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Title: Buffalo Bill's Spy Trailer - Or, The Stranger in Camp
Author: Ingraham, Prentiss, 1843-1904
Language: English
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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.

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Buffalo Bill's Spy Trailer

OR,

THE STRANGER IN CAMP

By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham

Author of the celebrated "Buffalo Bill" stories published in the BORDER
STORIES. For other titles see catalogue.

[Illustration]

STREET & SMITH CORPORATION
PUBLISHERS
79-89 Seventh Avenue, New York

Copyright, 1908
By STREET & SMITH
Buffalo Bill's Spy Trailer

All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign
languages, including the Scandinavian.



IN APPRECIATION OF WILLIAM F. CODY

(BUFFALO BILL).


It is now some generations since Josh Billings, Ned Buntline, and
Colonel Prentiss Ingraham, intimate friends of Colonel William F. Cody,
used to forgather in the office of Francis S. Smith, then proprietor of
the _New York Weekly_. It was a dingy little office on Rose Street, New
York, but the breath of the great outdoors stirred there when these
old-timers got together. As a result of these conversations, Colonel
Ingraham and Ned Buntline began to write of the adventures of Buffalo
Bill for Street & Smith.

Colonel Cody was born in Scott County, Iowa, February 26, 1846. Before
he had reached his teens, his father, Isaac Cody, with his mother and
two sisters, migrated to Kansas, which at that time was little more than
a wilderness.

When the elder Cody was killed shortly afterward in the Kansas "Border
War," young Bill assumed the difficult role of family breadwinner.
During 1860, and until the outbreak of the Civil War, Cody lived the
arduous life of a pony-express rider. Cody volunteered his services as
government scout and guide and served throughout the Civil War with
Generals McNeil and A. J. Smith. He was a distinguished member of the
Seventh Kansas Cavalry.

During the Civil War, while riding through the streets of St. Louis,
Cody rescued a frightened schoolgirl from a band of annoyers. In true
romantic style, Cody and Louisa Federci, the girl, were married March 6,
1866.

In 1867 Cody was employed to furnish a specified amount of buffalo meat
to the construction men at work on the Kansas Pacific Railroad. It was
in this period that he received the sobriquet "Buffalo Bill."

In 1868 and for four years thereafter Colonel Cody served as scout and
guide in campaigns against the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians. It was
General Sheridan who conferred on Cody the honor of chief of scouts of
the command.

After completing a period of service in the Nebraska legislature, Cody
joined the Fifth Cavalry in 1876, and was again appointed chief of
scouts.

Colonel Cody's fame had reached the East long before, and a great many
New Yorkers went out to see him and join in his buffalo hunts, including
such men as August Belmont, James Gordon Bennett, Anson Stager, and
J. G. Heckscher. In entertaining these visitors at Fort McPherson, Cody
was accustomed to arrange wild-West exhibitions. In return his friends
invited him to visit New York. It was upon seeing his first play in the
metropolis that Cody conceived the idea of going into the show business.

Assisted by Ned Buntline, novelist, and Colonel Ingraham, he started his
"Wild West" show, which later developed and expanded into "A Congress of
the Rough-riders of the World," first presented at Omaha, Nebraska. In
time it became a familiar yearly entertainment in the great cities of
this country and Europe. Many famous personages attended the
performances, and became his warm friends, including Mr. Gladstone, the
Marquis of Lorne, King Edward, Queen Victoria, and the Prince of Wales,
now King of England.

At the outbreak of the Sioux, in 1890 and 1891, Colonel Cody served at
the head of the Nebraska National Guard. In 1895 Cody took up the
development of Wyoming Valley by introducing irrigation. Not long
afterward he became judge advocate general of the Wyoming National
Guard.

Colonel Cody (Buffalo Bill) died in Denver, Colorado, on January 10,
1917. His legacy to a grateful world was a large share in the
development of the West, and a multitude of achievements in
horsemanship, marksmanship, and endurance that will live for ages. His
life will continue to be a leading example of the manliness, courage,
and devotion to duty that belonged to a picturesque phase of American
life now passed, like the great patriot whose career it typified, into
the Great Beyond.



TABLE OF CONTENTS

I.        THE HERMIT OF THE GRAND CAÑON            5
II.       THE MINER'S SECRET                      14
III.      THE GRAVE AT THE DESERTED CAMP          20
IV.       A VOW OF VENGEANCE                      28
V.        MASKED AND MERCILESS                    33
VI.       THE DUMB MESSENGER                      41
VII.      DEATH AND MADNESS                       50
VIII.     A STRANGE BURIAL                        62
IX.       THE COURIER                             67
X.        DOCTOR DICK'S DRIVE                     76
XI.       RUNNING THE GANTLET                     84
XII.      A MAN'S NERVE                           92
XIII.     A VOLUNTEER                             97
XIV.      THE WAY IT WAS DONE                    105
XV.       A MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE             114
XVI.      TAKING CHANCES                         122
XVII.     A SECRET KEPT                          130
XVIII.    A MYSTERIOUS SOUND                     138
XIX.      A FAIR PASSENGER                       143
XX.       MASKED FOES                            151
XXI.      THE SACRIFICE                          159
XXII.     THE RANSOM                             168
XXIII.    THE OUTLAWS' CAPTIVE                   181
XXIV.     THE TWO FUGITIVES                      186
XXV.      THE OUTLAW LOVER                       195
XXVI.     THE SECRET OUT                         200
XXVII.    THE DEPARTURE                          210
XXVIII.   THE LONE TRAIL                         219
XXIX.     TO WELCOME THE FAIR GUEST              223
XXX.      AT THE RENDEZVOUS                      231
XXXI.     DOCTOR DICK TELLS THE NEWS             239
XXXII.    THE MINERS' WELCOME                    248
XXXIII.   THE COUNCIL                            252
XXXIV.    A METAMORPHOSIS                        259
XXXV.     THE DRIVER'S LETTER                    268
XXXVI.    THE SCOUT ON THE WATCH                 272
XXXVII.   THE MINER'S MISSION                    280
XXXVIII.  A LEAF FROM THE PAST                   288
XXXIX.    THE OUTLAW'S CONFESSION                298
XL.       TEARING OFF THE MASK                   303



BUFFALO BILL'S SPY TRAILER.



CHAPTER I.

THE HERMIT OF THE GRAND CAÑON.


A horseman drew rein one morning, upon the brink of the Grand Cañon of
the Colorado, a mighty abyss, too vast for the eye to take in its grand
immensity; a mighty mountain rent asunder and forming a chasm which is a
valley of grandeur and beauty, through which flows the Colorado Grande.
Ranges of mountains tower to cloudland on all sides with cliffs of
scarlet, blue, violet, yes, all hues of the rainbow; crystal streams
flowing merrily along; verdant meadows, vales and hills, with massive
forests everywhere--such was the sight that met the admiring gaze of the
horseman as he sat there in his saddle, his horse looking down into the
cañon.

It was a spot avoided by Indians as the abiding-place of evil spirits; a
scene shunned by white men, a mighty retreat where a fugitive, it would
seem, would be forever safe, no matter what the crime that had driven
him to seek a refuge there.

Adown from where the horseman had halted, was the bare trace of a trail,
winding around the edge of an overhanging rock by a shelf that was not a
yard in width and which only a man could tread whose head was cool and
heart fearless.

Wrapt in admiration of the scene, the mist-clouds floating lazily upward
from the cañon, the silver ribbon far away that revealed the winding
river, and the songs of birds coming from a hundred leafy retreats on
the hillsides, the horseman gave a deep sigh, as though memories most
sad were awakened in his breast by the scene, and then dismounting began
to unwrap a lariat from his saddle-horn.

He was dressed as a miner, wore a slouch-hat, was of commanding
presence, and his darkly bronzed face, heavily bearded, was full of
determination, intelligence, and expression.

Two led horses, carrying heavy packs, were behind the animal he rode,
and attaching the lariats to their bits he took one end and led the way
down the most perilous and picturesque trail along the shelf running
around the jutting point of rocks.

When he drew near the narrowest point, he took off the saddle and packs,
and one at a time led the horses downward and around the hazardous
rocks.

A false step, a movement of fright in one of the animals, would send him
downward to the depths more than a mile below.

But the trembling animals seemed to have perfect confidence in their
master, and after a long while he got them by the point of greatest
peril.

Going back and forward he carried the packs and saddles, and replacing
them upon the animals began once more the descent of the only trail
leading down into the Grand Cañon, from that side.

The way was rugged, most dangerous in places, and several times his
horses barely escaped a fall over the precipice, the coolness and strong
arm of the man alone saving them from death, and his stores from
destruction.

It was nearly sunset when he at last reached the bottom of the
stupendous rift, and only the tops of the cliffs were tinged with the
golden light, the valley being in densest shadow.

Going on along the cañon at a brisk pace, as though anxious to reach
some camping-place before nightfall, after a ride of several miles he
came in sight of a wooded cañon, entering the one he was then in, and
with heights towering toward heaven so far that all below seemed as
black as night.

But a stream wound out of the cañon, to mingle its clear waters with the
grand Colorado River a mile away, and massive trees grew near at hand,
sheltering a cabin that stood upon the sloping hill at the base of a
cliff that arose thousands of feet above it.

When within a few hundred yards of the lone cabin, suddenly there was a
crashing, grinding sound, a terrific roar, a rumbling, and the earth
seemed shaken violently as the whole face of the mighty cliff came
crushing down into the valley, sending up showers of splintered rocks
and clouds of dust that were blinding and appalling!

Back from the scene of danger fled the frightened horses, the rider
showing no desire to check their flight until a spot of safety was
reached.

Then, half a mile from the fallen cliff, he paused, his face white, his
whole form quivering, while his horses stood trembling with terror.

"My God! the cliff has fallen upon my home, and my unfortunate comrade
lies buried beneath a mountain of rocks. We mined too far beneath the
cliff, thus causing a cave-in.

"A few minutes more and I would also have shared poor Langley's fate;
but a strange destiny it is that protects me from death--a strange one
indeed! He is gone, and I alone am now the Hermit of the Grand Cañon, a
Croesus in wealth of gold, yet a fugitive from my fellow men. What a
fate is mine, and how will it all end, I wonder?"

Thus musing the hermit-miner sat upon his own horse listening to the
echoes rumbling through the Grand Cañon, growing fainter and fainter,
like a retreating army fighting off its pursuing foes.

An hour passed before the unnerved man felt able to seek a camp for the
night, so great had been the shock of the falling cliff, and the fate he
had felt had overtaken his comrade.

At last he rode on up the cañon once more, determined to seek a spot he
knew well where he could camp, a couple of miles above his destroyed
home.

He passed the pile of rocks, heaped far up the cliff from which they had
fallen, looking upon them as the sepulcher of his companion.

"Poor Lucas Langley! He, too, had his sorrows, and his secrets, which
drove him, like me, to seek a retreat far from mankind, and become a
hunted man. Alas! what has the future in store for me?"

With a sigh he rode on up the valley, his way now guided by the
moonlight alone, and at last turned into another cañon, for the Grand
Cañon has hundreds of others branching off from it, some of them
penetrating for miles back into the mountains.

He had gone up this cañon for a few hundred yards, and was just about to
halt, and go into camp upon the banks of a small stream, when his eyes
caught sight of a light ahead.

"Ah! what does that mean?" he ejaculated in surprise.

Hardly had he spoken when from up the cañon came the deep voice of a dog
barking, his scent telling him of a human presence near.

"Ah! Savage is not dead then, and, after all, Lucas Langley may have
escaped."

The horseman rode quickly on toward the light. The barking of the dog
continued, but it was not a note of warning but of welcome, and as the
horseman drew rein by a camp-fire a huge brute sprang up and greeted him
with every manifestation of delight, while a man came forward from the
shadows of the trees and cried:

"Thank Heaven you are back again, Pard Seldon, for I had begun to fear
for your safety."

"And I was sure that I would never meet you again in life, Lucas, for I
believed you at the bottom of that mountain of rocks that fell from the
cliff and crushed out our little home," and the hands of the two men met
in a warm grasp.

"It would have been so but for a warning I had, when working in the
mine. I saw that the cliff was splitting and settling, and running out I
discovered that it must fall, and before very long.

"I at once got the two mules out of the cañon above, packed all our
traps upon them, and hastened away to a spot of safety. Then I returned
and got all else I could find, gathered up our gold, and came here and
made our camp.

"To-night the cliff fell, but not expecting you to arrive by night, I
was to be on the watch for you in the morning; but thank Heaven you are
safe and home again."

"And I am happy to find you safe, Lucas. I was within an eighth of a
mile of the cliff when it fell, and I shall never forget the sight, the
sound, the appalling dread for a few moments, as I fled to a spot of
safety, my horses bearing me along like the wind in their mad terror."

"It was appalling, and I have not dared leave my camp since, far as I am
from it, for it resounded through the cañons like a mighty battle with
heavy guns. But come, comrade, and we will have supper and talk over all
that has happened."

The horses were staked out up the cañon, where grass and water were
plentiful, and then the two men sat down to supper, though neither
seemed to have much of an appetite after what had occurred.

But Savage, the huge, vicious-looking dog, felt no bad results from his
fright of a few hours before, and ate heartily.

When their pipes were lighted the man who had lately arrived said:

"Well, Lucas, I brought back provisions and other things to last us a
year, and I care not to go again from this cañon until I carry a fortune
in gold with me."

"Yes, here we are safe, and I feel that something has happened to cause
you to say what you do, pard."

"And I will tell you what it is," impressively returned the one who had
spoken of himself as the Hermit of the Grand Cañon.

"Yes," he added slowly. "I will tell you a secret, comrade."



CHAPTER II.

THE MINER'S SECRET.


"Pard, after what has happened, the falling of the cliff, and our narrow
escape from death, I feel little like sleep, tired as I am, so, as I
said, I will tell you a secret," continued Andrew Seldon, speaking in a
way that showed his thoughts were roaming in the past.

"You will have a good listener, pard," was the answer.

"Yes, I feel that I will, and you having told me that you were a
fugitive from the law, that your life had its curse upon it, I will tell
you of mine, at least enough of it to prove to you that I also dare not
show my face among my fellow men.

"You know me as Andrew Seldon, and I have with me proof that I could
show to convince one that such is my name; but, in reality, Andrew
Seldon is dead, and I am simply playing his part in life, for I am not
unlike him in appearance, and, as I said, I have the proofs that enable
me to impersonate him.

"My real name is Wallace Weston, whom circumstances beyond my control
made a murderer and fugitive, and here I am. I entered the army as a
private cavalry soldier, and worked my way up to sergeant, with the hope
of getting a commission some day.

"But one day another regiment came to the frontier post where I was
stationed, and a member of it was the man to whom I owed all my sorrow
and misfortune in life. Well, the recognition was mutual, a quarrel
followed, and he--his name was Manton Mayhew--fell by my hand, and he,
too, was a sergeant.

"I said nothing in my defense, for I would not reopen the story of the
past for curious eyes to gaze upon, and accepted my fate, my sentence
being to be shot to death. On one occasion, in an Indian fight, I had
saved the life of the scout Buffalo Bill----"

"Ah, yes, I know of him," said the listener earnestly.

"He, in return, rode through the Indian country, to the quarters of the
district commander, to try and get a reprieve, hoping to glean new
evidence to clear me. He was refused, and returned just as I was led
down on the banks of the river for execution.

"I heard the result and determined in a second to escape, or be killed
in the attempt. Buffalo Bill's horse stood near, and with a bound I was
upon his back, rushed him into the stream, swam across and escaped.

"I was fired upon by the scout, under an order to do so, but his bullets
were not aimed to kill me. Night was near at hand, and pursuit was
begun, but I had a good start, reached the desert and entered it.

"The next day, for the scout's horse was worn down, my pursuers would
have overtaken me had I not suddenly come upon a stray horse in a clump
of timber, an oasis in the desert.

"I mounted him and pushed straight on into the desert, and the next day
came upon a solitary rock, by which lay the dead body of a man upon
which the coyotes had just begun to feed. He had starved to death in the
desert, and the horse I had found was his.

"At once an idea seized me to let my pursuer believe that _I_ was that
dead man; so I dressed him in my uniform, killed the horse near him,
left the scout's saddle and bridle there, and started off on foot over
the desert, attired as the man whom I had found there.

"With him I had found letters, papers, and a map and diary, and these
gave me his name, and more, for I found that the map would lead me to a
gold-mine, the one in this cañon in which we have worked so well to our
great profit.

"I wandered back, off the desert, and you know the rest: how I came to
the camp where you lay wounded and threatened with death by your
comrade, Black-heart Bill, who knew that you had a mine which he was
determined to have.

"In Black-heart Bill I recognized a brother of Sergeant Manton Mayhew,
another man whom I sought revenge upon. Hugh Mayhew had also wronged me
as his brothers had, for there were three of them, strange to
say--triplets--Manton, Hugh, and Richard Mayhew, and to them I owed it
that I became a fugitive from home.

"You remember my duel with Hugh Mayhew, and that he fell by my hand?
Well, there is one more yet, and some day we may meet, and then it must
be his life or mine.

"Taking the name of Andrew Seldon, and leaving all to believe that I,
Wallace Weston, died in the desert, I came here, with you as my
companion. We are growing rich, and though the Cliff Mine has fallen in,
there are others that will pan out even better.

"But, pard, when I went to the post this time for provisions, I came
upon Buffalo Bill escorting a deserter to Fort Faraway, and a band of
desperadoes from the mines of Last Chance had ambushed him to rescue the
prisoner.

"I went to the rescue of the scout, saved him and his prisoner, and went
on my way to the post; but yet I half-believe, in spite of believing me
dead, and my changed appearance with my long hair and beard, that
Buffalo Bill half-recognized me.

"I must take no more chances, so shall remain close in this cañon until
ready to leave it and go far away with my fortune, to enjoy it
elsewhere.

"Again, pard: I had written to the home of Andrew Seldon, whom I am now
impersonating, and I find that he too, was a fugitive from the law, and
that there is no reason for me to share this fortune with any one there,
as I had intended to do: so now let us be lost to the world, hermits
here in this weird land of mystery, the Grand Cañon, where no one dares
come, until we are ready to seek new associations and homes elsewhere,
and enjoy our riches."

"Pard, I thank you for your confidence, your secret. I felt that you had
been a sufferer in the past, while I am sure you were not the one to do
the first wrong. In all things I will be guided by you," said Lucas
Langley warmly, and it being late the two men retired to their blankets
to sleep.



CHAPTER III.

THE GRAVE AT THE DESERTED CAMP.


Two men had met in the remote wilds of the Grand Cañon country, as the
district bordering upon the Colorado River was called, having appointed
a mysterious, deserted camp as a rendezvous.

One of these men needs no description from my pen, hardly more than a
passing pen introduction to say that he bore the name of Buffalo Bill.

He had come alone from Fort Faraway, to the deserted camp over a hundred
miles from the nearest habitation, to meet a new-found friend, one known
in Last Chance Claim as Doctor Dick, and a man of mystery.

The latter was, in person, almost as striking in appearance as was
handsome, dashing Bill Cody, for he was tall, sinewy in build, graceful,
and dressed in a way to attract attention, with his cavalry-boots, gold
spurs, corduroy pants, velvet jacket, silk shirt, and broad black
sombrero encircled by a chain of gold links.

Doctor Dick was not afraid, either, to make a lavish display of jewels.
His weapons were gold-mounted, as was also his saddle and bridle, and
from the fact that he was an ardent and successful gambler, and was
supposed to be very rich, he was called in Last Chance The Gold King.

Doctor Dick had made his début into Last Chance mining-camp, by bringing
in the coach, one day, with the dead body of the driver on the box by
his side, and two murdered passengers on the inside.

He had run off, single-handed, the road-agents who had held up the
coach, and therefore became a hero at once, adding to his fame very
quickly by showing that he could "shoot to kill" when attacked.

Signifying his intention of practising medicine and surgery in Last
Chance, and gambling in his leisure moments, Doctor Dick had established
himself in a pleasant cabin near the hotel, to at once become popular,
and began to make money.

When Buffalo Bill went to Last Chance on a special secret-service
mission, to investigate the holding up of the coach, and had recognized
there a deserter, whom he had orders to take "dead or alive," Doctor
Dick had helped him out of what appeared to be a very ugly scrape, and
thus the two men had become friends.

Becoming confidential, Doctor Dick had told the scout a few chapters of
his life, and he alone doubted that his foe from boyhood, Sergeant
Wallace Weston--who had been reported as dying in the desert while
seeking to escape--was dead, and the two, the scout and the
gambler-doctor, had arranged to meet at the deserted camp and discover
if the real truth could not be ascertained.

So it was at the deserted camp they had met, and Doctor Dick had stood
with uncovered head before a quaking aspen-tree, at the foot of which
was a grave.

Upon the tree had been cut a name and date, and this told that there lay
the form of Hugh Mayhew, killed in a duel by one whom he had wronged.

It further told that Hugh Mayhew was known in the mines as a desperado,
whose cruel deeds had gained for him the sobriquet of Black-heart Bill.

Convinced that the body in the grave was that of Hugh Mayhew, after he
had unearthed the remains, and recognized in that decaying form his once
brother--one of the triplets--Doctor Dick had seemed deeply moved when
he told that he was the last of the trio and lived to avenge them: that
he was sure Wallace Weston, their old foe, was their slayer, for he knew
from the scout that he had killed his brother Manton at the fort, and
hence he would not be convinced that the grave in the desert of Arizona
held the body of Weston until he had certain proof of it.

"That man who came to your rescue, who called himself the Hermit of the
Grand Cañon, who sought to shun you after his service to you, is either
Wallace Weston, or knows something of him, and it is his trail we must
pick up on his return to his retreat, and follow to the end, before I am
satisfied," Doctor Dick had said to Buffalo Bill.

And so it was that the two had met at the deserted camp to pick up the
trail of the hermit and follow it to the end, bring what it might to
Doctor Dick.

The trail was taken up and followed to the brink of the grandest view in
all nature's marvels, the Grand Cañon of the Colorado.

To a less experienced scout than Buffalo Bill, there would have appeared
to be no trail down into the depths of that mighty chasm, and it would
have been thought that the one whom they trailed had retraced his steps
from there.

But the scout was not one to be thrown off the trail by any obstacle
that perseverance, pluck, and hard work could overcome, and so he set
about finding a way down into the cañon, though there was no trace of a
traveled path left on the solid rocks upon which he stood.

Doctor Dick's determined assertion that he did not believe his old
enemy, Wallace Weston, to be dead, really impressed the scout in spite
of the fact that he had guided Lieutenant Tompkins and his troopers in
the pursuit of the fugitive soldier, had found the body torn by wolves,
dressed in uniform, and with his own saddle and bridle, taken when he
had dashed away upon his horse, lying by his side.

Still, in the face of all these seeming proofs, the fugitive sergeant
might yet be alive and he would do all he could to solve the mystery as
to whether he was or not.

The scout had been anxious to go alone with the gambler-doctor in the
search, for he did have the hope that, if really found, Wallace Weston
might be reconciled with Doctor Dick, while, if taken by troopers, he
would be returned to the fort and executed, as he was under
death-sentence.

Buffalo Bill never forgot a service rendered him, and he did not wish to
see the sergeant put to death, when he was already believed to be dead,
and the secret might be kept.

After a long search Buffalo Bill found the perilous path down which the
one he followed had gone with his packhorses.

He revealed the fact to Doctor Dick, and the two, after a long
consultation, decided to take the risk and make the descent into the
grand valley.

For men with less nerve than these two possessed it would have been
impossible; and, as it was, there were times when the winding trail and
dangers put their pluck to the test.

At last the valley was reached, and, greatly relieved, the two went into
camp before prosecuting their search further.

The hermit had admitted to Buffalo Bill that he had a comrade dwelling
with him in his retreat, wherever the retreat was.

Would it be that they held a secret there they did not wish known, and
so would resist the intrusion of others? It might be, and that a
death-struggle would follow the discovery of their retreat.

Still, Buffalo Bill was not one to dread whatever might turn up, and he
had seen Doctor Dick tried and proven true as steel and brave as a lion.

And so the search continued, the scout unerringly clinging to the trail
until, just as the two felt that the retreat of those mysterious
dwellers in the Grand Cañon was almost before them, they came upon a
sight that caused them to draw rein and sit upon their horses appalled
at the scene presented to their view.

What they saw was the fallen cliff, and there, just peering out from
among the piles of rocks, was the shattered end of a stout cabin. They
had found the secret retreat, but they stood there feeling that those
who had dwelt in that ruined cabin were beyond all human eye, buried
beneath a monument of rocks an army could not remove in weeks.

"And this is the end?" said Buffalo Bill, the first to speak, breaking a
silence that was appalling.

"Yes, his end, for he undoubtedly lies buried there beneath that mass of
rocks. If it is my foe, Wallace Weston, who has met such a fate, so let
it be."

The two did not tarry long in the cañon, for a dread of the weird spot
seemed to have come over them both.

Doctor Dick roamed about, picking up bits of rock and examining it
closely, while he muttered:

"It was a gold-mine that held them here, but that falling cliff has
hidden the secret forever."

And Buffalo Bill went about searching for trails, yet made no comment,
whether he found any or not, to indicate that the lone dwellers in the
cañon had not both perished in their cabin, and lay buried beneath the
hills of rock that had fallen from the heights above the valley.

But, as the two men rode away up the dangerous mountain-trail, there
were eyes peering upon them they little dreamed of, and Wallace Weston
muttered:

"They believe me dead now: so let it be."



CHAPTER IV.

A VOW OF VENGEANCE.


The night after leaving the Grand Cañon, Buffalo Bill and Doctor Dick
camped again at the rendezvous of the deserted camp, which was marked by
the grave of Black-heart Bill.

The two friends talked until a late hour into the night, though they
intended making an early start in the morning for their respective
homes, the scout going to the fort, the doctor to Last Chance.

"Well, Cody, you were satisfied before that Sergeant Wallace Weston was
dead, that he died in the desert, but you yielded to my belief that he
lived and was none other than the Hermit of the Grand Cañon who came to
your rescue some time ago; but now you are assured that, the
hermit-miner being buried beneath the walls of his cabin, there is no
doubt left that, if he really was Wallace Weston, he is surely not among
the living?"

"Yes, doctor, I can hardly bring myself to believe that Weston's body
was not the one we buried in the desert, yet I grant that, it was just
possible that it might not have been his."

"So you give up the search wholly?"

"Yes, I return to my duties at Fort Faraway."

"And I to my doctoring and gambling at Last Chance; but I thank you for
coming with me on this trip, as my mind is made up."

The doctor said no more then, but wrapped his blankets about him and lay
down to rest.

The next morning when the two were about to part Buffalo Bill said:

"I wish you would keep your eye upon the suspicious characters in the
mines, for I fear, with the temptations in their way to get hold of
treasure in the coaches, there may be more mischief done."

"I will keep a bright lookout, Cody, and at once send a courier to
report at the fort any lawless deeds that may be done, for I know that
your support will be prompt."

Then the two parted, Buffalo Bill taking the trail for Fort Faraway and
Doctor Dick going on to Last Chance mining-camp.

But hardly had the scout disappeared from sight when the doctor halted,
looked back and then slowly returned to the camp.

Dismounting by the grave, he stood gazing at the inscription cut into
the tree for some minutes, and then turned his eyes upon the mound at
his feet.

"Wicked, yes, hated and feared, yet my brother, and I loved him and my
other brother, Manton, with a love that was greater than woman's love,
and I revere their memory now.

"Whatever they were, whatever the crimes that led to their losing their
lives, I must avenge them, and I will, for Wallace Weston's hand it was
that did the deed.

"Yes, he killed Manton, and I am just as sure that he killed Hugh, who
lies here at my feet. Buffalo Bill believes Wallace Weston dead; _but I
do not_!

"No, I can never believe that he could die except by my hand, and some
day we two will meet face to face, and then he will die, and I will be
avenged for Manton's and Hugh's deaths; so here I vow to take the life
of Wallace Weston, and thus avenge my brothers."

He raised his right hand as he spoke, pressed his left over his heart
and so registered his vow of revenge.

Then, mounting his horse, he rode away upon the trail he had before
followed.

He seemed in no hurry, rode slowly, made long noonday camps and camped
early at night, so that it was the afternoon of the third day before he
came in view of the scattered settlement of Last Chance Claim.

Situated in a mountain cañon, which widened into a large valley after
some miles, with towering cliffs, rugged passes and wild, picturesque
scenery upon all sides, Last Chance Claim, or mining-camp, was scattered
along for miles, the village portion, where the hotel, stores, and
gambling-saloons were, being at the upper end.

As he came out of a mountain pass into the valley proper, Doctor Dick
beheld crowds of miners hastening toward the hotel, and all were
carrying their rifles and had an excited air.

"Well, pards, what has happened?" he asked as he put spurs to his horse
and overtook a party of miners on the way to the hotel.

The response he received caused him to spur forward and dash rapidly on
to the head of the valley.



CHAPTER V.

MASKED AND MERCILESS.


Dave Dockery had taken the place of driver on the Last Chance trail,
after Bud Benton had been killed on the box by unknown parties.

Dave Dockery was as shrewd as he was brave, and bore many scars of
wounds received in the discharge of his duty, his nerve and endurance,
it was said, saving his life where other men would surely have been
killed.

The coach out from Last Chance had gone on its dangerous run with a very
large sum in gold-dust, but Dave had gotten safely through with it, and
was congratulated by all who knew the chances he had taken of losing
treasure and life.

He had heard with regret, after reaching his eastern destination, that
he was to be put to an equal strain going back, for a large sum of money
in bank-bills was to be sent back to Last Chance in payment for several
mines purchased there by outsiders.

Dave was told that the box contained at least thirty thousand dollars,
and so he hid it away as best he could in the coach.

He also was carrying out as freight a dozen rifles of the last and most
improved repeating pattern, and double as many revolvers, intended for
the vigilantes of Last Chance, and who were personally unknown to any of
the miners, though it was suspected that either Landlord Larry, the
hotel-keeper, judge, storekeeper, and proprietor of the largest
gambling-saloon in the place, or Doctor Dick, the gambler gold king, was
the secret leader.

Whoever the vigilante captain and his men might be, it was certain that
they had a good influence over the most lawless spirits in the mines,
the fact of their being unknown greatly aiding their good effect.

Dave Dockery had hoped that he would have a stage-load of passengers
upon the run to Last Chance, for he liked to have a crowd along, and
then he felt that they were a safeguard as well, as in numbers there is
strength.

But, when the starting-time came, only two passengers appeared, one of
them a miner going out to Last Chance to hunt for a fortune, and the
other a young man who told Dave Dockery that he was only traveling from
a love of adventure, and enjoyed the wild life he thus far had met with.

He gave Dave a bunch of good cigars, showed him a silver flask of fine
brandy, and was promptly invited to ride upon the box with him, an
invitation that was as promptly accepted.

Out of the little settlement rolled the coach, followed by a cheer from
the crowd gathered to see it depart, for the going and coming of the
coaches in border places are events of great moment to the dwellers
there.

The young man in search of adventure was upon the box with Dave, and the
miner passenger was inside, where it was safer for him to ride, as he
was in a hopeless state of intoxication.

The horses dashed away in fine style, enthused by the cheer of the
crowd, and Dave looked happy and proud, while his companion on the box
appeared to enjoy the scene immensely.

The young stranger was well dressed, for he had donned what was suitable
for frontier roughing it, and wore in his belt a single revolver, as a
means of defense rather than for show or bravado.

He had a fine face, fearless and frank, and looked like a man of
refinement and education.

Dave Dockery was a good reader of human nature and took to his passenger
at once, being really greatly pleased with his companionship.

Three-fourths of the trail had been gone over without adventure, the
three stops at the relay-stations, for changes of horses and meals for
passengers, having been made on time, and Last Chance was only a dozen
miles away, when, as they neared a dreary-looking spot in a gorge, Dave
said:

"There is where poor Bud Benton passed in his chips, pard, and I tell
you I don't like the spot a bit."

Hardly had he uttered the words when a sharp report rang out and Dave
Dockery fell back upon the coach and lay motionless, while out of the
shadows spurred a horseman dressed in black and wearing a red mask.

With his revolver leveled at the stranger he said sharply:

"Your turn next, sir, for I am out for blood and gold."

Riding on the box with Dave Dockery, the young stranger had heard much
of the wild ways of the border, and had been told that it would be
madness to resist a "hold-up" of a coach, unless the chances were well
on the side of those attacked.

When, therefore, the sharp report of a revolver had been followed by the
toppling over of poor Dave, and a masked horseman rode out of the
shadows of the cliff, his revolver covering him, the young man did not
just know what to do.

He had with him a few hundred in money, his watch, chain, and a few
articles of value, with some papers of importance.

That the masked horseman was alone he could not believe, and yet he had,
against all traditions of the border, begun by firing upon Dave Dockery,
and not ordering him to halt first.

That he had fired to kill the bullet-wound in the breast, and the
motionless form of the driver as he lay back upon the top of the coach,
were in evidence.

Now he stood the chance himself of life and death, and he awaited the
ordeal with white, but calm face.

The horses had stopped in their tracks, and though no other persons were
visible the stranger looked for others to appear. The thought flashed
across him that he must lose all he had with him, but his life he could
not believe was in danger, yet why the masked road-agent had killed
Dockery without mercy he could not understand.

"Do you mean to take my life, man?"

"That depends whether it is worth more to kill you than to let you
live," was the businesslike reply.

But hardly had he spoken when from out of the coach window came a flash
and report. The miner within, awakening to a sense of his danger, had
taken a hand in the affair.

The bullet barely missed the head of the masked horseman, who at once
returned the fire, aiming first, however, at the young man on the box.

With a groan the latter fell heavily to the ground, his revolver
half-drawn from its holster, and the murderer, leaping from his saddle,
took refuge among the horses while he called out:

"I have killed your two comrades, and you share the same fate unless you
surrender."

"I cry quits, pard," came in frightened tones from the coach, and the
man was evidently now sobered and greatly alarmed.

"Then come out!"

The miner quickly threw open the stage door, put his foot upon the step
and then peered cautiously toward his foe.

Instantly there came a shot, and, without a moan, he pitched forward
head foremost and fell in a heap between the wheels.

"Any more?" called out the road-agent sternly.

No answer came, and, revolvers in hand, he stepped to one side and
opened fire at the coach. He fired with both hands, and did not cease
until he had emptied his weapons and riddled the coach.

Then he unslung his rifle from his saddle-horn and cautiously
approached, ready to fire at the first sign of danger to himself.

But he had done his work well, and he had nothing to fear, so advancing
to the coach, found that it was empty.

Quickly he set about searching the vehicle for all of value that it
might carry. He found a roll of bills belonging to the miner, and a few
things of value in his valise.

The young man panned out for him nearly a thousand in money, and some
jewelry, and Dave Dockery was pretty well supplied with funds.

But the masked marauder searched rapidly on, and evidently looked for a
richer haul yet.

The box was found with the money in it, and a bullet fired from his
revolver shattered the lock.

"Ah! here is a haul worth all risks to get," he muttered, and the
contents of the chest were put in a sack and tied upon his saddle.

His work thus far had taken but a few minutes, and, apparently satisfied
with what booty he had secured, he shot one of the wheel-horses, to
prevent the team going on with the coach, and, mounting the splendid
animal he rode, and which was covered, head and all, with a black calico
covering, he dashed away down the pass at a gallop.



CHAPTER VI.

THE DUMB MESSENGER.


Hardly had the masked road-agent ridden away, when a deep groan came
from the lips of Dave Dockery. His eyes opened, and after a supreme
effort, which cost him the greatest agony, as moans would force
themselves through his shut teeth, he was able to slip down from the box
to the ground.

He knelt by the side of the man who had been his companion a few minutes
before, full of life and vigor, and found him motionless. Then he crept
on hands and knees to the side of the miner.

"Dead!" came from between his clenched teeth.

After several efforts he arose by aid of a wheel to his feet, and,
taking a piece of paper and pencil from his pocket, wrote a few lines
upon it with the greatest difficulty.

Making his way, supported by the coach, step by step to the wheel-horse
that stood chained to his dead comrade, he unhitched him from the pole,
fastened the slip of paper to the bridle, and gave him a blow.

"Go! old horse, for I cannot ride you; I am too weak to hold myself on
your back. Go for help to Last Chance, and maybe if you hurry you may
save my life."

The horse seemed to understand what was said to him, and started off at
a swift trot down the trail.

He was just disappearing from sight when Dockery, unable to longer stand
up, tottered and fell by the side of the trail, writhing in his agony.

And while he lay thus the faithful horse increased his speed to a gallop
and went along thus for miles, his trace-chains rattling an
accompaniment to his hoof-falls as he followed the trail to Last Chance.

Halting at a stream here and there for a drink of cool water, and at a
grassy bank for a few mouthfuls of food, the horse held on his way, and
a couple of hours after his departure from the coach galloped into the
mining-camp.

Those who saw him with the harness on felt sure that some harm had
befallen the coach, and they hastened after the animal, who, avoiding
capture, dashed up to the hotel door and halted.

Lawrence Larrimore, nicknamed Landlord Larry, had seen him coming, and
grasped his bridle-rein as he halted.

He had caught sight of the white slip of paper tied upon the bridle, and
quickly securing it, read what was written thereon in the weak and
wavering hand of the wounded driver, but which was recognized as the
writing of Dave Dockery.

It was as follows, for Landlord Larry read it aloud, as the miners
quickly gathered about him:

     "Coach held up at Bud Benton's grave, and I fatally
     wounded.

     "One passenger on box killed; miner in coach also.

     "Coach robbed of large sum.

     "Road-agent was alone, wore black domino and red mask,
     horse also masked, but feel sure I know him.

     "I have just strength to write this, and beg quick aid,
     sending it by one of my wheelers.

     "Come quickly if you hope to find me alive.

     "DAVE."

A roar went up from the crowd of miners at the reading of this note from
Dave Dockery, who even then might be dying, and Landlord Larry cried:

"Spread the alarm, and let us go quickly to the spot, and try and save
poor Dave, yes, and capture that masked road-agent, for he has got money
in plenty.

"Oh! if Doctor Dick was only here to look after poor Dave, he might save
him. Let me see! the coach was due at Bud Benton's grave about two
o'clock and it is now after three. Come, men, mount and follow me!"

Dave Dockery was liked by all, and Landlord Larry was a very popular
man; so, quickly, the miners obeyed the call to follow the one to the
rescue of the other.

Just as the party of mounted men were about to ride away from the hotel,
under the leadership of Landlord Larry, a shout was heard down the
valley, and then came the cry from a score of men:

"There comes Doctor Dick!"

With an exclamation of pleasure Landlord Larry put spurs to his horse
and dashed forward to meet the doctor, who warmly grasped his hand as
the two met and called out:

"What is it, Landlord Larry?"

"Read this paper from Dave Dockery, who even now may be dead. We are
going to his aid."

"And I will go with you."

"But your horse is worn out, Doc, and you look tired after your long
trail."

"Don't mind me, for I will mount a fresh horse and follow," and Doctor
Dick rode rapidly toward his own cabin.

The eyes of the miners followed the doctor as though all depended upon
him.

They had come to almost revere this handsome, stern, mysterious man who
had come to dwell among them, yet seemed so well fitted to adorn a far
different life.

His life was as a sealed book to them, yet his skill as physician and
surgeon was great, his generosity unbounded, and his nerve and daring
far above those whom he had been forced to meet in deadly encounter.

He had made his home in a snugly built cabin under the shelter of a
cliff within easy walk of the hotel, where he took his meals.

He had fitted his frontier home with an extravagance and comfort that
was surprising, and had in a cabin near several as fine horses as could
be found among the mining-camps, with a Chinese servant to look after
them and his wants.

The doctor hastily dismounted, called to the Chinaman to throw his
saddle upon another horse and look after the pack-animal, entered the
cabin for a few moments, and before Landlord Larry and his party were a
couple of miles away was in rapid pursuit.

He did not spare his horse, and overtaking the crowd of half a hundred
miner-horsemen, he was greeted with a cheer, which he acknowledged by
gracefully raising his sombrero.

Riding to the front of the column he took his place by the side of
Landlord Larry, and set a faster pace than that at which they had been
going.

"You say that Dave Dockery was able to write a note, landlord?"

"Yes, I handed it to you to-day."

"I thrust it into my pocket unread," and Doctor Dick now glanced over
the note as he rode along. "I fear he is too far gone, Larry, for if he
had been able he would have come into the camp. I will ride still
faster, for every moment counts with a badly wounded man, and you see I
am mounted on my racer."

"Push on, do, Doc, and I'll follow with the men as fast as I can," cried
the landlord.

With a word to Racer, the horse was off like an arrow, and fairly flew
up and down hill along the rugged trail to reach the scene of the
tragedy and lend aid to the wounded driver.

At last the coach came in sight, and the coming miners were yet all of
two miles behind. The four coach-horses, still attached to the pole,
stood where they had been left by their driver, while the wheel-horse
shot by the road-agent lay where he had fallen.

Near the coach, to one side, and not twenty paces from where Bud Benton
had been killed, lay the form of Dave Dockery.

Throwing himself from his saddle Doctor Dick bent over him and said
quickly:

"He still lives! Dave! Dave! speak to me!"

The eyes slowly opened, and there was a convulsive movement of the form,
a struggle which, becoming violent, caused the doctor to grasp him
firmly, and thus hold him.

The dying man seemed in an agony of despair at being unable to speak,
and after a slight resistance ceased his efforts and sank back
exhausted.

"Here, Dave, take this, for it will revive you," and Doctor Dick poured
some medicine between the white lips.

As he did so a groan from another quarter startled him, and, glancing in
the direction from whence it came, he saw the form of the young
passenger, who had been riding on the box, quiver slightly.

In an instant he sprang to the side of the other sufferer, and bent over
him, placing his hand upon his pulse.

"The bullet struck him in the forehead, glancing along the skull and
coming out, I see, at the back of the head. It remains to see whether
the bone is fractured--ah! here they come," and up dashed Landlord Larry
and those who had kept up with him.

"How goes it, doctor?" asked Larry.

"Dave is beyond hope, I fear, while this gentleman is alive, though I do
not know yet how seriously wounded. That man in rough clothes there is
dead, as you can see at a glance; but come, we will get the wounded men
into the stage at once, and I will drive on to the camps."

"And the road-agents?"

"By all means send a party to hunt them down," was the stern rejoinder.



CHAPTER VII.

DEATH AND MADNESS.


All knew that Doctor Dick was a skilful driver, and that he would take
the coach into Last Chance sooner than any one else could, so they
hastened to get the team ready.

The harness on the horse, which had been the dumb messenger to make
known the tragedy, had been brought back, and two of the miners' horses
were quickly put in as wheelers, while the wounded driver and passenger
were tenderly lifted into the coach.

In got a couple of miners to support them in their arms, while the body
of the man killed by the road-agents was put upon the top of the coach.

Landlord Larry had himself led the party in search of the trail of the
road-agents, while, mounting the box, and leaving his horse to follow on
behind, Doctor Dick sent the team along at a slapping pace for Last
Chance Claim.

As they went along they met other miners coming out to the scene, but
these were turned back, as there was no need of their going, and
Landlord Larry had with him all that was needed.

It was just nightfall when the coach rolled by the door of the hotel,
while, to the surprise of all, Doctor Dick did not draw rein there.
Instead he went on to his own cabin and came to a halt, while he said to
the miners who accompanied him:

"If the lives of these two men are to be saved, it will only be by skill
and devoted nursing, and I want them near me. Bring over two cots from
the hotel, and we will soon make them as comfortable as possible."

The two cots were soon brought, the wounded men tenderly lifted out, and
the coach driven to the stables by a miner, while Doctor Dick set to
work to see just what he could do for his patients.

All knew that Driver Dave Dockery was a great favorite of the
gambler-doctor and the remark was made:

"He'll save Dave if it can be done, and he's the man to do it."

Left alone with his patients, save his Chinese assistant, Doctor Dick
threw off his coat and set to work in earnest to see what he could do
for them, and how seriously they were wounded.

He first went to Dave Dockery. The driver lay as quiet as though asleep.
Placing his hand upon his heart, and then his ear close to his breast,
Doctor Dick said calmly.

"It is the sleep of death."

With only a moment of thought, he straightened out the limbs, closed the
eyes, folded the once strong, bronzed hands over the broad breast, and,
throwing a blanket over the form, said to his Chinese servant, speaking
in the Chinese tongue, and speaking it well:

"Loo Foo, my friend is dead."

The Chinaman replied in his idea of English:

"Allee lightee, dockee, him wellee happy now allee samee 'Melican man
angel."

Loo Foo had been converted, it was said, when he carried on the business
of washee-washee in a mining-camp, for, as he had expressed it:

"More lovee 'Melican man Joss, gettee more washee."

Going from the body of Dave Dockery, Doctor Dick bent over the form of
the wounded stranger. He found him lying in a state of coma, breathing
heavily and apparently very badly wounded.

Examining the wound Doctor Dick saw that the bullet had glanced on the
forehead, run along under the scalp to the back of the skull and there
cut its way out.

Dressing the wound carefully, and using restoratives, the doctor soon
had the satisfaction of discovering that his patient was rallying; and
within an hour's time his eyes opened, and he looked about him in a
bewildered way.

Passing his hand slowly over his face, he seemed trying to get his
scattered thoughts, for he muttered something to himself and then
suddenly burst into a violent fit of laughter.

"Great God! he will live, but as a madman," cried Doctor Dick, moved by
the sight of the strong man's brain having been crazed by the wound he
had received.

Having made him as comfortable as possible he left Loo Foo on watch and
went over to the saloon to report the result, and found it more crowded
than usual.

Many had assembled there who did not generally frequent the place,
preferring the quiet of their own cabins in the evening after a hard
day's work.

These were attracted by the happenings of the day, and the tragedy was
being discussed in all its details, with the possibilities of the
recovery of the driver and the young passenger, and the capture of the
bold outlaws.

The fact that Dave Dockery had hinted in his note to Landlord Larry that
he could possibly tell who the masked road-agent was, was a cause of
considerable excitement to all, for it would doubtless fall on one in
Last Chance to be the accused.

A hush fell upon the crowd as Doctor Dick entered, and the few who were
gambling, for there were only a few that night, left their cards on the
table to hear what would be said.

"Pards," said the doctor, in his courtly way, "I am just from my cabin,
where I have left one of the wounded men dead, the other a madman."

A breathless silence followed these words, and then a voice broke it
with:

"Doc, who is the dead man?"

"Dave Dockery."

A low murmur of regret and sorrow passed over the crowd, and the doctor
added:

"He died soon after reaching the cabin."

"And t'other, Doc?"

"The bullet struck him in the head, slightly fracturing the bone, I
fear, indenting it and causing a loss of reason, which I fear may never
return to him."

"Poor fellow! better be dead, like poor Dave," said one, and this view
was the thought of all.

"Pards, prepare for Dave's funeral to-morrow, and out of respect for
him, let us close the saloon to-night, for I know Landlord Larry would
wish it so."

A general murmur of assent followed, and the doctor continued:

"I wish two men as couriers at once, one to carry a note to Landlord
Larry, for he can go to the scene of the hold-up, and start on the trail
from there as soon as it is light enough to see."

"I'll go, Doc," said a cheery voice, and a young man came forward.

"Thank you, Wall, go with me to my cabin and I'll give you the note.
Now, I wish a man to go as courier to Fort Faraway, and remember it is a
dangerous and long ride."

"I hain't afeered of the danger, or the ride, Doc, so I'm yer man," said
a burly fellow coming forward, and his words were greeted with a cheer.

Doctor Dick glanced at him and then said very calmly:

"Thank you, Brassy, but I do not care to accept your services."

"And just why?"

"In the first place, I desire to send a letter to Buffalo Bill, and you
have expressed openly your hatred for him, and to some day even up on
him for not allowing you to have your way in certain matters."

"I doesn't allow my hates to interfere with duty."

"I do not care to accept your services, Brassy."

"Now, I asks a reason why?"

"I have given you one."

"I wants another."

"Is this a demand?"

"It be."

"You shall have it."

"Then don't beat round the bush, but have the narve to come out with it
like a man."

All looked at Brassy with amazement. He had been drinking and was
reckless.

The doctor smiled, but answered complacently:

"I always answer a demand, Brassy, so will tell you frankly, that I
would not trust you with any message whatever."

The words fell pat from the lips of the doctor, and there was no
misunderstanding them, and Brassy did not, for with a yell he shouted:

"Yer shall eat them insultin' words, Doctor Dick!" and quick as action
could be, he had drawn his revolver and fired.

The crowd had fallen back from about each man at Brassy's cry, and yet
one man caught the bullet intended for the doctor in his shoulder.

It was not a second after the shot of Brassy's before the doctor's
weapon rang out.

He had not expected Brassy to open fire so quickly, so was not prepared
for defense; but he was just so little behind him in time, that before
the man could pull trigger a second time, he fired, and his bullet went
straight where aimed, between the eyes of the one he intended to kill,
when he dropped his hand upon his revolver.

Brassy's pistol fired a second shot as he fell, but it was from the
death clutch upon the trigger, and the bullet went over the heads of the
crowd, while instantly was heard the doctor's quiet tones:

"Come, men, who volunteers as courier to Faraway?"

A young man stepped promptly forward and answered:

"I was a soldier at Faraway, sir, and know the trail. I will go."

"You are the very man, Harding; come with Wall to my cabin. Good night,
gentlemen, and remember, I pay the expenses of Brassy's funeral, so do
not be mean in his burial outfit."

With this Doctor Dick raised his sombrero and left the saloon, his
admirers being still more impressed with his nerve and bearing after
what had occurred.

The body of Brassy was removed to his cabin by those who were his
friends, and all agreed that he had brought his sudden fate upon
himself, as the first reason given, of his hatred to Buffalo Bill, was
excuse enough for refusing him as a courier.

The saloon was closed, and the other gambling and drinking-places
followed the example set and also closed their doors for the night, so
that quiet soon rested in the mining-camp of Last Chance.

In the meanwhile Doctor Dick, accompanied by Wall and Harding, had gone
to his quarters, where Loo Foo was found making a cup of tea, alone with
the dead and wounded, and seemingly unmindful of the fact.

Entering the cabin the doctor drew the blanket back from the form of
Dave Dockery and revealed to the two couriers the honest, brave face of
the driver.

"Poor Dave! He is on his last trail now," he said softly, and seating
himself at his table he hastily wrote two letters. One read:

     "DEAR LARRY: Dave died soon after reaching my cabin. If
     you do not find trace of the outlaws by sunset, it
     would be well to return sooner, if you can get no clue
     whatever.

     "I send Harding to Fort Faraway, with a note to Buffalo
     Bill, as I promised to do, if there was another hold-up
     on the Overland Trail.

     "I had to kill Brassy to-night, but Ball will explain
     the circumstances.

     "Get back to poor Dave's funeral at sunset to-morrow,
     if possible.

     "I closed saloon to-night out of respect to Dave.

     "The young passenger will be a madman if he recovers.

     Yours, DOCTOR DICK."

The note to Buffalo Bill told of the hold-up on the stage-trail, the
death of one passenger, wounding of another, and killing of Dave
Dockery, and closed with:

     "Landlord Larry is on the trail of the outlaws, and all
     will be done to hunt them down that it is possible to
     do.

     "I will drive the coach back on the run, and until
     another driver can be found.

     "If you cannot come now, state what you think best to
     be done and it will be attended to.

     "Yours, DOCTOR DICK."

The couriers left as soon as the letters were finished, and having seen
them depart Doctor Dick went over to the hotel to get his supper, which
Loo Foo had ordered for him, after which he returned, looked at his
patient, gave him a dose of medicine, and, throwing himself upon his
bed, was soon fast asleep, wholly oblivious it seemed of the dead man
and the sufferer within a few feet of him.



CHAPTER VIII.

A STRANGE BURIAL.


The courier on the trail of Landlord Larry found him and his
half-hundred miners trailing the mountains and valleys over in search of
some trace of the coming of the road-agents to the scene of the tragedy,
and their going therefrom.

But the search of the evening before, and up to the arrival of Wall at
noon, when they had gone into camp, had been wholly in vain.

Not a hoof-track could be found of the road-agents' horses, nor a place
where they had lain in wait until the stage came along.

Landlord Larry was not one to waste energy upon impossibilities, and
after reading Doctor Dick's letter he decided to return with his men to
Last Chance.

They set out soon after the midday rest and arrived in Last Chance just
as all was in readiness for the burial of Dave Dockery and Brassy, for a
double funeral was to be had.

The landlord dismissed his men and went at once to the quarters of
Doctor Dick, who greeted him warmly and asked:

"Any success?"

"Not a bit."

"Too bad."

"We could not find the photograph of a trail and to search longer was a
waste of time, so as the men wished to go to Dave's funeral, I just came
in."

"It was about all you could do under the circumstances, Larry."

"I see that they have got the corpse you furnished rigged out for burial
too."

"Brassy?"

"Yes."

"Why not, for he has a number of friends?"

"Don't fear no trouble, do yer?"

"No, I think not, for Brassy prescribed for himself and I administered
the medicine."

"Served him right for playing with edged tools."

"I will not say that, poor fellow, for life was dear to him; but he
should have been more careful."

"We will go together to the burial."

"By all means, and I'll give my friends a hint to be ready if Brassy's
pards go to showing an ugly mood, while you will go prepared, Doc?"

"I always am," was the laconic response.

"Now, how's yer sick man?"

"He will recover bodily, but never mentally I fear."

"I'm sorry," and Landlord Larry went to prepare for the burial.

In half an hour all was ready to start, and Doctor Dick and Landlord
Larry were given the places of honor at the procession, or rather just
following what was called "the band," and which consisted of a dozen men
who _sang_, the leader alone playing on a cornet.

Following the doctor and Landlord Larry, came the eight men bearing the
body of Dave Dockery on a litter on their shoulders.

The body was encased in a board coffin, and behind followed eight men
carrying the body of Brassy.

Following were the miners, marching eight abreast, and in solid column,
nearly a thousand men being in line, and among them were led the horses
which Dave Dockery was wont to drive, his belt of arms, hat, and whip
being carried on top of his coffin.

Up the cañon to the cemetery beneath the cliffs filed the column at
funeral pace, keeping time to the splendid voices, that changed from air
to air as they marched along, and which echoed and reechoed among the
hills.

The burying-ground was reached, the bodies placed by the side of the
graves dug for them, and Landlord Larry consigned them to their last
resting-place by repeating the words of the burial service over them, no
partiality being shown.

But when the coffin, with the weapons, hat, and whip of Dave Dockery was
lowered into the grave, hundreds of bold, brawny men stepped forward and
threw in upon it benches of wild flowers they had gathered, and when
filled up, the little mound was covered from view by these sweet
offerings of manly regard for the dead driver, while in strange contrast
was the barren grave of Brassy, for his immediate friends had not
thought of gathering flowers, there being no sentiment in his death.

Doctor Dick looked calmly on, and perhaps it was his stern, fearless
mien that stayed the trouble that several of Brassy's pards seemed to
have decided upon there in the sacred resting-place of the dead,
perhaps the belief that they would be quickly sent to join their
comrade, for they created no disturbance, only with a significant glance
at the gold-king gambler turned and walked away with the bearing of men
who would bide their time to avenge.



CHAPTER IX.

THE COURIER.


The man who had volunteered to take the long and dangerous ride to Fort
Faraway, to carry a letter to Buffalo Bill, had ridden along steadily
after leaving Last Chance, until a couple of hours before day. Then he
halted, staked his horse out, and, wrapping himself in his blanket, went
to sleep.

For several hours he slept serenely, then awaking he cooked his
breakfast and was soon again in the saddle.

He seemed to understand frontier craft perfectly, and to appreciate just
what his horse could stand, so did not press him too hard.

Camping at nightfall, he was again on the trail at daybreak, and held
steadily on during the day.

Another night-camp and he rode into Fort Faraway the next morning before
the hour of noon.

He was directed at once to the quarters of Buffalo Bill, and though,
having been a soldier there, he recognized many old friends, he saw
that, dressed as he then was, and with his beard grown, the recognition
was not mutual.

But the moment he entered the presence of Buffalo Bill he was recognized
and warmly greeted, for the scout had always liked the young soldier,
who had been given his discharge on account of a severe wound received
in an Indian fight, which it was thought would render him lame for life.

"Well, Harding, I am glad to see you, and you deserve credit for the
plucky ride you have made. How is the old wound getting on now?"

"All right, Bill, for I am not at all lame, I am glad to say."

"And you are getting rich, I suppose?"

"Well, no, but I have laid up some money in mining, only I cannot stand
upon my wounded leg long at a time, and so I am going to ask you to take
me on as a scout under your command, if you can do so."

"Harding, you are just the man I want, and you are in that very place
where I need you, so you can return to your mine, and pretend to work as
before, for there is where I wish you to serve me, since I received this
letter from Doctor Dick."

"Thank you, Pard Cody, for your kindness, and will be glad to do as you
wish; but may I ask a favor?"

"Certainly."

"It is that no one knows that I am in your service, not even Landlord
Larry or Doctor Dick, for I can work better, I am sure."

"It might be a good idea to have it so, and it shall be as you wish, for
you can do better work as a spy, and I have full confidence in you,
Harding. But we will talk over just what it is best to do when I have
reported to Major Randall the holding up of the coach and killing of
Dave Dockery and the others."

Buffalo Bill then left the courier and went to headquarters, where he
held a long conversation with the commandant of the post.

Returning to his own quarters he said to Harding, who was awaiting him:

"Well, pard, the major has heard the whole story, and he has left it to
me to go in my own way about running down these road-agents, for, though
only one was seen, there were evidently more at the hold-up."

"I do not doubt that, for one man would be a bold one to alone make an
open attempt to hold up a coach with Dave Dockery on the box, and
knowing that he had passengers with him."

"Well, Harding, you are to return to Last Chance, and give letters I
will write to Landlord Larry, and I wish you to go to work in my
service, and secret service it must be, for what you do must be
underhand, no one knowing that you are doing else than carrying on your
mining as before. I will give you a paper which will protect you, for
Major Randall will endorse it officially, and you can use it in case of
trouble, or necessity; not otherwise."

"I thank you, friend Bill, and I'll be discreet, I promise you; but now
there is another thing I wish to tell you, and to ask what you think of
it."

"Well, what is it, Harding?"

"Do you believe that Sergeant Wallace Weston is dead?" was the query, in
a low, earnest tone.

Buffalo Bill started at the unexpected question asked him, and gazing
intently at Harding, asked:

"Why do you ask such a question, Harding?"

"I will tell you when you answer my question, Mr. Cody."

"Whether I believe Sergeant Wallace Weston dead?"

"Yes, sir."

"I do."

"You have good reason for believing it, then?"

"I have."

"Please tell me what it is."

"As you have some motive above curiosity in asking, I will do so,
Harding," and Buffalo Bill told the whole story of Sergeant Weston's
escape from execution, and the finding of a body in his uniform upon the
desert, and burying it. But he added:

"I confess, Harding, after a talk with Doctor Dick upon the subject, I
was led to doubt to a certain degree the death of the sergeant, and even
followed a trail which I supposed was his."

"With what result, sir?"

"That we found the trail led to a mine which had caved in and crushed
the cabin home of those who dwelt there!"

"When was this, sir?"

"Only a short time ago."

"Do you mind giving me the date?"

Buffalo Bill took a note-book from his pocket and gave the exact date.

"Now, Harding, you have some knowledge upon this subject; a secret to
tell."

"Yes, sir."

"Out with it."

"You will keep it in confidence, between us two?"

"Certainly."

"You know that the sergeant was my friend, that he had saved my life
twice in battle, and I loved him as I did a brother?"

"I remember."

"No man knew him better than I did in the fort, for we were boon
comrades for over a year, and I knew his features perfectly, as well as
other marks of identification."

"Yes."

"The sergeant had one mark that he was sensitive about, and kept hidden
from all, though I saw it several times."

"What was it?"

"He had a peculiar way of dressing his hair, with a curl hanging over
his forehead."

"I remember it."

"Beneath that curl, sir, was a birthmark."

"Ah!"

"It was a red cross an inch in length, and perfect in shape."

"Indeed?"

"Yes, and I saw that same mark on a man's forehead a few days before the
date you say that Sergeant Weston, if it was he, was buried in the
caved-in mine."

"Ah! and where did you see it?"

"I had gone to Wingate by coach, sir, to collect some money due me from
several soldiers there, and in the sutler's store I saw a man whose face
I was sure I had seen before.

"He wore his hair and beard long, and seemed to stoop badly, or was
round-shouldered, but the form otherwise was the same, so were the eyes
and shape of the head, and he had a round gold filling the size of a
pin's head in one of the front teeth.

"Reading a letter that seemed to impress him, he took off his hat and
pushed his hair back, and I saw the red cross on his forehead. I went up
to see him as though to attract his attention, but he looked at me as
though he had never seen me before, yet his face flushed and paled as he
looked.

"Now, Mr. Cody, that man was Sergeant Weston, and I'll swear to it, but
I would not tell any other man than you, for if he escaped death no one
is more glad of it than I, unless----"

"Unless what, Harding?"

"Unless, a poor man, and a hunted one, he turned road-agent and was the
man who held up the coach, killing Dave Dockery."

"No, Harding, I can hardly believe that of him, and then, too, the coach
was just held up, and this man, with his pard, perished in the cave-in
of their mine."

"You are sure?"

"I cannot see reason to doubt it, but now that you tell me what you do,
the man who saved me from the gang of Headlight Joe, and then went on
his way, recalled a face I could not place, and now I am sure that it
was Sergeant Weston; but he too had round shoulders, while the sergeant
did not have, and yet he was then on his way to Wingate, and it was upon
his return that I followed his trail."

"Well, sir, if it was in my power to capture Sergeant Weston, never
would I lay hand upon him, and I believe you feel the same way, unless
it was your orders to do so. Still, somehow, the thought came to me
that, a fugitive, and friendless, he might have turned outlaw."

"I do not think so, and I am sure now that, if it was Weston who came to
my aid, and whom you saw, he perished in the mine; but now let us go
over what I wish you to do, and my plan to run down these road-agents,
who I am sure are from Last Chance Claim and nowhere else," said Buffalo
Bill.



CHAPTER X.

DOCTOR DICK'S DRIVE.


A pall seemed to have fallen over Last Chance, in the death of Dave
Dockery, and its life began to flag in gloom. Seeing this, and fearing
that the hold-up of the coach might injure the mines, Landlord Larry
decided to get up a scheme to attract outsiders to the mines, and so the
rumor went out of a large find of gold in one of the cañons near the
town.

A couple of miners only were put there to work it, and the claim was
known as the Doctor Dick Mine, as the gold king at once bought from the
landlord a half-interest in it.

This news stirred the miners to increased exertions in their own mines,
and also caused prospectors to go out on the search for new "finds."

The wounded passenger continued to steadily improve bodily, under the
skill and kind care of Doctor Dick, but his mind was a wreck, and no one
believed that he would ever regain his reason.

Doctor Dick hinted at an operation some day that might relieve the
pressure upon the brain, yet spoke of it also as an experiment and a
dangerous one, only to be tried as a last resort.

The man was as docile as a child, gave no trouble, and simply sat about
whittling sticks into the shape of a revolver.

At last the week passed by, when the stage was to start again upon its
run eastward.

A number of miners had volunteered as an escort, but Doctor Dick said he
would drive on the run out and come back as a passenger; and he did not
expect trouble, so would not accept an armed escort.

The night before the stage was to start, Harding, the courier to Fort
Faraway, returned. He brought with him a letter from Buffalo Bill to
Doctor Dick, and another for Landlord Larry, stating that the troops at
the fort were pressed just then with extra duty, as the Indians were in
an angry mood, and for them to do what they could for the protection of
the coaches until Major Randall could investigate and patrol the trail.

Harding had little to say of his visit to the fort, more than to hint
that the soldiers were too much occupied just then with their own
affairs to care much for the killing of a stage-driver and couple of
passengers.

As no Government funds had been taken by the outlaws, the miners would
have to look to their own protection, for a while at least.

The courier also stated that there were stories at the fort of secret
finds of gold in and about Last Chance, and he would give up his
intention, expressed some time before, of selling out his mining
interests, and instead, stick to hard work, in the hope of striking it
rich in the end.

The next morning the coach was to start, and as it was to go out at an
early hour many of the miners decided to remain up all night gambling in
order to see it leave; for it would be the Sabbath day, when they could
rest.

Doctor Dick had been too busy of late with his patient and other matters
to devote much time to gambling, and so he also decided to make a night
of it at the gambling-tables.

When the dawn came many regretted that he had done so, for never had he
played more recklessly, and never before had he been such a large
winner, for luck seemed to go his way from the start.

Play what game he might he was a winner, and going from table to table
he "broke the combination," as one of the miners expressed it.

The dawn was at hand when he went to his cabin for a bath, and in half
an hour he came back to the hotel for breakfast, looking little like a
man who had passed the night over a gambling-table.

He was dressed in his best, was well armed, and coming out from a hearty
breakfast lighted a cigar, and mounted to the stage-box at a single
bound, an act that gained for him a cheer upon his agility.

"All ready, Landlord Larry," he called out as he gathered up the reins,
and the answer was:

"No passengers, mails aboard, go!"

Doctor Dick gathered up the reins in a way that showed him a master of
the art of driving.

He looked very dashing and handsome, as he sat on the box, his long hair
falling upon his shoulders and his face showing no dread of what he
might have to encounter upon his run.

With a wave of the hand at the word, "go," he gave his whip-lash a quick
whirl, and made the crack resound like a pistol-shot.

The six horses bounded forward, and a wild yell of admiration of the
volunteer driver's pluck went up from the crowd.

As the coach rolled down the valley the miners came out from their
cabins and gave him a cheer, and it was a constant yell along the line
until he had left the last camp behind him.

The six fine horses had been sent along at a rapid pace until the camps
were left behind, the doctor showing his great skill as a driver in
dashing over places, and around corners where others had found it safer
to go slow; but when the last cabin disappeared the team was brought
down to a jog, for the way was long before them.

The scene of the last tragedy was passed at a walk, the doctor glancing
calmly at the spot where Dave Dockery had lost his life, along with his
passengers.

The first relay was made, and the stock-tender there, who had heard the
news of the hold-up from Landlord Larry's men when searching for the
road-agents, expressed pleasure at seeing the coach come in safe and
with Doctor Dick upon the box.

"Anything suspicious about, pard?" asked the doctor.

"No, sir, hain't seen a man around since poor Dave went by on the last
run, which was his last run on earth."

"Yes, poor fellow, he is gone."

"You doesn't mean ter say that yer is going ter drive ther run, Doc?"

"Only on this trip, pard, for I have other work to do; but there was no
one at Last Chance to take the coach out, so I volunteered."

"And you has the nerve ter run through, while yer handles ther ribbons
as though yer was born on a stage-box. But yer'll find drivers scarce at
t'other end, Doctor Dick, or I'm greatly mistook."

"I hope not;" and the fresh team being ready, the doctor pushed on once
more.

The second relay-station was reached at noon, and here Doctor Dick had
his dinner.

He had come over the worst part of the road, as far as danger from
attack was concerned, but had fifty miles yet before him, where a halt
was always made for the night, as there was a cañon there to go through
which could only be driven in daylight, and the relay of horses taken in
the morning had to pull on into the station at the end of the ran for
the driver on the Last Chance end of the line.

But the doctor reached what was known as Cañon-end Station soon after
dark, and after supper turned in in one of the cots in the cabin
provided for passengers, and was soon fast asleep.

He was up at an early hour, had breakfast, lighted his cigar, and with a
spanking fine team took the perilous run through the cañon at a trot,
driving the twenty miles that ended his run in a little over three
hours.

The stage rolling in at a brisk pace to the station at W----, was
greeted with cheers, for the news had come from Fort Faraway the day
before of Dave Dockery's death, the killing of one passenger, wounding
of another, and the robbery of the coach.

The brave man who had dared drive through was greeted with cheers, but
he had hardly dismounted from the box when he was informed that he
would have to drive back, as there was no driver there who would take
the risk at any price.

Other drivers had been sent for, men who were afraid of nothing, but no
one had yet been found who would drive the run to Last Chance, which had
been set down in the frontier vocabulary as the Sure-death Trail.



CHAPTER XI.

RUNNING THE GANTLET.


Doctor Dick agreed to drive the coach back on condition that the driver
who came to take charge should come on to Last Chance on horseback and
be ready to come back with it.

He had shown that he did not fear the drive, but his business and
professional duties demanded that he should be at Last Chance, and there
he must remain.

He was secretly told by the agent that there was a valuable mail to go
through in registered letters, and asked if he dared risk carrying them.

"By all means, sir, for I am driving to do my full duty," was the
answer.

So the mail was made up, and at the last moment two passengers applied
for seats.

They were strangers in W----, but said they were going to Last Chance to
work in the mines, and they were accordingly given seats upon the box,
as they preferred to ride outside.

Then the coach started on its return to Last Chance with Doctor Dick
still holding the reins.

Having driven over the run once, and knowing what his relay teams could
do, he started out to make the regular time on the run.

But there was alarm felt at Last Chance when half an hour had passed
over schedule-time and the coach did not put in an appearance, and
nothing was seen of it on the three miles of trail visible down the
valley.

When an hour had passed the anxiety became great, for all conjectured
that Doctor Dick had met the fate of Bud Benton and Dave Dockery.

Some said that the delay was because the doctor was new on the road, and
this appeared to be a reasonable explanation, but Landlord Larry grew
more and more anxious, and at last decided to go out with a party on a
search for the delayed coach.

But, just as the men were told to get their horses, a shout arose down
the valley that the coach was approaching, and soon after a cloud of
dust was visible drifting along the stage-trail.

A shout arose, for it showed that at least some one was there, whatever
had happened, to drive the coach in.

Then those who had said the delay was caused by the doctor being new to
the trail began to crow, but only for a while, as Landlord Larry, who
was gazing through a field-glass at the approaching stage, called out:

"There are only four horses--two are missing, for some reason."

It was now all conjecture as to the cause of delay. Again Landlord Larry
had something to say, and it was to the effect that the coach was not
dashing along with its accustomed speed in coming in at the end of the
trail, that Doctor Dick was on the box, and alone, while he seemed to
drive in a very careful manner, very different from his going away on
his drive out.

Nearer and nearer came the coach up the valley, every eye upon it, and
all wondering, guessing, and asserting their views of what had happened.

"The doctor is there, that is certain," said one.

"Two horses have been killed," another remarked.

"He may have lost them in the bad roads," was an answer.

"Perhaps they were shot down by road-agents."

"He has no passengers."

"See how he drives."

"He comes on as slow as a snail."

"See, he is driving with one hand."

"What does that mean?"

"His left hand is hanging by his side."

"He has surely been wounded."

And so the comments ran around, as all stood watching the coming coach,
which half an hour after coming in sight rolled up to the hotel, came to
a halt and was greeted with a wild chorus of cheers from the assembled
miners.

The crowd that gazed at Doctor Dick saw that his handsome face was very
pale, his eyes had a haggard look, and his teeth were firmly set. They
knew that he had passed through some dread ordeal, and a silence fell
upon all, awaiting for him to speak.

They saw that his left arm was carried in a sling, his handkerchief
knotted around his neck, and that a red stain was upon his sleeve.
Furthermore, they saw that the two wheel-horses were missing, the center
pair having been put back in their place.

Upon opening the stage door to see if there were any passengers,
Landlord Larry started back as the dead form of a man pitched out on his
head.

The door being open it was seen that a second form was in the coach, all
in a heap in one corner.

There were red stains upon the steps, and upon the leather cushions, and
everything indicated that the stage had run a death-gantlet.

But, excepting for his pale, stern face, the doctor was as serene as a
May morn, though his voice showed weakness when he spoke.

"I'll ask your aid, landlord, for I am weakened from loss of blood. Bind
my arm up to stop the flow and I'll see how serious the wound is."

He said no more, but was at once aided from the box and over to his
cabin, Landlord Larry leaving his clerk to look after the mails and the
dead passengers.

Arriving at the cabin Doctor Dick had his coat-sleeve slit open and the
bandage he had tied about his arm removed.

His silk shirt-sleeve was also cut, and then the wound was revealed in
the fleshy part of the arm.

Taking a probe from his case Doctor Dick, after swallowing a glass of
brandy, coolly probed the wound, found the ball, and, aided by Loo Foo,
the Chinee, under his direction, soon extracted the bullet.

Then the wound was skilfully dressed, the arm rested in a sling, and
Doctor Dick lolling back in his easy chair asked with the greatest
coolness:

"Well, Landlord Larry, how goes all at Last Chance?"

The landlord was amazed at the calmness of the man, and said quickly:

"Oh, Last Chance is O. K.; but it is your run that we are dying to hear
about, Doc."

"Well, it was a close call for me, Larry, I admit, for I found foes
where I expected friends."

"You were held up?"

"Yes."

"Where?"

"At what you have very appropriately named the Dead Line, Larry."

"The place where Bud and Dave were killed?"

"Yes."

"It was the masked road-agents?"

"Not this time."

"Ah! who then?"

"I did not form their acquaintance by name, but perhaps a search of the
bodies may reveal."

"You killed them?"

"Two."

"Where are the bodies?"

"I brought them along in the coach."

"I thought they were passengers who had been killed?"

"They were."

"How do you mean?"

"They left W---- booked as passengers, but reached Last Chance as
dead-head road-agents."

"Now I begin to understand. It was your two passengers who attacked
you?"

"Just so."

"It is a wonder that they did not kill you."

"They would easily have done so, had I not suspected them: but I grew
suspicious, and without appearing to do so, watched their every look
and move. When we drew near the Dead Line, they said they would lie down
on top of the coach and rest, so they spread their blankets and did so.

"I thought this strange, as just before I had told them we were
approaching the scene of the hold-ups. But I kept my eye upon them, and,
as we neared the cliff, the sun shone brightly down and I distinctly saw
the shadows of the two men as they arose and drew their revolvers.

"I drew mine as quick as a flash, turned, and caught this shot in the
arm, while a second bullet whizzed by my head."



CHAPTER XII.

A MAN'S NERVE.


The doctor paused in his story, as though recalling the thrilling scene
which had so nearly cost him his life, and a sad look came into his eyes
as though he felt that his mission seemed ever to kill.

So lost was he in thought, that Landlord Larry had to recall him to his
story by saying:

"It was a very close call for you, Doc."

"A close call indeed, and, but for the shadows on the cliff, revealing
the hostility of my two passengers, my death would have followed. But my
discovery of their intention, and quickness in facing them, disconcerted
them both, destroying their aim, close as they were to me."

"They did not fire again?"

"Oh, yes; several shots, two of which killed my wheelers; but I got in
my work by firing two shots, also."

"Killing them?"

"Yes, for you will find my bullet-brands in their foreheads. The horses
had started forward at the shots, and as the wheelers fell, the coach
gave a lurch which sent the two men from the top to the ground just as I
fired on them.

"I quieted my team, and first bound my arm up as tightly as I could to
stop the flow of blood, and then, dismounting, picked up the two dead
men, threw them into the coach, and drove on.

"Of course my wounded arm gave me more and more trouble, and I could
drive only very slowly with one hand, and hence my delay in arrival. But
I got in without being robbed, which I am very glad of, for there is a
large registered mail on this run.

"Now I will have Loo Foo fetch me some supper and retire, for I am about
played out, and you can search the two men and let me know the result in
the morning. But one minute--how is my patient?"

"Bodily all right, but his mind, as you said would be the case, is
gone."

"Poor fellow! Good night, Larry, and hurry Loo Foo over with my supper,
please."

Landlord Larry bade Doctor Dick good night and departed, more than ever
impressed with the idea that the gold king gambler was a very remarkable
man.

Going to his hotel Landlord Larry found nearly every denizen of Last
Chance awaiting him, and a suppressed excitement was apparent in all.

The two bodies had been taken into the hotel office, to await the coming
of the landlord, and there they lay covered with a blanket. The moment
Landlord Larry was seen, coming from the cabin of Doctor Dick, cries
arose of:

"Speech! speech!

"Tell the news, landlord!" and so on.

Larry mounted to the piazza of the hotel and in a few words told the
story of Doctor Dick's running the gantlet and the nerve he had shown in
the ordeal he had passed through.

"Oh, he's got ther narve of Old Nick, as we all knows," cried a miner,
and this intended compliment was acquiesced in by one and all.

Having learned the news the miners adjourned to the saloons and the
toasts for the next few hours were to:

"Doctor Dick, a man o' narve from Wayback."

Until a late hour the miners drank and gambled, and then, toward dawn,
quiet reigned in the camps, broken only now and then by a yell from some
man who was too full of liquor to go to sleep.

The next morning, greatly to the delight of all, Doctor Dick appeared at
breakfast and received an ovation. Loo Foo had dressed his wounded arm,
and though sore, it was all right, Doctor Dick said, yet he was pale
from loss of blood.

After breakfast he mounted his horse and took the rounds to see his
patients, and everywhere he was greeted with a welcome that could not
but flatter him.

But the two weeks before date for the return of the coach--for the runs
were semimonthly--passed away and no driver appeared from W---- to take
the stage out. It began to look very much as though Doctor Dick would
have to again take the reins.

The search of the dead bodies of the two road-agents had revealed
nothing as to their identity, for, excepting their weapons, a little
money, some odds and ends in their pockets, they had nothing of value
about them, and they were buried at the expense of Doctor Dick, who
would have it so, as he very laconically remarked:

"As I killed them, I should pay their expenses when they are unable to
do so."

At last the day for the starting of the coach came round, and Doctor
Dick, as no one else volunteered, expressed his willingness to take the
reins, though he remarked:

"This will be the last run I shall make, so you must get a man here,
Landlord Larry, to go, if I do not bring one back with me from W----."

And once more Doctor Dick rolled away with a cheer from his admirers.



CHAPTER XIII.

A VOLUNTEER.


Doctor Dick had an uneventful run to W----, and arrived without accident
or delay on time at the end of his journey. He was well received, but
the stage-agent told him that not a volunteer had put in an appearance
for the place of driver. Double the price had been offered, but there
were no takers, and the agent added:

"You must find some daredevil at Last Chance who is willing to risk his
life upon the box, while rest assured, Doctor Dick, I have reported your
noble service for the company in its need and it will be appreciated."

"I do not care for pay, or thanks, only I wish to be relieved of a duty
I do not like, especially as it interferes with my own work," was the
answer.

Just before the time came for the starting of the coach a horseman rode
up and dismounted at the stage office. He was an odd-looking individual,
tall, but with a hump on his back, awkward in gait, and dressed in
buckskin leggings and hunting-shirt.

His hair was long, very long, bushy, and would have been white but for
its soiled appearance, and he had it cropped, or banged in front like an
Indian, or fashionable young miss, to keep it out of his eyes.

His face was clean-shaven, but the hue of leather, and he wore a pair of
iron-rimmed spectacles.

His slouch-hat was worn in reality, for the rim fell down upon his
shoulders, save in front where the flap was turned up and fastened with
an army-button.

He was armed with a pair of old, but serviceable revolvers, an
ugly-looking bowie-knife with a deer-horn handle, and a combined rifle
and shotgun, double-barreled.

His horse was as queer as his master in appearance, being a large,
raw-boned animal, with patches of hair upon him, a long tangled mane and
tail, and he was unshod, though his hoofs looked as tough as iron.

The saddle was also a back number, and the stake-rope served for a
bridle as well. A lariat hung at the saddle-horn, also a hatchet, and in
a large rubber blanket was rolled his bedding, while a bag contained a
coffee-pot, frying-pan, tin cup, plate, and some provisions.

He looked the crowd over as he drew rein, and asked quietly:

"Who's boss o' this layout?"

"I am," and the stage-agent stepped forward.

"I hears thet yer wants a man ter drive yer old hearse on ther trail ter
Last Chance and back."

"I do."

"I'm yer huckleberry."

"You?"

"Yas, me."

"Are you a driver?"

"Ef I wasn't I'd not be sich a durned fool as ter trust myself on a
two-story hearse, pard."

"Who sent you here?"

"Nobody, for I hain't one ter be sent."

"Where did you come from?"

"Ther up-country, whar I has been trappin', huntin', prospectin', and
killin' a Injin or two--see!"

"And now you wish to turn stage-driver?"

"If it pays what they told me at Fort Faraway I does."

"The pay is good; but have you no references?"

"Yas."

"Where are they?"

"Here."

The old man put his hands upon his revolvers and drew them with a
lightninglike motion that surprised the lookers-on.

"They are pretty good references on a pinch, and you may have cause to
use them if you drive this trail."

"I has used them before, and I guess I kin do it ag'in," was the quiet
response.

"When could you begin?"

"Now."

"What is your name?"

"Old Huckleberry, but the boys calls me old Huck for short; but durn
ther name, call me what yer wants ter, and I'll be thar."

"Well, Pard Huckleberry, I rather like your style, and have a mind to
give you a trial."

"Ef yer kin do better, don't do it; but if yer can't, count on me, for
as I said afore, I'm yer huckleberry, and ready for the game."

Doctor Dick had been closely looking at the old volunteer and said
something in a whisper to the stage-agent, who at once said:

"I'll take you, and the time for starting is almost up."

"I'm ready, only take care of my horse at my expense," and the volunteer
dismounted ready for work.

When old Huckleberry mounted the stage-box, Doctor Dick yielded to him
the reins, which he seized in a somewhat awkward manner, yet with the
air of one who knew just what to do; took the whip, gave it a resounding
crack, and started off at a brisk pace.

There were four passengers inside, all miners going to Last Chance,
lured there by the rumor of richer mines having been found, for the
stories were circulating more and more that there were rich finds being
discovered there every day.

"That man knows how to handle the reins as well as the best of them, old
though he may be, and a trifle awkward," said the stage-agent, as he saw
the volunteer driver sending his team along, at a slapping pace, in
spite of the fact that the trail was none of the best along there.

The coach soon disappeared from the sight of those at W----, made the
night halt on time, and as soon as he had had his supper the new driver
wrapped himself in his blankets and threw himself down outdoors,
declining the invitation of the stock-tender to sleep in the cabin.

He was on his box on time the next morning, and with Doctor Dick by his
side, went off on his run.

He was a man disposed to silence, for he did not speak often, unless
Doctor Dick addressed him. But he would ask now and then about the
trails, and showed some interest in the gambler-king's stories of the
different road-agents' attacks upon the way to Last Chance.

He greeted the stock-tenders at the relay-stations pleasantly, said he
hoped to be with them for some time, and kept the team at the pace set
for schedule-time.

Passing the scenes of the several tragedies, he drew rein for a few
minutes and attentively regarded the surroundings, but drove on again
without a word of comment.

Doctor Dick had become more and more interested in the strange driver,
had told him all he could about the trail, the time to make going and
coming, and was anxious to have him make no mistakes, he said.

He tried to draw him out time and again, but in vain. All he could learn
from him was that he had lived for many years upon the frontier and
preferred to do so for reasons best known to himself.

He said he was trapper, Indian-fighter, hunter, and prospector, that was
all, and he tried to do his duty in every work he undertook. More he
would not say of himself, and the doctor gave up trying to "pump" him.

When the coach came in sight of Last Chance, old Huckleberry showed no
satisfaction at having made the run in safety, or excitement at driving
in for the first time.

He quickened the pace of his team, handled his reins with a skill that
won the admiration, as he had all along, of Doctor Dick, and at last
came to a halt before the hotel with a whoop and the words:

"Here we be, boss!"

Doctor Dick introduced old Huckleberry from the box, as soon as the
cheer that greeted their arrival had died away.

"Pards, I is glad ter know yer, and I greets yer," and with this old
Huckleberry dismounted from the box and asked at once for the
"feed-room."

He ate his supper with a relish, smoked his pipe, and, declining a bed
in the hotel, saying it would smother him to sleep in between walls,
took an ax and hatchet, with a few nails, and, going up on the hillside
where there was a thicket, soon built for himself a wickiup that would
keep him sheltered even in a storm.

He carried his few traps there, and then stuck up a notice which read:
"Old Huckleberry's Claim."

Having completed his quarters, he strolled about among the saloons and
gambling-dens, watched the playing, but neither drank nor gambled, and
at last, tiring of looking on, went to his roost and turned in for the
night, an object of curiosity to all, yet also of admiration, for a man
who would volunteer to drive the coach over that trail was one to
command respect in Last Chance.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE WAY IT WAS DONE.


The new driver drove the run to W--- for several round trips, and not
once was he held up.

He made the regular time, drove without any accident whatever, attended
to his business, associated with no one, or, that is, to be on intimate
terms with any one, not even Doctor Dick, and still slept in his little
shelter on the hill.

He had fitted this up more comfortably, and said that he felt perfectly
at home there, while on his return from W---- he had led his horse back
behind the coach, wishing to have him at Last Chance, where his stay was
always two weeks, for there was only a day's stop at the other end of
the run.

He was wont to go on long hunts, mounted upon Rawbones, as he called his
horse, and he kept Landlord Larry well supplied with game.

One day as old Huckleberry was returning to Last Chance, and neared the
Dead Line, the scene of the other hold-up, he suddenly threw his rifle
to his shoulder and sent a shower of buckshot into a thicket ahead.

A rifle-bullet from the other barrel was sent to the other side, and the
whip was brought down upon his team in a way that put them into a run.

Seeing them well started he threw the reins over the brake and with a
revolver in each hand opened a fusillade on both sides of the trail,
while he called out to his passengers:

"Blaze away into the bushes, durn yer, for thar is game thar ter kill!"

All this had not taken over half a dozen seconds, and that there was
"game" in the thickets, and dangerous game at that, was proven by
hearing several loud cries of pain, and stern orders given, while men
were seen hunting shelter from the unexpected fusillade opened upon
them.

There were eight passengers in the coach, and, urged by the old driver,
several of them obeyed and opened fire from the windows.

The result was that where road-agents had been lying in wait for the
coach, and were just about to show themselves and command a halt, they
were taken completely by surprise and forced to seek shelter from the
leaden messengers flying about them.

The rapid fire caused the road-agents to believe that there was a coach
full of soldiers, that a trap was prepared for them, and ere they could
rally and their leader could convince them that it was not so, the coach
had gone by the Dead Line and was going along the pass at the full speed
of its horses, the reins now in the hands of old Huck once more.

The passengers all saw the panic-stricken road-agents, half a dozen in
number, and, encouraged by the boldness of old Huck, kept up a hot fire,
which they felt confident had not been thrown away.

When pursuit was no longer feared, old Huck drew his team down to a
trot, and, leaning over, called out:

"We done 'em up thet time, pards."

The passengers cheered the old driver, and when he drew rein at the
hotel in Last Chance they quickly made known his act of heroism, for,
throwing the reins upon the backs of his horses, he had gotten down from
the box, reported the safe arrival of the coach to Landlord Larry, and
gone in to his supper.

When the story was told, of how bravely he had run the gantlet, Landlord
Larry went in to have a talk with him, but found that he had finished
his supper and gone.

It was a cold evening, and there was snow flying, so, looking over to
the hill where the little shanty of old Huck was located, Landlord Larry
saw a bright fire burning and at once went there.

There sat old Huck enjoying his pipe and warming his feet before the
fire in the clay chimney he had built.

He had a canvas covering the doorway, to keep out the cold and snow, and
seemed as contented as could be in his lone quarters.

"Well old man, you seem happy," he said.

"Why not?"

"You brought in a valuable freight to-night, in money and registered
letters."

"I know it."

"Do you know how much?"

"Ther agent at W---- told me he thought about forty thousand, and so I
made a rush, ter git through."

"And did it grandly."

"That's what I'm paid fer."

"I have heard the story of your running the gantlet and surprising the
road-agents."

Old Huck laughed and replied:

"Waal, I calkilate as how they was astonished. You see I seen the tracks
on the trail, foot-tracks, and fresh ones, goin' on toward the Dead
Line, and so I kinder felt sart'in o' a hold-up. When I come to ther
pass I seen ther top o' a small tree wavin' and knowed somebody were up
in it looking over t'other trees.

"So I jist up with old drop-'em, and I let drive with a handful o'
bullets I had dropped into ther shot-barrel, and I put a piece o' lead
on t'other side o' trail, dropped ther ribbons and set my two puppies
ter barking, as soon as I hed laid ther silk onter ther team and got 'em
inter a run.

"I tell yer, landlord, it were prime fun and no mistake, and as ther
insiders helped with ther guns, you bet we waltzed through them scared
road-agents in a way that crippled 'em; and we come in on time.

"That's all thar is of ther story, boss," and old Huckleberry puffed
away at his pipe again in the most unconcerned manner possible.

Hardly had old Huckleberry finished his simple story of his brave act
when a voice at the door said:

"Ho, old gentleman, I have just heard at the hotel of your splendid work
this afternoon and have come to congratulate you."

"Come in, Pard Doc, and camp on that blanket thar before ther fire, I is
glad to see yer, but I don't need no congratulations, for I hain't done
nothing more than I oughter."

"Well, old man, you saved the lives of your passengers, and a rich
freight, I learn, and I know as well as any one how to appreciate what
you did, for I have driven the trail, you remember."

"I know it, and done it well."

"I also praised old Huck, Doc, but he does not care to be thanked; but
what is to be done about this attempted attack on the coach?" said
Landlord Larry.

"I'll go out so as ter git thar at daybreak, and see if thar can be any
trail found. It is spittin' now, but not much, and I guess we can find
if we done any harm in our fire and maybe track the varmints," said old
Huck.

"And I'll go with you," said Landlord Larry.

"Count me another," the doctor added.

Then it was decided to take a dozen men along, and the doctor and the
landlord bade the old driver good night and departed, when he at once
turned in, after throwing a large log upon his fire to burn until
morning.

"That is a strange old character, Larry," said Doctor Dick as the two
walked back to the hotel.

"He is, indeed, Doc. I do not understand him, for he is a mystery to
me."

"And to me; but do you think I should send another courier to Buffalo
Bill making known this intended attack?"

"No, write as you did before to him, and he'll get it by way of W----."

"I'll do so; but did you learn anything in particular about this
attack?"

"Nothing more than that fully half a dozen road-agents were seen, and
but for the bold and prompt act of old Huck there would have been death
and robbery beyond all doubt."

"He is a very daring man to do what he did."

"He is indeed, and it will surely mark him for death with the
road-agents."

"Beyond all doubt; but we must make a start early enough to bring us to
the scene by daybreak, so good night."

The two separated to meet again when old Huck came up ready mounted to
take the trail.

The party who were to go were soon in the saddle, and they started off
at a canter. There was just a trace of snow upon the ground, and they
were glad to see that there was no more.

A brisk gallop brought them to the Dead Line at dawn, and the search was
at once begun.

Hardly any snow had fallen there, and in the piñons there was none, so
that in several places the ground was stained red, showing that the fire
from the coach had not been useless if not fatal.

Then old Huck showed his skill as a trailer, for he at once went to work
in a way that revealed the fact that he was an old hand at the business.

He went from blood-stain to blood-stain in silence, examined the
position of the thicket, took in the whole situation, and the direction
of the stage when the firing had been going on, and at last started off
up the cañon following a trail that was so faint that a number of the
party said that there was no trail at all.

But he climbed up the steep side of the cañon end, followed by the
others, and there on the top were found several red spots in different
places.

"Three, maybe dead, maybe only wounded," he said shortly.

"Those three stains tell you that, old man?" asked Doctor Dick.

"Yas, they took off their dead or wounded, as ther case might be, and
halted ter rest after climbin' up here, and right here is whar they laid
the dead or wounded down, while they was restin'."

"Well, which way now, Huck, for your solution seems the right one," said
Doctor Dick.

"That's hard ter tell, for a horse wouldn't leave no track here," was
the reply.



CHAPTER XV.

A MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE.


That even old Huckleberry had lost his grip on the trail, after reaching
the top of the ridge, was soon evident, for, search as he might, he
could find no trace of a track in the hard, rocky soil about them.

"We'll scatter, pards, and try ter find another place whar they has
rested the'r loads, for they won't carry heavy weights far up this slope
without restin'," he said.

So the party separated, and half an hour later a halloo from old Huck
brought them together again.

There was another place where the road-agents had halted, for there were
the three telltale spots of blood lying close together.

Again they separated on a search, but after hours spent in vain, they
were forced to give it up, old Huck remarking:

"Thar is snow higher up, so it's no use, now."

Back to Last Chance the party reluctantly retraced their way, after
they had eaten their noonday meal, and all hope of finding a clue to the
retreat of the road-agents was given up, save by old Huckleberry, who
each day went off on a hunt, though many were sure that it was a trail,
not game, that he was hunting.

When at last the day came for him to start off on his run, he mounted
his box without the slightest apparent reluctance, nodded good-by and
drove off on his perilous journey.

There was much anxiety felt at Last Chance for his return, and a number
talked of riding out to the Dead Line and meeting him, but this was not
done, as a suggestion was made that the old man might not take it
kindly, but look upon it as an interference, a belief that he was not
able to take care of himself.

When, however, the time for his arrival came, and no stage appeared, men
looked anxiously at each other and wondered if the old man was another
victim to the road-agents' hunt for gold.

When an hour passed and there was no stage in sight, Doctor Dick said
that he would mount his horse and go to see what was the matter. He was
not allowed to go alone, for a score of mounted men at once followed
him, and the ride was a rapid one to the Dead Line, for the coach was
not met on the way.

Arriving at the Dead Line the coach loomed in sight. It was still, and
dashing up the horses were found hitched to trees.

But not a soul was visible. The box was empty, and not a soul was found
within.

Where was old Huck? That question could not be answered, and a search
was at once begun.

Upon the stage-box blood was found. That looked very bad for old Huck.

Some one had hitched those horses to the trees surely, but who?

The coach, had evidently been searched, for the cushions were thrown out
and the boot open, and yet, strange to say, the mail-bag had escaped the
eyes of the searchers, being found by Landlord Larry where old Huck
always hid it, in one of the cushions arranged for the purpose by the
old man.

Who had been killed, or what the coach had been robbed of, was not
revealed.

The party camped all night upon the scene, and a thorough search was
made the next morning again for the missing driver.

Miles back on the trail had the miners ridden, and more, every rock and
thicket by the way was thoroughly searched, yet all in vain.

At last the party were reluctantly compelled to give up further search
for old Huck, be he dead or alive, for not the slightest clue could be
found, and there was no trace of any trail whatever.

Doctor Dick mounted the box and drove the coach back to Last Chance, and
the miners had knocked off work and were assembled to hear bad news,
which the delay caused them to look for.

Landlord Larry and Doctor Dick at once held a consultation upon their
return, and it was decided to send Harding again to Fort Faraway as a
courier with a message to Buffalo Bill.

But when called upon to go, to the surprise of both, Harding refused.

"You went before, Pard Harding, so why refuse this time, when you know
it is our duty to report, as agreed, to Buffalo Bill the attacks of the
road-agents upon the coaches, that he may place the matter before the
commandant?" said Doctor Dick, who was anxious to have the mysterious
disappearance of old Huckleberry known.

"I went before, Doctor Dick, but I do not care to go again," was
Harding's firm rejoinder.

"Do you fear to go?" asked Landlord Larry, with a smile.

"If you think that I am influenced by fear I will prove to the
contrary," was the quiet rejoinder.

"By going?"

"No."

"How then?"

"Have you a driver to take the coach out to W---- on its next run,
landlord?"

"No, unless Doctor Dick will kindly do so."

"I cannot," was the quick response of the doctor.

"Then I will," said the young miner.

"You?"

"Yes, landlord."

"Do you know how to drive?"

"I have driven six-in-hand often."

"When?"

"I drove wagons and ambulances in the army, and on one occasion drove
the general with four-in-hand over four hundred miles of the worst
country I ever saw."

"I guess you will do, then, and it is far easier to get a courier to go
to the fort, than it is a driver for the coach."

"Yes, as if I go under, Pard Larry, I will be number five."

"Five?" asked the doctor meditatively.

"Yes; Bud Benton was one, Dave Dockery two, Doctor Dick number three,
and old Huckleberry number four, so I will come in as _five_."

"You are right."

"And you are in earnest, Harding?" asked the landlord.

"Certainly."

"You know all that you risk?"

"Thoroughly."

"Then I retract my words in asking you if you feared to go to the fort
as courier, for your volunteering as driver proves that you fear
nothing."

"All right. Pard Larry, let it go at that."

"Well, Harding, consider yourself engaged for the berth of driver, and
be ready to take the coach out on its next run."

"You will find me on hand."

"And let me tell you that I am authorized to pay three times the regular
wages."

"It will be acceptable."

"If you live to get it," was the suggestive response of Landlord Larry.

This having been settled upon, greatly to Larry's relief, he further
talked with Doctor Dick, and it was decided that as old Huck had only
disappeared, and the coach had not been robbed of the mails, they would
send no report of the affair to Buffalo Bill, but wait and see how
Harding came out with his drive.

The news soon spread about that Hal Harding had volunteered to drive the
coach through to W---- and he at once became a hero in the camps, for
those bold fellows always loved heroism in a man above all other
qualities.

He was, however, regarded as a dead man beforehand, for that he would be
killed seemed a foregone conclusion, and many felt pity for the fate
that they felt assured would befall the handsome young miner.

But Harding seemed not to dread the drive in the least, but went on
about his duties in his usual cheery way.

Sticking to the work in his mine he had found that it panned out richer
than he had anticipated, and he already had partnership offers, and a
good price if he would sell.

He had kept his eyes open, too, in his secret-service work for Buffalo
Bill, and had noted down certain discoveries he had made of a suspicious
nature, and also had the names of a few whom he considered worth while
watching.

At last the day came for the coach to start out, and as nothing had been
heard of old Huck, Hal Harding reported at the hotel ready to mount the
box and drive through.

As he passed through the crowd he could not but hear several remarks
that were made, one being:

"He is number five, and he is doomed also."



CHAPTER XVI.

TAKING CHANCES.


There was not a shadow of dread, at the fate that might be his, upon the
face of Hal Harding as he mounted to the stage-box and gathered up the
reins.

The mails were aboard, and he knew that he had a valuable freight hidden
away, as best it could be, of gold-dust, being risked by miners who were
sending it eastward.

What gold was to be sent out was always kept a secret, known only to the
senders, to Landlord Larry, and the driver, and though it was taking
chances to let it go, the senders were risking it, as gamblers chance
money in large sums upon the turn of a card.

Then, too, there was a very strange feature in the holding up of the
coaches, and that was the fact that they had never been halted on the
outward run, no matter how much gold they carried out, but always when
bringing back to Last Chance the exchange in bank-notes.

The road-agents knew that they could carry large sums in money where
they could not be bothered with gold in bulk, was the reason that
Landlord Larry assigned for the attacks being made only on the westward
runs of the coaches.

Not a passenger was to go, and Harding sang out in a cheerful tone:

"All ready."

"Go," cried Larry, and the vehicle rolled away in a manner that showed
that the young miner was a good driver, as he had asserted that he was.

The crowd cheered wildly, the voices echoing down the cañon as he drove
along, and now and then he would raise his hat to those who greeted him
from their cabins and mines as he went along.

Out of the valley he turned, swinging at a brisk trot along through
cañons, over hills, up mountains, by the way of narrow passes and down
again to the valleys.

He reached the relay-station nearest Last Chance, and made known to the
stock-tender the fate of old Huck.

"You goes next, pard, for it won't be long afore Doctor Dick will come
along and tell me that poor Hal Harding has gone under," said the
sympathetic stock-tender.

"Think so?"

"Sure of it."

"Why Doctor Dick?"

"Waal, ef you gets kilt no other man in or out o' Last Chance will have
ther grit to drive ther old death-trap, for thet hearse you is sittin'
on is no more."

"It is an unlucky old vehicle, I admit, pard; but I'll be going," and
Harding drove on once more.

He had not seen a soul at the Dead Line. All was as quiet at that dread
spot as the forms of those who had lost their lives there.

Only the stockmen at the station greeted him on the way, and at night he
came to the halting-cabin a little ahead of time.

He had the same story to tell at each one of the relay-stations, about
the fate of old Huck, and an ominous shake of the head from those who
listened convinced him that they expected him to be the next victim.

The next morning he rolled into W---- a few minutes ahead of time, and
the stage-agent seemed surprised to see a new man upon the box.

He heard what Harding had to say of old Huck, listened to his report of
his uneventful run, and received from him the way-bill of what he
carried.

"You have done well, Mr. Harding, and I hope we will hear no more of
these attacks, so that you may escape, for, if they make a victim of
you, I do not know who we can look to unless it be that fearless fellow,
Doctor Dick."

"And his practise, mining interests, and gambling occupy him so
thoroughly that he will not drive again, sir, I am sure."

"Not unless no other can be found, for he is just the man to step in
then in open defiance of danger."

"Yes, he is just what you say of him, sir."

"Now, how is that poor passenger who was crazed by a shot from the
road-agents?"

"Aimlessly wandering about Last Chance, sir, harmless and to be pitied."

"Well, I have received letters asking about him, and had to make a
report of the circumstances. It will be upon your return trip that you
will have to be watchful."

"I will be, sir, never fear," was the cheery response.

The news of the mysterious disappearance of the old driver soon spread
about W----, and people gathered about the stage-office to have a look
at the brave fellow who had, in the face of the past experience, brought
the coach through.

The agent had told Harding that if the mails had gone through nothing
had been taken, for no freight had been sent and no passengers were
along on that trip.

As they had found nothing to take, the road-agents had doubtless visited
their vengeance upon old Huck, especially to repay him for having run
the gantlet on a former occasion.

There were passengers booked for Last Chance by stage, but when it
became known that old Huck had been killed, as all supposed he must have
been, they concluded they were in no great hurry to reach the
mining-camps and could wait a while longer.

So Harding discovered that he would have to return with an empty coach,
as far as passengers were concerned.

He showed no disappointment, however, at having to return alone, and was
told by the agent that he was to carry back considerable money and a
valuable mail.

"All right, sir, I'll do my best to go through in safety," he said, and
he grasped the outstretched hand of the agent, who said:

"I feel as though I was shaking hands with a man about to die."

"Now, I don't feel that way in the least," was the laughing response,
and Harding sprang up to the box, seized the reins, cracked his whip
when he got the word, and was off.

The crowd gathered there cheered him, of course, but a generally sad
expression rested upon every face as they looked upon the brave young
miner who had taken his life in his hand to drive what was now called
the death-trap.

Having halted for the night at the way cabin, Harding pushed on the next
morning with the first glimmer of dawn, and reached the third relay at
noon.

There was then one more relay and the run into Last Chance, which in
good weather could readily be made before sunset. He passed the last
relay, and the stock-tender said, as he was about to start:

"Good-by, pard, and do you know I kinder feels as if yer was a dead man
already?"

"Don't you believe it, for I am worth a dozen dead men, old man," was
the laughing response, and Harding drove on, with the Dead Line rising
in his mind before him.

He drove more rapidly than was the schedule-time, and when he came into
the pass, with the Dead Line just ahead, he had half an hour to spare.

The horses pricked up their ears, as though they knew the doomed place
well, and the leaders gave a snort as they beheld a form ahead. It was a
man leaning against the cross erected in memory of Bud Benton.

That Harding also saw the form was certain, for his eyes were riveted
upon the spot. As he drew nearer, the man moved away from the cross and
advanced down into the trail.

Still Harding made no move to halt, to rush by, or appeared to take
notice of him. The man placed himself by the side of the trail, and
stood as still as a statue, after making a slight sign, as it appeared.

The answer of Harding to this sign was to shake his head.

On rolled the coach, and when it neared the silent form, without any
command to do so, Harding drew hard upon the reins, pressed his foot
heavily upon the brake, and brought the coach to a standstill, the
horses, which had before drawn it through the deadly dangers it had
passed at that spot, showing a restless dread and expectancy of the
cracking of revolvers.

But there was no weapon drawn either by the man on the side of the
trail, or by Harding, and neither seemed to dread the other.

The reason for this was that the one who had awaited the coming of the
coach at the Dead Line was none other than old Huckleberry.



CHAPTER XVII.

A SECRET KEPT.


Just fifteen minutes before the time of arrival set for the coach by
schedule, Hal Harding drove up to the hotel at Last Chance.

From his entering the valley, and passing the first mine, he had been
followed by cheer after cheer, until when he reached Landlord Larry's
tavern there were many there to swell the chorus of welcome.

Larry greeted him most warmly, and when he saw what a valuable freight
he had brought through with him, he told him that he was deserving of
the highest praise.

Harding received the honors heaped upon him in a modest manner, and when
asked by Landlord Larry if he had seen any road-agents, answered:

"Not one."

"All quiet along the trail, then?"

"As quiet as the grave."

"I suppose you were anxious upon reaching the Dead Line?"

"I think the horses were more nervous than I was, for they at least
showed it."

"You told the agent at W---- about old Huck's fate?"

"Of course, sir, I told him of his mysterious disappearance."

"Do you know I half-way hoped you would hear something of old Huck at
W----."

"No, I heard nothing of him there."

"And none of the stock-tenders had seen him?"

"They did not speak to me of having done so."

"Well, he is gone, that is certain; but you have begun well, Harding,
and I hope may keep it up."

"Thank you, Landlord Larry, I hope that I will, for I have an abiding
faith in the belief that I will live to be an old man."

"I hope so sincerely," said the doctor, who had been an attentive
listener to the conversation between the young miner and Larry.

"They say at W----, Doctor Dick, that if I go under, you will be the
only man who will dare drive the coach through."

"And I will not do it unless we are doomed to be cut off from all
communication, and I see that Last Chance will be ruined, from fear of
traveling the trail to it," said Doctor Dick decidedly.

"How is your patient, doctor?"

"Which one, for I have a number of patients just now?"

"The young man whose wound at the hands of the road-agents turned his
brain."

"I see him daily, and he is about the same, like a child, mentally."

"They asked about him at W----, for the agent had received several
letters regarding him."

"Ah!" said Doctor Dick, with interest. "What was their tenor?"

"That he had come out West upon a special mission, and with considerable
money, and, since leaving W---- where he had written of his arrival, not
a word had been heard from him."

"I am glad that he has friends, then, for he will be cared for in his
misfortune."

"Yes, Doctor Dick, and the agent hinted that some one was coming out to
look him up."

"I rejoice at this, for he needs care," the doctor rejoined, and he
added:

"I have been convinced that he was no ordinary individual, and had been
well reared; but what a blow it will be to his friends to find him as he
is, poor fellow."

After some further conversation Harding went to his cabin for the night;
but he was not long in discovering that he was regarded as a hero by
all.

He had not made the slightest reference to having met old Huckleberry at
the Dead Line, and as he thought over the fact that he had done so, and
the secret that was known to him alone, he muttered to himself:

"If they only knew, what a sensation it would be for Last Chance, yes,
and for W---- as well, not to speak of the masked road-agent chief and
his men, who thus far have been playing a winning game; but luck
sometimes turns, and I guess it is nearing the turning-point now, and
will come our way."

Harding reported for duty promptly when the time came around for him to
take the coach again on its perilous run.

"We have got considerable gold-dust aboard, pard, and a big outgoing
mail, so I hope you will go through all right," said Landlord Larry,
while Doctor Dick, who just then came up, said:

"Yes, Harding, I have several valuable letters in the mail with drafts
for large sums which I sincerely hope will not miscarry."

"I'll do the best I can, Doctor Dick," was the answer, and Harding went
out and mounted the box.

He could not but feel gratified at the size of the crowd that had
gathered to see him depart, and he raised his sombrero politely in
response to the cheers.

He had gone through in safety once; but could he do it a second time?
That was the thought in the brain of every man there assembled.

At last the word was given, and away went the coach, cheered all the way
down the valley until it was out of sight.

As before, the young driver lost no time on the trail, but upon reaching
the Dead Line, instead of seeming to dread the spot and wishing to drive
rapidly by, he dismounted from the box, and, going to the cross, felt
about among the wild flowers growing about it until he picked up a slip
of paper, while he hastily read what he found written thereon.

Taking from his pocket a similar slip, on which there was writing, he
thrust it out of sight in the spot he had taken the other from. Then he
returned to the coach and drove on once more as though he felt no fear
of his surroundings.

He reached the night-cabin on time, and surprised the stock-tender there
by telling him that he intended to drive on to W---- that night.

"You don't mean it?"

"I certainly do."

"Why, yer'll kill yer team, smash ther old box, and crush yerself to
atoms."

"I believe I can drive the road at night," was the firm response.

"It's ther wust piece of road on ther whole Overland Trail."

"It is a bad one, but I will depend upon my team mainly and risk it."

"Why do you do it?"

"I have an idea that it will be safer."

"How so?"

"Well, if there were road-agents on the trail to hold me up to-morrow,
I'll miss them, that is all."

"Right you are, pard; but I don't believe they is as dangerous as
traveling this trail to-night."

"I'll let you know what I think upon my return," was Harding's answer,
and he drove on once more.

Night had come on, and he well knew the dangers before him from a
mistake in driving. He had been over the road perhaps half a dozen
times, always riding upon the box, but upon his last run as driver he
had most carefully noted every foot of the way.

The night was dark, but he knew that he had the instinct of his team to
depend upon, and this was more than half the battle.

He was determined to push through and save his load of gold, and if he
did make a successful run over that part of the trail by night, he would
do what no other driver had done, and on this account his pride was at
stake.

So he started boldly yet cautiously upon his way, and when the sun was
just rising in W---- the stage-agent there was awakened by wheels
dashing up to his door and heard the call:

"The coach from Last Chance has arrived."

He was up in a hurry and congratulating the young driver upon his night
drive, while he said:

"Do you know I feared you would be held up to-day, for a party of
desperadoes lately left W----, and I felt most anxious about you."

"Yes, they are on the trail waiting for me now, not knowing that I
slipped by in the night. I'll get together a band of brave fellows and
go back after them," and an hour after Harding was mounted upon a fine
horse and leading a dozen men back upon the trail he had safely driven
over in the night.



CHAPTER XVIII.

A MYSTERIOUS SOUND.


The stage-agent at W---- was right in declaring that the coach might be
held up on the rough trail that was always driven by daylight, for the
party he feared were some wild fellows who had ridden into the
settlement two days before and stated that they were on their way to the
mines.

They were well mounted and armed, had several packhorses with them, and,
though not having the excuse of drinking to make them dreaded, had
carried on in a way that caused all peaceably disposed persons to dread
them.

Who they were no one knew, and when they left the place honest men
breathed more freely and congratulated each other that no tragedy had
occurred, as a reminder of their visit.

They had gone out upon the trail to Last Chance late in the afternoon,
and the agent felt sure that they would camp early and meet the coach
the next morning, and the result he greatly feared, after a look at the
party in question; so he was rejoiced to find that Harding had taken the
great risk of driving through by night.

The crowd that he dreaded were five in number, and they were young men,
bronzed-faced, brawny, and with an air of recklessness stamped upon
them. That they were a dangerous lot their appearance indicated, and few
men would care to face them where no help was at hand.

They had halted some dozen miles from W----, and gone into camp on a
brook a few hundred yards from the trail the stage would follow. That
they knew their way well their movements were proof of, for they rode at
once to the camping-place, staked out their horses, spread their
blankets, and gathered wood to cook their supper with.

The spot chosen was one where they could command a view of the trail for
a mile in both directions, yet remain in concealment themselves.

They had supper, then gambled a while by the light of the fire, and
afterward turned in, setting no watch.

It was about midnight when one of the party awoke, half-arose and
listened. He heard a rumbling sound that seemed to surprise him.

"I say, pards," he called out.

A man awoke, and asked drowsily:

"What is it, Sully?"

"I hear wheels."

"Nonsense."

"But I do."

"It's the roar of the stream."

"I don't think so."

"I does."

Others were awakened and listened, and they distinctly heard a low,
rumbling sound. But, after some minutes, the sound died away and the one
who had first discovered it asked:

"Do you think it could have been the coach?"

"No, indeed."

"Why not?"

"No man living would dare drive a coach over this trail at night."

"It sounded to me like wheels."

"There it is again."

All listened attentively, and then one said:

"It is the wind in the pines."

The wind was rising and this solution of mysterious sound seemed to
settle the matter, so all laid down in their blankets once more.

The man who had discovered the sound was the one to arise first in the
morning, and the day was just dawning when he left his blankets, gazed
about him, and then walked over to where the stage-trail ran, several
hundred yards from their camp, and along through a bit of meadow-land.

He had hardly reached the trail when he gave a loud halloo, which
brought his comrades from their blankets in an instant, and his call set
them coming toward him at a run.

"Look there, pards!" he cried, and as each man reached his side he stood
gazing down at the trail.

"The stage has gone by," said one, with an oath, as his eyes fell upon
the tracks of the six horses and the wheel-marks, lately made.

"Then one man was bold enough to dare the drive at night!"

"Sure, and the chief will be furious with us!"

"What is to be done now?"

"The coach is safe in W---- now, for if that fellow drove safely over
the back trail he had no trouble beyond here."

"Then we had better get a move on us."

"Sure, for that agent suspects us, and there'll be a gang on our heels
mighty quick," and hastening back to camp, the party mounted and rode
rapidly on toward the mountains.



CHAPTER XIX.

A FAIR PASSENGER.


Harding had ridden rapidly upon the trail back toward the night relay,
for he felt sure that the agent was right in his conjecture that the
party of wild fellows who had left W---- had intended to hold him up on
the trail the next day when he came along.

In fact, the slip of paper he had picked up at the Dead Line had been a
warning to that effect, and hence he had dared take the drive at night,
hoping thus to elude his foes, and had been successful.

When he reached the trail where the party had turned off to camp, they
soon came upon their halting-place, and as the ashes of their fire was
cold, it proved that they had departed before having breakfast there.

"Something frightened them off," said Harding. "But I wonder they did
not hear my wheels, camping as they did this near to the stage-trail."

"They kept no watch, doubtless; but will you follow them?"

"Yes, to the relay-station at least."

Arriving there, for their trail had been lost in the rocky soil, Harding
found that the men had not passed, so they turned back for W----,
arriving there by nightfall.

The coaches that came in from the South and East the next morning
brought valuable mail for Last Chance, and, to the surprise of all, a
lady passenger. She was young and veiled, but enough was seen of her
face to reveal its beauty.

She was dressed in perfect keeping for one on a long journey, and
carried only a small trunk with her. She told the station-agent that her
name was Celeste Seldon, and that she had come West for a double
purpose, searching for her father, and one other whom she was most
anxious to find.

The last she had heard of her father was in a letter dated from W----,
and a secret communication, also mailed from W----, was the last tidings
received from the second person she sought.

"I wrote you, Mr. Agent," she said in her sweet way, "asking about a
young man, Bernard Brandon by name, who had come West upon a special
mission. You replied that he had been to W---- and gone on from here to
Last Chance, a mining-camp, and though I have written there, no response
came, so I decided to come myself and investigate. Have you heard
anything more of Mr. Brandon?"

The agent looked troubled and, seeing it, she said quickly:

"You have heard of him, so I beg you to tell me all."

"I regret to say, miss, that he was wounded on his way to Last Chance,
shot by road-agents; but here is Harding, the driver of the Last Chance
coach, and he can tell you all."

Harding did not appear to like having to give pain to the young girl,
but he frankly told her of the wound of the young man, who could be no
other than Bernard Brandon, and the pitiful result.

"I will go to him. When do you start, sir?"

"This afternoon, miss; but the trail is a very dangerous one, and I had
better bring him back with me."

"No, I will go with you and I will speak for the box-seat, if it is not
engaged."

"Oh, no; no seats are engaged, for all dread the trail between here and
Last Chance."

"I do not, so I ride with you, sir, on the box-seat," was the determined
reply of the young girl.

She paid her fare, and when the coach started, after having dinner at
the agent's, mounted to the box with Harding's aid, and took her seat by
the young driver, while the crowd yelled lustily as they drove off to
face the dangers of the trail.

Harding drove off with the air of one who felt his full responsibility
in having the care of a young and beautiful girl, who dared risk the
dangerous road he had to travel.

He found that his fair companion, as soon as she left the settlement,
was very beautiful, for she removed her veil when only having to be
gazed upon by one person, and that one a very handsome young miner.

It did not take her very long to discover that her companion, though
driving an Overland coach, was above the average she had thus far met
with among the Western wilds, for he was polite, well-informed, and his
courage was proven by what he was then doing; for Miss Seldon had been
told by the agent just what trouble they had had on the line.

The night relay was reached, and as there had been no expectation of
ever accommodating young ladies, no provision had been made for them, so
Harding and the stock-tender yielded the cabin to the fair passenger,
while they occupied a shanty near-by.

The stock-tender exerted himself to make her comfortable, and to provide
the best supper and breakfast his larder would allow.

"What a surprise they will get in Last Chance when they see her, pard.
Why, them miners will make a goddess of her, whatever that may be," said
the stock-tender.

"Yes, if we only get through, pard, for do you know I am more anxious
now than when I am alone?"

"Why is that?"

"Well, I have my reasons; but let me tell you that I mean fight on this
run if we are held up," and the eyes of the young driver flashed fire.

The next morning the coach started upon its way half an hour earlier
than usual, and Harding pushed his horses along at a far faster pace
than they were accustomed to.

For some reason he seemed anxious to get by the Dead Line far ahead of
time, and to push on into Last Chance with all speed that was possible.

He found his fair charge most entertaining, and she asked him all about
life in the wild West, and he was surprised to discover how much she
knew of the frontier and its characters.

She spoke of army officers known to her well by name, mentioned Buffalo
Bill as a hero well known in the East, and seemed anxious to glean all
the information she could of the strange country into which she had
ventured.

At last she touched upon the cause of her coming, and her face saddened
as she said:

"It grieves me deeply to learn of the sad result of Mr. Brandon's wound,
though I cannot but feel, as you say that he is bodily strong, that
something can be done to restore his mind.

"He came here on a mission for me, to find my father, who, I will
confess to you, was driven West by pretended friends and false
misrepresentations that kept him here, as though he had been the veriest
criminal hiding from justice.

"But it is not so, and I long to find my father and restore him to his
home and those who love him. Have you ever heard of him here?--his name
was Andrew Seldon."

"No, Miss Seldon, I never have heard the name, that I now recall. Where
was he when last you heard of him?"

"Seven letters came into my possession long after they were written, for
I have not seen my father for seven long years, and I was a little girl
then, and the last of those letters was mailed at W----.

"In it he stated that he had been in the mining country, had been most
successful, and would come home within a year or two. But this letter
did not come to my hands directly, and it was answered by others, his
enemies and mine, and so I, upon learning the truth, and of a cruel plot
against him and myself, got Mr. Brandon to come and look him up that he
might know all.

"As a dread came, upon receiving the agent's letter, that harm had
befallen Mr. Brandon, I decided to come at once to the West myself, for
I was reared on a plantation, am a good rider, have been inured to
hardships and can handle firearms when there is need for them, so I was
fitted for just such a trip as I am now taking; but here I am making a
confidant of you, Mr. Harding, when I should be keeping my own counsel."

"Oh, no, I am glad to know more of you, and it may be in my power to aid
you, for I will gladly do all I can."

"I feel that, and we will be friends; but why do you look so anxious?"

"Do I?"

"Yes, you do."

"Well, to be candid, I am anxious for your sake, not mine, for I
half-dread trouble on this run, and we are nearing the scene of several
tragedies which the miners call the Dead Line. Will you not ride in the
coach now?"

"No; I take all chances with you and remain where I am," was the plucky
reply of Celeste Seldon.



CHAPTER XX.

MASKED FOES.


The brave response of Celeste Seldon pleased the young miner, though he
did not wish her to remain upon the box. He knew the merciless nature of
the road-agents, and that if they fired without challenging him, she
stood, in as much danger as he did of being killed or wounded. So he
said:

"I would much rather that you should go inside the coach, especially
until we pass the Dead Line."

"No; I remain here."

"You are determined?"

"I am."

"Then I can say no more, and I hope, recognizing that I have a lady with
me, they will not fire upon me."

"You seem to confidently expect an attack."

"I am sorry to say that I do."

"May I ask your reasons?"

"Well, I happen to know that one who was secretly on watch here on my
last run is not here to-day, having been called away. I also know that
five horsemen, whom I have reason to believe to be road-agents, left
W---- ahead of me for the purpose of robbing the coach."

"Have you much of value with you?"

"I have considerable money in bank-notes for miners at Last Chance."

"Is it too bulky for me to hide?"

"I think not, miss."

"Then let me try it."

A halt was made and the money taken from its hiding-place. Then the girl
asked:

"Do you know the amount that is here?"

"Yes, miss, it is stated here," and he handed out a paper.

"I will take the paper and the money, for I can hide it," and with this
she put it in a silk bag that she carried and fastened it securely
beneath the skirt of her dress.

Feeling relieved on this point, Harding drove on and soon after came in
sight of the Dead Line.

He had just come up level with the cross that marked the spot of former
tragedies, and was talking to his team, which showed much nervousness at
passing a scene which they realized as one to dread, when loud rang a
voice:

"Hold hard, Harding, or you are a dead man!"

Not a soul was visible among the rocks or in the trees, and Harding had
it flash through his mind to make a dash, when quickly the hand of the
young girl was laid upon his arm and she said firmly:

"Obey!"

"I must do so," was the low reply, for the young man realized that it
would bring a volley upon them to attempt to dash through.

So his foot went hard down upon the brake, as he pulled his horses up
and the stage came to a halt.

"Make your lines fast around the brake and hands up now!" came the order
from the unseen foe.

"You must obey," said Celeste Seldon, as the driver hesitated.

With a muttered imprecation Harding obeyed, and then out from the
thicket came a horseman. His horse was enveloped in a black blanket, and
the rider wore a black robe like a domino, shielding his form
completely. His face was covered by a red, close-fitting mask, while a
cowl covered his head.

"The devil on horseback," muttered Harding, as he beheld the man, and
right there he made up his mind that if he was the sole one who held up
the coach, he would watch his chance, if he could get Celeste Seldon
away from his side, and try a duel with him for mastery.

But this hope died away when, as though suspecting the intention of
Harding, the horseman called out:

"Come, men, and let us get to work."

Silently there came out of the thicket half a dozen men on foot, but all
enveloped in black robes, wearing red masks, and with their feet clad in
moccasins, while a quick glance at the hoofs of the horse ridden by the
chief showed that he had muffles on, to prevent making a track.

The girl calmly surveyed the scene.

The half-dozen men appearing at the call of their chief seemed to be
well trained, for two of them went to the heads of the horses, two more
to either door of the coach, and the others awaited orders.

The horseman rode close up to the side of the coach, his hand upon his
revolver.

"Harding, I see that you meditate resistance if opportunity offers, but
let me warn you that you are a dead man the instant you make any attempt
to escape or fire upon us. I would kill you now without the slightest
hesitation, only I fear it would break up the line and travel to Last
Chance, and that I do not wish. Dismount from that box, and, remember,
my revolver covers you!"

Harding obeyed in sullen silence.

"Now, what freight have you on?"

"I have the mails, and this lady passenger, but, low as you are, you
will not rob her, I hope."

"There was money sent through by you to Last Chance."

"You pretend to know this, but I have no money for Last Chance."

"I know better."

"There is the coach, search it; but let me tell you, if you touch the
United States mails you will have every soldier stationed at W---- and
at Faraway on your track."

"I believe you are right about that, and I do not care to fight the
Government by robbing the mails; but the money I want."

"I have not got any, I told you."

"I do not believe you."

"Then find it."

"I will."

A thorough search of the coach was made, and then the driver was
searched, but without any money being found.

"I know that the sum of thirty thousand dollars was to be sent by you to
the miners in Last Chance."

"You know this?"

"Yes."

"How?"

"Never mind, but I know it."

"Well, you see that your spy misinformed you."

"As the money cannot be found it is a dead loss to me, and I hold you
responsible."

"All right, I am."

"But, as I said, if I kill you no man will be found to take your
place----"

"Oh, yes, Doctor Dick will."

"D---- Doctor Dick--I beg pardon, miss, but he refers to one whom I
hate, and some day will be avenged upon."

"Well, if you kill me you will have the chance, for he will drive."

"With even that hope to get even with him, I will not kill you, yet I
must have that money or a hostage."

"Take me, then."

"No, I could not realize the amount on you."

"Then do without."

"Not I, when there is a hostage at hand."

"Who?"

"This lady."

"Coward! you would not dare."

"Won't I? Then see, for that lady becomes my prisoner until I receive
that money."

"What money?"

"The thirty thousand you beat me out of to-day."

"How can you get it by taking me with you?" asked Celeste Seldon
quietly.

"Why, very easily, miss."

"How so, may I ask?"

"Harding will go on to Last Chance and report that I have you as my
prisoner, to hold until the miners pay me the sum of--well, I'll add
interest, so call it thirty-five thousand dollars."

"The miners have nothing to do with me, sir, they do not even know me."

"That does not matter, for they are a gallant lot of men, rough though
they may look, and many of them be, so, when it is known what I have
done, they will chip in generously and the money will be raised very
quickly."

"How will you get it?" asked Harding.

"I will meet you on any day we may agree upon, at this spot, with this
lady, and you will come alone, as I will, and the exchange of the
hostage for the money will be made. If you come with others, or attempt
treachery, I swear to you I will kill the girl before your eyes, so if
you wish to have that done, play traitor, while, if you act squarely
with me, all will be well. What do you say?"

"I say, as it cannot be otherwise, I will be your hostage until the
money is paid you," said Celeste Seldon firmly.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE SACRIFICE.


The plucky stand taken by Celeste Seldon won the admiration of Harding
at once. He did not understand why she had been so prompt in her reply,
so willing to at once yield herself as a hostage until a ransom was
received for her release. But she did offer, and he at once decided what
he should do.

"See here, cutthroat," he said, "I have something to say to you."

"Well, out with it, but be more choice in your epithets bestowed on me,
if you wish to keep in good health."

"What! don't like the name, eh? Well, I called you by a name that
denotes your calling."

"What have you to say?"

"Just this, that if you will allow this young lady to ride on to Last
Chance, on one of my stage-horses, for he will carry her safely there, I
will remain your hostage until Landlord Larry sends the money out to you
which you demand."

"As a hostage you are of no value, but the lady is."

"Well, again?"

"What is it?"

"If I pay you the amount you said was to be sent by me, will you let the
lady go?"

"When will you pay it?"

"Now."

"Do so, and I will let the lady go free."

"No, no, sir, you have not the money," cried Celeste to Harding.

"Yes, miss, I can make it good, for I have a little more saved up than
he demands, and I can start over again to lay up a fortune, you see, for
I am young yet."

"I will not consent to that, except that I return you the money, my kind
friend, for I am well able to do so. I will recompense you, by paying
you back my ransom."

"We will not quarrel on that score, miss, so give him the money," said
Harding.

Celeste turned, and, raising her skirt, took the bag of money from its
hiding-place. This she handed to Harding, who threw it at the masked
outlaw's feet with the remark:

"Your spy informed you correctly; there is the money; just thirty-two
thousand dollars."

"Thank you," said the outlaw, quietly counting the money before he spoke
again.

"Yes, it is all here. Now, miss, had Harding ransomed you, it was your
intention to have repaid him, you said."

"By all means, for I have no claim upon that brave gentleman."

"You are able to pay back so large a ransom, are you?"

"Had I not been able to pay it back I would not have made the offer to
do so."

"You have not got the money with you?"

"Oh, no, I am no traveling bank, nor am I a fool."

"Well said; but as you are able to pay a ransom for yourself, I shall
hold you a prisoner until you pay me the money I demand."

An oath burst involuntarily from the lips of Harding at this treachery
on the part of the road-agent, while the young girl turned pale with
momentary dread. But she said firmly:

"After receiving the money you demanded, and which I feel it my duty to
pay back, as it is really my ransom, will you be so vile, so lost to all
manhood, as to enforce your words against me?"

"What more can you expect of one who has no character, who is already
damned body and soul. Oh, no, I have no conscience, so do not appeal to
me, for all I wish in the world is gold, and that I will have, no matter
who the victim or what the means I have to take to get it."

"You are indeed lost to every human feeling."

"So I said, and you are my prisoner until this man, Harding, brings me,
well, say thirty thousand dollars ransom money for your safe delivery to
him once more. Now, miss, I will take your baggage along, for you may
need it, and you will go with me."

"Where would you take me?"

"To my retreat, and you will be treated with respect; but money I must
have. As for you, Harding, go on to Last Chance and raise the money for
this lady's ransom. Give it to Doctor Dick, and let him come with you
in your coach on your next run out.

"Halt just here, and he will be met by one of my men with this lady. If
others come, her life shall be the forfeit. When my messenger receives
the money, this lady shall be given into the charge of Doctor Dick. Do
you understand?"

"I do, and you will understand that all of Last Chance, every man
capable of carrying a gun, will be upon your trail before night."

"Just let any one pursue me, and instead of finding me, you will
discover the dead body of this young girl in the trail awaiting you.
Remember, I am not to be followed, or intimidated. Do you understand
now?"

Harding made no reply, for he was too much overcome to speak; but the
small leather trunk belonging to Celeste Seldon having been taken from
the coach, along with a side-saddle and bridle she had brought with her,
the driver clasped her hand in farewell.

Harding was unable himself to speak, for his emotion at being unable to
protect the girl. Celeste Seldon said to the outlaw:

"I would like to have a word with this gentleman."

"Before me, yes," said the masked chief.

"Very well, I have no secret to make known to him, so you may hear."

Then, turning to Harding, she continued:

"You have been most kind to me, sir, and I appreciate it. You have done
all in your power for me, no one could do more; but let me say to you if
you can raise the sum demanded by this--this--robber, do so, and every
dollar shall be refunded to you within a few days after my return East."

"The men won't ask it, miss."

"But I shall pay it. Now to the reason in part of my coming here."

"Yes, miss."

"Try to find out for me among the miners if a man by the name of Andrew
Seldon is known to any of them, and, if so, where he is."

"I will."

"Try also to do all in your power for that poor young man Bernard
Brandon, who, you told me, had been crazed by a bullet-wound, doubtless
given by this very--murderer."

"Yes, I shot him, and killed Dave Dockery, the driver, and a miner at
the same time," was the remark of the masked road-agent, delivered with
the utmost effrontery.

"You seem proud of your red work, sir."

"Yes, killing is a trade with me just now."

Celeste Seldon turned from him with disgust and horror, and, addressing
Harding, continued:

"Ask the one you spoke of as Doctor Dick to do all in his power for that
poor sufferer, and he shall be well rewarded for it. When I am released
I will go to Last Chance, as it was my intention, and do all I can to
find my father, and minister to the sufferings of poor Mr. Brandon. Now,
I thank you once more and bid you good-by."

Harding clasped her hand, dared not to trust himself to speak, but there
were volumes in the look of intense hatred he cast upon the masked face
of the road-agent chief. Then he mounted to the stage-box, gathered up
his lines, and drove away in a silence that was most expressive.

Harding glanced back as he came to the end of the cañon, but saw that
the road-agents and their fair prisoner had already disappeared.

Then the lash descended upon the backs of the startled horses and the
team was sent along at a pace that was dangerous indeed.

But Harding could only find vent for his pent-up feelings by rapid and
reckless driving, and never before had the distance between the Dead
Line and Last Chance been covered in the time in which he made it.

Notwithstanding his delay at the Dead Line, he went thundering up the
valley half an hour ahead of time, and when he drew rein before the
hotel his horses were reeking with foam and panting like hard-run
hounds, while his face was white, his eyes ablaze with anger and
indignation, and his teeth set firmly.

"Great God! Harding, what has happened?" cried Landlord Larry in alarm.

Throwing the mail at the feet of the surprised landlord, Harding leaped
to the ground and said hoarsely:

"Come, I wish to speak to you."

He led the way into the office and then told the whole story.

"We will mount a hundred men and go in pursuit at once," cried Larry.

"What! do you forget his threat?"

"What threat?"

"To kill the girl!"

"He will not do it."

"He will."

"No, he dare not."

"You do not know him--I do."

"Well, what is to be done?"

"Just what he demands."

"What! pay him?"

"By all means, and save the girl!"

"You are right."

"But have all ready then, the moment that she is safe, to throw five
hundred mounted men on a hunt for him, have the entire country about
Dead Line surrounded, and then hunt him and his men to death," savagely
said Harding.

"Yes, it must be done; but now to tell the men what has happened," and
Landlord Larry went out, followed by Harding, to find a large crowd of
miners gathered about the hotel.



CHAPTER XXII.

THE RANSOM.


Landlord Larry was considerably nonplused by what had been told him by
Harding, and he hardly knew how to break the news to the miners.
Hundreds had assembled, for the mad race of Harding's team up the valley
had told them that something had gone wrong.

So they had hurried in twos and by half-dozens to the hotel to hear what
had happened.

They were more eager to learn it all when it was told how Harding had
made no report, but had led Landlord Larry into the office and been
closeted there with him an hour.

The panting horses had been led away to the stable, the mail had been
opened by Landlord Larry's clerk, and many had gotten letters.

But the interest in letters was lost in the desire to learn what had
happened on Harding's run in.

When the two men were seen coming out of the hotel, a wild yell greeted
them.

Landlord Larry stepped out upon the piazza, and at once a silence fell
upon the crowd, while every eye was turned upon the white face of
Harding.

"Men, I have bad news for you," said Landlord Larry. "The coach has been
held up again, and thirty-two thousand dollars in money, given to Driver
Harding to bring to Last Chance, was taken. There are some forty of you
who feel this loss, having sent your gold out to be exchanged for this
money. But that is not the worst of it.

"The mails were not disturbed, as the road-agent said that he wished no
trouble with the Government. Nor is this all, for Harding had a
passenger with him on this run, a young girl."

"Where is she?" came in a chorus of voices.

"I will tell you: There were seven road-agents, all masked, and their
chief mounted. They held the coach up at the Dead Line, and they covered
Harding with their rifles, and demanded the money which, in some way,
they knew he had.

"The young lady had hidden it for him, but as she was to be held for
ransom, she gave it up, and, learning that she was rich, the road-agent
chief then demanded ransom from her."

And speaking slowly and distinctly Landlord Larry went on to tell the
whole story of the coach and taking of Celeste Seldon captive.

The crowd was as silent as death, except for the suppressed breathing of
the men, and the bronzed faces of the miners paled and flushed by turns.
When at last it was told how a ransom of thirty thousand dollars was
demanded, before a word had been said that it would be paid back, a yell
arose:

"We'll raise it!"

"Good! that is just what I knew you would do, pards, and I will head the
list with five hundred," said Landlord Larry.

"Put me down for five hundred," called out Harding, and the two offers
were cheered, while a stern voice called out behind the landlord:

"Put me down for a thousand, Larry, for I have heard all that you have
told the men."

It was Doctor Dick, who, seeing the crowd in front of the hotel, had
come to the piazza by passing into the house through the rear door.

Another cheer greeted the sum named by Doctor Dick, and there arose
cries on all sides as men pressed forward:

"I'll give a thousand, landlord!"

"Name me for fifty."

"Put me on the list for a hundred!"

"Twenty-five for me!"

And so on were the sums named by the noble-hearted and generous fellows,
even those who had lost their money by the road-agents subscribing,
until Doctor Dick called out, for he had been keeping account:

"Hold on, all! The amount is already named. Now, men, form in line, and
give your names as you pass along, and the money, those who have it."

It was late when the ransom list was made up, and the men had not heeded
the supper-gong until after they had paid their subscriptions.

Then Landlord Larry packed the money away, and the crowd dispersed to
their various occupations and pleasures for the night, which may be set
down as consisting principally of drinking and gambling.

The question regarding the unfortunate girl who had fallen into the
hands of the masked and merciless outlaws being settled, the driver
said to Landlord Larry and Doctor Dick, who had returned to the office
in the hotel.

"Now I wish to see about the poor fellow whom that young girl was coming
out to see, and also to learn about her father."

"Who was her father?" asked Landlord Larry.

"Her name is Celeste Seldon, and she wished me to ascertain if her
father had ever been heard of in the mines. His name was Andrew Seldon."

"Andrew Seldon?" quickly said Doctor Dick.

"Yes."

"I know of such a man, or, rather, knew of him, for he is dead now," was
the response of the gambler.

A cloud passed over the face of Harding, and he remarked sadly:

"That poor girl seems doomed to have sorrow dog her steps. But you knew
her father, doctor?"

"Yes, I knew him long years ago, and I happen to know of his having been
out here, working for a fortune in the mines, I believe."

"You are sure that it is the one she seeks?"

"The names are the same. The Andrew Seldon I knew was from Tennessee."

"So was her father, and he must be the man you refer to. But where did
he die?"

"I'll tell you what I have not made known to others. Buffalo Bill and I
struck a trail to see what the end would bring to us, and the night
before we came to the end those we sought were buried by the caving-in
of a mine which they were working under a cliff. One of those men was
Andrew Seldon, and he had a companion with him."

"And they were killed?"

"Yes, buried under the cliff, that fell upon their cabin, destroying
all."

"You must tell the story to the young girl, for I cannot, doctor."

"I will do so, though I hate to give a woman pain."

"Now, doctor, I wish to ask about the one she seeks here in Last
Chance."

"Who is he, Harding?"

"The poor fellow you so devotedly cared for, but whose reason was
destroyed by the wound he received from the road-agents."

"Ah, yes, poor fellow, his mind is irrevocably wrecked."

"Where is he?"

"Landlord Larry can tell you better than I, for he seems to avoid my
cabin since I gave him up as a patient."

"He wanders about among the camps at will; but that reminds me that I
have not seen him to-day," the landlord said.

"Is he the one the girl is coming to see?" asked Doctor Dick.

"Yes, and his name is Bernard Brandon. He came out here on a special
mission for her, I suppose to find her father, and not hearing from him
she feared that he had gotten into trouble, so came West herself in
search of him."

"Well, her coming may bring back his reason, though I doubt it."

"Will you not question him, doctor, telling him about her, and see if
you cannot get him to talk rationally?"

"Certainly, Harding, but where is he?"

Landlord Larry asked his clerk about the man, but he had not seen him
all day, and, the miners being questioned, not one recalled having seen
him since the day before.

In some dread that harm had befallen him, Harding then went out in
search of the poor fellow. He went from miner to miner and camp to camp
in his vain search, for not anywhere could he find any one who had seen
the missing man for over twenty-four hours.

Becoming really alarmed, when he realized the shock it would be to
Celeste Seldon, whose hazardous and costly trip to the West would be
utterly useless, Harding went back to the hotel to consult Doctor Dick
and Landlord Larry about giving a general alarm.

Then alarms were only given in times of direct need, for the miners were
sworn to obey the call, and come from every camp and mine within the
circuit of habitation about Last Chance.

The alarm was given by sending a mounted bugler to every prominent point
in the valley, where he was to sound the rally three times.

A half-dozen positions thus visited would send the bugle-notes into
every camp of the valley, and it was the duty of all miners to at once
strike for the place of assembly at the hotel, and give the warning to
all others whom they saw.

Landlord Larry hearing the story of Harding's fruitless search for the
stranger, at once decided to order the alarm sounded without consulting
Doctor Dick, who was not at his cabin.

So the bugler was called in, and, mounting a speedy horse, he placed the
bugle to his lips and loud, clear, and ringing resounded the "rally."

Then he dashed from point to point at the full speed of his horse, and
within half an hour, from half a dozen prominent positions, the
bugle-call assembling the miners had rung out and men were hastening to
obey the summons.

Within an hour every man in Last Chance had reported at the
assembling-point, all eager to know the cause of the alarm.

Again Landlord Larry was the speaker, and he began by asking if the
unfortunate stranger, whose wound had crazed him, was in the crowd.

Every eye was at once on the search for the man, but soon the reports
came that Bernard Brandon was not in the crowd.

Then Landlord Larry made known that the mysterious disappearance, at the
time of Miss Seldon's capture by the road-agents, was a coincidence so
strange that it needed explanation.

Miss Seldon was coming to Last Chance to find that very young man, who
had in turn come there in search of her father, and now, when she was a
captive to the road-agents, to be given up only upon the payment of a
large ransom, the stranger had most mysteriously disappeared.

The name of the young lady's father was Andrew Seldon, and if any miner
present could tell aught regarding him, or had known such a man, the
landlord wished him to come and tell him all that he could about him.

But it was the duty, and but justice, for one and all of them to set out
on the search for the young stranger who had disappeared from their
midst, and he wished to know if they would not take a day off and do
so, for it might be that he had been injured, and was then lying
suffering and deserving their sympathy and aid somewhere among the
mountains.

A perfect yell in answer to the request of Landlord Larry told him that
Bernard Brandon would be found if he was in or near Last Chance, and so
it was agreed that all would start at dawn the following morning, many
mounted, many on foot, and report the result, if good or bad, at the
hotel at night.

So the miners' meeting broke up, and with the first gray in the east the
following morning, four-fifths of Last Chance were off, searching for
the missing man.

As they wore themselves out, or completed the search over the circuit
assigned them, the men came in and reported at the hotel. Each had the
same story to tell, that the search had been a fruitless one.

Many of the mounted men did not come in until after dark, but theirs was
the same story, that no trace of the missing stranger could be found.

At last every man who had been on the search had returned, and not the
slightest trace of the missing Brandon had been discovered by a single
one who had gone out to look for him.

No one remembered to have seen him very lately, and so his fate was
unsolved, and the miners put it down as unknown, with the belief that he
had either been kidnaped by road-agents or had fallen into some stream,
or from a cliff, and thus met his death.

The belief of Landlord Larry and Harding was that Bernard Brandon had
been captured, for some reason, by road-agents, and this convinced them
that there were spies of the outlaws then dwelling in their midst; but
what the motive for kidnaping the man was, they could only conjecture,
believing it to be ransom that they thought the miners would pay, and,
if they did not, that Celeste Seldon would.

This belief, of spies in their midst, caused a very unpleasant and
uneasy feeling among all, for hardly any man knew whether he could trust
his own comrade or not.

Doctor Dick came in late from his search and rounds to visit his
patients, and listened in silence to the report that Bernard Brandon
could not be found.

He, however, would not believe that road-agents had kidnaped the crazed
man, but said that he might have sprung from the cliff and taken his own
life, have fallen over a precipice, or been devoured by the fierce
mountain-wolves that hung in packs about the camps.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE OUTLAWS' CAPTIVE.


It was with a sinking heart that Celeste Seldon saw Harding drive away
upon the stage, leaving her in the power of the road-agents. But she was
a brave girl, and determined to show the outlaws that she did not fear
them, no matter how great her dread of them was in reality.

The saddle and bridle she had brought with her were carried along for a
couple of miles, and placed upon a led horse, one of half a score hidden
there, and the masked chief started to aid her to mount.

But she said with a sneer:

"I need no assistance from you."

With this she placed her hands upon the horn and leaped lightly into the
saddle.

Her leather trunk was then strapped securely upon a pack-saddle, and the
chief said:

"Now, Miss Seldon, that you and my men are mounted, we will start."

She turned her horse on the trail behind him, and the other outlaws
followed, all riding in Indian file and with several packhorses bringing
up the rear.

After a ride of a dozen miles a halt was made for a rest, the chief
said, and then Celeste Seldon observed that the hoofs of every horse
were muffled, to prevent their leaving a trail.

Having been left something over a couple of miles from the scene of the
holding up of the stage, it would be next to impossible for the best of
trailers to discover which way the road-agents had come to the spot and
left it, for the chief's muffled-hoofed horse would leave no track to
where the other animals were.

Tired out and anxious, Celeste Seldon, after eating sparingly of the
food given her by the chief, sat down with her back to a tree, and,
closing her eyes, dropped into a deep sleep. When she was awakened to
continue the journey she found that she had slept an hour.

"We are ready to go miss," said the man who had appeared to be the
chief's lieutenant, and whom he had called Wolf, whether because it was
his real name, or on account of his nature, Celeste did not know.

"I am ready," she said simply, refreshed by her short nap.

"Shall I aid you to mount, miss?"

"No, I can mount without your aid; but where is your chief?"

"He has gone on ahead, miss, to prepare for your coming, leaving me to
escort you."

"I am content, for one is as bad as the other," was the reply, and,
leaping into her saddle again, she fell in behind the man Wolf, and the
march was again begun.

Night came on, but the outlaws rode on for an hour or more, when they
halted at a small spring in a thicket.

Celeste was made more comfortable in a shelter of boughs, hastily cut
and thrown up, and when supper was ready she ate heartily of
antelope-steak, crackers, and coffee.

She was rather glad to have got rid of the masked chief, of whom she
stood in the greatest awe, and Wolf never spoke to her unless she
addressed some remark to him.

When she lay down upon the blanket-bed, spread upon fine straw, which
he had made for her, she sank at once to sleep.

She had no thought of escape, for what could she do there alone in that
wild, trackless land? She would bide her time and await the result, be
it what it might.

She was awakened early in the morning, and the march was at once begun
again, a halt being made a couple of hours later for breakfast.

While it was being prepared she was allowed to wander at will, Wolf
calling her only when it was ready, and thus showing that they had not
the slightest idea that she would do so foolish a thing as to escape
from them, to perish in the wilderness, or meet death by being attacked
by wild beasts.

When the start was again made, Wolf said:

"When we halt for our noon camp, miss, I will have to blindfold you, and
bind your hands."

"Ah! you consider me very dangerous, then?" she said, with a smile.

"You doubtless are dangerous, miss, in more ways than one; but it is to
prevent your seeing where we take you that you are to be blindfolded."

"Do you think I could guide a party after you?"

"You have the nerve to do it, miss."

"But why bind my hands?"

"To prevent your removing the bandage from your eyes, miss."

"I will pledge you my word that I will not do so."

"I believe you would keep your word, miss; but the chief is a man who is
merciless, and his orders were to blindfold and bind you, and if I
disobey he would shoot me down as though I were in reality a wolf."

"Perhaps not much loss, but I will submit," said Celeste with a sigh,
for she had enjoyed the scenery, and her freedom as well this far, and
now must be both blindfolded and bound.



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE TWO FUGITIVES.


It will be remembered that when Buffalo Bill and Doctor Dick rode away
from the caved-in mine and crushed cabin of the two gold-hunters in the
Grand Cañon, there were human eyes following their movements that they
little dreamed were upon them.

Gazing at them from a hiding-place half a mile away were two men whose
faces showed much anxiety as they saw the scout and the gold king moving
about their quarters, when they had believed themselves hidden from all
search by friend or foe.

Those two were Andrew Seldon and Lucas Langley.

Their escape had been miraculous, from being buried in the mine beneath
the cliff, and they had established for themselves new quarters up the
Grand Cañon a few miles away from their former home.

This new camping-place was more secluded than the former one, and
approached by a narrow ridge that no one would believe a horse could
pass along, for in places it was only eighteen inches wide.

But Andrew Seldon had gone first along it on foot, and found beyond, up
in the depths of a large cañon opening into the mightier one, a perfect
garden spot and scene of beauty.

A crystal stream trickled down a lofty precipice and flowed through the
cañon, and in its bed glittered grains of gold innumerable.

Back under the shadows of the towering cliffs there were found veins of
precious metal giving promise of rich mines.

There were trees growing luxuriously in this nature's park, velvety
grass covering acres of meadow-land, wild fruits that were delicious,
and everything to make this home a most charming one.

They first made the effort to get their horses across the narrow ridge,
upon either side of which was an abyss a quarter of a mile in depth,
seamed with ravines, and looking like the craters of defunct volcanoes.

The first horse tried, Andrew Seldon's own riding-animal, followed his
master without hesitation along the dizzy, awful pathway.

Turning, Seldon led him back again, and then the other animals followed
slowly, and though nervously, yet without accident.

They were repaid for their fright when turned loose upon the acres of
luxuriant grass in the valley.

A fence of poles made a barrier across the narrow entrance of the
valley, and so the horses were allowed to roam at will.

A stout cabin was next built, and the two men having made themselves
comfortable for the winter, were ready to begin their search for gold,
feeling safe once more in their retreat, for who would believe that they
had crossed that narrow ridge to find a hiding-place beyond?

And here these two men, so strangely met, with mysterious lives, and
both in hiding from the world, settled down to win a fortune from the
generous earth, to earn riches that would make them comfortable in their
latter years far from the scenes that had known them in other days and
to which they dared not return.

Each day they worked several hours in their gold-hunting, and then one
of them would take his gun and go in search of game, while the other
would do the chores about their cabin.

It was upon one of these hunting expeditions one day that Andrew Seldon
found himself belated from having pursued his game much farther than he
had thought.

It was some miles back to camp and the sun had long since ceased to send
its rays down into the depths of the mighty chasm of the Grand Cañon.

He started back, with his game swung up on his back, and the shadows
rapidly deepening about him.

As he neared his old destroyed home he stopped suddenly, for across the
cañon a light flashed before his gaze.

"It is a firelight as sure as I live," he muttered.

"What does it, what can it, mean?"

He stood like one dazed by the sight for some time, and then slowly fell
from his lips the words:

"It can mean but one thing--_that some one has come into the cañon_."

After a moment more of silent thought he said almost cheerily:

"Ah! it is Lucas."

But again his voice changed as he added:

"No, he dreads the spot where he was so nearly buried alive and will not
go there. Whoever it is, he is a stranger. I must know, for if they have
come here to remain, if they are our foes we will be forewarned and
hence forearmed.

"I will at once solve the mystery, for I had hoped never to behold a
human face here other than Lucas Langley's and my own," and the
gold-hunter walked away in the direction of the firelight which had so
startled him.

He went cautiously, for he knew well the danger if he was discovered,
and the builders of the camp-fire proved to be foes.

He knew the locality well, and that he could approach within a hundred
yards of the fire, and discover just what there was to be seen.

Arriving within an eighth of a mile of the spot he halted, laid aside
his game and rifle, and then moved forward from rock to rock, tree to
tree, armed only with his revolvers.

He now saw that there were three fires, two near together and one a
couple of hundred feet apart and off to itself.

The scene of the camp was a small cañon near his old home and on the
trail leading to it. There was gold in the cañon, for he had discovered
it there and taken some away, while he had marked it as his claim, it
having been already staked as one of the finds and claims of the real
Andrew Seldon.

In truth, there were a dozen such claims in the Grand Cañon found by
Andrew Seldon, all of them paying finds.

Having reached a point within a hundred yards of the camp-fires, Seldon
leaned over a rock and began to survey the scene.

The three fires were burning brightly, and beyond the light fell upon a
number of horses corralled in the cañon, where there was grass and
water. There were brush shelters near, three in number, and about the
fires in front of them were gathered a number of men.

Counting them, Andrew Seldon found that there were eight in sight.

There appeared to be no guard kept, and the camp was certainly not a
very new one, apparently having been made there several weeks before.

Emboldened by his discovery, the gold-hunter crept nearer and nearer,
and then could see that the men were all masked.

This struck him as being a very remarkable circumstance, indeed, since
they were clad like miners, some of them wearing beards that came below
their masks. All were armed thoroughly.

They were eating their supper as Andrew Seldon looked at them.

Gaining a point of observation still nearer, the gold-hunter obtained a
view of the camp-fire apart from the others. A comfortable little cabin
was just behind the fire, and a rustic bench had been made near it.

A blanket hung over the door of the tiny cabin, and about the fire was
the evidence of a supper recently eaten, for a cup, tin plate, and
knives, with the remains of a meal, were upon a rock that served as a
table.

Upon the rustic seat sat one whose presence there was a great surprise
to Andrew Seldon.

"By Heaven, it is a woman!" he almost cried aloud in his amazement.

Then he determined to get a still nearer view, and after surveying the
position, he decided that he could do so by passing around to the edge
of the cliff and creeping along it to a point not sixty feet away.

As he, after very cautious work, reached the point he sought, some forty
feet from the one at the camp-fire, gazing upon her he muttered to
himself:

"It is a young and beautiful girl, and why is she here with those
strange men? Who is she, and what is this mystery? I must solve it."

He noted that the single fire was just around a bend of the cañon, and
that the men were camped below her.

"This looks as though she was a prisoner. But how did they find this
spot, and how dare they venture down that dangerous trail?

"Well, Andrew Seldon the real did it, I did it, Lucas Langley also, and
Buffalo Bill and the comrade with him were two more to make the
venture, so why not these men?

"But why are they masked, and what does it mean that they have that
young girl in their midst? Beyond doubt she is a captive, and yet I dare
not communicate with her. It would betray my presence and I would lose
all, perhaps my life.

"They do not know of my presence here in the Grand Cañon, and they will
hardly find our camp, at least as long as they find gold where they are.
Well, I will return to my home and tell Langley of my strange
discovery."

After so musing, and gazing the while at the girl, Andrew Seldon was
about to leave his position, when he saw a horseman ride into the lower
camp. The horse seemed to have been hard ridden, for he came in with
lowered head, and that the newcomer was in authority there was shown by
the men rising as he approached the fire, while one of them took care of
his horse.

"I will see what this arrival means," muttered Andrew Seldon, and he
kept his position among the rocks.



CHAPTER XXV.

THE OUTLAW LOVER.


The man who had ridden into camp gave some order, which Andrew Seldon
could not hear, and one of those about the camp-fire at once set about
preparing supper for him.

There was upon his face a red mask, much as the others wore, but he was
dressed in somewhat better style than they, wearing cavalry-boots
instead of heavy ones such as his men had on, while his body dress was a
velvet jacket.

His hat was a slouch, encircled by a silver cord representing a snake,
as the gold-hunter discovered, when he afterward got a closer view of
him.

He talked to his men for a few minutes, but what he said the gold-hunter
was unable to hear. Then he walked away in the direction of the other
fire.

"Now I can know what this means," muttered Andrew Seldon eagerly.

The young girl had certainly seen the man arrive in camp, but she had
shown no interest apparently in his coming, and now, as he approached,
she calmly remained seated, her eyes, however, following his movements.

As he drew near he politely raised his sombrero and said:

"I hope I find Miss Seldon well?"

"Seldon! She bears the name I now am masquerading under," muttered the
gold-hunter in intense surprise.

"Miss Seldon is as well as could be expected under the existing
circumstances, of being the captive of a band of cutthroats," was the
cutting reply, and the listening man, who heard all, opened wide his
eyes.

"You are harsh in your terms, Miss Seldon."

"Are you not road-agents, robbers, and murderers, and are you not
holding me here for ransom, after having robbed me of a large sum in my
keeping?"

"Yes, such is the case."

"Then why wince under the name of cutthroat? But you have been away for
some days."

"I have."

"You have seen your chief?"

"I have."

"And what message does he send?"

"You are to go with me at dawn to the rendezvous on the Overland Trail,
where you are to be given over to the one sent by the miners of Last
Chance to pay your ransom."

"I am glad of this; but will your chief keep faith, or will he play the
traitor for a third time and escape giving me up through some trick?"

"No, for if he did he would surely be run down, as he knows, by the
miners, even if your life was the forfeit."

"I hope it may prove true that I am to be ransomed, and I will be ready
to go with you; but where is your chief?"

"He is in his other camp."

"Then he has two?"

"Yes."

"Am I to be blindfolded and bound again when you are taking me from
here?"

"Such are his orders, Miss Seldon."

"He fears that I, a young girl, may lead a force upon his secret
retreat?"

"That is just what he fears, Miss Seldon."

"I only wish I _was_ able to do so."

"Miss Seldon, may I speak a word to you?" suddenly said the masked
outlaw, drawing nearer.

"I believe there is no more to say, for I will be ready at the hour you
desire to start."

"There is more to say, and say it I will. I wish to tell you that I have
been a very wicked man, that I went to the bad when hardly out of my
teens, broke my mother's heart by my evil life, and ruined my father
financially, driving him to suicide in his despair.

"I came West and tried to redeem the past by becoming an honest miner;
but luck went against me, and I at last turned once more to evil and
found a band of outlaws. Money came to me in plenty, and at last I
drifted into the band that our chief commands, and, as you know, I am
his lieutenant.

"He found this mine and sent us here to work it and have our retreat
here also. Much gold is coming to us through our work, and also by our
holding up the coaches on the Last Chance trail, for he posts us where
to be on hand for an attack, as we have what we call the post-office
half-way between our camp and his.

"When he made you a prisoner I felt for you, and, as I was the one to
hold you captive and bring you here, I grew more and more fond of you
until now I must, I will tell you, that I love you with my whole heart
and soul, Celeste Seldon."

The young girl had not moved during the time that the outlaw lieutenant
was speaking, but now, when he proclaimed his love for her, she arose,
drew herself up, and said haughtily:

"And I, Celeste Seldon, abhor such love as you, an outlaw, would feel
for me, and command you not again to speak one word to me while I am in
the hateful atmosphere of your presence as your prisoner."



CHAPTER XXVI.

THE SECRET OUT.


"Celeste Seldon! It was _her_ name--_his_ daughter's name, and yet the
letter said that she was dead! Is this a coincidence, or is she alive,
and is this young girl the child of Andrew Seldon the real?"

So mused Andrew Seldon the impersonator, as he crouched among the rocks,
his eyes riveted upon the girl not fifty feet from him, and who so
boldly faced the outlaw officer who had dared breathe to her a word of
love.

The outlaw stood abashed at the manner in which his avowal of love had
been received. There was no anger in his look, and he seemed hurt rather
than offended.

After Celeste Seldon's indignant response to him he half-turned away, as
though to retire in silence, but then reconsidered his determination and
said in a low tone full of feeling:

"Pardon me, for I did wrong to think for a moment that an angel would
look kindly upon a devil. I love you, and I could not but tell you of
it, for you had decided me as to my own course, you had made me see my
evil life as it is in all its enormity, and decide to make another
struggle to go back to honor and truth."

"This, at least, you deserve credit for, and I trust you may carry out
your resolve, for in that you shall have my full sympathy."

"Thank you, Miss Seldon; but I have something more to say to you."

"Well, sir?"

"You are to be given up by the chief on the payment of your ransom."

"Yes."

"I wish I could prevent this robbery, but I cannot, as it is simply
beyond my power to do so."

"I do not ask it of you."

"Granted; but your being returned will not end it all."

"How do you mean?"

"You came here for an avowed purpose, as I understand it."

"I did, Mr. Wolf."

"That purpose was to find one who had come West on a special mission."

"Granted again."

"His mission was to find your father, Andrew Seldon."

The listener crouching among the rocks started at this and set his teeth
hard, while he awaited the reply of the young girl.

"Yes; he came to find my father, Andrew Seldon, who, I had reason to
believe, was in the mining-country about here."

"You have not heard of the young man who came at your bidding?"

"Let me say that he came of his own accord, knowing that a great wrong
had been done my father by one whom he believed his dearest friend. He
came to find him and tell him all the sad truth; but why am I telling
_you_ this?"

"Because you know that I am interested, that I can aid you."

"Can you?" was the eager reply.

"I can."

"Do so, and----"

"And what?"

"I will reward you--generously."

"I seek no reward, ask for none, would not accept any pay at your hands,
other than to earn your good opinion and gratitude."

"Well, sir?" said Celeste Seldon coolly.

"Have you found your father?"

"No, I regret to say I have not; but I was interrupted in my search by
being captured by your robber chief."

"Do you know what became of the young man who came West in search of
him?"

"I had a letter mailed at W---- from him, stating that he had heard of
people at Last Chance who might tell him of my father, and that he was
going there, and would at once communicate with me.

"I had no other letter, and my communications remained unanswered, even
my telegrams wired to Santa Fé and mailed there brought no response.
Then I decided to come out here myself, and I acted promptly."

"And you have not found the one you seek?"

"I have discovered that the coach in which he left W---- was held up by
your band, that he was wounded, and that though he was placed under the
care of one known as Doctor Dick, a surgeon, though his life was saved,
his reason was gone, and now he is wandering about the mines of Last
Chance, a harmless lunatic."

"He was until lately."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that he was kidnaped several days ago."

"Kidnaped?"

"Yes, Miss Seldon."

"For what purpose?"

"Ransom."

"By whom?"

"My chief."

"Ah! but what ransom can he get from him?"

"I believe you told the chief that you were rich, and this poor fellow
is your messenger."

"I think I understand."

"Yes, you will be returned, and then negotiations will be entered into
for your messenger's ransom."

"Ah! I am to be still further robbed?" said Celeste, with a sneer.

"Yes, and that is not the end," came the significant reply.

There was something in the response of the outlaw officer that impressed
the young girl most strangely. What more could there be in store for her
than she had already passed through, which caused him to say that the
end was not yet?

The listener among the rocks kept his eyes riveted upon the two, his
ears turned to catch every word they uttered.

He now knew that the letter he had received, telling him, as Andrew
Seldon, that Celeste, the daughter, was dead, was false, and a fraud
perpetrated for some reason upon the absent miner.

"You say that the ransom of Bernard Brandon will not be the end?" asked
Celeste, after a moment of meditation.

"It will not."

"What else can there be?"

"A great deal."

"What do you mean?"

"There will be a _third demand_."

"How?"

"Upon you."

"For what?"

"Gold."

"By whom?"

"The chief."

"What will the demand be for?"

"I'll tell you the truth, as I happen to know it, or, rather, suspect
it, from what I do know, have seen, and heard."

"I hope that you will act squarely with me, Mr. Wolf."

"Upon my life, I will, and though I cannot help you now, must even
appear to be your foe, in the end I will help you and prove to be your
friend."

"I hope so."

"You ask what this third demand will be?"

"Yes."

"Will you ransom Bernard Brandon?"

"Where is he?"

"A fugitive."

"Where?"

"He will be in this camp to-morrow."

"Ah! then I will see him?"

"No; he will not arrive until after your departure."

"I will await his coming."

"That cannot be, for I have orders to start with you to be ransomed, and
you are not supposed to know that he has been captured."

"But you have told me so."

"It was a confidential communication, and if you betray me I can render
you no further service, for my usefulness will be gone; in fact, I would
be put to death."

"I will not betray you."

"Thank you, but let me say that Brandon will be brought here, for two
men now have him in charge, and are on the trail here."

"Yes."

"You will be ransomed, and then go to Last Chance. There you will learn
of Brandon's mysterious disappearance, and a ransom will soon after be
demanded for him."

"Yes."

"You will pay it?"

"Of course I will."

"Then comes the third trial."

"What is it?"

"_You will be captured!_"

"Ah!"

"It is true."

"By whom?"

"The masked chief of The Cloven Hoofs of the Grand Cañon of the
Colorado."

"He will still hunt me down?"

"He will."

"Being forewarned is being forearmed."

"Not in this case."

"Why so?"

"He works in a most mysterious way, and do all you may you will be
captured by him."

"And another ransom demanded?"

"Yes."

"And so he will continue to rob me of my gold."

"In this case, the ransom will not be of gold."

"I do not understand."

"The ransom demanded _will be your hand in marriage_."

Celeste uttered a cry of alarm, and started back with a look of horror
upon her beautiful face.



CHAPTER XXVII.

THE DEPARTURE.


The reply of the outlaw officer, telling what the third demand to be
made upon Celeste Seldon would be, caused her face to pale and her lips
quiver, while her eyes burned brightly with indignation. She stood for a
moment in silence, and then asked:

"Do you mean that he will make this demand upon me?"

"I mean that the demand will be made upon you by one who will enforce
it."

"Who?"

"That I cannot tell you, more I cannot say to you, yet I will relieve
your anxiety by saying that I will protect you, cost whose life it may."

"You?"

"Yes, if you are again captured, though, if I can prevent it, I will."

"But if I am?"

"It will end there, for then I will prove my reformation: I will
protect you, and that poor fellow for whom you will have to pay ransom.
When I do, I believe I will be able to return your gold, paid in ransom,
to you again.

"But, whether I do or not, you will go your way free, and Brandon also,
and I will prove that you have reformed me, that my loving you has made
me a different man. Now I cannot, will not say more; but remember that
through all I will secretly be your friend, though openly appearing as
your guard and enemy."

"I thank you, and I will trust you," and stepping forward, Celeste
Seldon held forth her hand.

The man put forth his own, as though to grasp it, then hesitated, and
said:

"No, I will prove my reformation, my friendship, before I touch you with
my crime-stained hand. I will call you at an early hour," and turning
abruptly, the outlaw lover of Celeste Seldon walked away.

Resuming her seat, the young girl became lost in thought, while Andrew
Seldon, as we shall still call him, after gazing at her for a few
moments in silence, turned away from his hiding-place, and crept
cautiously back to where he had left his game and rifle.

He knew that his comrade would be most anxious about him, yet he
determined to remain there for the night, and see the departure in the
morning. He would then know just how many outlaws went with Celeste
Seldon as a guard, and how many remained.

So he made himself as comfortable as possible, and sank to sleep, to
awake an hour before dawn and see the camp-fires burning brightly.

Creeping to the safest point of observation, from which he could retreat
unseen after daylight, should any of the outlaws remain in their camp,
he waited for developments.

He had not long to wait before he saw a party approaching on horseback.
There was one in the lead, and as he came within a few yards of where he
lay, Andrew Seldon recognized the outlaw officer, Wolf.

He held a lariat in his hand that was attached to the bit of the horse
following, and upon which was mounted Celeste Seldon.

In the dim gray of early dawn, Seldon saw that the eyes of Celeste were
blindfolded, and her hands rested in her lap, as though bound.

Behind her came, in single file, five outlaws, and like their leader,
they were masked.

Bringing up the rear were a couple of packhorses well laden.

The party passed on, and then Andrew Seldon turned his attention to the
outlaw camp, in which several of the men had been left.

Having discovered this, Seldon then crept cautiously back, picked up his
rifle and game, and started off at a double-quick for his own camp,
anxious to relieve his pard's anxiety regarding him, and to tell him all
that he had discovered.

A man of great endurance, he made a rapid run to his home, and did not
feel it in the least. He found Lucas Langley just starting off on a
search for him, and the welcome he received was a sincere one.

"How glad I am to see you, Pard Seldon. Surely you were not lost?" he
said.

"No, indeed; but have you any breakfast, for I am as ravenous as a wolf,
as I went without dinner and supper yesterday, and did not delay to
cook anything this morning."

"You shall have something in a few minutes, so wash up, and I'll get it
for you."

"And then we must have a talk," said Seldon, as he went down toward the
little stream for a refreshing plunge-bath.

"He has had an adventure of some kind, I am sure," muttered Lucas
Langley, as he threw a fine steak upon the coals and put some fresh
coffee in the pot.

Andrew Seldon's bath greatly refreshed him, and he ate his breakfast
quietly, after which he said:

"We'll not go gold-hunting to-day, pard, for I have something to tell
you."

"I feel that you have seen some one in the Grand Cañon."

"You are right. I have."

"Are they here to stay?"

"Yes, they think so."

"Who are they?"

"They are masked men, outlaws, belonging, I feel sure, to the
road-agent band I heard of when at W----."

"They go masked in camp?"

"They do."

"How many?"

"There are, I think, nearly a dozen of them."

"Tell me of them, and where they are."

"They are camped in the blue-cliff cañon, near our old home, and are
working the mine we marked as number two on our map."

"They are here for gold, then?"

"Yes, gold-diggers in their idle moments, and at other times
road-agents, making their retreat here, where they deem themselves
safe."

"They did not see you?"

"No, indeed; but I got within fifty feet of one of their camp-fires, and
where they had a captive."

"Ah! a prisoner?"

"Yes."

"Did you know him?"

"It was a young girl."

"The devils!"

"That is what they are, indeed; but let me tell you just what I
discovered, overheard, and saw."

Then Andrew Seldon told the story, and in Lucas Langley he found a most
ready listener.

"Oh, that we could rescue that girl!" said Langley, when he had heard
all.

"To make the attempt would be but to meet with signal failure now,
Lucas."

"I fear so."

"Still, I will see that they are not left long to carry on their work of
deviltry."

"I am with you heart and soul."

"I know that well, pard. But they will return the girl for the ransom
demanded, and then they will get the amount they claim for the young man
they spoke of."

"Yes."

"This will take some days, and in that time I shall act."

"You?"

"Yes, they will lay their plans to kidnap the girl from Last Chance, to
carry out this scheme of the chief to have his third demand come in,
and right there I shall thwart them."

"But how can you?"

"I will start to-night for Fort Faraway."

"Will you go there?"

"Yes."

"You told me that there were reasons why you would not go anywhere among
those who might recognize you."

"It is different now, and necessity demands that I take the risk. I have
changed greatly, for my long hair and beard, my glasses and other
changes completely disguise me from what I was, and so I will go to Fort
Faraway."

"For what purpose?"

"I wish to see Buffalo Bill, and place these facts before him, for we
can tell him where to find the outlaws' secret retreat, and I believe
that the girl and the young man can be saved and every member of the
robber band captured."

"It would be a grand thing for you to do."

"Yes, it is just what I wish to do, to render some valuable service to
the Government."

"When shall we start?"

"I will start to-night, but you, pard, must remain here in possession of
our mines."

"As you wish, pard; but will you be gone long?"

"Not a day longer than is necessary, pard."

"Well, success go with you," was Lucas Langley's response, and the two
men began to make preparations for the start of the one with information
of where the retreat of the outlaw band could be found.

Andrew Seldon did not care to take a packhorse, for he wished to make
all the time possible, and when the sun went down he was ready for the
trail, and, with Lucas Langley accompanying him, he started down the
cañon to steal by the robbers' camp.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE LONE TRAIL.


Well supplied with food and ammunition, having plenty of blankets along,
for the nights were cold, and mounted upon the best one of their horses,
Andrew Seldon felt ready to cope with whatever he might have to
encounter in the way of hardships and dangers.

Mufflers had been prepared for the hoofs of his horse, that he might
leave no trail and make no sound in passing the robber camp, while a
muzzle was carried for the nose of the animal, to prevent his neighing
and thus betraying his presence to foes.

After crossing the narrow ridge, the mufflers and muzzle were tied on,
and the two men stole along, leading the horse, until they came in sight
of the camp-fires. Only two were burning now, and about them only a few
men were visible.

The two men slipped by unseen with their horse, some eighth of a mile
distant from the camp, and having seen his pard to safety, Lucas
Langley bade him farewell, with many good wishes for his success, and
started upon his return.

Mounting then, Andrew Seldon set off on his lonely and perilous mission.
He ascended the hazardous trail, stripped his horse of his trappings
upon reaching the deadly cliff which he had to pass around, and got
safely by with the animal. Then he brought his saddle and trappings
around, led the horse to the top of the cañon rim, and, mounting, set
off for Fort Faraway, taking the trail that must lead him by the
deserted camp where he had killed Black-heart Bill in a duel, and where
the desperado rested in his grave after his tumultuous life of evil.

By rapid riding he reached the deserted camp soon after midnight, and,
dismounting, prepared to go into camp.

There was the best of water and grass there, and, to be merciful to his
horse, Andrew Seldon did not allow his own feelings to cause him to camp
elsewhere when the animal would be the sufferer.

Having watered his horse and staked him out to feed, he sat down upon a
log near the wickiup and ate his cold supper quietly.

Then he lighted his pipe and began to smoke with a strange calmness of
mien, when it is remembered that there, within a few yards of him, at
the base of the quaking aspen whose white trunk looked ghostly in the
moonlight, was the grave of the man he had killed, the man who had been
his boyhood friend, and afterward his bitterest foe.

Laying aside his pipe, he spread his blankets in the wickiup, and then
walked quietly toward the quaking aspen.

There was the mound that marked the last resting-place of Hugh Mayhew,
whose deeds of wickedness had won for him the name of Black-heart Bill.

What thoughts crowded upon him as he stood there gazing upon the little
mound of earth, knowing that only a few feet below the surface the dead
face of his one-time friend was upturned toward him, who can tell?

For some time he stood there, his arms folded upon his broad breast, and
his head bowed. At last, a sigh found its way between his set teeth,
and he turned away.

Reaching the wickiup, he paused, and mused aloud:

"Well, I am making a bold venture to dare go to the fort from which I
fled on the day appointed for my execution, fled to live on here in the
wilderness, believed to be dead, yet living, my own name cast aside, and
living under that of one I never knew in life.

"How strange this life is, its bitterness, sorrows, realities, and
romance, and how strange, indeed, has been my career. Well, what will
the end be, I wonder?

"I am taking my life in my hands to venture to the fort, but I must save
that poor girl, run down those outlaws, and I can only do it through
Buffalo Bill. Now to turn in, for I must get some rest, and will, even
in this weird spot."



CHAPTER XXIX.

TO WELCOME THE FAIR GUEST.


The miners of Last Chance were too much excited over the expected ransom
of Celeste Seldon, and the thought of soon having a young and beautiful
girl in the mining-camps, to devote themselves to steady work, after the
situation was known to them.

Then, too, they were greatly disturbed at the mysterious disappearance
of Bernard Brandon, the young man whose mind had been destroyed by his
wound, and which they could not comprehend, for not the slightest trace
had been found of him, with all their searching.

The fact that they had been robbed, and also Celeste Seldon, was another
disturbing element, and so it was that little work was done in the mines
during the time following Harding's arrival and the day set for Doctor
Dick to go out with the ransom money for the young girl whom they all so
longed to welcome in their frontier home.

Landlord Larry had set the example of having things spruced up for her
coming, and the miners had quickly followed his example, having put
their cabins in better condition.

A cabin which the landlord was having built for his own especial use,
apart from the hotel, was hastened to completion, and then the very best
the hotel could supply was put in it as furniture and to make it
attractive to the fair visitor, who was to be regarded as the guest of
Last Chance.

At last, the eventful day arrived for the ransom to be paid, and the
miners had all taken a peep into the quarters of Celeste Seldon, to see
how attractive it was.

Doctor Dick had furnished a number of things, and the miners who had any
pretty robes, or souvenirs, did likewise, until it would have been a
callous heart, indeed, that would not be touched by their devotion to
one whom they had never seen.

The question of an attempt to capture the road-agents had been fully
discussed, but dismissed upon the advice of Landlord Larry, Doctor Dick,
and Harding, who represented the danger that the girl would be in, at
the hands of the merciless masked chief.

That Doctor Dick was the right man to send out with the ransom all felt
assured, for if there was any trickery on the part of the road-agents,
he was the one to meet it.

Doctor Dick had even offered to go out upon horseback alone, but it was
thought best that the coach should be sent for the visitor, and Harding
should drive, he having met her.

The miners, however, arranged to meet her with a delegation at the
entrance to the valley, and escort her to the hotel.

Every man was to be dressed in his best, and, in honor of the occasion,
the saloons were to be all closed.

When, at last, the day arrived, Harding mounted his box and gathered up
his reins, Doctor Dick following to a seat by his side a moment after.

The bag containing the gold to be paid in ransom was placed between
their feet, Landlord Larry gave the word to go, and the coach rolled
away at a rapid pace, followed by the wildest cheering.

The doctor was fixed up in his most magnificent attire. His jewels shone
with more than accustomed luster, and there was an expression upon his
face that boded no good for the road-agents if they meant treachery in
their dealings.

Harding was also rigged out in his finest, and wore a pleased look at
the prospect of meeting Celeste again, upon whom he considered that he
held a special claim, and yet, underlying all, was an anxiety that some
hitch might occur in gaining her release that would destroy all prospect
of seeing her.

The coach had been cleaned up to look its best, and a United States flag
floated from a staff fastened upon the rear.

The harnesses had been burnished up, and red, white, and blue streamers
had been attached to the bridles, so that the whole outfit presented a
very gorgeous appearance, and one intended to impress the beholder with
the grandeur of the occasion.

And so it was that Doctor Dick went out with the ransom for Celeste
Seldon, with Harding proud at holding the reins over the picked team
that would take her back to Last Chance.

"Well, Doctor Dick, what do you think of our chances?" asked Harding,
when the coach had turned out of the valley and was fairly started upon
the trail to the meeting with the masked road-agent chief.

"How do you mean our chances, Harding?"

"To get the young lady?"

"You were the one to make the terms."

"True, and I fear treachery."

"What chance is there for it?"

"We have the money."

"Yes."

"We are but two."

"Very true."

"They have the captive."

"Yes."

"And they can bring many against us."

"Also very true, Harding."

"Now, if the chief means treachery, and has his men there, he can hold
us up, get the ransom money, still keep possession of the girl, and
there it is."

"He might do so; but I hardly believe we need submit to even half a
dozen outlaws, where so much is at stake."

"I'm with you, Doc, in whatever you say do."

"I know that, Pard Harding; but there is another way to look at this
affair."

"How is that?"

"If those road-agents were treacherous, as you seem to fear, it would
end in their utter annihilation."

"How so, Doc?"

"Why, the miners would send the alarm to W---- and to Fort Faraway, and
we would have that splendid fellow, Buffalo Bill, leading a column of
soldiers on the hunt for them from one point, another force would push
out from W----, and a couple of hundred miners from Last Chance, and
every outlaw in this part of the country would be caught and hanged."

"I believe you are right, Doc. I had not thought of the result of
treachery on their part, for they would get the worst of it; no, I guess
all will go well."

"I think so, and hope so sincerely," answered Doctor Dick, and the coach
rolled on in silence for some time, when Harding asked:

"What do you think of Brandon's disappearance, doctor?"

"I hardly know what to think, unless he has fallen from some precipice
and killed himself."

"I guess that is it; but now let me give you a warning, Doc."

"Of what?"

"That young girl."

"What have I to fear, pard?"

"If you don't fall in love with her, you are a different man from what I
take you to be."

"You have been caught, I see."

"Yes, I'm gone, clean gone; but I guess that is all the good it will do
me, for I suppose her lover is that poor fellow Brandon."

"You only think her lovely just because she is the only woman you have
seen on the frontier. She is doubtless as ugly as an old maid."

"Just wait and see her, and then say which of us is wrong," said
Harding, with a confident smile.

As the coach turned around a cliff, neither Doctor Dick nor Harding saw
that there was a man standing among the piñons watching them. He had,
from his position, been able to see the coach a mile away, as it wound
along the valley, and he had watched it as it approached with seemingly
the deepest interest.

He stood erect, like a soldier on duty, one hand resting upon a
repeating rifle, the other grasping a field-glass, which he had
occasionally raised to his eyes and viewed the coming stage.

He stood like a sentinel, and had been there for an hour or more before
the coach rolled into view.

A glance was sufficient to show that the silent sentinel on the cliff
was none other than Buffalo Bill, the chief of scouts.

He was dressed as was his wont, and back from the cliff a couple of
hundred yards, grazing upon the ridge, was his horse.

But, strangest of all, the scout-sentinel did not hail the coach, did
not make his presence known, but allowed it to roll by, himself unseen,
as though he wished to keep the fact of his being there a secret, even
from Doctor Dick and Harding, his ally and spy.



CHAPTER XXX.

AT THE RENDEZVOUS.


As the coach drew near the rendezvous appointed by the masked road-agent
chief, at the Dead Line, Harding breathed hard with suppressed emotion.

He had really fallen in love with the beautiful girl, whom he felt he
was in a manner the protector of, and he was most anxious as to the
result.

Aside from his regard for Celeste Seldon, her unprotected condition
would have won his deepest sympathy under any circumstances.

Doctor Dick, on the other hand, was calm and silent. He had the money
demanded, and he had come to do his duty, but was prepared to face all
emergencies that might arise.

At last the scene of the tragedies came in view, the cross erected at
the Dead Line was just before them, and then Harding grasped the reins,
expecting a summons to halt.

No one was visible in the pass, but that was no sign that there was no
one there, as Harding and Doctor Dick well knew.

Just as the leaders reached the cross, a voice called out:

"Halt!"

Hard went the foot of the driver upon the brake, and his hands pulled
the team to a sudden stop.

Doctor Dick instinctively dropped his hand upon his revolver, but
removed it instantly, and calmly awaited the issue.

The coach having halted, the same voice called out:

"Is there any one inside the coach?"

"No one," answered Harding.

"If you lie to me, Harding, your life will be the forfeit."

"All right, so be it, sir; but Doctor Dick and I are all that came."

"Who is following you?"

"No one."

"Did none of the miners come out from Last Chance?"

"Not one."

"You are sure?"

"I am."

"If we are attacked, both you and Doctor Dick shall die, and if the
force is large enough to press me hard, I shall kill the girl."

"You need have no fear of an attack; but I only wish we dared make the
attempt, for I would like to see every one of you hanged."

A laugh greeted this remark of the driver, and once again the unseen
road-agent called out:

"Did you bring the gold?"

"Did you bring the young lady?"

"Answer my question, Harding."

"You answer mine."

"I will reply when I have had an answer."

"If you brought the young lady, as you pledged yourself to do, you can
get the ransom money; but if you did not, you will have to fight to get
it."

"That is our trade; but the young lady is here."

"Then get her out of your vile company as quickly as possible."

"Where is the money?"

Before Harding could reply, Doctor Dick said sternly:

"A truce to this nonsensical parleying. I have the money, and will pay
it over when the young lady is given into my charge, but not before.
Where is she?"

The road-agent seemed impressed by the stern words of Doctor Dick, and
responded:

"I will go and fetch her, while you turn your coach around."

This Harding at once did, and coming to a halt again, Doctor Dick got
down from the box, and the bag of gold was handed to him by Harding.

There was a wait of a few minutes, and then out from among the pines in
the pass came a man, followed by Celeste Seldon, a few feet behind him.
As she approached the spot, she waved her hand to Harding, and said
pleasantly:

"We meet again, my good friend."

"And mighty glad am I that we do, miss. Permit me to introduce to you
the boss man of Last Chance, Doctor Dick, and he is here with the money
to pay your ransom."

Doctor Dick doffed his sombrero, bowed low, and then stepped forward, as
Celeste held out her hand to him, and said in his courtly way:

"I am happy in meeting Miss Seldon and receiving her in the name of the
miners of Last Chance."

The outlaw who accompanied Celeste was masked completely, and his form
enveloped in a black robe that effectually concealed it. He stepped
toward Doctor Dick, and said:

"You, sir, have the ransom money for the return of this young lady?"

"I have gold amounting to the sum demanded."

"See here, Doc, I don't see why we should be robbed by one man, so let
us run him in, now we have the young lady, and we will not have to pay
the gold," and Harding suddenly covered the outlaw with his revolver.

"No, no!" cried Celeste. "That will never do."

"No, Harding, we must keep faith with him, even if he be a murderer and
a thief. Put up your gun," said Doctor Dick.

The masked outlaw had not moved at the action of Harding, but now said:

"You wisely decide, Doctor Dick, for I am no fool to be caught in a
trap, and I trust no man, so came prepared to meet treachery if it was
intended, and this young lady will tell you that my men are within easy
range, and you, Harding, in covering me with your revolver, took big
chances."

"I didn't believe you would come alone, and we were fools to do so, for
we could have fought it out right here," grumbled the driver, greatly
disappointed at his not carrying out his suddenly determined upon plot.

The road-agent then took the bag, opened it, ran over the gold like one
who knew its value, and then said:

"Yes, there is the amount here, no more, no less. Ask Miss Seldon if she
has not been treated with marked respect."

"I can but answer yes, for I have been; but am I not to have my trunk
and side-saddle?"

"Oh, yes, certainly," and the road-agent gave a signal, which was
promptly answered by two men appearing in the edge of the pines.

They wore long black robes and red masks, also, and their appearance
was proof that their leader had not come alone.

"Bring the baggage belonging to this lady, and her side-saddle and
bridle, also," called out the leader.

The men disappeared, and Doctor Dick asked:

"Do you expect to keep up your lawless acts much longer without meeting
the fate you deserve, Sir Outlaw?"

"Yes, for the money I get is worth taking big chances for, Doctor Dick,
and, gambler that you are, you never do a better day's work than what
sum this gold calls for."

"It is a long lane that has no turn, and the turn will come for you some
day," said Harding.

A light laugh beneath the mask was the answer, and Celeste Seldon's face
wore a clouded expression Harding was not slow to observe.

"Then I am free to go, sir?" and Celeste turned to the outlaw.

"You are, Miss Seldon," was the answer.

She turned to the coach, and Doctor Dick aided her into it, just as the
two outlaws came up with the small leather trunk she had brought with
her and her saddle and bridle.

Taking the back seat, Celeste leaned up in one corner, as though
fatigued, and her baggage having been put on top, Dick and Harding
mounted to the box, the outlaws attentively regarding them through the
eye-holes in their masks.

"Remember, pards, I still drive this trail," said the driver, with an
air of defiance as he gathered up the reins.

"I won't forget, Harding; but I advise you to keep in mind the story of
the pitcher that went once too often to the well, for right here some
day you may meet your fate."

"If I do, you will not find me flinch from it," was the plucky response,
and the driver called to his horses, and the team moved on.

Looking back at the bend, the driver and Doctor Dick saw that the
outlaws had already disappeared, while Celeste Seldon, gazing back also,
noted the same fact, and murmured to herself:

"What yet is before me, I wonder?"



CHAPTER XXXI.

DOCTOR DICK TELLS THE NEWS.


When the coach had got well away from the Dead Line, Harding gave a deep
sigh of relief, for the first time feeling that Celeste was safe, and
would not be retaken by the outlaws.

"Well, Doc, she's safe now, and we didn't lose our scalps," he said.

"It is a cause of congratulation all round, Harding."

"Now, Doctor Dick, _you_ have got to tell the young lady about the poor
crazy fellow."

"Did you not tell her?"

"That his wound had crazed him, yes; but that is not the worst of it."

"Ah, yes, you mean that he has been captured?"

"I cannot say that, Doc; but he has mysteriously disappeared."

"Well, you wish me to break the news to her?"

"I do, for I can't tell her what I know will hurt her, and it won't do
for her to hear it from the men when she arrives in Last Chance."

"I guess you are right, pard, so draw up, and I'll take a seat inside
the coach, and tell her the news."

"Be very gentle, Doc, for I have an idea she loves that young man."

"I'll break it to her as gently as I can," was the response, and as
Harding drew rein a moment after, Doctor Dick sprang down from the box,
and said:

"May I ride with you, Miss Seldon?"

"Certainly, sir, if you desire."

"I have something to talk to you about," said Doctor Dick, as he entered
the coach and took the front seat.

"I shall be glad to hear what you have to say, sir, and I desire now to
thank you for your very great kindness toward me, while you risked your
life in coming out here to serve me."

"Do not speak of it, Miss Seldon, for the miners all chipped in and made
up a purse for your ransom, while they are now anxiously awaiting your
coming to give you a right royal welcome, for you will be the first lady
who ever came to our camp."

"Indeed! this will be an honor; but do you mean that there are none of
my sex there?"

"Not one, only rough men, but with noble hearts many of them, so that
you will be made to feel at once at home."

"How odd it will be, yet I have no hesitancy in going there, I assure
you," and Celeste gazed into the face of the man before her with both
interest and admiration.

"He is strangely handsome, a manly fellow, brave, intelligent, yet a
dangerous foe, and I wonder what has brought such a man as he to this
far-away land?" ran her thoughts.

"Miss Seldon, what I most wished to say to you I fear will deeply pain
you," said Doctor Dick, after a pause.

"Let me hear it, sir, for I am becoming accustomed to being pained of
late," and Celeste was perfectly calm.

"I was told by Harding, the driver, that you were on your way to Last
Chance, to look up a friend who had come here on a mission for you, and
who you had feared was in trouble?"

"Yes, and my fears were realized when I learned that the coach in which
he was a passenger had been held up, I believe that is what you call it,
by road-agents, and Mr. Brandon was so severely wounded in the head that
his brain was turned."

"Yes, but that is not all, Miss Seldon."

"Ah! what else is there to tell?"

"He was under my care for a long while, and I did all that I could to
restore his reason, except to perform an operation for his relief, which
I feared to risk."

"So Mr. Harding told me."

"When his bodily health was restored he left my cabin and roamed about
the camps up to a week ago, when he most mysteriously disappeared. We
had all the miners out upon a search for him, did all in our power to
find him, but in vain, and what his fate has been is only conjecture."

"And what is that conjecture, Doctor Dick, for I believe you are so
called?"

"Yes, I am known to all solely as Doctor Dick; but let me answer your
question by replying that we believe the poor fellow has lost his life
by falling over a cliff."

"Such is not the case, sir," was the reply that startled the doctor.
"Mr. Brandon is now a captive of the road-agents."

Doctor Dick gazed at Celeste Seldon in amazement.

"Do you know this, Miss Seldon, or is it only conjecture on your part?"
he asked, when he had recovered from his surprise.

He had come prepared to console, but, instead, had found the young girl
cool and with apparently knowledge which he did not possess regarding
the man whom Harding had said he believed was her lover.

"I know it, Doctor Dick."

"May I ask how?"

"I have just been a captive of the outlaws myself, and in coming here
from their secret retreat we met two of the road-agents with a prisoner.
The leader had some talk with them, but though I at once recognized Mr.
Brandon, I was not allowed to speak with him."

"Did you request it?"

"Naturally."

"But were refused?"

"Yes."

"Was any reason given?"

"Simply that I would not be allowed to, and, if I did, Mr. Brandon would
not know me, as he was crazy, while they did not care to have me do so."

"Where was this, Miss Seldon?"

"A short distance after we left their retreat."

"Could you lead the way to their retreat?"

"No, for I was blindfolded and bound miles before reaching there."

"The outlaw chief did this?"

"He was not along, but it was done by his orders."

"Did you not speak to him of it?"

"I have not seen him since."

"Why, was not that the chief who gave you over to me to-day?"

"No, sir."

"I certainly thought so."

"It was his lieutenant, who took me to the retreat and back under his
orders."

"And where is the chief?"

"At his other hiding-place, his men said."

"You were well treated, I hope, Miss Seldon?"

"With perfect respect and consideration, sir, I am happy to say, the
only indignity being that I was blindfolded and had my hands bound in
approaching and leaving the outlaw retreat; but I suppose that was
necessary for the safety of the band."

"You certainly take it most coolly."

"Why do otherwise, sir?"

"Do you know the motive of the road-agents in making that poor crazy
fellow a prisoner?"

"Money."

"How do you mean?"

"They doubtless captured his baggage, and discovered by it papers that
went to show that a big ransom would be paid for his release."

"Ah! they will demand a ransom for him, then?"

"Assuredly."

"The miners will hardly pay it if it is a large sum."

"I do not ask them to do so."

"You do not?"

"No."

"Who will pay it, then?"

"I will."

"You?"

"Certainly."

"Pardon me, but you are a young girl, and----"

"A rich one, nevertheless, Doctor Dick. I sent Mr. Brandon to the West
on this mission, and he has met with misfortune. I will pay the ransom
demanded, take him East, and place him in the care of the most eminent
surgeons, that they may aid him if it is possible. You, as a skilled
surgeon, for such I have heard you were, might tell me what you deem the
chances are for his recovery?"

"Miss Seldon, the blow of that bullet caused an indenture of the skull,
which might be operated upon and successfully raised so as to restore
his reason. The chances are ninety-nine to a hundred against success,
and only the most skilful surgeon and nervy one could accomplish it, if
done."

"Thank you; the one chance in favor shall be taken, for without reason
one might as well be dead--yes, far better."

"And you will stand all this expense?"

"Certainly, for it is my intention to pay back to the miners every
dollar they subscribed for my ransom, for, as I said, I have the means
to do it, and far more."

"You are a plucky woman, Miss Seldon; but see, we are approaching the
valley now, and you must prepare for a welcome," and Doctor Dick called
to Harding to come to a halt.



CHAPTER XXXII.

THE MINERS' WELCOME.


Harding drew up promptly at the call of Doctor Dick. He had heard the
voices of the two within the stage, yet not what was said, and he was
anxious to know how Celeste took the news of the disappearance of the
man whom she had come to the wild Western frontier to see.

"Do you mean that I shall mount to the box, sir?" asked Celeste, in
answer to what the doctor had said after the coach halted.

"I do, Miss Seldon, for the men will wish to see you, and within ten
minutes more we will be in the valley."

"Of course, I cannot refuse, sir," and Celeste sprang out of the coach
and mounted to the box, taking her seat by the side of Harding, while
Doctor Dick settled himself upon her trunk upon the top of the coach.

"Now, miss, we'll make 'em hum," said Harding, and he cracked his whip
in a way that sent the team along at a splendid pace.

As they neared the turn into the valley, Harding took a bugle, in lieu
of a stage-horn, and played in a skilful manner the ringing notes of
"Annie Laurie," intending the sentiment to apply to Celeste, Doctor Dick
from his perch the while taking the reins.

The notes of the bugle ringing out, the touching air brought tears to
the eyes of Celeste Seldon, who, however, was startled a moment after,
as the stage came in sight of a hundred horsemen drawn up in two lines,
one on either side of the trail.

They were a wild, reckless-looking lot of rough riders, but the cheer
they gave when they saw Celeste on the box came from their hearts.

Their hats were doffed, and as the yells burst from their lips they
closed in behind the coach, four abreast, and came dashing along as an
escort.

Celeste waved her handkerchief vigorously, her beautiful face flushed to
crimson and her lips quivering, her eyes swimming with the emotion that
almost overwhelmed her.

"Three cheers for the lady of Last Chance," came in the deep voice of
Doctor Dick, from the top of the coach, and they were given with savage
earnestness.

Along dashed the coach, Harding lashing his horses into a run and
driving with marvelous skill, while behind them thundered the hundred
horsemen, yelling like demons in their glad welcome to the first lady to
visit their wild camp.

Celeste saw the cabins along the cañon valley, perched here and there
upon the hills, and at last discovered the group of buildings that
marked the settlement the miners were pleased to call the "City" of Last
Chance.

Gathered there was a vast crowd of men, and when the stage came in
sight, and three persons were seen on top, with the mounted escort
hastening after, the yells of welcome began.

The roar floated down the valley, and reached the ears of Celeste
Seldon, and she muttered in a low tone:

"How kind they all are. This is, indeed, a welcome to be proud of, and
never can I forget it."

"They mean it, miss," said Harding and he felt just pride in his
frontier home at the reception, and the manner in which Celeste received
it greatly pleased him.

On flew the horses, and up the hill they dashed, to at last come to a
halt before the hotel.

The din was now terrific, for the voices of the horsemen joined in with
the miners about the hotel, who, with one accord, drew their revolvers
and began to empty them in the air.

As there were hundreds of miners, and all were armed with a couple each
of revolvers, the rattling of the fusillade may be imagined.

Celeste bowed right and left, waving her handkerchief, until Landlord
Larry aided her to dismount and led her into the hotel, and the welcome
was at an end.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE COUNCIL.


Celeste Seldon was not one to put on airs. She had been well reared, was
refined, lovable by nature, plucky enough for a man, for she had the
heart and will to do and dare anything where duty called, and yet she
was as simple as a child by nature.

She was deeply touched by the reception she had received, and, in
glancing about, when she saw only a wild-looking set of men, rude log
cabins, and an air of the far frontier pervading all, she knew that it
was just what she must expect to see, and she at once adapted herself to
circumstances.

She was escorted by Landlord Larry to her cabin, Harding himself
bringing her trunk and another miner her saddle and bridle.

The appearance of the cabin revealed to her at a glance how much had
been done to make her comfortable, and she praised the neat quarters and
expressed the greatest satisfaction in her surroundings.

When she went over to the hotel to dinner, the whole crowd of miners
there rose at her entrance, and every hat was doffed and placed beneath
the bench on which the man sat, for hat-racks were not one of the
luxuries of the last Chance Hotel, and a miner would as soon have
thought of parting with his pistols as his head-covering.

At his own table, where sat, besides himself, Doctor Dick and Harding,
Landlord Larry placed Celeste Seldon, and she was given the best the
house afforded, and expressed herself as being treated far more kindly
than she had had the slightest anticipation of.

The meal concluded, Celeste said that she would like to consult with the
three she regarded as her immediate protectors, the Landlord, Doctor
Dick, and Harding.

So the three met her in the landlord's private office, and Celeste at
once said:

"I wish first to thank all of my kind friends here, through you,
gentlemen, for the very generous manner in which you have received and
treated me here. I know that the ransom money demanded for my release
was quickly raised by the people here, you three being particularly
generous; but I desire to say that I have the money to pay you back, and
will do so."

"No, no, under no circumstances, Miss Seldon," said Doctor Dick eagerly,
and the others chimed in with him.

But Celeste was firm in her determination, and said:

"I have no claim upon you, and, besides, I am very well off, so I shall
insist, and, Landlord Larry, I will give you a draft for the amount upon
an Eastern bank, and for more, as there will be another demand upon me,
in the amount to ransom the one who came here for me, Mr. Bernard
Brandon."

"But will you pay his ransom, Miss Seldon?"

"Why not, Landlord Larry?"

"I think," said Doctor Dick, "that as you came to visit Last Chance, we,
the dwellers here, should be responsible, and pay these ransoms."

"So say I," put in Harding quickly.

"And I agree with you," added the landlord.

"Under no circumstances will I hear to it, for I will pay all, my own
and the ransom of Mr. Brandon, so please send the draft through for the
money, Landlord Larry, and while here I will take steps to find out all
I can regarding my father, who was last heard of in this part of the
country."

"Miss Seldon, _I_ can tell you what you must know sooner or later about
your father, who, let me say, was also my friend," said Doctor Dick.

It seemed hard that, in the joy of her release from captivity in the
hands of the outlaws, Celeste Seldon should feel the blow of knowing
that the unfortunate Bernard Brandon had been captured and she would
have to pay a ransom for him, while she also had to suffer still further
in learning what was her father's fate, as told her by Doctor Dick.

It had been a long time since she had seen her father, the last time
when she was a little girl, and she remembered that he had left home
under a cloud, and she had never expected to see him again.

With her mother dead, and her father a fugitive wanderer, she had been
sent by her guardian, left so by the wishes of her parents, to a
Northern school, and there had had no one upon whom to lean.

At the words and tone of Doctor Dick, she nerved herself to bear the
worst; and asked calmly:

"What have you to tell me, Doctor Dick?"

"Of your father."

"You knew him?"

"Yes, for, though my senior in years, we were devoted friends."

"Have you seen him since coming West?"

"I have not; but let me tell you that, when on a scout with Buffalo
Bill, the latter was rescued by a person who was alone, and on his way
to W----. The scout had with him a prisoner, a deserter from the army
and a murderer, who had been taken here in Last Chance, and he was
taking him a prisoner to Fort Faraway, when he was attacked by a
desperado by the name of Headlight Joe and his gang.

"With his horse shot and falling upon him, Buffalo Bill would have been
killed and his prisoner rescued, but for the coming of the horseman
referred to, and who put the outlaws to flight. He gave the name of
Andrew Seldon, said nothing as to why he was in that part of the
country, or where he lived, and went on his way.

"When I came up with Buffalo Bill, and heard his story of his rescue,
and the name of his rescuer, it at once recalled my old-time friend,
and, with the scout as my companion, we later sought to find him. We
trailed him to his home, where he had dwelt with one other comrade."

"And where was that, sir?"

"In the Grand Cañon of the Colorado, Miss Seldon."

"And you found him?" eagerly asked Celeste, while the landlord and
Harding gazed at her with deepest sympathy at what they felt she must
hear.

"We found his house, or, rather, the wreck of it, for, mining under a
cliff a thousand feet in height, it had caved in upon them, burying them
beneath a mountain of red sandstone."

Celeste shuddered and covered her face with her hands, but very quickly
regained her composure, and said:

"Are you sure that my father was in the mine when it caved in?"

"I am very sure, Miss Seldon, that both he and his comrade were. We, the
scout and myself, were camped in the cañon, and heard the cave-in, and
it felt like a mighty earthquake, and was at night.

"We made a thorough search the next day, but could not find any trace of
a human being, and their horses shared the same fate, with a dog, also,
which we heard barking that same night. Yes, there is no doubt of your
father's fate."

"I thank you, Doctor Dick, for your telling me all; but I must see
Buffalo Bill, the famous scout, and ask him to guide me to the fatal
spot, the scene of my father's lone life in these wilds, and of his
death," said Celeste, in a low tone that revealed how deeply she felt
her father's fate.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

A METAMORPHOSIS.


When Harding met with old Huckleberry, the stage-driver, who had so
mysteriously disappeared, and whose fate was a mystery to the miners of
Last Chance, that old worthy saw the coach drive on its way while he
regarded its departure with the complacency of one not afraid to be left
alone, and fully capable of taking care of himself.

He stood for some time in silent meditation, after the coach had
disappeared, and then, shouldering his rifle, struck off over the
mountains, with an evident purpose in view.

A walk of some ten miles brought him to a secluded nook in the
mountains, a perfect basin a dozen acres in size, heavily wooded, with
plenty of grass and water.

A narrow pass, not twenty feet in width, was the only entrance to the
basin, and this was securely fastened up with long poles.

Over this old Huckleberry clambered, and as he walked into the basin, a
couple of horses feeding there greeted him with a welcoming neigh. In
the farther end, among the pines, was a brush cabin, and in it were
blankets and a camping-outfit, with saddle, pack-saddle, and bridles.

Old Huckleberry proceeded to build a fire and cook dinner, after which
he caught one of his horses, saddled him, and strapped on some blankets
and a bag of provisions.

Leading the horse out of the basin, he replaced the barrier securely, so
that the other animal could not get out, and, mounting, started off for
the fort. As he rode alone, he muttered to himself:

"I can do nothing alone, I feel certain, and by this time the one man
whose aid I can best depend upon is at the fort, and he will gladly
return with me."

Pressing on at a steady gait, he did not halt until some time after
nightfall, and then built no fire, but ate a cold supper, staked his
horse out, rolled up in his blankets, and was soon fast asleep.

He rose early, and the coming of day found him several miles on his way
from his night camp.

About eight o'clock he halted, built a fire, broiled the steak of an
antelope he had killed, some crackers and bacon, his horse faring well
on the grass near-by.

A rest of an hour and a half, and he was again in the saddle, keeping up
the same steady gait until noon, when another halt was made for a couple
of hours. On through the afternoon he urged his horse once more, halting
only after nightfall.

Two hours before daybreak he was in the saddle, and now his horse was
pushed more rapidly forward, as though a long rest lay not very far
ahead.

It was two hours before noon when the worn-out horse pricked up his ears
as he saw a flag fluttering in the skies a mile ahead.

In through the stockade gate of Fort Faraway rode old Huckleberry, and
he asked to be at once taken to the quarters of the commanding officer.
Major Randall surveyed the old fellow keenly, and said pleasantly:

"Well, old man, what can I do for you?"

"I'll tell yer, pard, soon as I sees ef thet gent in sojer clothes ain't
goin' ter speak ter a old friend," and old Huck looked over to an
officer who was talking to Major Randall when he entered. The man wore
a fatigue uniform, and his shoulder-straps bore the rank of a captain,
with the insignia of a surgeon of cavalry.

He was tall, erect, had broad shoulders, and was of powerful build,
while, strange to say for an officer, he wore his black hair long and
falling in heavy masses down his back.

His face was full of decision, courage, and intelligence, and handsome,
as well, and in his dark, piercing eyes there was a strange mixture of
gentleness and a fiery nature combined. In a voice strangely musical for
a man's, he said, as he arose:

"My dear old pard, am I so remiss as to forget the face of a friend,
for, though I see that it is familiar, I cannot just place you."

"Now, Pard Doc, I thinks that ain't jist squar' ter fergit a old
friend," said old Huckleberry, while Major Randall said:

"He certainly knows you well, Major Powell."

"And I knows Major Randall well, too; but as you don't seem ter git
onter jist who I is gents, I'll tell yer by taking off my wig and
specs--see!"

The wig, or shock, rather, of long gray hair was removed, the spectacles
taken off, and the face of Buffalo Bill was revealed to the astonished
gaze of Major Randall and Surgeon Powell, who both uttered an
exclamation of amazement, and then burst out into hearty laughter, at
the metamorphosis of old Huckleberry into the noted chief of scouts.

"Well, Cody, what does this masquerading mean?" cried Major Randall,
after he and Surgeon Powell had shaken hands with the scout.

"It is a part of a plot, major, for I have been driving stage," answered
the scout.

"Driving stage?"

"Yes, sir, I took the semimonthly coach running from W---- to Last
Chance, after the road-agents had killed Benton and Dockery, and no one
cared to drive the run, unless it was Doctor Dick, the gold-gambler of
Last Chance."

"Did he take the coach through, Cody?"

"Oh, yes, sir, he is not a man to scare, and he drove several runs; but
then his professional duties as gambler and doctor kept him busy, and I
rigged up as old Huckleberry, and drove the runs, to see what I could
find out."

"And what did you find out?"

"I believe I discovered sufficient, sir, to stretch several ropes with
human weights."

"That means you are on the right trail to bag those road-agents?"

"Yes, sir."

"They appear to be well handled?"

"They are, sir, for their chief is a man of remarkable pluck, cunning,
and skill, and he handles them in a masterly manner."

"Who is he?"

"I do not believe his own men could tell you, sir, for he goes masked
and robed in black, even covering up his horse from ears to tail."

"That is strange."

"It is the safest plan, sir."

"And who is driving now?"

"Harding, sir, the ex-soldier, and whom, I may confidentially say,
major, I have taken into my service, not as a scout, but as a spy, at
Last Chance."

"A fine fellow, but I fear he will be killed as driver on that trail."

"I hope not, sir, and he has escaped splendidly through great dangers
thus far."

"Well, what will be your plans now?"

"I have been hanging on the trail, sir, since my mysterious
disappearance as old Huckleberry, and have been hovering about the Death
Line, taking notes and seeing what I could discover. I have a camp in a
basin in the mountain range, and there I left my packhorse and outfit
while I came here."

"You have something to report to me, then?"

"No, sir, not particularly, though I came for a purpose."

"And that purpose, Cody?"

"I was aware, sir, that Surgeon Frank Powell was coming to the fort, to
relieve Doctor Dey, and that his duties as surgeon would not begin for
some weeks yet. As we have been on so many scouting-expeditions
together, and Doctor Powell is a regiment in himself, I wanted him to go
back with me and unearth these road-agents, following their trail to the
very end."

"You could have no one better. What do you say, Powell?"

"How could I refuse, major, after Bill's most flattering remarks about
what I can do, and which prove he has Irish blood in his veins."

"Ah! I knew that you would go, Frank," responded Cody.

"Of course, I will, and am ready when you say the word, only I must ask
Major Randall for a leave, should we not accomplish our purpose before I
am ordered for duty here."

"That will be all right, Powell. When will you start, Cody, for Doctor
Powell will have to first relieve Doctor Dey, as that would be the best
plan, and then go, leaving his assistant surgeon in charge."

"It is for you to decide, major."

"Very well, say in just ten days from now."

"All right, sir; but, after a couple of days' rest, I had better return
to my basin camp, and be on the watch, and I can tell Surgeon Powell
just where I will meet him upon a certain date."

"You know best, Cody; but do not venture much until Powell joins you,
for well I know what a team you two make together."

"I feel certain, sir, that together we can run down these masked
marauders," was the confident reply of Buffalo Bill, and when he went to
his quarters, soon after, Surgeon Powell accompanied him, for the two
were the closest of friends.



CHAPTER XXXV.

THE DRIVER'S LETTER.


After several days' stay at the fort, Buffalo Bill started upon his
return to his secret camp near Last Chance trail. He took with him
another packhorse, well laden with bedding and supplies, for the weather
was growing steadily colder and winter would soon be upon the land.

He knew that little snow generally fell as far down as the Last Chance
trail, but it would be well to be prepared for any emergency, and as the
coaches ran through the winter, the road-agents would by no means take a
rest.

Riding leisurely on the back trail, not caring to push his horses too
hard, Buffalo Bill reached his basin camp in the mountains on the third
day, and the animal he left there pranced like a colt at seeing him come
back.

His first work was to make his quarters more secure and comfortable, and
this took him a day, and the following, having strengthened the barrier
in the pass, to prevent his horses from breaking out, he started off on
foot for the W---- and Last Chance stage-trail.

He would not ride, as he did not wish his trail to be seen by any
prowling road-agents, and on foot he could accomplish more and be
concealed far better than if he had gone mounted.

Before parting with Surgeon Frank Powell at the fort, Buffalo Bill had
drawn a map of the country, marking the trail the surgeon-scout was to
follow, and also just where he was to meet him, the place of rendezvous
being the deserted camp where was the grave of Black-heart Bill.

When Buffalo Bill approached the trail, at the scene of the Dead Line
tragedies, he went most cautiously. But no one was there, and going up
to the little cross, the scout bent over and thrust his hand into the
spot where, as old Huckleberry, he had his "post-office" with Harding.

He took out a slip of paper, and read it with clouded brow. It was as
follows:

     "I slip away at night from Last Chance to leave this
     here for you. It was unfortunate that you should have
     had to go to the fort when you did, as on my run back I
     was held up here by the agents.

     "I had taken your advice, and pressed through the other
     end at night, thus escaping men lying in wait for me.

     "On my return I had a young lady passenger, a Miss
     Celeste Seldon, coming out here to find her father, a
     miner, and a young man whom she had sent in search of
     him. It was the young man I told you of who had been
     wounded and had never regained his reason.

     "I had a large sum of money, which was taken, and Miss
     Seldon was carried off as a captive, to be held for
     ransom.

     "The miners have subscribed the ransom money, and she
     is to be released. I will let you know particulars more
     fully as soon as I get the opportunity, endeavoring to
     have a letter here for you when I come to make the
     exchange, paying the ransom and receiving the lady from
     the outlaws.

     "Doctor Dick will come with me; but the outlaws
     threaten to kill Miss Seldon if others come, or if any
     one else leaves Last Chance to pursue them, and that
     chief will keep his word.

     HARDING."

Then there followed a postscript, which read:

     "The young messenger, Bernard Brandon, has most
     mysteriously disappeared, and no search can find him.

     "H."

Buffalo Bill read this letter over twice, and said in a musing way:

"Those outlaws are becoming bold, indeed, when they deliberately rob a
young girl and make her their prisoner. The man Brandon was her
messenger, sent in search of her father, and his mysterious
disappearance, _to me_, means that he has been captured by the
road-agents.

"Now, I dare not halt the coach on the way to receive the girl, if the
road-agents give her up; but I will be on the watch, see it go by, and
be as near this spot when the ransom is paid as I dare be, for from here
I may be able to track those devils to their lair."

So saying, the scout set out upon his return for his basin camp.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

THE SCOUT ON THE WATCH.


When Buffalo Bill returned from the Dead Line to his secret camp, it was
to prepare himself for several days' absence from it, for his intention
was to hang about the Last Chance trail, discovering all that it was in
his power to do.

He found a retreat upon a cliff, where there was a thicket of pines,
giving him a view in both directions of the trail for a mile or more.

He saw from there the coach coming to the rendezvous, with the ransom
money for Celeste Seldon's release, and upon the box beside the driver
was Doctor Dick.

Yet the scout did not know who might be inside the stage, so dared not
make any sign of his presence.

On went the coach, and Buffalo Bill at once started down from the cliff,
and followed in its trail at an Indian trot, which kept him well up with
it, yet just out of sight.

As he approached the Dead Line, he went more cautiously, and, reaching
the entrance to the pass, made a flank movement and climbed to the top
of the ridge.

It was after continued search that he at last found a point of
observation, and he risked his life by reaching a spot where he would be
dashed to death, hundreds of feet below, should his foot slip or nerve
fail him.

From this spot, where he clung to a tree, he turned his field-glass down
the pass, and could see the coach standing at the Dead Line, a quarter
of a mile away. He saw that the coach had been turned to the
right-about, the team being headed back for Last Chance, and Doctor Dick
was standing near it, Harding being still on the box and grasping the
reins.

Watching, with every nerve strung, the scout saw the masked road-agent
appear, and later the fair captive. Then followed two other road-agents
bearing the baggage of Celeste Seldon, and soon after the coach started
upon its return.

Buffalo Bill could not have reached a point to head it off had he tried,
and he felt that he must still be cautious. But he was determined to
reach the Dead Line and take up the trail from there, for certainly the
road-agents had not allowed Celeste Seldon to walk to the scene of the
exchange.

After half an hour he gained a point just over the Dead Line, and from
there saw that all was quiet. The outlaws had left, beyond all doubt.

It was an hour before the scout could make his way around to the Dead
Line, and there he felt in the little "post-office" for a letter from
Harding. But none was there.

"He dared not attempt it," he muttered.

Then taking a leaf from his note-book, he wrote:

     "I am again on the trail. I saw the lady returned to
     you. I will take the outlaws' trail from here, and hope
     to track them to their lair.

     "In a few days, now, I will have the surgeon-scout with
     me in my work, so the end is not far away.

     "Keep me posted as before, as I will you.

     "Yours, B. B."

This was placed in the receptacle near the cross, and, shouldering his
rifle, Buffalo Bill set out to look for trails.

It took him a long while to satisfy himself that he was on the right
track, but at last he struck off at a lively step along a trail which
only a man of his frontier skill could have discovered.

After a walk of a mile he suddenly came upon a spot where there were the
tracks of a horse visible. These he followed a mile farther, and the
scout saw that the ground was trampled down, but not by hoofs.

The track he had followed thus far had been that of one hoof only,
showing that the other three had been muffled, but one had lost its
covering.

The trampled grass and ground revealed that the horses had been left
there, and all had had their hoofs muffled in some way.

But the keen eyes of the scout picked up the trail, and he followed it
quite rapidly until he came to a small stream.

"There were eight horses along, as their tracks show here, but how many
men I do not know. When they have gone some miles farther they will
remove the muffles from their horses' hoofs, and then the trail will be
easy to follow, and it now looks to me as though I will be able to track
them to their retreat, and that means the end.

"But night is coming on now, and this is just the place for me to branch
off and go to my own camp, following the trail to-morrow on horseback."

Buffalo Bill quickly decided what course he would pursue. He would walk
to his camp, get some provisions and an increased outfit, return there
for the balance of the night and go into camp, so as to make an early
start in the morning directly on the trail.

So he set out at a rapid walk, and within three hours' time had reached
his basin camp. He quickly set to work to look up some provisions and
get ready for his trail, and in an hour was ready to start, mounted upon
his best horse.

It was after midnight when he reached his camping-place, but he was soon
asleep, wrapped snugly in his blankets, while his horse was resting and
feeding.

With the breaking of dawn he was up and ready to start, and a few miles
away discovered the spot where the outlaws had removed the muffles from
the hoofs of their horses.

From there on he felt no further anxiety about the trail, so cooked his
breakfast, ate it leisurely, and again started on his way.

He understood now thoroughly why the outlaws had left no trails going to
and coming from the Dead Line and other points upon the Overland Trail.
The muffled hoofs of the horses explained this, and they stuck to their
determination to leave no tracks until they got far away from the scene
of their evil deeds.

Buffalo Bill did not believe that he would have to go very far from the
Dead Line before he found their retreat, and was expecting to find out
where they were in hiding within half a day's ride from his
starting-point.

But noon came, and still the trail led him on. He had plenty of time, so
did not hurry. He could do nothing alone, other than to discover the
retreat, and then he would make for his rendezvous with the
surgeon-scout, and together they would plan their future movements.

But night came on, and found him still on the trail. He was compelled to
go into camp, for he could not follow it by night, and he soon made
himself comfortable.

Again he started after daybreak, and a ride of several hours caused him
to say:

"This trail is surely leading direct to the Grand Cañon of the Colorado.
Can they have sought that weird land for a retreat?--yet why not, for no
safer one could be found."

Within an hour more he felt that the country had a familiar look, and he
was not long in discovering upon riding a few miles farther, that he had
ridden right along there with Doctor Dick when on the trail of Andrew
Seldon.

Suddenly he came upon the grand vista of the cañon, and at once drew
rein. There before him was the mighty view that had so impressed him on
his former visit, and he knew that the outlaws must have found a retreat
in the depths of the Grand Cañon.

Not daring to go farther on horseback, he rode off the trail to find a
hiding-place for his horse, and, after a search, discovered a little
glen where he felt that he would be safe, unless his trail was
discovered and he was tracked there.

There was a pool of water in one end and grass about it, so he staked
his horse out, feeling that he could at least subsist comfortably there
for a couple of days, should he be kept away that long.

Hiding his saddle and bridle he set out on foot, with a couple of
blankets strapped on his back, his bag of provisions, rifle, lasso, and
belt of arms.

He went back to the trail and again took it up where he had left it to
hide his horse. Every step forward now was one of caution, for the
country was open in places, and he did not know what moment he might
come upon a party of outlaws and have to fight for his life.

But he reached the rim of the cañon by dark, and a short search revealed
to him that the trail down into the depths of the tremendous chasm had
been discovered also by the road-agents, and their tracks led down into
it.

The night passed with a cold supper and breakfast, and then he set off
on foot down the dizzy pathway leading to the bottom of the cañon, for
now he felt sure that he would discover the lair of the outlaws, and
that done and his own presence unknown to them, he could arrange for an
attack upon them at his leisure.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

THE MINER'S MISSION.


The gold-hunter, Andrew Seldon, rode on his way from his retreat in the
cañon, determined to risk his life by returning to Fort Faraway and
reporting the presence in the Grand Cañon of the masked outlaw band.

If recognized as Sergeant Wallace Weston, under sentence of death, he
would be at once arrested and his execution would follow.

But he knew that Wallace Weston was believed to be dead, reported as
dying of starvation in the desert at the time of his escape.

As Sergeant Weston he had been an erect man of martial bearing, with a
face smoothly shaven and hair cut short. As Andrew Seldon he wore his
hair long, and his beard fell half-way down to his belt, while he
further had a pair of spectacles to disguise his eyes with, and had
manufactured a hump in the shoulders of his coat that gave him a changed
form, like one who stoops badly.

"But come what may, I shall risk it," he said firmly, as he went on his
way.

After his night in the deserted camp where was the grave of Black-heart
Bill he struck out for Fort Faraway. Suddenly he drew his horse to a
halt as he saw a dust-cloud far ahead. It was approaching him, and it
was made by horses crossing a sandy part of the country.

Out of the dust suddenly emerged a horseman, and behind him followed a
pack-animal.

Hidden in a clump of timber Andrew Seldon saw that it was a white man,
and that the trail he was following would bring him near his position.

"I believe that it is Buffalo Bill," he muttered, as he saw that the
horseman was clad in buckskin and wore his hair long. But as he came
nearer he said eagerly:

"It is the surgeon-scout--Doctor Frank Powell!"

The coming horseman eyed the timber carefully as he approached.
Something had evidently made him suspicious of danger there, and,
turning to the left, he was about to flank it, when Andrew Seldon rode
into view and waved his hat.

Then he rode forward once more, but cautiously, for the chances were
that the man he saw might be a foe, he well knew.

But Andrew Seldon raised his hands above his head, in token of peace,
and Surgeon Powell rode straight toward him.

"I dare not let him know who I am, though I would trust him, Heaven
knows. He knows me as well as any man, and I'll see how I stand the test
of his piercing eyes," muttered the gold-hunter, and, as the
surgeon-scout drew nearer, he called out:

"Are you Buffalo Bill, sir?"

"No, I am Surgeon Frank Powell, of the army."

"I see now, sir, that you are not Buffalo Bill, for I met him once when
he was in a tight place with road-agents. Are you from Fort Faraway,
sir?"

"I am."

"I was on my way there to see Buffalo Bill, when I saw you coming, sir."

"And I am on my way to seek Buffalo Bill, for I have an appointment to
meet him not many miles from here at a deserted camp, where there is a
grave."

"I know it well, sir, for I made the grave, and I stopped there last
night."

"You made what grave?"

"The grave of Black-heart Bill, the desperado, who is buried there."

"You killed him, you mean?"

"I did, sir, for he had wronged me greatly."

"Who are you, may I ask?"

"My name is Andrew Seldon, sir, and I am a miner."

"It seems to me that Buffalo Bill has spoken to me of you, in fact, I am
sure of it now, for you it was who saved him from Headlight Joe and his
outlaws."

"Yes, sir."

"But Cody believes you to be dead."

"How so, sir?"

"He wished to find you, so tracked you into the Grand Cañon, to find
your house buried beneath a fallen cliff, and he thought you were
beneath it all."

"No, sir, I escaped; but as you are going to seek Buffalo Bill may I
join you?"

"You may join me, Mr. Seldon, and I shall be glad to have your
company," said Surgeon Powell, as he rode along by the side of the
gold-hunter.

"I will be your guide to the deserted camp, sir; but do you expect to
find Mr. Cody there?"

"I hope so, but should he not be I shall await him."

"I am glad to hear you say that, sir, for I am most anxious to see him,
and I will tell you why."

"If you care to."

"I know your secret, Surgeon Powell, and am delighted to feel that I
will have your aid as well as Buffalo Bill's in what I wish to do."

"And what do you wish to do, Mr. Seldon?"

"I will have to ask you to keep my secret, sir."

"I will do so."

"Well, Surgeon Powell, I am a miner, and I strolled into the Grand Cañon
of the Colorado in my prospecting tours, and there discovered several
rich gold claims. On my way there it was that I came upon a camp, and in
it I found an unfortunate fellow who was wounded, yet bound securely.

"He had gone out in search of gold with a desperado by the name of
Black-heart Bill, and, finding gold, the other sought to rob him of it,
so shot him. Failing to find it, he was anxious to have his victim
recover and show him where it was, intending then to kill him.

"It was while Black-heart Bill was away from his camp that I came to it,
and I heard his victim's story. Upon the return of the man I recognized
him as an old foe of mine, one to whom, with others, I owed a wicked
life.

"I forced him to fight me a duel, and he fell. I buried him and cut his
name on the quaking aspen near his grave, and then, nursing the wounded
man to life, we went to his gold find. It did not pan out very rich, so
I went to one I knew of, down in the Grand Cañon.

"While I was away at W---- to get provisions, my partner heard the cliff
cracking, and so moved away, up the cañon to another mine we had. He was
just in time to save his life, for the cliff fell, and Buffalo Bill was
in the valley that night with a comrade and heard the terrific roar of
the falling cliff.

"They believed that my comrade and myself were buried beneath the
mountain of rock, but we were gazing at them the while and watched them
ride away. Some time after I found that others had come into the cañon,
and I discovered that it was a camp of outlaws, while more still, I saw
that they had a female captive.

"I crept near enough at night to hear and see all, and I saw a young and
beautiful girl, and the outlaw lieutenant held her a captive for his
chief, until a large ransom was paid for her by the miners of Last
Chance.

"I at once decided to act, and, having seen them start with her to give
her up for ransom, I came on my way to find Buffalo Bill and guide him
to the retreat of the outlaws. That young girl, sir, gave the name of
Celeste Seldon. She is my daughter.

"Now, Surgeon Powell, you have my story, and my comrade is in my camp,
awaiting my return!"

Frank Powell was greatly impressed with the story of the gold-hunter, to
which he had listened with the deepest attention. After he had heard all
he said:

"My dear pard, you have made a very valuable discovery indeed, and
Buffalo Bill will be only too glad to have you guide him to the outlaw
camp, for that is his mission and mine here. I sincerely hope that your
daughter will be given up in safety to the miners, and that her ransom
will be recovered."

"She will be given up in safety, sir, I am certain, for I have perfect
confidence in the outlaw lieutenant, who told his story to Celeste, and
I only ask that he may not share the fate of the other outlaws," and the
gold-hunter made known what had occurred between Wolf and Celeste, and
Doctor Powell replied:

"I agree with you, and if he acts squarely toward Miss Seldon, I will
urge that he be allowed to go free, when his comrades are to hang."



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

A LEAF FROM THE PAST.


When the surgeon-scout was guided to the deserted camp by Andrew Seldon,
he at once saw that Buffalo Bill had not reached there. But there he was
to wait for him, and so the horses were staked out and the two made
themselves at home there.

Doctor Powell went to have a look at the grave of Black-heart Bill, and
the inscription upon the white bark of the aspen-tree, and said, as he
read the name:

"Hugh Mayhew was his name."

"Yes, sir."

"There was a Sergeant Manton Mayhew killed at Fort Faraway by Sergeant
Wallace Weston, who was sentenced to be shot for the deed, but escaped
the very moment of his execution."

"Was he never captured, sir?"

"Poor fellow, he went to an even worse fate than being shot, for he
wandered into the desert and died of starvation there. I knew that he
was guilty of killing Manton Mayhew, but I am sure he had some grave
reason for so doing, but which he would never make known.

"He was a splendid soldier, brave and true, and he would have been
commissioned had not that sad affair occurred."

"Did he give no reason for his act, sir?"

"None; he simply accepted his fate, though it was said to clear himself
he would have had to compromise others, and this he would not do."

"Poor fellow!"

"Yes, I often think of his sad fate."

An antelope was killed that afternoon, and after enjoying a good supper
the surgeon and the gold-hunter lighted their pipes and sat down for a
talk, both anxiously awaiting the coming of Buffalo Bill.

After sitting in silence for some minutes the gold-hunter said:

"Surgeon Powell, you were speaking of Wallace Weston to-day?"

"Yes."

"You may have noted that the name of Mayhew is upon yonder aspen-tree?"

"And referred to the fact."

"I put it there."

"Yes."

"Then I knew who Black-heart Bill was."

"That is so. I had not thought of that."

"He was the brother of Manton Mayhew, the sergeant."

"Indeed!"

"Yes, sir."

"You knew Sergeant Mayhew, then?"

"Intimately, for we were boys together."

"Ah! tell me of him."

"We lived near each other, sir, and Manton Mayhew was my rival at
school, and also for the love of a pretty girl whom I idolized. He did
all in his power to ruin me, and when I obtained a position in a bank,
where he also was a clerk, he did wreck my life, for I was accused of
robbery, and worse still, of murdering the watchman, who caught me in
the act.

"I would surely have been hanged but for the girl I spoke of, who forced
me to fly for my life, aiding me to escape. I fled, to prove my
innocence, and became a wanderer.

"Then I received a letter from the woman I loved, telling me that she
had discovered that I really was a thief and a murderer, and that she
abhorred where she had loved me.

"And more, when, in my despair I wrote to one who had been my friend to
hear from home, I was told that Manton Mayhew had been the means of
ruining my father financially, and the blow had driven him to suicide,
while my poor mother, heart-broken, had died soon after my flight.

"Nor was this all, for Hugh Mayhew, the brother of Manton, had married
the girl I had loved.

"Several years after other news came to me from my old home, and to the
effect that Manton Mayhew had gone to the bad and in a drunken brawl had
wounded a companion fatally as he had believed, and he had fled no one
knew where.

"His brother Hugh had wrecked his father's bank, and in a drunken frenzy
had shot his wife one night, and he, too, had become a fugitive. Well,
to end the story quickly, for I hate to dwell upon it, Manton Mayhew had
joined the army, and, a good soldier, had become a sergeant."

"Ordered to Fort Faraway he had met there Sergeant Weston, whom he
recognized, and, fearing to be exposed in his crimes, he had at once
attacked him, telling him he would kill him, and say that it was on
account of his insubordination.

"But Wallace Weston was armed, having just been given a revolver by an
officer to take to his quarters, and he killed Mayhew as he was about to
drive a knife to his heart.

"Rather than bring out the old story, and, perhaps, be carried back East
to be tried for the murder of the bank watchman, of which he was
innocent, Sergeant Wallace Weston submitted in silence to his trial and
accepted his fate, feeling that his life was one of despair."

"And do you know all this to be as you have stated?" asked Surgeon
Powell, when the gold-hunter had finished his story.

"I do, sir."

"Knowing it, you did not come to the rescue of poor Weston?"

"I did not, sir."

"May I ask why?" and Frank Powell spoke sternly.

"I will tell you the reason, Surgeon Powell, if you will pledge me your
word to receive it in sacred confidence."

"I will so pledge myself, Mr. Seldon."

"Because, sir, _I am Wallace Weston_."

Frank Powell was always a calm, cool man, but now he sprang to his feet,
dropping his pipe, and cried:

"Do you speak the truth?"

"I do, sir."

"Upon honor?"

"Yes."

"Now I recognize the look that has so haunted me since I met you this
morning. Upon my soul, Weston, I am glad to see that you are not dead,
that you can clear up the story of Mayhew's killing and announce
yourself once more a guiltless man."

"But I cannot, sir, for you forget that I am accused of murdering the
watchman and robbing the bank."

"Is there no way in which you can disprove that?"

"Only by the confession of the guilty ones."

"Who were they?"

"The Mayhews, and one other."

"They were guilty?"

"Yes, sir."

"And who was the other man?"

"A clerk in the bank and devoted friend of the Mayhews."

"Where is he?"

"I do not know, sir."

"And they are dead."

"Manton and Hugh Mayhew are dead, by my hand, but where proof of their
crime can be found I cannot tell, and so I am forced to hide under an
assumed name--yes, Doctor Powell, the name of a dead man, Andrew Seldon,
the one whose body was found by the rock in the desert and buried for
mine."

"You have had a remarkable escape, Weston----"

"Seldon now sir, for that is the name I have taken, and let me now tell
you how that poor man, the real Andrew Seldon, was plotted against."

"I shall be glad to hear all that you are willing to tell me, Seldon."

"Well, sir, it was while escaping from the pursuing soldiers, that I
came upon a stray horse. He led me back to where his dead master lay
upon the desert, and upon the body I found papers telling who he was,
that he had left home under a cloud, had left a wife and child and
riches, and come West to hide himself and hunt for gold until he dared
return.

"There was a map of gold finds he had discovered, and he had struck it
rich and was on his way home. So I dressed him in my uniform, took his
traps, and went my way, and he was buried as Wallace Weston.

"It was when I was returning to the gold find of Andrew Seldon that I
came upon Black-heart Bill's camp, and, finding in him Hugh Mayhew, I
killed him. My intention was to take Andrew Seldon's name, dig his gold,
and, to ease my conscience, give half to his family.

"I imitated his writing and wrote to his lawyer and best friend, and
little daughter, for his wife was dead, as letters told me which he had
with him. In answer, at W---- I learned that I, as Andrew Seldon, dared
not return home, that my daughter Celeste was dead, and my fortune gone.

"When Celeste Seldon was captured, from her own lips I learned as she
told the outlaw lieutenant, that all had been a plot to keep her father
away, and, discovering the plot, she had come out here to find him,
after the messenger had failed to write home to her later than on his
arrival in W----.

"Now, you know, Doctor Powell, why I was seeking Buffalo Bill, and it is
my intention to seek that young girl, tell her all, and give her
one-half of the fortune in gold I have found, through her father's maps
and directions, in the Grand Cañon."

"And then?"

"I suppose I shall drift about the world, sir, unknown, leading an
aimless life, or, perhaps, return to my gold-digging again."

"No, Weston, such must not be your fate, for I shall take your case in
hand and prove your innocence of robbing that bank and killing the
watchman, for I believe your story, and then with Sergeant Mayhew's
character proven, you can readily secure pardon for taking his life as
you did in self-defense."

"Heaven bless you, Surgeon Powell!"

"I only make one request, Weston."

"Yes, sir."

"That Buffalo Bill hears your story as I have, for he believes in your
innocence most thoroughly, and will be most happy to welcome you back to
life."

"I will be guided by you, sir, but some one is coming."

"It is Buffalo Bill," cried Frank Powell, and just then the scout rode
into the camp.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

THE OUTLAW'S CONFESSION.


When Buffalo Bill went on his way down into the Grand Cañon, he
continued on until he discovered just where the outlaws had made their
retreat. This done, he retraced his way as rapidly as possible, and at
once went back on the trail to where he had left his horse.

The sun was just setting as he neared the spot, and he approached
carefully, for he was not sure that some one had not been there and
discovered the animal.

Just as he caught sight of his horse he also saw that there was some one
there, a horseman who had just ridden up to the spot.

The face of the horseman was masked, and this told the story in an
instant.

But Buffalo Bill had been also discovered, and up to the outlaw's
shoulder went his rifle, at the same instant that the weapon of the
scout was leveled.

The two rifles cracked almost as one, and the outlaw reeled, tried to
spur his horse in flight, and fell to the ground. The scout at once
advanced toward him, revolver in hand, when in faint voice came the
words:

"Don't fire again! Your shot is fatal!"

The scout put his revolver in his belt, bent over and took the mask from
the face of the wounded man, his horse following him to the spot.

The face revealed was not a bad one--that of a man of thirty, with
mustache, imperial, and hair worn long.

The scout made him as comfortable as he could, for he saw that he had
told the truth, that the wound he had received was fatal.

Then he sat by the side of the wounded man for a while, the light of a
full moon falling full in his face, and the scout heard him say:

"I am glad that I missed you, for I have done evil enough in my time."

"Who are you?" kindly asked the scout.

"My name is Alvin Wolf, and I had just resolved to lead a different
life, for I am an outlaw, one of the masked chief's band."

"Yes, I thought as much."

"I changed my life when I met a young girl who was the chief's captive,
and I intended to thwart his plans to again capture her, for we gave her
up for ransom two days ago, and, acting for him, I received the gold.

"He gave me a written order to take the gold to a spot near Last Chance,
and turn it over to him, which I did last night, for he met me there,
and then he arranged to get a large ransom for a poor crazy fellow, the
lover of the young girl, I believe, and so I had decided to act to
protect her; but you can do so now, for I will tell you all, and then I
can die content."

"Yes, it is best to die with a free conscience."

"I believe you, and more, I will tell you of one whom I helped to ruin
in life, though he is dead now. He was a soldier at Fort Faraway, and
his name was Wallace Weston.

"We were boys together, though he was older than I, and I was led into
temptation by others, the Mayhew brothers, and we robbed the bank we
were working in, were discovered by the watchman, and Manton Mayhew
killed him, and we had so planned that the robbery would fall upon the
assistant cashier, Wallace Weston.

"He fled, for we intended to hang him by our testimony, and then Hugh
Mayhew forged letters and caused his sweetheart to believe him guilty,
and she married him, Mayhew, to in the end lose her life at his hands.

"Manton Mayhew always swore to me that he would kill Weston if he ever
met him, and he said he had heard he was in the army, and so I suppose,
when they met at Fort Faraway, he attempted to do so, and was killed
himself.

"Poor Weston did not dare tell of the past, so had to suffer; but you
can make the real truth known to clear his name, for I have it all
written out as it is in my diary, which I have always carried with me
and will now give to you."

"I am glad to learn all this; but let me ask you about your outlaw
band?"

"Yes."

"How many are in it?"

"Nine, without counting the chief."

"Your retreat is in the Grand Cañon."

"You know this?"

"I do."

"Yes, our retreat is there."

"And your chief?"

The outlaw did not reply, and a shudder passed through his frame.

The scout spoke again, and, leaning over, he heard a few whispered words
from the dying lips which a moment after were sealed forever by death.



CHAPTER XL.

TEARING OFF THE MASK.


When Buffalo Bill rode into the camp where Surgeon Powell and the
gold-hunter sat, it was seen that he was leading two horses, one
carrying a pack-saddle, the other a heavy load.

The surgeon-scout at once arose and greeted him, and said:

"Ho, Bill, what game is that?"

"A dead outlaw, the lieutenant of the band, whom I killed. But you are
not alone, Frank?"

"No, it is your old rescuer, who was on his way to the fort to see you,
when he met me. He was going to tell you that the outlaws have their
retreat in the Grand Cañon."

"I have been to it; but how are you, Pard Seldon, and let me say that I
have good news for you, as your daughter has come West to meet you and
is now at Last Chance."

"Thank you, Mr. Cody, but I am aware of that fact, as Surgeon Powell
can tell you; but come, look me squarely in the face, and see if you
know who I am."

Buffalo Bill gave a fixed look, and then cried excitedly:

"By the gods of war, _you are Wallace Weston or his ghost_."

"I am a very healthy ghost, sir; but I am Wallace Weston, and I leave it
to Surgeon Powell to tell my story to you."

The scout seized the gold-hunter's hand and wrung it hard, while he
said:

"Thank God you are not dead, Weston, for only this night have I heard
the truth of your story from the lips of the dying outlaw, Alvin Wolf."

"Ha! once my friend, then my foe, for he sided with the Mayhews against
me."

"He did, and I have his diary, which tells the whole story; but now let
me tell mine, and then we can compare notes and decide what is best to
be done."

They first had supper, after staking out their horses, and afterward
buried the body of the outlaw, Alvin Wolf.

Then, until after midnight, they sat talking together, the surgeon, the
scout, and the gold-hunter, about all that had happened, after which
they retired to their blankets.

It was just dawn the next morning when Wallace Weston rode away from the
old camp to make all speed to Last Chance. His mission there was to take
a letter to Driver Harding, which was as follows:

     "Trust the bearer with your life. Pick out eight of the
     best men in the camp, whom you can trust, and have them
     pretend to start for W---- on business, going in your
     coach.

     "See that no one else goes. Have two leaders that are
     good saddle-horses, and smuggle into the coach seven
     saddles.

     "I will meet you at Dead Line with horses, and prepare
     to lose your leaders then, for four horses can readily
     pull your empty coach on to W----.

     "Your men must be the best, and fully armed.

     "The bearer will bring your answer to me."

     "Yours, B. B."

Pushing rapidly on, Wallace Weston arrived in Last Chance that night and
at once sought out Harding. Giving him his letter, he received his
answer, after the two had had a talk together, and then, mounted upon a
fresh horse furnished him by the driver, he started upon his return,
having attracted no particular attention.

It was the next day that the coach rolled out for W---- and it carried
eight miners as passengers. Arriving at Dead Line, it was met there by
Buffalo Bill, Surgeon Powell, and Wallace Weston, and the eight miners
joined them and went up to the scout's basin camp.

Then, with the two leaders taken from Harding's coach, they had, with
Wolf's horses and the pack-animals, enough to mount the party.

The next morning the start was made for the Grand Cañon, and the descent
was made on foot in the darkness of night, the horses having been left
on the rim.

The party were led by Wallace Weston, who knew the trail perfectly, and
at midnight they rushed in upon the outlaw camp, giving them a complete
surprise.

Revolvers rattled, cries of alarm and pain were heard, cheers were
given, and then silence reigned supreme, for the battle was won and four
outlaws had been made prisoners--the rest were killed.

One miner had been killed, and others wounded, though slightly, and
these were cared for by Doctor Powell.

In the camp the prisoner, Bernard Brandon, was found safe, but still
unconscious of all about him, apparently.

Wallace Weston had asked Buffalo Bill and Surgeon Powell to go on with
him to his camp, and there they found Lucas Langley on guard, he having
heard the echoes of the firing far down the cañon, and supposed that it
meant an attack planned by his pard.

Without letting the secret be known, that there was gold in the cañon,
Buffalo Bill ordered an early start for Last Chance, and it was made by
all except Lucas Langley, who remained at his cabin to await Weston's
return.

Upon nearing Last Chance Buffalo Bill halted the party, to follow on a
few hours later, while he rode on with Surgeon Powell and Wallace
Weston.

The scout was recognized by the miners and warmly greeted, and, as he
dismounted at the hotel and was welcomed by Landlord Larry and Harding,
who had returned, Doctor Dick came forward and said:

"Delighted to see you, Mr. Cody, again in Last Chance."

"Yes, Doctor Dick, I am here to find Richard Mayhew, alias Doctor Dick,
and, more still, the masked chief of the road-agents--hold! you are
covered!"

But Doctor Dick saw that all was lost, saw that the rope would be his
end, and, in spite of the warning of the scout, he drew his revolver.

But ere his finger touched the trigger he fell, a dead man, at the feet
of Buffalo Bill, Celeste Seldon having come forward just in time to see
him fall his length upon the earth.

To the excited miners Buffalo Bill turned and made a speech, for he had
killed their hero, the idol of Last Chance.

He told them how the mask of the gambler had been torn off, by the
confession of the outlaw Lieutenant Alvin Wolf, and how he had had his
suspicions aroused, as had also Landlord Larry and Harding, by several
things that had occurred.

The whole story was made known, and, as the rest of the party came in,
bearing the booty of the outlaws and the prisoners, and in Doctor Dick's
cabin was found the very bag of gold that had been given for Celeste
Seldon's ransom, and the money before taken from the coach, there was no
doubting his guilt, and a howl of rage arose against him and his
followers.

Later, while Buffalo Bill, Surgeon Powell, Wallace Weston, and Landlord
Larry were at Celeste Seldon's cabin, telling her the true story
regarding her father, the storm broke in fury, and Harding rushed in to
say that the miners had seized the outlaw prisoners and were hanging
them.

An attempted rescue was made by Surgeon Powell and Buffalo Bill, but in
vain; that mob would not, could not, be stayed in its madness, and the
work of revenge was accomplished.

The next day, as Surgeon Powell had said that the reason of Bernard
Brandon could be restored by an operation, Celeste begged him to make
the attempt, and, to the joy of all, it was crowned with perfect
success.

With his reason once on its throne, and learning all that had taken
place, Bernard Brandon told how he had been the young partner of Lawyer
Edgar Stone, who had kept his friend, Andrew Seldon, away from home by
false letters, had written him that Celeste was dead, intending in the
end to marry her and get the large fortune for himself, for the estate
had greatly increased in value since the departure of its owner.

He had at last decided to go to Celeste and confess all, and, learning
that he had done so, Edgar Stone had fled to save imprisonment.

In atonement Bernard Brandon had come West to find Andrew Seldon, and,
not hearing from him, Celeste had followed him.

Bernard Brandon hoped that his atonement might win the heart of Celeste,
but instead she dismissed him with liberal payment and placed herself
under the guardianship of Wallace Weston, who had taken her father's
name.

Bidding adieu to their pards at Last Chance, after sending Harding to
the Grand Cañon to join Lucas Langley at the mine, Wallace Weston went
East with Celeste, and going to his old home, he told the whole story of
his life, and submitted letters from Doctor Powell, Buffalo Bill, and
the diary of the outlaw officer as proof of his innocence, so that the
charges against him were at once ended by legal process.

Armed with proper papers, he presented himself before the President and
received his pardon, after which, with Celeste Seldon as Mrs. Wallace
Weston, he went to Fort Faraway and received a welcome from all his old
officers and comrades that made his heart glad.

As the mines in the Grand Cañon had ceased panning out as expected,
Wallace Weston gave up his interest there to Lucas Langley and Harding,
and returned East with his beautiful wife.


THE END.


"Buffalo Bill's Death Call" is the title of a weirdly thrilling series
of adventures of the famous scout and his band in No. 42 of the BUFFALO
BILL BORDER STORIES. No admirer of Colonel Cody and his exploits can
afford to miss a volume of this series.



History of the World War

_By Thomas R. Best_


The most portentous crisis in the history of the human family has just
passed. The World War was conceived in greed and will be consummated in
justice. It will prove a blessing to mankind, because it spells
emancipation to countless unborn generations from enslaving political
and social evils. It is a big subject and one that will be discussed in
every household for many years to come. Questions will arise that only a
clear, concise account of the war in handy form can settle.

Therefore, we ask you to consider =History of the World War= by Thomas
R. Best which has been written from the American standpoint. It is
purely history--not vituperation. This volume has a chronology of
important events that will prove of inestimable reference value.

=Price 25 Cents=

_If ordered by mail add four cents to cover cost of postage_


STREET & SMITH CORPORATION
79 Seventh Avenue    New York City



=What Makes a Superwoman?=

=Beauty?=         =No!=
=Daintiness?=     =No!=
=Wit?=            =No!=
=Youth?=          =No!=
=Femininity?=     =No!=


=Seek the Superwoman=

You will find her in almost every generation, in almost every country,
in almost every city. She is not a typical adventuress, she is not a
genius. The reason for her strong power is occult. The nameless charm is
found as often in homely, clumsy, dull, old masculine women as in the
reverse of these types.


=What Makes a Superwoman?=

If you think the problem worth while, why not try to solve it by reading
Albert Payson Terhune's great book, SUPERWOMEN? From Cleopatra to Lady
Hamilton--they are mighty interesting characters. Some of them smashed
thrones, some of them were content with wholesale heart smashing. You
will know their secret, or rather their secrets, for seldom did two of
them follow the same plan of campaign.

We have prepared a very handsome, special, limited edition of the book,
worthy of a place on your "best book" shelf. If you subscribe to
AINSLEE'S MAGAZINE now you can purchase it for 50¢. Send us a money
order for $2.50 and receive SUPERWOMEN postpaid, and, in addition, over
1900 pages of splendid fiction throughout the coming year. AINSLEE'S
MAGAZINE is the best and smartest purely fiction magazine published. You
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availing yourself of this offer. Send check or money order or, if you
remit in cash, do not fail to register the envelope. Act now!


The Ainslee Magazine Company
79 Seventh Avenue    New York City



More Machinery


That's what we needed to fill the demand for the S. & S. novels. You
see, we were somewhat restricted in our output by the War Industries
Board, with whose ruling we gladly complied for patriotic reasons. While
the restrictions were on we used up pretty nearly all of our surplus
stock so that when we were no longer under orders from the Government,
we found ourselves with a lot of orders and very little stock.

We have just about caught up now, thanks to some new machinery we have
installed which turns out paper-covered books very fast.

Therefore, you can get a very good assortment of the S. & S. novels from
your news dealer, including the famous Horatio Alger books.

That boy you know will be mighty glad to have you make him a present of
one or two of the Alger books. Ask your dealer for a list of the titles.

Here are some good ones that we published within the past two months:


=The Backwoods Boy=        =No. 77=
=Tom Temple's Career=      =No. 78=
=Ben Bruce=                =No. 79=
=The Young Musician=       =No. 80=
=The Telegraph Boy=        =No. 81=


If the above are ordered from the publishers, 4¢ must be added to the
retail price of each copy to cover postage.

STREET & SMITH CORPORATION
79 Seventh Avenue,    New York City



We Need Your O. K.


We must have it. We really cannot do business without it. If money's
worth, cleanliness, and quality of interest meet with your approval, you
are sure to "O. K." the S. & S. novels.

There are some fifteen hundred titles in print in our lines, among which
are the famous BERTHA CLAY books. There are some 125 of these in our
present list. We give you the titles of a few exceptionally interesting
ones. You won't make any mistake buying one or more of these titles in
the NEW BERTHA CLAY LIBRARY:

=For Life and Love=             =No. 93=
=How Will It End?=              =No. 94=
=Love's Warfare=                =No. 95=
=The Burden of a Secret=        =No. 96=
=Griselda=                      =No. 97=
=A Woman's Witchery=            =No. 98=
=An Ideal Love=                 =No. 99=
=Lady Marchmont's Widowhood=    =No. 100=
=The Romance of a Young Girl=   =No. 101=
=The Price of a Bride=          =No. 102=

If the above are ordered from the publishers, 4¢ must be added to the
retail price of each copy to cover postage.


STREET & SMITH CORPORATION
79 Seventh Avenue,    New York City



Your Eyes Would Open

if you could see how we print and bind the S. & S. novels. They start as
rolls of blank paper, and are turned out by the thousands, without a
hand touching them.

You have heard wonderful stories about machines that turn out loaves of
bread and crackers by the ton, all crisp and brown and ready to eat, but
you have not heard anything about the machines that turn out
paper-covered books all ready to read. We have them, however, and that
is why we can sell such books as those in the NEW ROMANCE LIBRARY.

This library is a veritable storehouse of good literature. There are
love stories and mystery stories and stories of occult phenomena--each
one a good, big generous money's worth. Tell your news dealer you want
No. 49 NEW ROMANCE LIBRARY, "The Wreck of the _Grosvenor_", by W. Clark
Russell. If he cannot supply you, send us    in stamps and we will send
it to you postpaid. When you get it, you can confidently settle yourself
down for two or three evenings of the best reading you ever had.

If the above are ordered from the publishers, 4¢ must be added to the
retail price of each copy to cover postage.


STREET & SMITH CORPORATION
79 Seventh Avenue,    New York City



Buffalo Bill Border Stories


This line will be devoted exclusively to stories written by Colonel
Prentiss Ingraham about his lifelong friend Buffalo Bill. These two men
were inseparable companions, and Colonel Ingraham is therefore well
qualified to write stories of the adventures of the old-time scout and
plainsman. These stories are destined to be immensely popular, because
they are drawn true to life. They bring the open plains right to the
reader's front door, as it were.

The fact that these stories are historically correct gives them a very
secure place in American literature. Manifestly, no history was ever
written that could give space in such detail to the adventures of a
single man, no matter how important his life's work may have been; it
really takes a line of so-called fiction to do it, and we can honestly
say that the stories in this line do justice to the interesting
character of Buffalo Bill.

BUFFALO BILL BORDER STORIES are not for boys; they were written
expressly for adults.

1--Buffalo Bill, the Border King           By Col. Prentiss Ingraham
2--Buffalo Bill's Raid                     By Col. Prentiss Ingraham
3--Buffalo Bill's Bravery                  By Col. Prentiss Ingraham
4--Buffalo Bill's Trump Card               By Col. Prentiss Ingraham
5--Buffalo Bill's Pledge                   By Col. Prentiss Ingraham
6--Buffalo Bill's Vengeance                By Col. Prentiss Ingraham
7--Buffalo Bill's Iron Grip                By Col. Prentiss Ingraham
8--Buffalo Bill's Capture                  By Col. Prentiss Ingraham
9--Buffalo Bill's Danger Line              By Col. Prentiss Ingraham
10--Buffalo Bill's Comrades                By Col. Prentiss Ingraham
11--Buffalo Bill's Reckoning               By Col. Prentiss Ingraham
12--Buffalo Bill's Warning                 By Col. Prentiss Ingraham
13--Buffalo Bill at Bay                    By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
14--Buffalo Bill's Buckskin Pards.         By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
15--Buffalo Bill's Brand                   By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
16--Buffalo Bill's Honor                   By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
17--Buffalo Bill's Phantom Hunt            By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
18--Buffalo Bill's Fight With Fire         By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
19--Buffalo Bill's Danite Trail            By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
20--Buffalo Bill's Ranch Riders            By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
21--Buffalo Bill's Death Trail             By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
22--Buffalo Bill's Trackers                By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
23--Buffalo Bill's Mid-air Flight          By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
24--Buffalo Bill, Ambassador               By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
25--Buffalo Bill's Air Voyage              By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
26--Buffalo Bill's Secret Mission          By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
27--Buffalo Bill's Long Trail              By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
28--Buffalo Bill Against Odds              By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
29--Buffalo Bill's Hot Chase               By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
30--Buffalo Bill's Redskin Ally            By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
31--Buffalo Bill's Treasure Trove          By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
32--Buffalo Bill's Hidden Foes             By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
33--Buffalo Bill's Crack Shot              By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
34--Buffalo Bill's Close Call              By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
35--Buffalo Bill's Double Surprise         By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
36--Buffalo Bill's Ambush                  By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
37--Buffalo Bill's Outlaw Hunt             By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
38--Buffalo Bill's Border Duel             By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
39--Buffalo Bill's Bid for Fame            By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
40--Buffalo Bill's Triumph                 By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
41--Buffalo Bill's Spy Trailer             By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
42--Buffalo Bill's Death Call              By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
43--Buffalo Bill's Body Guard              By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
44--Buffalo Bill's Still Hunt              By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
45--Buffalo Bill and the Doomed Dozen      By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
46--Buffalo Bill's Prairie Scout           By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
47--Buffalo Bill's Traitor Guide           By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
48--Buffalo Bill's Bonanza                 By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham



Transcriber's Note: Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.
The advertisement for Buffalo Bill's Border Stories has been moved from
the front of the book to the back.





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