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Title: Carl The Trailer
Author: Castlemon, Harry
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Carl The Trailer" ***

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[Transcribers’ notes are placed after the text.]



[Illustration: CARL DISCOVERS THE INDIAN HORSE THIEVES.]



                                 CARL

                              THE TRAILER

                                  BY

                            HARRY CASTLEMON

       AUTHOR OF “THE GUNBOAT SERIES,” “ROCKY MOUNTAIN SERIES,”
                          “WAR SERIES,” ETC.

                       THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO.,

                             PHILADELPHIA,
                           CHICAGO, TORONTO.



                          COPYRIGHT, 1899, BY
                         HENRY T. COATES & CO.



CONTENTS.


 CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
       I. GETTING READY FOR THE HUNT,                                 1
      II. CARL, THE TRAILER,                                         14
     III. THE GHOST DANCE,                                           27
      IV. THE SOLITARY HORSEMAN,                                     40
       V. REINFORCEMENTS,                                            53
      VI. DISPATCHES,                                                65
     VII. GOING IN,                                                  78
    VIII. COMING OUT,                                                91
      IX. STILL IN THE SADDLE,                                      104
       X. THE SQUAWMAN’S PROPOSITION,                               116
      XI. THE INDIAN POLICEMAN,                                     129
     XII. MORE COURIERS,                                            142
    XIII. THE END OF SITTING BULL,                                  155
    XIV. AN INTERVIEW IN THE WOODS,                                 170
     XV. FIVE YEARS BEFORE,                                         182
    XVI. WHAT CLAUDE KNEW,                                          195
   XVII. THE PLAN DISCUSSED,                                        207
  XVIII. “THEY’RE IN THE OFFICE!”                                   220
    XIX. A TALK WITH HIS UNCLE,                                     233
     XX. A NEW PLAN,                                                245
    XXI. THE TRIP TO ST. LOUIS,                                     258
   XXII. A SURPRISE,                                                270
  XXIII. CLAUDE VISITS THE POOL ROOM,                               285
   XXIV. A HARD FIGHT,                                              298
    XXV. A BLOW FOR NOTHING,                                        310
   XXVI. THE NEW SCOUT,                                             323
  XXVII. OFF TO THE FRONT,                                          329
 XXVIII. GETTING READY FOR THE FIGHT,                               342
   XXIX. THE BATTLE OF WOUNDED KNEE,                                354
    XXX. OFF FOR HOME,                                              367
   XXXI. CONCLUSION,                                                381



 List of Illustrations


 Illustration                                                      Page
 Carl discovers the Indian horse thieves.                 _frontispiece_
 Carl captured by the squawman.                                     118
 The Robbers foiled.                                                234
 All their labor for nothing.                                       308



                          CARL, THE TRAILER.



CHAPTER I.

GETTING READY FOR THE HUNT.


“So you are nearly out of fresh meat, are you? Do your men get that way
often?”

“Yes, sir. These Pawnee scouts can’t eat like white men. When they have
any fresh meat on hand they eat all they can, and when it is gone they
look to us for more.”

“Well, I suppose I shall have to send an officer out after some. I
think I will try Lieutenant Parker. He has been a pretty good young
officer since he has been out here, and perhaps it will do him some
good to get a little exercise. Orderly, send Parker here.”

This conversation took place between Col. Dodge, the commander of
a small fort situated on the outskirts of the Standing Rock Agency,
and his commissary, who had come in to report the condition of the
garrison in regard to supplies. There was plenty of everything except
fresh meat, and their Pawnee scouts were already grumbling over their
diminished supply. Their commander must send out and get some more.
Game of all kinds was abundant a short distance back in the mountains,
but it was a little dangerous to send a body of troops out there.
Something out of the usual order of things had happened within a few
miles of Fort Scott, and there was every indication that Sitting
Bull, who had settled down at Standing Rock Agency since he came from
Canada, was trying to set his braves against the whites and drive them
from the country. The thing which started this trouble was the Ghost
Dance—something more of which we shall hear further on.

The orderly disappeared, and presently a quick step sounded in the
hall, the door opened, and Lieutenant Parker entered.

It was no wonder that this young officer had proved himself a good
soldier, for he came from West Point, and it was plain that he could
not be otherwise. To begin with, he was handsome above most men of his
rank, with a well-knit figure, and eyes that looked straight into your
own when he was speaking to you. He stood among the first five in his
class, and upon graduation received his appointment to the —th Cavalry
at Fort Scott. Of course he found army life dull, compared with the
life he had led at the Point, but that made no difference to him. If he
lived he would in process of time become a major-general, and that was
what he was working for. He first saluted the colonel, then removed his
cap and waited for him to speak.

“Well, Parker, you find this army life slow, don’t you?” said he.

“Sometimes, sir,” said the lieutenant with a smile. “One does not get
much chance to stir around.”

“You know the reason for it, I suppose?”

“Yes, sir. Sitting Bull is going to make trouble.”

“He has not made any trouble yet, and I propose to send you out in the
presence of all his warriors.”

“Very good, sir,” replied Parker.

Most young officers would have opened their eyes when they heard this,
but it did not seem to affect Lieutenant Parker one way or the other.
He knew his commander had some good reason for it, and with that he was
satisfied.

“Yes,” continued the colonel, “I propose to give you command of a dozen
men, including a sergeant, two corporals, two wagons and a guide, and
send you into the mountains after some fresh meat. We got some only a
little while ago, but the Pawnee scouts have eaten it all up.”

Lieutenant Parker grew interested at once. He was a pretty fair shot
for a boy of his age, and had brought his Winchester from the States,
together with a fine horse that his father had given him; but he put
his rifle upon some pegs in his room, and there it had remained ever
since he had been at the fort. He looked at it once in a while and said
to his room-mate:

“That Winchester can rust itself out before I will have a chance to use
it. I was in hopes I should have a chance to try it on a buffalo before
this time.”

“It seems to me that you have not read the papers very closely,” said
Lieutenant Randolph, “or you would have found out that the buffalo have
all but disappeared. There is only one small herd left, and they are in
Yellowstone Park, where they are protected by law.”

“But there are antelope on the plains,” said Parker.

“Yes, and maybe you will have a chance at them by the time old Sitting
Bull gets over his antics. It won’t do for a small company of men to go
out on the plains now. The Sioux are too active.”

“Well, the colonel knows best,” said Parker with a sigh. “I have asked
him twice to let me go out but he has always refused me, and now I
shall not ask him again.”

But now the colonel seemed to have thought better of it, and was going
to send him out to try his skill on some of the big game that was
always to be found in the foothills. He was delighted to hear it, and
his delight showed itself in his face.

“Do you think you can get some meat for us?” asked the colonel with a
smile. “You appear to think that you are going to have an easy time of
it.”

“No, sir; I suppose we shall have a hard time in getting what we want;
but if you can give me a guide who will show me where the game is, I
believe I will have some for you when I come back.”

“How will Carl, the Trailer, do you?”

“I don’t know, sir. I have often seen him about the fort, but have
never spoken to him.”

“We will put two boys at the head of the expedition, and see how they
will come out with the captain who went out two weeks ago,” said the
colonel, turning to his commissary. “Sit down, Parker. Orderly, tell
Carl, the Trailer, that I want to see him.”

The orderly opened the door and went out, and Lieutenant Parker took
the chair toward which the colonel waved his hand. While they were
waiting for the guide the officer proceeded to give his subordinate
some instructions in regard to the way he was to conduct himself in
case the Sioux molested him. Of course he could not expect, with the
few men that the colonel was going to give him, to stand against the
whole body of the Sioux, but he could run, holding a tight rein in
the meantime, until he came to a clear spot free from gullies and
underbrush, and there he could dismount his command and make the best
fight possible. If he wasn’t back at the fort in a week a company would
be sent out to look for him; but suppose he was found dead and scalped?
Lieutenant Parker thought of this, but his ardor did not abate in the
least. He had come out on the plains to take just such risks as this,
and he supposed that it was the orders every young officer received
when he was about to encounter the Indians for the first time. But he
did not believe that the Sioux were going to get after him. They had
enough to do with the Ghost Dance to prevent them paying attention to
anything else.

“But I hope they will keep clear of you until you come back,” said the
colonel. “The first thing you do, go to work and fill up one of those
wagons with game and send it to the fort with six men, commanded by the
corporal. He knows the way and won’t get lost. After that, you stay
with the other six men until you fill up the other wagon, and then come
home yourself.”

Just then another step was heard in the hall, and the door opened to
admit Carl, the Trailer. Parker told himself that he was glad that Carl
was going with him as guide, for he would have opportunity to talk to
him, and perhaps he might find out where he got that curious name.

Carl was young in years—he did not look to be a day older than
Lieutenant Parker—and the years of toil and hardship he had seen on
the plains, if indeed he had seen any of them, did not mar his face as
they had that of older scouts. He was as straight as an arrow, bore a
frank and honest face, and his blue eyes, as he turned them from one
to another of the occupants of the room, did not express the least
surprise that he had been called upon to go on a dangerous mission. He
supposed that the colonel wished to send him to Standing Rock Agency
with dispatches, and he was ready to take them. It was something that
he had frequently been called upon to do, and he had always returned
in safety. He did not look like a plainsman, for he was dressed in a
suit of moleskin, as fine a pair of boots as money could buy, and a
sombrero, which he removed as he entered the room.

“Here I am, colonel,” said he cheerily, “and all ready to go on to Fort
Yates, if necessary. What do you want of me?”

“Are you acquainted with Lieutenant Parker?” asked the colonel in reply.

“I have seen him, but I don’t know him,” answered the guide.

“Well, here he is. Lieutenant, this is Carl, the Trailer, the name by
which you will probably know him, but his name is Preston.”

The lieutenant got up from his chair and extended his hand to the
guide, but was not very well pleased with the reception he met. Carl
took his hand, gave it a little squeeze and dropped it, and then turned
his face toward the colonel and waited for him to go on and explain
what he wanted done. There were two things about it, Lieutenant Parker
told himself: Carl was not favorably impressed with his appearance;
and, furthermore, he could not have been raised in that country all his
life, for he used as fine language as he did himself.

“Carl, I want you to guide twelve men to the foothills and get some
fresh meat for us,” continued the colonel.

At this the guide turned again and gave the lieutenant a good looking
over. It seemed to be the first time that he had taken a fair view
of him. He surveyed him all over, from his boots to his head, gazed
straight into his eyes for a moment, and then turned his attention to
the colonel again.

“Do you think the lieutenant will do?” asked the officer.

“Oh, yes; provided a grizzly don’t get after him and tear him up,”
replied the guide with indifference.

“But you must not let a grizzly do that. If you start now you can
easily reach Lost River, can’t you? Very well. You may get ready,
and the commissary will find the wagons and mules for you and twelve
hunters. Be sure you pick out the best shots in the command.”

The commissary and the guide went out, and Parker was alone with the
colonel. The officer looked into the lieutenant’s face as he took
his chair again, and could not repress a smile at the expression of
disappointment he saw there.

“Well, Parker, what do you think of Carl, the Trailer?” he asked.

“I think more of him than he does of me, sir,” replied the lieutenant.
“He doesn’t hold me in very high estimation as a hunter.”

“Neither do I,” said the colonel.

Parker did not know what reply to make to this. He looked at the
colonel, and then his gaze wandered down to the floor.

“You must do something to prove yourself a good shot and a man who
can bag game every time he sees it,” continued the officer. “Do your
part of the work faithfully, and I warrant he will come back with a
different opinion of you.”

“But, colonel, that fellow was never born and raised in this country.”

“What makes you say that? On account of his language? He was born in
this country, about forty miles from here. His father was a Harvard
graduate.”

“Oh, that accounts for it, sir. Has this Carl, the Trailer, ever been
to school?”

“Never a day in his life. He despised school and everything connected
with it, and longed for horses, guns and excitement. I guess he has
seen plenty of it. His father died about two years ago, and he left his
ranch in charge of a foreman and has been on duty at this post ever
since.”

“He does not dress at all like a plainsman, sir.”

“Oh, Carl is rich. I don’t suppose he knows how many cattle there are,
running loose on the plains, that bear his brand. But if all reports
are true he is not going to be allowed to keep his money for a great
while. There are some fellows about here who wouldn’t be any too sorry
to see him deliver up his life, for then the property would come into
their possession. But he bears a charmed existence in spite of all they
can do. I guess I have told you everything I could think of, and you
may as well get ready and go on. Remember, I want you to fill up one of
the wagons at once and send it to me in command of a corporal. I shall
look for you to come back in safety at the end of a week, if you don’t
get all the game you want before that time, and I shall expect to hear
a good account of you.”

The colonel arose to his feet, and the lieutenant, taking this as a
hint that he wanted the interview brought to a close, shook hands with
him and hurried out.



CHAPTER II.

CARL, THE TRAILER.


At the door Lieutenant Parker found the officer who was acting as
commissary of the post waiting for him.

“I have not picked out your men yet,” said he. “I didn’t know but you
had some men in your own company you would be glad to have along with
you.”

“I have indeed,” said the lieutenant. “I would be obliged to you if you
would let Sergeant Leeds go with the hunters to take command of them.
As for the two corporals, Mason and Smith will do as well as anybody.
As for the hunters——”

He thought for a moment, and then named over twelve of the best shots
in the company whom he would like to have with him, and then hastened
off to get his hunting equipments together and to saddle his horse,
for be it known that it was against the law for an officer to hire an
enlisted man to take care of his stock. He was obliged to act as his
own servant or his work would not be done. He ran into his own room,
where Lieutenant Randolph was lying on the bed reading a novel, and
began taking his Winchester down from the pegs on which it had hung for
so long a time.

“Come here, old fellow,” said he gleefully. “We are going to see what
you can do now. If you don’t shoot everything you are pointed at——”

“Has the colonel given you permission to go hunting?” asked the
lieutenant in surprise.

“Yes, sir. He sent for me on purpose to tell me to go to the foothills
and shoot some big game for the post,” said Parker. “I guess those
Pawnee gluttons must be pretty nearly out.”

“Now I don’t see why it is that I don’t get an invitation to go on
such an expedition as this,” said Lieutenant Randolph, flinging his
book across the room and stretching himself out with his hands under
his head. “I have always tried to be a good and loyal soldier of the
Republic——”

“Always?” said Parker, with a sly look at his companion. “When you
appeared on dress parade with your horse’s legs covered with dust, and
your necktie all adrift instead of being tied up as it ought to be, did
you think you were setting a proper example to the men?”

“But the colonel did not say anything about it.”

“No, but the captain did, and of course the colonel knew it. The
captain gave you something of a blessing, too, judging by the looks
your face wore when you came into this room.”

Lieutenant Randolph did not say anything, for he knew it was all true.
They were just as strict in the army where there were no visitors to
see them as they were at West Point. He had come out there to join
the —th Cavalry at the same time Parker did, and his room-mate ranked
him just about five minutes; that is, Parker’s appointment was signed
before Randolph’s was. But the same habits that clung to him at West
Point followed him here. He was just a moment too late for everything,
and the colonel thought that keeping him in while the other officers
were allowed privileges would in time cure him of his bad habits.
He lay on his bed and watched Parker while he filled his belt with
cartridges and hastily put some extra clothes into a small valise which
he intended to take with him, and then he went out to saddle his horse.

By the time Lieutenant Parker emerged from the stable the expedition
was ready to start. The drivers were in their seats on the wagons, and
the twelve hunters, with Sergeant Leeds at their head, were waiting
for him. Carl, the Trailer, was there, superbly mounted, and when
Lieutenant Parker led his horse up, he surveyed the animal with rather
a critical eye. The conclusion he came to was not very favorable to
Parker’s Kentucky thoroughbred. He said to himself that if the two
horses were ever put into a race he was sure that his own mustang would
win every time.

Parker’s rifle and valise were on the porch, and it did not take
him long to deposit them in one of the wagons; then he saluted his
superiors, several of whom had gathered on the steps beside the
colonel to witness his departure, kissed his hand to some of the
second lieutenants, and swung himself into the saddle. “Forward!” said
the sergeant, and in a few minutes more the little train had passed
through the gate and wended its way toward the foothills, which lay all
of thirty miles away. Then Parker turned his attention to Carl, the
Trailer, who rode by his side in the rear of the wagons.

If he was an object worthy of admiration to Lieutenant Parker while he
was afoot, he demanded extra admiration now that he was on horseback.
His sombrero sat jauntily over his long, curly hair, his Winchester
was confined by a strap at his back, leaving his hands, which were
protected by gauntlet gloves, free to manage his horse, and the face
he turned toward Lieutenant Parker was as handsome as a girl’s. The
two boys looked at each other in silence for a moment, and then the
lieutenant said:

“You seem rather young to go on an expedition like this.”

“And so do you,” returned Carl. “When the colonel sent for me I had
made up my mind to do something desperate. I was sure he was going to
send me to Fort Yates with dispatches; but when I found that he was
going to send me out after game—why, I thought he would send a man with
me; that’s all.”

“Then I don’t suppose I shall fill the bill,” said Parker, modestly. “I
lack some years yet of being a man. What do you expect me to do while
you fellows are hunting?”

“Oh, you will loaf around the camp bossing the job, eat more than your
share of the grub, and when we get back to the fort you will brag as
loudly as though you had done something. If we should accidentally kill
a bear, you would appropriate the hide and proudly exhibit it as your
own. That is the way the young officers always do.”

“Then you have had some experience with them?”

“Certainly. I remember shooting a bull elk while out once with a
second lieutenant, who offered me twenty-five dollars if I would say
that he killed the elk himself. You know the man. You have seen him
every day.”

“I cannot think who you refer to, for I don’t know of any officer who
has got a pair of antlers in his room.”

“Oh, he has sent them home.”

“Then I am glad I don’t know him, and I shall make no effort to find
him out.”

Carl, the Trailer, looked at Parker with a smile of disbelief on his
face.

“I mean it,” said the lieutenant earnestly. “I should not care to
associate with any man who could tell a lie like that.”

“Maybe the colonel knows it, and that was the reason he selected you to
command this expedition.”

“I don’t know why he selected me unless it was because I have always
tried to do my duty. This is his way of telling a young officer that he
is satisfied with him. Would you mind telling me how you came by your
odd name—Carl, the Trailer?” added Parker, who was anxious to change
the subject of the conversation.

“It was nothing at all, only just because I happened to do my business
as I ought to have done it,” said Carl, “although I felt proud of it at
the time I did it.”

With this he threw his leg over the pommel of his saddle, produced a
well-worn brier-root from his pocket, and proceeded to fill up for a
smoke. When he had got his pipe fairly lighted he went on with his
story something in this way:

It all happened a few years ago, when Carl was, as he considered
himself, a little boy. He was the only scout at the fort, and it became
necessary to send some dispatches to Fort Belknap. The fort was just on
the outskirts of the Comanche country, and they were pretty hostile,
and felt exceedingly vindictive toward anybody with white blood in
their veins. Carl did not know much about the country, having never
been down there but once, but he knew how to trail Indians. In fact, he
could not remember the time when he couldn’t do it. On the way he fell
in with a troop of soldiers who were out punishing the savages for some
outrage they had committed on the settlers, and as they were journeying
toward the fort he kept company with them, and he never regretted it
but once in his life. The company were all green; not even the officers
had ever been out after Indians before, and Carl did not know why it
was that the Indians did not make an assault upon them. The Indians
were all around them; they could not help but see them, for they were
on the summit of high swells looking at the troops, and at night they
took extra pains to make a camp where they thought no Indians could
surprise them.

Carl interrupted himself right here to say that if there was anybody
on earth who could beat a Comanche in stealing horses, he had yet to
hear of him. He would go inside a camp that was double guarded, get
away with the best horse that could be found, and nobody would be the
wiser for it until morning, by which time the Comanche would be so far
away, and cover up his trail no nicely, that pursuit was impossible.
When the time came for the soldiers to go to bed, he brought his horse
in from the stable-lines and made his lariat fast to his wrist. Then he
would go to sleep, knowing that if any Indians came about, his horse
would be certain to awaken him. They always had extra sentries out, and
Carl felt perfectly safe.

One night, after the guide had been with the soldiers about three or
four days, he was awakened about twelve o’clock by a terrible hubbub in
camp. He started up and grabbed his lariat, and found that his horse
was safe; but that was more than a dozen men could tell, all owning
the best stock, too. A good many men had followed his example and tied
their horses fast to them, but every one of them found his lariat cut
and his horse gone. Of course those Comanches must be overtaken and
punished for stealing their horses, but it seemed that Carl was the
only one in camp who knew how to follow the trail. The commanding
officer did not know it until he told him. When daylight came half
the soldiers were out examining the trails, and they all led away in
different directions.

“It is of no use, men,” said the captain. “The trails branch out every
which way, and those of us who have lost our horses will have to go to
the fort on foot.”

That was the time for Carl to make known one of his accomplishments.

“Captain,” said he, “I can lead the men in three days to the place
where these trails will all come together again.”

The captain looked at him in surprise, and during that time he surveyed
him from head to foot. No doubt he thought that, for one of his years,
he was talking a little too big; but after thinking a moment he ordered
breakfast got ready and told the guide to go ahead.

“You say you have lived on the plains all your life,” said he. “Then
you must have seen Indian trails before. Be sure you don’t disappoint
me now.”

Breakfast over, the cavalcade started, and for the first fifty miles
Carl never followed a single trail. He kept right ahead toward a
prominent butte that could be seen in the distance, and the captain,
although he did not put much faith in him, allowed him to do as he
pleased. The soldiers camped that night—and a sorry camp it was, too;
they had no fire to cook their grub by, and, worse than all, the boys
had to do without a smoke—and about nine o’clock the next morning the
guide found first one trail and then another, until he counted the
tracks of a dozen shod horses. Carl looked at the captain, who reached
over and shook hands with him.

“You see he was green,” said Carl in an attempt to shield the captain.
“He learned something during the time he was out with me, and when I
came to go with him a second time he did not ask any help. He could
follow the trail himself.”

“In two days from now, if nothing happens to prevent, you will have the
satisfaction of shooting at the Indians who stole your horses,” said
the guide.

A little before dark, while they were riding swiftly along a rocky
trail that here ran through a gorge, Carl looked down and happened
to see something that brought him to a standstill. He dismounted,
and found that the dirt had been thrown up and stones placed upon it
to hide it from curious eyes. He threw aside the stones and began
investigating with his sheath knife, the soldiers all standing around
and wondering what he was looking for. A few prods with the knife, and
Carl unearthed the horseshoes which had been removed by the Indians so
that they could not be followed so easily.

“This beats me,” said the captain. “How did you know that the shoes
were there?”

“I just saw it,” answered the guide. “When one is following a trail he
must keep his eyes about him. I don’t suppose you know that there is an
Indian watching us over the summit of that swell, do you?”

The captain was profoundly amazed. He looked in every direction except
the right one, but could see nothing.



CHAPTER III.

THE GHOST DANCE.


While the guide was engaged in tossing out the shoes so that the
soldiers could examine them he kept his eyes busy, and finally
discovered something that fastened his gaze. It looked like a tuft of
grass on the top of a swell, but as Carl looked at it he saw it move
just a trifle. He was as certain as he wanted to be that there was an
Indian behind that grass. He was watching the soldiers, and he had
pulled up that grass to conceal the movements of his head.

“You are joking, ain’t you?” said the captain.

“I don’t joke in a case like this,” said the guide. “There is an Indian
up there, and he wants to see what we are going to do.”

Carl pointed out the object that drew his attention, and the captain
brought his binoculars to bear upon it. After gazing at it for a long
time he said:

“I see some grass up there.”

“That’s grass, but there is a Comanche not far off. My advice would
be to turn around and ride the other way as though we had missed the
trail, and hide behind some of these swells until that tuft of grass
goes away. That will give them confidence in themselves, and as soon as
it comes dark we’ll take the trail again.”

“You don’t suppose you can follow this trail in the night-time, do you?”

“I can try,” said the guide, modestly.

Very reluctantly the captain gave the order to turn about, and in the
course of an hour they got behind one of the swells, out of sight. Then
the guide told the captain that if he would go back with him he would
show him something. The officer left the command behind the swells, and
after a long and toilsome creep up the hill they took off their hats
and Carl made a hole in the grass for him to see through.

“I see that tuft of grass yet,” said the captain, looking through his
binoculars.

“So do I; but if you watch it for a few minutes you will see it go
away.”

They watched that swell for more than half an hour, and then the tuft
of grass was laid aside, and the Indian showed his head and breast
above the hill. He held that position for five or ten minutes, and then
jumped to his feet and ran out of sight. The captain was much amazed
to learn how easily Carl had picked out some grass that sheltered an
Indian, and declared that if the guide had not been with him he never
would have seen those Comanches again. They made their camp there
behind the swell, eating hardtack and raw pork for want of a fire to
cook by, and shortly after dark started on the trail again. At midnight
the men stopped to rest, and Carl set out with a single soldier to hunt
up the Indians’ camp. Of course it was miserable going, with rocks and
trees to impede their progress, but finally they came to the end of the
gorge, and there Carl smelled smoke. The Indian camp was around there
somewhere, so the guide left the soldier and went on ahead.

“I tell you there is no fun in creeping up on an Indian camp in the
dead of night when you don’t know how many savages there are watching
you,” said Carl, once more interrupting himself in his story. “I made
out that there were just three Indians in the lot——”

“How did you make that out?” said Lieutenant Parker.

“They had to dismount when they went into camp, didn’t they?” asked
Carl. “That was the time I counted them. I found three moccasin tracks
of different sizes, and that’s the way I found out how many of them
there were.”

“Three Indians go into a camp of—how many men did you say you had?”

“About sixty, I reckon.”

“The idea of three Indians going into a camp of sixty soldiers and
stealing a dozen horses!” said Parker, in surprise. “They must have
been horse-thieves indeed.”

“Oh, I can tell you worse things than that,” said Carl. “Yes; the
three savages went into that camp and stole a dozen horses, and now
we were close onto them. When I reached a point a little farther on I
came to an open space in the gully, and there I saw their camp fire. I
took just one look at it, and then turned and went back. Of course the
camp was alive after they found that I had located the Indians. Three
or four men were left to care for the horses, and the rest of us crept
forward to make the attack. The captain would not listen to my advice
in regard to surrounding the camp, but when he arrived within sight of
it he was going to make a rush, and kill or capture the Indians right
there. That settled one thing in my mind. The captain may have been a
brave man, but he was going to find an empty camp when they charged
upon it; but I said nothing. If he had a mind to ride two hundred miles
to turn the Indians loose, it was nothing to me.”

Carl then proceeded with his story. In the course of time they
arrived within sight of the fire, and then with a fierce yell the men
bounded to their feet and rushed upon the camp. For himself, Carl did
nothing. He just waited to find the Comanches, but he did not hear
anybody shoot. After a time he walked up and found the soldiers rushing
frantically about looking for the redskins; but the last one of them
had skipped out.

“Where have they gone?” asked the captain.

“They ran when they heard you getting ready to charge,” said the guide.
“You did pretty well during the pursuit, but you are no man to fight
Indians. You have got your horses, but you will have to look somewhere
else to find the Comanches.”

The captain was astonished and mortified beyond measure, as Carl knew
he would be if he attempted to capture the Indians in that way, but he
had but little to say. He sent a couple of men down after the horses he
had left in the ravine, and ordered the soldiers to go into camp. It
was good to feel the fire once more, for the nights were getting cold,
and to get some pork that they did not have to devour raw.

“But how did you get the name of The Trailer?” asked Parker, when his
companion knocked the ashes from his pipe.

“Well, you see the soldiers belonging to that troop were mostly new to
the business. It was the first time they had ever been on a scout, and
the way I followed the trail was something marvellous to them. Some of
them had friends in Fort Scott, and when I went back I took a lot of
mail for them. Of course they had something to say about their scout
after the Comanches, and I came in for a share of the praise. Some one
spoke of me as Carl, the Trailer, and I have been known by that name
ever since.”

“Now, if you have got all through with that story, I want to ask you
about something else,” said Lieutenant Parker. “Do you know anything
about the Ghost Dance? Some people in the East think it is a myth, a
new religion that has been taken up by a few fanatics, but which will
fade away by the time the white folks quit noticing it.”

“I know all about it,” answered Carl, “fully as much as the Indians
themselves know. If the people down East think it is a myth, they want
to go among the Sioux at the present time. They will think there is a
dread reality in it before they have been there very long.”

“It was gotten up for the sake of going to war with the whites, I
suppose?”

“No, it was not. It was gotten up by Wovoka, better known as the
Cutter. He was a Piute Indian, and lived on the borders of the Mason
Valley, which is a long way from here. The time he discovered the new
religion was once when ‘the sun died’ and he was taken up into the
other world.”

“What in the name of sense is the meaning of that?” asked Parker.

“I will tell you how I account for it. About that time the Cutter,
as I shall call him, was taken very ill with a fever, and some of the
ranchmen attended him. You see he was very well known by the farmers,
used to work for them, and so when he was sick they did all they could
for him. While he was on what everybody supposed to be his deathbed the
eclipse of the sun took place, and that is an event that is regarded
with horror by all primitive people. The Indians hold that the sun
is a living being, and that some monster is trying to devour it; and
the noise and hubbub which they create to frighten this monster away,
such as firing off guns, blowing upon horns and yelling, is enough to
drive one crazy. The excitement and alarm, acting upon a mind and body
already enfeebled by disease, resulted in delirium, during which time
he was taken up into the other world. Between 1884 and 1890 there was
one eclipse which was total in Nevada; that was in 1889. Ever since
that, the Cutter has been subject to cataleptic fits; and I suppose you
know what they are.”

Lieutenant Parker listened to Carl in silent admiration. Here was a boy
who had never been to school a day in his life, and yet knew more about
some things than he did. He began to look upon him with a great deal of
respect.

“Yes, I know what catalepsis is,” said Lieutenant Parker. “It is
a sudden suspension of sensation and volition, the body and limbs
preserving whatever position may be given them. For example, you put
the hand up, and it stays there till you put it down; or you put the
foot up, and it remains there.”

It was now Carl’s turn to look in surprise toward the lieutenant.
There was something in West Point after all, if it taught their young
officers such things.

“And when he came to himself I suppose he was all ready for war,”
continued Parker.

“No, he wasn’t. The Cutter is a peaceful man; he has never been seen on
the warpath; when he came back to this earth he was more for peace than
he ever was. He told his people that they must send their children to
school and cultivate the ways of the white man as nearly as they could.
They must all love one another and stop fighting.”

“The Sioux don’t take it that way,” said Parker.

“I will come to the Sioux after awhile,” said Carl. “Of course such a
tale as that speedily spread to all the tribes round about. The Piutes
gave it to the ones nearest them, and in less than a year it was spread
all over the plains. It even got to Washington, and the Department
sent out a man to inquire into it. I might have gone with that man as
well as not, but I was like the majority of our people out here. We
heard of the new religion and laughed at it; but it seems that there
was something in it. Wovoka did not claim to be the Messiah, but he
did claim to be a dreamer. But an Indian never does anything without a
dance, and he taught them this thing which has since developed into the
Ghost Dance. To render his visit more binding he gave the Washington
man a cloak of rabbit skins, some piñon nuts, some tail feathers of the
magpie, and a quantity of red paint, which they were to mix with red
paint of their own and put on whenever they engaged in the Ghost Dance.”

“Well, what is the doctrine of the Ghost Dance, anyway?” asked
Lieutenant Parker.

“The doctrine is that the time will come when the whole Indian race,
living and dead, will reunite upon the earth and live a life of
happiness, free from death, disease and misery.”

“But their game is all gone,” said Parker.

“They can’t live the same as they did before.”

“Their game is going to come back. During one of his fits the Cutter
caught a glimpse of an immense crowd of warriors coming toward the
earth driving before them a lot of animals—buffalo, deer, elk and
ponies. But the Great Spirit—that is the Messiah—turned them back, for
he said the proper time had not yet come.”

“And the Sioux think this can only come by extinction of the whites?”
inquired Parker.

“The whites must be rooted out before the time arrives. They are going
to keep up this Ghost Dance to help the matter along. I am almost to
the Sioux now.”

“I beg your pardon,” said Lieutenant Parker. “I will not interrupt you
again, but I want to get at the truth of the matter.”

“This is just what I want you to do. I want you to see that, while
this new religion came upon the earth as a gospel of peace, it has
taken such a hold of the Sioux that it means war. Whether or not the
men they sent out to investigate the matter lied to them I don’t know;
but if this thing is not put a stop to right away, we are going to have
an outbreak as sure as you are born. If all the Sioux look upon it as
do those six hundred men that go with Sitting Bull and Red Cloud, we
shall have a war here that will do your heart good.”

“How many men can the Sioux raise if they all go to war at once?”
inquired Parker.

“Probably five thousand men; and we can bring about three thousand to
oppose them.”

“How many people does the Sioux nation number altogether?”

“About twenty thousand.”

As Carl said this he brought out his tobacco-bag and filled up for
another smoke.



CHAPTER IV.

THE SOLITARY HORSEMAN.


“This man, although he was an officer sent out from Washington to look
into the matter, did many things to help this trouble along, but he did
not know it at the time,” continued Carl, after drawing a few vigorous
pulls at his pipe to make sure that the tobacco was well started. “When
he came back he went among the Arapahoes and Cheyennes, because he had
some friends among them, and he wanted to set their minds at rest. He
told them what Wovoka, the Cutter, had said to him, claiming that he
was not the Messiah but one who had seen him, and gave them some of
the piñon nuts to eat. You haven’t seen any of those piñon nuts around
here, have you?”

“No, I haven’t,” said Parker.

“Well, out in the country where the Piute Indians live they are used
every day for food; and yet those Arapahoes and Cheyennes received
them as if they came from the hands of the Messiah himself. Those
Indians were anxious to touch this man by the hand and lay hold of
his clothes, believing that if they but touched the Cutter some good
would come to them. When the man went East to make his report to
Washington, the Arapahoes and Cheyennes sent some prominent men to
investigate for themselves. They were gone all winter, and brought back
some queer stories that this man had not told them, because he did not
know anything about them. Finally the Sioux got hold of it, and became
excited at once. They seemed to think it was what they had so long been
waiting for—a summons to go to war and wipe the whites off the face of
the earth. They, too, sent out some men, and they brought back some
other strange stories. One thing the Cutter told them was, that if they
got weary with their journey—Wovoka lives all of a thousand miles from
here—they had but to call upon the Great Spirit, and he would set them
miles ahead on their route. Another thing was, that if they killed a
buffalo on their journey they were to take everything except the tail
and hoofs, and that after they got out of sight the buffalo would come
to life again.”

Lieutenant Parker laughed loudly when he heard it.

“The idea,” he exclaimed. “To think that twenty thousand people could
be fooled in that way! After a buffalo is dead he is _dead_, and
nothing can bring him to life again.”

“Well, I don’t know that the Indian is so much to blame for that,” said
Carl, looking down at the horn of his saddle. “You know how susceptible
the savage is to superstition. All his life he has been planning and
thinking about getting rid of the whites. We are his evil genius; and
if we could be driven out of the country everything would go along
as smoothly as it did before. One of their agents, in making out his
report to Washington, has twelve different counts against our people.”

“What have we done to the Sioux?” demanded Parker, opening his eyes in
surprise.

“Take, for instance, a supply of goods which ought to have been here
by August but did not get here until midwinter,” said Carl in reply. “I
guess that was enough to set a more patient people than the Sioux on
the warpath. A good many of them starved to death in spite of all the
army could do to prevent it. I tell you, you would find it mighty hard
to be loyal to a Government that could deliberately go back on you in
that way.”

“Why, Carl, I did not know you were such an Indian lover,” said
Lieutenant Parker.

“I am an Indian lover in this way: I say they have been abused, and
shamefully, too. When the Black Hills were given up to them, they
were assured that they should belong to them and their heirs forever.
Everything went on smoothly until gold was discovered there, and from
that time the trouble began. Custer was sent through that country, not
with any instructions to turn the settlers out, but just to examine the
spot; and the consequence was that in less than a year the Black Hills
were overrun with prospectors.”

“Well, the Indians were in our way,” said Lieutenant Parker. “If they
had behaved themselves——”

“Yes, and seen their buffaloes all killed before their eyes. I tell
you, lieutenant, you don’t know what a buffalo is to an Indian. It
furnishes him with everything he needs, including skins for his tepee,
robes to keep him warm in midwinter and sinews for sewing his clothes
together. A white man kills them just to make a record. Sometimes he
takes their tails home to hang up in his study and sometimes he don’t.
There are but few buffaloes left, and they are in Yellowstone Park. I
hope the Government will take a hand in protecting them.”

Lieutenant Parker could not say a word against this, for he knew it
was all true. He knew how he would feel if some people stronger than
his own should follow him year after year, take his land away from him,
and destroy the only means he had of making a living. He had never
looked at it in this way before. He supposed that the redskins were
born with a natural enmity against the whites, and that nothing could
turn them from a desire to take vengeance on them. He did not know that
he blamed the Indian so much, after all.

“When the Sioux Indians who had been sent away to inquire into the
matter came back,” continued Carl, “they brought with them the news
that they had seen the Messiah himself, that they had talked with him,
and that when the proper time came he was going to help the Indians,
and not the whites.”

“That shows that they meant to get up a war,” said Parker, forgetting,
so deeply was he interested in the story, that he had promised not to
interrupt any more.

“It certainly looks that way. The Sioux said he would be here by the
time the grass was green in the spring; but, in order to speed his
coming, they must engage in a dance which was to last five days.”

“That accounts for the exhaustion that some of the dancers experience.
They go on until they are completely played out and then swoon from the
effects of it.”

“That is my idea exactly,” said the guide. “A great many people who
have witnessed the dance lay it to hypnotism. Now, what does that mean?”

“I don’t know that I can tell you,” said Parker, after thinking a
moment. “It is a certain form of sleep, brought on by artificial means,
in which there is a suspension of certain bodily powers and unusual
activity of others. That is as near as I can get at it. And when they
come back to earth again—I don’t know whether they lie or not—they tell
big stories of what they have seen in the spirit land.”

“And they are going to keep it up until we go to war with them,” said
Carl earnestly. “You see they have got their homes to fight for, and
when the time comes for the Indians to take possession of this country,
all the whites and tribes who do not believe as they do will be
overwhelmed by a flood; but the believers, those who did the dancing,
will escape by fleeing to the tops of the mountains.”

“And Sitting Bull is to blame for that?”

“Yes—and Red Cloud. They are as strongly in favor of the dance as
anyone they have got under them, and they are keeping it up in defiance
of all the army officers can say and do against it. They are very sly;
they talk only in their own language, although some say that Sitting
Bull can sign his name in English; but I don’t believe it. Nobody can
get at anything an Indian does, and when this outbreak comes, it will
come like an avalanche.”

“All you have said is news to me,” said Lieutenant Parker thoughtfully.
“I believe that the Ghost Dance is not a myth; but, as you say, it will
lead to something else.”

The lieutenant grew uneasy after that, and wished his companion would
offer some advice about watching over the men in his little train;
but he did not act as if there was an Indian within a thousand miles
of him. Carl knew all about the plains and those who inhabited them,
and when he began to be uneasy it would be time enough for him to do
something; but he thought it would be worth while to ask some counsel
on the subject.

“You said that this outbreak would come before we are aware of it,”
said he. “How do you know that it will not come on us who are out
hunting?”

“There is little danger of that, unless some Indian saw us when we
left the fort or will run against some of us while we are away from
the camp. This country all belongs to them, and it would be right and
proper that we should be wiped out.”

Of course Lieutenant Parker did not feel any easier for asking his
guide to express an opinion on the situation. He did not show it in his
face, but he felt the cold chills run all over him.

“I don’t know that he talked that way in order to frighten me,” thought
Parker, “but I hope that we shall not see any Indians while we are
gone. I would not know how to act.”

The hunters did not stop when they reached Lost River, but drove past
a camp which those who had gone before them had made during their hunt
in the foothills. The sergeant did not halt at that camp, for he wanted
a “fresh spot” in which to pass the night. Half a mile farther on he
found a place that suited him, and there he stopped his men and rode
back to Lieutenant Parker, who had been riding behind the wagons all
the way.

“Will this place suit you, sir?” said he, with his hand to his cap.

The lieutenant dismounted from his horse, ran his eye up and down
the river, and said the place selected for the camp would answer
the purpose. He directed the sergeant to detail some of the men to
clear away the underbrush, the others to take care of the horses and
pitch the tents, while he and Carl removed their saddles and seated
themselves at the foot of the nearest tree to have their talk out. The
tents were pitched, one for himself and Carl and the other for the men,
and one of the soldiers proceeded to wash his hands and begin to get
supper.

But we don’t propose to spend much time with their supper or with the
hunts that came off during the week following. We have set out to write
about the Ghost Dance and the various incidents connected with it, and
so the hunting will have to do for another story. It will be enough
to say that the party was successful beyond its hopes; that one wagon
was loaded in two days and sent to the fort under the command of a
corporal, that they killed more than one bear, and that the lieutenant
fairly shot himself into the good graces of Carl, the Trailer. In fact
his marksmanship rather surprised himself, he had been so long out of
practice. He either shot his game dead, or it did not run over fifty
yards before it was found. Carl began to treat the lieutenant with more
courtesy than he had previously shown him.

But at length the week for which they had come out drew to a close, and
they began making preparations to return to the fort. When they were
ready to start, Carl, who had been behaving rather strangely of late,
keeping his Winchester with him all the while and walking around the
camp when he supposed everyone else was asleep, drew up beside Parker,
who was riding in his usual place behind the wagon.

“Have you seen any signs of Indians lately?” he asked.

“Nary sign,” replied Parker, “and I looked closely, too.”

“Well, I saw some,” replied the guide in a quiet way which made the
lieutenant open his eyes. “I saw the print of an Indian’s foot by the
side of that stream that we were hunting upon a few days ago, and I
know that they have been loafing around our camp ever since.”

“Why did you not tell me of it?” asked Parker with some heat.

“What good would it have done? You were having a good time during our
hunt, and I did not want to say anything to take away your pleasure.
Besides, they were too small a party to attack us, if they had any such
thought in mind, and were only watching us to see where we went. It is
my belief that we shall see some more of them before we reach the fort.”

Lieutenant Parker was profoundly astonished. The idea that his guide
should see Indian signs and say nothing to him about it was something
he had never dreamed of. It was not treating him right as commander
of the expedition. He did not want to say anything more to him, and
Carl, as if guessing the way his thoughts ran, relapsed into silence
and rode on without saying a word; but he kept his eyes open, and
carefully scanned the top of every swell they passed. Lieutenant Parker
did likewise, for somehow he could not get over the thought that was
uppermost in the mind of the guide “that they would be sure to see more
of the Indians before they reached the fort.” Sergeant Leeds was an
old soldier, and was constantly on the lookout for suspicious signs;
consequently he was not at all alarmed when he discovered a solitary
savage, on the top of a neighboring hill, closely watching all their
movements. He took one look at him, and then reined in his horse to
wait until his superior came up.

“There’s a Sioux up there, sir,” said he, “and he seems to be more
interested in our movements than we are ourselves.”

Lieutenant Parker had thus far ridden with his hands in his pockets,
but when he pulled them out to take up the reins he found that they
trembled in spite of himself.



CHAPTER V.

REINFORCEMENTS.


Lieutenant Parker, accompanied by his guide, rode up to the head of
the line, where he could get a good view of the Indian. His face was
very pale—he knew it as well as if he had glanced into a mirror to see
it—and he looked at the savage through his binoculars. He thought of
Lieutenant Kidder, who, with the thirteen men composing his expedition,
had been completely annihilated by these same Indians, and wondered if
destiny had the same fate in store for himself. The Indian was alone,
but that was no proof that his band might not be on the opposite side
of the swell, waiting to see what the result of his investigation was
going to be. He was dressed in war costume. On his head was a bonnet
gaudily ornamented with feathers which trailed and fluttered behind
him, and he held a gun of some description in his hands. As Parker
looked at him he dismounted from his horse, held his gun up so that the
hunters could see it, and laid it upon the ground.

“He is disarming himself,” said the lieutenant.

“That is a sign that he wants to speak to you,” said Carl.

“Well, I don’t want to speak to him. If he comes any nearer to us I
shall send him back.”

The expedition had not halted at all during this time, but kept
straight ahead, as though the way was perfectly clear. Having disarmed
himself, the Indian mounted his horse and rode down the hill to meet
the hunters.

“There are Sioux on both our flanks,” said the guide after a little
pause.

“So there are,” said Lieutenant Parker, casting a hasty glance on both
sides of him. “Keep your eyes open, Carl, and the first move they make
let me know it. That Indian has come close enough.”

The lieutenant raised his hand and made a signal to halt and go back,
just as a boy who is playing “I spy” does to a comrade whose interest
it is to keep out of sight. The Indian stopped and made other signs
which Parker did not understand; but the Indian understood the signal
to halt, however, and when it was repeated with more energy than usual,
he turned his horse and rode back to the top of the swell. Parker
glanced at his men, and was gratified to see that every one had put
away his pipe and held his carbine in readiness for use. It certainly
looked as though there was going to be a fight. He thought of all the
instructions the colonel had given him, and was ready to carry them
out. His voice was as steady as usual when he inquired of his guide:

“What did that Indian mean when he made those other signals?”

“He simply wanted to communicate—that was all,” replied Carl.

“And what do you suppose would have been the result if I had spoken to
him?” continued Parker.

“He would have come up and held some conversation with you through an
interpreter, and in the meantime his band would have slipped over and
been all ready to carry out his programme, whatever it is.”

“Then you really think he has got some other Indians waiting for him on
the other side of the hill?” said Parker.

“Certainly I do. They would have come over here one by one, so as not
to arouse your suspicions, and when there were enough of them here to
overpower us the chief would have given his war-whoop, and in less than
two minutes we would all have been dead men.”

“But some of them would have done their last shooting,” said Parker,
his eyes flashing while he gripped his Winchester with a firmer hold.
“My soldiers were all ready.”

“Of course; that was to be expected. But you don’t suppose that the
loss of a few warriors would whip his whole band?”

“Well, I did perfectly right in telling that chief that I did not want
to speak to him,” said Parker, drawing a long breath of relief. “Do you
think he will pitch into us when we get to the top of the hill?”

“No, for he could not choose a worse battleground. He will probably
follow along behind us for a few miles and then give it up.”

Lieutenant Parker afterward said that he never in his life felt such a
tremor of fear as he did when he mounted the swell on which the Indian
had stood half an hour before. He expected that the appearance of his
cap above the hill would be the signal for a volley of rifle-balls.
His guide rode beside him all the way, and as Parker looked at him he
wished he had some of that boy’s fearlessness. He did not seem to care
for the Indians at all, and neither did his face change color. He took
off his sombrero, smoothed his long hair down across his shoulders
and out of range of his eyes, all the while keeping his gaze directed
toward the hills on each flank, to see that the savages did not make a
rush upon them. When they mounted to the top of the swell not an Indian
was to be seen, either in front or on the flanks. They had disappeared
completely.

“Well, that squad of Sioux was easily whipped,” said Parker; and only
those who have been in similar situations can realize how great was his
satisfaction. “I looked for us to be laid out the minute we came in
sight.”

“There isn’t a gully within half a mile of here,” said Carl, “and this
proves to be the sort of fighting-ground that they don’t want. They
would surround us with a horde of shrieking savages, all going at the
top of their speed, so that we would find it difficult to hit one of
them, and when they tired their horses they would go into that gully
and rest and make up some other scheme for getting the advantage of us.
Then they would come out and go at it again.”

“I declare there is some more of them over there,” said Parker, whose
eyes had been constantly sweeping the horizon.

“Yes, and I am glad to see them.”

“Are they soldiers?” exclaimed Parker.

“They are, and the Indians caught sight of them before we did. That is
what drove them away.”

Lieutenant Parker breathed easy after that. With his glass he could
not make out the blue uniforms because they were so far away, but he
had faith in his guide’s word; and just then Sergeant Leeds came up and
saluted.

“The colonel was getting skeary on account of us, sir,” said he, with a
wink of his eye that spoke volumes. “Them are soldiers who are coming
out to see what has become of us.”

At the end of an hour the approaching cavalcade was near enough for the
hunters to see their uniforms, and Parker and his guide galloped out
to meet them. There were two troops of them, and this proved that the
colonel knew something of the strength of the band which he was afraid
would meet them on the way.

“Well, old boy, I am glad to see that you got back safe,” said the
captain in command, as he leaned forward and extended his hand to
Lieutenant Parker. “Did you see any of them?”

“Yes, sir. We saw one standing on the top of that swell back there,
and he made signs that he wanted to speak to us; but I replied that I
did not want to speak to him, and at the same time my guide discovered
some other Indians looking at us over the swells on our flanks.”

“You did well, sir; you did well. You will make an Indian fighter one
of these days. Now let us see how much game you have.”

“Did that other expedition get through all right, sir?” asked Parker.

“Oh, yes. They did not see any Sioux on the way to bother them at
all. You see, the way we found out that they have an inclination to
go on the warpath at all was this: Agent Galbraith sent a couple of
men——Well, I will give it up. They got more game than we did, sergeant.”

While the captain was speaking he rode around to the rear of the wagon,
lifted the canvas and looked under it. It was literally filled with the
animals that had fallen to the hunters’ rifles; and when the officer
reached in and felt the plump quarters of an elk his mouth watered.

“I must have a piece of that elk for my supper,” said he.

“How about the Sioux getting on the warpath, sir?” said Lieutenant
Parker. He was anxious to hear about that.

“Oh, yes. Lieutenant Hawkins, you take command of the column and march
them back to the fort. I will ride behind with the boys. You see,
Agent Galbraith sent up a couple of men to order the Sioux to stop
their Ghost Dance, and when the Sioux found that they were coming they
pointed their guns at them and warned them to go back. That was all the
news we wanted. The next day they sent a band of warriors to loaf about
the fort, and that is what scared the colonel. He was sure they would
find you out here and he sent me to look you up.”

“I am sure it was very kind of him,” said Parker. “Are all the Sioux
engaged in this Ghost Dance, sir?”

“No, there are probably twenty thousand of them in all, and more than
half of them don’t take any stock in the Ghost Dance. They can no doubt
raise six hundred or a thousand men, and we have three thousand to
oppose them. We are all around them, too. I wish that old Sitting Bull
was captured.”

During the ride to Fort Scott the captain, who talked plainly and
explained many things about the Ghost Dance which the young officer had
failed to understand, finally convinced him that his guide had told
him nothing but the truth. As American Horse, a brave chieftain of the
Sioux, once said while making a speech before the Peace Commissioners:
“We were made many promises, but have never heard from them since.”
Take, for instance, the issue of beef which was made at the Standing
Rock Agency. In one year it amounted to eight million pounds; and in
three years more, after the whites had got all the land the Indians
wanted to sell, it was reduced to four million pounds, or just half
of what they wanted. It was no wonder that the Indians complained of
starvation; and when they asked permission to go off their reservation
to hunt for the food that was to keep their families from giving way to
the appeals of hunger, they were refused.

“I don’t blame the Indians so much, after all,” said Parker.

“And if you come right down to that, neither do I,” whispered the
captain. “The Government will not give the Indians over to the War
Department, as many thinking men advise them to do, and we have got to
stand by and see them suffer. And another thing: you don’t know how
those Indians behave themselves when they take the bit in their teeth
and go off their reservation. I tell you, you would remember all the
broken promises the whites have made you and go in strong for revenge.
Of course we soldiers can’t stand by, with our hands in our pockets,
and let innocent people suffer because of what the Department at
Washington has done to them, and we have to stand between the settlers
and Indian barbarities.”

“And the Sioux don’t think much of us any way, do they, sir?”

“Not now they don’t, for they are as well armed as we are. In olden
times, when the trappers roamed through this country, the Indians were
all armed with bows and arrows, and it was very seldom you heard of a
company of men being annihilated. The trappers had so little to steal
that the Sioux did not think it worth while to lose the lives of three
or four men in the effort to get it. The trappers were dead shots, and
they brought an Indian every time they pulled on him. The Indians would
keep an eye on the trappers’ camps, and when there was no one there to
protect them they would sneak up and steal everything they could lay
their hands on. But now the case is different. The savages are armed
with rifles and revolvers, and it has to be a pretty strong force that
can march through their country.”

“You really think there is going to be a war, do you, sir?”

“I do, unless we can go to work and arrest that Sitting Bull, and that
will take our whole force. Those Sioux are not going to stand by and
see us capture their biggest medicine man without some resistance.”

Lieutenant Parker drew a long breath and told himself that his
prospects of seeing an Indian fight were very good indeed.



CHAPTER VI.

DISPATCHES.


“By the way, Parker, I think the colonel has some other business for
you to transact when you get back to the fort,” said the captain, when
they had ridden a little while in silence. “Of course the colonel has
not said so, but I rather gained the idea from something I heard the
adjutant say to him.”

“I am ready to assume anything he thinks I can do, sir,” said the
lieutenant, who wondered what this new business was going to be. “I
will even go to Standing Rock Agency.”

“And I suppose that is right where he wants to send you with dispatches
for General Miles,” said the captain. “You will have one guide with
you, and as large an escort as the colonel may think you need.”

“I am ready to undertake it,” said Parker, “but I don’t intend to be
captured.”

“That’s the way to talk,” said the captain. “But the colonel does not
expect that the Sioux will attempt to capture you and hold you as a
prisoner. You will have to go right by the place where they are holding
their Ghost Dance, and if the Indians discover you, they will lose no
time in keeping you until their dance is over.”

“I don’t see what good that will do, sir. Don’t they want us to know
anything about it?”

“Well, I guess they don’t. The Sioux have a theory that if anyone
outside their tribe witnesses the ceremony, that will make the dance of
no account, and it will all have to be done over again.”

Lieutenant Parker seemed to have grown two inches when he heard this.
He was going to get a chance to make a hero of himself—that is, if
the colonel thought fit to send him with the dispatches. He thought
of what old California Joe would have done in a case like this. After
Custer’s fight with Black Kettle, in which a great victory was gained
and the power of the Cheyennes completely broken, Joe was selected as
a courier to carry the report to General Sheridan, whose headquarters
were at Camp Supply. The journey was only about a hundred miles long,
but it was through a country that was thickly covered with hostile
Indians. General Custer offered him an escort of fifty men, but to
his surprise Joe said he did not want anybody except Jack Corbin,
his partner. Custer told him to go ahead, and these two men made the
journey—two hundred miles—in just forty-eight hours, although they had
several wide detours to make in order to keep clear of the savages.
Lieutenant Parker did not know whether or not he was experienced enough
to try such a plan as that, but he determined that he would attempt it.
Everything depended on getting by the Sioux without being seen. If the
Indians discovered him he would certainly be captured, and what would
be done with him after that he did not know. He would not say anything
to the captain about it, but if the colonel asked him how large an
escort he wanted, he would take Carl, the Trailer, and set off.

The captain was a talkative fellow, and during the twenty years of his
life that he had passed on the plains and among the wild Indians he had
gained a world of information, and accumulated an almost inexhaustible
fund of stories which he was ready to tell for the benefit of younger
officers. He related one after another of his anecdotes during the
march to the fort; and when at last the whitewashed stockade came
into full view and Lieutenant Parker rode through the wide gate, he
saw that the teamsters and soldiers stopped and raised their hats to
him, a thing they had never done before. Parker was popular among the
soldiers; for, although he was very strict,—as much so as the colonel
himself,—and tried as hard to make his men “toe the mark,” when off
duty he was “hail-fellow well met” with everybody. The captain and
Parker came out from behind the wagon to see their men come into line
in front of the colonel’s headquarters, and then dismounted and went in
to report.

“I have returned, sir,” said the captain. “I found the lieutenant
coming along the prairie all right. He had some experience with the
Sioux, but he came on ahead as though there was nothing there.”

“Very good, sir,” said the colonel. “You may dismiss your men.” Then,
unbending a little from his official dignity, he held out his hand to
Parker and smiled upon him over his gold spectacles. “Well, my boy, I
am glad to see that you have returned all right.”

“I have returned, sir,” said Parker, not forgetting that part of his
duty, “and I have a wagonful of game.”

“Well, now, go on and tell me something about those Sioux you met. Were
they a large party?”

“I did not see all of them, sir; not more than a dozen. The chief made
signs that he wanted to talk to me, but I sent him back. I thought if
he wanted to talk to anybody he could come down here and talk to you.
He knew where your headquarters were as well as I did.”

“There were a good many more than a dozen men in that party,” said the
colonel. “That was the reason I sent the captain out after you. Have
you had sleep enough?”

“Yes, sir, all I want,” said Parker, who now thought he was about to
hear of the additional business the colonel had for him to do.

“Can you go without sleep to-night?”

“Yes, sir, and for forty-eight hours longer.”

“I guess somebody has been saying a little to you about what I have on
hand,” said the colonel with a smile. “Well, I don’t know as I blame
the captain for that. How large an escort of soldiers do you think you
will want to go with you to Standing Rock Agency?”

“I want just one, sir.”

“One!” exclaimed the colonel, opening his eyes. “Remember that you will
have to cross their lines somewhere.”

“I know it, sir; but it will be easier for two men to hide than it will
for a larger number. If I were going to ask for a larger squad than I
have named, I should ask for your whole force.”

The commanding officer settled back in his chair and stared at the
lieutenant without speaking.

“I would like to have one man go with me, sir, if I might be allowed a
choice,” said the lieutenant.

“Who is it?”

“Carl, the Trailer.”

“You seem to have got on pretty good terms with him during the last
week,” said the colonel, straightening up again. “Well, come around
in about half an hour and I will talk to you. I want to add something
to these dispatches about the war-party of Sioux you met while coming
home. Bring Preston with you. You may dismiss your men, and detail two
of them to cut up game enough for supper. Perhaps you had better get
something to eat before you go.”

Lieutenant Parker arose to his feet, made his best salute, and went
out. He seemed to be treading on air. The colonel thought enough of
him to send him where he had always sent a brave and experienced man,
and here he was scarcely six months out of West Point. The captain
was standing just outside the door, with his hands on his hips,
watching his men, who were going toward the stables, and hearing the
lieutenant’s footsteps behind him turned and looked over his shoulder.

“I tell you it pays to keep your weather-eye open, sir,” said Parker,
as he came up and saluted.

“Have you got it?” demanded the captain, who seemed as delighted as the
lieutenant himself.

“I don’t know, sir, but I have orders to come around in half an hour
and bring Carl, the Trailer, with me.”

“Then you are going—you can bet on that. Did you hear who else he is
going to send with you? I wonder if he will select me?”

“That is all I want, sir.”

“All! Carl, the Trailer!”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good heavens, young man, you’re crazy! You will never get through
their lines in the world.”

“Don’t you think it would be easier for two men to hide than it would
be for fifty, sir?”

“Are you going to hide from them? Did you tell that to the colonel?”

“I did, sir.”

“Then you won’t go; you can bet your bottom dollar on that. You don’t
want to hide from them,” continued the captain, seeing that the
lieutenant looked disappointed over what had been said. “You want to
go by them openly and above-board, so as to let them know that we are
not afraid of them. If they see that we know they are going on with the
dance, I think they will stop it. Be careful in the future, when the
colonel is talking of sending you on an expedition, that you don’t say
anything about _hiding_. That’s a word that won’t go down.”

“But look here, captain,” said Parker, a bright idea striking him, “the
colonel suggested that I get something to eat before I go.”

“W-h-e-w!” whistled the captain. “This beats me. Here you are ordered
to take dispatches through a band of savages who have never yet done
the first thing to indicate that they were on the warpath excepting to
point their guns at those two men that Galbraith sent out to stop them
in their Ghost Dance, and the colonel does not object to your hiding
from them! I can’t understand it.”

“Perhaps he does not want it to get out among them that he has been
sending dispatches to General Miles,” suggested Parker.

“Oh, he needn’t think to stop it that way. Mark my words,” said the
captain, approaching close to Parker and laying his forefinger upon his
shoulder, “the Sioux will know of that dispatch as soon as Miles will.
You needn’t think to keep it from them.”

So saying the captain walked away, leaving Parker lost in wonder.
He glanced about the parade ground, but he couldn’t see anything of
a Sioux brave there; and then, seeing his men drawn up in line and
waiting for him to dismiss them, he beckoned Leeds to approach him.

“Break ranks,” said he, “and set two of the men at work cutting up some
of that game for supper. Remember that the captain wants some of that
elk.”

Having thus disposed of his men, Lieutenant Parker walked slowly
toward the place where Carl, the Trailer, was standing, waiting to see
what was going to happen.

“Say, Carl,” he said, sinking his voice almost to a whisper, “do you
see any Sioux Indians around here?”

“Nary one,” said the guide.

“I have been ordered to take some dispatches to General Miles, and you
are to go with me to show me the way. You and I are to go alone.”

“I am ready,” said Carl.

“I have been talking with the captain about it, and he says that the
Sioux will know of that dispatch as soon as Miles will. Now, it strikes
me that there must be somebody here to carry the news.”

“I don’t know whether he meant that or not—I can’t say; but I have no
fear of not getting into the fort with dispatches. When we come out and
try to get home is where they are going to catch us.”

“Do you think that is the place they will watch for us?”

“It is always the place where I begin to use caution,” said the guide.

“You are not afraid to attempt it?”

Carl, the Trailer, raised himself up to his full height and looked at
the lieutenant. He did not speak, and Parker did not press him for an
answer.

“I don’t know but I should be afraid if I were in your place,”
continued the lieutenant. “There are some people here who would not be
anyways sorry to hear of your death.”

“Let them come,” said Carl; and Parker had never seen such an
expression of rage and contempt as overspread his features. “I am ready
for them.”

“Do you know who they are?”

“Of course I do.”

Lieutenant Parker waited to hear more. He wanted to find out whether or
not those people who would in any way profit by the death of the guide
were relatives; but Carl had no more to say. He stood with one arm
thrown over his saddle, and waited for Parker to send him away about
his business.

“Well, then, I suppose you are all right,” said the lieutenant. “Go
and get something to eat, and be on hand in half an hour. It is now
four o’clock,” he added, glancing at his watch. “We must see General
Miles, get his return dispatch, and be back here in forty-eight hours.
Do you suppose we can do it?”

“If you can keep up I’ll be on time,” said the guide, leading his horse
toward the gate.

“I really wish I had not said anything about that,” said Parker, as he
led his own horse away toward the stables. “I’ve got him down on me,
and that is one thing I don’t like.”



CHAPTER VII.

GOING IN.


Lieutenant Parker had not much time to waste if he expected to be
before the commanding officer in half an hour, and he went about his
work as if he was thoroughly in earnest. He placed his horse in one of
the stalls, removed his saddle, gave him a good feed at the same time,
in order to “brace him up” for his long journey, and then proceeded to
rub him down. All the while he was thinking about his recent interview
with Carl, the Trailer, and promised himself that he would steer clear
of that subject in future.

“I’ll do that for you, sir,” said a voice near him.

Parker looked up, and saw Sergeant Leeds with his hand to his cap.

“I really wish you would,” said he, putting the brush into the
sergeant’s willing hand. “I’ve got just half an hour to get my supper
and present myself before the colonel, and I want the horse to go away
with me to-night.”

“Very well, sir. The horse will be ready.”

Parker hurried off, and in a few minutes was standing before the
washbowl in his own quarters. He wished to get a little of the dust of
travel off his hands and face, put on a clean shirt, and make himself
appear as neat as an officer should who expected to have an interview
with his general before he slept again. His room-mate had been on guard
duty the night before and was now making up for his loss of sleep;
but he heard Parker stepping about the room, and opened his eyes and
stretched his arms.

“Well, old fellow, I am glad to see you back,” said he. “Do you know I
have been worrying about you ever since yesterday morning?”

“About that war-party?” said Parker.

“They are the very fellows. They did not come about the fort, but some
of the scouts discovered them and reported to the colonel. That is what
made him send the captain out after you.”

“Well, I got away from them all right. I hope I shall be as lucky this
time.”

“This time!” repeated Randolph. “Why, where are you going?”

“I am going to Fort Yates.”

Randolph was utterly amazed to hear this. He threw off the blanket and
sat up on the bed.

“The colonel wants to send a report to General Miles, and is now adding
a word about this war-party I met,” continued Parker. “I’ve got to be
with him in half an hour.”

“You are going in command of a big escort, of course,” said Randolph,
angry at himself because he was so long neglected. “Perhaps I will get
a chance to go with you.”

“I don’t think you will this time. I am only going to take Carl, the
Trailer.”

“And no more?” said Randolph, who grew more and more amazed.

“He is all I asked for, and I believe I am going to get him.”

“Well, when you get ready to start come in and let me bid you
good-by,” said Lieutenant Randolph, again stretching himself on the
bed. “I will never see you dressing in this room again.”

“Our biggest scouts take no more with them than that,” said Parker.
“They want somebody with them if they get into trouble, but they don’t
want a large party for fear that they cannot conceal themselves.”

“Who is talking about concealing a party?” asked Randolph in disgust.
“You had better not let the colonel know that.”

“He knows it already.”

“And did he agree to it?”

“He raised no objections to it, but told me to come back in half an
hour. I tell you I had better go on, for twenty minutes of my time
is gone already. Good-by, Rand. I hope I shall see you again within
forty-eight hours.”

This was too much for Randolph. He got upon his feet and shook his
companion’s hand as though he never expected to see him again. Then he
opened his mouth as if he were about to say something, but no sound
came forth. He turned and threw himself upon the bed again.

“I declare, I hope that everybody won’t act that way,” said Lieutenant
Parker, as, with a face that had lost considerable of its confidence,
he took rapid steps toward his mess-room. “The first thing I know I
shall begin to behave that way myself.”

When Parker entered the mess-room he summoned the cook, and found
that all that was left for him was what remained of what the officers
had had for dinner. “If Lieutenant Parker could only wait for a few
minutes”—but Lieutenant Parker could not wait for even one minute. He
had an order from the commanding officer which must be fulfilled to the
letter; so the cook began to bestir himself, and in a short time a very
good meal was placed before him. He ate with his watch open beside him,
so that he could cast his eyes upon it with every mouthful he took,
and at precisely the time agreed upon he jumped up and started for the
door. As he stepped down off the threshold, the first one he saw was
Carl, the Trailer. The savage scowl had left his face and he looked
just as he did during their hunt.

“You are on hand, I see,” said Lieutenant Parker. “Come on; we have not
a single instant to lose.”

The young officer took his way toward the colonel’s headquarters, and
found him in the act of sealing an envelope which he was going to send
to General Miles. He simply nodded when the boys came in and then went
on addressing it; and when he had got that done he settled back in his
chair, struck a match to his pipe, which had gone out, and looked at
them for several minutes without speaking. Finally he said:

“Preston, are you sure that you want to go to Fort Yates in company
with Lieutenant Parker?”

“Why, colonel, I don’t see anything wrong about him,” said the guide.
“We will get the dispatches into the hands of the general in due time,
but how soon you will get the letters he sends in return I don’t know.”

“Ah! that’s just what I am afraid of,” said the colonel uneasily. “You
are afraid there will be somebody there to watch you when you come out.”

Carl, the Trailer, said that that was what he was afraid of.

“Well, I don’t know as it makes much difference to me what he sends in
return,” said the colonel, after gazing abstractedly at his table for a
few minutes. “He will have to send them down by his own scouts. If you
can get into the fort, it is all I ask for. If you are all ready you
can go. I shall expect you back here in three days.”

Lieutenant Parker wanted to tell his colonel that if he did not see
them by that time day after to-morrow he would not see them at all, but
he thought he would wait and let his actions speak for him. Parker took
the papers which the colonel handed him and put them into the pocket of
his coat, which he buttoned up; and after shaking him by the hand and
listening to his words of encouragement and advice, the boys went out.
There were many around the gate to see them off, for Lieutenant Parker
had never gone on an errand like this before, and when the boys mounted
their horses and rode out of the stables, caps were lifted all around
them. Randolph was there, for he could not stand idly by and let his
companion go off on that dangerous mission without another word to him.

“Good-by, old fellow,” said he, pressing up close to Parker, so that he
could take his hand. “Remember that I shall look for you by day after
to-morrow.”

“I will be on hand,” exclaimed Parker, with a sweeping salute to all
the rest of them who had gathered around. “If the horses hold out I
shall certainly be here.”

“That fellow acted as though he was not going to see you any more,”
said Carl, when they had left the fort behind them. “I don’t see
the use of their making so much fuss over our going. I have been to
Standing Rock Agency half a dozen times since this trouble began, and
have always got back safe.”

“Well, it had no effect upon me except to make me all the more
determined to come back,” said Parker. “The colonel said that if we
could get into the fort it was all he asked for. Now, what does he mean
by that?”

“It means that some things have happened that are going to put us
in more danger than we supposed,” said Carl. “To my mind there is
something up.”

“You think the dance has got farther along than we know anything
about?” said Parker.

“It must be that. The Sioux are determined that no one shall cross
their reservation. But the first thing we have to do is to get those
papers you have in your pocket into the hands of General Miles. We will
wait until we see how the matter looks then.”

This was a long time to wait. Lieutenant Parker was anxious that
something should be done at once; but Carl kept his horse in a fast
walk all the way—sometimes, when he got tired of that, letting him trot
for a short distance, and Parker was obliged to keep pace with him.

“Don’t be in too big a hurry,” said the guide, who saw that Lieutenant
Parker was slyly pricking his horse with the spur to make him go
faster. “Let them go easy now, and save their speed for by and by.”

The guide relapsed into silence, but at the same time his eyes were
busy. He kept a close watch over the summit of the neighboring swells
to make sure that they had not been seen by some of Sitting Bull’s
couriers, who were on the lookout for them to find out where they
went. As soon as they found out that the guide and his companion were
headed toward Fort Yates they would get ahead of them, and so post the
Sioux in regard to their coming. Grand River, which lay immediately
across their path, was the permanent camp of the Sioux. Beginning on
the right, at the mouth of the river, there was Antelope’s camp, Grand
River school, Sitting Bull’s camp, Bull Head’s camp, Pretty Bird’s
camp, and Spotted Horse’s camp; and by going farther up the river there
was Thunder Hawk’s camp. It did not seem possible that they could get
through there without being seen by somebody. And these camps extended
for seventy-five miles along the course of the river. Of course
Lieutenant Parker did not know this, but the guide did; and, while he
kept his gaze wandering over the tops of the hills, he was thinking up
some plan by which he might cross the river, get through their lines,
and take the trail of fifty miles to the fort. The Grand River school
seemed to him to be the best place.

“I wish I knew just what is going on in that camp,” said he, after
thinking the matter all over. “Kicking Bull has come up here from the
Cheyenne reservation to teach Sitting Bull’s followers the dance, and I
would really like to know if he is at it to-night. If he is, we can get
across the river anywhere; but if he is not engaged in teaching them,
the different camps will be full of Indians, and we shall be seen as
surely as we come out of the water. Don’t you wish you had stayed at
home?”

“That is a pretty question for you to ask,” returned Lieutenant Parker
indignantly. “Somebody has got to do it, and I don’t see why I can’t.”

The guide relapsed into silence again, and for long hours neither
of them said a word. Nothing was heard except the faint swishing of
the buffalo grass as the horses brushed it aside with their legs, and
the faint tread of the animals’ feet upon the sand. Finally the guide
allowed his horse to gallop, and that was a great relief to Lieutenant
Parker’s feelings. And one thing which surprised Parker was the ease
with which Carl’s horse kept up. No matter how fast he went he was
always within Parker’s reach. Thus walking and galloping by turns, the
hours passed away much sooner than Parker had thought possible, and
finally, to his immense satisfaction, the guide pulled up his horse and
began to look about him.

“There ought to be a school-house over there,” said he.

“Why, are we at the river?” asked Parker.

“It is only about twenty feet ahead of you. Do you hear any yells
anywhere?”

“Nothing but the coyotes.”

The guide listened a moment, and then turned his horse and rode down
the stream, Lieutenant Parker keeping close at his heels. Presently he
turned again and rode down the bank, and then there was the splashing
of water beneath his horse’s hoofs. The ford was a shallow one, and
how Carl had struck it in that darkness was a marvel. It continued
for perhaps five minutes, and then Parker felt himself mounting the
opposite bank. He stopped his horse when his guide did and listened
intently, but he heard no sound of any kind.

“Now, sir, you may go as fast as you please,” said Carl.

“How far is the fort from here?”

“About fifty miles.”

“But the Sioux will hear us.”

“No, they won’t. They are off somewhere attending that Ghost Dance.”

Lieutenant Parker waited to hear no more. If his guide thought it safe
to go with the full speed of their horses it was nothing to him. He
drew up on the reins, touched his horse with his spurs, and went away
like the wind.



CHAPTER VIII.

COMING OUT.


This was the first race that Lieutenant Parker and Carl, the Trailer,
had ever engaged in, and if there had not been so much at stake they
would have thoroughly enjoyed it. For miles they kept going at the top
of their speed, and then, to Parker’s amazement, his horse fell behind
and required constant spurring to make him keep up. After they had gone
half the distance to the fort, Parker reluctantly drew rein and gave up
the contest.

“That is one thing at which you can beat me,” said he. “I had no idea
that that nag of yours could show so much lightness of foot.”

“It is always so when a fellow brings out Eastern horses to beat
them,” said the guide. “You take a race of five miles, and the Eastern
horse will beat; but you take a race of twenty miles, and it is safe to
back the endurance of the pony.”

“Then I wouldn’t stand much of a show with the Sioux in a fair trial of
speed,” said Parker.

“Not if you had any distance to go. More than one fellow has been
hauled off his Eastern horse and killed within sight of his friends. I
remember hearing some trappers talk about it at the time of the Custer
massacre. One fellow, who had a nice horse, happened to get away from
the hostiles, and took out across the plains at the top of his speed,
followed by six or seven of the savages. The Indians were going to give
up after a while, but all of a sudden they saw the officer pull out a
pistol and put it to his own head. You see, he knew what his fate would
be if captured. That is the only time I ever heard of an Eastern horse
beating a pony.”

Lieutenant Parker was not very well pleased with such talk as this.
It reminded him too much of what might be his own case if he ever got
into a race with the Indians. Lieutenant Kidder and band, who had been
overtaken and annihilated by some of the same Indians among whom he
was going, had tried on American horses to escape the death they saw
threatening them, but after a race of fifteen miles the ponies came up,
and it was all over with them. He did not ask any more questions after
that until his guide pointed out something on the top of a distant
swell. He looked, and there were the walls of the fort in plain sight;
and scarcely had this thought passed through his mind when he heard a
voice directly in front of him saying:

“Halt! Who comes there?”

“An officer without the countersign,” replied Parker.

“Halt, officer. Dismount. Corporal of the guard!—Number 6.”

Lieutenant Parker and his guide dismounted, and in a few minutes the
corporal came up, bringing a lantern to assist him in making out who
the visitors were.

“I have been sent here with dispatches for General Miles,” said the
young officer. “I am Lieutenant Parker, and this man is my guide.”

“Well, I guess you are all right, so you can come on,” said the
corporal. “How did you get through the Sioux lines, sir?”

“We did not have any trouble with the Sioux at all,” said Parker. “I
guess that Kicking Bull is holding a Ghost Dance somewhere, is he not?
We listened, but we heard no yelling.”

“That’s where he is now, sir; but the agent sent to him to give up the
man, and old Bull told him that he was going to send him home. But
what’s the use of that, sir? The Indians will learn all they want to
know in that time, and they can go on with the dance without his help.”

When Lieutenant Parker followed the corporal through the gate, which
stood wide open, he kept his eyes on the watch for some of those wily
Sioux braves who were there to apprise Sitting Bull of their coming,
but he saw none. In fact he had not seen a Sioux Indian since he left
Fort Scott. He began to breathe a good deal easier.

“I believe we can go out as we came in,” said he in a low voice to his
guide. “The Indians are all away learning the Ghost Dance, and there is
not one of them here to carry the news to headquarters.”

“I hope it is so, but I am afraid it isn’t,” said Carl. “Some brave,
somewhere, has seen us come in here, and when we are ready to go out he
will have help enough to stop us.”

Parker sent in his name by the orderly who stood in front of the
general’s door, who in a few moments came out, again, with an
invitation to the lieutenant to step inside. Parker obeyed, and
presently found himself in the company of an elderly gentleman who had
evidently just got up out of a warm bed, for his hair was all rumpled
up, and he had thrown on a dressing-gown which enveloped him from his
head to his heels.

“I believe I have seen you before, Lieutenant Parker,” said the
general, taking the papers which were handed him.

“Yes, sir; that was when you ordered me to report to Colonel Dodge of
the —th Cavalry.”

“Well, you found it a good place, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir. That is, it is well enough now.”

“What do you mean by _now_?”

“I mean, sir, that the colonel has got so that he can trust me, and he
sends me out on little expeditions—like this one, for instance.”

“Oh,” said the general with a smile. “Well, you live up to your full
duty while you are in garrison and I will answer for it that you will
see plenty of service of this kind.”

The general then opened the dispatches, and when he had got a page half
read he noticed that Parker was still standing, with his hat in his
hand, and he told him to sit down, at the same time offering a slight
apology for his neglect. The lieutenant thanked him and took a chair,
running his eye over the articles of furniture with which the general
had thought it necessary to surround himself, and he made up his mind
that the officer was not as fond of hunting as his colonel was. There
were no weapons to be seen, and not a stuffed head of antelope or
buffalo did he see to remind him of the plains.

“Now, lieutenant, I shall want you to have my answer in your colonel’s
hands as soon as possible,” said the general. “Do you want some
refreshments—you or your men?”

“No, sir. We brought in our pockets a bite to eat. I have but one man
with me.”

The general did not say anything more. He did not express surprise that
Parker had come away from the fort with only a guide, for he evidently
thought that was the way to do. He wrote rapidly for fifteen minutes,
and when the dispatch was completed he handed it to the young officer
and said: “There you are, sir. Good luck to you,” and his interview
with the general was completed.

“He is a man after my own heart,” said Parker, when he came up to the
place where the guide was standing, holding the horses. “There is the
officer of the day at the gate. Let us ask him to pass us out.”

This was easily done, and the boys mounted their horses and turned
their faces homeward. It was now broad daylight, and Lieutenant Parker
wondered how they were going to slip by the Indians unperceived. It
depended upon where the Indians were. If they were still interested in
their Ghost Dance, they could cross the river without being seen by
anybody; but if they were done with it and were at home, they would
be discovered and stopped. He thought at first that he would see what
Carl thought about it; but on looking toward him he found that he was
engaged in filling up his pipe, and was going to indulge in a smoke.

“I believe I will not say anything to him about it,” said Parker. “When
he is ready to tell me, well and good; but I don’t care to let him see
how ignorant I am.”

And the guide did not get ready to broach the subject until they had
passed over the fifty miles that lay between them and the river, and
were drawing near to the school-house. It was a barren-looking place,
with no flowers or shade-trees around it, and it was not such a spot as
would have been chosen for a place of learning in a civilized country.
There was no school in session now, for, their parents being deeply
interested in the Ghost Dance, the children could not be expected to
learn anything; and, furthermore, they had to go to the new camp with
their elders. As Parker looked at the house he was certain that he saw
a head thrust carefully around it and then as quickly withdrawn. He
glanced at his guide and was satisfied that he had seen it, too, but
his face never changed color.

“It is all up with us,” he said coolly.

“What do you mean by that?” asked Parker; and although he intended that
his voice should be firm, it trembled a little in spite of himself.

“It means that we are captured; at least I am, but you can go where you
please,” said the guide.

“Good heavens! Let us fight!” exclaimed the lieutenant; and in an
instant he had thrown his Winchester up to his shoulder and held it in
position.

“Put up your gun,” said Carl sternly. “If there is one Indian there,
there are a dozen. Besides, the report of your rifle would bring the
whole camp on us. Every one of those tepees out yonder has two or three
Indians in it, sleeping soundly.”

“How do you know?”

“Why, haven’t you seen the women looking out once in a while? Of course
they know that we are coming, and depend on those fellows behind the
school-house to capture us. Now, when I am gone——”

Carl was about to go on and give his companion some minute instructions
as to the course he must pursue in order to reach the fort, but just
then, as they went rapidly along the road which ran close by the side
of the school-house, half a dozen Indians, painted in all manner of
grotesque shapes, suddenly sprang up from their place of concealment
and made a wild dash for the guide’s horse. One seized his horse by
the bridle, and another took hold of his gun, which was slung over his
shoulder by a broad strap, and with a knife cut it loose from him. No
attention was paid to Parker, who sat on his horse and wondered if the
savages in a fight moved as quickly as these did.

“White soldier, you go on,” said one who seemed to be the leader of the
assaulting party. “We want nothing to do with you.”

Lieutenant Parker turned and looked closely at the speaker. The voice
did not sound as though it came from an Indian, and when he had taken
a second glance at him, Parker saw his white skin through the places
where he had not been touched up by the paint. He was a squawman beyond
doubt, and the lieutenant wondered what Carl had been doing to him to
incur his enmity.

“Yes,” said the guide, “you go on to the fort; I will have to stay
here.”

“Why, how in the world am I to find my way back there unless you go
with me?” inquired Parker, who was amazed at the proposition.

“You can see the sun, can’t you? Well, just keep it to your right and
go ahead. Trust a little to your horse. He has been that way once, and
he can follow his old trail back. Good-by.”

“Good-by,” said the squawman. “You have wasted time enough here
already.”

As if in answer to the threat implied by these words, two of the
Indians raised their guns and pointed them at his head, and Parker,
taking the hint, urged his horse forward and began crossing the river.
When he reached the opposite side he turned to look at Carl, and found
that he and his captors were just disappearing behind the water oaks
which lined the banks of the stream.

“Carl knew what he was talking about when he said that some brave,
somewhere, had seen us go into the fort,” thought the lieutenant, who
was very much depressed by what had occurred. “But it beats me how he
got into trouble with that squawman. Carl never associated with such
fellows as those. They have got him, and now the next thing is to find
out what they are going to do with him. I must see the colonel about it
as soon as possible.”

Parker’s first care was to sling his Winchester over his shoulder, and
his second to put his hands into his pockets. He remembered how he had
drawn that rifle to his face and pointed it at an imaginary Indian who
would attempt to rush upon him, and here he had gone and surrendered to
half a dozen savages who took his guide away from him. He was fairly
disgusted with himself when he thought of it. Why did he not make a
fight, as he had wanted to do?

“Perhaps it is just as well for me that I didn’t,” said Parker to
himself. “There must have been five hundred Indians in that camp, if
they were all in their tepees, and of course I couldn’t hold my own
with them. If I ever reach the fort, which is extremely doubtful,
Randolph will make no end of fun of me.”

By casting his eyes a little in advance of him Parker could see that
his horse was following the old trail that he had made some hours
before. He could easily tell it, for there were two trails, the grass
all pressed down and leaning in the opposite direction, and it had been
made while the dew was on. He came along there in the night, but how
would it be when they reached the trail over which they had passed in
the daytime? He could only wait and see.



CHAPTER IX.

STILL IN THE SADDLE.


The long ride which followed was something that Lieut. Parker often
thought of with a shudder. It is true that there were no wild animals
to bother him—nothing but the coyotes, which gathered around him and
kept pace with him almost to the fort; but the thought that he was
alone on the plains and the uncertainty of what the Sioux intended to
do with his guide troubled him more than anything else. As darkness
came on apace, and the wolves began to howl all about him, Parker drew
rein on the opposite bank of a small stream and allowed his horse to
graze and recover his “second wind,” for he had been riding rather
rapidly of late, being anxious to get over as much of the trail as he
could before the gloom came to shut it out from his view, and now he
began to think of that envelope he had in his pocket.

“Isn’t it lucky that the squawman did not say anything to me about that
dispatch?” said the lieutenant to himself. “Suppose he had asked me to
give it up to him? Would I have done it? I guess not. Nobody sees the
inside of that envelope unless he takes it off my dead body.”

After passing half an hour in this way, Parker watered his horse and
again set out for the fort. The animal went along as lively as ever,
and during the whole of that night Parker rode with his hands in his
pockets, and never touched the reins at all. The way seemed to have
no end; but just as he was forgetting his troubles and his head began
to bend forward, as if he were almost asleep, his horse broke into a
gallop and began to neigh. Almost at the same instant a voice close in
front challenged him.

“I declare, I am pretty close to the fort,” said Parker; and it was all
he could do to keep from yelling. “An officer without the countersign,”
he said, in reply to the sentinel.

The lieutenant was so anxious to see the colonel, and tell him of what
had happened back there in the Sioux camp, that it seemed as though the
corporal never would come; but he made his appearance at last, and the
first thing he did was to recognize his own officer.

“Why, lieutenant, I am glad to see you again, sir,” said he, extending
his hand, “but I don’t see Carl, the Trailer, with you.”

“He stopped back there in the Sioux camp,” said Parker. “I tell you I
am tired,” he added, seeing that the corporal opened his eyes and was
about to speak. “I want to get to bed as soon as possible.”

The colonel got up from a sound sleep to read the dispatches, and
the young officer stood by, whirling his hat in his hand and waiting
impatiently until he got through; and when the colonel looked up and
was about to tell him to go to his quarters, for he had done with him
for the night, he noticed that Parker looked very solemn.

“What is the matter with you?” he asked pleasantly.

“Matter enough, sir,” replied the lieutenant. “I have lost my guide
and you have lost a scout.”

Without waiting for an invitation, Parker went on and told his
companion what had happened at the Grand River school. The colonel
looked grave, and settled back in his chair as though he did not know
what to make of it.

“And you came on alone?” he said, when Parker finished his story.

“Yes, sir; but my horse picked out the way. When it grew dark I could
not see my hand before me.”

“Well, go to your quarters now, and get all the sleep you want. We will
talk the matter over again in the morning.”

“That is a pretty way to treat a man who is in danger of his life,”
said Parker to himself as he went out to put up his horse. “If I had
been dead it would have been the same thing.”

Of course there was great excitement among the officers and men of
the garrison when it became known that Carl, the Trailer, had been
captured by the Sioux in broad daylight and Lieutenant Parker left to
find his way to the fort alone. They did not know which to wonder at
the most—Parker’s knowledge of “plainscraft,” or the audacity of the
Indians in making a capture almost within reach of the fort, and when
they were not on the warpath. And then there was the squawman. It was a
great marvel to the officers how Carl became acquainted with a person
so low down in the world, but the colonel thought he knew. He sent for
the lieutenant immediately after breakfast and asked him to go over his
story again. This time all the ranking officers of the garrison were
present in his room.

“Are you sure you saw but one squawman in the party that assaulted
you?” asked the colonel, after Parker had gone over his adventure for
the second time.

“I saw but the one, sir,” said Parker, “and I wouldn’t have known what
he was if it had not been for his voice.”

“I will wager that there were two of them there,” said the commanding
officer. “You see,” he added, turning to his officers, “there used
to be two hard characters in this country who were named Harding and
Ainsworth, and they hired out to Carl’s father to herd cattle for him.
They understood their business, but Mr. Preston thought that it would
be well worth while to watch them. One night he detected them robbing
him, and he shot both of them; but they made out to get away in spite
of their wounds. One would think that they would go as far from this
country as they possibly could, but it seems that they had friends
among the Sioux, and right there was where they went. They sent word to
Preston where they were, adding that they were waiting an opportunity
to take revenge upon him. They said they were waiting for a chance to
wipe out the entire family.”

“But do you suppose that is the only thing they have in mind, sir?”
asked the major. “Don’t you imagine that there is somebody who is going
to step in and enjoy the property that Carl may leave behind him?”

“I have heard that hinted, too, but somehow I can’t believe it,” said
the colonel. “Mr. Preston died a natural death, and if they make away
with Carl, they will do away with the last one of the family. I do
wish I could get my hands on those men,” added the officer, rising to
his feet and walking back and forth in the room. “It does not make any
difference where a man goes, he is bound to make some enemies if he is
so fortunate as to fall into property. In the States they are jealous
of him, and out here they want to kill him. If Carl was a poor man
those squawmen would not take the least notice of him.”

It was evident that the colonel blamed himself for allowing Carl, the
Trailer, to go off to Standing Rock Agency with Lieutenant Parker;
but Carl had been off there a dozen times and came back safe, and he
supposed he could keep on doing it. After taking a few turns up and
down the floor he announced that he couldn’t see any way out of it, and
that all they could do would be to stay there in the fort and wait to
see what was going to happen to Carl.

“I would like to take a few of my men and go up there and release
him,” said he, once more seating himself in his chair, “for somehow I
am as much interested in that boy as though he were my own. But you see
I can’t stir without orders. If I go up there it will bring on a fight,
sure.”

The colonel rested his elbows upon his knees, gazed fixedly at the
floor for a few minutes, and then raised his eyes and fastened them
upon Lieutenant Parker.

“I will tell you what I might do,” said he. “I could make out a report
to General Miles, and request that he make a demand on the Sioux for
Carl, the Trailer. In that way I can get him.”

The officers all drew a long breath of relief, for they were thinking
about that very thing themselves.

“What do you say, Parker? Can you make that trip to Standing Rock
Agency and back without a guide?”

“Yes, sir,” replied the lieutenant promptly. “I will start this
afternoon.”

“I won’t ask you to do it so soon as that,” said the colonel with a
smile. “I will relieve you of all duty to-day, and to-morrow you and
your horse will be rested up and fit to make the journey. Come to me
to-morrow afternoon at four o’clock.”

The colonel arose, and the officers took up their hats and bowed
themselves out. They all laughed as they extended their hands to Parker.

“I wouldn’t mind being in your place myself,” said the major. “You are
going to get up a reputation as a scout. You won’t have any use for
Carl when he gets back.”

“I will be glad to take that report to General Miles, because I want to
do something for Carl,” said Parker. “He got into trouble through me,
and I want to get him out.”

After exchanging a few words with each of the officers, Parker went
into his own quarters, where he found his room-mate waiting for him. He
had not been summoned into the colonel’s presence with his comrades,
but he knew he would hear the full report when the lieutenant came out.

“Well?” said Randolph, as Parker drew off his shoes and stretched
himself out on his bed.

“Well,” said Parker, “it is going to be just as the major says. I am
going to get up a reputation as a scout. I am ordered to report to the
colonel to-morrow afternoon at four o’clock.”

“Where are you going?” asked Randolph.

“To Fort Yates.”

“Who are you going to take as your guide?”

“I am going alone,” said the lieutenant proudly.

“Well, I shall not bid you good-by as I did the last time you went, for
like as not you will come back all right.”

“I hope to, certainly,” said Parker with a smile. “The Sioux will not
bother me. That squawman told me so.”

“I would not place too much dependence on that squawman,” said
Randolph. “If it suits him to lie about it, he is going to do it.”

“I shall go right ahead as though there were no Sioux there. That is
the way that Carl did.”

Lieutenant Parker did not sleep much that day, for he was too busy
thinking about what the future might have in store for him. After
rolling and tossing on his bed for an hour, he went out to see about
his horse. The animal was his main dependence now. If he missed the
trail and wandered away on the plains, he might never find the fort.
The horse was hitched out in the middle of the stable, and Sergeant
Leeds, his coat off and sleeves rolled up, was busily engaged in
cleaning him off.

“I thought you would not object, sir, seeing that the beast’s feet and
legs were covered with dust,” said he.

“I am much obliged to you,” said the lieutenant. “I came out to do that
myself. He has got to take me to Fort Yates to-morrow.”

“Will you take your company with you, sir? I could really enjoy a ride
of two hundred miles.”

“I am sorry that I can’t take anybody. I shall go alone.”

“Alone, sir? Why, there is every chance in the world for you to get
lost.”

“I came from Grand River alone after dark,” said Parker.

“Well, that’s a heap more than I could do. The horse will be ready when
you want him.”

Sergeant Leeds continued his work with a despondent look on his
face, and Parker went out, feeling in all his pockets for a piece of
loose change. But the paymaster was not due yet, and, like all young
officers, the lieutenant had managed to get rid of his money over the
sutler’s counter.

“I’ll bet you I don’t spend my next quarter’s salary with him,”
muttered Parker, as he once more turned his steps toward his room. “The
very time I need money I have not got it.”

The day wore away at last, however, and at precisely half-past four
o’clock the lieutenant walked his horse up in front of the colonel’s
quarters, and leaving Sergeant Leeds to hold him, he went in and
reported that he was ready.

“I don’t feel exactly right in sending you off in this way,” said the
colonel, “but you are the only one who knows the route. You are sure
you won’t get lost?”

“Not if my horse knows the way.”

“Well, there you are. Go on, and be back as soon as possible.”

The lieutenant took the envelope, put it into his pocket, made a
salute, and went out. He shook hands with Sergeant Leeds, mounted his
horse, and rode out of the parade-ground.



CHAPTER X.

THE SQUAWMAN’S PROPOSITION.


Carl, the Trailer, was sadly depressed when he saw Lieutenant Parker
ride his horse into Grand River—not so much on his own account, but he
was thinking of the dispatches which the latter carried in his pocket.
Although he spoke encouragingly to him, he did not expect that the
young officer would find his way through to the fort alone. The chances
were that the horse would fail to follow his own trail, and perhaps
take his rider a hundred miles out of his way. But these thoughts had
barely passed through his mind when he was recalled to himself by the
actions of the squawman. The latter took possession of the revolver
which Carl carried in his hip pocket, and then seized him by the arm
and pulled him to the ground.

“Don’t be so rough, if you please,” said Carl indignantly. “I could
have got down without any of your help.”

“I suppose you could, but you see I wanted to help you down,” replied
the squawman with a grin. “You have stayed in this country just to see
how this fight was coming out between your people and the Sioux, and
you have stayed a little too long.”

“Do you think there is going to be a fight?” said Carl. He listened for
the squawman’s reply, and he believed every word he said. Of course he
was going to seek a chance to escape before long, and he wanted to take
back with him some news for the colonel.

“A fight? Well, I should say so,” said the squawman angrily. “Before it
is over you and all the rest of the white people will be food for the
wolves.”

“You believe in the Ghost Dance, then? Don’t pull me so hard; I can
keep up with you.”

“Of course I believe in it, and so does every man who has seen it. If
I didn’t believe in it, here’s something that would set me all right.”

He bared his brawny arm up to the shoulder when he said this, and
showed Carl the scar made by a bullet which had come very near ending
his life.

“You see that, don’t you?” said the squawman, fairly hissing the words
through his teeth.

“Of course I see it. But you had no business to be caught robbing my
father. I did not do it.”

“I know you didn’t; but I have got you now, and I intend to make use of
you, too. Go in here.”

The squawman paused in front of a tepee whose flap was wide open.
Carl entered and found himself on the inside of an Indian house, and,
although he had been in similar situations before, he did not see how
any Indian tepee could be as dirty as this one was. The beds were
scattered all over, for the Indian women had not yet found the time
to gather them up, and on one of them lay half a dozen children fast
asleep. Without an invitation he sat down on one of the beds and waited
to see what the squawman was going to do next. That worthy seemed to be
in excellent spirits, and it was not long before the secret came out.

[Illustration: CARL CAPTURED BY THE SQUAWMAN.]

“Those women you saw outside don’t all belong to me,” said he, as he
took his pipe from his pocket. “One of them is my wife, and the others
belong to my partners, Ainsworth and Tuttle, whom your worthy general
has got in limbo. You heard about our holding up that stage, didn’t
you?”

“Yes, I heard all about it. Some of you fellows shot the driver because
he would not stop for you, and you stand a pretty good chance of having
your necks stretched.”

“That’s what I was afraid of,” said the squawman. “But you must not
allow that to be done.”

“I?” exclaimed Carl. “I can’t help you any.”

“Yes, you can. When the war was here—and I know about it, for I was on
the Confederate side—they used to exchange prisoners, didn’t they?”

“I believe they did.”

“Well, now, ever since those two fellows were caught I laid out to
capture you the first time you crossed the reservation, and get you to
write a letter to General Miles, telling him that if he would let those
men go I would let you go. But first there has got to be some little
business between us.”

Carl leaned his head upon his hands, looked reflectively at the
ground, and thought about it. What he had heard went a great way to
convince him that his circumstances were not as bad as he thought
they were. The squawmen had sent these threatening messages to his
father during his lifetime, and he supposed that when he was captured
there was nothing but death awaited him; but, somehow, General Miles
had managed to capture two of the men who were given to holding up
stagecoaches, and that had put a different view on the matter. This
squawman—Harding, his name was—came to the conclusion that he had
better go easy with Carl. He would offer to exchange him—one scout
for two prisoners—and then he would be all right. He could afterward
capture Carl, and do what he pleased with him. The scout saw through
his scheme as easily as the squawman did; and, furthermore, he was
anxious to help it along. Very cautiously he let his hands drop
until they rested on his breast. There was one thing upon which Carl
congratulated himself at the time of his capture, and that was that the
squawman did not attempt to search his clothes in the hope of finding
more weapons. He thought that the rifle and single revolver were all he
had; but stowed away in the inside pockets of his moleskin jacket were
two revolvers which he thought might come handy in time. He could feel
them now, as he allowed his hands to drop.

“Well, what are you thinking of?” asked Harding, as he lighted his
pipe and sat down on a bed opposite to the one Carl occupied. “You can
write, can’t you?”

“Oh, yes, I can write, but I don’t know that it will do any good,” said
Carl.

“I will bet you can put it down to him so that it _will_ do some
good,” said the squawman with a hideous smile. “Suppose you tell him
that the only scout he has got at Fort Scott stands a fair chance of
being tied up to the stake if he don’t release my partners. What then?”

“Of course I can tell him all that, but you can make up your mind to be
hanged if you are ever captured,” said Carl. “Is there anybody here who
can read writing?”

“Yes; there are three fellows here who used to go to school at
Carlisle,” said the squawman. “You see, after you have written the
letter I will take it to them to see if you have read it to me right,
and if you have I will send it off.”

“It is lucky I spoke to you about that,” said Carl to himself. “I’ll
write such a letter as I am willing those Carlisle fellows should read.
Do they, too, believe in the Ghost Dance?” he added aloud.

“I tell you that everybody believes in it who has seen it,” returned
the squawman. “Everything goes to prove that it is a part of the
religion that the white folks have got up for themselves.”

“In what way does it prove it?” asked the scout. He had a chance now
to learn something about the Ghost Dance. He was more interested in it
than he was in effecting his escape.

“Why, this earth is going to be destroyed,” said Harding. “It is all
worn out now, the buffalo and all the other game is gone up, and we are
going to have it new, as it was before the white folks came here and
spoiled it all for us. Those who don’t believe in the Ghost Dance will
all be killed by a fire or an earthquake or something, and those who
believe enough in it to wear their ghost shirts will be saved.”

“What is that about the ghost shirts?” said Carl; for you must remember
that what this squawman said was all news to him.

“Hold on and I will show you one,” said Harding. “You must say nothing
to nobody about it, for if you do, the shirt will not be of any use to
me.”

“Oh, I will say nothing about it,” said the scout with a laugh. “I
shall not get a chance. If the general will not exchange those two
prisoners for me, I shall be in a bad fix.”

“Won’t you, though?” said the squawman with a grin. “You will be gone
up, sure. However, it will give you a little chance for your life.”

“You bet it will,” said Carl mentally. “While you are waiting for your
letter from General Miles, I will be looking out for an opportunity to
escape.”

The squawman went to one side of the tepee, and after removing the
iron kettle which contained what was left of the breakfast and kicking
aside a few old pots and pans, he finally drew out a buffalo bag that
contained one thing that he prized above everything else upon earth. In
a few minutes he drew out the ghost shirt, and held it up so that Carl
could have a fair view of it. The garment was made of a light buckskin,
sewed with deer sinew, and cut in the form of all the Indians’
hunting-shirts. The outside of it was ornamented with rude pictures
representing buffalo, deer and ravens, who seemed to be in full flight.

“Now, when we get this on, the white man’s rifle won’t amount to a row
of pins,” said the squawman. “The weapon will refuse to fire, or the
bullet in it will be turned aside and drop to the ground.”

“Who told you all this?” asked Carl.

“The medicine man; and he is the one that prayed to the Messiah while
they were on their way home, and he set them miles ahead on their
journey.”

Carl did not say anything, but his thoughts were busy. What a pity it
was, he thought, that Ainsworth and Tuttle did not have on those ghost
shirts when General Miles’ force came up with them.

“You see it is sewed with sinew,” said the squawman, “and that proves
that we must not take anything into the dance that the white man has
made. We can wear anything that we have made ourselves, but nothing
else.”

“Do you think you are going to whip the white man?”

“Not unless we have to.”

“And when you do whip him,” continued Carl, “you will have to use the
weapons he made for you, will you not?”

“Well, that is a different thing,” said the squawman, after thinking
a moment. “Of course we will have to use the weapons he made for us,
and why not? He brought all this trouble upon us, and we would show
ourselves lacking in sense if we didn’t use his own weapons upon him.”

“You say your shirt would not be of any use to you if you were known to
have shown it to a white man,” said Carl. “How do you make that out?”

“All I know is what the medicine man told us,” said the squawman,
packing his garment away again in its dried buffalo skin. “We are going
to whip them easy when we put our shirts on, but we don’t want your
folks to know anything about it.”

“Well, before I write that letter to General Miles you say you have
some business to transact with me,” Carl reminded him. “What is it?”

“It is this,” said the squawman, seating himself once more on the bed.
“You have got lots of cattle there, more than you need, and I want you
to write me out a bill of sale for a thousand head.”

“What will be the use of that? You will not want the cattle until this
fight is over.”

“I know that; but if anything should happen, and our medicine man
should be mistaken, we want to get the cattle without any trouble. You
have left men on your ranch to protect them.”

“Of course I have, and they will shoot down anybody who comes around
there fooling with the stock. But your medicine man won’t be mistaken.
The grass is not green yet.”

“No, but our medicine man sees that our people are getting impatient,
and he has agreed to shorten the time of the Messiah’s coming until
this winter. That is why we are keeping up the dance so long—just to
show him that we are ready for him as soon as he wants to come.”

Carl was astonished, for he had never heard that there were people who
could bring the world to an end whenever they pleased. While he was
thinking about it a shrill voice on the outside of the tepee set up a
shout, and the squawman jumped to his feet and went to the flap of the
door to listen. In a short time he came back again, after speaking a
few words to the women who stood close about the tepee, and said:

“It has come at last.”

“What do you mean? The fight?”

“Oh, no. We have got orders to pack up our houses and move up to the
dance-ground.”



CHAPTER XI.

THE INDIAN POLICEMEN.


For a few minutes there was great commotion among some of the women in
camp, a few making preparations to strike tents, and the rest hurrying
off to saddle their husbands’ horses. The braves did not do anything
except bring their weapons out of the tepees and stand by until their
nags were brought up. Carl, seeing that no attention was paid to
himself, went out of the tepee and took his stand by the squawman’s
side.

“Do you see those men who are sitting in front of their wigwams smoking
their pipes?” said Harding. “Well they are those who don’t believe in
the Ghost Dance. The soldiers say they don’t want them to engage in it,
and that is enough for them.”

“They will be saved when the world comes to an end as well as those
who do believe in it, will they not?” said Carl.

“Not much, they won’t,” answered the squawman indignantly. “This world
is going to be destroyed and a new one made in the place of it; and
those men, who are perfectly willing that the whites should come here
and steal all their land and drive away the buffalo, will go somewhere,
and no one will ever see them again.”

“Where’s my horse?” asked Carl suddenly. “Or are you going to leave me
here?”

“Not as anybody knows of,” said the squawman with a laugh. “You must go
on with me up to the other camp. I have been trying for a long time to
get hold of you, and now that I have got you I am going to hold fast to
you.”

“How far is that camp from here?”

“About thirty-five miles.”

“Did you tell one of the women to saddle my horse?”

“No, because the horse don’t belong to me. The one who took your horse
by the bridle and stopped you is the one who laid claim to the horse.”

“And who has my rifle and revolver?”

“They went to some others of the party. Oh, you will never see them
again.”

Carl was not much disappointed to hear this. He knew that his valuables
were all gone, having become the property of those who helped capture
him, but there were certain other things he had that he intended to
hold fast to—the revolvers in the breast of his jacket. So long as they
were not discovered and taken away from him he would not give up all
hope of some day making a dash for his freedom.

“Have you not an extra horse, so that I can ride?” asked Carl.

“No; the women have got all the rest—and they need them, too. You will
have to walk; I don’t see any way for you to get around it.”

The horse of the squawman had by this time been brought up, and he
swung himself into the saddle, first making a motion to Carl to keep
close by his side. As they got a little way out of the camp Carl saw
that the crier’s voice had been obeyed, for they fell in behind a
long row of Indians who were already taking their way toward the new
camping-ground. They were mostly braves, the women having been left
behind to strike the tepees. The squawman did not exchange a word with
any of them, and neither did Harding converse with him as freely as he
had done heretofore. He did not want to let the bucks see how familiar
he was with a prisoner.

The boy was not accustomed to travelling so far on foot, and before
their journey was ended he was about as tired as he could well be. At
length, to his immense relief, he discovered the camp within plain
sight of him. It was situated on a plain which seemed to have no end,
with high rolling hills on three sides of it, and on the outskirts were
several “sweat-houses” in which the braves purified themselves while
making ready for the dance, and in the centre was perhaps a quarter of
an acre of ground on which the grass was completely worn off. This had
been done by the braves while learning the Ghost Dance from Kicking
Bull. There were a large number of tepees scattered around the edge of
the plain, but Carl had witnessed the sight so often that he barely
took a second look at them. What he wanted was to get somewhere and sit
down.

“I’ll bet that the men who dance here will get dust enough in their
mouths to keep them from telling the truth for months,” said Carl.
“Five days! That’s a long time to keep it up.”

“It is sometimes called the ‘dragging dance,’” said the squawman. “The
men get so tired after a while that they can’t lift their feet. Now we
will pick out a good place for my tepee, and then we will sit down. You
act as though you were tired.”

Harding kept on for half a mile farther, picked out a spot that would
do him, dismounted, and pulled his never-failing pipe from his pocket.
Carl thought he could enjoy a smoke and passed his tobacco-bag to the
squawman. The latter ran the weed through his fingers and praised its
purity.

“We don’t get any such tobacco out here,” said he. “We have to eke
it out by smoking bark with it. Say, Carl, how much do you get for
scouting for that fort?”

“I don’t get anything,” said Carl.

“Do you get up at all hours of the night and run around for that man
for nothing?” asked the squawman in astonishment.

“Oh, that’s no trouble. When I want money I can easily get it.”

“That is what comes of your having more money than you want,” said
Harding; and it was plain that he was getting angry over it. “If I
had one quarter of what you have got, I would leave this country
altogether.”

It was useless for Carl to tell the squawman that the only way for him
to get money was to go to work and earn it, for he had tried that plan
on him while he was herding cattle for his father; so he said nothing.
He leaned his elbows on his knees and watched the women as they came
up and selected places for their tepees. When the squawman’s was put
up, Carl found that he was in a position to see the Ghost Dance without
going away from it. He would learn something more about it, then.

“Have your women got your tepee all fixed?” asked Carl. “Well, I am
hungry.”

The squawman was hungry himself, and he had ordered the fire to be
built and the iron pot to be placed over it. By the time that Harding
had smoked his pipe he arose to his feet with the remark that he
guessed grub was about ready, and went into the tepee. Carl kept close
at his heels, and found that the iron pot had been removed from the
fire and set in the middle of the tepee, with two wooden spoons beside
it. The squawman took one, while Carl took the other and began to fish
what he liked best from out the pot. That was all they had. The meat
had been fresh the day before, but it had been cooked so many times
that there was scarcely anything left of it. But he made a pretty good
meal after all, and when he had satisfied his appetite he filled his
pipe, lighted it with a brand from the fire, and went outside to enjoy
it.

“I wouldn’t be at all uneasy if I knew where Lieutenant Parker is at
this moment,” thought he, seating himself on a grassy mound beside the
tepee. “I wonder if that horse has sense enough to follow his own trail
back to the fort? And why didn’t they capture him, too, when they took
me? I guess the squawman let him go.”

While he was busy thinking in this way Harding came out, followed by
his wife.

“I am going up to sweat myself, to make myself ready for the Ghost
Dance which will come off to-morrow,” said he. “Don’t attempt any
nonsense now. These women will keep their eyes on you.”

“Why can’t you let me go with you?” asked Carl. “I want to see what you
do in that sweat-box.”

“Well, I think on the whole that you had better stay here,” said
Harding. “The bucks don’t like your kind any too well——”

“Why, that ought not to make any difference with them,” said Carl, who
was evidently astonished at the squawman’s words. “I can see some of
them here that have eaten more than one meal at my father’s house. They
ought to think well of our family for that.”

“That does not make any difference. You belong to a class that has
humbugged them all the way through, and there are men here in the party
who have sworn to kill every paleface they meet. So I guess you had
better stay here.”

Carl had no idea of attempting to escape while the squawman was in the
sweat-box. There were too many bucks all around him; and, besides,
he had some preparations to make. He wanted to get rid of his boots
and borrow a blanket to conceal his moleskin suit. Thus equipped,
he believed that when the Ghost Dance was at its height he could
slip away, and those who met him on the road, seeing nothing but the
moccasins he wore and the blanket wrapped around his head, would
surely take him for one of their own number and say nothing to him. He
believed that he would try it, anyway.

“The only question is in regard to these women,” soliloquized Carl.
“If they get excited and go down there to see the dance, I can make
it. If I once get over these hills they will never see me again. But
suppose I am overtaken? Well,” he added, clutching his hands about his
revolvers, “I won’t be tied to the stake without some of them going
with me.”

Carl glanced at the women and saw that they had seated themselves
opposite to him, and, wrapped up in their blankets, appeared to take no
notice of anything; but he knew better than to attempt anything while
they were on watch. They sat side by side, but never exchanged words
with each other. The day and night wore on until it was twelve o’clock,
but still no sounds came from the camp. Finally Carl grew tired of
doing nothing and went into the tepee. He picked out a bed, the most
comfortable one in the lot and as far away from the others as he could
get it, and stretched himself out upon it. He thought of Lieutenant
Parker, wondered what the Ghost Dance was going to be, and then passed
off into the land of dreams.

Morning came at length, and Carl raised himself on his elbow to find
the squawman fast asleep on a bed by his side. He got up and went to
the door to examine things. He saw that some changes had been made in
the dancing-ground since he slept. A tree, denuded of all its branches
except near the top, had been erected near the centre, and there was a
staff, with a polished buffalo-horn on one end and a plumed horse-tail
on the other; a bow with its bone arrows and a gaming wheel with its
accompanying sticks were made fast below it. But prominent among all
was something that attracted Carl’s attention and drew from him a sneer
of disgust. It was the Star-Spangled Banner.

“I don’t see what the Government has done to be insulted in this way,”
said he. “I think they had better leave that thing out.”

For want of something better to do Carl filled his pipe, and sat there
and smoked it. There were a few braves stirring about with nothing on
hand to do, and now and then one came out of his tepee and started
toward the sweat-boxes. He was going to prepare himself for the dance.
For an hour Carl sat there waiting for something to happen, and during
that time the camp became thoroughly awake. One of the women came to
the door and motioned him to enter—a sign that his breakfast was ready.
The squawman still lay asleep on the bed, but the kettle had been taken
off the fire and occupied its usual place in the centre of the tepee.

“This meat is not half done,” said Carl, trying to scoop up a piece
from the middle of the pot. “You ought to be at our camp for a little
while. They would show you how to cook a breakfast.”

While Carl was engaged in lighting his pipe at the fire, a commotion
suddenly arose in the camp. It did not take the form of yells, as it
usually did, but there were subdued growls and the scurrying of feet
hurrying toward the dancing-ground. Carl wanted to see what was the
matter, and so he hastened out. The dancing-ground was alive with
Indians, all thoroughly armed, who stood watching the approach of three
horsemen coming toward them. Carl felt for his binoculars, but they
were away, keeping company with his horse and rifle.

“Those are Indian policemen, if I ever saw them,” said he. “What do
they want here? If I could only make them see me. Eh? What do you
want?” he added, turning fiercely upon one of the Indian women who
seized him by the arm and tried to draw him inside the tepee. “Get
away.”

Carl abruptly thrust out his foot and tumbled the woman over
backwards. She fell all in a heap, but at the same time she uttered a
yell so loud and piercing that it straightway aroused the squawman, who
came out with a rush.



CHAPTER XII.

MORE COURIERS.


“If Tuttle was here now he would play smash with you for serving his
woman in that way,” said Harding, laying a heavy hand upon Carl’s arm
and jerking him toward the tepee. “Get inside, where you belong.”

Carl went because he could not help himself, and the door was closed
behind him. He was alone in the tepee, the squawman and the women
having stayed outside to see what was going to happen. Carl wanted to
see, too, and by looking around the tepee he found a place where the
skins of which it was formed had not been stitched as closely together
as they ought to have been, or, if they had been, the constant moving
of the tepee had drawn them apart. It did not take him long to make
this hole larger than it was, and by placing his eyes close to it he
found that he could see everything that happened on the dancing-ground.
The braves were still huddled together awaiting the approach of the
three horsemen, and finally they began shouting at them and waving
their guns; but the police did not stop. They were under orders which
must be obeyed. When they came up with the braves the spokesman of the
three began a speech to which the Indians paid no attention. They began
yelling as soon as he began speaking, and for a few moments a great
hubbub arose. In all his life on the plains Carl had never heard such a
commotion before. Six or eight hundred Indians could easily drown out
three men, and Carl could not hear a word they said. He expected every
minute that some excitable young braves would shoot the policemen, but
finally the latter gave it up and turned their horses toward the fort.
Carl was greatly disappointed. He left the side of the tepee and seated
himself on the bed, and a moment later the door opened and the squawman
came in.

“That was one time they did not make it,” said he, giving one of his
hideous grins.

“What did they want?” said Carl.

“They wanted to know if Kicking Bull had gone home yet, and when
somebody told them that he had, they gave us the agent’s order to stop
the Ghost Dance.”

“Well, are the Indians going to do it?”

“Not much, they ain’t. We did not come up here thirty-five miles for
nothing. We have got the ground right here, we are away from everybody
so that we can’t disturb them, and we intend to go on with it.”

“The next time the agent sends men here to tell you to stop the dance
he will send an army with them.”

“Let him. He will see some of the biggest fighting that he has ever
seen yet. We shall be fighting for our religion, our homes, and all
that is dear to us; and when men get that way, they generally stay
until all are killed. Now I will lay down and have my sleep out.”

“Are you not going in the dance?”

“I shall go in about the third day. By that time some of the men will
grow tired and drop out, and I will take their place and stay till it
ends.”

“Must I stay in here all the time?”

“Oh, no. You can go out and sit down where you were before, but you had
better take this blanket along with you and wrap it around your head so
that you will be taken for an Indian. Now mind you, don’t attempt any
more nonsense. These women know when you ought to come in, and the next
time one of them takes you by the arm and motions toward the tepee you
had better start. If you don’t, I’ll be after you.”

Carl took the blanket and went out; and for five long days, except
the time he took to eat his meals and to sleep, he sat there with his
blanket wrapped around his head and watching the Ghost Dance. To his
surprise he could see nothing about it to excite so much admiration
in the Sioux. When the braves got ready to begin the dance, a
neatly-dressed young squaw walked up to the pole with a bow and four
arrows in her hand. The arrows she shot to four different points of the
compass—north, south, east and west. The warriors then separated and
hunted up the arrows, which were bound into a bundle and tied to the
pole. After that a medicine man made his appearance, and surrounded by
the warriors, of whom there were a dozen in all, began making a speech
to them. This was called the small circle, the other Indians not having
completed their “purification,” which they did by going through the
sweat-box.

The medicine man occupied nearly an hour in making his speech—they
were at so great a distance from Carl that he could not understand
what was said—and then somebody else took his place. It was a brave
who had passed into a trance during their last dance. He must have
seen some wonderful things while he was in the spirit world, for he
occupied their attention for another hour, and then he, too, gave
way to another. There was no yelling, except what the speakers made
themselves, but all seemed to be deeply interested.

Finally the braves who had been in the sweat-box began to come out and
join those about the pole, and at last the large circle was formed, and
then began the dancing. They took hold of hands and began moving around
the circle from right to left, and this thing was kept up until the
people grew so tired that they could scarcely walk. The old Indians,
knowing that this was to be a dance of endurance, barely lifted their
feet, while the young braves bounded into the air and tried in various
ways to show their enthusiasm. In a short time the dust raised by the
feet of the dancers arose in clouds so thick that Carl could hardly
see the circle at all. When one showed signs of giving out the others
would jerk him around the circle, until at last he sank down from utter
exhaustion.

“Well, if this is all there is of the Ghost Dance I am going to bed,”
said Carl about twelve o’clock that night. “It makes me tired to look
at them.”

Carl had not neglected to keep his eye on the women, who had sat all
that day watching the Ghost Dance, and he saw that they were watching
him too. When he arose and went into the tepee they got up and followed
him. The squawman was still stretched out on his bed slumbering
heavily, and Carl wondered if he were trying to make up for the sleep
he would lose during the two days that he expected to pass in the dance.

The next morning, when Carl got up, he went to the door and looked out.
The circle was there, larger than it was before, and some of the braves
seemed to be pretty nearly exhausted. He noticed that there was not so
much bounding into the air as he had observed the day before, the young
braves who had indulged in that practice having got weary and given the
dance up to somebody else.

“It is the same old dance,” said Carl, going outside and seating
himself on his favorite hillock. “The old men are in there yet, but the
young ones have gone out. What a dust they raise! It is no wonder that
the squawman called it the ‘dragging dance.’”

He was getting tired of the Ghost Dance. He had nothing to do but sit
there and look on. He thought that if some of the officers at the fort
could have seen it they would not be so anxious to stop it, for the
thing would die out of itself as soon as cold weather came. But then
an Indian was long-winded. If his medicine man had told him that the
dance was to be continued for ten days, he would have found some way to
get through with it. He heard a rustling in the tepee, and the squawman
came out and stood beside him.

“Have you got a pair of moccasins that you can let me have?” asked
Carl, remembering that he needed one thing more to complete his
disguise. “This boot hurts my foot so that I can scarcely step on it.”

“I reckon,” said Harding, who turned about and went into the tepee
again. He fumbled around there for awhile, and then came out with a
pair of moccasins in his hand which he threw down beside Carl. “There
is some foot-gear which my old woman made for herself to go into the
Ghost Dance with. You may find them pretty large, but if you strap them
up tight around the ankles I guess they will stay on. What do you think
of the Ghost Dance?”

“Is that all there is to it?” asked Carl in reply.

“Why of course it is,” said the squawman in surprise. “I think that
if you kept up that motion for five days you would think there was
something to it.”

“Do you want that I should tell you the truth?”

“Of course. I don’t want you to lie to me.”

“Well, I think it is the biggest fake that ever a party of men indulged
in,” said Carl, who did not expect that the squawman would take kindly
to this criticism.

“You do? I have a good notion to choke you for saying as much.”

“You wanted the truth, and now you have it. I would like to make you
a bet. In less than a year you won’t hear a thing of the Ghost Dance.
Your religion will die out entirely.”

“What makes you think so?” said the squawman, who seemed surprised to
hear this.

“Because the Messiah won’t come. The soldiers will come in here——”

“Oh, shut your mouth. The soldiers won’t have a thing to do with it.
If they come on us, we’ll whip them in a way that will do their hearts
good.”

“You will see. If I see you at the end of a year——”

“You will not see me, unless that letter you write to the general
brings my partners back to me.”

“When do you want me to write that letter?”

“Just as soon as the Ghost Dance is over. You haven’t got any paper
with you?”

Carl replied that he had not.

“There is one man now in the dance who has got a lot of paper by him.
As soon as he gets through I will go to him for some.”

“That’s all right,” said Carl to himself. “Now I will tell you one
thing, and that ain’t two—you won’t see me when this dance is over. I
will be miles on my way toward Fort Scott. That is better,” he added
aloud. “These moccasins feel as though I had nothing on my feet.”

Carl put his boots aside, filled his pipe, and once more turned his
attention to the Ghost Dance. Harding also filled his pipe, but he did
not sit down.

“You are going to see more of it, are you?” said Carl, as the squawman
moved toward the dancing-ground. “Now, what is the reason I cannot go
down there with you?”

“Your face is pretty brown, that is a fact, but it will hardly pass
for an Indian’s face,” said Harding. “You will be safer where you are.
Those bucks don’t like to have white folks see their dance.”

“That’s all right,” said Carl, as he stretched his moccasined feet
before him and wondered how fast he could run if the Sioux got after
him. “I’ll stay here till the women go away.”

That was a long time to wait, and Carl was so impatient to be doing
something that it was all he could do to contain himself. He had his
full disguise now, his moccasins and his blanket, and if he only had
in his hand that Winchester rifle which the squawman had covered up in
his bed before he left the tepee, and the shades of night were closing
around him, he would not be caught as easily as he was before. The
evening of the third day came around at last, and Harding began to
strip himself for the dance. He had nothing on when he came out of the
tepee except a colored woolen shirt, moccasins, and a pair of leggings
which came up over his trousers.

“Now, Carl, I am off,” said he. “Do you think I can stand it for two
days?”

“I should think you might stand it as long as anybody,” said Carl.

“I want to warn you that you must not think of running off while these
women are here to watch you,” said Harding earnestly. “You heard what a
yell one of them could give. Well, if these two set up a yelp it will
reach everybody. They will keep good watch on you while I am gone.”

Carl made no reply, but sat there on his mound and saw the squawman
and his wife go down to the dancing-ground; but he was all awake now,
and ready to improve the first chance to seek safety in flight. But the
trouble was, the two women were as watchful as ever. When he went into
the tepee to get his meals or to go to sleep, his keepers were close at
his heels. To save his life he could not get an opportunity to escape
one moment from their vigilant eyes. The days wore on and at last the
dance was completed, and with a long-drawn whoop the braves separated
and all of them started for their tepees, some of them so nearly
overcome with exhaustion that they crawled on their hands and knees.
The squawman came also, and he had to be helped by his wife. He went
into the tepee and laid down, and Carl, feeling somewhat discouraged,
followed him.

“That is one chance gone,” said he, looking daggers at the two women
who had watched him so closely. “Now, when will I get another?”

An hour passed in this way and the camp was fast asleep—all except
the woman who sat by the door, and who, save when she was relieved by
the other woman, kept watch over him while he slept. Suddenly there
was a commotion in the camp, and no one knew what had occasioned it. A
wild whoop, followed by others at shorter intervals, rang out on the
still air, bringing the squawman to his feet and sending him out at the
door to listen. It turned out to be a courier of some kind, and he was
detailing some news to the camp. The squawman listened intently, and
then came back with the face of a demon.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE END OF SITTING BULL.


“What is up?” demanded Carl, who raised himself on his elbow and looked
at the man in surprise. He thought, from the look of his face, that
something dreadful had happened.

“Young man,” replied Harding, coming close to the place where the
scout lay, hissing out the words from between his clenched teeth and
shaking both his brawny fists under his nose, “the English language is
not strong enough to make me do this subject justice. You are at the
end of your rope, and I would not give two cents for your life. Nobody
knows, except the few who were with me when you were captured, that I
have got you a prisoner here in the camp; but if one of those warriors
chooses to split on me, you would be food for the wolves in less than
half an hour.”

“Well, can’t you tell me what is the matter?” exclaimed Carl, growing
more surprised. “I haven’t been doing anything.”

“No, but your kind have. Sitting Bull is murdered—shot through the body
by Bull Head and Red Tomahawk, who were men that he has led into action
more than once.”

A wonderful thrill went all through Carl Preston as he listened to
these words. Sitting Bull was dead! How often had he wished for that
very thing to happen, but he had never dreamed that it would be done
by some of his own men. The squawman watched him closely to see how
he took the news, but Carl never showed in his countenance what his
feelings were. He could have listened to the worst news that any boy
ever heard, but he wouldn’t show it in his face.

“Why, how did it happen?” said he, knowing that he must say something.

“You know as much about it as I do,” returned the squawman. “Now the
next thing is——”

He turned and spoke some words to the Indian women; but Carl, although
he had been on the plains all his life, could not understand him. He
hated an Indian as he hated nothing else on earth, and he had not
taken the pains that some people do to acquire a knowledge of their
language. But the Indian women understood him, and straightway set up
a howl as if they had lost some of their friends. One would think they
were professional criers who had been hired to shed abundant tears over
Sitting Bull’s untimely death.

“Can’t you keep still for a minute?” shouted the squawman, shaking
both his fists at the women, and forgetting in his excitement that he
had been addressing them in their own language. “You two stay here and
watch this prisoner while I go down and see how it all came about. You
had better keep your eyes on him, for the Indians may come up and call
for him at any moment.”

The squawman plunged through the door and went out, but he left three
excited women behind him. They wanted to learn the full particulars of
the murder of Sitting Bull the same as the squawman did, but for a time
they kept their places on the bed, comparing notes with each other and
howling alternately. Finally one arose to her feet and slipped through
the door, and she had been gone but a little while before another went
out.

“I tell you the time is coming for me to make a strike for freedom,”
soliloquized Carl, drawing his feet under him so that he could go out
of the other side of the tepee if this one should follow the example of
her comrades. “If I once get out of this tepee, I bet they will never
see me again.”

Carl did not know much about women, but he naturally judged of what
he would have done himself if he were left with a task on his hands
in which he was not particularly interested. He would not have sat
there alone in suspense while all the rest of the camp, men, women and
children, were out to hear the report of the scout and get all the
news. She sat uneasily on her bed, but finally got up and went to the
door. As she did so a long, mournful howl, followed by a chorus of
yells which denoted that some of the tribe were growing excited, came
to her ears, and that was more than she could stand. In an instant she
opened the door and went out.

Almost any one who was placed in Carl Preston’s situation would have
been thrown off his balance by this unlooked-for incident, coming as it
did on the heels of his disappointment in regard to the Ghost Dance,
but it had no effect upon the scout. His face never changed its color,
and his hands never trembled a particle. Quietly he arose to his feet
and approached the door. It was dark outside, and he could not see a
single thing. The yells had ceased now, and the braves were listening
to a speech from somebody.

“Now is my chance, if ever,” said Carl, going back to the squawman’s
bed and hastily tumbling the buffalo robes and blankets aside. “If I
stay here I will surely be staked out, and I believe I would rather die
at once.”

Carl speedily found the Winchester of which he was in search, together
with a murderous-looking knife, which he proceeded to buckle around
his waist. Then he caught up the rifle, drew his knife, and with two
quick steps approached the side of the tepee opposite the door. One
slit with his knife and he was free; or at least he was free until the
Sioux got after him and captured him. With long, noiseless strides he
took his way over the hill in front of which the tepee was pitched,
and then turned abruptly off to the right and followed a direction
exactly contrary to the one in which he wanted to go. Fort Scott lay
pretty near south of him, and he argued that when the Sioux came to
pursue him, which would be in the course of a few minutes at the very
farthest, they would turn in the direction of the fort. When they had
given up the pursuit he would turn around and follow his rightful road.

Meanwhile the squawman, having left his prisoner, as he supposed, in
safe hands, broke into a run, and arrived at the dancing-ground just as
the medicine man began his speech. He was urging the warriors to take
to the warpath immediately and avenge the death of Sitting Bull. For a
time it seemed as though he would succeed in arousing the anger of the
Sioux to fever heat; but when it came right down to the point, their
chief man was gone, and there was no one ready to take his place. After
he got through, the scout, who had brought the news to the camp, took
upon himself the part of orator. He gave a pretty strict account of the
death of Sitting Bull, and we will go on and tell it in our own way,
for it was a long time before Carl heard the truth of the matter.

It happened on the morning of December 14th, although the arrest was
not made until the 15th. At that time a courier came from Grand River
with the news that Sitting Bull had received an invitation to appear at
Pine Creek Agency, for the Messiah was about to appear. Sitting Bull
at once resolved to go, sending a request to his agent for permission
to do so; but at the same time he saddled his horses, to be ready to
take a long and hard ride in case that permission was refused. The
agent saw that something must be done immediately, and he at once held
a consultation with General Miles, during which it was decided that the
arrest should take place on the 15th. The arrest was to be made by the
Indian police, assisted by a detachment of troops, who were to follow
within supporting distance.

The next thing was to inform the police of what was expected of them.
There was already a camp of twenty-eight policemen under Lieutenant
Bull Head, a man of undoubted courage, and who afterward shot Sitting
Bull, about forty miles from Standing Rock Agency; and couriers were at
once dispatched in other directions to order the force to concentrate
on Sitting Bull’s house, so as to make the arrest on the following
morning. This happened about sundown; but with loyal promptness the
Indians mounted their horses, and by riding from one agency to another
they collected forty-three trained and determined policemen to carry
out their orders. In accomplishing this service Sergeant Red Tomahawk
covered the distance of forty miles in four hours and a quarter; and
another, Hawk Man, made a hundred miles in a roundabout way, over an
unfamiliar road, in twenty-two hours. So it seems that those who found
fault with the Indians’ promptness did not know what they were talking
about.

By daylight the next morning the policemen surrounded Sitting Bull’s
house. He had two log cabins built a few rods apart, and in order to
make sure of their man eight Indians entered one house while ten went
into the other, the rest remaining on guard outside. They found Sitting
Bull asleep on the floor of the larger house. He was awakened, and told
he was a prisoner and must go to the agency.

“All right,” said Sitting Bull. “I will dress and go with you.”

He then sent one of his wives to the other house to get some clothes
that he intended to wear, and requested that his favorite saddle-horse
might be made ready for him to ride; and this was done by the police.
On looking around the house they found two rifles and several knives,
which they took possession of.

Now Sitting Bull seems to have changed his mind, for he decided that
he would not go with the police, after all. Probably one thing that
forced him to come to this decision was the appearance of his son,
Crow Foot, seventeen years of age, who urged his father to give the
war-whoop and not stir one step.

“Father, you have often given the war-whoop; give it now, when there
are two hundred men to assist you,” shouted Crow Foot, standing in
front of Sitting Bull and striving to push away the police who were
guarding him. “You shall not go to the fort. Give the war-whoop now.”

While this commotion was going on his followers to the number of one
hundred and fifty men had congregated about the house, and by the time
he was dressed an excited crowd of Indians had surrounded the police
and were pressing them to the wall. When Sitting Bull came out and saw
how many men he had to depend on, and compared them with the small
number of police, he determined that he had gone far enough.

“I will not go to the fort,” said he in a terrible rage. “You will
shut me up there until I am as white as the snows on the top of the
mountain. My children here will rescue me.”

That was all that was needed on the part of Sitting Bull to draw on a
fight. While the majority of the police were trying to clear the way,
one of his men turned and shot Bull Head in the side.

“Now is the chance to see if your ghost shirts will do what you say
they will!” shouted the lieutenant; and, though mortally wounded, shot
Sitting Bull through the head. Almost before the smoke of the revolver
had died away, Red Tomahawk, who guarded the prisoner behind, came to
the relief of his chief, and Sitting Bull dropped dead in his tracks.

Then began a hand-to-hand fight of forty-three police against one
hundred and fifty Indians. Catch-the-Bear, the man who fired the first
shot and was the means of giving Bull Head his mortal wound, and Crow
Foot, were killed; and after a hard fight the trained policemen drove
their assailants into a piece of timber close by. Then they returned
to the house, carried their dead and wounded into it, and held it for
two hours, until the arrival of the troops. During the fight the Indian
women attacked the police with knives and clubs; but in spite of the
excitement the policemen simply disarmed them and put them in one of
the houses under guard.

The fight lasted but a few minutes, but it was fatal to some of the
contestants. Six of the policemen were killed or mortally wounded, and
eight of the Indians, in spite of their ghost shirts, were sent to the
happy hunting-grounds. The warmest praise was given to the policemen by
those who knew all the circumstances, for some of those who faced death
had near relatives opposed to them.

The war that had so long been predicted by the soldiers had now fairly
commenced. Some of the Indians who were engaged in the effort to
release Sitting Bull fled to the Bad Lands, but the majority at once
made preparations to go to their agent and surrender. That was what
the courier, who was at that moment speaking to the Indians, wanted
them to do; but the most of them were for gathering up their tepees and
joining those who had retreated to the Bad Lands, for if they once got
among them the soldiers would find it a desperate task to whip them.
Of course this raised a discussion which became fiercer as the talking
progressed, until finally an Indian jumped into the midst of the
disputants and succeeded in commanding attention so that he could speak.

“You talk mighty big about going to the Bad Lands and fighting the
whites,” said he, “but before you do that I want you to decide the fate
of a prisoner who is now held by the camp. A white man was captured
while passing through our lines six days ago, and I am one of the few
who took him.”

The yells which broke out on every side were appalling. The braves
crowded up around the speaker, shook their weapons in his face, and
threatened him with all sorts of punishment. The idea of a prisoner
being captured while they were not on the warpath was a little too much
for the Indian to stand. He could not comprehend it. The speaker waited
until their anger had somewhat subsided, and then went on:

“Those ghost shirts you are making so much fuss about will not help
you one bit,” said he. “They are nothing but buckskin, and the white
people’s bullets will go through them very easily. Now, I want all of
you who are willing to go to the agent and surrender, to go with me;
and all of you who want to fight, go to the Bad Lands.”

The squawman, who stood around listening, heard all that was said about
his prisoner, and he was remarkably uneasy over it. If the Indians
proved to be so angry at one of their number as to threaten his life,
what would they do to him? Those who wanted to surrender would probably
take the prisoner along with them and give him up to the agent as a
proof of their good will, while those who wanted to go to the Bad Lands
and fight it out would no doubt kill him at once.

“And even if they don’t include me in the killing I might as well
be alone, for there are my partners who will go to jail,” said the
squawman, who looked all around to make sure that there was nobody
watching him, and then started for his lodge. “It was a mighty fool
trick of me, my capturing that fellow, and I am sorry I did it. I wish
he was back at the fort, where he belongs.”

Upon arriving at his lodge he lifted the door, but stopped very
suddenly when he caught a view of the interior of it. His bed was
torn up, his weapons were gone, and an opening in the tepee directly
opposite the door told the story of the escape. The women were nowhere
to be seen.



CHAPTER XIV.

AN INTERVIEW IN THE WOODS.


The squawman stood as if thunderstruck, but he understood the story
as well as if it had been explained to him. The women had got tired of
staying back there in suspense while their comrades were learning the
full history of Sitting Bull’s death, and, impelled by their curiosity,
had gone to hear about it too, and Carl, the Trailer, had taken the
only chance there had been given him to escape. That was all there was
of it. But there were other questions that came to Harding while he
reflected on these things. What would the Sioux do to him? There was
one question which divided the Dacotas into two parties, and the thing
must be settled then and there without a moment’s delay. Some of them
were going to start for the Bad Lands before the troops came to hem
them in, and the others were equally determined to go to the agent and
surrender. He knew that the fighting members of the tribe would soon be
up there to demand the prisoner at his hands, and that the rest would
come along to protect him; and both parties were so strong, and so bent
on having things turn out in their favor, that it was possible there
might be bloodshed before the matter was settled.

“I am in a fix,” thought the squawman, as these thoughts came flooding
upon him, “and I don’t know what to do. The prisoner is gone, and that
is all there is of it. I wish I had let him go in the first place.”

At this moment wild whoops and yells came from the dancing-ground, and
as they seemed to approach nearer and grow louder as they came closer
to his lodge, the squawman was aroused into action. He was not simple
enough to join in with the fighting members of the tribe. He knew that
they would be whipped sooner or later, and what was there to hinder him
from going under the sod? He was not quite ready to do that; and after
listening a moment to the howls of rage that came to his ears he dashed
through his tepee, passed out of the slit that Carl had made with his
knife, and ascended to the top of the hill. On the way up he came to a
decision.

“That boy ain’t gone toward the fort,” said the squawman to himself.
“He is much too smart to be captured in that way. He went off in this
direction, and when the Sioux get weary of looking for him he will come
about and strike for the fort.”

Acting upon the thoughts that passed through his mind, the squawman
turned away from the fort and followed a course that led him squarely
on to the Trailer’s hiding-place. His ears told him pretty nearly what
was going on in the camp. He knew, by the yells which broke out with
redoubled force, when the Indians discovered the hole through the side
of the tepee by which Carl had made his escape; and three or four of
the young braves, who were anxious to get somebody’s scalp to wear to
the Bad Lands, came along the base of the hill looking for Carl, but
they turned toward the fort. The rest of the Indians stopped in his
tepee, and after a chorus of loud yells from both parties they finally
ceased. Somebody was making them a speech.

“I hope they won’t come any farther,” said the squawman anxiously. “If
they will only just listen to that friend’s advice and go away, Carl is
all right.”

It takes an Indian forever to make up his mind whether to do a
thing or not, and for a long time it was uncertain who would gain
the mastery—the fighting members, who were anxious to kill Carl, or
those who wanted to go to the agent and surrender. But at length the
yells died away, those who were going to the Bad Lands having wasted
time enough, and the others, who wanted to go to the agent, drawing
away to their tepees, leaving the rest to do as they pleased in the
matter. When the fighting members of the tribe saw their companions
leaving them they became alarmed and left the squawman’s tepee in a
body, and thus the dispute was brought to an end. Carl was given a fair
opportunity for his escape, but he did not know it until afterward. The
young braves who had gone along toward the fort had not yet returned.

The hill along which the young scout had taken his hurried flight was
covered with a dense mass of willows, and the squawman had stopped in
them as soon as he heard the commotion at his tepee. A short distance
in front of him, but not in plain sight, was another figure, who stood
with his gun at a ready and his finger on the trigger. It was Carl, the
Trailer, who was determined that two or three of his pursuers should
not get off scot-free in case he was discovered. He saw the squawman
when he came up, and, if Harding had only known it, his life hung by a
thread. When the yells of the Indians had ceased, and all became quiet
again, the squawman proceeded to carry out the resolution he had formed
while making his way to the top of the hill.

“Carl!” said he, in a low and cautious whisper.

There was no answer returned. The figure of the scout was drawn a
little higher, and the muzzle of his rifle covered the man’s breast.

“Carl!” repeated the squawman in louder and more anxious tones.

“Well, what do you want?” came the answer this time. “Throw your hands
up. I can see very plainly, and if you make a loud noise you are booked
for the other world.”

The hands of the squawman were at once raised above his head, and he
tried in vain to make out the dim and shadowy form of the young scout
among the bushes; but Carl was secure in his concealment.

“Have you got any cartridges about you?” was the next question.

“Nary one. Every one I had is in that weapon.”

“You see I took your rifle to help me along,” returned Carl. “How did
you know where to find me so easily?”

“I knew you did not go toward the fort, and I knew, too, that you could
not have gone far in these bushes,” replied the squawman. “I want to
tell you that your way of escape is open to you.”

“You did not follow me on purpose to tell me that, did you? I knew it
when the Indians quit yelling. Now, how does it come?”

“Some of the tribe are bound to get into the Bad Lands to fight it
out, and the others are going to the agent to surrender,” said Harding.
“One wanted to kill you and the rest did not want to; so, between them,
you got off without much pursuit. You can go straight to the fort if
you want to; but be careful of those men who are going to the Bad
Lands. They are on the warpath now.”

“Is that all you wanted to tell me?” asked Carl.

“No, it ain’t,” said the squawman. “Are you going to leave me without
any weapons?”

“I don’t see that I can do anything else. I would be mighty foolish to
turn this gun into your own hands. I will take it to the fort, and you
can come there and get it.”

“Don’t you know that it is impossible for me to do that?” said the
squawman in alarm. “If you take the rifle with you to the fort I am
done for. The commanding officer will begin to ask me about those
stages that were held up some time ago.”

“That is so,” said Carl thoughtfully. “You see you got yourself into a
bad scrape by going with those fellows. Well, I will see what I can do
for you. You are sure you don’t want any cattle from me, are you?”

“Nary one. I would not have asked you for them, but I was hard up. I
wanted money, and didn’t care how I got it.”

“And there is another thing I want to tell you, Harding,” said Carl.
He saw the squawman’s hands come down, but by that time he had lowered
his rifle to the ground and drawn one of his revolvers, with which he
covered the man’s head. “Do you know that your partners have been sent
to the Leavenworth jail by this time?”

“No!” exclaimed the squawman.

“Well, they have, and so you can see that it would be of no use for me
to write that letter to General Miles.”

“When did that happen?” asked Harding, who was astonished by this
revelation.

“About two weeks ago. You see, the soldiers around here don’t wait
to see how things are coming out. The general was convinced of those
fellows’ guilt, and he sent them to jail without the least delay; so
you are alone in being a squawman.”

Harding was unstrung by this information.

“Dog-gone you, what made you agree to write that letter for?” said he;
and the words came hissing out between his clenched teeth in a way
that would have made Carl afraid of him had their circumstances been
reversed.

“I don’t know that I agreed to write it,” said Carl. “If I did so, I
did it simply to gain time toward effecting my escape. You would have
agreed to it yourself if you had been in my place.”

“If the general gets his grip on me——”

“Oh, he is bound to get you some time, be that sooner or later; and
when he gets hold of you, you will have to go to Leavenworth jail too.”

The squawman plainly saw how this thing could be brought about. If he
went with those of the tribe who surrendered he would be hemmed in by
soldiers, somebody would be sure to see and recognize him, and he would
be put under arrest immediately. If he went with those who were already
escaping to the Bad Lands he would, like them, be whipped in a few
days, and there, too, the soldiers would bother him. He was not such a
bold man as some might suppose. He was ready enough to slip up on a man
behind his back and bushwhack him, but when it came to meeting one in
a fair fight—that was a little bit too much for the squawman. While he
was thinking about it the young scout spoke again.

“I will do the best I can for you,” said he. “I will take the
cartridges out of this gun and put it here in the bushes, where you
can find it in five minutes after I go away. You can get some more
cartridges of the Indians.”

“Say, Carl, you couldn’t say anything to get me out of this scrape,
could you?”

“No, I could not,” said the scout, somewhat astonished at the
proposition. “You held up the stage, and that is contrary to law, and
some of you shot the driver. You will have to suffer for that.”

“I used to herd cattle for your father,” said the squawman at a venture.

“Suppose you did? What do you suppose the general cares for that? You
were caught in the act of robbing him, too.”

“Well, I have had a lesson, and I will never do it again. I will lead
an honest life from this time on.”

“If you are talking that way simply to get me to say a word to General
Miles you are making a big mistake,” said Carl. “Nothing that I could
say would benefit you. You have violated the law, and consequently you
have got to suffer for it, I tell you. Now here is your gun, blanket
and butcher-knife. I will put them at the roots of this tree, and in
five minutes after I am gone you can come and get them. The cartridges
I shall keep.”

“But you will leave yourself without any weapon at all,” said the
squawman.

“Don’t fool yourself. I have a revolver in each hand.”

“Why, how did you get them?”

“I have had them all the time. Now good-by, Harding, and let me tell
you one thing: you might as well come up and stand your punishment. You
have every law-abiding citizen in the United States down on you, and
wherever you go, you are not safe from arrest.”

Silence reigned in the little thicket after that. Harding listened
with all his ears, but could not hear a leaf rustle or a twig snap as
Carl moved away from the spot. He waited all of five minutes, and then
moved up to take possession of his property. After a little search he
found them all there, and with something that sounded like an oath he
took them under his arm and made the best of his way back to his lodge.

“I’ve either got to go with them fellows to the Bad Lands, and get
whipped when they do, or I must go and surrender myself,” he said to
himself. “I know that little snipe could have said something for me
if he had chosen to do it; but here I am, with everybody down on me.
Blessed if I know what to do.”

“I think he has more cheek than any man I ever saw,” muttered Carl, as
he moved cautiously away from his place of concealment. “He makes an
attempt to rob father and gets a bullet in him for his pains, and then
comes to me with the request that I will say something for him! Mighty
clear of it. I would say something that would get him stretched up by
the neck, if I could.”



CHAPTER XV.

FIVE YEARS BEFORE.


About forty miles distant from Fort Scott, in a quiet valley
surrounded on all sides by stately hills, the ranch of Mr. Preston
was located. The valley was fifty miles long and half as wide, and
the owner had no difficulty in protecting his stock during the winter
storms which now and then spread over the valley, accompanied by a
driving snow that effectually shut the cowboys off from all contact
with the outside world. A river flowed through within a hundred
yards or so of the house, and on the wild fowl that frequented its
banks during the fall and winter Carl Preston had received his first
instruction in wing-shooting. Game of nearly all kinds was abundant,
and it was no trouble at all for the ranchmen who wanted a haunch of
venison to shoot a deer when they came to the river for water. It was a
quiet, happy home, and Carl never would have thought of leaving it had
his father been spared to him.

The house was a rambling structure, built of rough boards,
dismal-looking enough on the outside, but in the interior it was fitted
up as any boy would care to have it. A porch ran the full length of the
front of the house, and one day in the month of June Carl Preston sat
on it, deeply interested in some work the foreman was doing upon his
saddle. Carl was at that time seventeen years of age, and, to quote
from the herdsmen, with whom he was an especial favorite, he was “as
likely a boy as ever stood up.” But there was one objection to Carl,
and that was, he never would study his books. According to Colonel
Dodge, he found more excitement in horses and guns than he did in
anything else. He tried hard to master a lesson that his father gave
him, but just as surely as anything happened outside, he would go out
to see what the matter was. Did any of the cattle become alarmed and
threaten a stampede, Carl wanted to be sure that the cowboy got ahead
of them and kept them from going out at the entrance of the valley onto
the prairie; or, if a horseman was selected that morning at breakfast
to break in a bronco, Carl would happen on the porch about the time he
got ready to begin, and see that the horse did not do the cowboy any
damage. At last his father became disheartened, put away the books, and
began work on Carl’s education himself. He took him into the field with
him every time he went, all the while discoursing upon some subject
in which he hoped Carl would be interested, and in this way the boy
learned much that he could not have got out of books.

“So you think you won’t be lonely any more after your cousin comes?”
said the foreman, stopping to pound down a waxed end with his hammer.
“Well, I hope you will like him, but I am afraid you won’t.”

Mr. Preston had left home three days before to go to Standing Rock
Agency for the purpose of meeting this cousin, and he had purposely
left Carl at home till he could see what manner of boy it was that he
was going to meet.

This boy Claude was the only son of Mr. Preston’s brother, who lived
in St. Louis. During his father’s lifetime, for Claude was now an
orphan, Mr. Preston often had calls for money and assistance, until
he began to believe that really his brother did not amount to much.
He got him situations, only to have the man throw them up at last. To
his brother’s inquiry as to why he had done so he always replied that
it was something to which he was not adapted, and begged for something
easier. Now the man was dead and Claude was left alone. He wrote to Mr.
Preston, and, telling of the death of his father, asked him what he
should do.

“Now is the time for him to make good his boasts that he is going to
set me up in business,” said Claude to himself. “Ten to one he will
write me to go out there, and that is one thing that I don’t want
to do. But then he has money, and I will see what I can do with him
after I get out there. I will promise him that if he will give me five
thousand dollars I will never bother him again.”

One thing that made Claude so free with his uncle’s money was the
conversations he had often had with his father. He had heard that all
Western men were reckless with their gains, and he thought perhaps Mr.
Preston would be equally so. What were five thousand dollars to him? He
could easily get it out of the first cattle he sold. But now his worst
fears came to him. Mr. Preston, after holding a consultation with his
foreman—educated man as he was, he needed somebody to go to—wrote to
Claude, and sent him money to come to Standing Rock Agency. After he
got there he would still have a hundred and sixty miles to ride, and,
for fear that he might not be able to stand the journey on horseback,
Mr. Preston would meet him there with a wagon. Claude did not like the
prospect of going out there so far from everybody, but still he packed
up his trunk and went, and he found his uncle ready to receive him.
Carl, as we said, had been left at home, because his father was anxious
to see what sort of a boy—or man, rather, for Claude was nearly seven
years older than Carl—he had been so willing to receive into his house.

“I hope you will like him, but I am afraid you won’t,” repeated the
foreman. “A man who has lived all his life in a big city ain’t agoing
to be contented out here.”

“Oh, I hope he will,” said Carl, somewhat disappointed at the foreman’s
view of the matter. “I will give him up everything I’ve got if he will
only stay here with me. There are plenty of horses for him to ride,
there is a boat on the river, and——”

“That may all be,” said the cowboy, “but when he is in the city he has
more than that. Where are the theatres for him to go to, and the balls
and sleigh-rides?”

“Why, Claude has not been to any of those things,” said Carl in
surprise. “You must remember that his father was poor.”

“Supposing he was. What has this man been doing during all these years?
If he had a position when his father died, what was the reason he did
not keep it?”

“Blessed if I know,” said Carl, who began to have a faint idea of the
way the matter stood.

“I’ll tell you just what’s the matter with Claude,” said the cowboy,
getting upon his feet. “He did not have a thing to do when his father
was alive; he stayed at home or bummed around some place waiting for
his father to give him money; and now, when his father’s left him, he’s
afloat and does not know what to do. I tell you, he has come to a bad
place. If he waits for your father to give him money he will wait for a
long while.”

“You are prejudiced, and I hope that you are mistaken. However, he will
soon be here, and I want you to meet him as civilly as you can.”

“Oh, I will do that,” said the cowboy. “He is coming here as your
guest, and of course I will take off my hat to him. But I will tell you
one thing, and that ain’t two,” he added mentally, as he shouldered his
saddle and walked toward the corral with it: “I believe that a fellow
who will stand around with his hands in his pockets, while his father
is so poor that he doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from, is
not a man who will do to run with you. I shall keep an eye on him.”

This made it plain that Mr. Preston had talked rather freely with
his foreman before he started for Standing Rock Agency, and that the
latter’s suspicions had been aroused. The cowboy was loyal to the
family, and anything that interfered with them was sure to raise his
ire. Carl did not know what to think when he went away and left him
sitting there on the porch. Ever since his father went away he had been
impatient for his return, for he wanted to see his cousin, and had
promised himself that he would try by every means in his power to make
his stay under their roof agreeable.

“Thompson is mistaken—I know he is, or father would not have received
him under our roof,” muttered Carl, as he turned himself around on the
porch and gazed toward the entrance of the valley. “At any rate, I
shall not fall in with him until I see Claude and judge him for myself.”

This much was settled, and Carl forthwith dismissed all thoughts of
his cousin from his mind. His father had promised to be at home on the
afternoon of that day, and then the matter could be determined to his
satisfaction. His pony came up and thrust his nose into his hand, and
Carl suddenly thought of something.

“I believe I will not wait for them to get home,” said he, going to the
end of the porch where were hung the saddle and bridle which he used in
riding. “I will go down to the gap and meet them.”

The pony—he was always called the pony, and nothing else—did not raise
any objection to being saddled and bridled. He was as gentle with
Carl as a dog, although if anybody else came near him he was apt to
be dangerous. This was the pony that Carl rode when he got his name.
He came home on a leave of absence and told his father of it, and the
consequence was Carl was not allowed to go back.

“I tell you those fellows have gone too far in naming my boy,” said Mr.
Preston in astonishment. “Have you ever been in that country before?”

“Not quite so far down,” answered Carl, who almost wished that he had
said nothing about it. “I have been down pretty near to Fort Belknap
with Mason, carrying dispatches, and that is as far as I have been.”

“Do you know what those Indians would have done to you if they had
captured you?”

“Yes, sir; but I didn’t intend to be captured.”

“Yes? Well, you don’t go back to the fort any more; and if Mason comes
up here I will tell him what I think of him.”

Carl smiled as he put the saddle on his pony and the conversation
he had had with his father came vividly to his mind; but, being an
obedient boy, he had stayed at home after that, and listened to the
stories the scouts told, although he had no hand in them himself.
Some day he hoped to gain his father’s consent to take part in them;
but until that consent was gained he would remain there on the ranch,
acting as cowboy.

Without taking any weapons with him Carl mounted his pony and set off
at a gallop, followed by his pointers, which went with him everywhere.
It was three miles to “the gap,” as he called it, which gave access to
the valley from the prairie, and he rode the entire distance without
seeing anybody. The cattle were all up at the farthest end of the
range, and had no business on that side of the house unless they were
stampeded. As he drew rein, however, and cast his eyes down the road,
he saw a dim object at the farther end which appeared to be coming
toward him. A second look started him down the road again, and a brisk
gallop of a mile or more showed him that it was his father’s team.

“Now I will soon find out whether or not Thompson is mistaken,” said
Carl to himself. “There are two of them on the front seat, and one of
them is a stranger. It must be Claude.”

Filled with curiosity, Carl kept his pony on a lope until he obtained
a nearer view of the man who was a stranger to him. The result
satisfied him and his countenance fell. Claude was neatly dressed as
far as his outward appearance went, and his gloved hands, which lay
before him, were as dainty as a woman’s; but there was something in his
face that was not attractive. It had a hard look, a dissipated look
such as Carl had never seen before, although he well knew what it meant.

“Halloo! Carl,” said his father, who was somewhat surprised at the
boy’s silence. “How is everything?”

“Father,” exclaimed Carl, extending his hand to his sire, “I am glad to
see you back again safe and sound. And this is my cousin,” he added,
riding around the wagon so that he could shake hands with Claude. “How
do you do, sir? I suppose you thought you were never going to get here,
didn’t you?”

“Oh, no,” said Claude with a smile. “I knew uncle would not run me off
into the mountains and lose me.”

While he spoke the young men had been making a mental estimate of each
other. Carl judged something of his cousin by the grasp of his hand. He
did not put any life into it; it was as limp as a piece of wet rope.
Claude judged of Carl the same way, and both of them came pretty near
the mark.

“Drat the boy, he has the grasp of a young blacksmith,” said Claude,
noticing the glove on his hand, which Carl had considerably mussed
during his greeting. “And this is the kind of fellow I am to be
associated with all my life! I’ll bet the boy doesn’t know putty. I
have seen enough of uncle’s life. I am going to get away from here as
soon as I can.”



CHAPTER XVI.

WHAT CLAUDE KNEW.


“Yes, sir, I am going to get away from here as soon as I can,” repeated
Claude, giving his cousin a good looking over as he rode a little in
advance of him. “I know just what I will have to do when I arrive at
the shanty they call home. Uncle has not said so, but I infer he is
going to make a cowboy out of me. If there is anything I do despise
it is a horse; and I know this wild Indian will take great delight in
giving me the wildest one there is on the range to ride. Then what will
I do during my off times? Not a billiard-table nor a bowling-alley
here! I wish I could think up some way to get around the old man.”

Claude was filled with such thoughts as these during his ride to the
ranch, although he tried his level best to keep up his end of the
conversation. He laughed when the others did, when Carl told his father
of the time that Thompson had had breaking in the sorrel mare—not
because he could see any fun in it, but for the reason that he did not
want to let his uncle and cousin see how completely his mind was taken
up with other matters. Finally he aroused himself and began to take
more interest in what they were saying. It would be well enough, he
thought, to wait awhile before getting away from there.

“Carl, do you see anything of the Indians out here?” was his first
question.

“Oh, yes; we see them every day,” replied Carl.

“But do you have any trouble with them? I have heard that Indians are
always on the warpath, and that they shoot and scalp every white man
they see.”

“Well, it is not so. We are on the Sioux reservation, and we know that
they have been peaceable ever since their surrender.”

“What did they surrender for?”

“To pay for killing Custer and his band,” replied Carl, looking at his
cousin with some surprise.

“I believe I heard something about that. Custer lost several of his own
men, didn’t he?”

“Well, I should say so. It was the greatest massacre that ever was
known. Custer gave up his own life; and, besides, he lost two hundred
and forty-six of his men.”

“Do you find any game about here?” asked Claude, who plainly saw that
it would not do to talk to Carl about the Indians.

“More than we want. If you are fond of shooting, I can take you where
you can shoot a grizzly bear inside of three hours after you leave our
house.”

“They are dangerous, are they not?”

“Well, I guess you would think so after you have been in a battle with
one. Last week we took a man down to the fort, to the hospital, who had
his left shoulder all torn out.”

“Have you got any books that are worth the reading?” said Claude, who
very soon made up his mind that he didn’t want anything to do with
grizzly bears. “You must have lots of time at your disposal——”

“Well, no. We have our evenings if we are not on the watch, but then
we are too tired to do anything but sit around and talk. We have
plenty of books, however, and among them there is one that I always
admired—Scott’s ‘Lady of the Lake.’”

“Yes, I believe I have heard of that book. Scott was a robber, was he
not?”

“No,” answered Carl indignantly. “He was a Scottish nobleman. But he
made one of his heroes an outlaw, and he ran on until he met his lawful
monarch and killed him.”

Both the young men remained silent after that. Carl was astonished
that his cousin, who was fresh from the city, where everybody is
supposed to know everything, should be ignorant of little matters which
he had at his tongue’s end, and Claude saw that he must be careful what
subjects he touched upon to avoid showing how little he knew. By this
time they were in sight of the ranch. It is hard to tell just what kind
of a looking building Claude had picked out in his imagination for
his uncle to live in, but it was plain that his amazement increased
when he looked at it. He got down out of the wagon and was immediately
introduced to Thompson, who gave him a hearty shake, and at the same
time he bent his eyes upon him as if he meant to look him through.

“Everything is all right, sir,” said he in response to an inquiry from
his employer, “and Carl has had one good, hearty laugh since you went
away. The old sorrel threw me three times in succession, and I thought
Carl would never get over it. I think you will find everything just as
it was.”

Claude was shown into his room, which he had to himself; and Carl,
after turning his pony loose, sat down upon the porch to think. To say
that he was sadly disappointed in his cousin would not begin to express
it. He knew that the man was older than himself, and that he would find
it hard work to amuse him; but he did not suppose that there was going
to be such a gulf between them.

Claude knew literally nothing outside of billiards and bowling-alleys,
and he would have to go a long way from that valley to find them. His
thoughts, as he sat on his bed gazing idly at the rag carpet on the
floor, were very much out of place for one who had just come among
relatives he had not seen for a long time, and whom he had tired of
already.

“I was a fool for ever coming out here, but then I did not know that
they lived so far from everybody,” said Claude, running his fingers
through his hair and acting altogether as if he were very much
displeased with himself. “I wish I were back in the Planters’ House,
playing a game of billiards with somebody; but now that I am here, I am
going to make the most of it. I don’t like my uncle’s looks. He is a
pretty hard man to deal with.”

And we may add that these were his reflections during the two years
that he remained an unwilling visitor at the ranch. He conquered
himself as well as he could, and stayed there because he had nowhere
else to go. If he went to the city he would have to go to work at
something, and he thought that living on the ranch was better than
going among entire strangers. He tried hard to learn his duties; and
being given a sober old horse that it was no trouble to ride, and
keeping always in company with Carl, he found that he got along better
than he otherwise thought he would. But there was one thing that came
into Claude’s mind that he would not have his relatives know for
anything. Mr. Preston had an office which opened off the dining-room,
and every pay-day, and that came once a month, he opened a safe in
which Claude had often seen huge piles of greenbacks stowed away. He
had not thought about this for some time after he gained an insight
into the safe, but of late it had gradually come upon him that if he
could get into that safe unbeknown to anybody, he would have enough
to keep him in idleness as long as he lived. It scared him at first,
but the longer he pondered upon it the more he thought it could be
done. Besides, his uncle was gradually wasting away from some form of
incurable disease, and Claude had schooled himself to look upon his
death with the greatest composure. Of course Mr. Preston would not want
the money after he was gone; and as to Carl, he would have the stock
and ranch left, and that was all he needed. If he could not make a
living out of that, he deserved to starve.

“I think that is the only way to make money,” said Claude to himself.
“It is true I might try Carl after his father is gone, but I don’t have
any hopes of making him divide the property with me. He will want it
all himself, for he is awful stingy. I’ll keep an eye on that safe, and
if he leaves the key in the door, as I have known him to do a hundred
times, I’ll just open it and take what I want. But where will I go
after I have performed the deed? Well, that will require some study.”

Every time Claude talked to himself in this way he grew more and more
impatient for something to happen. One morning as he was about to mount
his horse to go out and attend to the cattle he was approached by a
couple of rather seedy-looking men, who inquired for Mr. Preston.

“He is out on the ranch now, but he will be in before long,” said
Claude. “Do you want to see him for anything particular?”

“Yes—we want a job at herding stock,” said one of the men, who
answered to the name of Harding. “We understood that some of his
stockmen had left him.”

“They were three men who have got all the stock they want and have gone
off somewhere to begin business for themselves. I don’t know whether
you could fill their places or not. You don’t look like men who had
been in the habit of herding stock.”

And they didn’t, either. One of them, as we have said, was Harding, and
the other was Ainsworth, and they looked just what they were—regular
squawmen. Claude had been long enough on the plains to tell a stockman
when he saw him.

“Perhaps we don’t,” said Harding, “but we have been used to the
business all our lives. Is old man Preston out this way? Then we will
ride with you until we find him.”

Claude rode on ahead, followed by the squawmen, and somehow he did not
feel safe in their presence; but before long something that one of the
men said opened his eyes and made him feel that his uncle, by hiring
the two men in question, would make easy of accomplishment certain
plans he had formed.

“You’re getting rich herding cattle, ain’t you?” said Harding. “Well,
it beats the world how some men can get rich and do nothing. If I had
what old man Preston is worth I wouldn’t never do nothing no more.”

“Neither would I,” said Claude. “But it takes money to make money;
haven’t you lived long enough to prove that? A man who hires out to be
abroad in all sorts of weather, and who loses his sleep of nights for
the paltry sum of forty-five dollars a month, don’t see much money by
the time the year is up.”

Here the subject was dropped, but enough had been said to set each one
to thinking. Harding and his partner were hard up, to use the language
of the country. The provisions their wives drew every week did not
furnish them with money, and how in the world they were going to get
funds was what troubled them. If the truth must be known, they came
there to Mr. Preston’s house not for the purpose of herding cattle, but
with an eye on the safe in the office. Claude, dull as he was about
some things, saw that, and instantly two courses of action suggested
themselves to him: should he scrape acquaintance with the men, in case
his uncle hired them, and share the proceeds with them, or should he
pretend to be on their side, find out what arrangements they made in
regard to robbing the safe, and then go to his uncle and expose them?

“By gracious! here is another chance to make money,” said Claude, so
overcome with his grand idea that it was all he could do to keep from
laughing outright. “If I go in with them they will take the money and
leave me to whistle for my share; but if I go to my uncle and post him,
he will certainly reward me for my efforts, and that will be better
than stealing. I tell you I will get the start of that man yet.”

Claude was so impatient to reach his uncle and turn the men over to
him that he put his horse into a lope, and in the space of half an hour
discovered his relative riding slowly toward him. He simply said, “Here
are two men who want a chance to herd cattle,” and then passed on, so
that he could have an opportunity to think over his new scheme without
being bothered by anybody. It was in his mind all that day, and when he
went home to supper that night he found the men, with their hats off
and their sleeves rolled up, in the act of taking a wash.

“I guess uncle has hired you,” said he.

“Is old man—I mean is Mr. Preston your uncle?” asked one of the men in
surprise.

“Oh, yes, he is my uncle easy enough, but he treats me mighty mean. In
fact he uses all his hands mean.”

Claude looked all around before he gave utterance to this falsehood,
for if Thompson or some of the older hands on the ranch had heard him,
it is possible that he would have listened to the truth, plainly told.
A kinder owner to work for than Mr. Preston did not exist, and every
one who had earned his daily bread on that ranch knew it. If the three
men who had left the ranch to begin business for themselves could have
heard it, they would have told a different story. These men had been
at work for Mr. Preston a long time, and each one carried, besides his
stock, one thousand dollars, with which to start him on the road to
prosperity.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE PLAN DISCUSSED.


“There!” said Claude, as he lifted his face from the towel and gazed
after the two men who were walking into the dining-room. “I have given
them something to chew on. I don’t know whether they believe that
Uncle Preston is guilty of meanness or not—I rather think, from the
expression of their faces, that they do not; but it will show them what
_I_ think, and perhaps it will amount to something.”

Thompson, the foreman, was the one who objected to Mr. Preston hiring
the men, and he showed it so plainly that it is a wonder the men did
not see it. During the week following he would hardly pay any attention
to them except to give them their orders, and he got through with that
as soon as possible. At the end of that time he found opportunity to
speak to Mr. Preston privately.

“So you have hired those two men, have you?” said he.

“I have, and I didn’t think I could do any better,” said his employer.

“I should not raise a bit of fault with them if they were
stock-herders,” said Thompson, “but I know they are not. When you go
down to the fort make inquiries about them, and you will find that they
have Indian wives. These men are making forty-five dollars a month, and
their wives are getting their provisions for nothing.”

“Oh, I guess you are mistaken. These men must have had some object in
coming here.”

“Yes, they have. Where do you keep the key to your safe?”

“In my pocket, of course.”

“Then it is all right. The cook will be here while you are around the
house, and it will be dangerous for anybody to try to get it. You will
be around with me or with Carl——”

“And Claude, too,” interrupted Mr. Preston.

“Well, the least said about Claude the better,” said Thompson.

“Why, you don’t suspect Claude of having designs on that safe, do you?”
said Mr. Preston in surprise.

“I don’t suspect anything; but you just take my advice and keep your
eyes on that safe. You’ve got most too much money in there.”

“I declare this beats me! Things have come to a pretty pass when a man
cannot keep in his possession what money he needs.”

“I am only just telling you what I believe,” said Thompson. “I have had
an eye on that man Claude for a long time. When you pay off the hands
he is the last one in your office, and I expect he takes particular
notice of where you put the key.”

“Thompson,” said Mr. Preston, suddenly putting his hand into his
pocket, “do me the favor to keep this key. I am not as strong as I used
to be——”

“I know you are not,” said the foreman sadly. “Time was when you would
have gloried to have somebody come here with the intention of walking
off with the contents of that safe, but it ain’t so now. I will take
the key, and if anybody gets it, it will be when I am laid out.”

Thompson rode off to attend to his duties, feeling much better than he
did when he began his conversation with his employer. He was hale and
strong, a dead shot, as utterly devoid of fear as it is possible for
a man to be, and it would be a dangerous piece of business for one to
attempt to put his hand onto that key while it was in his possession.

“I feel all right now,” said Thompson, who drew a long breath of
relief. “I have been worrying about that key ever since Claude has
been here, but now I would like to see him get it. Many a time, before
Claude came here, I have seen Mr. Preston go off and leave the key to
that safe sticking in the lock for weeks at a time, and nobody ever
thought of going near it. He has been a little cautious about that
ever since I spoke to him concerning it. I’ll take the cook into my
confidence. He is a sure shot, keeps his revolvers hung up where he can
put his hands on them at an instant’s warning, and with him watching in
the house and me watching outside we have the dead wood on them.”

The conversation had a very different effect upon Mr. Preston.
He became suspicious of everybody. He watched his men and Claude
continually; and, though they were always respectful in their manner
toward him, he felt that there was something behind it all. One reason
was because Claude had not yet talked with the men. He was waiting for
them to “show their hands,” and that came about right speedily. When
the fall round-up came, and the young cattle had to be branded, it
chanced that Claude and the two men were together during the best part
of the day. As long as Thompson was with them they went about their
work in earnest; but when the foreman went away, Harding, who seemed
to have been waiting for this opportunity, entered upon the subject
at once. He must have known just how the matter was coming out, or he
would have been a little more cautious about it.

“You say your uncle treats all his hands mean,” said he, addressing
himself to Claude. “I think he treats us all right.”

“No doubt he does you,” replied Claude, “but he is only waiting for an
opportunity to turn loose on you. If we should let these steers get
away from us and start toward the entrance of the valley, then you
would see what kind of a man uncle is.”

“Well, I don’t know as I blame him any for that,” said Harding. “There
are lots of cattle on the prairie for them to mingle with.”

“You ought to be in my place once,” said Claude. “You would get a
blessing every night for not doing your work up right. I tell you, I am
getting sick of it.”

“Why don’t you quit him?”

“Because I haven’t any other place to go. Forty-five dollars a month is
better than nothing.”

“You say he has lots of money in that safe?” continued Harding, coming
down to the point at once.

“Oceans of it.”

“Do you know where he keeps the key?”

“I do. He has it in his pocket; but then he takes his clothes off
every night and throws them over a chair.”

“Do you suppose you could work your way in there at night and get it?
You would have to be careful and not wake him up.”

“Oh, yes, I could do it. Uncle sleeps like a log.”

Harding went off at a lope to catch a steer that objected to being
rounded up, and when he came back Claude waited for him to say
something more; but the cowboy seemed to have had his talk out. After
waiting until his patience was exhausted, Claude broke in with——

“Now, I want to know what you mean by inquiring in regard to uncle’s
safe? It’s there in the office, and there is nobody going to rob it,
either.”

“How much money do you think he has in the safe?” asked Harding. “It
wouldn’t pay to break into it and get nothing out.”

“He has eighteen hundred dollars in there that I know of,” said
Claude. “I remember that when he sold those hundred head to the
paymaster at the fort I passed through the hall and saw a big wad of
greenbacks on the table. He got twenty dollars apiece for the cattle,
and that would clear him two thousand dollars; but he has since paid
out about two hundred of it.”

“That’s a power of money,” said Harding, his eyes sparkling when he
thought of handling that amount. “That would be—how much apiece?”

“For three of us? That would make six hundred dollars.”

“Now, can you keep still if I tell you something?” asked Harding
suddenly.

“Of course I can. I can keep a secret.”

“Well, Ainsworth and me have come here with the intention of seeing the
contents of that safe before we go away.”

“I know it.”

“You do?” exclaimed Harding, looking at him suspiciously. “Who told you
of it?”

“Nobody. I just knew it from the way you acted.”

“Do you suppose anyone else suspects it?”

“Not that I know of. You have kept still when other people were
around, and I don’t think anybody mistrusts you.”

“We will give you one-third of what we get if you will go in with us
and get the key.”

“I am in for it; but the question is, what shall we do to keep the
money after we get it? The whole country will be after us.”

“And it will take more than the whole country to catch us, too,” said
Harding with a grin. “We’ll go off among the Sioux Indians.”

If Claude had had any intention of joining the squawmen in any attempt
on the safe, this proposition of Harding’s would almost have taken his
breath away. He had seen some of the Indians during the two years he
had been there, and the idea of taking up his abode with them was not
to be thought of for a moment. They were so filthy that he could not
bear to go near them; but he had another motive in view. All he wanted
now was to get at Harding’s plans, and then he would go straight to his
uncle with them. He was sure that in that way he would get a reward for
saving him from being robbed.

“Well, what do you say?” asked Harding.

“Will you feel perfectly safe from capture while you live with the
Sioux?” asked Claude.

“Oh, yes. The Indians always have spies among the white folks, and they
would keep us posted. They can’t catch us there.”

“Well, I will go. When do you think you will make the attempt?”

“To-morrow night, if my partner agrees to it. I am getting sick of this
cattle business. I long to be back in my tepee, where I can lay down
and smoke as long as I please. I’ll speak to my partner at noon, and
I’ll tell you what he says. Here comes that Thompson. I’d like to get
him out on the prairie where I could get a fair squint at him with my
rifle. I would teach him to lay around and watch his betters.”

“Here, boys!” shouted the foreman as he galloped up; “you don’t drive
these cattle fast enough. It will be dark before we get them down to
the corral. You Claude! take after that fellow and bring him back.”

Claude put his horse into a gallop and “took after” the unwilling
steer who objected to going toward the corral; but he was grateful to
Thompson for sending him away, for he wanted to have time to compose
his features. His chance for making money had come at last. Of course
there was a chance for him to arouse the suspicion of the squawmen,
who would take speedy revenge upon him, and that was one thing against
which he must guard himself. He would not be seen any more in his
uncle’s company than he had been heretofore, and when Carl came toward
him for the purpose of helping him he had business on the flank of the
drove, at some little distance away.

“I know I am all right now,” said Claude to himself, “and the main
thing must be to keep myself all right. If I am seen around in your
company, and the squawmen shall slip up on their plan of robbing the
safe, I will be the first to suffer for it. I’ll wait until night, and
then I’ll fix things as they ought to be.”

But it seemed to him that night was a long way off. The cattle were
driven toward the corral, the calves separated from them and put in
the inclosure, and amid the confusion and noise that attended all this
Ainsworth found time to give Claude an encouraging wink.

“What do you mean by that?” whispered Claude.

“It is all right,” was the reply. “We will see you to-morrow night and
tell you what to do.”

“Look here,” said Claude, looking all around to make sure that no one
was watching him, “I am not to do anything but get the key, am I?”

“No—that will be enough for us.”

“And I am to get my third of the money as soon as we get it?”

“Sure. You don’t think we would try to take it away from you?”

“Well, I don’t know. You cowboys are mighty reckless in handling money,
and you might tell me to look farther before you would give me a cent.”

“As sure as you live and breathe we have no such an idea,” said
Ainsworth, opening his eyes in surprise. “You get the key for us and we
will give you the money.”

“That is a little too far-fetched,” thought Claude, as the last calf
was driven inside the corral. “You were almost too ready to promise me
that money. It must be pretty near night now, and I am just aching to
tell my uncle of the plans that have been laid against him. How much
will he give me? Five thousand dollars at least. If he gives me less
than that I shall be sorry I told him.”



CHAPTER XVIII.

“THEY’RE IN THE OFFICE!”


It was long after dark before the cowboys went to supper, but they had
performed a good day’s work, and felt jolly over it. Claude was the
liveliest one of the party. He conducted himself in such a way that his
uncle looked at him with surprise, and he more than once caught the
angry glances of the two squawmen fastened upon him with amazement. But
Claude didn’t mind that. Within two hours he would see his uncle and
post him in regard to the robbery, and that was all he cared for.

“You can look at me as angry as you have a mind to,” he kept saying
to himself. “I will get a big sum of money for this evening’s work,
and then I can go back to the city and live as I please. Five thousand
dollars! One can see a heap of pleasure with that.”

Supper over, Claude went out to take care of his horse (we mean by
that that he turned him loose with the other horses, to feed during
the night), and as he turned back to the house who should come up but
Harding and his partner.

“Say,” said the former, looking all around to satisfy himself
that nobody else was within hearing, “what made you act so during
supper-time? Do you want everybody about the ranch to know what we are
going to do?”

“No, but I felt so gay that I couldn’t hold in,” replied Claude. “I
don’t care what they think. I shall soon have some money, and I can go
back to the city with that. I think, as you do, that I am getting sick
of this cattle business.”

“You are sure you can get that key?” asked Harding.

“I can try. If he keeps it in his trousers pocket I can get it.”

“That’s all we want you to do. Now remember and hold yourself in a bit.
I am afraid of that Thompson. We will have to keep an eye out for him.”

“Are you going to shoot him?” asked Claude in some alarm.

“Not if he behaves himself we won’t; but he does not want to come
fooling around while we are in the office. We may not have a chance to
speak to you to-morrow, and we want you to bear this in mind: as soon
as it comes dark, and everybody on the ranch is asleep, you come out on
the porch, and you will find us there.”

“I’ve got to saddle my horse, haven’t I?”

“Yes, you can do that after you find us. We will be out somewhere
near the porch, and you can slip in and get the key. That’s all. Now,
remember it, and you will know just what you have got to do.”

“Yes, I will remember it,” muttered Claude, as the squawmen walked
away. “I must go and get my horse after the ranch has been aroused.
That’s a pretty idea! Now I must go and find uncle.”

When Claude reached the porch, he found Carl sitting there in company
with his father. Of course they were talking about the incidents that
had transpired during the round-up—how this steer had got frightened
and made a bee-line for the prairie, and how that one had charged upon
Thompson, who narrowly escaped being unhorsed—and they were having a
hearty laugh over them. It was not Claude’s intention to say anything
to his uncle while Carl was about. He sat down in a chair and waited
impatiently for him to go.

“Well, Claude, you seemed to enjoy this round-up a great deal better
than you did the one of last year,” said his uncle. “You must have met
with some amusing scenes out there, judging by the way you conducted
yourself at the table.”

“I did not see anything to laugh at,” replied Claude, “but I am more
used to riding on horseback than I was a year ago, and I thoroughly
enjoyed it. None of the cattle charged upon me, and so I got off safe.”

In spite of Claude’s impatience, it was nearly ten o’clock before his
cousin thought it high time he was going to bed. They had a hard day’s
work to perform on the morrow, and they needed some sleep to prepare
for it. He bade his cousin good-night and went into the house; and no
sooner had he done so than Claude made a motion enjoining silence upon
his uncle, and went first to one end of the porch, and then to the
other, to make sure that there was no one listening to hear what he
had to say. His uncle looked on with surprise, and when Claude seated
himself he said:

“A person would think that you have some secret to tell me. Why don’t
you want somebody to hear it?”

“Well, I guess you will think it _is_ a secret by the time I tell it,”
whispered Claude. “Uncle, there are two men here who have made up their
minds to rob you to-morrow night.”

Claude thought that if that revelation had been made to him he would
have gone wild over it. Instead of that, his uncle settled back in his
chair and looked at him without speaking.

“They are Harding and his partner,” continued Claude. “They say that
the reason they came here was to get a look at your safe.”

“How did you find it out?” asked Mr. Preston. He did not seem to be
nervous at all. He talked in his usual tone of voice, and in much the
same manner that he would have discussed the round-up that was to come
off the next day.

“I don’t know why they came to me about it, unless it was because I
know where you keep the key,” replied Claude. “I agreed with them until
I found out what they were going to do, and then I came to you with it.”

“Where do they think they will find the key?”

“I am to get the key, and I am to feel in your trousers pocket for it.
They are no cattlemen, in the first place; and after they rob you they
are going among the Sioux Indians, where they will be safe.”

“It is just as I expected,” said his uncle; “they are two squawmen
beyond a doubt. You were to do nothing but get the key?”

“No, sir. They thought that was enough. I am not to be mixed up in the
matter until it is all over.”

“Well, you go ahead, and when you come into my room I will come out to
them. Good-night.”

This was all that was said. Claude sat there in his chair and saw his
uncle go into the house, and he felt his guiltiness. Mr. Preston did
not say a word about rewarding him, and acted altogether as though he
did not consider the matter of much moment.

“Does he intend to leave me out in the cold, I wonder?” soliloquized
Claude. “If so, I am sorry I did not stay in with the squawmen. He is
suspicious; I can see that plain enough. I wish the thing was over, and
that the men were safe among the Sioux Indians.”

Mr. Preston had not passed a sleepless night. He got up bright and
early, wished everybody good-morning, and one would not have supposed
that he had listened to an astounding revelation the night before.
He gave his orders in much the same way at the breakfast-table, and
when he had seen the herdsmen go away he filled his pipe and sat on
the porch to enjoy it. But there were two men about the house who,
according to Claude’s way of thinking, acted as though they wanted to
pitch into the squawmen then and there, and end the matter. They were
Thompson and the cook. The former glared savagely at them as he took
his seat on the opposite side of the table, and the cook hung around
the door of the dining-room, and that was a thing he had never done
before, and waited for them to say or do something. Claude was in a
fever of suspense. He saw it all plain enough, even if the squawmen did
not.

“Say, Claude, you have been saying something to the old man,” said
Harding, as the three moved off in a body to carry out Mr. Preston’s
commands. “If you have, you may bet your bottom dollar that you won’t
see any of his money.”

As the squawman spoke he laid his hand upon his revolver and scowled at
Claude in a way that made him tremble. He knew what his fate would be
if he did anything to confirm the man’s suspicions.

“What would I say to the old man?” he asked in a faint voice. “I am as
deep in the mud as you are.”

“What made the foreman and cook look so cross at us?” asked Harding in
reply.

“I don’t know. He has just as much right to be mad at me as he has to
feel mad at you.”

“We will go on with our programme just as we have planned it,” said
Harding desperately. “If the thing works all right, well and good; if
it don’t, it will be all wrong for somebody. Mind that.”

The day drew on and night came on apace, and still Claude had no chance
to speak to the two squawmen. He had been given his lesson the night
before, and he concluded that that was going to do. Now that the time
drew near he was beset with fears to which he had hitherto been a
stranger. Claude knew by the way Harding handled his revolver that he
was going to shoot rather than allow his plans to fall through, and,
although he had never heard of his uncle doing such a thing, he thought
that he, too, would have recourse to firearms. And where would _he_ be
about the time the shooting began?

“I am really afraid I have got myself in a scrape,” thought Claude,
so overcome with dread that it was all he could do to sit still on his
horse. “I never dreamed of their shooting, but that is the way all
Western men have of getting out of a difficulty. I wish I had stayed in
St. Louis when I was there. They don’t have any shooting going on in
that place.”

Supper being over, Claude did not go out to attend his horse as usual.
He whispered to one of the men to attend to it for him, and during the
evening sat on the porch with his uncle and cousin. He sat there until
ten o’clock, and then Carl said good-night and went to his room. His
uncle sat still longer, but finally arose and followed Carl, at the
same time laying his hand upon Claude’s arm.

“Is it all right?” said he.

“It is all right so far as I know,” said Claude. “I had a talk with
them this morning, and they said they would go on with their regular
plans. Be careful of yourself, uncle. They are going to shoot.”

“I will look out for myself. You keep out of the way.”

His uncle went to his room and Claude sat there on the porch,
literally benumbed with fear. Finally he mustered up courage enough to
go into his room and lie down on the bed without removing his clothes.
He lay there until twelve o’clock, and then, everything being still, he
got up and sat on the bed.

“I wonder if those two men are as nervous as I am?” said Claude to
himself. “I don’t intend to do anything myself, but I feel as guilty as
though I had been caught in the act. Well, here goes.”

Claude got up and made his way to the front door, and when he had
opened it very cautiously he saw Harding standing at the other end of
the porch. The man straightened up, mounted the steps, and stood beside
him.

“I thought you never was coming,” said he, and he fairly hissed out the
words. “You see, if you had not come there would have been some murder
done in this house.”

“Oh, I hope you will not try that,” said Claude.

“Then let the old man behave himself and do just as he is told. Now
take us to the office, and then go and get the key.”

Claude pressed his hand against his heart to still its beatings and
turned back into the house. A few steps brought them to the door of the
office. It was light in there, for the moon was shining out of doors,
and the first thing Harding did was to step across the room and raise
one of the windows, so that he and his companion could have a chance
for escape. Then he motioned for Claude to go ahead; but now another
thought occurred to him. Suppose Harding, instead of trusting him to go
alone into the room, should send his partner with him? That would be a
misfortune indeed, for he did not see how he was to convey to his uncle
the information that the two squawmen were in his office. He dared not
hesitate, but turned and went to his uncle’s room, and to his great
delight he went alone. The men did not hear him as he walked along the
hall, and when he approached the door of his uncle’s room, which always
stood open, he discovered a figure on the bed, and he saw it rise up as
he stepped across the threshold.

“Claude!” said his uncle.

“It is I,” replied Claude in a trembling voice. “They’re in the
office!”

Mr. Preston immediately arose, and in his hand, which he pulled out
from under his pillow, was a revolver. It looked now as though his
uncle was going to shoot, too.



CHAPTER XIX.

A TALK WITH HIS UNCLE.


“Be very careful of yourself,” said Claude in an earnest whisper. “They
have their revolvers in their hands, and are ready to shoot the first
one who steps into the office.”

“I will take care of that,” said Mr. Preston. “You keep out of the way.”

Claude stood in the door of his uncle’s room and watched him as he
moved with noiseless steps toward the office. He reached the door
and went into it, and the next moment he heard the word “Surrender!”
spoken in a loud tone, followed by the report of a pistol. A yell came
close upon the heels of it, and after that the noise of the revolvers
came faster than he could count them. He felt sure that his uncle had
received his death-wound. Almost at the same instant, as if they had
been waiting for this signal, there was the sound of hurrying feet
in the hall, and the foreman and cook ran by with their revolvers in
readiness. They glanced in at the office door, and then went on to
the front door, which they opened in great haste, and began shooting
there; but presently the sound of flying hoofs came to Claude’s ears,
which told him that the squawmen had succeeded in reaching their horses
and were scurrying away toward the entrance of the valley. A moment
afterward his uncle came out of the office. His face was very pale, but
Claude could see that he was not wounded.

“They have got away,” said the foreman in disgust. “Did they hit you
anywhere, Mr. Preston?”

“No, I am all right,” said his employer. “But bring a light and we will
see if there isn’t some marks down here. Harding drew his pistol on me,
but I got the first shot and he dropped the revolver out of his hand.
When he yelled so, I thought surely I had him.”

[Illustration: THE ROBBERS FOILED.]

Of course the whole house was aroused by this time. Every man who
was asleep under that roof was awakened by the pistol-shots, and had
come out, revolver in hand, to see what was going on. Foremost among
them was Carl, who, when he heard the particulars of the matter, ran to
the front door and gazed out into the night.

“It is no use, Carl,” said his father. “They had their horses ready
saddled, and of course took themselves straight off. I am not hurt, and
that is one thing you ought to be thankful for.”

“Here’s Harding’s weapon,” said Carl, as the cook came in at that
moment with a light. “It is all blood, too. Why, father, I don’t see
how you missed them at that distance.”

“Probably my nerves had something to do with it,” replied his father.
“A year ago I would have risked my chance of dropping them both where
they stood; but my skill has gone from me.”

“Here’s some more blood on the window-sill,” said one of the cowboys.
“You have probably marked them both.”

“Yes, I hit each one of them. Now we will go back, and go to bed.
Claude, I owe you something for this. If they had taken what there is
in the safe it would not have ruined me. A few days ago I had five
thousand dollars in there, but now it is safe in the paymaster’s hands
at the fort. How much do I owe you, Claude?”

“Nothing at all, sir,” said Claude, as he shook hands with Carl, who
came up but did not say anything. “I have saved your money, and that is
all I cared for.”

Some little time was spent by the hands in talking over the incidents
of the attempted robbery, and everybody except the foreman and cook
were loud in their praises of Claude, who had led the squawmen on till
he got all their plans. They were suspicious of Claude, and it would
require something more than he had done to relieve them of it.

“Father, I have some fault to find with you,” said Carl, as they were
about to separate and each one go to his own room. “Why did you not
take some one into your confidence?”

“I did. These two men were wide-awake and came out as soon as they
heard the pistol-shots. I could not have found anybody better than
they, could I?”

“No; but you ought to have had somebody along to back up your shots. I
believe I could have done better than you did.”

This raised a smile on the part of all of them, and they bade Mr.
Preston good-night and went to their rooms. Claude was the only one who
did not feel very good over it. His uncle had said that he “owed him
something,” but he did not say how much.

“Why didn’t he promise me the money to-morrow, so that I can go back
to the city?” said Claude, as he took off his clothes and tumbled into
bed. “They must see that I don’t want to live here. I wonder if I could
punch him up and get him to draw on that five thousand dollars he has
in the paymaster’s hands? That is something worth thinking of.”

Morning came at length, and Claude got up to find that he was treated
with respect by all hands except the foreman and cook. These two did
not seem to want anything to do with him. Of course they bid him
good-morning and answered all the questions he asked them, but they
did it in a short way, as though his talking bothered them. They were
careful not to let Mr. Preston see them in conversation with him, for
they knew that their employer would take them to task about it. None of
the hands referred to the matter at the breakfast-table, and in fact
they seemed to have forgotten all about it, and Claude listened in vain
for his uncle to mention the subject of a reward. He finally concluded
that he was not going to get any.

“He is the meanest man I ever saw,” said Claude, as he went out to
saddle his horse. “He lets me risk my life in saving his money, and
doesn’t give me anything. I wish to goodness I had said nothing about
it.”

A few days after this, Claude found a couple of strange men in the
house when he came home to dinner. They were very different from
Harding and his partner, for they were cattlemen on the face of them.
They wore their revolvers strapped about their waists, had silk
handkerchiefs around their necks, and their hats, which lay beside them
on the floor, were sombreros of the widest kind.

“Well, Claude, it seems that you are not out of this scrape after
all,” said Mr. Preston.

“What scrape do you mean, uncle?” asked Claude.

“Why, about that safe robbery. Harding and his partner have gone among
the Sioux Indians, and are going to kill every one of us.”

“How did you find that out?” asked Claude, his face growing a shade
paler.

“These men, who have come down to hire in their places, brought the
news straight from them. They are going to kill you on sight, for they
blame you as much as anybody for their failure; and Carl they are going
to capture and keep until they can get some stock out of him.”

“They say you talked to them very mean in regard to Mr. Preston,” said
one of the cowboys with a smile.

“I never said a word to them in my life,” said Claude, opening his eyes
in surprise. “They said something to me, and I tried my best to defend
Uncle Preston. They got their money right along every month, and were
not worked any harder than the rest of us. But how are they going to
catch us?”

“Oh, there are plenty of ways in which it can be done,” said Mr.
Preston. “They are among the Sioux now, and it will be easy work to get
a few of the young braves to come here and steal some cattle.”

“Why, they are at peace!” said Claude.

“That makes no difference. The Sioux are getting mighty uneasy about
their money and their supplies, which ought to have been delivered
long ago; and when a man gets hungry it don’t take him long to get on
a cattle-stealing expedition. They will leave you here, wherever they
find you, but they will capture Carl.”

Mr. Preston laughed when he said this, and Claude was half inclined to
believe that he did not put any faith in what the squawmen intended to
do. Carl came in very shortly, and he, too, laughed over the story. He
did not believe that the Sioux would go on the warpath for the sake of
capturing him, and he said so.

“I’ll tell you what to do, Claude,” said he. “If you see an Indian
coming toward you, just halt him.”

“How will I do that? He speaks his own language——”

“Yes; but you have a rifle. Just point that toward him, and you will
see him turn and go the other way.”

There was one thing that made Claude determine that he would not stay
in that country any longer than he could help, and that was the idea of
killing him on sight. Another thing that made him angry was the cordial
manner in which the foreman and cook, who were not long in finding out
why they came there, greeted the newcomers. Thompson told them that
they were the very men he needed. Claude waited some time for the men
to mount their horses and go away, and then he approached his uncle,
who was sitting on the porch enjoying his after-dinner pipe.

“Why, Claude, how does this come?” asked Mr. Preston. “You ought to
have been away long ago.”

“Yes, but I wanted to see you first,” said Claude. “I am getting sick
of staying in this country——”

“Ah! You don’t like the idea of the Sioux being down on you,” said his
uncle with a laugh.

“I don’t care anything about that. I have been discontented here for
a long time, and I am impatient to get back to the city. Give me some
money and let me go.”

“We are very busy just now, Claude, and I don’t know whether I can find
anybody to show you the way to Standing Rock Agency or not. If you can
wait two or three weeks I will send somebody with you.”

Claude waited for him to say something about a reward for breaking up
that safe robbery, but Mr. Preston did not say anything about it. It
was right on the end of Claude’s tongue to ask him if he was going to
give him anything for that, but on the whole he concluded that he would
hold his peace.

“How much money have I got coming to me?” he asked. “I know I have not
got much,” he added mentally, “but that will start me on the road.”

“I owe you four hundred dollars,” said his uncle. “You know you spent
money pretty lively while you were down at the fort. That sum can’t
help you much if you are in a big city. Your expensive habits will get
the better of you. What do you intend to do?”

“I don’t know. I know, or did know, of a news depot that I could
buy for eight hundred dollars, and that would support me as well as
anything. But the trouble is, I haven’t got the eight hundred dollars.”

“No, it takes money to make money, as I have often heard you express
it. You could probably get that news depot for your four hundred
dollars down, and if you were economical——”

“No, I could not. The man must have cash, for he intends to leave the
country.”

“That is bad, and you will have to hit upon something else. Have you
ever tried book-keeping?”

“No, sir. That is altogether too confining a business for me. I want to
have something to do so that I can get out of doors once in a while. A
person would die for the want of exercise.”

“Well, I don’t know what you will go at,” said his uncle, looking
down at the floor. “Book-keeping is a very nice business, and if you
are careful to save your money it will last you until you take a full
course at some commercial college.”

“I shall not try book-keeping, and that is out of the question.”

“Didn’t your father prepare you for any business in life?”

“No, sir. He had always got through his life without being educated for
any business, and he thought that I could do the same.”

“Your father made a bad mistake—I will say that much for him.”

“Have you educated Carl for any business?” asked Claude, who kept
growing angrier the longer the conversation continued.

“Yes; he will be able to attend to the stock business after I am gone.
I had hoped to prepare you for the same business, but I see you don’t
like it. If you will wait two or three weeks I will send some one down
to show you the way to the fort,” said Mr. Preston, getting upon his
feet.

This was a hint that his uncle had said all he wanted to say on the
subject, and Claude at once started out after his horse.



CHAPTER XX.

A NEW PLAN.


Claude was so angry when he left his chair and started out to get his
horse that it was all he could do to keep from yelling. He had had a
short talk with his uncle, and it amounted to nothing. The story about
finding a news depot which he could have for eight hundred dollars was
made up out of his own head. All he wanted was to get the money in his
hands, and then he could live as he pleased.

“I see it is all up with me,” said Claude, as he mounted his horse
and set out for the range. “He does not intend to give me anything. I
have risked my life for him all these years—I would like to know if I
did not risk my life that time the cow charged upon me when I pulled
her out of the mud—and have kept his safe from being robbed; and all he
means to do is to fit me for a cowman! But I guess I won’t say anything
about going home just now. Uncle Preston can’t last forever, the
remedies he is using don’t help his cough one particle, and who knows
but I may get Carl to divide the business with me? I tell you that is
worth thinking of.”

The days passed on, and when two weeks had gone by the young cattle had
all been branded and the cowboys had a little more leisure on their
hands. At the end of that time his uncle called him into the office and
had his money all laid out for him.

“Now, Claude, if you are resolved to go, I can send somebody to show
you the way to the fort,” said he.

“Well, uncle, I have had plenty of opportunity to think the matter
over, and have come to the conclusion that I will not go home yet
awhile,” replied Claude. “This is the best business I can think of,
and with your permission I will follow it a little while longer. Four
hundred dollars, as you say, would not help me to go into anything by
which I could support myself in the city.”

“Oh, yes, we will keep you, and be glad to,” his uncle hastened to
answer. “And if you keep on, Carl will give you a thousand dollars to
enable you to start right.”

“That is better than nothing,” soliloquized Claude. “I hope you will
rest easy after giving me that small pittance out of your unbounded
wealth.” Then aloud he said: “You say that Carl will give me that
amount. What is the reason _you_ can’t give it?”

“Because I don’t expect to last very long,” said Mr. Preston. “In six
months from now I expect to be under the sod.”

“Oh, uncle, don’t talk that way,” exclaimed Claude, who for once in his
life felt really alarmed for his relative.

“There is no use in denying it. I feel that I am growing weaker every
day. Well, I guess that is all I have to say to you. If you are going
to stay with me, I will put this back in the safe.”

Claude was always angry after holding these talks with his uncle. He
went out of the door respectfully enough, and, making sure that there
was no one in the hall to observe his movements, he turned and shook
his fist at it, at the same time muttering something under his breath
which sounded very much like an oath.

During the days that followed it was seen by everybody that Mr. Preston
was gradually giving up to the dread disease, consumption, which had
so long threatened him. His cough got so bad that he was finally
obliged to give up riding entirely, and remained on his porch while
his men were out herding cattle. When Carl saw this he gave up all
hope and stayed behind with him; but affection could not curb the fell
destroyer. At last Mr. Preston took to his bed, from which he never got
up. The men came on tiptoe to his room to inquire after him, and even
Claude felt awed in the presence of death. That is, he tried to appear
so before the men; but when he got on his horse, away from everybody,
he could scarcely restrain himself.

“He must have made a will,” said Claude. “No person ever died with
such an amount of property on hand without doing so. Who knows but that
he has left me something? I will not wait for that thousand dollars.
Carl can keep it and welcome—that is, if he thinks he cannot get along
without it. I’ll take what is coming to me and go to the city, provided
I cannot get around Carl and get him to divide the business with me.
That is my only hope now.”

At last it was all over. When Claude came in from the range one day
something told him that “the meanest man he ever saw” was out of his
way for all time to come. Carl had shut himself up in his room, but
Claude soon found his way into the death-chamber, where he stayed just
one minute, and then came out. The three herdsmen who had gone off to
engage in business on their own responsibility were there, and also
several officers from the fort; for Mr. Preston was popular, and his
friends believed in showing him all the respect in their power.

Two days passed, and then all that was mortal of Mr. Preston was laid
away in a grave which he had selected for his eternal abiding-place.
Then the mourners returned to the house to witness the reading of
the will. The doctor took charge of the matter, and, beginning with
the foreman, he read all through until he came to Carl, to whom he
bequeathed all his property left over after the legacies had been
provided for. To each man he left one thousand dollars, and Claude’s
name had not been mentioned at all. That young gentleman was surprised
and thunderstruck; and all this while the doctor had been folding down
the will to get at a short codicil there was at the bottom of it. He
read it when he came to it, and even in death he found that his uncle
was still giving him advice. He bequeathed to Claude the sum of one
thousand dollars, and wound up with the hope that Claude would save
his money, and that it would be the means of leading him to prosperity
and success. The amount was so much smaller than Claude thought it was
going to be, that for a moment or two he hardly seemed to breathe; but
he finally came to himself, and taking up his hat, which lay beside him
on the floor, he walked out of the house. He held in pretty well until
he was behind the stables, out of sight, and then gave full vent to his
feelings.

“A thousand dollars!” said he, and this time he did not try to
interrupt the oaths that came out thick and fast. “And I saved his safe
from being robbed, too. I must try Carl now, although he is so awful
stingy I don’t think I can make anything out of him. If I once get a
drove of cattle to sell I will skip out with the first money I get.”

For a long time Claude did not go into the house. He felt enraged at
his uncle, and he knew it showed itself in his face; but after a while
he managed to go in in time for supper. The officers at the fort had
gone away, and there was no one left except the three men who had gone
off herding cattle for themselves. When he got there he found that
something of moment was being discussed.

“I don’t know how I shall act,” said Thompson, looking down at his
plate. “I never have been in the city in my life.”

“You can do just as I do,” answered Carl. “I never have been in the
city but a few times in my life, and I shall stay there no longer than
I can help. There are some men in St. Louis who ought to be in jail,
and if they found out that we had that amount of money with us they
would try to steal it. You will go with us, won’t you?” he added,
turning to his cousin, who at that moment came in. “Father has given by
his will ten thousand dollars that I have not got, and I shall have to
go to St. Louis after it. Thompson don’t want to go.”

Claude did not say anything immediately, for the words brought a new
plan into his head. If he was going to St. Louis after more money, what
was the reason he could not get that money for himself? He knew some
pretty rough characters in St. Louis, more’s the pity, and it would
be no trouble at all to induce them to waylay Carl in some manner and
get that money from him. But there was Thompson, who didn’t want to
go. He would go armed, of course—he could not go anywhere without his
revolvers were strapped around him—and he would be in the way. If he
could only think of some method to induce his cousin to leave Thompson
behind. Seeing that Carl’s eyes were fastened on him with an inquiring
look, Claude answered the question.

“Of course I will go with you, for St. Louis is the place I want to
see,” said he. “If Thompson would rather stay here——”

“But he isn’t going to stay here,” Carl hastened to reply. “I have
given my orders, which are for him to be ready to start for the city
to-morrow. He will be ready, of course. I will pay you your thousand
dollars after we get there.”

This put a stop to further conversation on the subject, for everybody
saw that Carl had made up his mind and that all argument was useless.
When supper was ended Claude went out on the porch and sat down with
his cousin.

“If I was in your place I would leave Thompson at home,” said he. “He
will be out of place there among all those nice people, and he won’t be
of any use to you, either.”

“I will risk that,” said Carl. “I want somebody along who is not afraid
to shoot if I get into trouble, and Thompson is the only one I know of.”

His cousin was firmly set upon this point, and Claude did not think it
best to pursue the subject any further. He now came to the matter that
was uppermost in his mind.

“Did Uncle Preston say anything to you about dividing this business
with me?” he asked suddenly.

“Not a word,” said Carl in astonishment.

“Well, he said something to me about it, and I supposed you had got
your instructions from him.”

“He never said a thing about it. He left the whole business in my
charge. He told me, however, that if you stayed here until you are able
to herd cattle for yourself I was to give you a thousand dollars to
help you along.”

“I confess that that is a surprise to me,” said Claude, as if he were
almost overwhelmed with astonishment. “I supposed that he was going to
provide for me during my lifetime.”

Carl was really amazed to hear this. Of one thing he was sure: If his
father had said anything to him about taking Claude into partnership
with him, he would have done it, although he would have rebelled
against it. But Claude did not know anything about herding cattle. He
would have felt as safe by taking some tenderfoot out of an office in
a city, who had never seen cattle on a stampede, and giving him a half
interest in his business.

“I had but a little over four hundred dollars coming to me, and he
said that amount was not enough to set me going till I could support
myself,” said Claude, leaning his elbows on his knees and gazing
thoughtfully at the floor. “I don’t know what I shall do now.”

“_I_ don’t know, I am sure. I shall carry out the terms of his will,
and more than that I cannot do.”

“You are willing to leave me to starve, I suppose?” said Claude,
allowing his rage to get the better of him.

“If fifteen hundred dollars won’t keep you till you can find something
to do, you ought to starve.”

During all the months that Claude had been with his cousin, living
under the same roof with him, and seeing him in no end of scrapes with
wild horses and wilder cattle, he had never seen him exhibit so much
spirit before. He started up in his chair and looked at Claude as
if waiting for him to say something else. Claude returned his gaze,
and then picked up his hat and walked away; but the moment he got
behind the stables he straightened up and shook both his fists in the
direction of the porch.

“I didn’t know that boy had so much pluck,” said Claude. “No matter
which way I turn, I am to be left out in the cold. Never mind. I’ve
seen worse men than Thompson got away with, and we’ll see whether or
not he gets away with all the money.”

“The idea of my dividing this business with him,” said Carl in disgust.
“Father never said a word about it. I would feel a great deal safer
if I had Thompson. But I don’t intend to stay around here after I get
back from St. Louis. I don’t want to be here, where everything will
remind me of father. I shall go down to the fort and hire out to the
commandant for a scout. I know the country as well as anybody, and I
will not get lost.”

Carl’s first care was to get himself ready for the journey that was
to come off on the morrow. He had been in the city but a few times
with his father, and he thought he was pretty well acquainted with
the banker who had charge of his father’s money; but in order to make
assurance doubly sure there was a letter in his sire’s will addressed
to the gentleman in question, and he was sure that it would gain him
the identification necessary for him to get the funds. This letter he
put carefully away in the inside pocket of the moleskin suit which he
laid out in readiness for the trip. Thompson came in after he had set
the men to work and seated himself on Carl’s bed.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE TRIP TO ST. LOUIS.


“Well, Thompson, what do think of the situation?” asked Carl, after
waiting for some time to hear what the foreman had on his mind.

“I hain’t got nothing to wear,” said Thompson.

“You have as much as I have,” replied Carl.

“Everybody will look at us as we go tramping along the streets, and
they will think we came from the hills, sure enough.”

“Well, you do, don’t you?” said Carl with a smile. “They looked at me
the same way too, when I first went there, but I didn’t care for that.
We will stay there one night and come away the next day. You can surely
stand it that long.”

Yes, Thompson thought that he could do that, and adjourned to his own
room to give his clothes the needed brushing. They would do well enough
out there where everybody wore clothing of the same description, but
he did not know how they would look in a place containing so large a
population as St. Louis. He concluded that everything would pass muster
except his _chaparejos_, his cowboy’s riding-pants, which he thought
were a little too well-worn to pass muster anywhere. But then he could
exchange with one of the new men whom Mr. Preston had hired a short
time before his death.

“I declare, they look shabby,” said the foreman, standing off with
his brush and giving his clothes a good looking over. “Well, I would
like to see anybody who has been out here as long as I have, go there
looking any better. If it were not for such fellows as me, some of them
would go hungry for their beef.”

Claude came in shortly after that and began to pack his trunk. Now,
that trunk was the source of a great deal of annoyance to Carl. If
it had not been for that they could have gone on horseback, and thus
completed their journey in half the time. As it was, they were obliged
to take a wagon with them, and that would delay them just four days.

“At any rate I shall see the last of you,” soliloquized Carl, as he
passed along the hall and saw Claude at work with his trunk. “I wish
you had never come here. I know Thompson will be glad that you are
gone.”

It must not be supposed that Carl really disliked his cousin, for he
did not; but at the same time candor compelled him to say that affairs
about the ranch did not move as smoothly as they did before he came
there. He seemed to possess the faculty of getting the cowboys into
a turmoil. Every little thing that was said out on the range went
straight to his father’s ears, until Mr. Preston told him that his
cowboys satisfied him, and he didn’t want to have any more stories
brought to him. Thompson was the one who had the most fault to find
with him. If he started him off to find certain cattle that had strayed
off the range, he would perhaps find him, in an hour or two, miles away
from his post, stretched out beneath the shade of a tree and taking
matters easy. At such a time Thompson always gave him the full benefit
of his tongue, and it seemed to be hung in the middle, so that he could
keep both ends of it clattering at once.

“There is one thing that I forgot to speak to you about,” said Carl,
going into Thompson’s room. “Do you suppose that father ever said a
word about my taking Claude into partnership with me?”

Thompson looked at Carl, and then backed toward the nearest chair and
dropped into it.

“Claude told me of that this morning,” continued Carl. “He says he
don’t know what he shall do to support himself if I let him go home.”

“How much money has he got coming to him?” asked Thompson.

“Counting in the thousand, he has fifteen hundred dollars. At any rate,
that is what I shall pay him.”

“He can certainly get something to do before that is gone. If he can’t,
he ought to go hungry.”

“That is what I told him. Do you suppose father said a word to him
about going into partnership with me?”

“No,” said Thompson emphatically. “I will tell you what is a fact,
Carl. I love the ranch, I love every horse and cow on it, but if you
take that man into business with you, you can get another foreman.”

“You need not worry yourself. I have no intention of doing it.”

The next morning the cowboys were all up at four o’clock to see the
journey begun. If good wishes could have anything to do with them,
they would certainly get back in as fine order as they were when they
started. Claude’s trunk had been thrown into the wagon without much
regard to consequences, much to that young gentleman’s disgust, and in
ten minutes more the ranch was out of sight. They stopped that night
at the fort, and if we were to say that everybody was glad to see Carl
we should be touching the matter very lightly. Everybody had something
to say about the loss of his father, and the kind words brought tears
to Carl’s eyes. He got away from the officers and went to see the
commandant of the fort. He wanted to get a position for himself as bad
as Claude did. The colonel just listened to him until he found out what
he had come there for, and then got up and shook him by the hand.

“Of course I have got a position for you,” said he. “You want to hurry
back from St. Louis and get here as soon as possible. I will have
business for you every day.”

Thompson was not at all pleased to hear this. Of course he would be
given charge of the ranch during his employer’s absence, but that did
not suit him. He wanted Carl around so that he could take orders from
him, and the place would be lonely without him. Claude, too, looked
glum when he heard of it.

“You seem to find something to do without going out of your own
country,” said he with evident disgust, “and I have got to go to St.
Louis, and probably will not find anything there to suit me.”

Carl did not know what reply to make to this, so he said nothing. The
next day they started on again, and in four days arrived at Standing
Rock Agency. They made arrangements with the teamsters to keep their
mules until they came back, and then Carl found the quartermaster, of
whom they obtained a permit to go down to Fort Scully on his boat. It
was a small boat, built to run when the water in the river was shallow,
and the time they had in getting down to their journey’s end filled
Carl with impatience. There seemed to be a bar in every bend, and the
boat was kept busy “sparring off” to enable her to continue on her way;
but at length Fort Scully was sighted and the boat made her landing.

“I don’t expect we will be here when you come back,” said the captain,
to whom Carl had gone for some information on the subject. “We shall
probably be up at Standing Rock Agency; but if we are not here, you can
wait.”

This was bad news for Carl, who wanted to get through with the trip
and get back to his ranch without loss of time. He found another
boat that was going to St. Louis, and on her he took passage, and
after a pleasant journey—there was not as much “sparring off” to do
on this boat as there was on the quartermaster’s—they reached their
destination. Thompson now had some fault to find with the men, and
women, too, whom he met on this journey. A good many of them gazed in
surprise at his long hair, his wide sombrero and the clothing he wore,
and he came to Carl and complained about it.

“I told you just how it would be,” said he. “The folks all think I
don’t belong here.”

“Do just as I do; pay no attention to them,” said Carl. “You have only
got to stand it for a little while. We will soon be on our way back
again.”

One morning when Carl awoke and raised himself on his elbow he found
that the boat was tied up to the levee. He arose and went to the
door, and could see nothing but boats on either side of him. Thompson
slept in the bunk above him, and it was the work of but a few minutes
to arouse him. Claude, we ought to say, did not approve of this
arrangement at all. He thought he ought to occupy the same state-room
with his cousin, but he was put into a room with an entire stranger. He
first muttered gloomy threats over it, and then tried to think up the
men he would get to assist him in waylaying Carl and getting his ten
thousand dollars out of him.

“You think you are bothering me by paying so much attention to that
miserable foreman,” said he. “Wait till we get to the city and you are
given charge of that money. If Thompson is not afraid to shoot, I will
get somebody who isn’t afraid either.”

“Thompson, wake up!” said Carl, when he had satisfied himself that he
was at his journey’s end. “This boat got here and we never knew it.
Now, we will stay on board and get our breakfast, and in the meantime I
will see the captain and find out at what hour this boat will start up
the river again. When nine o’clock comes we’ll go up to the bank.”

“Here you are,” exclaimed Claude, as they opened the door and stepped
into the cabin. “You come with me, and I will take you where you can
get a breakfast that will do you good. I am tired of living on these
steamboats.”

“Where is the captain?” asked Carl. “Have you seen him?”

“He is around here somewhere. What do you want to see him for?”

“We want to find out when this boat is going to start again.”

“Are you going back so soon?” inquired Claude. “Why, you haven’t seen
any fun at all. You want to go to the theatre——”

“We did not come out to see fun on this trip,” said Carl. “We came out
on business; and when that is done we are going back.”

“Well, that is no way to do,” said Claude, somewhat alarmed. He wanted
to see two of his boon companions by the time that Carl thought of
going back, and if he was going to start up the river that night or
to-morrow morning, he would be pressed for time. “You showed me all
there was to be seen about your ranch, and you must let me do the same.
I am acquainted here in St. Louis——”

“There’s the captain now,” interrupted Carl. “Come on, Thompson. Let us
go and see him.”

Claude was angry, as he always was whenever he had anything important
to say to his cousin, and stood there and watched them while they
hurried forward to interview the captain. Carl made known his wants in
a few words, and the skipper said:

“We shall start out to-morrow night, if we can get loaded. Is there
any boat that will start before this one? I don’t know, but you can
look around and see. If you don’t find any, come aboard of us.”

Claude loafed about just long enough to hear the captain say this, and
then turned and walked out on the guards.

“If I only had my money in my pockets I would go and hunt up those
men the first thing I do,” said he. “It is ‘Thompson, do this,’ or
‘Thompson, do that,’ and ‘Claude, you can go to smash,’ until I have
grown sick and tired of hearing it. I bet you that I will get the start
of them yet.”

It was a long time before breakfast was ready, and Claude remained
alone on the guards, as Carl and Thompson were perfectly willing he
should do. They were sitting on the forward part of the boiler deck
engaged in conversation, and when the breakfast-bell rang they went
into the cabin. Only once during the meal hour did Carl address his
cousin, and then it was to the effect that they would go up town as
soon as the bank opened, and he would be glad to have his cousin go
with him.

“Mr. Morphy will give you your own money with his own hands, and then
you will know that you have got it right,” said he in conclusion. “He
will give you fifteen hundred dollars.”

“And that is three thousand less than I deserve,” said Claude to
himself. “If anybody would lay their plans to rob your safe I would not
tell you of it.”

After breakfast there came two hours of loafing around with nothing to
do, and Carl grew very weary over it. Thompson was looking for somebody
to make fun of his clothes, and every time some one passed him and
turned to take a second look the foreman would gaze angrily at them and
slip his hand into the inside pocket of his coat. Carl saw it, and it
was all he could do to keep from laughing in Thompson’s face; but at
length the hands on his watch told him that the hour had come, and he
jumped up, uttering the order he had so long been used to—

“Catch up!”



CHAPTER XXII.

A SURPRISE.


When they got ashore they found themselves surrounded by the sights
and sounds of the city, and they were so taken up with them that they
could not say much to each other. Thompson kept close at Carl’s side
all the way, for he was afraid that if he became separated from him he
would get lost among the drays and pedestrians. Carl knew right where
he was going, and in process of time reached the bank. He entered
as though he had a perfect right there, and once on the inside he
found himself confronted by a long line of men who had come there on
business—brokers’ clerks who had come there to get their boxes, and
others to get their checks cashed—and, standing his friends up against
a desk, fell into the rear and patiently waited until his turn came.
Then he handed out the letter he had found in his father’s will and
inquired if Mr. Morphy was anywhere about.

“Yes, sir,” said the cashier. “He is in his private office.”

“Will you be kind enough to send that letter in to him?” said Carl; and
then he left the line and took his stand beside his companions. “When
he comes out and asks me in I want you to go with me,” he said to them
in a low tone.

Carl saw the clerk who had the letter in his possession vanish through
a rear door, and while he was thinking about it Mr. Morphy came out. He
glanced hastily at the men, and then advanced and took Carl by the hand.

“I am glad to see you, Mr. Preston,” said he, with a touch of sadness
in his tones. “I am sorry that your father is not here with you. Come
into the office.”

“I shall have to ask these men to go also,” said Carl.

“Certainly. Bring them right along.”

When he got into the office he put out chairs for them, but every
thing was so neat and elegant that Thompson did not want to sit down;
but he kept a close watch of Carl, and seeing that the latter promptly
seated himself, he finally followed his example.

“I have not read your father’s letter yet,” said the president, “and if
you will excuse me I will do it now. I have only read that he is dead,
but I can hardly realize it. Did he die suddenly?”

“It was sudden enough when it came, but I suppose he lingered along as
all men do who are suffering from that disease,” answered Carl. “It
seems he thought that the letter would tell who I was.”

“Oh, I would have known you anyway. If I see a man’s face once, I can
always remember him.”

The president then went on reading the letter, and when he got through
he was ready for business.

“I suppose you want some money,” he said briskly. “Make out a check for
what you want and you can have it.”

Carl took the paper and the pen that were passed over to him and
speedily made out his check for ten thousand dollars. The president
looked at it to make sure that it was all right, and went into the room
where the cashier was. When he came out he had a big roll of bills in
his hands.

“I suppose you want to pay the terms of the will with this, and so I
have got it in small bills,” said he.

“That is all right,” said Carl. “Thank you, I don’t want to go over it.
I wish you would count out fifteen hundred dollars and give it to my
cousin here, Claude Preston. He comes in for one share.”

The president complied, and when Claude had taken the money (he never
said “Thank you!” for it, either) Carl turned to Thompson.

“I want you to make room about your clothes to stow this money in,”
said he. “Then I shall feel safe.”

Thompson, without saying a word, got upon his feet, and thrusting his
hands one after the other into the inside pockets of his coat, brought
out two big navy revolvers, which he laid upon the desk. Mr. Morphy
looked on with surprise and remarked that Carl intended to have his
money defended, at any rate.

“Yes; the people here in St. Louis are all strangers to me, and I
shall feel a good deal safer when I get back to my ranch,” said Carl,
rising to his feet. “One does not know when he is safe.”

“That is a fact,” said Mr. Morphy; “and let me tell you one thing right
here: Don’t make any friends at all. If a man comes to you and appears
cordial and inquires after your health, go away from him and let him
entirely alone. He is friendly to your money, but he is not at all
friendly to you.”

“I’ll bear that in mind,” said Carl, for he was not very well posted
in regard to all the tricks that sharpers make use of to trap innocent
victims. “We thank you for your kindness.”

Mr. Morphy bowed, accompanied them to the front door, and saw them
start toward their boat. Claude said nothing at all, for he was almost
overwhelmed by the sight of the eight thousand dollars that Thompson
had in his bosom. He saw that his shirt stuck out until a person would
think he was wonderfully developed about the chest. He imagined how he
would feel if that money was his own.

“I wish I had some place to carry these revolvers,” said the foreman
anxiously. “I have got to carry them in my hip pockets, and every one
who comes up behind me can see them.”

“That shows that you are ready to defend what you have in your shirt,”
said Carl with a laugh. “But that is all in your favor. There is a law
against carrying concealed weapons, but yours are not concealed. Every
one who looks at you knows that you have them.”

At this moment, as if to show that Carl was right in his surmises,
a policeman came along, and after taking a look at Thompson, turned
and gave him another look as he passed. He saw the butts of the navy
revolvers sticking out of his pockets, and then smiled at Carl and
passed on as if he thought it was all right.

“There, Thompson, that cop saw your pistols and never said a word to
you,” said he.

“What cop?” asked Thompson in surprise.

“Why, that policeman. Your revolvers are not concealed, and so he took
no notice of it.”

“Then I am all right,” said the foreman, immensely relieved. “I
supposed that he would arrest me for having those weapons about me. Oh,
yes, I am all right.”

“Well, boys, here is your boat, and I presume you will go aboard of
her,” said Claude, as they arrived upon the levee. “I believe I will
take leave of you right here.”

“What are you going to do with that money you have in your pocket?”
asked Carl. “You ought to put it in the bank, where it will be safe.”

“I will attend to that the first thing I do. I will bet you that nobody
will get it out of me. Good-by.”

Thompson drew a long breath of relief, while Carl held out his hand
to his cousin. He did not say that he was sorry to have him go away
where he might never see him again, because he wasn’t. He hoped that,
Claude having got away from the ranch, things would go on as smoothly
as they had done before he came there. But Claude, although he shook
his cousin’s hand heartily, was not yet done with him by any means. He
had his eye on that wad of money that Thompson carried in his shirt,
and he did not intend to see the last of Carl until he had the handling
of some of it.

“If you are going away before I have time to show you some of the
sights of the city, I don’t know but I might as well bid you good-by
now as some other time,” said Claude, drawing his left hand hastily
across his eyes. “You have been mighty good to me since I have been out
there on the ranch with you——”

“Oh, that is all right,” said Carl, who did not care to listen to any
words which he knew Claude did not mean. “We treated you as we would
anybody else who came there, and no better. Good-by, and good luck to
you.”

When Claude had taken leave of his cousin he turned to say a word to
Thompson, but that fellow had put his hands behind him. He was not
going to take leave of him as Carl had done. Claude saw in a moment
that he could not say anything to the foreman, so he turned on his heel
and walked away.

“I am surprised at you,” said Carl, when Claude had passed on out of
hearing. “Were you not sorry to see him go?”

“No, I was not,” said Thompson emphatically. “I have been in constant
hot water ever since he has been on the ranch. I told you at the start
that I did not think you would like Claude, and I hit it, did I not?”

“You put your hands behind you because you did not want to bid me
good-by, did you?” said Claude, turning about in his walk to grit his
teeth at the foreman. “Well, I will bet you that before night you
cannot shake hands with anybody. I will get a couple of men after you
who will leave you in the river.”

Carl did not intend to go on board his old vessel until he had been
the length of the levee and had satisfied himself that there was no
boat getting ready to sail before she did. It was not necessary that he
should go on every one he saw to make inquiries. Some of them had their
destinations printed on canvas and hung up on their hurricane-deck
railings—for example, “For Vicksburg,” “For Cairo,” and for “New
Orleans”—but he had yet to see one that was to sail up the river.

“I guess we had better go aboard our old boat and take our chances,”
said Carl, after he had grown weary of examining the steamers. “Those
officers are like old friends to us, and somehow I feel safer in their
presence than I would anywhere else.”

“That is what I say,” answered Thompson. “If I was back at the ranch I
tell you you would have to get somebody else to come with you.”

Carl laughed and led the way aboard their own boat, where they secured
a couple of chairs and sat down to wait until the steamer was ready
to sail. They had already left their luggage (each one of them had a
valise) in the hands of the porter, and when they saw the clerk go into
his office Carl thought he would pay his passage and get a better room
than they had in coming down. Thompson kept close at his side wherever
he went. The presence of so large an amount of money made him terribly
uneasy, and he did not want to let Carl out of his sight.

“You are going back with us,” said the clerk, after Carl had told him
the object of his visit. “We will go up to-morrow, and she will be the
first one out. We are to take on some army rations for those fellows at
Fort Scully, and it won’t be any trouble at all for you to wait three
or four days until that little boat comes down. Five dollars, please.”

“But you see we don’t want to wait,” said Carl, pulling out his
ten dollars. “We are impatient to get back to our ranch as soon as
possible.”

“I thought you were ranchmen the first time I saw you,” said the clerk.
“You have lively times out there with the bears and mountain lions and
all the other things. Do you live far from the river?”

“Well, it is a good piece. You see we are not used to the ways of the
city, and when we get out there we are at home.”

Their passage was soon paid, their valises secured from the porter and
placed in their new room, and the two went back to their chairs on the
boiler deck. When the bell rang for dinner they went in, and scarcely
had they seated themselves in their chairs again when they discovered
two men coming up the stairs. They were both well dressed and were
evidently going somewhere on business, for they had valises in their
hands. They looked all around as if searching for somebody, and then
one of them ventured to address Carl.

“I beg your pardon, sir, but can you tell me when this boat sails?”
said he, politely.

Remembering what Mr. Morphy had said to him in regard to making
friends with strangers, Carl did not act as he usually did when he was
approached by persons with whom he was not acquainted. He looked up and
simply said.

“You will find the clerk in his office.”

“So he is,” said the man. “So he is. Come on, Bob, and we’ll soon see
how much it is going to cost us to go up to Fort Scully.”

“There are a couple of men that we want to keep out of the way of,”
said Carl, gazing after the passengers as they walked into the cabin.
“They are going up our way, but we will not make friends with them, or
with anybody else.”

“Why, I took that man for a gentleman,” said Thompson. “He begged your
pardon before he spoke to you.”

“That may be; but some of the biggest rascals there are agoing can be
gentlemen when they please.”

Thompson believed the boy to be mistaken, although he tried to be
governed by him in all his movements. He saw the men pay their fare,
and then one walked off toward the farther end of the cabin, while the
other came out and took a chair on the boiler deck. He cast a quick
searching glance at both of them (Thompson thought he knew what he had
in his bosom to make his shirt stick out that way), and then drew back
and placed his feet on the railing.

“Thank goodness I have my fare paid to my journey’s end,” said the man.
“Have you been up the river lately?”

“Only a few days ago,” said Carl shortly.

“Is there much water up there?”

“Not much.”

“The reason I am so anxious in inquiring is that I have wasted a week
in my trip up here, and am impatient to get to Fort Scully to see about
some property I have there. Are you acquainted in Fort Scully?”

“I don’t know that I am,” replied Carl, and then he arose to his feet
and went into the cabin, closing the door after him; but he was not
in time to shut out Thompson, who stuck close to him. The cabin was
entirely deserted, and the two men were in no danger of being overheard.

“Did you notice what that man said about his property?” asked Carl. “If
I had inquired into it, I should have found that he had a check on some
bank to a large amount, and he would want to borrow some money on it. I
declare that man is coming in. Let us go to our own room.”

If the man was going to follow them up, he opened the cabin just in
time to see the door of their state-room close behind them; but when
they got there, Carl, who was leading the way, suddenly stopped. They
had taken particular notice of the way they left their valises when
they brought them there. They had put them under the lower bunk, out
of the way; but here they were in the middle of the room, and the
contents of each were scattered all over the floor. In addition to
this, the outside door, which opened onto the guards, was closed but
not fastened. In two jumps Carl reached the door, pulled it open, and
looked up and down the guards; but there was no one in sight.



CHAPTER XXIII.

CLAUDE VISITS THE POOL-ROOM.


“You treated me just as you treat everybody else who came to your
ranch, and no better,” said Claude, hurrying down the street, away from
his cousin. “You couldn’t treat me any better than you could anybody
else just because I was a relation of yours, could you? Well, you gave
me one piece of advice that I will remember. I will put this money in
bank, so that the fellows can’t draw on me for it.”

Claude was so mad when he took leave of his cousin that he tore
along the street, paying no attention to anybody, bumping against the
pedestrians he chanced to meet, and then hurried on without apologizing
and presently reached the bank where his father had kept a small amount
deposited during his lifetime. Here he left fourteen hundred dollars of
his money, and with the balance tucked safely away in his vest pocket
he came out and took his way toward a pool-room which he had often
been in the habit of visiting. He had been away from St. Louis a long
time, and he was not certain that he could find anyone there with whom
he was acquainted. The length of time he had been away, gaining health
and strength by his outdoor exercise, had doubtless scattered the old
frequenters of the place far and wide, and he would not know where to
go to look for them.

“It all depends upon finding two men here who will just ache to handle
that—I believe I’ll put it twenty thousand while I am about it,” said
Claude, as he turned and made his way up stairs to the pool-room. “Ten
thousand might not tempt them to run any risk, so I guess I will just
double it. The first thing I do must be to keep myself out of Carl’s
way. I will show the fellows where the boat lies, and they must do the
rest.”

Claude threw open a door as he spoke, and there was the pool-room
in full blast. There were four tables in the room, and each of them
was surrounded by men and boys who were eagerly watching the game. No
one noticed him when he went in. There was a new barkeeper behind the
counter, and a hasty glance at the men about the tables satisfied him
that the ones he wanted to see were not there, or, if they were, the
hours they had passed at the pool-room had changed them materially.

“Is Tony Waller here yet?” said he, addressing the barkeeper.

“Well, I guess not,” said the man, with a laugh. “Tony’s gone up.”

“Is he dead?” asked Claude.

“No, he ain’t; but he might as well be. Tony couldn’t make money by
playing for it honest, and so he had to go to work and hold up one of
our customers. He got five years for it.”

“Well, is Bud Kelly here?” said Claude, who was surprised to hear this
about Tony.

“Do you see that man over there on the last table—he is just going to
shoot,” said the barkeeper. “That’s Kelly.”

“My goodness! How he has changed,” exclaimed Claude, hardly willing
to believe his eyes. “He used to be a fancy duck, and now he looks as
though he didn’t have enough to eat.”

“I haven’t seen you around here of late,” said the man.

“No; I have just come from the West. Kelly used to have a nice position
in an insurance office.”

“He lost that, and he has lost every position he has had since then. He
makes his living out of pool.”

“Well, I believe I must go and see him,” said Claude to himself, as he
walked toward the last table where Kelly was playing. “So Tony has gone
up. I wonder if I have not got something else under way that will send
Kelly up, too, if he is caught at it? He will have to run that risk.”

Claude caught Kelly’s eyes fastened upon him as he walked up to a
chair and seated himself where he could watch the game, but no sign
of recognition came forth. Claude was wondering if he had changed,
too, but he could not have altered his appearance so much as the other
man. His clothes were neat and whole, and that was more than could be
said of Kelly. Every once in a while the player looked toward him, and
when the game was finished he put up his cue and came and took a chair
beside Claude.

“Look here,” he said with an attempt at familiarity, “I think I have
seen you once before.”

“Don’t you know me, after all the long months I have spent out West?”
said Claude.

“Claude Preston!” exclaimed Kelly. “I knew I had seen you, but I could
not place you.”

The two shook hands as though they were overjoyed to meet each other
once more, and then Kelly settled down and pulled Claude’s face over
toward him.

“How did the old man pan out?” said he in a lower tone. “Did you make
anything out of him?”

“No,” said Claude in disgust. “He was the meanest man I ever saw; but
he has paid for it all. He is dead.”

“But he left you something in his will?” said Kelly.

“No, he didn’t; not a thing. But I know where there are twenty thousand
dollars that one could have for himself if he only had a little pluck.
You used to be pretty good at such things; have you turned over a new
leaf?”

“Waller has gone up for trying that very thing,” said Kelly, as if his
heart was not in the matter.

“But there is no such danger in this,” answered Claude. “Now wait until
I tell you how I have left things.”

With this introduction, Claude went on and told Kelly everything that
had happened to him while coming down with his cousin—how they went to
the bank and drew out twenty thousand dollars which Thompson stowed
away in his shirt, and that they were going back on the Talisman, the
same boat that had brought them down from Fort Scully.

“I don’t believe Thompson will keep the money around him all the
while,” said Claude in conclusion. “When they get back to their boat
they are going to put it in their valise. If they do that, you can
easily get it. Twenty thousand dollars! That will be a little over six
thousand dollars apiece, and you can go to California on that.”

“How will I know them if I see them?” asked Kelly. The tone in which
he spoke the words made Claude more than half inclined to believe that
Kelly had a mind to try it.

“They are dressed in regular Western style—long hair, broad sombreros,
and boots as fine as money can buy. They will be aboard the boat now,
and this is the time to capture them.”

Some more talk followed this conversation, and Kelly got up and went
out. Claude waited an hour for him to come back, and all the while he
was harassed by the fear that the man Kelly had gone after might not
see it as plainly as he did.

“There is not a thing to do but to wait until after dark, and then
pitch in and grab the money,” said Claude to himself. “They can throw
Carl overboard to keep him from using his revolvers, and I know that
both of them can manage Thompson. I do hope that man will agree to it.
It is the best chance in the world they will ever have to make money.”

By the time Claude had got through communicating with himself in this
way the door opened and Kelly came in, followed by a man who was
evidently hard up and had been for some time, judging by the looks of
his clothes. This man was introduced as Sam Hayward; and, in accordance
with his request, Claude was obliged to begin his story all over again.
One thing that surprised Claude was the fact that the man took a deep
interest in it, and seemed determined to get at it as soon as possible.
He listened to Claude all through, and when he ceased he said:

“I say we can do it, Bud.”

“There is nothing in the world to hinder it, if you only go at it with
a determination to succeed,” said Claude. “But there is one thing you
must bear in mind: Don’t let that Thompson put his hands behind him. He
is a little quicker than a flash of lightning, and he will shoot before
you know it.”

“We will look out for that,” said Hayward. “If he shoots, it shall not
cost him anything.”

There was another thing that Claude wanted to get at, and that was
some better clothes than those two men had on. They must go aboard the
steamer as though they were going up to Fort Scully, and they must have
a valise or two, to take the appearance of travellers. Kelly must have
known what he was thinking about, for he looked them over from top to
bottom, and he hastened to remark:

“If you say we can do it, why we will go and try it on. We will go home
and get on some other clothes, and then you must go with us to show us
where the Talisman lies. But see here, Claude—haven’t you got a little
money with you? We’re strapped, and that’s a fact. If we are going as
travellers, of course we have got to pay our fare, and where is the
money coming from to do it?”

Claude had been expecting this, and he was not in any hurry to advance
the men money, but he did not see how he could get out of it. He was
afraid he might never see it again; but if they got the eight thousand
dollars——

“I have got just a hundred dollars in money that I saved from my work
at herding cattle,” said he. “Will ten dollars apiece do you?”

“You had better give us twenty while you are about it,” said Kelly, as
Claude drew his money out of his vest pocket. “If we get the twenty
thousand dollars——”

“You must get it,” said Claude earnestly. “In fact, don’t undertake to
steal that money unless you _can_ get it. And then you want to watch
out for the police. When will you attempt it?”

“To-night, if we get the chance,” said Hayward. “But we may have to go
up to Fort Scully with them. You go up with Kelly and he will show you
where his room is, and you can go there and wait until we come back.”

All the way to the corner, where Hayward took leave of them, they
talked about the robbery, and Claude again impressed upon Hayward the
dire calamity that would happen to him if they allowed Thompson to put
his hands behind him. Hayward grinned and kept on to his own room,
while Kelly and Claude kept on to Kelly’s room, and by the time they
reached it Kelly had thought up another method of raising money out of
Carl.

“I have several checks in my pocket on different banks, and I will make
one of them out for a hundred dollars or so,” said he, “and perhaps I
can borrow——”

“You had better let that out,” said Claude hastily. “Whenever you begin
to talk money to him, he’ll shut up and go away from you.”

“Of course I want to try it merely to see if he has the funds,” said
Kelly. “I don’t care anything about a hundred dollars while he has so
much more.”

“And there is another thing that you must look out for,” said Claude.
“I had almost forgotten to mention it. Mr. Morphy told him this morning
not to make friends with anybody. If you behave at all friendly with
him, and act as though you had seen him before, the fat will all be in
the fire.”

“That old Morphy posted him on a good many scrapes, didn’t he?” said
Kelly, with a wink that spoke volumes. “I can tell how to manage him
when I see him.”

Kelly’s room was about what Claude had made up his mind to see after
his meeting with him. It was in a tumble-down tenement-house at the
head of two flights of stairs, and when Kelly produced the key from
his pocket and opened the door, Claude found himself in a small
seven-by-nine apartment which was almost destitute of furniture. Some
dishes from which Kelly had eaten his supper were on the table, still
unwashed; and the bed, from which he had arisen that morning, did not
look as though it had been made up for a week. There was only one chair
in the room, and Kelly gave it a shove with his foot, at the same time
turning toward his trunk to get out some clothing.

“Sit down there,” said he. “I can remember when I did not have such a
room as this; but that was before I got to travelling on my own hook. I
suppose you had a better room than this out West?”

“Well, I had more furniture in it, but it was not such a room as I
would have put a stranger in,” said Claude, who did not want to let
Kelly see how little he thought of his quarters.

He then changed the subject by referring to Carl and Thompson. It was
a matter of some moment to him, for what should he do in case these men
made the attempt and failed? He did not like to think of it.



CHAPTER XXIV.

A HARD FIGHT.


In a short time Kelly had produced from his trunk some clothing which
he put on, and when he announced that he was all ready Claude turned
and looked at him. He would not have known that it was the same person
who had conducted him to his room. Aside from the marks of dissipation
which were plainly visible on his face, he looked to be just what he
represented—a traveller out on business.

“Now all I want is to get shaved, and you can stay outside the shop and
stop Hayward when he comes along,” said Kelly.

“If his clothing has changed him as much as it has you I don’t believe
I will know him,” said Claude.

“He will know you, and that’s all you want. How will this valise do?
There is nothing in it, but nobody is going to see the inside of it.”

The valise being pronounced satisfactory, the two went outside into the
hall, and Kelly locked the door and gave the key to Claude.

“You may have to stay here for a week; for, as Hayward said, we may
have to go up to Fort Scully before we can get a chance to try him on
for his money,” said he. “We are going to get it before we come back.”

“Remember, a third of it is mine,” said Claude.

“Of course. We would not have known anything about it if it had not
been for you.”

It was but a few steps to the barber shop, and Kelly went into it,
while Claude stayed outside, walking up and down in front of it for
fear the police might come along and order him to “move on.” Before he
had taken many turns he saw somebody coming up the street with a valise
in his hand, who smiled at Claude the moment he caught sight of him. It
was Hayward, sure enough, but he never would have recognized him.

“It is a wonder to me how clothes will change a man,” said Claude.
“Kelly’s getting shaved; he will be out directly.”

Hayward and Claude had enough to talk over during the time that Kelly
was in the barber shop, and when he came out they turned toward the
levee, where the Talisman was lying. They accidentally caught sight of
Carl and his companion before they got to it, and Claude lost no time
in dodging behind the wharf-boat out of their view.

“Did you see those two fellows sitting in chairs on the boiler deck?”
said he. “Well, those are the fellows that have the money. Take a look
at that man with whiskers, and you will see that his shirt sticks way
out here,” he continued, holding his hand as much as a foot or more
away from his breast. “I have done all I can for you. It now rests with
you.”

The two men started across the wharf-boat, ascended the gang-plank, and
disappeared behind the freight in the direction of the stairs. Looking
carefully out from his place of concealment, Claude saw them go up
to the boiler deck, and, somewhat to his disgust, saw Kelly stop and
address some words to Carl.

“If that is the way they are going to work it I may as well give up,”
said Claude, as he turned and walked away. “He is not going to make
friends with those boys, and he might as well give it up. But, after
all, they are pretty sharp.”

It was Kelly who spoke to Carl, and when he was waiting for him to
answer the question he cast a hurried glance at his companion, and
saw that he had the money. If he had had a coat on, he could not have
buttoned the garment over it. He gave him a look as he passed, and saw
the butts of two ugly revolvers protruding from Thompson’s hip pockets.

“Well, we have placed the money,” said he in a low tone to his
companion, who walked by his side. “The question now is, How are we
going to get rid of Carl and double-team on Thompson to keep him
from shooting? What’s the fare to Fort Scully, please? You have two
passengers with whom I am acquainted, and we’ll take a room right next
to theirs. Room No. 11, have they? Well, then, I will take No. 12.”

Their fare was soon paid, their names registered in the books, and
Hayward, at his companion’s suggestion, took their valises into their
own room, to which the clerk showed him. On the way he noticed that
Carl, or whoever had been in that room before him, had come out and
left the key in the lock instead of handing it over to the clerk. That
much was in his favor. Hayward made a great show of putting his valises
away, and then came out into the cabin again and saw that it was empty,
the clerk having gone into his office and closed the door. With a quick
step Hayward moved to the door of No. 11, noiselessly opened the door,
and went in. The valises were just where Carl had left them, stowed
away under the bunks. He pulled them out and saw that they were not
locked, the springs at the side serving to keep them closed. It was the
work of but a very few minutes to “sound” them, but he saw that the
money was not there. He tumbled some of the contents of the valises
out on the floor in order to make a thorough examination, and before
he had time to put them back he heard the cabin door open and Carl and
Thompson come in. He was just in time, for with one bound he reached
the outside door of the state-room which opened onto the guards, and
ran along until he came to the passage that ran through the cabin. A
moment afterward the door he had just left was thrown open and Carl’s
face was stuck out.

“It is not there,” said he to Kelly, whom he found sitting on the
boiler deck a short time after these incidents happened.

“Of course you didn’t find it,” said Kelly. “I told you where the money
was when I went in. Thompson has it, as sure as the world.”

It seemed a long time before Carl and the cowboy came out again, and
when they did, Kelly gave his companion a sly punch in the ribs with
his elbow. Carl had taken warning by his experience, or else Thompson
had become nervous and refused longer to act as custodian of the money,
for it had changed places; in other words, Carl had it. Thompson’s
revolvers had disappeared and his shirt set naturally, but Carl was the
one who was amply developed this time. They stayed there until Kelly
began to try to talk with them, and then they picked up their chairs
and took a place on the rail.

“Did you ever see anything work better than this?” said Kelly, when the
cowboys had taken up a position some little distance away. “Carl has
got the money, and it will be easy enough to get away with him.”

“If they will only take to sitting on the rail after dark, we’re all
right,” said Hayward. “That must be our only hope now.”

It seemed a long time before the supper-bell rang, and longer still
after that until dark came; but finally the dusk of evening began
to settle around them, and to their surprise no one came aboard the
vessel. The four were there alone. The deck hands were all below, the
captain and the clerk were nowhere to be seen, and the cabin boys had
gone ashore.

“I guess now is our time,” said Kelly.

“Go ahead,” said Hayward.

The men arose to their feet and walked toward the cabin to make sure
it was deserted, and then stole cautiously around it until they came to
the place where the cowboys were sitting. Thompson was sitting a little
nearer the bow than Carl, and him Hayward picked up as if he had been a
bag of corn and threw him over the rail toward the water, while Kelly
at the same time closed with Carl and bore him to the deck before he
could arise from his chair.

We say that Thompson fell toward the water, but he did not go into it.
He comprehended the nature of the assault in a moment, and the first
thing he did was to clutch at the railing with all his force. One hand
caught it, while the other was slipped inside his coat.

“You villain!” said he.

Hayward knew that in a second more Thompson would begin to shoot,
and he was equally determined to prevent it, if he could. He struck
the cowboy a blow full in the face, and then turned his attention to
unclasping his fingers. Thompson could not stand all that, and he
released his hold and went down. Hayward had got rid of his share,
and when he turned to see how Kelly was getting along, he saw Carl
motionless on his back, and his shirt torn completely off him. A
sand-bag attached to Kelly’s right wrist explained it all.

“I’ve got one,” said he in a hoarse whisper, passing a bundle wrapped
in a newspaper up to Hayward, “and here’s the other. Now skip!”

But there was something that both of the men wanted to do before they
went away, and that was to get rid of Carl. He knew too much, and might
make them some trouble with the police. Without saying a word they
picked him up, one at the head and the other at his heels, and tossed
him into the river. They waited a moment to listen to the splash, and
then walked swiftly away. Without appearing to be in any haste they
moved over the wharf-boat and up the levee, but the farther they went
the more they increased their pace. They kept a constant watch behind
them, but they saw nothing to indicate that they were pursued.

“That’s a little the easiest job I ever had,” said Hayward, feeling
the bundle on the inside of his coat. “That fellow was such an awful
man to shoot! If all the cowboys are like him the Indians will eat them
up, sure.”

“Where do you suppose they are now,” said Kelly, who could not resist a
thrill of horror at the thought of throwing the men into the river.

“They have gone to Davy Jones’s locker, where they ought to be,” said
Hayward. “We shall never see them again. Now where shall we go first?”

“Up to my room,” said Kelly. “There’s where we shall find Claude.”

“I say let us go to my room,” said Hayward. “We can count the money
there, and he need not know any thing about it.”

“Do you intend to cheat Claude?” asked Kelly in surprise.

“I don’t know that there will be any cheating about it. He knew where
the money was, and we got it. He thought we were going to fail; that
was what was the matter with him.”

“We didn’t fail, and through him we got money that we wouldn’t have
been able to earn in a lifetime,” said Kelly earnestly. “I won’t cheat
Claude. You can go to your room if you want to, and I will divide my
profits with him.”

Hayward did not say anything after this, but Kelly noticed that when he
turned toward his room his companion went also. When they got to the
door they tried to open it, but the apartment was fastened.

“Who is that?” asked a voice from the inside.

It was Claude who gave the challenge. He was sitting, with his feet on
the window-sill, watching the lamp, which gave out a dim light through
its smoky chimney, threatening every moment to go out and leave him in
darkness. But his thoughts were far away from there. He was dreaming
about Carl and his money, and wondering what was going to become of
him if Kelly and his friend were baffled in their attempts to win it.
He had mistrusted Kelly ever since he saw him speak to Carl, and had
pretty nearly given up all hope; but the sound of the latch when the
door was tried made his heart bound with exultation.

“It is me,” said Kelly. “Open up.”

It was all Claude could do to find the key, but he finally opened
the door. A glance at their faces was sufficient for him.

[Illustration: ALL THEIR LABOR FOR NOTHING.]

“You’ve got it!” he almost gasped.

“You are right, I have,” replied Kelly. “There’s my pile, and Hayward
has the rest.”

“It was not done up this way when it left the bank,” said Claude, a
suspicion creeping over him. “It has been done up since we left there.”

He believed then, as he believed afterward, that Kelly had been duped.
With hands that trembled in spite of himself he tore off the outside
covering, and nothing but a bundle of paper revealed itself. With a
yell that could have been heard over the house he scattered the paper
all over the floor, but no money appeared. Kelly and Hayward looked on
with astonishment, and then the latter tore his own bundle to pieces;
but it, too, was filled with paper. Claude backed toward the chair and
sank into it. He seemed to have lost all power over himself, for his
hands hung by his side as limp as a piece of wet rope.



CHAPTER XXV.

A BLOW FOR NOTHING.


“Thompson, don’t ever let me go out of this room again and leave
the key in the lock,” said Carl, as he closed the outer door of his
state-room and threw the catch into place. “That was not a very bright
trick on my part. It is what caused all this trouble.”

“Show me the man who did this and I will make a spread eagle of him
right here,” said Thompson, placing his hand behind him.

“Put up your pistol,” exclaimed Carl angrily. “If you shoot one of
those men you will only alarm the whole boat; and, besides, you can’t
prove anything. But I have just thought of something. Sit down here
close to me, so that you can hear what it is.”

It did not take Carl very long to tell Thompson what he had on his
mind, and when he told him how the money would be safe hereafter, his
companion jumped up and drew the funds out of his bosom.

“But are you sure the clerk won’t steal it?” he asked. “Eight thousand
dollars is a heap of money for some people to have.”

“Of course I am sure of it,” said Carl. “It is his business to take
valuables that his customers may have and lock them up in the safe.
Take your revolvers from your hip pockets and put them on the inside of
your coat, and I will give mine to the clerk.”

The first thing was to wrap up the money in a piece of newspaper, and
the second was to do up two more bundles as near like the first as they
could, and these Carl put on the inside of his shirt. Then he picked up
the money package and laid his hand upon the door.

“I like the idea of giving up the money because I never did want to
take it in the first place,” said Thompson. “But I don’t like you to
have it. Those men could take you down easy enough.”

“Perhaps they will not attempt it. They may suspect what we have done
with the money, and in that case they will go away and let us alone.”

Carl cautiously opened the door of his state-room, and through the
glass at the front of the cabin he saw the two men sitting on the
boiler deck, with their backs toward the office. They walked lightly
toward the room where the clerk was without attracting the attention of
the men, and pounded upon it. In an instant the door came open to them.

“Not a word out of you,” whispered Carl. “There may be some men aboard
this boat who might take it into their heads to rob me, and I have here
eight thousand dollars which I beg you will take and lock up for me.”

“Whew!” whistled the clerk. “Are you sure the money is in that package?”

“To be sure I am. I just put it there.”

“I would like to see it before I touch it. Unwrap it.”

Of course that was nothing more than fair for the clerk, for he did
not want to take the package and find that there was nothing of value
in it. Carl readily took off the wrappings, and showed him the pile of
greenbacks.

“That’s all right,” said the clerk. “Do it up again. There are only two
persons aboard this boat, and one of them says he is acquainted with
you.”

“The man never told you a bigger lie in his life,” said Carl
indignantly. “I never saw him until to-day.”

“Do you say that he has an eye on this money? Then we’ll have him put
off.”

“But we can’t prove anything against them.”

“Can’t eh?” Thompson almost shouted.

“Don’t talk so loud,” said Carl hastily. “We don’t want those men to
know where we are. The fact of the matter is we left our valises in our
state-rooms, and when we went in there we found our clothes all over
the floor. Thompson wanted to shoot those men, but I knew he would only
make matters worse.”

“Do you think those men had a hand in it?” asked the clerk. “I’ll just
watch them,” he added, as he took the package and locked it up in his
safe.

“That’s all right. Now I wish you would put my revolvers with it. They
are not loaded. Thompson will feel safer if he has his on, where he can
put his hands on them.”

After a little more talk on the subject the clerk went out on the
guards, and while he was there the cowboys slipped out behind him and
came into the cabin through the passage-way which communicated with the
cook’s galley. They went out on the boiler deck and stayed there until
Kelly began to talk about money, and then they removed their chairs
around by the side of the cabin, onto the guards. But if Carl had seen
Kelly punch his companion in the ribs with his elbow, he would have
known that that part of his plot had been successful. The boys stayed
around on the guards until after supper, and even when the shades of
night began to gather about them; they remained there until it got so
dark that they could scarcely see their hands before them. This was the
time that Kelly told his companion that it was the season for them to
begin. Their attack upon them was so sudden that it was all over before
they had time to think about it. Carl saw Thompson thrown overboard,
and before he could cry out or lift a finger he received a stunning
blow on the head, and then all was blank to him.

But it was not so with Thompson. The latter was a strong man, and
Hayward had scarcely picked him up before he was fighting. He clutched
his assailant around the head with one hand, while with the other he
attempted to save himself from going overboard. But Hayward was on
the alert. He pulled himself away from Thompson’s encircling grasp
and threw him over the railing; but the cowboy, whose arms and legs
appeared to be everywhere, caught onto the railing with his left hand
while the other slid inside of his coat. A moment more and Hayward
could not have told anything about that scrape, for he would have been
laid out with a bullet in his brain; but he struck him a fierce blow in
the face, unclasped his fingers, and Thompson went down.

But the blow did not deprive him of consciousness. He found, in going
down to the water, that he had struck upon one of the fenders which are
used to keep the steamer off from a wharf-boat when making a landing.
His arms and legs instinctively closed around it, and, in place of
going into the water, Thompson slid down until his feet rested on the
lower guard. He had barely time to swing himself on board the boat when
he heard a splash behind him. He turned and looked at it, and there was
Carl, limp and lifeless, going down with the current. Something that
sounded very much like an oath came from Thompson’s lips as he let go
his hold upon the fender and struck out to Carl’s assistance.

If there was anything Thompson could do better than herding cattle it
was to swim. With a few swift strokes he was near enough to seize Carl,
and the first thought that came into his mind was that the villains,
not satisfied with getting his money, had made an end of him then and
there. He took Carl around the waist, lifted his head above water,
and swam toward the boat. Swimming now was a necessity for him, for
just below him was a sidewheel steamer coming in, and if he got down
under her guards it was a question whether or not he would ever come
up again. He made headway through the water as he had never made it
before, and presently caught hold of the fender that came down opposite
the engine room.

“Hi there, some of you fellows!” shouted Thompson. “Lend us a hand
here.”

Fortunately the engineer was not busy. He stood watching the deck hands
as they were carrying the freight aboard, and he heard the hail coming
from the water. He ran to the side, and with a “Heaven bless my soul!
How did you get in?” he seized Carl and lifted him upon the guards. “Is
he dead?” he asked, with some anxiety in his tones.

“No; but he may as well be,” said Thompson. “Now, then, help me out. I
know the fellows that did all this, and if I can find them——”

Thompson could not wait to say any more. He left Carl where he had
fallen and ran up the stairs to the boiler deck; but he might as well
have saved himself the trouble, for Kelly and his friend were across
the wharf-boat and well on their way up the levee. There were the
chairs, in which they had been sitting, both overturned, but the men
who did the business were nowhere in sight. Before he returned to Carl
he looked all over the boat, but still he could not see anything of
Kelly and Hayward.

“Here’s the bump that did all the mischief,” said the engineer,
pointing to a wound on the back of Carl’s head. “He must have been hit
with something. What was the fuss all about, anyway?”

“Carl knows, and when he gets ready perhaps he will tell you about it,”
said Thompson. “Is he never going to speak to me again?”

“Oh, yes. He’s coming around all right now. You had better take him
upstairs and put him in his bunk.”

“I had not been off the boat twenty minutes before this thing
happened,” said the clerk, who came up at the time Carl was beginning
to show signs of coming to. “I have had an eye on them ever since Mr.
Preston told me about it.”

“What did he do?” repeated the engineer.

There were a good many deck hands standing around by this time, and
the clerk did not think it best to speak about the money. He replied
that they wanted to whip Carl for something he had done; and taking him
under one arm, while Thompson took hold of the other, they took him up
to his bunk and put him into it.

“It beats the world what that fellow hit me with,” said Carl, placing
his hand to his head. “He struck me with something besides his fist.”

“I suppose it was a sand-bag,” said the clerk. “A scoundrel can carry
one of them up his sleeve until he gets ready to use it.”

“Well, they didn’t get the money, anyway,” said Carl, drawing a long
breath of relief. “Where are you going, Thompson?”

“I am going out to have those men arrested. If I can find a policeman
anywhere——”

To the surprise of both Thompson and the clerk, Carl interfered.

“I beg that you will do nothing of the kind,” said he. “Thompson, come
back here and sit down.”

This was said in the form of an order, and Thompson had nothing to do
but obey. Carl settled back on his pillow and closed his eyes, and the
clerk, readily divining that he was not wanted there, got up to go.

“If you can think of anything you want, don’t fail to send Thompson
after it and you shall have it,” said he.

Carl said he would bear that in mind, and when he was alone with the
cowboy he exclaimed:

“Don’t you see that if you arrested those men you would get Claude into
a mess?”

“No, I don’t. Did Claude have a hand in sending those men here?”

“Of course he did. As soon as he got ashore he went and got those
fellows to come here and steal the money; and if they should be caught,
don’t you see how easy it would be for them to tell on him?”

“And you want to let him go free because he is your cousin?”

“That’s it exactly. I am doing just as I believe my father would do if
he were here. Besides, you would be held as a witness. I don’t know how
long it will be before court sits, probably a month or six weeks, and
you would have to lay in jail all that time.”

Thompson had no more to say after that. He did not know how a jail
looked on the inside—he didn’t want to, for if it looked as badly as it
did on the outside it was gloomy enough—and the idea of staying there
for six weeks filled the foreman with apprehension.

“Dog-gone the boy, let him go!” said he.

“That is what I say. Now, I want you to stay here.”

Carl hoped they would be allowed to finish their journey in peace, and
that no further attempts would be made to steal that miserable money.
By the time the boat started he had recovered from his blow so that he
could be on deck, and by the time they arrived at Fort Scully he was
overjoyed to find his boat there. The clerk gave Carl his money with
the remark that it was a pity he did not see his way clearly toward
having those men arrested, for now they would be encouraged to go on
another expedition of the same kind, and saw him go ashore. In process
of time their little boat carried them in safety to Fort Yates, and, as
it was early in the morning, they hitched up their team and started for
home.

“Thank goodness that trip is made,” said Carl, who felt like yelling
when he found himself on the prairie again, “and I hope it will be long
before I am called upon to make another. Thompson, I will not take you
with me, anyhow.”

“Shake,” said the foreman extending his hand. “I would sooner be here
with the cattle. But if it had not been for me you would have gone
under the wheels of that steamer.”

“Well, I guess that is so,” said Carl.



CHAPTER XXVI.

THE NEW SCOUT.


The prairie home of Carl, the Trailer, seemed very inviting to
him after the thrilling scenes through which he had passed on the
Mississippi, and sometimes he was almost tempted to send word to the
commander of the fort that certain circumstances over which he had no
control would keep him at home. There everybody was friendly to him,
his word was law, and it was reasonable to suppose that he could get
along with them better than he could with strangers. But whichever way
he turned he found something to remind him of his father, and he hoped
that, surrounded with new associations and new scenes, he would be led
to forget the past and so begin life anew.

“Now, Thompson,” said Carl, when he found himself in the office,
and the money which had cost him so much trouble was laid out on the
table, “I begin by carrying out the conditions of the will this very
afternoon. You want two thousand dollars; and I may add that, in giving
it to you, I give it with my full and free consent. You have earned it
by your strict attention to duty, and if you ever want any more money
come to me and get it.”

This was almost too much for Thompson to stand. He looked around for a
chair, and when he found it he dropped helplessly into it. No man could
have stood a “cussing” better then he, but when it came to such talk as
this, it took all the pluck out of him.

“Are you still going to the fort?” he managed to ask.

“Yes, I must go there. I promised the colonel, and I always like to
keep my word.”

“Will you be gone long?”

“I shall be gone until I learn to be as good a scout as there is
attached to headquarters. We are going to see war pretty soon——”

“Now, I hope you won’t pay any attention to what those teamsters at
Fort Yates said to you,” said Thompson in disgust. “The Sioux have got
whipped so bad that they will never try it again.”

“But you see, Thompson, there are more of them here than there are
of us. Sitting Bull isn’t going to be quiet for any length of time.
There’s your money. Count it.”

“Well, I guess it is all right, and I won’t count it, if you please,”
said Thompson slowly. “When do you start for the fort?”

“To-morrow morning bright and early. I need not ask you to keep an eye
on things while I am gone. I will be up here every few days, just to
see how things are getting along.”

Thompson had already said all he could to keep Carl at home, and he
knew that it was breath wasted. He went out and sent in the cook to get
his money, and then seated himself on the doorstep and rested his head
on his hands. One by one the men were settled with according to the
terms of his father’s will, and after that Carl put on his hat and went
out to his sire’s grave. How long he stayed there no one knew, but when
he came back his eyes were red and he went into his own room.

The next morning, however, Carl was himself again. He ate a hearty
breakfast, shook the men warmly by the hand, and set off at a gallop.
He was dressed in a suit that was more becoming to him than the one he
wore to St. Louis. He wore a tight-fitting suit of moleskin, with a
Mexican sombrero and heavy gauntlet gloves. At his waist he carried his
revolver, and at his back his Winchester rifle, supported by a broad
band which crossed his breast. In his saddle-bags he carried an extra
suit, another pair of boots, a shirt or two, and ammunition for his
rifle. His horse was a mustang, small and clean-limbed, and although he
did not move as though he had any “go” in him, his rider was willing
to ride him a twenty-mile race with any horse on the plains. Taken
altogether he was a very fancy-looking scout, as some of the soldiers
said when he drew up to report to the colonel; but they found out that
there was something more than fancy about him when he came to fulfill
his duty.

“Well, Carl, I am glad to see you,” said the colonel, as the orderly
took in his name. He had left his horse outside in the hands of a
teamster, and his rifle and saddle bags were on the porch. “I have
business for you right away,” added the colonel; “but first I want to
know how much you are going to charge me.”

“I want nothing, sir, except my board,” said Carl.

“Nothing?” exclaimed the commander. “And will you be ready to go night
and day whenever I shall call upon you?”

Carl replied that he would.

“That is cheap enough. You had better take another horse, for I am
going to send you to Fort Yates.”

“I guess my horse will do for that journey,” said Carl with a smile. “I
am more used to him than I am to any other animal.”

And so it came about that Carl, the Trailer, got a position without
going out of his own country. For two years he stayed there at the
fort, making occasional trips to his ranch to see how things were going
on there, and every time the colonel called for him he was there. He
boarded with the teamsters while he was at the fort, but his favorite
duty, and the one he most delighted in, was guiding the hunting
expeditions to the mountains to get fresh meat for the garrison. Every
time Carl went off in this way he was certain to come back with his
wagons well filled.



CHAPTER XXVII.

OFF TO THE FRONT.


But Carl’s way was not clear yet. He had one hundred and twenty-five
miles to go before he would be among friends, and not a mouthful to
eat while he was travelling that distance. It was true that he had
revolvers in his pockets, and that jack rabbits were plenty. He had
matches, too, in his possession, so that he could cook the meat after
he shot it, but the report of his revolver might start the Indians
looking for him. The boy thought of this as he sped on his way, and by
the time daylight arrived he stood upon the banks of Grand River, which
separated him from the trail that led to Fort Scott. Before he took to
the willows he looked cautiously around, but there were no Indians to
be seen.

“Those Indians who were going to the Bad Lands to fight the whites
must have gone by the upper trail,” said Carl, as he took off his
blanket and drew his revolvers, which he took in one hand and held
above his head. “If that is the case I am all right. Lie there,” he
added, throwing the blanket into the willows. “I have carried you
twenty-five miles, and you haven’t done me any good, either.”

Carl took another glance around to make sure that the way was clear,
and entered the water. He did not know how deep the water was, but by
swimming and wading alternately he managed to cross the river, and
without any more reconnoitering he struck out straight for the fort.
During all his lonely journey he did not see an Indian, or a white man,
either, to whom he could give the news of Sitting Bull’s death—for it
was the source of a great deal of satisfaction to him. The brains of
the Sioux nation were gone, and where would they look to find another
man to take his place? Every time he thought of it he felt like
yelling; and one time he did raise his voice, but stopped all of a
sudden, and glanced around to see if there was anybody within hearing.

The day passed away and night came on, but the fort was every moment
drawing nearer. He was tired and sleepy, but he could not think of
stopping to rest until he conveyed the news to the commander of Fort
Scott. He was certain that there had not been anybody along the trail,
for he would have seen them; so he was going to be the first to carry
the information. About twelve o’clock he became aware that he was at
his journey’s end. He heard a challenge directly in front of him, and
Carl came to a standstill. It seemed to him that the corporal was a
long time in coming, but he heard the gate unfastened at last, and the
non-commissioned officer came out.

“Who are you?” he asked, bending over and looking into Carl’s face.

“Well, I guess I have got a right here,” said the young scout. “Don’t
you know me?”

“By gracious!” exclaimed the corporal. “Carl, the Trailer!”

“That is just what they call me when I am here among friends. I am
tired and sleepy, but I want first to see the colonel. I have a report
to make to him.”

“Come in. Lieutenant Parker is officer of the guard, and I know he will
be delighted to see you. He has been on nettles every time your name is
mentioned.”

Lieutenant Parker was standing in front of his quarters waiting to see
what the corporal was going to find outside the gate, and when he saw
the two coming along the parade he came quickly toward them.

“I have got him, sir,” said the corporal.

If we were to say that the two boys were delighted to see each other
we should fall far short of the truth. Carl held out his hand, but the
lieutenant paid no attention to it. He rushed in, caught Carl around
his arms, and whirled him with his feet clear of the ground, all
unmindful of the presence of the corporal. Then he put him down and
seized him by the hand.

“I tell you I can rest in peace now,” said Parker. “Carl, how do you
do? How did you escape?”

“I’ve got a long story to tell you,” said Carl, “but first I must see
the colonel. I ought to report to him the first thing I do.”

“Come in here with me just a minute and then you can call on the
colonel,” said the lieutenant, leading the way into his quarters. “I
want to look at you.”

“Say,” said Carl in a lower tone, as the lieutenant closed the door
behind him, “Sitting Bull is dead.”

Parker had picked up a chair to place it for Carl to sit down, but he
stopped when these words fell upon his ear and put the chair down again.

“Yes, sir,” said Carl. “He resisted arrest and he was shot dead.”

“Why—why—who told you?” asked Parker.

“A courier came into the camp and reported it, and I jumped at the
chance for escape.”

“Who killed him?”

“The Indian police. Now, do you think I ought to report that to the
colonel or wait until morning?”

“Go at once and report it. So Sitting Bull is dead. Come back here
after you see the colonel and tell me your story.”

“I will, after I get something to eat and put some extra clothes on. I
haven’t had these duds off for a week.”

“I will get you something to eat,” said the lieutenant. “I am anxious
to hear what Sitting Bull did.”

The two boys went out, and Carl bent his steps toward the colonel’s
room. The orderly, who sat at a table in the hall reading, was
overjoyed to see Carl once more, and after listening to his report that
he had something to say to the commander that ought not to be kept
until to-morrow, went into where the colonel was lying.

“He will see you,” said he. “He won’t get up.”

The colonel was sitting up in bed, striving with both hands to make his
few gray hairs cover his bald head, but he extended a palm to Carl and
greeted him warmly.

“So General Miles took me at my word, did he?” he asked.

“General Miles?” repeated Carl. “I don’t know what you mean, sir.”

“Why, I sent him notice that you had been captured by the Sioux band
when they were not on the warpath, and requested him to demand your
surrender.”

“This is the first I heard of it, sir,” said Carl, who wondered that
the colonel thought so much of him as all that. “If he sent any word to
the Sioux I don’t know it.”

The commander looked surprised but said nothing, and Carl went on
with his report. He looked more surprised as he listened, asked a few
questions to get at all Carl knew about the matter, and finally said:

“It serves him right. This Sioux war won’t amount to much.”

After a few moments’ conversation, during which Carl told him of the
way he had escaped, he went out and found Lieutenant Parker waiting
for him, who told him he would find everything he wanted to eat in the
officers’ quarters, and that as soon as he had changed his clothes, and
had taken the sharp edge off his appetite, he was expected to tell his
story. Carl hurried away, and in half an hour more he was in Lieutenant
Parker’s quarters, who was out somewhere, but when he came in a few
moments later he found Carl filling up for a smoke.

“I tell you, Parker, my pipe was the only friend I had while I was
posting along that prairie in the direction of the fort,” said he, as
he pulled a match from his pocket and struck a light. “It could not say
anything to me, but I drew almost as much encouragement from it as I
would from my horse, if I had had one.”

The young scout then seated himself and went on with his story,
omitting no detail that he thought would be at all interesting to
Lieutenant Parker. When he told of the Ghost Dance, he held his excited
auditor spellbound.

“It was the queerest thing in the shape of a dance that I ever heard
of,” said Carl. “There was literally nothing that was interesting about
it. They go round and round until they get tired, and then they drop.”

“Did you see anybody in a trance?” asked Parker.

“No, I got tired of watching the thing and went to sleep. If any one
was tormented in that way it was after dark.”

Carl stayed up with the lieutenant all that night, and when morning
came and they were relieved he went off to his quarters to find a
little rest in sleep. But all the teamsters were up, and he had to go
through with the same thing again. Of course he did not say anything
about Sitting Bull’s death. He had made a report of that to the
colonel, and he wisely decided that the information could come through
him. Everywhere he was regarded as a hero, but no one could understand
why Harding had suddenly become so lenient to him.

“I guess Harding has not got much stomach for a fight,” said one of
the teamsters; “I don’t believe he thinks there is going to be one;”
and this was the general verdict of all of them. But finally it came
out, nobody knew how, that Sitting Bull was dead. Of course everybody
was excited when they heard of it, but there were not a few who
believed, with the colonel, “that this Sioux war won’t amount to much.”
What was their surprise, however, when a white courier rode into the
fort about ten o’clock that morning, on a horse almost ready to drop
with fatigue, and brought a letter from General Miles. Of course there
were plenty of soldiers around who saw him go in, and they were wrought
up to the highest pitch of excitement while waiting for some one to
come out.

“I tell you, Carl, there is something up,” whispered Parker to the
young scout. “That man never came here with all that haste for nothing.
We are going to see something.”

“I hope you can go,” said Carl. “I won’t see any fun at all if you are
left behind.”

“You will go, won’t you?”

“Of course I will. If the Indians are going to have a dressing down, I
am going to have a hand in it.”

The two curbed their impatience as well as they could and watched the
colonel’s door. In a few moments the orderly came out on a run and bent
his steps toward the adjutant’s quarters; and in a second more out came
that officer, bareheaded and with no coat on, and straightway went into
the colonel’s room. This made the boys more inclined to believe that
“there was something up,” and this became realized when the adjutant
came out and called for the trumpeter.

“Now we are going to hear it,” said Parker. “I hope they will call for
Company D the first thing.”

The men at a distance took up the call for “the trumpeter,” sounding it
out loud and clear, and presently the man appeared with his instrument
in his hand. He exchanged a few words with the adjutant, then threw
back his head and put his trumpet to his lips. He did not blow the
call for any particular company, but he blew the general muster of the
cavalry; whereupon Parker almost jumped from the ground.

“Whoopee! I am going,” said he, seizing Carl’s arm with a grip that
astonished him. “You must go, too. Where’s your horse?”

This was something that Carl had not yet had time to attend to—getting
a horse to replace the one that he had left in the hands of the Sioux.
The very first man he came to was a teamster who had a couple of
horses, and he raised no objections whatever to loaning Carl the best
one in the lot.

“It won’t take you long to decide which one is the best,” said he, as
he led the way out of the gate, “’cause one is about as good as the
other. They don’t look as though they had any get up about them, but
you get on ’em and try ’em.”

“Will he run fast if the Indians get after him?” asked Carl, as he
slipped a bridle on the horse while the teamster put a saddle on his
back.

“Are you going out after the Indians?” inquired the man in surprise.
“By George! you want to look out.”

“That is the reason I asked the question.”

“I have never seen this horse in a race, but I bet you he will get
there. Look out that they don’t play the same trick on you that they
played upon Custer.”

“I will look out for that. You come in on the parade-ground and hold
him while I get my things.”

When Carl hurried through the gate he saw a long line of cavalry drawn
up on the parade-ground, with their officers at the head, and the
adjutant was just going into the colonel’s door to tell him that the
troops were all present or accounted for. They were all sitting stiffly
in their saddles, waiting for the word to move. They were waiting to
see, too, who was going to command them; but in a few seconds after
the adjutant disappeared the colonel came to the door, and then this
question was answered. He had his greatcoat on, a pair of heavy
gauntlet gloves on his hands, and the point of a sabre dragged on the
ground behind him.

“That’s all right,” said Carl, making haste into his room. “Now we
will see how much the colonel knows about fighting Indians.”



CHAPTER XXVIII.

GETTING READY FOR THE FIGHT.


All the cavalry stationed at Fort Scott was in line. The “Sorrels,” the
“Blacks,” the “Grays” and the “Bays”—so called from the color of the
horses they rode—were there, eager for a move; and they all had their
heavy overcoats on, and were equipped for a long and heavy march. The
weather was as fine as anybody could ask for at that season of the
year; the mornings were crisp and cold—just the time to put both horses
and men in good trim for a headlong gallop; but everybody knew that by
the time they got back again they would bring a blizzard with them.

Lieutenant Parker sat erect on his horse, with his eyes “straight to
the front, striking the ground at a distance of fifteen yards;” but
he had an eye out for Carl, the Trailer. Without turning his head he
saw him rush into his room, and when he came out again he did not look
much like the boy who had gone in a few moments before. He was bundled
up all ready for a march. He saw him mount his horse—a sorry-looking
old horse it was, too—ride around in the rear of the line, and take up
a position a short distance behind his friend. The colonel exchanged
a few words with the captain he was going to leave in command of the
post, and then turned to the adjutant, who started off to put the
column in motion. “Fours right!” he shouted; and in a few minutes the
men were through the gate and threading their way across the prairie.

“I declare, you got a horse, didn’t you?” said the lieutenant, who, now
that the line was fairly in motion, could talk all he wanted to. “Who’s
is it? I hope the Indians will not get after us. If they do, you are
gone up.”

“Where are we going—do you know?” asked Carl.

“I don’t know for certain, but from something I heard the colonel tell
the adjutant I think we are going down to the Bad Lands,” answered
Lieutenant Parker. “We are in pursuit of Big Foot, who became alarmed
at the death of Sitting Bull and is running off to save himself.”

“If the Indians would just come in and behave themselves they would
save lots of lives by it.”

The Bad Lands were quite a distance from Fort Scott—one hundred and
ninety-two miles as the crow flies. In order to get upon the trail
of Big Foot they were obliged to go across the Cheyenne reservation,
through a section of South Dacota, which at that time was not given
up to any Indians, and go the whole length of Pine Ridge reservation,
before they would come up with him. How the general knew so soon that
he was going to run away, was a mystery. Probably he knew something
about Big Foot that others did not know, and had had his eye upon
him for a long time. He feared Big Foot, with his little band of six
hundred Sioux, more than he did the other Indians, and he thought that
if he could get him to surrender the Sioux war would be brought to
an end at once. But Big Foot had ninety miles the start of him, and
those who have followed Indians while they were retreating from a foe
know that he would travel night and day but that he would reach his
destination before his pursuers did.

The Indians, when they go on the warpath, do not generally take much
in the way of plunder to hinder their movements. Everything is thrown
away except that which they actually need. Their squaws and children
are mounted on fast horses, and they must keep up with the men or stand
the chance of being captured. They even throw away their tepee poles,
and that is something they do not often do. If they camp in a place
where poles cannot be found they have to sleep out in the open air,
and an Indian says that is not good for him. When they reach the Bad
Lands they are comparatively safe. Nobody knows where those gullies and
ravines lead to except the Indian; he knows where he can get water when
he wants it, and he knows where the gullies afford the best purpose
of resistance. It is no wonder that the Indians go there when they
get into trouble. Carl knew all this, and was explaining it to the
lieutenant as they rode along.

“We ought to have some guns along so as to get them out of those
ravines,” said Parker.

“If we could get an enfilading fire on them——”

“Well, perhaps we shall pick up some guns as we go along,” said Carl.
“But I know that it is useless to try them with small arms. Give an
Indian five minutes’ start and you will never see him again. Just wait
until you see the Bad Lands. There is not a tree or a bush on it, and
how the Indians can live there beats me.”

At this moment the adjutant galloped up and interrupted their
conversation.

“Preston, the colonel wants you out ahead,” said he.

“I don’t know whether I can show him the way or not,” said Carl, a
little taken back by this order. “But I will have to go and try.
Good-by, Parker. I’ll see you when we get into a fight with the
Indians.”

Carl rode up and saluted the colonel, and was ordered to put himself
on the trail and go ahead as fast as his pony could stand it. The trail
was plain enough,—it had been made by the Indians while going to and
from the Pine Ridge Agency,—and Carl at once put his pony into a trot
and followed it up without any hesitation at all. The column was kept
closed up all the while, and there was no talking allowed in the ranks.
They kept on until they reached some willows that fringed the banks of
a stream, and there the colonel announced that they would stop to allow
their horses a few moments of rest and to wait for the wagons, which
were lumbering along some distance in the rear. At the end of an hour,
having eaten their dinner and smoked their pipes, the column mounted
again and set off in pursuit of Big Foot.

“Well, Carl, what do you think of it?” asked the colonel, as he rode up
beside the scout, who was going along in his usual trot. “Is this what
you came to the fort for—to hunt Indians?”

“Yes, sir; but I think you had better hold up a bit,” answered Carl.
“Your horses do not act as though they could stand it, and they will be
pretty well played out to-night.”

“Why, your horse doesn’t seem to mind it a bit,” said the colonel.

“No, sir, because he is a mustang. Leave him at the stable lines for
six months and he will go just the same as he does now; but your horses
have not been used to this.”

The colonel thought it was about time that he was turning back to look
at his animals, and he found that Carl was right when he spoke about
the horses being “played out.” Half the horses were moving along with
their heads down as if almost on the point of going to sleep, and it
was only when their riders slyly punched them with their spurs that
they began to take an interest in going ahead. The colonel spoke to his
adjutant, and presently the column came down to a walk.

At night, just as the sun was setting, they came within sight of Big
Foot’s camp. There was no one there, but everything bore evidence to a
hurried departure by the original owners. Of course the column prepared
for night by examining into things. The horses were staked out and
placed under a guard; farther out there were other dismounted men who
looked after the safety of the camp, and others went to work to prepare
supper. Carl took care of his pony and then strolled about the camp to
see what things had been left behind by the Indians. The camp reminded
him of a town that had been burned by fire. The lodge poles were up in
every direction, but the tepees themselves had disappeared. Counting
them, and taking into consideration the fact that ten or twelve Indians
occupied one lodge, he came to the conclusion that there were fully six
hundred men and women in the whole camp. And half of them were armed
and willing to fight; and, besides, he did not know how many more they
would pick up on their way to the Bad Lands.

“Look at this,” said Parker, who had got through with his duties of
the camp and came out to see what he could find. As he spoke he picked
up a frying-pan which he had found in one of the tepees. “But I don’t
see anything but cooking utensils. Where are the weapons?”

“The weapons are in the hands of the Indians and are well on their way
to the Bad Lands by this time,” said Carl. “He does not need cooking
utensils, but he does need weapons, as you may find out one of these
days.”

The officers, one and all, searched the camp; but all they could find
were articles of clothing, head-dresses, and things that the Indians
could do without. Nothing in the shape of weapons could be found. At
last there was a call to supper, and after that they sat about the
fires and smoked. A good many of the soldiers had seen deserted camps
before; and, in view of the hard ride that was coming on the morrow,
they prepared for it by rolling themselves up in their blankets and
going to sleep.

There was not a sound to disturb them during the night. At reveille the
men all sprang up and were ready to face the duties of the day, whether
it was to remain in the saddle or to fight Indians.

“I don’t forget what they did to Custer,” said a soldier who picketed
his horse near Carl’s, “and I want to get a chance at them for that. I
haven’t been in many fights since that happened, but when I have been
in one, I didn’t take any prisoners. If we get into a fuss now before
we come back, you may bet your bottom dollar that every one I shoot at
stays there.”

“Do all the men feel that way?” asked Carl.

“Yes, sir, every one of them,” said the soldier earnestly. “A person
who does not feel that way has got no business in the army.”

Carl looked at the soldier as he walked off with his horse. He was
tall and broad-shouldered, and looked as though he might whip all the
Indians who could get around him. He thought of what he said a few days
afterward, when he saw him in a fight. He saw plenty of Indians drop
before his aim, but he did not see him bring in any prisoners.

While the men were grooming their horses, which they did with little
tufts of grass that came handy to them, the orderly sergeants called
the roll without looking into any books; after which they reported
to the adjutant, and the adjutant reported to the colonel. Very soon
“Boots and saddles” was called, and in a few moments the column was on
the march.

Carl took the lead, as he did on a former occasion, and about three
o’clock in the afternoon they came within sight of a camp of soldiers.
Colonel Forsyth was the commanding officer, and to him the report was
made. He ordered the cavalry to take up their positions on the opposite
ravine, so as to have the Indians surrounded when they came in to
deliver up their arms.

“I have some trustworthy Indians out now, looking for some that got
into the Bad Lands,” said Colonel Forsyth, “and I am looking for them
to come in every day. When they come in we’ll disarm them, and then we
would like to see them raise another fuss.”

“Say, Parker, look at that,” said Carl, as the cavalry moved on to its
position. “We have some guns.”

“Where?” said the lieutenant, looking all around.

“Over there on the hill. When the Sioux come in they will be camped
over there on the plain, and if they attempt any outbreak the guns will
mow them down right and left.”

“They are Hotchkiss guns, too. We are not going to see any fight with
the Indians. While the colonel was reporting, there was an officer told
me that there is a whole body of troops in the Bad Lands; so the best
thing they can do is to surrender.”

“This ravine is the only thing that bothers me,” said the colonel, as
he rode to his position and gave the necessary orders for preparing
camp. “Suppose those Indians come in here and object to giving up their
arms. Don’t you see that they can take to the ravine and run out, and
we could not stop them? Those guns there would shoot over the ravine
and hurt some of us.”

And the colonel was right in his suspicions. Some of the Indians made
use of that ravine to get back to the Bad Lands. The guns were moved up
in time to cover the ravine, but some of the Sioux managed to get away,
after all.



CHAPTER XXIX.

THE BATTLE OF WOUNDED KNEE.


“If there is anything I do despise it is to wait on an Indian until he
gets ready to do anything,” said Carl, after they had waited three or
four days to receive the Sioux who had gone into the Bad Lands. “An
Indian has no idea of the value of time, and he thinks that a month or
six weeks from now will do the same as though he came in to-morrow.
All they want is a dance to make up their minds whether to come in and
surrender or not.”

Lieutenant Parker was getting sadly impatient also, and he began to
think that the Indians would not come in at all, that they would be
alarmed at so many troops coming to surround them, and that they would
decide to stay in the Bad Lands and fight it out; but one day they were
electrified by the arrival of a courier who rode at once to Colonel
Forsyth’s tent.

“Something is going to happen now,” said Carl. “That man has brought
news of some kind.”

“Go over there, Carl,” said Parker. “Our colonel is there. You are not
an enlisted man, and you can go and come when you please.”

Carl mounted his horse, which he always kept saddled and ready for
instant use, and rode over to Colonel Forsyth’s headquarters. He loafed
around there for a spell, waiting to hear what was going on, and a few
moments later his colonel came out.

“Can you tell me what’s up, sir?” said Carl.

“Oh, nothing, only the Indians are coming in at last,” answered the
officer.

“How many of them are there?”

“About four hundred; but we have eight hundred men here, so I guess
they will not attempt any tricks.”

Carl rode back to his camp in company with the colonel, who summoned
his officers and held a short consultation with them. Parker and the
rest of the young officers, who had never seen a hostile camp before,
listened to what Carl had to tell them, and then turned their attention
to the pass through which the courier had come out. But it was a long
time before the Indians arrived. Just as the sun was setting they came
into view, and there were so many of them that Parker grew alarmed.

“Have those Indians all got guns?” he asked. “I don’t see anything to
indicate the fact.”

“They have guns, for you never saw an Indian go on the warpath without
one; but they have them hidden where we can’t find them,” said Carl.
“When the order is given to disarm them, you will see what sort of
weapons we are going to get—old, worthless things that you wouldn’t
pick up in the street.”

“Then the soldiers will search their tepees for them,” said a young
officer decidedly.

“Of course; and that is what is going to bring on the fight.”

“Are we really going to have a brush with them?”

“I think so, and you may make up your mind to hear how a bullet
whistles as it goes by your head.”

“Well, why don’t they begin it, if that is what they are up to?”

“It is too late to do anything to-day, but it will keep. You wait until
to-morrow and you will wish that you were back at the fort.”

“Not much, I won’t,” said Parker indignantly. “If my men have come out
here to fight Indians, I am going in, too.”

“I see a big tepee off there, sir,” said one of the officers to his
captain, who at that moment came up, “and they are carrying somebody
into it. Who is that, sir?”

“That is Big Foot, who is ill with pneumonia,” answered the captain;
“and the doctor who has just gone in to attend to him is Colonel
Forsyth’s surgeon.”

“And there are some soldiers taking in a stove,” added the officer.
“They are going to warm him up. I supposed that when an Indian became
sick he would kick out all the white surgeons and depend entirely on
his medicine man.”

“So he does, generally,” said the captain, “but old Big Foot is so bad
now that he can’t attend to anything. I hope you boys will get a good
sleep to-night, for we are going to have fun in the morning.”

But the boys did not get a good sleep, for they were busy thinking
of what was going to happen when daylight came—that is, all except
Carl, who would have found rest if he had known that the Indians were
powerful enough to massacre their whole command. When morning came he
was as bright as a lark, while Parker and the other young officers were
pale and nervous, and kept looking forward to that order to disarm the
Indians which would transform their peaceable camp into a scene that
they did not like to think of.

It was the morning of December 29th, and as soon as breakfast was
eaten the cavalry mounted their horses and stretched themselves out in
a single line far beyond the ground occupied by the Indian encampment,
and the infantry moved up within ten yards of their position. The
Indians evidently did not like this, for they congregated in little
groups, and talked violently, and made motions which Lieutenant Parker
thought meant war and nothing else. Finally an interpreter went among
them, and after a long wait the warriors all moved out in a body and
seated themselves on the ground. Then Colonel Forsyth took a hand in
the matter, and, with the interpreter at his side, told the Indians
that he had come out there for the purpose of disarming them, and
ordered them back to their tepees to bring out their weapons. A part
of the Indians went, and after a long wait they brought out two guns,
which they handed to the soldiers.

“That won’t do,” said the colonel in a loud voice. “I want each one of
you to bring out the weapons that you use in fighting us. If you don’t
do it, my men will go in there and search your houses.”

“Now it is coming,” said Carl in a low tone to his friend, and he got
down and buckled up his saddle. “When the soldiers go in there, you can
make up your mind to advance.”

The Indians did not move, and all the while Yellow Bird, a medicine
man, was walking about among them, blowing on a whistle made of an
eagle bone and talking to them in the Sioux language. He was telling
them that they need not be afraid, for their ghost shirts would render
the soldiers weak and powerless, and that their bullets would fall
harmlessly to the ground.

“If I was Colonel Forsyth I would arrest that Indian the first thing,”
said Carl, who was rendered awfully impatient by the Sioux actions.
“Why don’t he make that man talk English.”

“What is he doing?” asked Parker.

“I don’t catch the words very distinctly, but he is urging them on to
fight,” said Carl. “I wonder if those Indians have ghost shirts on? If
they have, that is what he is depending on.”

Still the Indians did not move to go into their tepees and bring
out more weapons, and Colonel Forsyth, becoming impatient, ordered
the soldiers up closer and sent a party to search the tepees. After
a thorough hunt these last returned with about forty rifles, most
of which were old and of little value. The search had consumed
considerable time, and created a good deal of excitement among the
women and children, as the soldiers found it necessary to overturn the
beds and other furniture of the houses, and sometimes to drive the
inmates out of doors. One of the searchers, in coming out, attempted
to raise the blanket of one of the warriors, and that seemed to be
all Yellow Bird was waiting for. Suddenly he stooped down and seized
a handful of dust which he threw into the air, and in an instant
afterward a young Cheyenne brave threw off his blanket and fired at the
soldiers.

“It is come! it is come!” exclaimed Carl, who was so excited that he
could hardly sit still on his horse. “That means war. Now get ready.”

The smoke of the warrior’s gun had scarcely died away when an
answering volley came from the soldiers, and they were so close to
the Sioux that the guns almost touched each other. After that all was
confusion to Lieutenant Parker, although he tried his best to mind what
he was doing. He heard the adjutant shout “Forward!” and drove his
horse down the ravine, and Carl was right close behind him.

“Shoot to kill!” said the captain. “Don’t throw away a single bullet!”

At first it was not possible for any of the cavalry to shoot, so busy
were they in working their way down one side of the gully and up the
other; but by the time they were on solid ground once more, the yell
that went up from five hundred lungs must have added to the panic of
the frightened Indians; for the Indians were frightened, there could
be no doubt about that. They fought bravely for a few minutes, but
their ghost shirts did not avail them. They saw their comrades fall on
every side, they heard the shouts of the soldiers as they pressed them
from every side, and finally they turned and sought safety in flight.
Lieutenant Parker did not draw his sword from the time he started until
the bugle sounded the recall. He used his revolver, and those who knew
him said he was a very passable shot. The Hotchkiss guns got the range
of the ravine when they saw the Indians escaping that way. They fired
two-pound explosive shells at the rate of fifty a minute, cutting down
everything that was alive. In a few minutes there were two hundred men,
women and children lying dead and wounded on the ground, the tepees had
been torn down by shells, some of them were burning above the helpless
wounded, and the surviving handful of Sioux were flying in a wild panic
to the shelter of the ravine. Sixty soldiers were also lying on the
ground, which shows how hard the Indians fought at the beginning of the
battle.

Lieutenant Parker did not try to hold in his horse when he got fairly
out of the ravine. The animal had never been in action before, but he
seemed to delight in the whistling of balls and the roaring of cannon.
Whenever Parker saw an Indian he pulled on him, and whenever he missed,
it is sure that the boy who followed close at his side did _not_ miss
with his Winchester. They followed the Sioux for a mile or more, and
then the lieutenant heard the sound of the bugle. It was the recall,
and he forthwith returned his empty revolver to its holster and shouted
to the men who were nearest to him.

“Cease firing!” he yelled. “Don’t you hear the bugle sounding a
recall? How did you work it, Murphy?” he added, turning to a soldier
who had oftentimes told him that he would not take any prisoners. “Did
you see any drop?”

“To be sure I did, sir,” said he. “I thought ‘Remember Custer’ all the
time I was doing it. Halloo, there’s one. I guess I will fix him so
that he won’t kill any more soldiers.”

Murphy stopped in front of a wounded Sioux, who raised on his elbow and
looked at him with a countenance full of vindictive fury. He was shot
through both legs, and of course he fell to the ground. The soldier
felt all over his person but could not find a cartridge left.

“No matter,” said he, throwing himself off his horse. “You’ve got a
knife there, and I can soon put you out of the way with that.”

“Hold on, Murphy; that won’t do,” said Parker. “Get back on your horse
and let him go.”

“If I don’t kill him somebody else will,” said the soldier, very much
disappointed to hear this order. “He is good for all the men who can
get around him. See that?” he added, sticking the muzzle of his carbine
into the warrior’s face.

The brave proved that if his legs were shot through his hands were all
right, for he seized the gun and tried to draw the soldier toward him.
If he had got him within reach of the knife he held in his hand, he
would have struck him down without mercy.

“Don’t you think he ought to be killed after that?” inquired Murphy.

“We are not here to make war upon crippled Indians,” said Lieutenant
Parker decidedly. “Disarm him and let him go.”

Now, to Carl it seemed as if it was a matter of some importance
to take away the Indian’s knife. One of his race, when he becomes
frightened and can run, gets as frightened as anybody; but when he is
wounded so badly that he is brought to a standstill, he becomes really
a dangerous foe. He will fight as long as he has strength left to draw
a weapon. The soldier advanced toward him, but his knife was raised in
the most threatening manner. But Murphy was equal to the emergency.
In an instant his carbine was poised in the air; the blow descended,
beating down the Indian’s guard and landing with its full force on his
unprotected head. He was stretched out as dead, apparently, as any of
the Indians that surrounded him. His muscles grew rigid, he sank back
upon the ground, and the eyes which had gazed so ferociously at his
assailant became glazed.

“Well, you have killed him now, at all events,” said the lieutenant in
disgust.

“Oh no, sir,” said Murphy. “It takes more than one little whack like
that to kill an Indian. He will come out all right. Here’s his knife,
sir—as a present from me,” he continued, taking off his hat and
giving the weapon to Parker. “Hold on a minute and I will get you his
scabbard.”

The Indian was too far gone to make any resistance as he took the
sheath and belt off, and presenting them to Lieutenant Parker, he
mounted his horse and rode back with him to the camp.



CHAPTER XXX.

OFF FOR HOME.


“Hurry up there, sir. The colonel is anxious to get all his men in. We
are going to have a blizzard.”

It was Colonel Forsyth’s bugler who hailed them. He was going over the
field in a gallop, blowing his trumpet as he went, in hope of getting
his men all in camp before the storm struck them. The lieutenant
stopped in surprise and looked all around him. Sure enough, there was
a blizzard coming. The air was filled with fine snow which he had not
noticed before; and, now that he began to get over his excitement,
he found that his summer blouse afforded him but a poor protection
against the wind that was blowing. They put their horses into a lope
in obedience to the order; but, fast as they went, Lieutenant Parker
took notice of the havoc that was done by the Hotchkiss guns during
the twenty minutes that the fight continued. He saw that there were
about as many women dead as there were men, and that some of them held
repeating rifles in their hands.

“That beats me,” said he, in profound astonishment. “The squaws meant
to fight, too.”

“You will always find that the case when troops attack a home camp,”
said Carl. “Some of these women are wounded. They will freeze to death
during this blizzard.”

“That fight was a massacre and nothing else,” said Parker in disgust.
“Why could not the women have kept out of the way?”

“Well, I suppose every man on our side was thinking ‘Remember Custer’
while that fight took place, sir,” said Murphy, in a tone which showed
that he did not care anything for the Indians, so long as they were
dead. “I know I did, and I don’t believe that any Sioux that I pulled
on got away.”

The wind continued to increase in fury—so much so that the notes
of the bugle from the trumpeter who had warned them, and which he
continued to blow at intervals, came but faintly to their ears.
Lieutenant Parker was getting cold, but he did not say a word about
it. His overcoat was left on the ground where the cavalry began its
charge, and if the colonel did not have anything further for him to
do he would be glad to put that overcoat on. When they arrived within
sight of Colonel Forsyth’s headquarters they found that the men who
had been recalled by the sound of the bugle were busy tearing down the
tents and carrying them into the ravine out of reach of the blizzard,
and the rest were working like beavers to take their dead and wounded
comrades to the same place of refuge. The officers were working with
the men, and if they said anything at all, it was to urge those who
were laboring with them to hurry a little faster.

“You are just the man I wanted to see, Parker,” said his colonel, as
he galloped up. “Hitch your horses there in the gully, and then you and
Murphy get a stretcher and bring in every man who lost his life during
that fight. Be in a hurry, now, for we don’t want to leave them out in
this wind.”

“Carl, you go and get our overcoats and bring one for Murphy,” said
Parker, as they rode away to obey this order. “We can’t work fast
enough to keep warm in this wind.”

“The colonel wants us to bring in every man who lost his life during
the fight,” said Carl. “He did not say anything about the Indians, did
he?”

“Nary time, sir,” said Murphy, indignantly. “The Indians brought it all
on themselves, and they can stay there and freeze to death for all the
colonel cares.”

“Another thing,” said the lieutenant—“have you forgotten what that
warrior did back there on the prairie? Some of the wounded may have a
knife or a rifle, you know, and it would not be safe to go near them.”

In a few minutes all our three friends, with their heavy overcoats
and gauntlet gloves on, were working hard to bring the bodies of
their comrades to the ravine where they would be out of the way of
the blizzard, and as fast as the men came in they were dispatched to
help them. The lieutenant was astonished when he saw how the Indians
had used their revolvers at the beginning of the fight. They had their
pistols and knives hidden under their blankets. Every one of them
went in armed, and that was the reason they did so much damage. Some
of the Indians and soldiers were almost touching each other, having
fired their guns when so close together that their garments were
fairly burned with the powder, and of course it was not possible for
one to miss so large a mark at that distance. The soldiers did not
seem to care a cent for the presence of the officers who were on the
spot to superintend their operation. If they took hold of a soldier
to place him on a stretcher and an Indian was in the way, they kicked
him roughly aside, as they would have done with any other rubbish.
The officers noticed it but did not say anything; and as long as they
ranked Parker, he did not feel called upon to say anything, either.

“If I had my way they would treat brave men with a little more respect
than that,” said Parker, as they picked up a soldier who had been
placed upon the stretcher and started for the ravine with him. “If
those men had not been brave they would not have killed so many of our
fellows.”

“Humph!” muttered Murphy. “They were fighting for their homes, you
know, sir. Plague take all their homes. They have got a reservation,
and why don’t they go there and stay upon it? If all the soldiers could
have their way, there would not be one left on the prairie.”

Lieutenant Parker was beginning to feel as Carl, the Trailer, did while
he was explaining the Ghost Dance to him. He felt that the Indians had
been abused, and wished there was some way in which the matter could
be arranged to everybody’s mutual satisfaction. But then it would have
been of no use to argue the case with Murphy. Like all soldiers he had
his own opinion, and he would keep on having it until all the Indians
had been wiped out.

At last, when the blizzard was at its height and the soldiers could
scarcely see which way to go, the bugle called them in; and when they
got into the ravine all the tents were up, and the property they had
left on the field when they began their charge was there under cover.
It was delightful to feel the fire once more. Their overcoats were
frozen stiff, and it was a long time before they got thawed out again.
The storm lasted three days, and a severe one it was, too. A soldier
would scarcely stick his head out of his tent before he was glad to get
back by the fire again. Some of the wounded soldiers died during this
time, and with everyone who breathed his last among his comrades fierce
maledictions went up on all Indians who were left on the plains.

“I have always said ‘Remember Custer’ when I went into an engagement
of this kind,” said an old soldier, wiping the tears from his eyes and
turning to Lieutenant Parker, who had come into the hospital tent just
in time to see a wounded man breathe his last, “but from now on I shall
yell ‘Remember Simpson.’ He met his death like a brave man.”

“Was he shot?” asked Parker, who knew he ought to say something to
show that he sympathized with the soldier.

“No, sir. He shot that brave down, and thought he had him sure enough;
but he had a knife, with which he struck Simpson in the side. My rifle
was loaded, and I will bet you he did not hurt anybody after that. Oh
yes, I shall always remember Simpson.”

On the morning of the fourth day after the blizzard the sun rose bright
and clear, and the work of burying the dead Indians began. All hands
were turned out for that purpose. Some dug a ditch large enough to
hold them all, and the rest were sent out to gather up the men, women
and children, some lying at least two miles away, and bring them to
the grave. The unfeeling soldiers dumped them into the trench like so
many sticks of wood, while Lieutenant Parker and Carl stood by with
their hands clenched and their teeth shut firmly against each other. If
Parker had been in command of that squad they would have handled the
Indians with much more respect.

The lieutenant noticed that more than half the Indians were stripped
when they arrived at the trench; but the officers, although they saw
it, did not make any remark. What the soldiers wanted as much as
anything else was to secure the ghost shirts on which so much depended,
and these they had taken off when they first found the Indians and
stowed away under their overcoats. He gave up all hope of getting one
of these ghost shirts; but that night, when the officers were all in
their tents preparing to smoke, after supper, Carl came to the door and
called him out. He went, and was presented with one of the ghost shirts
that the medicine man had blessed, and which was to render the soldiers
weak and powerless.

“I knew you would not have a chance to get one with those officers all
around you, and so I went off and got this myself,” said Carl. “See
there. That is the place where the bullet went in, and you can see how
much resistance the shirt offered to it. He might as well have gone
into the fight with nothing on at all.”

The next day this work was done and the Indians were buried; but the
work of the cavalry was not yet over. They were ordered away in haste
to help a company of buffalo soldiers (negroes) who were coming into
the agency with a train load of supplies. But this fight did not last
long. The cavalry charged the Indians as soon as they caught sight of
them, and ran them off to the hills. They did not lose a man, but the
Sioux lost four warriors and several ponies. And so it was during the
three weeks they stayed there, and it was not until January that they
received orders to go to the fort.

“I have learned something since I have been here,” said the lieutenant,
when the soldiers were fairly under way to go to their post. “I did not
know why they called this battle ‘Wounded Knee,’ but now I know. There
is an agency a few miles up the creek called Wounded Knee, and it is
situated on a stream of the same name. Everything is Wounded Knee up
this way.”

“Say, Parker, I will tell you what I have been thinking of for the
last few days,” said Carl. “Do you think you behaved yourself in that
fight so that the colonel will give you leave of absence for a week?”

“What are you up to?” asked Parker, who knew that Carl had made up his
mind to go somewhere, and that he wanted the lieutenant to go with him.
“Where are you going?”

“I am going out to my house to see how the fellows there came out
during the war,” said Carl. “They don’t know that the war is ended, and
there may have been some raiders who went up to the ranch from Standing
Rock Agency.”

“I’ll ask the colonel,” said Parker, who was delighted with the thought
of being free from all military duty for the time he had mentioned. “I
have been here eighteen months, and I have never asked for a furlough.
I think he will let me go.”

“Well, when we get back to the fort we will wait a little while until
the excitement dies out, and when I tip you the wink, you go and see
him.”

But Carl did not wait as long as he thought he was going to. On the
next night but one they came within sight of the stockade, and Carl
was thunderstruck and alarmed, too, when one of the officers pointed
out to him a large herd of cattle that were feeding close by the fort.
Something told him whose cattle those were, and it took him but a few
minutes to ride up and look at the brand on their flanks. The herd
belonged to him, but he could not see signs of any herdsmen who had
come there with them.

“Those are some of my cattle,” said he to Parker when he rode up beside
him, “but how in the world did they come down here? That captain the
colonel left here to command the post during his absence is a brick. He
has some of the teamsters and soldiers out there to see that they don’t
stray away. I am going home this very night.”

“Not alone, are you?” said Parker, becoming alarmed in his turn. “You
may find some Indians there who have left your ranch a pile of ruins.”

“I have to go, at any rate. I will speak to the colonel before I leave.
If he has a mind to send a company of men out there with me——”

“Ask for Company D,” said Parker.

“It isn’t likely that he will give me a chance to ask for any company,
but I shall be glad to have one.”

Carl rode off to hunt up the colonel, who had by this time dismounted
in front of his quarters, who listened in surprise when he told him of
the discovery he had made. He did not hesitate a minute, but called
to his adjutant to start off Company D, as soon as they had time to
refresh themselves and horses, to see what had been going on at Carl’s
ranch.

“It is a pity, Carl, that they took this time to raid you,” said the
colonel. “But I will do what I can to get your cattle back and punish
the fellows who had a hand in it.”

“It is all right,” said Carl, who was sitting on his horse at the rear
of the column. “You will get your orders in a few minutes.”

“Bully for the colonel,” said Parker, never once turning his eyes
toward the speaker.

Company D was drawn up in line all ready to be dismissed, but the
adjutant ordered them a few paces to the front and directed them to
move off on the right and come to a front again. The line closed up
and the other companies broke ranks, and then the adjutant repeated
the colonel’s order, after which this company was also dismissed, and
started to take their horses to the stable.

“What’s up, sir?” whispered Murphy.

“Those are my cattle out there, and we are going up to see what has
become of those fellows who had charge of them,” said Carl, who did not
speak as he usually did. “I am afraid the Sioux have bounced them.”

“Whoopee!” said Murphy. “Here goes for another fight with the Indians!”



CHAPTER XXXI.

CONCLUSION.


Carl was very much depressed when he went into the teamsters’ quarters
to get his supper. The men wanted to talk about the battle, but Carl
wanted some information about his cattle. How long had they been there?
Did anybody come with them? And did they run as though they were very
much frightened about something? The teamsters answered these questions
as well as they could, but they were certain about two things: nobody
had been seen with the cattle when they came up, and they were running
as though they had made up their minds not to stop until they reached
the Mississippi River. But they were easily controlled, and the men who
had been sent after them had no trouble at all in driving them back to
the fort.

“Now, Carl, tell us something more about the fight,” said one of the
teamsters. “How did Lieutenant Parker behave, any way?”

“He acted as though there was not an Indian within a hundred miles of
him,” answered Carl with animation. “He let his horse take his own way,
and never stopped until we were a mile away from the camp.”

“Did he kill any Indians?”

“Every time I saw him pull on an Indian, he dropped. But he saved one
Sioux from being killed, and that’s one thing I didn’t like about him.”

While Carl was engaged in telling this story about the Indian who
was shot through both legs and had a knife left with which to defend
himself, the bugle sounded, and that was something that Carl delighted
to hear. He hurried out to get his horse, and when he came back the men
were all drawn up in line and the captain was listening to some parting
instructions from the colonel.

“If you see any signs of the Sioux out there, you will follow them
up until you are certain that they go on their reservation,” said he.
“Carl, I hope it is not as bad as you think,” he added, turning to the
young scout, who came up at that moment. “A boy who behaved as you did
in the fight don’t deserve to have his ranch raided. Good luck to you.”

In a few minutes more the column, headed by Carl and the captain, were
out of the gate, and the darkness shut them out from view. For miles
they travelled at a fast walk, and not a word was said by anybody in
the ranks. Finally Carl, who had been watching his horse for some
time, stopped his own nag and reached out and touched the captain on
the shoulder. There was somebody coming, and he was coming fast, too.
In a few seconds more he caught sight of two or three hats which were
bobbing back and forth in front of the horizon, and in response to the
captain’s challenge they hauled up very suddenly.

“Halt! Who comes there?” asked the captain.

“Halt yourself,” answered a voice; and Carl was almost ready to
yell when he recognized that Thompson was speaking to them. “You are
soldiers, ain’t you? Have you seen any cattle down this way?”

“Thompson!” cried Carl.

“Well, I declare; if there ain’t Carl,” said Thompson, so delighted
that he could scarcely speak. “Where have you been?”

“I have been in a fight, but I am all here yet,” said Carl, riding
forward to shake his men by the hand. “How did those cattle manage to
get away from you?”

“You have been in a fight, have you?” said Thompson, so overjoyed to
see Carl again that he could hardly let him go. “Well, you haven’t been
in any worse one than we have. We’ve killed nine Indians, and have a
prisoner up there to show you.”

“A prisoner? Who is it?”

“It is Harding—that is who it is. He came out to the ranch with
twenty-five Indians to gather up some stock, and we were too many for
him. He stampeded some of the cattle, but we whipped the Indians and
drove them away.”

“That is the same thing he proposed to me while I was a prisoner,”
said Carl, turning to the captain. “I knew that if I gave him an order
on Thompson for the stock he would be killed when he presented it.
Well, he helped me to escape once, and you can help him this time.”

“Not by a long shot!” exclaimed the captain. “General Miles has ordered
every soldier in his department to arrest that fellow, and he will have
to go to the fort with me.”

“That is what I say, captain,” said Thompson. “He tried to rob our
safe, too.”

“We will go back to the fort now and report to the colonel,” added the
captain. “If he chooses to send us up there to-morrow, why we will get
him. What are you going to do with your men, Carl?”

“They will go to the fort with us and be ready to come back with the
cattle to-morrow. The soldiers and teamsters rounded them up for you,
and I guess they are all there,” he continued, addressing himself to
Thompson. “I am surprised at you,” he continued, when the captain had
brought the men around and headed them toward the fort. “I am sorry I
told you so much.”

“Now, Carl, see here,” said Thompson, lowering his voice almost to a
whisper. “You need not have him captured unless you want to.”

“How shall we prevent it? The colonel will send some men to the ranch
to-morrow, and when they get their hands on him he is booked for the
military prison at Leavenworth.”

“Look here,” said Thompson, lowering his voice so that no one but Carl
could hear it. “I have six men with me, and how does this captain know
but I have a hundred? Send Bert back and tell him to escape. I’ll bet
you that they won’t see him after that.”

It would seem from this that Carl kept the ranchmen posted on
everything that happened to him at the fort. When he came home after
his captivity among the Sioux, he told them all that occurred to
him—how Harding had threatened to shoot him because of the death of
Sitting Bull, but had suddenly grown merciful to him when he saw that
the Indians were determined to have revenge on him, and how he had
assisted him to keep out of their way. Thompson felt kinder toward
Harding after that, and so did all the herdsmen; and when they found
that Carl was anxious to have him escape, there was not one man who had
a word to say against it.

“Well, go and tell Bert to come here,” said Carl, after thinking a
moment. “You know what sort of a guard he is under, don’t you? Now you
tell him how you will arrange it.”

Thompson reined in his horse, and was gone but a few moments when he
rode up again with Bert at his side. In a few whispered words he told
Bert just what he had to do, and he understood it. He was pulling up
his horse to let the column get a little in advance of him, when Carl
said earnestly:

“Tell him that this is the last time I shall befriend him. He helped
me to escape once when I stood a chance of being staked out, and now
I have paid him back. If he ever gets into trouble with the soldiers
again, he will have to stand the result of his misdeeds.”

The captain did not know how many men were with Thompson, and
consequently he did not miss one of their number, who was going at his
best pace toward the ranch to warn the squawman that the soldiers were
coming to-morrow to arrest him. As Thompson had said, “You would not
see him very much after that.” If he once got out of that ranch and
felt a good horse under him, he would kill him before he would ever be
found in that department again.

The column pursued their way at an easy gait, and when they came within
sight of the cattle, Thompson and his men went down to relieve the
teamsters and soldiers who had been keeping guard over them, and the
rest rode on into the fort. Some few of the teamsters were awake as
Carl went in, and wanted to know all about it; but the young scout told
them that the Sioux had been whipped, and had made their way back to
their reservation.

The next morning Carl arose at an early hour, but his cattle were
nowhere in sight. Thompson had routed his men up as soon as they could
see their way clearly, and had started the cattle back toward home.
Carl now wanted to see the colonel. He wanted to know if there was
anything for him to do, otherwise he desired to go home and look after
things there. But the colonel did not appear until near breakfast time;
then, the captain having made his report to him, he sent for Carl. He
said that he was perfectly willing that Carl should go and stay as long
as he wanted to, but that Harding must be brought back.

“Your men have got him where they can hold him, have they?” asked the
commander. “He is a mighty slippery fellow, and if he sees the least
chance to get away he is going to improve it. I had him here in the
fort once, and how he got away beats me. I will send a sergeant and
four men with you to take him.”

“Very good, sir,” said Carl. He did not say that the men would find him
there, for he was quite sure they would not. He waited until the men
got ready and then mounted his horse, which he had ridden during the
fight, and started off on the trail of the cattle. In about three hours
they overtook them. Thompson was bringing up the rear, and his face was
all wrinkled up with smiles when he caught sight of the sergeant and
four soldiers.

“Say,” said he, “when you get that fellow I want you to hold fast to
him. This is the second time he has bothered me, and I ain’t agoing to
put up with it much longer.”

They had a long way to go, and late in the afternoon they came within
sight of the ranch. There was no one there to receive them, but Carl
did not mind that. He showed the soldiers where to put their horses,
for they were going to stay with him all night, and then led the way
into the hall.

“I suppose you want to see Harding the first thing you do,” said he.
“Well, he is in the office here——Why, what in the world does this mean?”

He had come to the door of the office, but it was wide open. The
key was on the outside, and the window was open, too. There was the
shakedown in which the squawman had spent the first night of his
captivity, but that was the only thing they saw of him.

“He has escaped!” said Carl; and one, to have seen him, would have
thought that it was a matter that crushed him completely.

“Yes, sir, he has escaped,” said the cook, who, hearing the sound of
their footsteps in the hall, had come in from the kitchen to see what
was the matter, “and I would like to know if anybody ever got away
under such circumstances before. We had one man outside here in the
hall, and another out by the window. They were cautioned to look out
for him, for he was like an eel—a hard fellow to hold. Well, sir, that
man outside went away for about five minutes, and when he came back the
window was open and Harding was gone. He took Thompson’s best horse,
too.”

“Well, that lets us off,” said the sergeant, looking around at the
soldiers. “Can’t we follow him up and catch him?”

“No,” said the cook. “Don’t I tell you that he has the best horse on
the ranch? Some of the men are out now looking for him. He didn’t take
to the prairie, but concealed himself in the mountains. He won’t come
out till he gets among his friends.”

The cook spoke so earnestly, and seemed so disgusted over Harding’s
escape, that the sergeant never thought to blame him for it. If the
truth must be told, he was the man who brought the horse and tied him
to the bushes in the yard so that the squawman could readily find him,
and he stood in his door and saw Harding leap out of the window, mount
the nag, and ride away in the darkness. Some of the men were indeed
out, but they were not looking for Harding. They were attending to the
cattle.

“I think we will go back and report to the colonel,” said the sergeant,
after meditating a few moments. “He ought to know that he ain’t going
to get the man.”

And we may add that this was the last adventure that befell Carl while
he stayed at the fort. The troops never suspected Carl, and neither
did they ever see Harding again. What became of him after that nobody
knew. Of course the soldiers were all on the lookout for him, but he
disappeared completely. And we may go further, and say that no one on
the ranch ever heard of Claude again. A young man with such habits as
his don’t often turn out to be anybody in the world. If he keeps such
company as the two men who attempted to rob Carl of his money, he is
probably in State’s prison before this time.

The sergeant and all the soldiers were surprised and perplexed over
the escape of Harding, and when the horses had had a rest and the men
had eaten their supper they set out for the fort. The men stood on the
porch and saw them go; and when they had got out of sight the cook
turned to Carl, laid one finger alongside his nose, and winked first
one eye and then the other. If the sergeant had seen that motion he
might have been led to suspect something.

Carl, the Trailer, remained at home for a week, and when he started for
the fort again he took a big load from Thompson’s mind by telling him
that he had seen all the scouting he wanted to see, and that in a few
days he was coming home to remain.

“There is no more fight in the Sioux, for, now that Sitting Bull has
gone and Big Foot was killed during that fight, there will be no one
to take command of them,” said Carl. “But first I want to bring the
lieutenant up here, to let him see how I live when I am at home. I will
come back in a week or two, and I shall never go away again.”

The men were all glad to hear that piece of news, and when Carl
returned in company with the lieutenant, they extended to him a hearty
welcome; for Carl had told his herdsmen how he behaved in that fight
with the Sioux, and they were glad to shake a brave man by the hand.

“I don’t see why you wanted to leave this nice place, where you have
everything just as you want it, and come down to the fort to go
scouting,” said Parker, when he had been shown about the ranch, and
supper was over and the men had gathered on the porch. “If I had a
ranch like this I would resign in a minute. I never would go on another
hunt after Indians.”

That was what his men all said, and they were glad to welcome him
home. Carl still lives on the plains, but he does not go down to the
fort as much as he used to. Time has made changes, and there are but
few officers left who knew him as Carl, the Trailer. Parker has now
become a captain, and has been ordered to the coast. He keeps up a
regular correspondence with Carl; and of all the stories he has to tell
to his younger officers, there are none that he takes so much delight
in as those in which the young scout was engaged. The Ghost Dance is a
thing of the past. It has never been heard of since Yellow Bird caught
up that handful of dust and threw it into the air, which started the
massacre of Wounded Knee.



Transcribers’ Notes


Italics are rendered between underscores; e.g. _hiding_.

Small caps are rendered in ALL CAPS.

The List of Illustrations was generated by the transcriber.

The following table shows changes made by the transcriber.

  +---------------------------+
  |   Transcribers’ changes   |
  +----+-----------+----------+
  |Page|as printed |changed to|
  +----+-----------+----------+
  | 131|squwman    |squawman  |
  | 133|dance,’    |dance,’”  |
  | 155|closely    |closely.  |
  | 159|thing      |thing.    |
  | 174|scott free |scot-free |
  | 182|vension    |venison   |
  | 187|a-going    |agoing    |
  | 205|said       |said,     |
  | 250|cordicil   |codicil   |
  | 252|did’nt     |didn’t    |
  | 253|reply,     |reply.    |
  | 273|a-going    |agoing    |
  | 278|bar-keepeer|barkeeper |
  | 285|you?”      |you?      |
  | 287|aint       |ain’t     |
  | 294|you.”      |you?”     |
  | 355|left.      |left.”    |
  | 378|them.”     |them.     |
  | 385|choses     |chooses   |
  +----+-----------+----------+





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