilton Chase
        Bashful Fifteen
        Betty: A Schoolgirl
        Four on an Island
        Girls New and Old
        Out of the Fashion
        The Palace Beautiful
        Polly, a New-Fashioned Girl
        Red Rose and Tiger Lily
        Temptation of Olive Latimer
        A Ring of Rubies
        A Sweet Girl Graduate
        A World of Girls
        Good Luck
        A Girl in Ten Thousand
        A Young Mutineer
        Wild Kitty
        The Children's Pilgrimage
        The Girls of St. Wode's
        Light o' the Morning
        Bad Little Hannah
        Rebellion of Lill Carrington
        A Little Mother to the Others
        Merry Girls of England





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Through Apache Lands" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home