Citation
Six young hunters, or, The adventures of the Greyhound club

Material Information

Title:
Six young hunters, or, The adventures of the Greyhound club
Portion of title:
Adventures of the Greyhound club
Creator:
Parker, William Gordon, b.1875
Lee and Shepard
Norwood Press ( Printer )
J.S. Cushing & Co ( Printer )
Berwick & Smith ( Printer )
Place of Publication:
Boston Lee and Shepard Publishers
Norwood, Mass.
Publisher:
Norwood Press ; J.S. Cushing & Co. ; Berwick & Smith
Manufacturer:
Norwood Press ; J.S. Cushing & Co. ; Berwick & Smith
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
vi, 335 p., [5] leaves of plates : ill. ; 19 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Boys -- Societies and clubs -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Outdoor recreation -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Forest animals -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Uncles -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Hunters -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Indians of North America -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Horsemanship -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Deer hunting -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Greyhounds -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Friendship -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Wolves -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Juvenile fiction -- Grouse Creek (Utah) ( lcsh )
Juvenile literature -- 1898 ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1898
Genre:
Children's literature ( fast )
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- Massachusetts -- Boston
United States -- Massachusetts -- Norwood
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Pictorial front cover and spine.
General Note:
Illustrations signed by author.
Statement of Responsibility:
by W. Gordon Parker ; with illustrations by the author.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
002394867 ( ALEPH )
ALZ9774 ( NOTIS )
07177852 ( OCLC )
c 98000172 ( LCCN )

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Full Text




The Baldwin Library

University
mB at
Florida











WALTER.



SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

OR

THE ADVENTURES OF THE
GREYHOUND CLUB

BY

W. GORDON PARKER



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE AUTHOR

BOSTON |
LEE AND SHEPARD PUBLISHERS
1898





CoryrIGHT, 1898, BY LEE AND SHEPARD

All Rights Reserved

Six Younc Hunters

Norbsood Press
J. 8. Cushing & Co. — Berwick & Smith
Norwood Mass. U.S.A.



CHAPTER I
PAGE
DEER LODGE I\
CHAPTER II
AN ACQUAINTANCE . 17
CHAPTER III
AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY . : : . : E8130)
CHAPTER IV
WITH THE GREYHOUNDS . § : : . 7 Seng T
CHAPTER V
THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 5 . . . og OF,
CHAPTER VI
THE HOLD-uP . . 5 83
CHAPTER VII
AN EXCURSION . s - 101
CHAPTER VIII
. . . 129

THE BEAR Hunt

CONTENTS

ili



lv CONTENTS

CHAPTER IX
STARTLING NEWS

CHAPTER X
FIREFLY IS TAKEN .

CHAPTER XI

THE OUTLAWS FOILED

CHAPTER XII

WALTER A CAPTIVE

CHAPTER XIII

HARRY ON THE TRAIL

CHAPTER XIV

Hank DOBSON.
CHAPTER XV

Tue LAST OF THE OUTLAWS

CHAPTER XVI

FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS

CHAPTER XVII

THE DEER CHASE

CHAPTER XVIII

CONCLUSION

PAGE
152

170
188
207
231
259

280
295
315

329



ILLUSTRATIONS

WALTER . : : 3 zi ‘ _ Frontispiece
HEADING . : : . 5 é ci
SELECTING PONIES AT UNCLE JOHN’S . é
Tasso, SAXONY, AND THE RABBIT . : 3
TASSO WINS. : f : - S 3 : 3
DISCUSSING PRINCE ROYAL. s : 2 i :
TAILPIECE ‘ : . 7 : : . ‘ :
HARRY HEARS THE WILDCAT . 3 és : . :
TAILPIECE : : 3 5 : . . i :
INITIAL T. : : ‘ : : :
FEEDING UPON A JACK-RABBIT ; 5 : A es
A MOoRNING’s COURSING . : S . 5
TAILPIECE 3 7 . 3
TAILPIECE 2 i . S f
Jos&= CABRILLO : : : . : : :

’ TRACK-WALKER : , H 3 i 3
ENEREAT: SEO smo cq aie eee
VON AND THE QUAIL : 5 Brett 5

TAILPIECE z . : ‘é - . : ;

PAGE

14
16
30
38
46
50
SI
54
57
66
82
go
99
Ior
109 |

128



vi ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

THE BEAR APPEARS 5 3 : : 5 . - 147
CANOE. : : : : A 7 . - 150
WALTER . : . 7 . : . 7 2 - 152
PRINCE RoyAL . : : . ‘ : : ; . 169
_ TAILPIECE : : : 7 : : : . . 187
PIETRO. , : js A : . : . 196
TAILPIECE : : . 7 : ‘ sfon eis 200
Harry. : . : . : . . - 230
INITIAL A. : : - 2 R 7 : 231
CABRILLO’S RETREAT. : : . : ; . 265
PANE: DOBSON | cfs S00 c 8 ae ea og
HEAD OF INDIAN. : . . : . : + 294
INITIAL T . . . . . : . . » 295
INITIAL P. : : . : oe . . - 315
HARRY GOES OVER THE CLIFF : 7 : A +) 8322
THE First STAG KILLED : . . 7 : - 328

TAILPIECE s . ’ . ‘i 3 ~ 335














Ve TE
dete?

SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

—0fQ400——_

CHAPTER I

DEER LODGE

Away to the forest when autumn’s a-dying,
To follow the music of vanishing hounds.

Clap spurs to your hunter — hark ! — list to’their crying !:
They’re racing in vain with the deer’s lightning bounds.

HE home of the Greyhound Club, Deer Lodge,

is situated in one of the wildest and least fre-

quented parts of ‘the Indian Territory, or more prop-

erly the portion owned and held by the Osage and
B I



2 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

other Indian tribes, on the banks of Grouse creek.
It is a model place for young sportsmen to enjoy a
month’s hunting and fishing, for deer and wolves are
plentiful in the surrounding country, and black bass
swarm in the stream. The house stands upon grass-
land overlooking the winding water below, at the
edge of a grove of gigantic oaks and cottonwoods.
Built entirely of logs, it presents a strikingly attractive
picture to the boy lover of the rod and gun, especially
during the hunting season, when the wide veranda
is alive with young sportsmen, who usually return
about twilight. Some are on horseback, some in
canoes which they tie to the jetty at the base of the
cliff, and some afoot. Those who return with the
tired greyhounds usually carry a deer or two across
their saddles, while those who return with the setters
have game-bags overflowing with quails, ducks, or
prairie-chickens. Then, while old Tony, the negro
servant, prepares supper, the boys gradually gather
upon the veranda and discuss the day’s sport to their
hearts’ content; for they are trusty, fun-loving lads,
these members of the Greyhound Club, who have
left honest and faithful records at school, and who
consequently enjoy their well-earned vacation to the
fullest extent. They had all met the previous autumn
at a famous New England academy, and soon became
fast friends. Each one loved a good horse and gun
as much as any boy can, and cared little for the set



DEER LODGE 3

of fellows who frequented the billiard rooms in town
and played cards. It was natural, therefore, that
they should drift apart from the crowd led by Sin-

clair and others of his type, and form a club of their
own.

One stormy Saturday night in March, it chanced
that five of the present Greyhound Club had gath-
ered in Walter Hillman’s room, and were seated
about the cheerful hearth, telling stories of mountain
and field and sea, or listening to the moaning of the
wind and to the ceaseless driving of the sleet against
the window panes. They were Harry and Arthur
Martin, and their old friend, Jack Trehearne, all
residing in the city of New York; Paul Marshall,
a Southern boy, and last, but not least, the genial
host, whose supply of pop-corn and apples seemed
inexhaustible.

“What a glorious night this would be in the
woods, after a day’s shooting,” said Walter, patting
his favorite setter, which held possession of a bear-
skin rug. “I'll admit it’s always jolly to be about
a cheerful blaze with a company of good fellows, but
somehow it never seems quite like the camp-fire.”

“And I quite agree with you,” continued Arthur
in reply. “I hate to think of spending the coming
summer in the same old way ; most of us. have had
enough of base-ball and tennis. Why can’t we form
a sort of club and rough it through vacation? It



4 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

would put us in superb condition to begin training
tor the foot-ball team in the fall.”

“An excellent idea, Arthur!” was Walter’s quick
exclamation. “And now this gives me a good op-
portunity of unfolding a little scheme that has been
occupying my mind a great deal of late. In the first
place, I believe I know the very spot for such a
camp ; that is, if it isn’t too far to go. My father, as
some of you have heard me say, handles large num-
bers of cattle, which he usually buys in Texas and
ships to the Indian Territory to pasture and fatten
for the market. He leases these pastures from the
Indians, who are always very friendly. I have been
hunting there several times with some of father’s
cowboys, and the country is alive with large and
small game. These two bear-skin rugs and that
deer’s head,” he continued, pointing to the articles
in question, “are reminders of last summer’s outing.
There are numerous well-wooded creeks that would
be just suitable for a sportsman’s club. What do
you say?”

What would any boy reply to such a proposition ?
Of course they were enthusiastic over the idea at
once, and asked Walter numberless questions. Harry
wanted to know what the biggest game was, and how
it was hunted, while the more thoughtful Paul didn’t
see how they could build a comfortable lodge and do
any hunting the same summer.



DEER LODGE : 5

“We have sufficient time if we commence at once,”
was Walter’s wise response. “To begin with, we must
all get the consent of our parents as soon as possible,
which is the main point. I will write to-night to
Uncle John, tell him our plans, and I can promise
you he will do everything in his power to help us.”

“Understood,” said Harry, cheerfully. “ Now tell
us about the game.”

“Well, Harry,” replied Walter, with an amused
twinkle in his eye, “you will need every gun and
rod in your collection, which is saying a good deal.
There is any quantity of work there for fly-rods,
setters, and spaniels; and there are jack-rabbits,
wolves, and deer for the greyhounds. That is the
eport of sports, I tell you, and the greyhound, in my
opinion, is the king of dogs. After you have taken
a gallop with a couple of them, and have started and
caught a fleet-footed jack-rabbit, you will agree with
me; and as for the excitement of a deer chase, —
well, just wait until you see for yourselves, for it makes
me feel like leaving school to think of it!” with
which conclusion Walter arose and paced the room
impatiently.

That settled the matter. The boys talked and
formed plans long into the night, and then crept
noiselessly off to their respective dormitories to dream
uninterruptedly of bear hunts or deer coursing in a
comparatively unknown, unfrequented country.



6 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Walter sat up a long hour after his friends had left,
and wrote a letter to his bachelor uncle that must
have won him then and there; for he proved himself
true to the boys, and it was mainly due to Walter’s
kind uncle’s interest that the Greyhound Club was
firmly organized, as many objections were raised by
the boys’ parents, all of which were finally overcome
by Uncle John. Then nothing was heard from him
for a month or more, and it is needless to say that the
boys in consequence wore gloomy faces to recitations.
One day, however, after a long wait, Walter received
a letter which caused him to desert his algebra, tip
over an ink-bottle, and rush out to join his friends.

This is what he read to them : —

PAwuHuskA, April 25th.

My pear Watter: Perhaps you have been wondering
why you have not heard from me of late in regard to the
hunting trip you and your friends expect to make here this
summer. Well, to tell the truth, I have taken matters in my
own hands, and have had a camp erected upon one of the
bluffs at Grouse creek, very near the spot where you and
Pietro shot your second bear last year. I shall not say much
about it, but might state that there is ample room for a dozen
of your friends, with as many horses.

If any of the boys own canoes, tell them to be sure to
bring them, as they will come in handy for chasing crippled
ducks and for bass fishing.

I suppose you have already told them of the sport to be
had here with greyhounds, and that in order to enjoy it fully,



DEER LODGE 7

each should own at least one, which would also help to make
a pack. It would be well to get them now, as the grey-
hound, as a rule, is a peculiar dog, and makes friends slowly.

. Get the best dogs obtainable, as the deer are fleet as the

°

wind. Pietro has been instructed to watch and select twenty
of the best ponies at the ranch, so that your friends may
have something from which to choose.

It would seem to me advisable to have Tony do the cook-
ing, as you won’t care to bother with it after a long ride on a
hot day. Speaking of riding, reminds me to say that I have
been galloping Leveller for you. He’s in grand shape, and
follows the hounds beautifully.

Let me know of anything you wish done or left undone, and
be sure and write me when you start. In the mean time,
remember me to the boys.

Your affectionate
UNCLE JoHN.

P.S. I have furnished the camp only, as I suppose you
and your friends will bring a few of the trophies you have at
your rooms and at home, and arrange things to suit your-
selves. Pietro says the herdsmen who have just arrived re-
port a loss of a half-dozen young steers by a panther. Here’s
a pretty piece of news, and a commission for your friends if

he holds out until summer.
J...

This was.a joyful and welcome surprise. If Uncle
John could have heard some of the expressions of
delight that were uttered by the boys on this occa-
sion, he would have felt even then fully repaid for



«

8 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

his time and trouble spent in the erection of the
lodge. The sincere letters of thanks he received
from them in reply amused him greatly, for he had
been a boy himself, and knew boys well.

Soon after the receipt of Uncle John’s letter,
Harry and Arthur received a pair of greyhounds
from New York; then Jack and Paul became the
proud possessors of one each; and finally Eugene
Marshall, Paul’s cousin, who completed the club of
six, bought another. That was why the students at
the academy began to speak of Harry Martin and his
followers as the “Greyhound Club,” and the hunting
trip was the sole topic of conversation, even after the
base-ball season opened. Many a manly good fellow’s
application for membership was received, considered,
and rejected, as the six chums had decided the club
complete among themselves.

When school finally closed for the long summer
vacation, the boys took the first available train west,
and were met at the little station by Uncle John, with.
whom they spent a couple of very enjoyable days at
the ranch.

Pietro had quartered a score of spirited ponies in
the corral, and the boys were kept busy roping, sad-.
dling, and endeavoring to settle upon their mounts.
As Jack had shipped Blue Rocket from New York,
he and Walter were at liberty to assist their friends
in a choice, which occupied an entire day. The four



DEER LODGE “9

bronchos were finally selected, however, the great
covered wagons packed to their utmost capacity,
and as Tony shuffled out with the last frying-pan
and dipper, Uncle John cracked his whip, the boys
called a last good-by, and the journey to the lodge
began. ; Sy.













SELECTING PONIES AT UNCLE JOHN'S,

The lads went into ecstasies over the beautiful
little camp, and insisted upon thanking Uncle John
again and again, pressing him to stay and enjoy. the
game they promised to kill for him. But he had
important business back at the ranch, he said, and
returned at daybreak the following morning.

Our story opens on the second day after the arrival
of the club at the lodge. They had followed out
Uncle John’s advice of the previous morning to the
very letter, and had spent the day in short walks, in



Io 4 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

resting, and in making things comfortable. It was a
pleasure to look about and arrange their new home;
to see the ponies well quartered under Pietro’s un-
tiring care, and the canoes safely floated and fastened
to the jetty.

The boys slept soundly that night, but before the
sun had fairly shown himself above the towering
crags across the creek the next morning, they were
dressed and out upon the veranda. It would be
difficult to recognize in the group any one of the
neatly dressed students we met in Walter’s room at
the academy. Harry had donned a complete suit of
black velvet, the gold-corded trousers cut after the
flaring Mexican fashion. A gaudy scarlet sash was
tied about his waist, at the end of which little silver
bells jingled in harmony with his spurs at every step
he took. A great broad-brimmed sombrero com-
pleted the boy’s wildly picturesque attire, which was
a fair sample of what the others wore while at the
lodge.

“A capital morning for a rabbit chase, fellows!”
called Walter from the stable, as he tightened Level-
ler’s saddle-band, and then mounted the impatient
animal and galloped out to his friends. ‘Pietro
says there’s one down there by those jack-oaks, and
that he noticed him every morning while they were
building the lodge.”

By the time Walter had finished, Harry was also



DEER LODGE II

mounted upon his frisky little pony, and as the grey-
hounds were already racing in circles about the
grounds, the other boys concluded to see the fun
from the veranda. They were all extremely anxious
to see how Harry’s handsome broncho would run
with Leveller, and to see their favorite dogs extended
for the first time in a race. Walter whistled continu-
ally until they all came up, and then he and Harry
turned their horses and cantered away for the tall
grass by the jack-oaks.

What a pleasure it was to be astride a restive
animal on such a glorious morning, with school-books
carefully packed away until autumn, and examina-
tions creditably passed! Was there a boy among
that fun-loving throng who regretted his hours of
hard work during the school term? Decidedly there
was not. It had been trying to stand before a dismal,
dusty blackboard in the autumn twilight and solve
countless original geometrical propositions, with the
foot-ball team plunging about the campus below,
cheered by the school. And it had been hard to refuse
a tempting invitation to a secret spread, and devote
one’s self to Cicero, well knowing that in doing so one
was denying one’s self some of Chap’s delicious pump-
kin pies and cheese. Now that their hard work was
finished, however, and they were about to begin an
uninterrupted summer’s hunt, they looked back at
it all with the keenest pleasure.



12 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Now, Harry,” cautioned Walter, as they rode
along together, “you must be careful and not ride
too hard after a rabbit jumps up, for fear of riding
down the dogs. They are inexperienced, and are
liable to run under the horses. Back, Tasso!” he
concluded, with a cut of his whip at his favorite
courser, which showed a disposition to keep too far
in advance of the pack that trotted along behind the
horses.

“ But surely they can outrun us?”

“ Of course they can, but they sometimes get in the
way all the same. Take the dogs as they are upon
your right, for an illustration. If we should ‘jump’
a rabbit in advance of us and on my left, we would
naturally have the start of the pack, which would
cut right across our course. Then, too, a rabbit
often turns at right angles many times at the be-
ginning as well as at the end of,a race, so it is well
to be cautious. Steady, now! Hunt’em up, Tasso!”

With these explanations, the boys slowly entered
the grass by the oaks before mentioned. All eyes
were turned upon them from the lodge as Walter
gradually separated from Harry and cautiously moved
forward. At intervals the graceful greyhounds would
stop and look about them, trembling in every limb.
The first rays of the rising sun shone bright and clear
on Leveller’s chestnut coat, flooding the grass-land
and valley in a softened golden light.



DEER LODGE 13

The dogs and riders had advanced to the centre of
the tallest grass, when a rustling was heard just ahead,
soon after followed by an immense jack-rabbit rising
to view, his great ears laid close to his back, and run-
ning like the wind.

With wonderful speed the pack followed, Tasso in
the lead, with Harry’s Diamond and Eugene’s Sax-
ony close together. The rabbit was running in dead
earnest, his lightning stride quickening at every jump.
Straight for the prairie in front of the lodge he flew,
followed by the sweeping pack. Saxony had gained
upon Tasso, who was close to the hare at the first turn-
ing. With open jaws and gleaming teeth the gallant
greyhound made his drive to kill, but the now fairly
flying hare was too quick for him, and was running
at a tangent before Tasso and Saxony, followed by
Rambler, Diana, Diamond, and Boomerang, could re-
cover. Again they came up like a whirlwind, only to
be thrown off again by the “ jack’s”” sudden wrenching
and twisting. With their master’s shouts ringing
in their ears, the coursers wore down upon the hare
for the third time, as they flew by the lodge on the
return. At the jack-oaks the hounds came up with
apparently the same lightning stride, steadied them-
selves, following each turn with wonderful agility.
They gained until their third effort to kill was unsuc-
cessful, and as they swept by the onlookers for the
third time, with Tasso gradually lessening the inter-



14 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

vening distance by great sweeping strides, a hoarse
roar went up from the boys, louder and louder, chang-
ing every second: “Hie on, Saxony!” ‘Stop him,
Tasso, stop him!” ‘Turn him, Diamond!” “Tasso
has him!” “Rambler’s gaining!” ‘Tasso will get
him!” “Tasso wins!”
As the shout rose, Walter OM

brought Leveller even with pteaedl :

his favorite, for Harry had







Bee 7

WET
We fine =

TOURS hea
Tasso, SAXONY, AND THE RABBIT.

lost ground rapidly from the start, and then they
ran side by side; with one crowning effort, Tasso’s
grand stride quickened, and in another second ended
the chase.



DEER LODGE 15

“Three cheers for the Greyhound Club, and a dozen
for Uncle John!” shouted Eugene from the vetanda, .
waving his sombrero above his head; “dnd thtee
times three for Tasso, who kills the first quarry at
Deer Lodge!” The cheers were given with a will
as the boys rushed down the incline, earnestly discuss-
ing the merits of the different dogs and expressing a
wish to continue the sport. But Walter was afraid to
work them too much at first, he said, so the merry
company returned to Tony’s inviting breakfast of hot
coffee, corn-bread, broiled quail, and bacon. While
they are enjoying the meal with appetites that only
the fresh morning air of the prairie can give, let us
look about and see what has been done to make the
neatly constructed house a model home for young
sportsmen.

As the stranger enters through the hospitable doors,
he finds himself in a large, comfortable looking room.
There is an immense fireplace at one end, built entirely
of stone, the mantel and chimney finished in rustic
woodwork. A magnificent deer’s head looks down
from above, at the right and left of which are hung a
couple of Tracy’s studies of field dogs. About the
room are hung well mounted elk horns, :deer, and
antelope heads in profusion. Upon the elk and deer
horns the boys have placed their entire collection of
guns, including numberless large and small gauge
rifles and hammerless shot-guns.



16 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Directly opposite the hearth, at the other end of
the room, stands a large table, composed entirely of
twisted oak branches and planking. “It is heaped
high with spurs, revolvers, riding whips, cartridges,
and fly-rods; game-bags and bridles, hunting knives
and stirrups. The floor is covered with comfortable
rugs, bear and panther skins; fencing foils, masks,
and gloves are crossed within easy reach, while a
medley of hunting pictures by prominent artists
papers the roughly-hewn walls irregularly.

A spacious door leads to the dining-room and
kitchen, where old Tony rules undisturbed. Stairs
lead to the bunks on the second story, which is
divided into rooms for the members of the club,
Tony, and Pietro.







CHAPTER II
AN ACQUAINTANCE

ARRY was not at all pleased with the running
of his pony in the rabbit race before breakfast.
He had selected him from the many horses Uncle
John had kept at the ranch for the purpose of giving
the boys a chance to please themselves; and while
the other boys were discussing the race and comment-
ing enthusiastically upon Leveller’s wonderful speed,
Harry silently devoured his share of the tempting
viands Tony placed before our heroes. He realized
that he must have a faster horse in order to follow the
pack with Walter, who was sure to be in at every
death. He further realized that the club was ex-
tremely anxious to see more of the sport so success-
fully opened with a young and inexperienced pack,
and that as soon as the dogs had become sufficiently
hardened, deer coursing would be in order.

After breakfast, Arthur and Eugene placed the
well-filled lunch basket Tony had given them in one
of the canoes, and paddled down the stream, deter-
mined to capture a string of the bass Uncle John had

c 7



18 » SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

talked so much about. Walter, Jack, and Paul took
the setters and started for the prairie, which left
Harry alone, as he had declined to join either party.
He went into the house and selected a book, which he,
endeavored to read in the shade of one of the large
oaks; but his mind was not in it, and the book was
soon returned to the case. Tony could be heard hum-
ming familiar songs as he busied himself with the
breakfast dishes, while Pietro’s voice was now and
then heard as he spoke to the different ponies during
the operation of grooming. The greyhounds were
sleeping soundly in the sunshine, tired from their
exertions of the early morning. For want of some-
thing better to do, Harry walked out to the neat little
stable in the rear of the lodge. He always enjoyed
seeing the double row of comfortable stalls, the spa-
cious saddle room and paddock, and Pietro hard at
work polishing bits and bridles.

“The boys aren’t riding much to-day, Pietro,” said
Harry by way of greeting; “but we'll get enough
before we leave, I dare say.”

“Very likely, Master Harry. I suppose the trip
from the ranch quite used them up. Well, the hosses
have felt it too, though Master Walter’s hoss seems
fit for anything. That’s a high-headed fellow, that
pony of yourn.”

“ High-headed enough!” returned the boy, with
ill-concealed disgust; “but looks don’t cover the _



AN ACQUAINTANCE 19

ground. That was a pretty poor showing he made
against the chestnut, you'll admit, and there’s no
denying he was doing his best.”

“TI was watching you,” said Pietro, lighting his pipe
and leaning against the feed bins, “and he was in
earnest all the way. But the fact is, there isn’t one
amongst ’em that can gallop with Master Walter’s
hoss. Now, didn’t the hounds do well at the first
pop out of the box, took to it like ducks to the
water! You'll have a ride you won’t forget, when
you head a deer away from the jack-oaks for the
prairie, Master Harry.” Pietro concluded by puffing
at his pipe in silence, while Harry saddled his pony
and rode down the prairie within a stone’s throw of
the timber that grew along the stream. Pietro, he
told himself, was right. None of the saddlers the
boys had chosen could make Leveller extend himself,
and he regretted deeply that he had not purchased a
well-bred animal before leaving New York. He was
aware of the well-known staying qualities the ponies
possessed, and rightly supposed they would stand a
season’s hunt in that country better than a larger
horse. If the other fellows liked them, he argued,
they were welcome to a whole drove, but he would
commission Uncle John to send him a horse as fast
and as handsome as Walter’s. He knew that such
a purchase would nearly exhaust the savings for
which he had denied himself so much the previous



20 : SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

winter, but nevertheless was determined to have the
saddler. ,

Thus occupied, Harry turned and guided his pony
down the rocky path that led to the creek. He
admired the judgment the little animal displayed in
the descent, and the willingness with which he forded
the stream. As the day became quite warm, Harry
allowed the pony to choose his own gait, which was
a quick, nervous walk. Following one of the numer-
ous deer trails that led from the water, he entered
a sheltered spot that appeared to be crossed and
recrossed by many well-worn paths. On three sides
the great stone crags completely shut it off from the
outside world, while on the remaining side, where
horse and rider had entered, the trees grew so thick
that it was difficult to ride through at all.

As Harry rode forward, a gray wolf jumped up
not sixty feet off, stopping at the rocks to get a better
view of this strange intruder. Then a hawk rose
slowly, finally disappearing over the ledge. Harry
longed for his rifle, which he had forgotten in the
all-absorbing thought of obtaining a better horse.
The wolf turned and showed his teeth, an action
unappreciated by the boy, who was honestly glad
when he was out of sight.

Dismounting, Harry led his pony through the
timber until he reached a spring that came from the
rocks-above. He slung the bridle-rein over his arm,



AN ACQUAINTANCE: 21

and kneeling down, began to drink. The water was
clear and refreshing, and when he was at last ready
to rise, he was conscious of the approach of a stran-
ger from above. Looking up, the boy was oddly
impressed with the fellow’s appearance. He was
roughly clad in a suit of ornamented buckskin, which
bore the marks of long and faithful service. A
leather belt was fastened about his waist, upon which
a dozen cartridges of large gauge were held in the
usual manner. He carried a repeating rifle, which
he handled skilfully, without giving one the impres-
sion that he held a gun at all. His black sombrero
looked well over the heavy black eyebrows and hair.
While of medium size and height, Harry could see at
a glance that the fellow was superbly developed for
so young a man. He advanced without hesitation,
on the opposite bank, placing his gun against a
cottonwood with an assuring smile. Harry noticed
as he did so that his teeth were very white, and that
there were marks of refinement in his dark face.

“A little surprised to see me, I take it,” the
stranger began, evidently comprehending the boy’s
questioning glance, “and I can’t very much hold it
against you.” .

“Well, one doesn’t expect to meet many in a place
like this,” replied Harry, crossing the stream, and
fastening his horse to a sapling. “Have you killed
anything ?”



22 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Not yet. To be honest, I kind of watched for
some of you fellows to sort o’ stray away from that
there camp, as I wanted to talk a little trade with
you.”

“Trade!” exclaimed Harry, wondering what kind
of trade a young: man with a rifle could be engaged
in, and if he should have to walk back to camp.
“We are not down here on business; and even if
we were, what would prevent your coming up to
the lodge?”

“TI calc’lated that it would sound a bit fishy,” re-
turned the stranger, pressing his thumb against the
tobacco he had placed in the bowl of his pipe,
“’specially to you chaps that have not become
acquainted with the laws that such fellows as me
have to live up to.”

“Oh! I know that no one is supposed to hunt here
without a government permit,” replied Harry, re-
calling some of Uncle John’s words; “but no one
would disturb you if you behaved yourselves.”

“That’s just it, if we behaved ourselves, which we
didn’t,” earnestly continued the fellow, puffing vig-
orously at his pipe. “You see it all happened some-
thing like this: There were about eight of us
fellows camping and hunting around here, summer
and winter. All the boys liked a good horse and
usually had one; so when the Indian police came
and hunted us down on purpose to take our nags,



AN ACQUAINTANCE 23

the boys kind o’ resented the intrusion and pumped
them full of lead.”

“Killed them!” exclaimed Harry, casting a fur-
tive glance at the stranger’s rifle. “What happened
then?”

“ Nothin’, until Colonel Hillman rented the ranges.
Then he posted up a notice on a good many trails,
saying that the boys could come and work for him
if they wanted to; that it was better to brace up
and work and make men. They couldn’t quite get
over the Indian police, though, and stayed among
the hills. It was pretty cold, and much easier to
shoot a steer than anything else, so we had beef a
good deal that winter. The colonel naturally got
mad, and posted up signs right over the others
orderin’ us out of the country. Most of the boys
have pulled up stakes and I want to go, too. That’s
why I hung ’round, trustin’ to meet some of you
chaps and sell my horse.”

“How did you know we were coming?” asked
Harry, reflecting upon what he had just heard, and
wondering why Uncle John had not told the club
all about it.

“It was easy to guess when we saw them buildin’
that there fancy log-house with the wide shelter, x
returned the other. “And I told myself there was
a market right here same as up north, and waited.”

“You were right in supposing that we should like to



24 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

be well mounted,” said Harry, secretly admiring the fel-
low’s reasoning. ‘What kind of a horse have you?”

“Just the right one to follow them long-legged
hounds. He’s a ‘crackerjack,’ I tell you. Would
you like to see him?”

Harry replied that he certainly should, and fol-
lowed his new acquaintance through the woods in
silence. After five minutes’ rapid walking, they
struck a trail that led down to Grouse creek, and
which they followed for a long mile. Emerging into
a little clearing on the bank of the stream, the young
fellow halted, unbuckling his belt and leaning his
‘rifle against a fallen tree.

“Now, you had better wait here a bit,” he said,
“as it’s rough going the rest of the way. You can
shoot a squirrel or two if you're hungry, though I’ll
fetch the horse before long.”

With these words he disappeared into the woods,
leaving Harry seated upon the log, deeply puzzled
over this last move.

“I suppose it’s only natural, though,” he finally
concluded; “for he thinks I might say I saw him,
and would guide Uncle John’s men to hiscamp. But
I won't, mention it, if I like the looks of his horse,
and I'll tell him so.”

With many such comforting reflections, Harry
shouldered the rifle and started down the bank of
the stream in search of a squirrel. Spying one



AN ACQUAINTANCE 26

among the topmost branches of a tall tree, he took
careful aim and fired. The squirrel dropped from
limb to limb, finally striking the ground. He picked
it up, gathering on his return an armful of wood for
the camp-fire, which he heaped upon a mass of dead
leaves. Seated upon the log, it was but the work of
a moment to skin and clean the animal, and he was
on the point of lighting the fire when he was inter-
rupted by a splashing in the stream, followed by a
cheery voice.

“T think it must have been about here the rifle was
fired,” Harry heard his brother say, “for it was very
plain.”
“Tt was probably at the lodge,” Eugene replied,
“for I’m sure the other fellows didn’t take a rifle
with them.”

Harry had just time to conceal himself among the
bushes, which he knew would shelter his pony. In
a few seconds the canoe appeared, Arthur seated
in the bow with a light rifle across his knees. A
couple of split bamboo rods protruded over the bow,
and a fine string of bass could be seen in the stern.

“If the other fellows have done as well, it will pay

to be back for supper,” thought Harry, gazing in
astonishment at one or two of the fish they had
captured. “I won’t show myself, for then they
might smell a mouse; and if I don’t get the~horse,
no one need know anything about it.”



26 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Harry watched the canoe until it disappeared
around a bend in the creek, and then returned and
touched a match to the dead leaves. While he was
pleasantly employed in broiling the squirrel, his
thoughts unwillingly reverted to his new acquaint-
ance, and he told himself that the fellow was in all
probability an outlaw. The thought was not a very
pleasant one, and he tried to forget it; but it was no
use, and while trying to decide what was best to be
done, he heard the distinct clatter of flying hoofs,
soon followed by the reappearance of his new ac-
quaintance mounted upon a horse that went straight
to the boy’s heart. Harry was inclined to think he
had never before seen such a graceful animal. He
was jet black, with a regular white blaze, running the
full length of his head, while his near forefoot and
off hindfoot were white.

“He’s a perfect beauty!” exclaimed Harry, with
admiration, as the stranger dismounted. ‘ And is he
as good as he looks?”

“Every bit and better. Try him and see,” was the
confident reply.

Harry threw his leg over the saddle and galloped
about the clearing. The horse moved with perfect
freedom and grace, and it was hard for the boy to
realize that such a prize had come so Bee ees
within his reach.

“Well, he’s all and more than you said he was,’



AN ACQUAINTANCE or

said Harry, stopping before the young fellow, who
had seated himself upon a log. “What do you ask
for him?”

“A good deal more than you'll be willing to pay, |
pardner, so I’ll just slice the difference and make it
two hundred even.”

“Two hundred dollars! Isn’t that a very high
price to ask for a horse so far from a large city?”

“Not considerin’ quality, it isn’t. Do you think
you'll take him?”

. “Well — no; not at that price. But I’ll give you
a hundred for him to-morrow morning, as that’s every
cent I have, and I’ll agree not to say a word at the
camp about you.”

“Call it a bargain, friend, and now I’ll be able to
leave this country without gettin’ mixed up in any-
thing else. If you'll agree to fetch me that hundred
to-morrow mornin’, you can take the horse along
with you.”

“Hadn't you better wait till you get the money?”

“No, it’s all right. A man must be scandalous
mean to throw a fellow down for a hundred; and
besides, I want to show you chaps what kind of a
feller Iam. I might be coming down this way again,
and have another nag for sale.” :

Harry was greatly elated to think he would be
able to ride the handsome black into camp that very
afternoon, and tried to imagine the surprise of his



28 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

friends upon seeing him for the first time so un-
expectedly mounted. It was agreed that the stranger
was to ride Harry’s pony back, and that he was to
return to that spot the following day about ten or
eleven o’clock to receive the money. The saddles
and bridles were then changed, and Harry, after
shaking hands with the man, mounted and galloped
up the prairie towards the lodge.

As he neared the jack-oaks that crowned the ridge
in front of the camp, the lad dismounted and
cautiously moved forward until he could obtain an
unobstructed view of what was happening upon the
veranda. The boys were seated upon the railing and
steps, evidently discussing the day’s outing, for
while Eugene held up his string of bass, Jack was
seen to point towards a fine lot of birds that lay
upon the grass.

- “ Now’s my time,” thought Harry, “and I’ll give
them something else to think about.”

Throwing his leg across the saddle, he touched the
handsome creature with his spur, and the next instant
the restive black was galloping over the grass-land in
graceful, sweeping strides, to the utter amazement of
the crowd upon the veranda.

“Tt’s Harry!” cried Arthur, rising to his feet and
gazing after the rider in open-mouthed astonishment.

“Yes, and he’s on a beauty,” chimed in Paul.

“Or he’s painted Blue Rocket black,” added Wal-

#



AN ACQUAINTANCE 29

ter. Then, as. the horse turned and started back for
the ridge, the boys called after their chum in chorus:
“Hi there, Harry Martin! Bring up your galloper
and let’s have a look at him.”

Horse and rider were soon among them, and Harry
saw at once that his friends were very favorably im-
pressed with his new mount.

“‘ Now that’s what I call tough luck,” said Eugene,
in disgust. “Arthur and I go out and whip the
stream all the morning for a string of bass, while you
three go and hunt hard for your prairie-chickens ;
but Harry declines to do either, and while we are
gone, takes an aimless ride with his Texas broncho
and returns upon a racer.”

“Tf he is a racer,” suggested Paul, with a knowing
look at Walter. “I believe the chestnut can beat
him.
All they could say, however, would not induce
Harry to tell them how he had come into the posses-
sion of the horse. The boys followed him out to the
stable, where they had a good opportunity of compar-
ing the three horses. Pietro seemed very much sur-
prised, but failed to advance any opinion regarding
the black, and asked no questions before the boys.
Harry remained behind long enough to make his new
favorite comfortable, and while he was. placing fresh _
bedding in the box-stall, the hostler stood by and
looked the horse over with the eye of an expert.

”



30 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“ A clever galloper for these parts, Master Harry,”
he finally said. ‘Might I ask where you got him?”

“Certainly. About two or three miles below, of a
young fellow clad in buckskin. He was really a very
good-looking chap, Pietro, and I gathered from what
he said that he and his friends killed some of Uncle
John’s steers last winter, and consequently got into
trouble,” replied Harry, who wished to do the fellow
all possible justice.

“Got into trouble,” exclaimed Pietro, in deep dis-
gust, “I should say they did. They cut throats, stole
cattle, and shot the Indian police. They ain’t a band
of mere ‘dodgers,’ Master Harry, I can tell you.”

“<«Dodgers,’” repeated Harry, “what do you
mean?” .

“Them that dodges the main trails for one cause
or another, and rides the ridges, are dubbed ‘dodgers’
down here; and they are a shiftless lot. But these
fellows who are led by this young Cabrillo, are as free
with rifle and rum alike, and no good ever came of
dealin’ with ’em.”

“ Are they as bad as that?”

“Yes, Master Harry, you can’t paint ’em too black.
Why, Tony’ll tell you that one of ’em came gaspin’
up to the ‘chuck’ wagon one day, a-beggin’ for water,
which he got. He could just toddle off after it, he
was so weak on his ‘pins’; but when he did, he had
Tony’s only six-shooter under his shirt.”







cP “



Sa

DISCUSSING PRINCE ROYAL,



AN ACQUAINTANCE 31

“What did Tony do?” asked the boy, amused at
the outlaw’s method of procuring a pistol.

“Oh! he just said he hoped he’d have sense enough
to-strap it about him next time, and that he wouldn’t
be lookin’ into his own six-shooter before the round-

up.” .
“T didn’t suppose they were so bold,” said Harry,
his cheeks blanching at the thought of how his morn-
ing’s ride might have ended. “Why do you suppose
they hang around here year after year?”

“°’Cause it’s the likeliest spot for ’em. All the
states is settled up, and they’ve got to hang on to
this or go to the penitentiary.”

“ Didn’t you ever hunt them down?”

“We tried it a number of times, but they’d get
into the mountains before we could draw on ’em.
We followed the trails two or three nights at a time,
but it weren’t no use. It was just about as Larraby
said, when they shot him in the arm from the brush:

- It’s darned hard to think you’re a target for a band
of night-riders, boys, for the sake of a bunch of steers
and a nag or two, and I’ll tell the colonel so.’ ”

“T wonder why Colonel Hillman didn’t tell us all
about it,” said Harry, who by this time was beginning
to wish he had never seen the man of the ornamented
buckskin suit. ‘“ Master Walter must know of them.”

“T don’t believe he does,” replied the hostler, “ for
the colonel told me to be sure and not mention the



32 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

outlaws to any of the boys, for fear it would worry
‘em. ‘I believe they’ve left,’ says he before leavin’,
‘for the “ punchers”’ haven’t missed a steer for a fort-
night. And above all, mind you, Pietro, don’t cross
them while the boys are at the lodge.’ ”

“Do you think this fellow is really Cabrillo?”

“He'll come pretty near it, if he isn’t. That ain’t
no cow pony, Master Harry, but a bred horse from
the states,” continued the hostler, in confident tones,
running his right hand down the black’s unblemished
forelegs; “and he’s a racer from flagfall to finish, or
Inever saw one. Now here’s this Blue Rocket horse
of Master Jack’s; he’s a good one, but built a little
more on the timber-toppin’ order, a likely one to
follow the foxes. The chestnut’ll come nearest to
your saddle-girth, Master Harry, but he’ll never get
his nose to the front.”

“Tm glad you think he’s so fast,” replied the boy,
patting the black’s glossy neck; “and I hope I’ll be
able to keep him without any trouble.”

“Well, I don’t know; it depends upon the men.
I don’t reckon they ever came by a galloper honest,
but he’s probably as much theirs as any one’s, now.”

“You think he’s a stolen horse, then?” asked
Harry, listening to all that the herdsman said with
the closest attention. “If he is, they must have
brought him a long way, for they don’t raise thorough-
breds this side of Kentucky.”



AN ACQUAINTANCE 33

“They didn’t fetch him so far, neither. You see it
was about like this when the ‘strip’ was opened, —
that’s Oklahoma, you know. The land had all been
surveyed and laid off in quarter-sections by the gov-
ernment, and was to be run for at a certain hour on
a certain day, which was to be settled on in Washing-
ton. All the towns along the state line were ‘chock’
full for months before the run, and boomers kept
busy trainin’ the best kind of nags to make the gallop
with. _They lined up in hundreds for miles on the
day of the openin’, just facin’ the soldiers, and when
the gun sounded they had a race I’ll never forget.
The best nags went out in front, and gen’rally got
good claims; but when night come the Cabrillo gang
jumped in from the mountains, stole the fastest
hosses, and robbed or shot'the poor fellows a-restin’
by their stakes, who couldn’t follow ’em and keep
their claims too.”

This was too much for Harry, who related the
events of the morning just as they had taken place,
not omitting to mention that he had agreed to pay
the hundred dollars on the morrow. “I think it
much better to leave the horse in his stall, don’t
you?” he ended by saying, as the hostler shook his
head dubiously, eying the black the while.

“No, Master Harry, I don’t. Take the money
and the hoss with you, and if they want both, let ’em
have both, for they’ll get ’em anyway. Those are

D



34 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

about the colonel’s wishes, I reckon, and you’d best
remember the good will of a dog’s better than the
ill will.”

“But I can’t afford to do that,” protested the boy,
earnestly, whittling a bit of pine wood impatiently ;
“you know that a hundred dollars is a great deal of
money to give up without a fight.”

“Of course it is. But when it comes to dealin’
with outlaws and the like, a hundred dollars is a low
price for their good will; besides, the man may have
told you the truth, and is countin’ on pullin’ stakes.
If that’s so, then you'll have the horse to ride all
summer, and nothin’ to worry about. It wouldn’t be
any fun to gallop around in sight of camp, knowin’
as you would that a scoundrel was hidin’ out to rob
you and take -your nag.” Pietro’s words sounded
’ sensible and right, and Harry made no reply as he
joined his friends with a heavy heart.

“It’s tough luck,” he told himself, recalling some
of his hunts for meadow-larks about New York,
which were occasionally ended by a lot of rowdies
relieving him of his target rifle and game-bag. “I
thought we’d be free from those fellows down here,
and that they lived only for the messenger boys of
the great cities, who delight in ‘The Adventures of
the Dalton Gang,’ or ‘ Wild Jim, the Boy Scout.’ ”

“Supper, Mars’ Paul,” said Tony, appearing at
the dining-room door in time to interrupt a lively



AN ACQUAINTANCE 35

fencing bout between Jack and Eugene. “I’s got
some of dem quails and chickens a-piping hot for the
young gentl’men, and I can’t hab dem wait, ’deed I
can’t.”

The foils were recrossed upon the walls, the masks
and gloves thrown upon the table, and the club
gathered about the inviting supper with many a
light-hearted laugh. The windows were thrown wide
open, admitting the fresh southerly breeze, laden
with the songs of meadow-larks and mocking-birds.
The whole valley lay half in sunshine, half in shadow,
which soon merged into a happy flood of purple
light, cooling the air and freshening the sun-warmed
prairie, over which droves of cattle were seen to
make their way to the lines of stunted jack-oaks and
cottonwoods that marked the position of a half-dozen
streamlets.

“To-morrow we'll have a run with the dogs?”
said Walter, glancing questioningly about at his
chums, who seemed almost too busy to answer.

“Of course we will,” replied Arthur, watching his
brother closely, “for I am very anxious to see how
the new member of the cavalry will behave, and hope
to see both a horse and a rabbit race.”

“Good!” cried Eugene. “I believe my gray is
going to give a good account of himself ; and so does
Pietro, who says that he was at one time one of the
fastest horses among the Osages.”



36 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“We ought to start in time to get up a coyote ora
wolf,” continued Walter. ‘A great many are hiding
during the day in that strip of woods that forms the
second ridge from the jack-oaks, and it is my opinion
that we can start one before sunrise.”

“Then let’s call it settled,’ exclaimed Jack. “I
can hardly wait,” he continued, as he pictured there
in the twilight the galloping horses and the sweeping
pack, and almost heard the wild shouts of his friends
as time after time the flying hare would turn and
gain a fresh start.

“Well, fellows, don’t lose any sleep worrying over
the speed of your mounts,” said Walter, with a smile.
“You know the unexpected always happens, and the
sleepiest-looking broncho may be the first in at the
death.”’

“ How about the dogs?” asked Paul.

“The same is true of them,” replied Walter. “I
never saw a lot of green hounds do so well before in
my life. It’s true they ran over the hare a number
of times and failed to pick it up, but that’s to be
expected at the start.”

The boys discussed the day’s shooting and fishing
a while longer, then gradually gathered upon the
veranda with their banjos and guitars, singing songs
of college life or the hunting field until they were
hoarse. Sombreros, leather belts, and revolvers lay
discarded upon the porch or‘in the lodge, and in



AN ACQUAINTANCE ' 37

place of the heavy hunting and riding boots the boys
wore light, comfortable moccasins.

As the moon and stars gradually appeared, the
whole valley looked dense and black by contrast, save
where the light silvered the quiet stream. Far away
to the westward the rolling prairie resembled a sum-
mer sea, sailed by occasional lines of jack-oaks and
cottonwoods, whose scrawny arms looked like a dis-
mantled mast and crosstrees against the horizon. As
the shadows grew deeper, the boys compared the wild
region with the vicinity of Shelter Island, where they
had spent many pleasant vacations, or with the Maine
woods.

“JTt’s not pleasant to think that these few hundred
miles are practically all that remains for the Indians,”
said Walter, with a sigh, “and that they will soon be
extinct. Father says that not twenty years ago the
country about here was alive with deer, antelopes,
and bears; that the cowboys used to start their ponies
at the herds of antelopes for the fun of seeing them
run, and that a man could count a hundred deer a
day. The Indians and outlaws have slaughtered
nearly everything.”

“Don’t you suppose they’ll ever become a civilized
race?” the boys asked. :

“No more so than they are now. They’ve been
unable to resist the temptations of whiskey and an
idle life, and have rapidly decreased. It always hurts



38 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

me to see an Indian chief trade his deerskin mocca-
sins, leggings, and finery for a pint of bad whiskey,
for I know he’ll never make another pair; and tailor-
made trousers and a derby hat look as much out of
place on an Indian as a wig would on a soup .
tureen!”

“Don’t they ever get out nowadays and have the
good old hunts one reads about?” asked Arthur.

“They get as far as the war-paint on a quarterly-
payment day, and are happily unconscious of the
rest,” Walter quickly replied.

“I do hope they’ll remain unconscious of the exist-
ence of Deer Lodge,” said Eugene; “and above all,
I hope they’ll not visit it while in a bad state of
mind, or while recovering from too deep a filir-
tation with the flowing bowl,” at which the boys
laughed heartily. They chatted for some time of the
Indians and their much-regretted though inevitable
downfall, and then climbed the stairs and tumbled
into bed, little guessing what thrilling events were to
take place in.and about the camp before many days
had passed. . .





CHAPTER III
AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY

DON’T half a quarter like the idea,” said Pie-

tro to Harry the following day, as the lad
saddled and bridled the black to his satisfaction,
“and I reckon I’d ought to go ‘long. But it
wouldn’t make no difference, and you’d best do as
I say.”

As the boy turned and cantered off, the hostler
repeated his advice of the previous afternoon.
Harry had slept little that night, as Pietro’s view
of the situation had had anything but a soothing
effect upon him. He had tossed about on his pil-
low, picturing the coming interview with the bandit
in a dozen different ways. Once or twice he had
stepped from the bushes and had confronted him
with a fine brace of pistols, every move indicating
that he was no stranger to such business. Then,
again, he would demand the money and horse, fol-
lowing the demand by flourishing a bright dagger ;
and before morning, Harry honestly wished he had
never made the acquaintance of José Cabrillo.

Now that he was fairly astride the black, how-

39



40 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

ever, he knew that it would have taken a good ©
deal to have made him part with either the green-
backs or the horse. The obnoxious scenes of the
night had vanished with the rising sun, and he was
prepared to meet the man and stand his ground.
He made sure that his pistols were secure in their
holsters, and that the magazine of his rifle was
filled. “If Cabrillo seems surprised at my being
so well armed,” he soliloquized, “I shall say that
I came prepared to take a shot at the gray wolf
I saw yesterday.”

As the boy rode on down the bank, he could
now and then hear the cries of his friends as they
followed the flying pack, and he resolved that the
next time they started for the ranges he would be
with them. They had awakened him before day-
break, but as he had decided not to join them in
their morning’s coursing, all their entreaties had
been unavailing.

Harry had not waited long in the clearing be-
fore the man appeared upon the pony, smiling
pleasantly as he dismounted.

“On time, I see,” said Harry, casting his eye
over the horse and rider; “and now we'll soon
settle up.”

With this remark he whipped out the greenbacks
he had taken from his trunk at the lodge, and
handed them to the man, who counted them in a



AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY 4I

twinkling, finally ending by saying: ‘‘That’s right,
an even hundred. Now, that’s the way I like to do
business. The boys said at the camp I’d never see
a cent of the ‘dough,’ but I knowed I would, and I
have.” He laughed heartily at this, slapping his
pocket and sending great, triumphant clouds of
smoke upward. This put Harry perfectly at his
ease, for he had feared that the outlaw would prove
unreasonable in his demands, and he fully realized
that one sure, sharp move at such close quarters
would place him at the robber’s mercy. But José
had other plans, and for that day, at least, the lad
was not to be molested; for while the man smoked,
he examined the boy’s rifle and belt, expressing un-
bounded admiration at the neat leather holsters which
held the pistols and hunting knife, together with a
supply of cartridges.

“Ves,” said Harry, thinking it best to explain the
appearance of so many weapons of defence, “I
strapped these about me, hoping to see the wolf I
met yesterday in a glade just above.”

“A gray feller?”

“He was gray and very large, I tell you.”

“Then you'll need powder and lead, that’s a fact,
for they'll stand a deal of hitting.”

They talked a while longer; then Harry mounted
and was about to leave with the horses, when he
turned and asked the black’s name.



42 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Oh, Iforgot!” replied the outlaw. “It’s Prince —
Prince Royal; yes, that’s it, Prince Royal, though I
dubbed him Tom when I got him.”

“Prince Royal!” thought Harry as he rode along,
“a very appropriate name indeed. And now, Prince,
if you'll ford the stream right here, I’ll tie you in the
shade of that little oak, and we’ll try a shot at our
friend of yesterday.”

Horse, pony, and rider were soon across, and while
the boy fastened the animals to a friendly limb, he
inwardly reproached himself for the injustice he had
done his strange acquaintance in thinking of him as
an outlaw and a robber. The man might be a bit
wild, perhaps, but he had certainly done just as he
had agreed to do, and the lad in consequence was in
excellent spirits as he unslung his rifle and started
through the woods.

With a quick, noiseless step he moved upon the
isolated glade he had entered the day before, deter-
mined if possible to get a fair shot. Owing to a
gentle westerly wind, he thought it best not to
approach through the timber, and began to climb the
steep ledge that bordered the clearing upon the north.
Some of the rocks were loose, affording poor footing,
and before he had climbed half way to the summit, he
was obliged to sink upon his hands and knees, push- ~
ing his rifle before him. With the greatest caution
the ascent was completed and the rifle cocked. It



AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY 43

was not at all unlikely, he thought, that the wolf
would be in the glade watching the many trails that
led to the spring where he had met the man the day
before. The water there was cool, and in all proba-
bility it was frequently visited in warm weather by
many animals, which would naturally pass through
the timber in order to reach it; for he had chosen the
best possible ascent on that side, and had rested
several times before reaching the top.

As Harry lay there panting like a man on a moun-
tain side, he was startled by a wild scream, and look-
ing over the ledge, was greatly surprised at not seeing
a living thing of any description. As the screech
died away, the disturbed cries of mocking-birds and
bluejays rent the air, and then all was silence again.
It was almost impossible to locate the scream of the
wildcat, for such the animal undoubtedly was, so
Harry arose and looked about him, in the hope of
provoking another cry. He was unsuccessful in this,
but what he saw in the winding creek far below
proved of untold value to one of his friends in par-
ticular, as well as to the other members of the Grey-
hound Club, individually and collectively, and
thoroughly confirmed, in his mind, the. hostler’s
opinion of José Cabrillo.

As Harry stood up to get a better view of the
glade and to determine the position of the wildcat, he
gradually turned to the right, towards the woods, and



44. SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

then unconsciously his eyes followed the stream until
they caught sight of a distant horseman riding in the
bed of the creek. To the average young sportsman,
even in a country as little inhabited as that about
Deer Lodge, the appearance of a horseman riding in
the bed of a stream would have made no’ impression
whatever. One who did not stop to think would
naturally suppose that the man wished to avoid the
timber and brush,. which from Harry’s position looked
almost impenetrable. But the lad knew that in any
unfrequented country, along the banks of every large
stream, there are always trails large enough to serve
as bridle-paths. Then, too, his eyes told him that
the man was not riding a pony, and he recognized the
unmistakable black sombrero Cabrillo wore.

“He’s covering up his trail, I’m certain,” said
Harry, “and he’s got another fine horse.” As he
finished the soliloquy, he was surprised to see the
man dismount in midstream, taking the lariat from
the saddle-horn as he did so. While the distance
was too great to make each movement plain to the
eager watcher, nevertheless Harry made out that the
robber had fastened one end of the rope to a heavy
limb, and with the other had returned to the middle
of the stream, which seemed to be more shallow than
nearer the bank, where the bandit had sunk to his
waist. Winding the lariat about his right arm a
couple of times, the outlaw pulled back until the



AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY ; 45

limb was seen to move, and then, to Harry’s great
surprise, the horse moved forward and disappeared
of his own accord; and the limb, as the man
slackened the rope, swung back into position.

“A very clever bit of work, Mr. José Cabrillo!”
said Harry to himself, “and just in the right spot;
a thickly-wooded bank, and a sharp turn or two in
the stream, is just the place for such a blind.”

Now that the lad had discovered the outlaws’ re-
treat, for he was certain their camp could not be far
off, and was probably among the towering crags to
the left of the creek, he was not so sure that the
purchase of Prince Royal had been judicious. Then,
on the other hand, he remembered that Cabrillo had
told him that they were forced to hide from the
Indian marshals, and he finally decided not to men-
’ tion what he had seen. While it was not pleasant to
think that a band of outlaws was camping not four
miles from the lodge, it was less pleasant to look
forward to hostilities, and he knew it would be use-
less to attempt to “beard the lion in his den.” So
he wisely concluded, .as the outlaw crept under the .
trees out of sight, to forget him and his followers
entirely.

Harry worked his way down into the open, follow-
ing a path that led under the trees to the right. It
was quite dark there, and it would have been diffi-
cult to have bagged half a dozen of the many



46 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

squirrels that chattered among the branches. But
Harry was not looking for squirrels just then, and,
although he saw tracks that must have been made by
the wildcat, he saw nothing of the animal. After a
fruitless hunt of the crags at the south side, he re-
turned for his horse and pony. He mounted Prince
Royal and led the pony as before, at a good brisk
pace, hoping to reach the lodge in time for the mid-
day meal. In order to reach the west bank, it was
necessary to again ford the creek, and Harry accord-
ingly turned the horses at a suitable place.

Great oak trees had become intertwined on the
opposite side, through which occasional trails were
seen to make their way. Towards one of these, that
led gradually from the water’s edge, Harry guided
Prince Royal. The lad felt very well pleased over
the incidents of the morning, and while endeavoring
to forget the bad impression he had formed of
Cabrillo, a fierce, a wildly penetrating screech sent
the cold chills coursing through him. He realized at
once that the wildcat was not a great way off, and
that his rifle was slung across his back. His first
move, therefore, was to place a trembling hand upon
his pistol. The woods were black and forbidding,
and the closeness of the wild grapevine and other
foliage to the trail made them seem even more so.
It was certainly a bad spot for so unexpected an en-
counter, and the boy hastily determined to take no





LAT.

HE WILD

HARRY HEARS.T:



AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY 47

part in it, if possible. The cry had come from above
and close in the rear, and while the lad was moving
off, it was repeated once, twice, with terrible fierce-
ness, followed by the unmistakable sound of the
animal running ona branch. It was very faint, but
its meaning was thoroughly and instantly compre-
hended by Prince Royal, who reared and plunged
under the light rein in a well-nigh uncontrollable
manner, for Harry had drawn his pistol with his
right hand; and, to make matters worse,-when the
cry sounded nearer and fiercer, horse and pony
started to shy off the trail to the left. The next
instant there came another wild scream, followed by
a dark object plunging through the air, and a violent.
whipping about of the steeds; the low, irregular
oak branches caught the boy about the waist and
hurled him to the ground. At the same moment the
wildcat landed with terrible force upon the pony,
which was nearest, and opened a two-foot gash with
one stroke of its claw. Prince Royal had become
entangled in a network of low branches and wild
grapevine, and his frantic plunges only made his
position worse. The groans of the poor pony were
agonizing to hear, for the wildcat had sunk its claws
into his coat for a foothold. After striking the limb,
Harry dropped the revolver in his violent fall. As
he struck the ground, he reached and grasped it,
whipping out his knife with his left hand. Once,



48 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

twice, thrice, he fired at the animal’s head; at the
third shot, the animal crouched as if to spring, and
the lad instinctively dropped the smoking pistol and
took the knife in his right hand, as the wildcat
sprang at him with a cry of pain. The lad, realizing
his great peril, struck at the beast savagely again
and again, using the weapon more as a broadsword
than asa dagger. Twice the swift, sure blade drew
blood before the claws reached him, but when they
did he felt the warm blood spurt from his left arm.
Then they went down together, and over and over
they rolled until they struck the water with a loud
splash and churned it into foam. Harry knew that
he had wounded the animal with his pistol and knife,
and it was hard to realize that so much activity and
life still remained in that small body. With wonder-
fully swift movements, the beast endeavored to reach
him with his hind feet, but the boy was too quick,
and slashed to right and left until a good opportunity
presented itself; then the streaming blade was once
more raised and driven home with telling force.

As the wildcat ceased its death struggle and lay
upon the water, Harry waded to the shore, where
he lay panting and trembling. He fully realized
that he had come out of a very serious affair with
a couple of slight wounds, as he chose to regard
them, and that he had been the hero of a thrilling
encounter. He felt faint from the loss of blood, and



AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY 49

from the excitement of the battle, and it was with
difficulty that he finally managed to disentangle the
horses and sling the wildcat in front of him on Prince
Royal. He knew that it was best to return to the
lodge at once, for the pony needed attention, and
Prince Royal had cut himself among the branches;
so much so, in fact, that the lad was compelled to
inwardly acknowledge that he limped perceptibly.
The boy would never have given a second thought
to his own wounds if his attention had not been
drawn to them by the trickling of blood down his
left arm, and then he halted only long enough to
wind his sash about it. Prince Royal and the pony

were both very excitable and nervous, and it was no
- easy task for the lad to keep his seat; for at each
rustling in the branches, or the running of a squirrel
from limb to limb, they would rear and plunge wildly.

Harry felt highly elated over his victory, and de-
cided to mount the animal in the crouching attitude
he had taken upon the pony’s back, and to present
it to the club.

As for Pietro, he had worried ever since Harry’s
departure, and had sat in the stable door and smoked,
watching the ridge constantly. As the lad came in
sight, the hostler’s keen eyes detected the wildcat,
and when he saw the boy’s tattered garments and
bloody face, and the badly mutilated and dripping
animal, his astonishment was unbounded.

E



50 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Well, if you ain’t gone and knifed a panther-
cat!” he exclaimed, calling to Tony to come out and
have a look at the beast. Of course, Harry had to
relate the events of the morning as he remembered
them, after which the hostler and cook expressed
themselves as very proud of the young hunter, and
as a penalty for it all, ordered him to his bunk, while
Tony went to prepare an over-tempting morsel for
our hero. Harry was quite willing to accept the
sentence, for the fight, coupled with the broken
dreams of the bandit the previous night, had left him
worn out. He bathed his face and arms in cool
water, while Tony and Pietro bandaged the wounds,
which were more serious than the lad at first sup-
posed. They then left him, after he had swallowed
Tony’s lunch, for a good rest. Here we shall leave
him for the present, and return to the other mem-
bers of the club, who had started for the prairie long
before sunrise, followed by the entire pack.





CHAPTER IV
WITH THE GREYHOUNDS

HOUGH the boys had been
unsuccessful in their efforts to
prevail upon Harry to accom-
pany them with his new mount, .
Arthur had managed to coax
Diamond away from his master,
thus completing the pack. As
the ponies cantered along in
the damp wind that blew up
from the gray stream below,
Z Arthur repeated the reasons
“= 5-“S2<2 his brother had given him for
not joining the members in
their morning gallop, ending by saying :—

“Tt’s easy to see he’s agreed to pay for his horse
to-day, fellows; and I sincerely hope the man is all
right. I advised him not to ride his purchase back,
but Pietro seems to think it’s better to lose the horse
now and have it over with.”

“Tt would be a pity to have to part with him, and it
would spoil Harry’s summer,” remarked Paul.

51







52 SIX- YOUNG HUNTERS

“Oh, he’ll come out of it with flying colors!” con-
tinued Eugene, cheerfully. ‘Do you remember our
last foot-ball game with Brookdale, with three minutes
to play and seventy yards to make? Well, it’s my
opinion that any fellow who can move as Harry
moved on that occasion is able to defend himself any-
where ; and, furthermore, I think Pietro feels that
Colonel Hillman has selected him from the many
herdsmen as best suited to keep an eye on us this
summer, and is consequently in a position to view
everything seriously.” We have seen that Eugene’s
opinions of Harry were just, for if he had not pos-
sessed wonderful strength and activity, he would
probably have been worsted in his morning’s en-
counter.

Eugene’s speech had the desired effect, for the _
boys were soon galloping at a merry pace, occasion-
ally testing their mounts in a dash of a furlong or
two. The gray mustang owned by Eugene seemed
to be the fastest of the ponies, and Osage Chief, as
the lad called him, was certainly improving under
Pietro’s attention and his master’s light seat. In
fact, Osage Chief and Walter's chestnut ran neck-
and-neck for a quarter mile, which naturally put
Eugene in the best of spirits.

The other boys, however, were not so fortunate with
their mounts. Paul’s Rex did well at the start, but
could not run with Osage Chief after the first furlong.



WITH THE GREYHOUNDS 53

“They’re not used to these short, quick dashes,”
said Walter, riding up to Arthur and Paul, “and will
do better later on. The rancheros have used them
to head an occasional steer, but, with this exception,
they have had no speeding whatever.”

Arthur and Paul were confident that their bronchos
would develop into long-distance nags, anyway, and
were satisfied with their respective choices. Jack’s
Blue Rocket was as fleet as he was graceful, and
everything pointed to a grand season’s coursing.

“Since you fellows have named your favorites, I
suppose I should name mine,” said Arthur. ‘What
would you suggest?”

“Oh, I don’t know!” replied Jack, glancing about
at his friends. “His coat is a good deal like Tasso’s,
and they call hima blue greyhound. It is also spotted, —
so I should suggest Domino.”

“Excellent!” exclaimed the club in chorus.

“Then Domino it is; though I don’t suppose he’ll
move much like the famous racer.”

“He may,” was Jack’s encouraging reply; “you
must remember we haven't had a race yet.”

“Very true; but we'll soon have one,” cried
Walter, riding to a hilltop and turning his field-
glasses upon a distant bit of woodland.

“What is it?” asked the boys.

“A coyote ; no, it’s a fox, fellows, see for your-
selves,” replied Walter in great glee, gathering the



54 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

reins firmly in his left hand. The glasses were
passed around in turn, and the boys all agreed that
the animal was a fox feeding upon a jack-rabbit.




wil
Wi)



re
AAS
Mb yes 2 LA, "

FEEDING UPON A JACK-RABBIT.

Foxes were scarce in that country, the boys had
heard, and they were consequently very anxious to
bring it to bag.

“He'll lead us a dance, with that start,’ said



WITH THE GREYHOUNDS 55

Arthur, watching the dogs as they ran about in their
eager search.

“We must be careful, now,” cautioned Walter,
placing the glasses back into the leather case. “ He’s
just at the edge of the timber, which we shall probably
have to drive to start him. Keep your eyes and ears
wide open, fellows, for a fox that can catch a jack-
rabbit that has been incessantly chased by coyotes is
worth working for.”

“Wouldn’t it be well to surround the timber?”
suggested Paul.

“A capital idea! Eugene, you, Arthur, and Jack -
call your dogs and ride in a semicircle to the other
side; Paul and I will keep ahead with Tasso and
Rambler. We can’t possibly miss him.” So the club
separated and advanced; and, as the fox turned with
surprising swiftness and started down the prairie, a
shout of suppressed excitation broke from the boys.
As the cry rose, Rambler led Tasso and the pack
over the first rise. There was a dull clatter of flying
hoofs as the horses closed, a series of loud shouts and
encouraging words from the lads, the horses settled
down to a clean, swift galloping, and the chase began
in earnest. The great strides of the long-limbed dogs
soon lessened the fox’s start, and it was clearly evi-
dent that the coursers had been well selected and were
well matched.

Tasso, to the boys’ great surprise, was unable to



56 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

retain the lead in the run down the prairie, his pre-
vious experience in turning. a rabbit being of little
assistance in a straight race. The fleet Saxony soon
went to the front, followed closely by Diana, Rambler,
and Boomerang; then the lead fell to Diamond,
whose running after the first half mile was superb.
On and on they swept, stride for stride, until a rapidly
moving line of six greyhounds and the fox shone
clear against the sky. And now the fox, closely
pushed, began to change his tactics and double on his
trail. He would run along a ridge quite near the
summit, and then, with a tremendous leap, would
disappear and start back with redoubled speed on the
other side. Time and time again the dogs were
thrown off, until Tasso left the pack and ran the
summit of the ridges, encouraged by Walter’s loud
shouts. This seemed to annoy the fox beyond meas-
ure, for he soon started off on a level stretch, and was
finally overtaken by the dogs.

During the chase, the lads had a good opportunity
of displaying their horsemanship, which was very
creditable. They all rode boldly and freely, with
light hands and firm seats; between the wild cries
sent after the vanishing pack, they had occasionally
glanced about at each other. Osage Chief ran under
a tight rein in the lead, followed closely by Leveller
and Domino, whose bursts of speed were astonishing.
They ran pretty well bunched until the last half mile,



WITH THE GREYHOUNDS 57

when Jack sent Blue Rocket to the front, and was
first in at the death.

-“ You are no more surprised than I, fellows!” said
Jack to his friends, as they dismounted to rest the
horses and tighten the girths. “I wouldn’t have
believed it of my horse. We were all running freely,
with something to spare, when he seemed to fairly fly
out from the bunch, and the next second was running
far in the lead.”

“Which proves what I said before the race,”
Walter replied. “They all did well, and will do
better with more riding.” Walter then handed the
fox’s tail to Jack, who of course was
entitled to it by being first in at the
kill, and the boys mounted and con-
tinued the coursing.

Rabbit after rabbit was “jumped ”
and caught after a furious chase, usu-
ally lasting three or four minutes;
and when the fifth “jack” was killed
after a beautiful run of nearly two
miles, the boys declared themselves
satisfied with the morning’s sport,
and decided to return tocamp. They
had ridden probably six miles from
the lodge, Walter said, but as the 4 MORNING's

: COURSING.
willows bordering Grouse creek were
not two miles off, the thirsty horses were headed for





58 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

the stream. With many a light-hearted laugh, the
boys allowed their impatient mounts to canter along,
and they had arrived within a quarter mile of the
willows, when Walter pulled up his horse so sud-
denly that he nearly slid out of his saddle as the
animal stood on his hind legs.

“What’s the matter?” asked the boys, drawing
rein instantly.

“Hush! not so loud!” said Walter, laying his
finger upon his lips; “see there!” As he said this,
he pointed toward the group of willows, and the boys
instantly saw what had attracted their friend’s atten-
tion. It was the figure of a man creeping along
under cover of the willows, as if stalking game. He
was too distant to be seen plainly, but the boys made
out that he wore a black shirt and hat, and that he
was interested in something at the other side of the
willows; and, judging from his movements, was push-
ing a gun or some heavy article in advance of him.

“He’s probably trailing a deer,” said Paul, after
he had taken a careful look.

“T don’t believe he’s hunting,” replied Walter,
confidently, “for deer don’t frequent the vicinity of
camp-fires.”

Skilled as most of the boys were in woodcraft,
they were forced to confess that they had not de-
tected the thin line of faint smoke that arose from
the willows, and were willing to admit that Walter’s



WITH THE GREYHOUNDS : 59

view of the situation was the correct one, that the
man was not deer-stalking, and was endeavoring to
creep upon the camper unobserved. So earnest was
he in his occupation, that he never turned his head
to right nor left, but kept bobbing up and down as
he paused long enough to take a good view of the
camp-fire.

“Who do you suppose he is, and what is he
about?” asked Eugene, excitedly.

“TI may be wrong, boys,” Walter replied, “but I
am of the opinion that that man has something un-
pleasant to say to the person or persons by the
camp-fire, and I should not be surprised to find we
are intimately acquainted with the camper.”

“Then you think it’s Harry?” inquired Arthur,
now thoroughly aroused. ‘Perhaps that’s the man
he’s agreed to pay the money to. Come on, fellows!”
he said, placing his foot into the stirrup.

“No, no!” hastily interposed Walter. ‘“ That’s
only a theory. Too many of us are sure to be seen.
Let the others remain here out of sight with the
horses and dogs, Arthur, and you and I will creep
up and see for ourselves.”

This arrangement was thoroughly satisfactory, and
after Eugene had tied the dogs with a thong he had
taken from his saddle, Arthur and Walter started
for the willows, moving rapidly and keeping to the
low land.



60 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

The man had by this time come within fifty feet
of the stripe of smoke, and it was evident that he
was to go no further, for he lay behind a fallen log
. with the barrel of his rifle protruding over it. The
boys moved swiftly through the tall grass and between
the rocks behind him, and then crept cautiously for-
ward and secreted themselves behind some friendly
bowlders not twenty yards off, in sight of their
friends, who watched them anxiously.

The willows and bushes grew too thick to make
objects on the other side very plain, though at odd
moments the boys caught a glimpse of a figure in
buckskin, who seemed to be busying himself about
the fire. They saw that it was not Harry, and con-
sequently felt greatly relieved. They were none the
less interested in the.movements of both men, how-
ever, and were beginning to grow impatient, when
one of the most memorable conversations to which —
they had ever listened was opened by the man behind
the log emitting three short, sharp, clear whistles,
like the call of a quail.

The man at the fire evidently understood, for,
instead of appearing at an opening in the trees with
his gun, he came and stood in sight, whistling four
times in reply.

“Well, who is it?” he growled, crouching and
endeavoring to see through the shrubbery. “ Come
out ; or are you a coward?”



WITH THE GREYHOUNDS 6L

“That’s it, Wild Face, a coward, — him that you
knifed a month since,—come for the price of the
black, that you sold to that there ‘tenderfoot’ this
mornin’ !”

“Jim, by the powers! I’m glad to-see you again,
Jim.”

“Not by no means, you ain’t. That was my nag
you sold, and I want the price, and no more of this
business, cap’n. I’m done!”

“T heard you was,” continued the other, quite
unconcerned, coming nearer; “I heard you was
a-punchin’ cattle, and had quit us, and was leadin’
a dog’s life.”

“Dog’s life!” repeated the man Cabrillo had
called Jim, ‘“dog’s life, indeed! Yer a-follerin’ a
dog’s life, Wild Face, and I want no more of it.
I’ve larnt the lockstep, have worn stripes, and
have seed a sight o’ times, since I lost this head-
light!’’ he concluded, holding his left hand up to his
face. ;

Then followed a volley of oaths by the chief, who
had become greatly infuriated over Jim’s last speech.
“ And who’s to blame, you fool?” he managed to gasp
at last. ‘Put down that gun and come and have a
talk. How could I handle a.lot of chicken-hearted
loafers, I’d like to know? Give it up, Jim, and come
along of us. There won’t be no engine-ridin’, nor
rail-pullin’, Jim, and you can lay to that.”



62 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“How many of the boys has gone?”

“Only Snaky and Micky, and they’ll be back
afore long.”

“ How are you goin’ to live? Safe crackin’ ?”

“Not much, Jim. Stick to me, and you'll not
regret it, Jim. We'll have fast hosses to ride, and
pickles and fishes that come in little tin boxes, to eat,
and these here scatter guns that don’t have no trigger
to get caught in the brush, to shoot with.”

“Flas these city chaps all those things, cap’n?”
said the other, rising to his feet and waiting for his
chief to come up. “I didn’t like the job afore you
spoke, but now I’ll shake.”

“ And forget the old score, Jim ay

“Yes, forget the old score; though I still lay to
it, that you shouldn’t have knifed me, mate.”

They stood up together, Cabrillo young, straight,
and dark, while the man called Jim was round-shoul-
dered, and was minus his left eye. The boys watched
them intently as they shook hands, and when the out-
laws had disappeared through the trees toward the
fire, they scrambled to their feet and ran to their
friends, who were naturally utterly at a loss to ac-
count for the strange actions of the two men. They
were not to remain long in the dark, however, for
Walter and Arthur had soon related all they had
heard, and it is needless to say their words created
great consternation.



WITH THE GREYHOUNDS 63

“There goes our summer vacation, higher than a
kite!” indignantly exclaimed Eugene, mounting Osage
Chief. “I felt it would lead to that last night when
I saw Harry on the black.”

“ And they mean to enjoy all our canned goods,
too, do they?” said Paul, with a determined look in
his eyes. ‘We'll see about that!”

“And are even counting on owning our shot-guns
and horses.” added Jack. “I never heard of any-
thing more preposterous!”

“Don’t borrow trouble, fellows,” said Walter, who
naturally felt the presence of the bandits more than
his friends. ‘“‘ These fellows are undoubtedly a set of
desperate men, who would rather steal than work,
and they have been given the credit of a number of
train robberies. But I am certain, when they find
out that we are able to defend ourselves, that they will
not trouble us.”

“Well, I’m glad Harry is back safe and sound,”
said Arthur, “for this man seemed to know that this
fellow Cabrillo had received the money for his horse.”

The boys then galloped along in silence until they
were within fifty feet of the lodge, when Pietro burst
out upon the veranda, dragging the wildcat after
him.

“See here, my hearties!” cried the ranchero,
“how’s this for a morning’s hunt? What have you
got, you say, Master Walter? A fox and a_half-



64 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

dozen ‘jacks’? Not so bad, but I believe Master
Harry’s the flower of the flock to-day!”

“You don’t mean to say that he shot that this
morning?” asked Arthur, gazing in astonishment at
the blood-stained animal. ‘Was he hurt?”

“Yes, he did shoot it, single handed; and he seems
as cool about it as though it happened back there
where he lives every day. He was scratched consid-
erable, so Tony and I got him to turn in.”

The boys were off their horses in an instant, and
were soon hearing the story from Harry’s lips as we
have attempted to describe it in the previous chapter.
They listened attentively, now and then uttering an
exclamation of surprise and admiration at their
friend’s coolness and courage.

“Didn’t it make your blood run cold when you
heard the first cry?” asked Paul, nervously.

“Yes, I suppose it did ; but then there wasn’t time
to think of that, and I don’t believe I could ever
move so fast again,” replied Harry, modestly, leaning
upon his elbow. “It was a fortunate escape, as I
could not get at my rifle, so quickly did the animal
move. But what is on your minds that makes you
look so white?”

Then Walter related all that took place between
the bandits, to which Pietro listened closely. When
Walter had finished, the hostler said in a husky
voice: “ Now, Master Walter, I believe this country,



WITH THE GREYHOUNDS 65

large as it is, is too small for you and your friends,
and I’m goin’ to tell your uncle so. It’s no use
tryin’ to beat those villains at their own game, and
they’re the meanest lot I ever heard of.”

The boys would not hear of Pietro sending word to
Uncle John, and forced him to promise that he would
not, which he did reluctantly, saying that he knew
that there would be trouble. The boys finally agreed
that they would not leave the lodge separately, and
would not, for some time at least, camp on the prai-
rie over night. This seemed to satisfy the herds-
man, for he admired the stand the lads had taken,
and realized that they were quite able to look after
themselves. Pietro soon after returned to the tired
horses, while the lads did full justice to a hearty
lunch.

That afternoon was spent in a general cleaning up
of pistols and rifles, for the boys instinctively felt
that trouble was brewing, and were determined to
stand their ground, in case of an attack. They
looked everything over affectionately, for their pos-
sessions had grown dearer since they had learned that
the outlaws were determined to steal them. After
supper, the time was spent in paddling up and down
stream a short distance from camp, or in a shot or
two over the setters, which had been confined in the
stable all day, and were consequently very willing
participants in the sport.

F



66 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

As it grew dark, the canoes were once more
fastened to the jetty, a brace of quails was left in
the kitchen, and a very tired lot of boys tumbled into
their respective bunks.

While they are sleeping soundly after their long
ride, or dreaming, perhaps, of thrilling encounters
with José Cabrillo’s band of outlaws, let us see what
took place between that worthy and his comrade,
after they had shaken hands, and had returned to
the fire.





CHAPTER V
THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT

“ ELL, well, cap’n, I see you’re the same old

dandy!” ejaculated Jim, as he glanced at
the chief’s saddle and rifle, which lay upon the grass
close to the camp-fire. “And you’ve got a good un
to ride, too,” he concluded, as he caught sight of a
handsome bright bay that had the free run of a
lariat’s length.

“Yes, Jim, I manage to look pretty well, even if
business has been droppin’ off,” replied the chief,
lighting a yellow-covered cigarette in the flame;
“and it’s all due to that gang of cowards we had
with us last winter, — not includin’ you, Jim, not by
no means.”

“Then, what for did you try to end my jig, after it
was fiddled?” demanded Jim, turning the brace of
squirrels upon the coals, and looking at Cabrillo as if
he had half a mind not to forget the old score. “I
stuck to the engine under orders, and you know
it, cap’n.”

“T know it, Jim, and I’m sorry. I’ve lived rough,

67 ;



68 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

and when things don’t go to suit me, I raise Cain.
When I got back, and heard that those pups had
missed the express car, I could have killed ’em all,”
replied Cabrillo, scowling fiercely at the fire.

“Well, they did die, two on ’em, in their tracks,”
Jim said slowly, “and they wasn’t bad fellers,
neither.”

“ Let’s forget it, Jim. ony weren’t made for this
business, nohow.”

“°’Tain’t no means likely Ill forget, cap’n,”
answered the other, rolling up. his ragged sleeve
and displaying a livid streak across his arm. “I
reckon this'll remind me.”

“Let it, then,” growled the chief, not deigning to
look up; “and remember, the next time we come to
splitting the night’s work, don’t have nothing to say!”

“Not I.”

“How did you know I sold your nag this mornin’?”’
asked. the other, with an amused grin. ‘“ Did Micky
tell you?”

“Yes, *twas Micky. He said you was wearin’
shiny black boots and silver spurs, and had a keg
under lock and key all the while, and that he was
goin’ to quit before he swung for it.”

“He did, did he?” shouted the enraged bandit,
jumping up and stamping upon his sombrero. “And
why wouldn’t I? I know the business from night-
ridin’ to rail-pullin’, and I want to look like a gentle-



THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 69

man, and quit some day with roll enough to ride ina
carriage, and spend ten thousand a year.”

Jim had heard the same story many times before.

“ What’s the next move?” he asked.

“Why, to strip that there shootin’ camp from top
to bottom, and get hold of some of those pistols, and
all we can tote away. The young fellers is likely
lookin’ enough, and must have a bit of money
with ’em.”

-“Yes, and Micky said they had a whole string of
hounds, that were keener than so many razors.”

“Well, what of it? We're not dealin’ with
marshals and soldiers, but with a bunch of school-
boys. I really believe, Jim, you’ve lost your nerve,
since that last hold-up,” replied the chief, punching .
his comrade in the ribs. “Jim, you and I have seen
some hard knocks, but Pll allow we can’t pull out for
a bunch of striplings;” and he laughed heartily.

This seemed to be quite enough for the one-eyed
man, who declared himself perfectly willing to begin
operations at once.

“We'll go back and see the boys,” said the chief,
saddling his horse, “and have a chat and smoke,”
The two men then mounted, and the horse started
up the stream.

If the members of the Greyhound Club could have
heard the foregoing conversation, it is doubtful if
they would have remained another day at Deer



70 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Lodge. The men were undoubtedly a wild and reck-
less set, and would not hesitate for an instant to end
a life. They had evidently been foiled in a train
robbery a month or two previous, much to the chief’s
disappointment, and had been forced to remain in
hiding.

. The chief struck the bay with his spurs, and —
rode at a brisk gallop until they turned into a trail
that led toa ford.. They again turned at right angles,.
this time following the bed of the stream, until they
had reached the spot where Harry had seen Cabrillo
dismount that same morning.

.Jim was knee-deep at once, winding a lariat about
a limb as the chief had done in the morning. Horse
_and rider then. disappeared, and, when Jim had
wound the lasso about his waist and followed, there
was scarcely a broken twig left behind to mark. the
trail.

' This time, as the path to the summit of the tower-
ing cliff was steep and rough, Jim did not mount,
but followed his chief up the bed of a sparkling
spring. Great. bowlders seemed to jut out into the
brook at every twenty feet, around which the bay
moved cleverly. A heavy.growth of oak trees almost
hid the blue sky, and the patches of. sunlight that
penetrated the thickly leaved branches were few and
far between.. After a long climb, during which the:
spring had narrowed to a tiny silver thread that



THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 71

gushed out from a mass of rocks, Cabrillo dismounted
and gave a short, clear whistle, unfastening his
saddle-girth as he did so. A great oak door, built
into the rocks, was opened almost. at once by a
heavily bearded man, who seemed a little surprised
at seeing Jim with the chief.

Cabrillo had selected a natural fortress for his re-
treat. A wall of granite, ten or twelve feet high,
completely shut it off from the outside world, except
where the door had been built in, and where ‘a few
rocks had been rolled into a crevice or two. More-
over, it was on the highest point of a very high cliff,
and a splendid view of the rolling prairie could be
had for miles around. Great oaks and elms inter-
twined their branches above, casting a welcome shade
at all hours.

Cabrillo, as we have seen, had an eye for the com-
forts and luxuries of life, and was not content to live
as most of his band would have been willing to. He
had erected a substantial log-house against the stone
barricade, roomy enough for a dozen bunks and a
fireplace.

As the chief entered, three or four men, who had
been sleeping on their blankets in the shade, rose to
a sitting posture, greeting their chief with a lazy
“ Howdy, cap’n?” or exchanging nods with Jim.

Cabrillo’s horse, being free of his bridle, neighed
shrilly as he trotted to a corral at the further end of



72 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

the enclosure, where other fleet, clean-limbed animals
were quartered.

Saddles and bridles lay in profusion about on the
grass, and there. were rifles, and belts holding pistols
and knives, all ready to be caught up at a moment’s
notice. A great piece of meat hung from a limb
close by, while six or eight steaks sputtered on the
coals of a blazing camp-fire. The black-bearded
man, after he had drawn an iron bar across the door,
returned to the fire and turned the steaks a few times,
after which he placed them upon a hewn log one after
the other. The men needed no invitation to fall to,
for before the last steak had reached the log which
served as a table, they had whipped out their knives
and were eating heartily. They looked the wild,
reckless men they were, who, either from choice or
the force of circumstances, had led roving, dishonest
lives from boyhood.

The interior of their retreat was not unlike Deer
Lodge. A spacious hearth had been built into one
end, around which a couple of stools stood. There
were windows, too, but they were heavily barred, and
had shutters which were three inches thick.

Instead of the pleasing scenes of sporting life that
lined the walls of the boys’ camp, there were wooden
pins in irregular rows, upon which were hung som-
breros, Mexican trousers, and buckskin suits. The
names of the members of the gang had been burned



THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 73

above each peg, and there were other decorations
such as a man might make with a hot iron for idle-
ness or occupation. The first wooden nail held a
Mexican waist trimmed with gold lace, a gaudy red
sash, and a pair of well-worn buckskin trousers.
Over this the words “Cabrillo, his peg”” were burned
clearly, and then, a little further down, “ José, Wild
Face,” with a sketch of the chief’s dark face, not
bad, you would say, but considerably out of drawing.
Above the remaining pegs were the words “ Snaky,”
“Jim,” “Dobson, he Bit the dust,’ and there was
nothing hanging from this pin; “Tarcedo,” “ Fire-
fly,” “Micky,” and “ Redwood” completed the list.

Upon a rough table in the centre of the room were
a bottle of ink, a quill pen, and a bundle of papers.
The papers bore undisputed evidence of the many
raids Cabrillo’s men had been engaged in. They had
been laid aside as useless property, evidently, for
there were diagrams of roads and cross-ways upon
countless letters, magazines, etc., that had never
arrived at their respective destinations. A mail-bag,
marked “U.S. Mail,” had been slashed with a sharp
knife, and lay, emptied of its contents, upon the
earth floor. A pleasant odor of pine needles came
from the bunks, which had been built into the retreat,
six on either side.

‘?Tain’t much longer you'll have to stand such
grub, boys, and you can lay to it,” said Cabrillo,



74 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

lighting a cigarette as he sat watching his men with
his back against a tree; “for we'll put enough by
from that there fancy log-house to bring us to next
fall. And then, when the right night comes, we'll
have another go at the express, say I, and then I’m
done.” i

“What’ll we do then, captain, —starve?” asked
Redwood.

“Starve, if you like, you fools!” answered the
chief, derisively. ‘There isn’t one among you with
money enough to get a rig of store clothes, not one.
You've risked swinging, and you’ve worked hard,
these three past years, and what for? It’s many
a time I told you the same tale, when I counted you
out hundreds, men, hundreds, after a night’s ride.
But it wasn’t no use. To town for a good time, and
back in your shirts, a-beggin’ a brace of pistols. But
they’re closin’ in on us, and I’m done. Micky got
out as slick as a hound’s teeth this mornin’, when I
was gone up stream, but it won’t happen again. I
want none of you leavin’ and blowin’ the whole go,
and I won’t have it!” he concluded, sending a great
gray column of smoke among the branches. “I’ve
done the straight thing with you, and have never
held out more than a gallon of whiskey, by reason of
earnin’ it. And, bein’ as there’s a drop still in the
keg, I propose we have it out.”

This put the men in good spirits, and they very



THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 75

soon forgot their chief’s words. He had told them
that he was through with them all so often before;
especially when the raids had not panned out to his
expectations, that the story was no new one. Young
as Cabrillo was, he possessed the strength of mind
to head that notorious band successfully, and his
name is to this day spoken of with awe in that unfre-
quented region where lawlessness is prevalent.

Redwood caught the key Cabrillo tossed him, and
disappeared into the retreat, reappearing at once with
a small brown keg and tin dipper. The men drank
eagerly all that was allowed them, and then filled
their pipes and waited for the chief to begin, for they
knew from experience that the extra allowance of
whiskey would be followed by plans for another raid
or hold-up.

“Now, men,” began Cabrillo, after he had lighted
his second cigarette, “although Micky did give us
the go-by this mornin’, I forgot to say that Snaky
did not, an’ that he’s out on business in your inter-
ests. Jim, here, wants no part in the job, but I’ll
allow he’ll join us, won’t you, Jim?”

Jim made no reply.

“Where’ll it be?” asked the man called Firefly.

“At the second tank from the Border City, the
other side of the river, like this,” the chief replied,
sketching with a twig, upon the beaten earth, a dia-
gram of the trails that led to the railroad, and. mark-



76 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

ing with a cross the position of the water tank:
“Snaky wears a black beard and a red tie, and rides
in the first car,’ he concluded, puffing nervously at
his cigarette. “I see it’s. cloudin’ up, and we’ll not
have a better night six months from now.”

“Be you goin’ to quit us then?” asked Tarcedo,
with a grim smile, stroking his great black beard.

“Don’t know, Dody,” answered theother; “it
depends upon yourselves. If you can show me
a good, clean, profitable job, and a steady hand, I’ll
linger with you awhile longer. If you don’t, back
to the states I go, and an end of it! I can’t see how
we missed the halter that last go, for the life of me!
You can thank the drivin’ rain and the black night
for it. But to-night we'll make an even half-dozen
gentlemen; six is bunch enough for any train, say I,
and not too many when it comes to splittin’ the dust.
And will you tell me you're for layin’ to, here, like
a blessed canal-boat, and let those express cars go by
us with their fortunes, night after night? Not you!
As sure as day breaks to-morrow, we'll be here, the
whole band, breakin’ open those yellow packages,
with their red seals and greenbacks, the kind that
Holton and Perkins used to fetch and count out
before me, when I was just a youngster at the game.
He was the dandy, was Holton, and feared nothin’ on
two or four legs.”

Cabrillo ran on until he knew he had produced the



oe

THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 77

desired effect upon his band, and then, taking the
keg of whiskey, arose and entered the retreat. He
placed the keg under lock and key, after which he
examined each letter and paper that lay upon the table
and floor. These he threw upon the hearth, one after
the other, and lighted them, placing the mail-bag ina
box that contained other pieces of leather, from which ~
the outlaws made their bridles and holsters, and
mended their saddles.

When he appeared again before his men, he car-
ried his rifle and pistols, which he started to clean in
a most thorough manner, and they followed his exam-
ple with their weapons. Thus the afternoon wore
away. Towards evening the chief climbed the bowl-
ders that surrounded the retreat.

“Tf they build any more of those fancy log-houses
with the wide shelters,” he called down to his men,
“we won’t be able to camp around here. They're
paddlin’ up and down Grouse in one of those cloth
dug-outs, and like as not they'll find our trail before
the summer’s gone. We'll give ’ema scare ina week
or two that'll fix ’em.””

The fact was, the boys were already scared, and
scared badly. They had spent that very afternoon
in cleaning and repairing their pistols, and were that
very moment, with Cabrillo’s keen eyes upon them,
discussing the probable outcome of an encounter with
the fearless bandit and his tribe.



78 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

They little guessed that a series of thrilling events
would result in their capturing José Cabrillo and his
entire band, and in the restoration of a large sum of
money and other valuables to the rightful owners.

The outlaw saw nothing else to interest him, evi-
dently, for, after watching for a while longer, he de-
scended, without a remark, as the shades of night
began to envelop the landscape.

Tarcedo, or Dody, as he was called, soon had the’
fire rekindled, and a dozen steaks were soon after
broiling on the coals. After supper, each man fed
and watered his horse at the spring, and then ex-
amined his bridle, saddle, and rifle for the last time.
The wind blew up cold and damp from the south, and
the sky became overcast. The men stood patiently
awaiting the word to saddle, which was finally given
them. i .

“ Steady, now!” exclaimed Cabrillo, as he glanced
at his band in the light of the camp-fire, “and let’s
have no noise. Jim, are you steady ?”

“Ay, ay, cap’n!” answered the man, as he
mounted with his comrades.

“Then we're off. Firefly, give me your bridle and
throw the bar back.”

The great oak door swung open, Cabrillo’s horse
‘stepped out into the trail, and the rest followed.
There was scarcely a sound. The horses seemed to
know the path perfectly, though the night was very



THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 79

‘dark. ‘When the band reached the foot of the cliff
and had entered the stream, they moved slowly and
carefully, watching the banks for a possible camp-fire.
The main trail was finally struck after innumerable
crossings and turns, and pipes were lighted.

They rode through the damp air half the night,
finally entering a dense growth of jack-oaks that
bordered the banks of a river. Here they dis-
mounted and fastened their horses. The wind in-
creased in violence and the clouds grew blacker.
This was followed by a clap of thunder that fairly
shook the earth, and the rain came down in tor-
rents. Now and then a flash of lightning brightened
the sky and lit up the ruddy-indigo surface of the
sweeping river, and then the night seemed even
more forbidding by contrast.

“ The right kind of a night for this black business,”
said Jim, as the men started through the trees.. “I
hope we’ll come out with whole pelts.”

“Shut up, you fool!” cried Cabrillo, with a vol-
ley of terrible oaths, “and let me hear-no more such
talk, or you'll regret it. I want no coyotes in this
crowd.”

“That’s no go, now, Jim,” replied Redwood.
“Hold the cap’n up. No one can’t see to hit a
hillside to-night.”

. The outlaws worked their way out from among
the trees, and stepped upon the track. Here they



80 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

halted, and Cabrillo gave his final orders, vowing
fearful vengeance on those who failed to obey to
the very letter. They took up the march again in
silence, crossing the great dark bridge.

“Get under the tank out of the blow,” said the
chief, as they came up to the water tower, “for it
may be an hour or so before she sounds.”

The men gathered under the dripping tank and
lighted their pipes. Cabrillo climbed the ladder and
stood watching the rails). The wind and rain lashed
him unmercifully, but he clung to his post with a
faithfulness that merited a better cause. It was
fortunate for him that he did so, for, as he glanced
across the river where the horses were picketed, his
keen eyes told him that a man had left the track,
and was making his way towards the oaks. The
person carried a lantern, which he held above his
head, and Cabrillo knew the man had heard the
horses neighing.

He looked once more in the direction of Border
City, and then descended quickly, and ordered Fire-
fly to stand guard.

““Come with me, Redwood; there’s a track-walker
goin’ to examine the nags,” be said, “and we’d
better get him out of the way.”

They crossed the bridge again, and then sepa-
rated. The light kept bobbing about the trees, and
it was no trouble to creep upon it unobserved.



THE OUTLAWS RETREAT 81

- “JT say, my man, what can we do for you?”
called Cabrillo from the darkness.

“Oh, nothing! I thought somebody’s horses
had —”’ he replied, and that was all he said. He
fell like a log as Redwood’s sure blow struck him,
and the next moment they left him securely bound
and gagged.

“We'll have no more interruptions, I hope,” said
the chief, endeavoring to light a cigarette, “for
there she comes.”

Faint and far off as the whistle was, Cabrillo
heard it, and lost no time in recrossing the bridge.
Redwood, Tarcedo, and Jim took their positions
among the.bushes, car lengths apart, Firefly re-
maining at the tank with Cabrillo.

The low rumble of the train grew more distinct,
and was followed by a series of piercing whistles
that sounded high above the wind and rain. Then
the great glaring headlight appeared far down the
track, and the rails glittered and sparkled as the
yellow shine fell upon them. The pale yellow glare
grew nearer, the lights in the car windows defined
themselves clearly, and the magnificent steel en-
gine, puffing and blowing, came to a stand at the
tower. The next instant a fusillade of shots filled
the air, followed by the wild screams of the passen-
gers.

“Hands up!” cried Cabrillo and Firefly, boarding

G



82 SIX YOUNG. HUNTERS

the engine from opposite sides. The command was
instantly obeyed, and the outlaws had possession of
the train.





CHAPTER VI
THE HOLD-UP

OM CLARK was the engineer of the Dallas

express, which left Border City at nine each
evening. He stood by his favorite, oil-can in hand,
watching the throng upon the platform, or exchang-
ing greetings with his many friends. There was an
air of bustle and commotion about the station that
night that was very pleasing to the tried old engineer.
If he had known. that José Cabrillo and his notorious
band were even then starting upon their forty-mile
ride on purpose to hold up his train, it is safe to say
he would not have enjoyed the scene of activity be-
fore him; but he knew nothing of José’s plans, and
was content to watch and compare the different types
he knew so well. The many loungers stood as usual
with their backs to the rail, as poor and as ragged as
they were six months before. He recognized the
shouts of the cabmen, and the stentorian tones of
the hotel men, each of whom proclaimed that his
hostelry was the only first-class house in Border City.
There were many among the crowd, though, that

83



84 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Tom did not recognize: the Indian with the gaudy
red blanket, for instance, or the desperate-looking
man wearing the heavy black beard and red scarf,
who looked at everything about the train so furtively.
The engineer glanced through the windows of the
dining-room and saw there were a goodly number of
passengers for Dallas, which, in addition to those who
thronged the lunch counter, would make a full train.
He watched the sloping street until his eyes rested
upon a little figure in white, and then he smiled
happily.

“Did you think I wasn’t coming, father?” asked
the little girl, when she had come up. “Mother
was bound you’d have a good dinner, and didn’t
hurry.”

“Well, that was very kind of her. We are a little
ahead of time,” he replied, holding up a silver watch
to the light. ‘What did you bring me?”

“Oh, lots of nice things! roast chicken and pie,
and something else you like.”

“That’s a good girl,” he said, kissing her. ‘Now,
run home, for it’s going to storm.”

As the girl tripped happily off, he climbed into the
engine and placed the steaming pail upon the seat
beside him. The fireman, Josh Larkin, heaped coal
upon the hungry fire, or polished a rod here and
there with an oily cloth.

“We're in for a storm to-night, or I’m no prophet,”



THE HOLD-UP_. 85

he began, lighting his corn-cob pipe, “and I believe
we'll have trouble, too. There are more odd-looking
ducks behind us to-night than I ever saw before, —
fellers with white suits and red leather shoes, and
women with diamonds enough to blind a man.”

“Josh, you can’t stand a blow and rain any more,
nohow,” replied the engineer. ‘And as for hold-ups
and the like, I’ve been in a dozen, and have never
been scratched.”

“No, but you’ve been roped,to your own engine,
and have seen your fireman killed, which amounts to
the same thing.”

“Well, there’s no cause to worry. The marshals
have rounded up those ‘dodgers’ by this time, Pll
allow.”

“Not by a good deal they haven’t. Those fellers
shoot like pizen, and the marshals don’t want no part
in the play. Then, the crew is grumpy to-night,
Tom. They’re afraid of those night-riders, I know.”

“Don’t you believe they are,” the other replied, pla-
cing his hand upon the throttle through force of habit.
“Sanders is as good a man as ever handled a train,
my boy.”

The conversation continued in this strain for more
than ten minutes, when it was interrupted by the
appearance of the conductor himself.

“Evenin’, Sanders,” said the engineer, between his
mouthfuls of chicken, “we were just discussin’ you.



86 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Josh, here, thinks we’re in for a blow, along with
some trouble.”

“Good for you, Josh! I’m ‘feelin’ a bit that way
myself, to-night; but I guess it’s not worth worrying
about. Those things don’t come when you expect
"em. We'll have the blow, though, sure,” he con-
tinued, taking a good look at the threatening sky.
And with this he swung his lantern from his arm
and walked down the platform, calling, “ All aboard,
‘going south!”

The crowd gradually began to thin. The fat lawyer
who is always late had just time to purchase his ticket
and light a cigar, and the train pulled out.

As the yellow and white lights of the city grew dim
and then disappeared altogether, the cars moved over
the ties faster and faster. Engineer and fireman sat
upon opposite sides of the engine, eagerly watching
the shining tracks, or endeavoring to peer into the
black night. The glow from the great fire fell upon
the floor of the cab and glittered upon the coals
that had fallen from Larkin’s shovel. Over bridges
and through endless fields of corn the train swept on,
until the broad plain of Oklahoma lay on either hand.
Then Tom threw open the throttle still wider, and
the train fairly flew through space. It had com-
menced to rain hard, and the men were compelled to
close the glass windows at the front of the engine.
The occasional flashes of lightning lit up the iron



THE HOLD-UP 87

horse, and showed for an instant every detail of the
wonderful machinery.- Tom and his fireman had
evidently not forgotten their conversation at Border
City, or the storm had put them in bad spirits, for
they did not speak during the ride, but sat silent
and morose, staring out into the darkness.

Among the passengers, though, things were very
different. Dick Tracy, the train-boy, had sold more
that day than ever before, and, as he confided to the
baggage master, he thought some of the passengers
must have “money to burn.”

“They’re the ‘larkiest’ lot I ever saw,” he ex-
plained, placing his goods and a handful of change
upon a trunk, “and I don’t understand it. There’s
a feller in there that wears a piece of glass in his
right eye, and has a man to bring him chicken sand-
wiches, and cut the magazines I sell him.”

Those who had been fortunate enough to secure
berths in the Pullman, retired soon after the train left
Border City. The other passengers settled them-
selves as comfortably as possible, in the reclining
chairs, and endeavored to lose themselves in sleep ;
but it was no use, for the rain beat against the win-
dow-panes incessantly, and the loud claps of thunder
sounded like the roar of a hundred cannons.

There were a few women and children in the for-
ward cars, but the greater number were either well-
to-do ranchers, returning from the great Kansas City



88 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

markets, or young men from the great cities of the
East, some tourists, some in search of fame and fort-
une in the Southwest.

“This must be the famous Oklahoma country,
the home of Holton and his crowd,” said a gentle-
manly looking youth, lighting a cigarette and offer-
ing the case to Conductor Sanders, as they took
chairs in the smoking booth. “ Did they really send
him to prison?”

“Yes,” replied the other, “but it did no good.
There were other men ready to take his place, and
they have.”

“You mean this young Cabrillo one reads of in
the dailies?”

“The very man. He’s as bad as any, and uses
you much worse. Now, this is the kind of night he
likes, —no moon, and lots of water to cover the trail,
for they generally ride back to the hills in the creek
bottoms, which are sometimes dry. But why don’t
you turn in?”

“T believe I will. What are we stopping for?”

“Water. There’s a tank on this side of the river,”
replied the conductor, as the train began to slow up.

The two arose and walked from the smoking booth
to the dimly lighted chair car. The passengers had
arranged themselves as comfortably as the circum-
stances would allow. The ranchers from Texas had
thrown off their coats and shoes, and lay snoring,



Full Text



The Baldwin Library

University
mB at
Florida





WALTER.
SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

OR

THE ADVENTURES OF THE
GREYHOUND CLUB

BY

W. GORDON PARKER



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE AUTHOR

BOSTON |
LEE AND SHEPARD PUBLISHERS
1898


CoryrIGHT, 1898, BY LEE AND SHEPARD

All Rights Reserved

Six Younc Hunters

Norbsood Press
J. 8. Cushing & Co. — Berwick & Smith
Norwood Mass. U.S.A.
CHAPTER I
PAGE
DEER LODGE I\
CHAPTER II
AN ACQUAINTANCE . 17
CHAPTER III
AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY . : : . : E8130)
CHAPTER IV
WITH THE GREYHOUNDS . § : : . 7 Seng T
CHAPTER V
THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 5 . . . og OF,
CHAPTER VI
THE HOLD-uP . . 5 83
CHAPTER VII
AN EXCURSION . s - 101
CHAPTER VIII
. . . 129

THE BEAR Hunt

CONTENTS

ili
lv CONTENTS

CHAPTER IX
STARTLING NEWS

CHAPTER X
FIREFLY IS TAKEN .

CHAPTER XI

THE OUTLAWS FOILED

CHAPTER XII

WALTER A CAPTIVE

CHAPTER XIII

HARRY ON THE TRAIL

CHAPTER XIV

Hank DOBSON.
CHAPTER XV

Tue LAST OF THE OUTLAWS

CHAPTER XVI

FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS

CHAPTER XVII

THE DEER CHASE

CHAPTER XVIII

CONCLUSION

PAGE
152

170
188
207
231
259

280
295
315

329
ILLUSTRATIONS

WALTER . : : 3 zi ‘ _ Frontispiece
HEADING . : : . 5 é ci
SELECTING PONIES AT UNCLE JOHN’S . é
Tasso, SAXONY, AND THE RABBIT . : 3
TASSO WINS. : f : - S 3 : 3
DISCUSSING PRINCE ROYAL. s : 2 i :
TAILPIECE ‘ : . 7 : : . ‘ :
HARRY HEARS THE WILDCAT . 3 és : . :
TAILPIECE : : 3 5 : . . i :
INITIAL T. : : ‘ : : :
FEEDING UPON A JACK-RABBIT ; 5 : A es
A MOoRNING’s COURSING . : S . 5
TAILPIECE 3 7 . 3
TAILPIECE 2 i . S f
Jos&= CABRILLO : : : . : : :

’ TRACK-WALKER : , H 3 i 3
ENEREAT: SEO smo cq aie eee
VON AND THE QUAIL : 5 Brett 5

TAILPIECE z . : ‘é - . : ;

PAGE

14
16
30
38
46
50
SI
54
57
66
82
go
99
Ior
109 |

128
vi ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

THE BEAR APPEARS 5 3 : : 5 . - 147
CANOE. : : : : A 7 . - 150
WALTER . : . 7 . : . 7 2 - 152
PRINCE RoyAL . : : . ‘ : : ; . 169
_ TAILPIECE : : : 7 : : : . . 187
PIETRO. , : js A : . : . 196
TAILPIECE : : . 7 : ‘ sfon eis 200
Harry. : . : . : . . - 230
INITIAL A. : : - 2 R 7 : 231
CABRILLO’S RETREAT. : : . : ; . 265
PANE: DOBSON | cfs S00 c 8 ae ea og
HEAD OF INDIAN. : . . : . : + 294
INITIAL T . . . . . : . . » 295
INITIAL P. : : . : oe . . - 315
HARRY GOES OVER THE CLIFF : 7 : A +) 8322
THE First STAG KILLED : . . 7 : - 328

TAILPIECE s . ’ . ‘i 3 ~ 335











Ve TE
dete?

SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

—0fQ400——_

CHAPTER I

DEER LODGE

Away to the forest when autumn’s a-dying,
To follow the music of vanishing hounds.

Clap spurs to your hunter — hark ! — list to’their crying !:
They’re racing in vain with the deer’s lightning bounds.

HE home of the Greyhound Club, Deer Lodge,

is situated in one of the wildest and least fre-

quented parts of ‘the Indian Territory, or more prop-

erly the portion owned and held by the Osage and
B I
2 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

other Indian tribes, on the banks of Grouse creek.
It is a model place for young sportsmen to enjoy a
month’s hunting and fishing, for deer and wolves are
plentiful in the surrounding country, and black bass
swarm in the stream. The house stands upon grass-
land overlooking the winding water below, at the
edge of a grove of gigantic oaks and cottonwoods.
Built entirely of logs, it presents a strikingly attractive
picture to the boy lover of the rod and gun, especially
during the hunting season, when the wide veranda
is alive with young sportsmen, who usually return
about twilight. Some are on horseback, some in
canoes which they tie to the jetty at the base of the
cliff, and some afoot. Those who return with the
tired greyhounds usually carry a deer or two across
their saddles, while those who return with the setters
have game-bags overflowing with quails, ducks, or
prairie-chickens. Then, while old Tony, the negro
servant, prepares supper, the boys gradually gather
upon the veranda and discuss the day’s sport to their
hearts’ content; for they are trusty, fun-loving lads,
these members of the Greyhound Club, who have
left honest and faithful records at school, and who
consequently enjoy their well-earned vacation to the
fullest extent. They had all met the previous autumn
at a famous New England academy, and soon became
fast friends. Each one loved a good horse and gun
as much as any boy can, and cared little for the set
DEER LODGE 3

of fellows who frequented the billiard rooms in town
and played cards. It was natural, therefore, that
they should drift apart from the crowd led by Sin-

clair and others of his type, and form a club of their
own.

One stormy Saturday night in March, it chanced
that five of the present Greyhound Club had gath-
ered in Walter Hillman’s room, and were seated
about the cheerful hearth, telling stories of mountain
and field and sea, or listening to the moaning of the
wind and to the ceaseless driving of the sleet against
the window panes. They were Harry and Arthur
Martin, and their old friend, Jack Trehearne, all
residing in the city of New York; Paul Marshall,
a Southern boy, and last, but not least, the genial
host, whose supply of pop-corn and apples seemed
inexhaustible.

“What a glorious night this would be in the
woods, after a day’s shooting,” said Walter, patting
his favorite setter, which held possession of a bear-
skin rug. “I'll admit it’s always jolly to be about
a cheerful blaze with a company of good fellows, but
somehow it never seems quite like the camp-fire.”

“And I quite agree with you,” continued Arthur
in reply. “I hate to think of spending the coming
summer in the same old way ; most of us. have had
enough of base-ball and tennis. Why can’t we form
a sort of club and rough it through vacation? It
4 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

would put us in superb condition to begin training
tor the foot-ball team in the fall.”

“An excellent idea, Arthur!” was Walter’s quick
exclamation. “And now this gives me a good op-
portunity of unfolding a little scheme that has been
occupying my mind a great deal of late. In the first
place, I believe I know the very spot for such a
camp ; that is, if it isn’t too far to go. My father, as
some of you have heard me say, handles large num-
bers of cattle, which he usually buys in Texas and
ships to the Indian Territory to pasture and fatten
for the market. He leases these pastures from the
Indians, who are always very friendly. I have been
hunting there several times with some of father’s
cowboys, and the country is alive with large and
small game. These two bear-skin rugs and that
deer’s head,” he continued, pointing to the articles
in question, “are reminders of last summer’s outing.
There are numerous well-wooded creeks that would
be just suitable for a sportsman’s club. What do
you say?”

What would any boy reply to such a proposition ?
Of course they were enthusiastic over the idea at
once, and asked Walter numberless questions. Harry
wanted to know what the biggest game was, and how
it was hunted, while the more thoughtful Paul didn’t
see how they could build a comfortable lodge and do
any hunting the same summer.
DEER LODGE : 5

“We have sufficient time if we commence at once,”
was Walter’s wise response. “To begin with, we must
all get the consent of our parents as soon as possible,
which is the main point. I will write to-night to
Uncle John, tell him our plans, and I can promise
you he will do everything in his power to help us.”

“Understood,” said Harry, cheerfully. “ Now tell
us about the game.”

“Well, Harry,” replied Walter, with an amused
twinkle in his eye, “you will need every gun and
rod in your collection, which is saying a good deal.
There is any quantity of work there for fly-rods,
setters, and spaniels; and there are jack-rabbits,
wolves, and deer for the greyhounds. That is the
eport of sports, I tell you, and the greyhound, in my
opinion, is the king of dogs. After you have taken
a gallop with a couple of them, and have started and
caught a fleet-footed jack-rabbit, you will agree with
me; and as for the excitement of a deer chase, —
well, just wait until you see for yourselves, for it makes
me feel like leaving school to think of it!” with
which conclusion Walter arose and paced the room
impatiently.

That settled the matter. The boys talked and
formed plans long into the night, and then crept
noiselessly off to their respective dormitories to dream
uninterruptedly of bear hunts or deer coursing in a
comparatively unknown, unfrequented country.
6 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Walter sat up a long hour after his friends had left,
and wrote a letter to his bachelor uncle that must
have won him then and there; for he proved himself
true to the boys, and it was mainly due to Walter’s
kind uncle’s interest that the Greyhound Club was
firmly organized, as many objections were raised by
the boys’ parents, all of which were finally overcome
by Uncle John. Then nothing was heard from him
for a month or more, and it is needless to say that the
boys in consequence wore gloomy faces to recitations.
One day, however, after a long wait, Walter received
a letter which caused him to desert his algebra, tip
over an ink-bottle, and rush out to join his friends.

This is what he read to them : —

PAwuHuskA, April 25th.

My pear Watter: Perhaps you have been wondering
why you have not heard from me of late in regard to the
hunting trip you and your friends expect to make here this
summer. Well, to tell the truth, I have taken matters in my
own hands, and have had a camp erected upon one of the
bluffs at Grouse creek, very near the spot where you and
Pietro shot your second bear last year. I shall not say much
about it, but might state that there is ample room for a dozen
of your friends, with as many horses.

If any of the boys own canoes, tell them to be sure to
bring them, as they will come in handy for chasing crippled
ducks and for bass fishing.

I suppose you have already told them of the sport to be
had here with greyhounds, and that in order to enjoy it fully,
DEER LODGE 7

each should own at least one, which would also help to make
a pack. It would be well to get them now, as the grey-
hound, as a rule, is a peculiar dog, and makes friends slowly.

. Get the best dogs obtainable, as the deer are fleet as the

°

wind. Pietro has been instructed to watch and select twenty
of the best ponies at the ranch, so that your friends may
have something from which to choose.

It would seem to me advisable to have Tony do the cook-
ing, as you won’t care to bother with it after a long ride on a
hot day. Speaking of riding, reminds me to say that I have
been galloping Leveller for you. He’s in grand shape, and
follows the hounds beautifully.

Let me know of anything you wish done or left undone, and
be sure and write me when you start. In the mean time,
remember me to the boys.

Your affectionate
UNCLE JoHN.

P.S. I have furnished the camp only, as I suppose you
and your friends will bring a few of the trophies you have at
your rooms and at home, and arrange things to suit your-
selves. Pietro says the herdsmen who have just arrived re-
port a loss of a half-dozen young steers by a panther. Here’s
a pretty piece of news, and a commission for your friends if

he holds out until summer.
J...

This was.a joyful and welcome surprise. If Uncle
John could have heard some of the expressions of
delight that were uttered by the boys on this occa-
sion, he would have felt even then fully repaid for
«

8 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

his time and trouble spent in the erection of the
lodge. The sincere letters of thanks he received
from them in reply amused him greatly, for he had
been a boy himself, and knew boys well.

Soon after the receipt of Uncle John’s letter,
Harry and Arthur received a pair of greyhounds
from New York; then Jack and Paul became the
proud possessors of one each; and finally Eugene
Marshall, Paul’s cousin, who completed the club of
six, bought another. That was why the students at
the academy began to speak of Harry Martin and his
followers as the “Greyhound Club,” and the hunting
trip was the sole topic of conversation, even after the
base-ball season opened. Many a manly good fellow’s
application for membership was received, considered,
and rejected, as the six chums had decided the club
complete among themselves.

When school finally closed for the long summer
vacation, the boys took the first available train west,
and were met at the little station by Uncle John, with.
whom they spent a couple of very enjoyable days at
the ranch.

Pietro had quartered a score of spirited ponies in
the corral, and the boys were kept busy roping, sad-.
dling, and endeavoring to settle upon their mounts.
As Jack had shipped Blue Rocket from New York,
he and Walter were at liberty to assist their friends
in a choice, which occupied an entire day. The four
DEER LODGE “9

bronchos were finally selected, however, the great
covered wagons packed to their utmost capacity,
and as Tony shuffled out with the last frying-pan
and dipper, Uncle John cracked his whip, the boys
called a last good-by, and the journey to the lodge
began. ; Sy.













SELECTING PONIES AT UNCLE JOHN'S,

The lads went into ecstasies over the beautiful
little camp, and insisted upon thanking Uncle John
again and again, pressing him to stay and enjoy. the
game they promised to kill for him. But he had
important business back at the ranch, he said, and
returned at daybreak the following morning.

Our story opens on the second day after the arrival
of the club at the lodge. They had followed out
Uncle John’s advice of the previous morning to the
very letter, and had spent the day in short walks, in
Io 4 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

resting, and in making things comfortable. It was a
pleasure to look about and arrange their new home;
to see the ponies well quartered under Pietro’s un-
tiring care, and the canoes safely floated and fastened
to the jetty.

The boys slept soundly that night, but before the
sun had fairly shown himself above the towering
crags across the creek the next morning, they were
dressed and out upon the veranda. It would be
difficult to recognize in the group any one of the
neatly dressed students we met in Walter’s room at
the academy. Harry had donned a complete suit of
black velvet, the gold-corded trousers cut after the
flaring Mexican fashion. A gaudy scarlet sash was
tied about his waist, at the end of which little silver
bells jingled in harmony with his spurs at every step
he took. A great broad-brimmed sombrero com-
pleted the boy’s wildly picturesque attire, which was
a fair sample of what the others wore while at the
lodge.

“A capital morning for a rabbit chase, fellows!”
called Walter from the stable, as he tightened Level-
ler’s saddle-band, and then mounted the impatient
animal and galloped out to his friends. ‘Pietro
says there’s one down there by those jack-oaks, and
that he noticed him every morning while they were
building the lodge.”

By the time Walter had finished, Harry was also
DEER LODGE II

mounted upon his frisky little pony, and as the grey-
hounds were already racing in circles about the
grounds, the other boys concluded to see the fun
from the veranda. They were all extremely anxious
to see how Harry’s handsome broncho would run
with Leveller, and to see their favorite dogs extended
for the first time in a race. Walter whistled continu-
ally until they all came up, and then he and Harry
turned their horses and cantered away for the tall
grass by the jack-oaks.

What a pleasure it was to be astride a restive
animal on such a glorious morning, with school-books
carefully packed away until autumn, and examina-
tions creditably passed! Was there a boy among
that fun-loving throng who regretted his hours of
hard work during the school term? Decidedly there
was not. It had been trying to stand before a dismal,
dusty blackboard in the autumn twilight and solve
countless original geometrical propositions, with the
foot-ball team plunging about the campus below,
cheered by the school. And it had been hard to refuse
a tempting invitation to a secret spread, and devote
one’s self to Cicero, well knowing that in doing so one
was denying one’s self some of Chap’s delicious pump-
kin pies and cheese. Now that their hard work was
finished, however, and they were about to begin an
uninterrupted summer’s hunt, they looked back at
it all with the keenest pleasure.
12 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Now, Harry,” cautioned Walter, as they rode
along together, “you must be careful and not ride
too hard after a rabbit jumps up, for fear of riding
down the dogs. They are inexperienced, and are
liable to run under the horses. Back, Tasso!” he
concluded, with a cut of his whip at his favorite
courser, which showed a disposition to keep too far
in advance of the pack that trotted along behind the
horses.

“ But surely they can outrun us?”

“ Of course they can, but they sometimes get in the
way all the same. Take the dogs as they are upon
your right, for an illustration. If we should ‘jump’
a rabbit in advance of us and on my left, we would
naturally have the start of the pack, which would
cut right across our course. Then, too, a rabbit
often turns at right angles many times at the be-
ginning as well as at the end of,a race, so it is well
to be cautious. Steady, now! Hunt’em up, Tasso!”

With these explanations, the boys slowly entered
the grass by the oaks before mentioned. All eyes
were turned upon them from the lodge as Walter
gradually separated from Harry and cautiously moved
forward. At intervals the graceful greyhounds would
stop and look about them, trembling in every limb.
The first rays of the rising sun shone bright and clear
on Leveller’s chestnut coat, flooding the grass-land
and valley in a softened golden light.
DEER LODGE 13

The dogs and riders had advanced to the centre of
the tallest grass, when a rustling was heard just ahead,
soon after followed by an immense jack-rabbit rising
to view, his great ears laid close to his back, and run-
ning like the wind.

With wonderful speed the pack followed, Tasso in
the lead, with Harry’s Diamond and Eugene’s Sax-
ony close together. The rabbit was running in dead
earnest, his lightning stride quickening at every jump.
Straight for the prairie in front of the lodge he flew,
followed by the sweeping pack. Saxony had gained
upon Tasso, who was close to the hare at the first turn-
ing. With open jaws and gleaming teeth the gallant
greyhound made his drive to kill, but the now fairly
flying hare was too quick for him, and was running
at a tangent before Tasso and Saxony, followed by
Rambler, Diana, Diamond, and Boomerang, could re-
cover. Again they came up like a whirlwind, only to
be thrown off again by the “ jack’s”” sudden wrenching
and twisting. With their master’s shouts ringing
in their ears, the coursers wore down upon the hare
for the third time, as they flew by the lodge on the
return. At the jack-oaks the hounds came up with
apparently the same lightning stride, steadied them-
selves, following each turn with wonderful agility.
They gained until their third effort to kill was unsuc-
cessful, and as they swept by the onlookers for the
third time, with Tasso gradually lessening the inter-
14 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

vening distance by great sweeping strides, a hoarse
roar went up from the boys, louder and louder, chang-
ing every second: “Hie on, Saxony!” ‘Stop him,
Tasso, stop him!” ‘Turn him, Diamond!” “Tasso
has him!” “Rambler’s gaining!” ‘Tasso will get
him!” “Tasso wins!”
As the shout rose, Walter OM

brought Leveller even with pteaedl :

his favorite, for Harry had







Bee 7

WET
We fine =

TOURS hea
Tasso, SAXONY, AND THE RABBIT.

lost ground rapidly from the start, and then they
ran side by side; with one crowning effort, Tasso’s
grand stride quickened, and in another second ended
the chase.
DEER LODGE 15

“Three cheers for the Greyhound Club, and a dozen
for Uncle John!” shouted Eugene from the vetanda, .
waving his sombrero above his head; “dnd thtee
times three for Tasso, who kills the first quarry at
Deer Lodge!” The cheers were given with a will
as the boys rushed down the incline, earnestly discuss-
ing the merits of the different dogs and expressing a
wish to continue the sport. But Walter was afraid to
work them too much at first, he said, so the merry
company returned to Tony’s inviting breakfast of hot
coffee, corn-bread, broiled quail, and bacon. While
they are enjoying the meal with appetites that only
the fresh morning air of the prairie can give, let us
look about and see what has been done to make the
neatly constructed house a model home for young
sportsmen.

As the stranger enters through the hospitable doors,
he finds himself in a large, comfortable looking room.
There is an immense fireplace at one end, built entirely
of stone, the mantel and chimney finished in rustic
woodwork. A magnificent deer’s head looks down
from above, at the right and left of which are hung a
couple of Tracy’s studies of field dogs. About the
room are hung well mounted elk horns, :deer, and
antelope heads in profusion. Upon the elk and deer
horns the boys have placed their entire collection of
guns, including numberless large and small gauge
rifles and hammerless shot-guns.
16 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Directly opposite the hearth, at the other end of
the room, stands a large table, composed entirely of
twisted oak branches and planking. “It is heaped
high with spurs, revolvers, riding whips, cartridges,
and fly-rods; game-bags and bridles, hunting knives
and stirrups. The floor is covered with comfortable
rugs, bear and panther skins; fencing foils, masks,
and gloves are crossed within easy reach, while a
medley of hunting pictures by prominent artists
papers the roughly-hewn walls irregularly.

A spacious door leads to the dining-room and
kitchen, where old Tony rules undisturbed. Stairs
lead to the bunks on the second story, which is
divided into rooms for the members of the club,
Tony, and Pietro.




CHAPTER II
AN ACQUAINTANCE

ARRY was not at all pleased with the running
of his pony in the rabbit race before breakfast.
He had selected him from the many horses Uncle
John had kept at the ranch for the purpose of giving
the boys a chance to please themselves; and while
the other boys were discussing the race and comment-
ing enthusiastically upon Leveller’s wonderful speed,
Harry silently devoured his share of the tempting
viands Tony placed before our heroes. He realized
that he must have a faster horse in order to follow the
pack with Walter, who was sure to be in at every
death. He further realized that the club was ex-
tremely anxious to see more of the sport so success-
fully opened with a young and inexperienced pack,
and that as soon as the dogs had become sufficiently
hardened, deer coursing would be in order.

After breakfast, Arthur and Eugene placed the
well-filled lunch basket Tony had given them in one
of the canoes, and paddled down the stream, deter-
mined to capture a string of the bass Uncle John had

c 7
18 » SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

talked so much about. Walter, Jack, and Paul took
the setters and started for the prairie, which left
Harry alone, as he had declined to join either party.
He went into the house and selected a book, which he,
endeavored to read in the shade of one of the large
oaks; but his mind was not in it, and the book was
soon returned to the case. Tony could be heard hum-
ming familiar songs as he busied himself with the
breakfast dishes, while Pietro’s voice was now and
then heard as he spoke to the different ponies during
the operation of grooming. The greyhounds were
sleeping soundly in the sunshine, tired from their
exertions of the early morning. For want of some-
thing better to do, Harry walked out to the neat little
stable in the rear of the lodge. He always enjoyed
seeing the double row of comfortable stalls, the spa-
cious saddle room and paddock, and Pietro hard at
work polishing bits and bridles.

“The boys aren’t riding much to-day, Pietro,” said
Harry by way of greeting; “but we'll get enough
before we leave, I dare say.”

“Very likely, Master Harry. I suppose the trip
from the ranch quite used them up. Well, the hosses
have felt it too, though Master Walter’s hoss seems
fit for anything. That’s a high-headed fellow, that
pony of yourn.”

“ High-headed enough!” returned the boy, with
ill-concealed disgust; “but looks don’t cover the _
AN ACQUAINTANCE 19

ground. That was a pretty poor showing he made
against the chestnut, you'll admit, and there’s no
denying he was doing his best.”

“TI was watching you,” said Pietro, lighting his pipe
and leaning against the feed bins, “and he was in
earnest all the way. But the fact is, there isn’t one
amongst ’em that can gallop with Master Walter’s
hoss. Now, didn’t the hounds do well at the first
pop out of the box, took to it like ducks to the
water! You'll have a ride you won’t forget, when
you head a deer away from the jack-oaks for the
prairie, Master Harry.” Pietro concluded by puffing
at his pipe in silence, while Harry saddled his pony
and rode down the prairie within a stone’s throw of
the timber that grew along the stream. Pietro, he
told himself, was right. None of the saddlers the
boys had chosen could make Leveller extend himself,
and he regretted deeply that he had not purchased a
well-bred animal before leaving New York. He was
aware of the well-known staying qualities the ponies
possessed, and rightly supposed they would stand a
season’s hunt in that country better than a larger
horse. If the other fellows liked them, he argued,
they were welcome to a whole drove, but he would
commission Uncle John to send him a horse as fast
and as handsome as Walter’s. He knew that such
a purchase would nearly exhaust the savings for
which he had denied himself so much the previous
20 : SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

winter, but nevertheless was determined to have the
saddler. ,

Thus occupied, Harry turned and guided his pony
down the rocky path that led to the creek. He
admired the judgment the little animal displayed in
the descent, and the willingness with which he forded
the stream. As the day became quite warm, Harry
allowed the pony to choose his own gait, which was
a quick, nervous walk. Following one of the numer-
ous deer trails that led from the water, he entered
a sheltered spot that appeared to be crossed and
recrossed by many well-worn paths. On three sides
the great stone crags completely shut it off from the
outside world, while on the remaining side, where
horse and rider had entered, the trees grew so thick
that it was difficult to ride through at all.

As Harry rode forward, a gray wolf jumped up
not sixty feet off, stopping at the rocks to get a better
view of this strange intruder. Then a hawk rose
slowly, finally disappearing over the ledge. Harry
longed for his rifle, which he had forgotten in the
all-absorbing thought of obtaining a better horse.
The wolf turned and showed his teeth, an action
unappreciated by the boy, who was honestly glad
when he was out of sight.

Dismounting, Harry led his pony through the
timber until he reached a spring that came from the
rocks-above. He slung the bridle-rein over his arm,
AN ACQUAINTANCE: 21

and kneeling down, began to drink. The water was
clear and refreshing, and when he was at last ready
to rise, he was conscious of the approach of a stran-
ger from above. Looking up, the boy was oddly
impressed with the fellow’s appearance. He was
roughly clad in a suit of ornamented buckskin, which
bore the marks of long and faithful service. A
leather belt was fastened about his waist, upon which
a dozen cartridges of large gauge were held in the
usual manner. He carried a repeating rifle, which
he handled skilfully, without giving one the impres-
sion that he held a gun at all. His black sombrero
looked well over the heavy black eyebrows and hair.
While of medium size and height, Harry could see at
a glance that the fellow was superbly developed for
so young a man. He advanced without hesitation,
on the opposite bank, placing his gun against a
cottonwood with an assuring smile. Harry noticed
as he did so that his teeth were very white, and that
there were marks of refinement in his dark face.

“A little surprised to see me, I take it,” the
stranger began, evidently comprehending the boy’s
questioning glance, “and I can’t very much hold it
against you.” .

“Well, one doesn’t expect to meet many in a place
like this,” replied Harry, crossing the stream, and
fastening his horse to a sapling. “Have you killed
anything ?”
22 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Not yet. To be honest, I kind of watched for
some of you fellows to sort o’ stray away from that
there camp, as I wanted to talk a little trade with
you.”

“Trade!” exclaimed Harry, wondering what kind
of trade a young: man with a rifle could be engaged
in, and if he should have to walk back to camp.
“We are not down here on business; and even if
we were, what would prevent your coming up to
the lodge?”

“TI calc’lated that it would sound a bit fishy,” re-
turned the stranger, pressing his thumb against the
tobacco he had placed in the bowl of his pipe,
“’specially to you chaps that have not become
acquainted with the laws that such fellows as me
have to live up to.”

“Oh! I know that no one is supposed to hunt here
without a government permit,” replied Harry, re-
calling some of Uncle John’s words; “but no one
would disturb you if you behaved yourselves.”

“That’s just it, if we behaved ourselves, which we
didn’t,” earnestly continued the fellow, puffing vig-
orously at his pipe. “You see it all happened some-
thing like this: There were about eight of us
fellows camping and hunting around here, summer
and winter. All the boys liked a good horse and
usually had one; so when the Indian police came
and hunted us down on purpose to take our nags,
AN ACQUAINTANCE 23

the boys kind o’ resented the intrusion and pumped
them full of lead.”

“Killed them!” exclaimed Harry, casting a fur-
tive glance at the stranger’s rifle. “What happened
then?”

“ Nothin’, until Colonel Hillman rented the ranges.
Then he posted up a notice on a good many trails,
saying that the boys could come and work for him
if they wanted to; that it was better to brace up
and work and make men. They couldn’t quite get
over the Indian police, though, and stayed among
the hills. It was pretty cold, and much easier to
shoot a steer than anything else, so we had beef a
good deal that winter. The colonel naturally got
mad, and posted up signs right over the others
orderin’ us out of the country. Most of the boys
have pulled up stakes and I want to go, too. That’s
why I hung ’round, trustin’ to meet some of you
chaps and sell my horse.”

“How did you know we were coming?” asked
Harry, reflecting upon what he had just heard, and
wondering why Uncle John had not told the club
all about it.

“It was easy to guess when we saw them buildin’
that there fancy log-house with the wide shelter, x
returned the other. “And I told myself there was
a market right here same as up north, and waited.”

“You were right in supposing that we should like to
24 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

be well mounted,” said Harry, secretly admiring the fel-
low’s reasoning. ‘What kind of a horse have you?”

“Just the right one to follow them long-legged
hounds. He’s a ‘crackerjack,’ I tell you. Would
you like to see him?”

Harry replied that he certainly should, and fol-
lowed his new acquaintance through the woods in
silence. After five minutes’ rapid walking, they
struck a trail that led down to Grouse creek, and
which they followed for a long mile. Emerging into
a little clearing on the bank of the stream, the young
fellow halted, unbuckling his belt and leaning his
‘rifle against a fallen tree.

“Now, you had better wait here a bit,” he said,
“as it’s rough going the rest of the way. You can
shoot a squirrel or two if you're hungry, though I’ll
fetch the horse before long.”

With these words he disappeared into the woods,
leaving Harry seated upon the log, deeply puzzled
over this last move.

“I suppose it’s only natural, though,” he finally
concluded; “for he thinks I might say I saw him,
and would guide Uncle John’s men to hiscamp. But
I won't, mention it, if I like the looks of his horse,
and I'll tell him so.”

With many such comforting reflections, Harry
shouldered the rifle and started down the bank of
the stream in search of a squirrel. Spying one
AN ACQUAINTANCE 26

among the topmost branches of a tall tree, he took
careful aim and fired. The squirrel dropped from
limb to limb, finally striking the ground. He picked
it up, gathering on his return an armful of wood for
the camp-fire, which he heaped upon a mass of dead
leaves. Seated upon the log, it was but the work of
a moment to skin and clean the animal, and he was
on the point of lighting the fire when he was inter-
rupted by a splashing in the stream, followed by a
cheery voice.

“T think it must have been about here the rifle was
fired,” Harry heard his brother say, “for it was very
plain.”
“Tt was probably at the lodge,” Eugene replied,
“for I’m sure the other fellows didn’t take a rifle
with them.”

Harry had just time to conceal himself among the
bushes, which he knew would shelter his pony. In
a few seconds the canoe appeared, Arthur seated
in the bow with a light rifle across his knees. A
couple of split bamboo rods protruded over the bow,
and a fine string of bass could be seen in the stern.

“If the other fellows have done as well, it will pay

to be back for supper,” thought Harry, gazing in
astonishment at one or two of the fish they had
captured. “I won’t show myself, for then they
might smell a mouse; and if I don’t get the~horse,
no one need know anything about it.”
26 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Harry watched the canoe until it disappeared
around a bend in the creek, and then returned and
touched a match to the dead leaves. While he was
pleasantly employed in broiling the squirrel, his
thoughts unwillingly reverted to his new acquaint-
ance, and he told himself that the fellow was in all
probability an outlaw. The thought was not a very
pleasant one, and he tried to forget it; but it was no
use, and while trying to decide what was best to be
done, he heard the distinct clatter of flying hoofs,
soon followed by the reappearance of his new ac-
quaintance mounted upon a horse that went straight
to the boy’s heart. Harry was inclined to think he
had never before seen such a graceful animal. He
was jet black, with a regular white blaze, running the
full length of his head, while his near forefoot and
off hindfoot were white.

“He’s a perfect beauty!” exclaimed Harry, with
admiration, as the stranger dismounted. ‘ And is he
as good as he looks?”

“Every bit and better. Try him and see,” was the
confident reply.

Harry threw his leg over the saddle and galloped
about the clearing. The horse moved with perfect
freedom and grace, and it was hard for the boy to
realize that such a prize had come so Bee ees
within his reach.

“Well, he’s all and more than you said he was,’
AN ACQUAINTANCE or

said Harry, stopping before the young fellow, who
had seated himself upon a log. “What do you ask
for him?”

“A good deal more than you'll be willing to pay, |
pardner, so I’ll just slice the difference and make it
two hundred even.”

“Two hundred dollars! Isn’t that a very high
price to ask for a horse so far from a large city?”

“Not considerin’ quality, it isn’t. Do you think
you'll take him?”

. “Well — no; not at that price. But I’ll give you
a hundred for him to-morrow morning, as that’s every
cent I have, and I’ll agree not to say a word at the
camp about you.”

“Call it a bargain, friend, and now I’ll be able to
leave this country without gettin’ mixed up in any-
thing else. If you'll agree to fetch me that hundred
to-morrow mornin’, you can take the horse along
with you.”

“Hadn't you better wait till you get the money?”

“No, it’s all right. A man must be scandalous
mean to throw a fellow down for a hundred; and
besides, I want to show you chaps what kind of a
feller Iam. I might be coming down this way again,
and have another nag for sale.” :

Harry was greatly elated to think he would be
able to ride the handsome black into camp that very
afternoon, and tried to imagine the surprise of his
28 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

friends upon seeing him for the first time so un-
expectedly mounted. It was agreed that the stranger
was to ride Harry’s pony back, and that he was to
return to that spot the following day about ten or
eleven o’clock to receive the money. The saddles
and bridles were then changed, and Harry, after
shaking hands with the man, mounted and galloped
up the prairie towards the lodge.

As he neared the jack-oaks that crowned the ridge
in front of the camp, the lad dismounted and
cautiously moved forward until he could obtain an
unobstructed view of what was happening upon the
veranda. The boys were seated upon the railing and
steps, evidently discussing the day’s outing, for
while Eugene held up his string of bass, Jack was
seen to point towards a fine lot of birds that lay
upon the grass.

- “ Now’s my time,” thought Harry, “and I’ll give
them something else to think about.”

Throwing his leg across the saddle, he touched the
handsome creature with his spur, and the next instant
the restive black was galloping over the grass-land in
graceful, sweeping strides, to the utter amazement of
the crowd upon the veranda.

“Tt’s Harry!” cried Arthur, rising to his feet and
gazing after the rider in open-mouthed astonishment.

“Yes, and he’s on a beauty,” chimed in Paul.

“Or he’s painted Blue Rocket black,” added Wal-

#
AN ACQUAINTANCE 29

ter. Then, as. the horse turned and started back for
the ridge, the boys called after their chum in chorus:
“Hi there, Harry Martin! Bring up your galloper
and let’s have a look at him.”

Horse and rider were soon among them, and Harry
saw at once that his friends were very favorably im-
pressed with his new mount.

“‘ Now that’s what I call tough luck,” said Eugene,
in disgust. “Arthur and I go out and whip the
stream all the morning for a string of bass, while you
three go and hunt hard for your prairie-chickens ;
but Harry declines to do either, and while we are
gone, takes an aimless ride with his Texas broncho
and returns upon a racer.”

“Tf he is a racer,” suggested Paul, with a knowing
look at Walter. “I believe the chestnut can beat
him.
All they could say, however, would not induce
Harry to tell them how he had come into the posses-
sion of the horse. The boys followed him out to the
stable, where they had a good opportunity of compar-
ing the three horses. Pietro seemed very much sur-
prised, but failed to advance any opinion regarding
the black, and asked no questions before the boys.
Harry remained behind long enough to make his new
favorite comfortable, and while he was. placing fresh _
bedding in the box-stall, the hostler stood by and
looked the horse over with the eye of an expert.

”
30 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“ A clever galloper for these parts, Master Harry,”
he finally said. ‘Might I ask where you got him?”

“Certainly. About two or three miles below, of a
young fellow clad in buckskin. He was really a very
good-looking chap, Pietro, and I gathered from what
he said that he and his friends killed some of Uncle
John’s steers last winter, and consequently got into
trouble,” replied Harry, who wished to do the fellow
all possible justice.

“Got into trouble,” exclaimed Pietro, in deep dis-
gust, “I should say they did. They cut throats, stole
cattle, and shot the Indian police. They ain’t a band
of mere ‘dodgers,’ Master Harry, I can tell you.”

“<«Dodgers,’” repeated Harry, “what do you
mean?” .

“Them that dodges the main trails for one cause
or another, and rides the ridges, are dubbed ‘dodgers’
down here; and they are a shiftless lot. But these
fellows who are led by this young Cabrillo, are as free
with rifle and rum alike, and no good ever came of
dealin’ with ’em.”

“ Are they as bad as that?”

“Yes, Master Harry, you can’t paint ’em too black.
Why, Tony’ll tell you that one of ’em came gaspin’
up to the ‘chuck’ wagon one day, a-beggin’ for water,
which he got. He could just toddle off after it, he
was so weak on his ‘pins’; but when he did, he had
Tony’s only six-shooter under his shirt.”




cP “



Sa

DISCUSSING PRINCE ROYAL,
AN ACQUAINTANCE 31

“What did Tony do?” asked the boy, amused at
the outlaw’s method of procuring a pistol.

“Oh! he just said he hoped he’d have sense enough
to-strap it about him next time, and that he wouldn’t
be lookin’ into his own six-shooter before the round-

up.” .
“T didn’t suppose they were so bold,” said Harry,
his cheeks blanching at the thought of how his morn-
ing’s ride might have ended. “Why do you suppose
they hang around here year after year?”

“°’Cause it’s the likeliest spot for ’em. All the
states is settled up, and they’ve got to hang on to
this or go to the penitentiary.”

“ Didn’t you ever hunt them down?”

“We tried it a number of times, but they’d get
into the mountains before we could draw on ’em.
We followed the trails two or three nights at a time,
but it weren’t no use. It was just about as Larraby
said, when they shot him in the arm from the brush:

- It’s darned hard to think you’re a target for a band
of night-riders, boys, for the sake of a bunch of steers
and a nag or two, and I’ll tell the colonel so.’ ”

“T wonder why Colonel Hillman didn’t tell us all
about it,” said Harry, who by this time was beginning
to wish he had never seen the man of the ornamented
buckskin suit. ‘“ Master Walter must know of them.”

“T don’t believe he does,” replied the hostler, “ for
the colonel told me to be sure and not mention the
32 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

outlaws to any of the boys, for fear it would worry
‘em. ‘I believe they’ve left,’ says he before leavin’,
‘for the “ punchers”’ haven’t missed a steer for a fort-
night. And above all, mind you, Pietro, don’t cross
them while the boys are at the lodge.’ ”

“Do you think this fellow is really Cabrillo?”

“He'll come pretty near it, if he isn’t. That ain’t
no cow pony, Master Harry, but a bred horse from
the states,” continued the hostler, in confident tones,
running his right hand down the black’s unblemished
forelegs; “and he’s a racer from flagfall to finish, or
Inever saw one. Now here’s this Blue Rocket horse
of Master Jack’s; he’s a good one, but built a little
more on the timber-toppin’ order, a likely one to
follow the foxes. The chestnut’ll come nearest to
your saddle-girth, Master Harry, but he’ll never get
his nose to the front.”

“Tm glad you think he’s so fast,” replied the boy,
patting the black’s glossy neck; “and I hope I’ll be
able to keep him without any trouble.”

“Well, I don’t know; it depends upon the men.
I don’t reckon they ever came by a galloper honest,
but he’s probably as much theirs as any one’s, now.”

“You think he’s a stolen horse, then?” asked
Harry, listening to all that the herdsman said with
the closest attention. “If he is, they must have
brought him a long way, for they don’t raise thorough-
breds this side of Kentucky.”
AN ACQUAINTANCE 33

“They didn’t fetch him so far, neither. You see it
was about like this when the ‘strip’ was opened, —
that’s Oklahoma, you know. The land had all been
surveyed and laid off in quarter-sections by the gov-
ernment, and was to be run for at a certain hour on
a certain day, which was to be settled on in Washing-
ton. All the towns along the state line were ‘chock’
full for months before the run, and boomers kept
busy trainin’ the best kind of nags to make the gallop
with. _They lined up in hundreds for miles on the
day of the openin’, just facin’ the soldiers, and when
the gun sounded they had a race I’ll never forget.
The best nags went out in front, and gen’rally got
good claims; but when night come the Cabrillo gang
jumped in from the mountains, stole the fastest
hosses, and robbed or shot'the poor fellows a-restin’
by their stakes, who couldn’t follow ’em and keep
their claims too.”

This was too much for Harry, who related the
events of the morning just as they had taken place,
not omitting to mention that he had agreed to pay
the hundred dollars on the morrow. “I think it
much better to leave the horse in his stall, don’t
you?” he ended by saying, as the hostler shook his
head dubiously, eying the black the while.

“No, Master Harry, I don’t. Take the money
and the hoss with you, and if they want both, let ’em
have both, for they’ll get ’em anyway. Those are

D
34 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

about the colonel’s wishes, I reckon, and you’d best
remember the good will of a dog’s better than the
ill will.”

“But I can’t afford to do that,” protested the boy,
earnestly, whittling a bit of pine wood impatiently ;
“you know that a hundred dollars is a great deal of
money to give up without a fight.”

“Of course it is. But when it comes to dealin’
with outlaws and the like, a hundred dollars is a low
price for their good will; besides, the man may have
told you the truth, and is countin’ on pullin’ stakes.
If that’s so, then you'll have the horse to ride all
summer, and nothin’ to worry about. It wouldn’t be
any fun to gallop around in sight of camp, knowin’
as you would that a scoundrel was hidin’ out to rob
you and take -your nag.” Pietro’s words sounded
’ sensible and right, and Harry made no reply as he
joined his friends with a heavy heart.

“It’s tough luck,” he told himself, recalling some
of his hunts for meadow-larks about New York,
which were occasionally ended by a lot of rowdies
relieving him of his target rifle and game-bag. “I
thought we’d be free from those fellows down here,
and that they lived only for the messenger boys of
the great cities, who delight in ‘The Adventures of
the Dalton Gang,’ or ‘ Wild Jim, the Boy Scout.’ ”

“Supper, Mars’ Paul,” said Tony, appearing at
the dining-room door in time to interrupt a lively
AN ACQUAINTANCE 35

fencing bout between Jack and Eugene. “I’s got
some of dem quails and chickens a-piping hot for the
young gentl’men, and I can’t hab dem wait, ’deed I
can’t.”

The foils were recrossed upon the walls, the masks
and gloves thrown upon the table, and the club
gathered about the inviting supper with many a
light-hearted laugh. The windows were thrown wide
open, admitting the fresh southerly breeze, laden
with the songs of meadow-larks and mocking-birds.
The whole valley lay half in sunshine, half in shadow,
which soon merged into a happy flood of purple
light, cooling the air and freshening the sun-warmed
prairie, over which droves of cattle were seen to
make their way to the lines of stunted jack-oaks and
cottonwoods that marked the position of a half-dozen
streamlets.

“To-morrow we'll have a run with the dogs?”
said Walter, glancing questioningly about at his
chums, who seemed almost too busy to answer.

“Of course we will,” replied Arthur, watching his
brother closely, “for I am very anxious to see how
the new member of the cavalry will behave, and hope
to see both a horse and a rabbit race.”

“Good!” cried Eugene. “I believe my gray is
going to give a good account of himself ; and so does
Pietro, who says that he was at one time one of the
fastest horses among the Osages.”
36 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“We ought to start in time to get up a coyote ora
wolf,” continued Walter. ‘A great many are hiding
during the day in that strip of woods that forms the
second ridge from the jack-oaks, and it is my opinion
that we can start one before sunrise.”

“Then let’s call it settled,’ exclaimed Jack. “I
can hardly wait,” he continued, as he pictured there
in the twilight the galloping horses and the sweeping
pack, and almost heard the wild shouts of his friends
as time after time the flying hare would turn and
gain a fresh start.

“Well, fellows, don’t lose any sleep worrying over
the speed of your mounts,” said Walter, with a smile.
“You know the unexpected always happens, and the
sleepiest-looking broncho may be the first in at the
death.”’

“ How about the dogs?” asked Paul.

“The same is true of them,” replied Walter. “I
never saw a lot of green hounds do so well before in
my life. It’s true they ran over the hare a number
of times and failed to pick it up, but that’s to be
expected at the start.”

The boys discussed the day’s shooting and fishing
a while longer, then gradually gathered upon the
veranda with their banjos and guitars, singing songs
of college life or the hunting field until they were
hoarse. Sombreros, leather belts, and revolvers lay
discarded upon the porch or‘in the lodge, and in
AN ACQUAINTANCE ' 37

place of the heavy hunting and riding boots the boys
wore light, comfortable moccasins.

As the moon and stars gradually appeared, the
whole valley looked dense and black by contrast, save
where the light silvered the quiet stream. Far away
to the westward the rolling prairie resembled a sum-
mer sea, sailed by occasional lines of jack-oaks and
cottonwoods, whose scrawny arms looked like a dis-
mantled mast and crosstrees against the horizon. As
the shadows grew deeper, the boys compared the wild
region with the vicinity of Shelter Island, where they
had spent many pleasant vacations, or with the Maine
woods.

“JTt’s not pleasant to think that these few hundred
miles are practically all that remains for the Indians,”
said Walter, with a sigh, “and that they will soon be
extinct. Father says that not twenty years ago the
country about here was alive with deer, antelopes,
and bears; that the cowboys used to start their ponies
at the herds of antelopes for the fun of seeing them
run, and that a man could count a hundred deer a
day. The Indians and outlaws have slaughtered
nearly everything.”

“Don’t you suppose they’ll ever become a civilized
race?” the boys asked. :

“No more so than they are now. They’ve been
unable to resist the temptations of whiskey and an
idle life, and have rapidly decreased. It always hurts
38 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

me to see an Indian chief trade his deerskin mocca-
sins, leggings, and finery for a pint of bad whiskey,
for I know he’ll never make another pair; and tailor-
made trousers and a derby hat look as much out of
place on an Indian as a wig would on a soup .
tureen!”

“Don’t they ever get out nowadays and have the
good old hunts one reads about?” asked Arthur.

“They get as far as the war-paint on a quarterly-
payment day, and are happily unconscious of the
rest,” Walter quickly replied.

“I do hope they’ll remain unconscious of the exist-
ence of Deer Lodge,” said Eugene; “and above all,
I hope they’ll not visit it while in a bad state of
mind, or while recovering from too deep a filir-
tation with the flowing bowl,” at which the boys
laughed heartily. They chatted for some time of the
Indians and their much-regretted though inevitable
downfall, and then climbed the stairs and tumbled
into bed, little guessing what thrilling events were to
take place in.and about the camp before many days
had passed. . .


CHAPTER III
AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY

DON’T half a quarter like the idea,” said Pie-

tro to Harry the following day, as the lad
saddled and bridled the black to his satisfaction,
“and I reckon I’d ought to go ‘long. But it
wouldn’t make no difference, and you’d best do as
I say.”

As the boy turned and cantered off, the hostler
repeated his advice of the previous afternoon.
Harry had slept little that night, as Pietro’s view
of the situation had had anything but a soothing
effect upon him. He had tossed about on his pil-
low, picturing the coming interview with the bandit
in a dozen different ways. Once or twice he had
stepped from the bushes and had confronted him
with a fine brace of pistols, every move indicating
that he was no stranger to such business. Then,
again, he would demand the money and horse, fol-
lowing the demand by flourishing a bright dagger ;
and before morning, Harry honestly wished he had
never made the acquaintance of José Cabrillo.

Now that he was fairly astride the black, how-

39
40 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

ever, he knew that it would have taken a good ©
deal to have made him part with either the green-
backs or the horse. The obnoxious scenes of the
night had vanished with the rising sun, and he was
prepared to meet the man and stand his ground.
He made sure that his pistols were secure in their
holsters, and that the magazine of his rifle was
filled. “If Cabrillo seems surprised at my being
so well armed,” he soliloquized, “I shall say that
I came prepared to take a shot at the gray wolf
I saw yesterday.”

As the boy rode on down the bank, he could
now and then hear the cries of his friends as they
followed the flying pack, and he resolved that the
next time they started for the ranges he would be
with them. They had awakened him before day-
break, but as he had decided not to join them in
their morning’s coursing, all their entreaties had
been unavailing.

Harry had not waited long in the clearing be-
fore the man appeared upon the pony, smiling
pleasantly as he dismounted.

“On time, I see,” said Harry, casting his eye
over the horse and rider; “and now we'll soon
settle up.”

With this remark he whipped out the greenbacks
he had taken from his trunk at the lodge, and
handed them to the man, who counted them in a
AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY 4I

twinkling, finally ending by saying: ‘‘That’s right,
an even hundred. Now, that’s the way I like to do
business. The boys said at the camp I’d never see
a cent of the ‘dough,’ but I knowed I would, and I
have.” He laughed heartily at this, slapping his
pocket and sending great, triumphant clouds of
smoke upward. This put Harry perfectly at his
ease, for he had feared that the outlaw would prove
unreasonable in his demands, and he fully realized
that one sure, sharp move at such close quarters
would place him at the robber’s mercy. But José
had other plans, and for that day, at least, the lad
was not to be molested; for while the man smoked,
he examined the boy’s rifle and belt, expressing un-
bounded admiration at the neat leather holsters which
held the pistols and hunting knife, together with a
supply of cartridges.

“Ves,” said Harry, thinking it best to explain the
appearance of so many weapons of defence, “I
strapped these about me, hoping to see the wolf I
met yesterday in a glade just above.”

“A gray feller?”

“He was gray and very large, I tell you.”

“Then you'll need powder and lead, that’s a fact,
for they'll stand a deal of hitting.”

They talked a while longer; then Harry mounted
and was about to leave with the horses, when he
turned and asked the black’s name.
42 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Oh, Iforgot!” replied the outlaw. “It’s Prince —
Prince Royal; yes, that’s it, Prince Royal, though I
dubbed him Tom when I got him.”

“Prince Royal!” thought Harry as he rode along,
“a very appropriate name indeed. And now, Prince,
if you'll ford the stream right here, I’ll tie you in the
shade of that little oak, and we’ll try a shot at our
friend of yesterday.”

Horse, pony, and rider were soon across, and while
the boy fastened the animals to a friendly limb, he
inwardly reproached himself for the injustice he had
done his strange acquaintance in thinking of him as
an outlaw and a robber. The man might be a bit
wild, perhaps, but he had certainly done just as he
had agreed to do, and the lad in consequence was in
excellent spirits as he unslung his rifle and started
through the woods.

With a quick, noiseless step he moved upon the
isolated glade he had entered the day before, deter-
mined if possible to get a fair shot. Owing to a
gentle westerly wind, he thought it best not to
approach through the timber, and began to climb the
steep ledge that bordered the clearing upon the north.
Some of the rocks were loose, affording poor footing,
and before he had climbed half way to the summit, he
was obliged to sink upon his hands and knees, push- ~
ing his rifle before him. With the greatest caution
the ascent was completed and the rifle cocked. It
AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY 43

was not at all unlikely, he thought, that the wolf
would be in the glade watching the many trails that
led to the spring where he had met the man the day
before. The water there was cool, and in all proba-
bility it was frequently visited in warm weather by
many animals, which would naturally pass through
the timber in order to reach it; for he had chosen the
best possible ascent on that side, and had rested
several times before reaching the top.

As Harry lay there panting like a man on a moun-
tain side, he was startled by a wild scream, and look-
ing over the ledge, was greatly surprised at not seeing
a living thing of any description. As the screech
died away, the disturbed cries of mocking-birds and
bluejays rent the air, and then all was silence again.
It was almost impossible to locate the scream of the
wildcat, for such the animal undoubtedly was, so
Harry arose and looked about him, in the hope of
provoking another cry. He was unsuccessful in this,
but what he saw in the winding creek far below
proved of untold value to one of his friends in par-
ticular, as well as to the other members of the Grey-
hound Club, individually and collectively, and
thoroughly confirmed, in his mind, the. hostler’s
opinion of José Cabrillo.

As Harry stood up to get a better view of the
glade and to determine the position of the wildcat, he
gradually turned to the right, towards the woods, and
44. SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

then unconsciously his eyes followed the stream until
they caught sight of a distant horseman riding in the
bed of the creek. To the average young sportsman,
even in a country as little inhabited as that about
Deer Lodge, the appearance of a horseman riding in
the bed of a stream would have made no’ impression
whatever. One who did not stop to think would
naturally suppose that the man wished to avoid the
timber and brush,. which from Harry’s position looked
almost impenetrable. But the lad knew that in any
unfrequented country, along the banks of every large
stream, there are always trails large enough to serve
as bridle-paths. Then, too, his eyes told him that
the man was not riding a pony, and he recognized the
unmistakable black sombrero Cabrillo wore.

“He’s covering up his trail, I’m certain,” said
Harry, “and he’s got another fine horse.” As he
finished the soliloquy, he was surprised to see the
man dismount in midstream, taking the lariat from
the saddle-horn as he did so. While the distance
was too great to make each movement plain to the
eager watcher, nevertheless Harry made out that the
robber had fastened one end of the rope to a heavy
limb, and with the other had returned to the middle
of the stream, which seemed to be more shallow than
nearer the bank, where the bandit had sunk to his
waist. Winding the lariat about his right arm a
couple of times, the outlaw pulled back until the
AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY ; 45

limb was seen to move, and then, to Harry’s great
surprise, the horse moved forward and disappeared
of his own accord; and the limb, as the man
slackened the rope, swung back into position.

“A very clever bit of work, Mr. José Cabrillo!”
said Harry to himself, “and just in the right spot;
a thickly-wooded bank, and a sharp turn or two in
the stream, is just the place for such a blind.”

Now that the lad had discovered the outlaws’ re-
treat, for he was certain their camp could not be far
off, and was probably among the towering crags to
the left of the creek, he was not so sure that the
purchase of Prince Royal had been judicious. Then,
on the other hand, he remembered that Cabrillo had
told him that they were forced to hide from the
Indian marshals, and he finally decided not to men-
’ tion what he had seen. While it was not pleasant to
think that a band of outlaws was camping not four
miles from the lodge, it was less pleasant to look
forward to hostilities, and he knew it would be use-
less to attempt to “beard the lion in his den.” So
he wisely concluded, .as the outlaw crept under the .
trees out of sight, to forget him and his followers
entirely.

Harry worked his way down into the open, follow-
ing a path that led under the trees to the right. It
was quite dark there, and it would have been diffi-
cult to have bagged half a dozen of the many
46 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

squirrels that chattered among the branches. But
Harry was not looking for squirrels just then, and,
although he saw tracks that must have been made by
the wildcat, he saw nothing of the animal. After a
fruitless hunt of the crags at the south side, he re-
turned for his horse and pony. He mounted Prince
Royal and led the pony as before, at a good brisk
pace, hoping to reach the lodge in time for the mid-
day meal. In order to reach the west bank, it was
necessary to again ford the creek, and Harry accord-
ingly turned the horses at a suitable place.

Great oak trees had become intertwined on the
opposite side, through which occasional trails were
seen to make their way. Towards one of these, that
led gradually from the water’s edge, Harry guided
Prince Royal. The lad felt very well pleased over
the incidents of the morning, and while endeavoring
to forget the bad impression he had formed of
Cabrillo, a fierce, a wildly penetrating screech sent
the cold chills coursing through him. He realized at
once that the wildcat was not a great way off, and
that his rifle was slung across his back. His first
move, therefore, was to place a trembling hand upon
his pistol. The woods were black and forbidding,
and the closeness of the wild grapevine and other
foliage to the trail made them seem even more so.
It was certainly a bad spot for so unexpected an en-
counter, and the boy hastily determined to take no


LAT.

HE WILD

HARRY HEARS.T:
AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY 47

part in it, if possible. The cry had come from above
and close in the rear, and while the lad was moving
off, it was repeated once, twice, with terrible fierce-
ness, followed by the unmistakable sound of the
animal running ona branch. It was very faint, but
its meaning was thoroughly and instantly compre-
hended by Prince Royal, who reared and plunged
under the light rein in a well-nigh uncontrollable
manner, for Harry had drawn his pistol with his
right hand; and, to make matters worse,-when the
cry sounded nearer and fiercer, horse and pony
started to shy off the trail to the left. The next
instant there came another wild scream, followed by
a dark object plunging through the air, and a violent.
whipping about of the steeds; the low, irregular
oak branches caught the boy about the waist and
hurled him to the ground. At the same moment the
wildcat landed with terrible force upon the pony,
which was nearest, and opened a two-foot gash with
one stroke of its claw. Prince Royal had become
entangled in a network of low branches and wild
grapevine, and his frantic plunges only made his
position worse. The groans of the poor pony were
agonizing to hear, for the wildcat had sunk its claws
into his coat for a foothold. After striking the limb,
Harry dropped the revolver in his violent fall. As
he struck the ground, he reached and grasped it,
whipping out his knife with his left hand. Once,
48 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

twice, thrice, he fired at the animal’s head; at the
third shot, the animal crouched as if to spring, and
the lad instinctively dropped the smoking pistol and
took the knife in his right hand, as the wildcat
sprang at him with a cry of pain. The lad, realizing
his great peril, struck at the beast savagely again
and again, using the weapon more as a broadsword
than asa dagger. Twice the swift, sure blade drew
blood before the claws reached him, but when they
did he felt the warm blood spurt from his left arm.
Then they went down together, and over and over
they rolled until they struck the water with a loud
splash and churned it into foam. Harry knew that
he had wounded the animal with his pistol and knife,
and it was hard to realize that so much activity and
life still remained in that small body. With wonder-
fully swift movements, the beast endeavored to reach
him with his hind feet, but the boy was too quick,
and slashed to right and left until a good opportunity
presented itself; then the streaming blade was once
more raised and driven home with telling force.

As the wildcat ceased its death struggle and lay
upon the water, Harry waded to the shore, where
he lay panting and trembling. He fully realized
that he had come out of a very serious affair with
a couple of slight wounds, as he chose to regard
them, and that he had been the hero of a thrilling
encounter. He felt faint from the loss of blood, and
AN UNEXPECTED ENEMY 49

from the excitement of the battle, and it was with
difficulty that he finally managed to disentangle the
horses and sling the wildcat in front of him on Prince
Royal. He knew that it was best to return to the
lodge at once, for the pony needed attention, and
Prince Royal had cut himself among the branches;
so much so, in fact, that the lad was compelled to
inwardly acknowledge that he limped perceptibly.
The boy would never have given a second thought
to his own wounds if his attention had not been
drawn to them by the trickling of blood down his
left arm, and then he halted only long enough to
wind his sash about it. Prince Royal and the pony

were both very excitable and nervous, and it was no
- easy task for the lad to keep his seat; for at each
rustling in the branches, or the running of a squirrel
from limb to limb, they would rear and plunge wildly.

Harry felt highly elated over his victory, and de-
cided to mount the animal in the crouching attitude
he had taken upon the pony’s back, and to present
it to the club.

As for Pietro, he had worried ever since Harry’s
departure, and had sat in the stable door and smoked,
watching the ridge constantly. As the lad came in
sight, the hostler’s keen eyes detected the wildcat,
and when he saw the boy’s tattered garments and
bloody face, and the badly mutilated and dripping
animal, his astonishment was unbounded.

E
50 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Well, if you ain’t gone and knifed a panther-
cat!” he exclaimed, calling to Tony to come out and
have a look at the beast. Of course, Harry had to
relate the events of the morning as he remembered
them, after which the hostler and cook expressed
themselves as very proud of the young hunter, and
as a penalty for it all, ordered him to his bunk, while
Tony went to prepare an over-tempting morsel for
our hero. Harry was quite willing to accept the
sentence, for the fight, coupled with the broken
dreams of the bandit the previous night, had left him
worn out. He bathed his face and arms in cool
water, while Tony and Pietro bandaged the wounds,
which were more serious than the lad at first sup-
posed. They then left him, after he had swallowed
Tony’s lunch, for a good rest. Here we shall leave
him for the present, and return to the other mem-
bers of the club, who had started for the prairie long
before sunrise, followed by the entire pack.


CHAPTER IV
WITH THE GREYHOUNDS

HOUGH the boys had been
unsuccessful in their efforts to
prevail upon Harry to accom-
pany them with his new mount, .
Arthur had managed to coax
Diamond away from his master,
thus completing the pack. As
the ponies cantered along in
the damp wind that blew up
from the gray stream below,
Z Arthur repeated the reasons
“= 5-“S2<2 his brother had given him for
not joining the members in
their morning gallop, ending by saying :—

“Tt’s easy to see he’s agreed to pay for his horse
to-day, fellows; and I sincerely hope the man is all
right. I advised him not to ride his purchase back,
but Pietro seems to think it’s better to lose the horse
now and have it over with.”

“Tt would be a pity to have to part with him, and it
would spoil Harry’s summer,” remarked Paul.

51




52 SIX- YOUNG HUNTERS

“Oh, he’ll come out of it with flying colors!” con-
tinued Eugene, cheerfully. ‘Do you remember our
last foot-ball game with Brookdale, with three minutes
to play and seventy yards to make? Well, it’s my
opinion that any fellow who can move as Harry
moved on that occasion is able to defend himself any-
where ; and, furthermore, I think Pietro feels that
Colonel Hillman has selected him from the many
herdsmen as best suited to keep an eye on us this
summer, and is consequently in a position to view
everything seriously.” We have seen that Eugene’s
opinions of Harry were just, for if he had not pos-
sessed wonderful strength and activity, he would
probably have been worsted in his morning’s en-
counter.

Eugene’s speech had the desired effect, for the _
boys were soon galloping at a merry pace, occasion-
ally testing their mounts in a dash of a furlong or
two. The gray mustang owned by Eugene seemed
to be the fastest of the ponies, and Osage Chief, as
the lad called him, was certainly improving under
Pietro’s attention and his master’s light seat. In
fact, Osage Chief and Walter's chestnut ran neck-
and-neck for a quarter mile, which naturally put
Eugene in the best of spirits.

The other boys, however, were not so fortunate with
their mounts. Paul’s Rex did well at the start, but
could not run with Osage Chief after the first furlong.
WITH THE GREYHOUNDS 53

“They’re not used to these short, quick dashes,”
said Walter, riding up to Arthur and Paul, “and will
do better later on. The rancheros have used them
to head an occasional steer, but, with this exception,
they have had no speeding whatever.”

Arthur and Paul were confident that their bronchos
would develop into long-distance nags, anyway, and
were satisfied with their respective choices. Jack’s
Blue Rocket was as fleet as he was graceful, and
everything pointed to a grand season’s coursing.

“Since you fellows have named your favorites, I
suppose I should name mine,” said Arthur. ‘What
would you suggest?”

“Oh, I don’t know!” replied Jack, glancing about
at his friends. “His coat is a good deal like Tasso’s,
and they call hima blue greyhound. It is also spotted, —
so I should suggest Domino.”

“Excellent!” exclaimed the club in chorus.

“Then Domino it is; though I don’t suppose he’ll
move much like the famous racer.”

“He may,” was Jack’s encouraging reply; “you
must remember we haven't had a race yet.”

“Very true; but we'll soon have one,” cried
Walter, riding to a hilltop and turning his field-
glasses upon a distant bit of woodland.

“What is it?” asked the boys.

“A coyote ; no, it’s a fox, fellows, see for your-
selves,” replied Walter in great glee, gathering the
54 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

reins firmly in his left hand. The glasses were
passed around in turn, and the boys all agreed that
the animal was a fox feeding upon a jack-rabbit.




wil
Wi)



re
AAS
Mb yes 2 LA, "

FEEDING UPON A JACK-RABBIT.

Foxes were scarce in that country, the boys had
heard, and they were consequently very anxious to
bring it to bag.

“He'll lead us a dance, with that start,’ said
WITH THE GREYHOUNDS 55

Arthur, watching the dogs as they ran about in their
eager search.

“We must be careful, now,” cautioned Walter,
placing the glasses back into the leather case. “ He’s
just at the edge of the timber, which we shall probably
have to drive to start him. Keep your eyes and ears
wide open, fellows, for a fox that can catch a jack-
rabbit that has been incessantly chased by coyotes is
worth working for.”

“Wouldn’t it be well to surround the timber?”
suggested Paul.

“A capital idea! Eugene, you, Arthur, and Jack -
call your dogs and ride in a semicircle to the other
side; Paul and I will keep ahead with Tasso and
Rambler. We can’t possibly miss him.” So the club
separated and advanced; and, as the fox turned with
surprising swiftness and started down the prairie, a
shout of suppressed excitation broke from the boys.
As the cry rose, Rambler led Tasso and the pack
over the first rise. There was a dull clatter of flying
hoofs as the horses closed, a series of loud shouts and
encouraging words from the lads, the horses settled
down to a clean, swift galloping, and the chase began
in earnest. The great strides of the long-limbed dogs
soon lessened the fox’s start, and it was clearly evi-
dent that the coursers had been well selected and were
well matched.

Tasso, to the boys’ great surprise, was unable to
56 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

retain the lead in the run down the prairie, his pre-
vious experience in turning. a rabbit being of little
assistance in a straight race. The fleet Saxony soon
went to the front, followed closely by Diana, Rambler,
and Boomerang; then the lead fell to Diamond,
whose running after the first half mile was superb.
On and on they swept, stride for stride, until a rapidly
moving line of six greyhounds and the fox shone
clear against the sky. And now the fox, closely
pushed, began to change his tactics and double on his
trail. He would run along a ridge quite near the
summit, and then, with a tremendous leap, would
disappear and start back with redoubled speed on the
other side. Time and time again the dogs were
thrown off, until Tasso left the pack and ran the
summit of the ridges, encouraged by Walter’s loud
shouts. This seemed to annoy the fox beyond meas-
ure, for he soon started off on a level stretch, and was
finally overtaken by the dogs.

During the chase, the lads had a good opportunity
of displaying their horsemanship, which was very
creditable. They all rode boldly and freely, with
light hands and firm seats; between the wild cries
sent after the vanishing pack, they had occasionally
glanced about at each other. Osage Chief ran under
a tight rein in the lead, followed closely by Leveller
and Domino, whose bursts of speed were astonishing.
They ran pretty well bunched until the last half mile,
WITH THE GREYHOUNDS 57

when Jack sent Blue Rocket to the front, and was
first in at the death.

-“ You are no more surprised than I, fellows!” said
Jack to his friends, as they dismounted to rest the
horses and tighten the girths. “I wouldn’t have
believed it of my horse. We were all running freely,
with something to spare, when he seemed to fairly fly
out from the bunch, and the next second was running
far in the lead.”

“Which proves what I said before the race,”
Walter replied. “They all did well, and will do
better with more riding.” Walter then handed the
fox’s tail to Jack, who of course was
entitled to it by being first in at the
kill, and the boys mounted and con-
tinued the coursing.

Rabbit after rabbit was “jumped ”
and caught after a furious chase, usu-
ally lasting three or four minutes;
and when the fifth “jack” was killed
after a beautiful run of nearly two
miles, the boys declared themselves
satisfied with the morning’s sport,
and decided to return tocamp. They
had ridden probably six miles from
the lodge, Walter said, but as the 4 MORNING's

: COURSING.
willows bordering Grouse creek were
not two miles off, the thirsty horses were headed for


58 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

the stream. With many a light-hearted laugh, the
boys allowed their impatient mounts to canter along,
and they had arrived within a quarter mile of the
willows, when Walter pulled up his horse so sud-
denly that he nearly slid out of his saddle as the
animal stood on his hind legs.

“What’s the matter?” asked the boys, drawing
rein instantly.

“Hush! not so loud!” said Walter, laying his
finger upon his lips; “see there!” As he said this,
he pointed toward the group of willows, and the boys
instantly saw what had attracted their friend’s atten-
tion. It was the figure of a man creeping along
under cover of the willows, as if stalking game. He
was too distant to be seen plainly, but the boys made
out that he wore a black shirt and hat, and that he
was interested in something at the other side of the
willows; and, judging from his movements, was push-
ing a gun or some heavy article in advance of him.

“He’s probably trailing a deer,” said Paul, after
he had taken a careful look.

“T don’t believe he’s hunting,” replied Walter,
confidently, “for deer don’t frequent the vicinity of
camp-fires.”

Skilled as most of the boys were in woodcraft,
they were forced to confess that they had not de-
tected the thin line of faint smoke that arose from
the willows, and were willing to admit that Walter’s
WITH THE GREYHOUNDS : 59

view of the situation was the correct one, that the
man was not deer-stalking, and was endeavoring to
creep upon the camper unobserved. So earnest was
he in his occupation, that he never turned his head
to right nor left, but kept bobbing up and down as
he paused long enough to take a good view of the
camp-fire.

“Who do you suppose he is, and what is he
about?” asked Eugene, excitedly.

“TI may be wrong, boys,” Walter replied, “but I
am of the opinion that that man has something un-
pleasant to say to the person or persons by the
camp-fire, and I should not be surprised to find we
are intimately acquainted with the camper.”

“Then you think it’s Harry?” inquired Arthur,
now thoroughly aroused. ‘Perhaps that’s the man
he’s agreed to pay the money to. Come on, fellows!”
he said, placing his foot into the stirrup.

“No, no!” hastily interposed Walter. ‘“ That’s
only a theory. Too many of us are sure to be seen.
Let the others remain here out of sight with the
horses and dogs, Arthur, and you and I will creep
up and see for ourselves.”

This arrangement was thoroughly satisfactory, and
after Eugene had tied the dogs with a thong he had
taken from his saddle, Arthur and Walter started
for the willows, moving rapidly and keeping to the
low land.
60 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

The man had by this time come within fifty feet
of the stripe of smoke, and it was evident that he
was to go no further, for he lay behind a fallen log
. with the barrel of his rifle protruding over it. The
boys moved swiftly through the tall grass and between
the rocks behind him, and then crept cautiously for-
ward and secreted themselves behind some friendly
bowlders not twenty yards off, in sight of their
friends, who watched them anxiously.

The willows and bushes grew too thick to make
objects on the other side very plain, though at odd
moments the boys caught a glimpse of a figure in
buckskin, who seemed to be busying himself about
the fire. They saw that it was not Harry, and con-
sequently felt greatly relieved. They were none the
less interested in the.movements of both men, how-
ever, and were beginning to grow impatient, when
one of the most memorable conversations to which —
they had ever listened was opened by the man behind
the log emitting three short, sharp, clear whistles,
like the call of a quail.

The man at the fire evidently understood, for,
instead of appearing at an opening in the trees with
his gun, he came and stood in sight, whistling four
times in reply.

“Well, who is it?” he growled, crouching and
endeavoring to see through the shrubbery. “ Come
out ; or are you a coward?”
WITH THE GREYHOUNDS 6L

“That’s it, Wild Face, a coward, — him that you
knifed a month since,—come for the price of the
black, that you sold to that there ‘tenderfoot’ this
mornin’ !”

“Jim, by the powers! I’m glad to-see you again,
Jim.”

“Not by no means, you ain’t. That was my nag
you sold, and I want the price, and no more of this
business, cap’n. I’m done!”

“T heard you was,” continued the other, quite
unconcerned, coming nearer; “I heard you was
a-punchin’ cattle, and had quit us, and was leadin’
a dog’s life.”

“Dog’s life!” repeated the man Cabrillo had
called Jim, ‘“dog’s life, indeed! Yer a-follerin’ a
dog’s life, Wild Face, and I want no more of it.
I’ve larnt the lockstep, have worn stripes, and
have seed a sight o’ times, since I lost this head-
light!’’ he concluded, holding his left hand up to his
face. ;

Then followed a volley of oaths by the chief, who
had become greatly infuriated over Jim’s last speech.
“ And who’s to blame, you fool?” he managed to gasp
at last. ‘Put down that gun and come and have a
talk. How could I handle a.lot of chicken-hearted
loafers, I’d like to know? Give it up, Jim, and come
along of us. There won’t be no engine-ridin’, nor
rail-pullin’, Jim, and you can lay to that.”
62 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“How many of the boys has gone?”

“Only Snaky and Micky, and they’ll be back
afore long.”

“ How are you goin’ to live? Safe crackin’ ?”

“Not much, Jim. Stick to me, and you'll not
regret it, Jim. We'll have fast hosses to ride, and
pickles and fishes that come in little tin boxes, to eat,
and these here scatter guns that don’t have no trigger
to get caught in the brush, to shoot with.”

“Flas these city chaps all those things, cap’n?”
said the other, rising to his feet and waiting for his
chief to come up. “I didn’t like the job afore you
spoke, but now I’ll shake.”

“ And forget the old score, Jim ay

“Yes, forget the old score; though I still lay to
it, that you shouldn’t have knifed me, mate.”

They stood up together, Cabrillo young, straight,
and dark, while the man called Jim was round-shoul-
dered, and was minus his left eye. The boys watched
them intently as they shook hands, and when the out-
laws had disappeared through the trees toward the
fire, they scrambled to their feet and ran to their
friends, who were naturally utterly at a loss to ac-
count for the strange actions of the two men. They
were not to remain long in the dark, however, for
Walter and Arthur had soon related all they had
heard, and it is needless to say their words created
great consternation.
WITH THE GREYHOUNDS 63

“There goes our summer vacation, higher than a
kite!” indignantly exclaimed Eugene, mounting Osage
Chief. “I felt it would lead to that last night when
I saw Harry on the black.”

“ And they mean to enjoy all our canned goods,
too, do they?” said Paul, with a determined look in
his eyes. ‘We'll see about that!”

“And are even counting on owning our shot-guns
and horses.” added Jack. “I never heard of any-
thing more preposterous!”

“Don’t borrow trouble, fellows,” said Walter, who
naturally felt the presence of the bandits more than
his friends. ‘“‘ These fellows are undoubtedly a set of
desperate men, who would rather steal than work,
and they have been given the credit of a number of
train robberies. But I am certain, when they find
out that we are able to defend ourselves, that they will
not trouble us.”

“Well, I’m glad Harry is back safe and sound,”
said Arthur, “for this man seemed to know that this
fellow Cabrillo had received the money for his horse.”

The boys then galloped along in silence until they
were within fifty feet of the lodge, when Pietro burst
out upon the veranda, dragging the wildcat after
him.

“See here, my hearties!” cried the ranchero,
“how’s this for a morning’s hunt? What have you
got, you say, Master Walter? A fox and a_half-
64 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

dozen ‘jacks’? Not so bad, but I believe Master
Harry’s the flower of the flock to-day!”

“You don’t mean to say that he shot that this
morning?” asked Arthur, gazing in astonishment at
the blood-stained animal. ‘Was he hurt?”

“Yes, he did shoot it, single handed; and he seems
as cool about it as though it happened back there
where he lives every day. He was scratched consid-
erable, so Tony and I got him to turn in.”

The boys were off their horses in an instant, and
were soon hearing the story from Harry’s lips as we
have attempted to describe it in the previous chapter.
They listened attentively, now and then uttering an
exclamation of surprise and admiration at their
friend’s coolness and courage.

“Didn’t it make your blood run cold when you
heard the first cry?” asked Paul, nervously.

“Yes, I suppose it did ; but then there wasn’t time
to think of that, and I don’t believe I could ever
move so fast again,” replied Harry, modestly, leaning
upon his elbow. “It was a fortunate escape, as I
could not get at my rifle, so quickly did the animal
move. But what is on your minds that makes you
look so white?”

Then Walter related all that took place between
the bandits, to which Pietro listened closely. When
Walter had finished, the hostler said in a husky
voice: “ Now, Master Walter, I believe this country,
WITH THE GREYHOUNDS 65

large as it is, is too small for you and your friends,
and I’m goin’ to tell your uncle so. It’s no use
tryin’ to beat those villains at their own game, and
they’re the meanest lot I ever heard of.”

The boys would not hear of Pietro sending word to
Uncle John, and forced him to promise that he would
not, which he did reluctantly, saying that he knew
that there would be trouble. The boys finally agreed
that they would not leave the lodge separately, and
would not, for some time at least, camp on the prai-
rie over night. This seemed to satisfy the herds-
man, for he admired the stand the lads had taken,
and realized that they were quite able to look after
themselves. Pietro soon after returned to the tired
horses, while the lads did full justice to a hearty
lunch.

That afternoon was spent in a general cleaning up
of pistols and rifles, for the boys instinctively felt
that trouble was brewing, and were determined to
stand their ground, in case of an attack. They
looked everything over affectionately, for their pos-
sessions had grown dearer since they had learned that
the outlaws were determined to steal them. After
supper, the time was spent in paddling up and down
stream a short distance from camp, or in a shot or
two over the setters, which had been confined in the
stable all day, and were consequently very willing
participants in the sport.

F
66 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

As it grew dark, the canoes were once more
fastened to the jetty, a brace of quails was left in
the kitchen, and a very tired lot of boys tumbled into
their respective bunks.

While they are sleeping soundly after their long
ride, or dreaming, perhaps, of thrilling encounters
with José Cabrillo’s band of outlaws, let us see what
took place between that worthy and his comrade,
after they had shaken hands, and had returned to
the fire.


CHAPTER V
THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT

“ ELL, well, cap’n, I see you’re the same old

dandy!” ejaculated Jim, as he glanced at
the chief’s saddle and rifle, which lay upon the grass
close to the camp-fire. “And you’ve got a good un
to ride, too,” he concluded, as he caught sight of a
handsome bright bay that had the free run of a
lariat’s length.

“Yes, Jim, I manage to look pretty well, even if
business has been droppin’ off,” replied the chief,
lighting a yellow-covered cigarette in the flame;
“and it’s all due to that gang of cowards we had
with us last winter, — not includin’ you, Jim, not by
no means.”

“Then, what for did you try to end my jig, after it
was fiddled?” demanded Jim, turning the brace of
squirrels upon the coals, and looking at Cabrillo as if
he had half a mind not to forget the old score. “I
stuck to the engine under orders, and you know
it, cap’n.”

“T know it, Jim, and I’m sorry. I’ve lived rough,

67 ;
68 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

and when things don’t go to suit me, I raise Cain.
When I got back, and heard that those pups had
missed the express car, I could have killed ’em all,”
replied Cabrillo, scowling fiercely at the fire.

“Well, they did die, two on ’em, in their tracks,”
Jim said slowly, “and they wasn’t bad fellers,
neither.”

“ Let’s forget it, Jim. ony weren’t made for this
business, nohow.”

“°’Tain’t no means likely Ill forget, cap’n,”
answered the other, rolling up. his ragged sleeve
and displaying a livid streak across his arm. “I
reckon this'll remind me.”

“Let it, then,” growled the chief, not deigning to
look up; “and remember, the next time we come to
splitting the night’s work, don’t have nothing to say!”

“Not I.”

“How did you know I sold your nag this mornin’?”’
asked. the other, with an amused grin. ‘“ Did Micky
tell you?”

“Yes, *twas Micky. He said you was wearin’
shiny black boots and silver spurs, and had a keg
under lock and key all the while, and that he was
goin’ to quit before he swung for it.”

“He did, did he?” shouted the enraged bandit,
jumping up and stamping upon his sombrero. “And
why wouldn’t I? I know the business from night-
ridin’ to rail-pullin’, and I want to look like a gentle-
THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 69

man, and quit some day with roll enough to ride ina
carriage, and spend ten thousand a year.”

Jim had heard the same story many times before.

“ What’s the next move?” he asked.

“Why, to strip that there shootin’ camp from top
to bottom, and get hold of some of those pistols, and
all we can tote away. The young fellers is likely
lookin’ enough, and must have a bit of money
with ’em.”

-“Yes, and Micky said they had a whole string of
hounds, that were keener than so many razors.”

“Well, what of it? We're not dealin’ with
marshals and soldiers, but with a bunch of school-
boys. I really believe, Jim, you’ve lost your nerve,
since that last hold-up,” replied the chief, punching .
his comrade in the ribs. “Jim, you and I have seen
some hard knocks, but Pll allow we can’t pull out for
a bunch of striplings;” and he laughed heartily.

This seemed to be quite enough for the one-eyed
man, who declared himself perfectly willing to begin
operations at once.

“We'll go back and see the boys,” said the chief,
saddling his horse, “and have a chat and smoke,”
The two men then mounted, and the horse started
up the stream.

If the members of the Greyhound Club could have
heard the foregoing conversation, it is doubtful if
they would have remained another day at Deer
70 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Lodge. The men were undoubtedly a wild and reck-
less set, and would not hesitate for an instant to end
a life. They had evidently been foiled in a train
robbery a month or two previous, much to the chief’s
disappointment, and had been forced to remain in
hiding.

. The chief struck the bay with his spurs, and —
rode at a brisk gallop until they turned into a trail
that led toa ford.. They again turned at right angles,.
this time following the bed of the stream, until they
had reached the spot where Harry had seen Cabrillo
dismount that same morning.

.Jim was knee-deep at once, winding a lariat about
a limb as the chief had done in the morning. Horse
_and rider then. disappeared, and, when Jim had
wound the lasso about his waist and followed, there
was scarcely a broken twig left behind to mark. the
trail.

' This time, as the path to the summit of the tower-
ing cliff was steep and rough, Jim did not mount,
but followed his chief up the bed of a sparkling
spring. Great. bowlders seemed to jut out into the
brook at every twenty feet, around which the bay
moved cleverly. A heavy.growth of oak trees almost
hid the blue sky, and the patches of. sunlight that
penetrated the thickly leaved branches were few and
far between.. After a long climb, during which the:
spring had narrowed to a tiny silver thread that
THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 71

gushed out from a mass of rocks, Cabrillo dismounted
and gave a short, clear whistle, unfastening his
saddle-girth as he did so. A great oak door, built
into the rocks, was opened almost. at once by a
heavily bearded man, who seemed a little surprised
at seeing Jim with the chief.

Cabrillo had selected a natural fortress for his re-
treat. A wall of granite, ten or twelve feet high,
completely shut it off from the outside world, except
where the door had been built in, and where ‘a few
rocks had been rolled into a crevice or two. More-
over, it was on the highest point of a very high cliff,
and a splendid view of the rolling prairie could be
had for miles around. Great oaks and elms inter-
twined their branches above, casting a welcome shade
at all hours.

Cabrillo, as we have seen, had an eye for the com-
forts and luxuries of life, and was not content to live
as most of his band would have been willing to. He
had erected a substantial log-house against the stone
barricade, roomy enough for a dozen bunks and a
fireplace.

As the chief entered, three or four men, who had
been sleeping on their blankets in the shade, rose to
a sitting posture, greeting their chief with a lazy
“ Howdy, cap’n?” or exchanging nods with Jim.

Cabrillo’s horse, being free of his bridle, neighed
shrilly as he trotted to a corral at the further end of
72 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

the enclosure, where other fleet, clean-limbed animals
were quartered.

Saddles and bridles lay in profusion about on the
grass, and there. were rifles, and belts holding pistols
and knives, all ready to be caught up at a moment’s
notice. A great piece of meat hung from a limb
close by, while six or eight steaks sputtered on the
coals of a blazing camp-fire. The black-bearded
man, after he had drawn an iron bar across the door,
returned to the fire and turned the steaks a few times,
after which he placed them upon a hewn log one after
the other. The men needed no invitation to fall to,
for before the last steak had reached the log which
served as a table, they had whipped out their knives
and were eating heartily. They looked the wild,
reckless men they were, who, either from choice or
the force of circumstances, had led roving, dishonest
lives from boyhood.

The interior of their retreat was not unlike Deer
Lodge. A spacious hearth had been built into one
end, around which a couple of stools stood. There
were windows, too, but they were heavily barred, and
had shutters which were three inches thick.

Instead of the pleasing scenes of sporting life that
lined the walls of the boys’ camp, there were wooden
pins in irregular rows, upon which were hung som-
breros, Mexican trousers, and buckskin suits. The
names of the members of the gang had been burned
THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 73

above each peg, and there were other decorations
such as a man might make with a hot iron for idle-
ness or occupation. The first wooden nail held a
Mexican waist trimmed with gold lace, a gaudy red
sash, and a pair of well-worn buckskin trousers.
Over this the words “Cabrillo, his peg”” were burned
clearly, and then, a little further down, “ José, Wild
Face,” with a sketch of the chief’s dark face, not
bad, you would say, but considerably out of drawing.
Above the remaining pegs were the words “ Snaky,”
“Jim,” “Dobson, he Bit the dust,’ and there was
nothing hanging from this pin; “Tarcedo,” “ Fire-
fly,” “Micky,” and “ Redwood” completed the list.

Upon a rough table in the centre of the room were
a bottle of ink, a quill pen, and a bundle of papers.
The papers bore undisputed evidence of the many
raids Cabrillo’s men had been engaged in. They had
been laid aside as useless property, evidently, for
there were diagrams of roads and cross-ways upon
countless letters, magazines, etc., that had never
arrived at their respective destinations. A mail-bag,
marked “U.S. Mail,” had been slashed with a sharp
knife, and lay, emptied of its contents, upon the
earth floor. A pleasant odor of pine needles came
from the bunks, which had been built into the retreat,
six on either side.

‘?Tain’t much longer you'll have to stand such
grub, boys, and you can lay to it,” said Cabrillo,
74 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

lighting a cigarette as he sat watching his men with
his back against a tree; “for we'll put enough by
from that there fancy log-house to bring us to next
fall. And then, when the right night comes, we'll
have another go at the express, say I, and then I’m
done.” i

“What’ll we do then, captain, —starve?” asked
Redwood.

“Starve, if you like, you fools!” answered the
chief, derisively. ‘There isn’t one among you with
money enough to get a rig of store clothes, not one.
You've risked swinging, and you’ve worked hard,
these three past years, and what for? It’s many
a time I told you the same tale, when I counted you
out hundreds, men, hundreds, after a night’s ride.
But it wasn’t no use. To town for a good time, and
back in your shirts, a-beggin’ a brace of pistols. But
they’re closin’ in on us, and I’m done. Micky got
out as slick as a hound’s teeth this mornin’, when I
was gone up stream, but it won’t happen again. I
want none of you leavin’ and blowin’ the whole go,
and I won’t have it!” he concluded, sending a great
gray column of smoke among the branches. “I’ve
done the straight thing with you, and have never
held out more than a gallon of whiskey, by reason of
earnin’ it. And, bein’ as there’s a drop still in the
keg, I propose we have it out.”

This put the men in good spirits, and they very
THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 75

soon forgot their chief’s words. He had told them
that he was through with them all so often before;
especially when the raids had not panned out to his
expectations, that the story was no new one. Young
as Cabrillo was, he possessed the strength of mind
to head that notorious band successfully, and his
name is to this day spoken of with awe in that unfre-
quented region where lawlessness is prevalent.

Redwood caught the key Cabrillo tossed him, and
disappeared into the retreat, reappearing at once with
a small brown keg and tin dipper. The men drank
eagerly all that was allowed them, and then filled
their pipes and waited for the chief to begin, for they
knew from experience that the extra allowance of
whiskey would be followed by plans for another raid
or hold-up.

“Now, men,” began Cabrillo, after he had lighted
his second cigarette, “although Micky did give us
the go-by this mornin’, I forgot to say that Snaky
did not, an’ that he’s out on business in your inter-
ests. Jim, here, wants no part in the job, but I’ll
allow he’ll join us, won’t you, Jim?”

Jim made no reply.

“Where’ll it be?” asked the man called Firefly.

“At the second tank from the Border City, the
other side of the river, like this,” the chief replied,
sketching with a twig, upon the beaten earth, a dia-
gram of the trails that led to the railroad, and. mark-
76 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

ing with a cross the position of the water tank:
“Snaky wears a black beard and a red tie, and rides
in the first car,’ he concluded, puffing nervously at
his cigarette. “I see it’s. cloudin’ up, and we’ll not
have a better night six months from now.”

“Be you goin’ to quit us then?” asked Tarcedo,
with a grim smile, stroking his great black beard.

“Don’t know, Dody,” answered theother; “it
depends upon yourselves. If you can show me
a good, clean, profitable job, and a steady hand, I’ll
linger with you awhile longer. If you don’t, back
to the states I go, and an end of it! I can’t see how
we missed the halter that last go, for the life of me!
You can thank the drivin’ rain and the black night
for it. But to-night we'll make an even half-dozen
gentlemen; six is bunch enough for any train, say I,
and not too many when it comes to splittin’ the dust.
And will you tell me you're for layin’ to, here, like
a blessed canal-boat, and let those express cars go by
us with their fortunes, night after night? Not you!
As sure as day breaks to-morrow, we'll be here, the
whole band, breakin’ open those yellow packages,
with their red seals and greenbacks, the kind that
Holton and Perkins used to fetch and count out
before me, when I was just a youngster at the game.
He was the dandy, was Holton, and feared nothin’ on
two or four legs.”

Cabrillo ran on until he knew he had produced the
oe

THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 77

desired effect upon his band, and then, taking the
keg of whiskey, arose and entered the retreat. He
placed the keg under lock and key, after which he
examined each letter and paper that lay upon the table
and floor. These he threw upon the hearth, one after
the other, and lighted them, placing the mail-bag ina
box that contained other pieces of leather, from which ~
the outlaws made their bridles and holsters, and
mended their saddles.

When he appeared again before his men, he car-
ried his rifle and pistols, which he started to clean in
a most thorough manner, and they followed his exam-
ple with their weapons. Thus the afternoon wore
away. Towards evening the chief climbed the bowl-
ders that surrounded the retreat.

“Tf they build any more of those fancy log-houses
with the wide shelters,” he called down to his men,
“we won’t be able to camp around here. They're
paddlin’ up and down Grouse in one of those cloth
dug-outs, and like as not they'll find our trail before
the summer’s gone. We'll give ’ema scare ina week
or two that'll fix ’em.””

The fact was, the boys were already scared, and
scared badly. They had spent that very afternoon
in cleaning and repairing their pistols, and were that
very moment, with Cabrillo’s keen eyes upon them,
discussing the probable outcome of an encounter with
the fearless bandit and his tribe.
78 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

They little guessed that a series of thrilling events
would result in their capturing José Cabrillo and his
entire band, and in the restoration of a large sum of
money and other valuables to the rightful owners.

The outlaw saw nothing else to interest him, evi-
dently, for, after watching for a while longer, he de-
scended, without a remark, as the shades of night
began to envelop the landscape.

Tarcedo, or Dody, as he was called, soon had the’
fire rekindled, and a dozen steaks were soon after
broiling on the coals. After supper, each man fed
and watered his horse at the spring, and then ex-
amined his bridle, saddle, and rifle for the last time.
The wind blew up cold and damp from the south, and
the sky became overcast. The men stood patiently
awaiting the word to saddle, which was finally given
them. i .

“ Steady, now!” exclaimed Cabrillo, as he glanced
at his band in the light of the camp-fire, “and let’s
have no noise. Jim, are you steady ?”

“Ay, ay, cap’n!” answered the man, as he
mounted with his comrades.

“Then we're off. Firefly, give me your bridle and
throw the bar back.”

The great oak door swung open, Cabrillo’s horse
‘stepped out into the trail, and the rest followed.
There was scarcely a sound. The horses seemed to
know the path perfectly, though the night was very
THE OUTLAWS’ RETREAT 79

‘dark. ‘When the band reached the foot of the cliff
and had entered the stream, they moved slowly and
carefully, watching the banks for a possible camp-fire.
The main trail was finally struck after innumerable
crossings and turns, and pipes were lighted.

They rode through the damp air half the night,
finally entering a dense growth of jack-oaks that
bordered the banks of a river. Here they dis-
mounted and fastened their horses. The wind in-
creased in violence and the clouds grew blacker.
This was followed by a clap of thunder that fairly
shook the earth, and the rain came down in tor-
rents. Now and then a flash of lightning brightened
the sky and lit up the ruddy-indigo surface of the
sweeping river, and then the night seemed even
more forbidding by contrast.

“ The right kind of a night for this black business,”
said Jim, as the men started through the trees.. “I
hope we’ll come out with whole pelts.”

“Shut up, you fool!” cried Cabrillo, with a vol-
ley of terrible oaths, “and let me hear-no more such
talk, or you'll regret it. I want no coyotes in this
crowd.”

“That’s no go, now, Jim,” replied Redwood.
“Hold the cap’n up. No one can’t see to hit a
hillside to-night.”

. The outlaws worked their way out from among
the trees, and stepped upon the track. Here they
80 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

halted, and Cabrillo gave his final orders, vowing
fearful vengeance on those who failed to obey to
the very letter. They took up the march again in
silence, crossing the great dark bridge.

“Get under the tank out of the blow,” said the
chief, as they came up to the water tower, “for it
may be an hour or so before she sounds.”

The men gathered under the dripping tank and
lighted their pipes. Cabrillo climbed the ladder and
stood watching the rails). The wind and rain lashed
him unmercifully, but he clung to his post with a
faithfulness that merited a better cause. It was
fortunate for him that he did so, for, as he glanced
across the river where the horses were picketed, his
keen eyes told him that a man had left the track,
and was making his way towards the oaks. The
person carried a lantern, which he held above his
head, and Cabrillo knew the man had heard the
horses neighing.

He looked once more in the direction of Border
City, and then descended quickly, and ordered Fire-
fly to stand guard.

““Come with me, Redwood; there’s a track-walker
goin’ to examine the nags,” be said, “and we’d
better get him out of the way.”

They crossed the bridge again, and then sepa-
rated. The light kept bobbing about the trees, and
it was no trouble to creep upon it unobserved.
THE OUTLAWS RETREAT 81

- “JT say, my man, what can we do for you?”
called Cabrillo from the darkness.

“Oh, nothing! I thought somebody’s horses
had —”’ he replied, and that was all he said. He
fell like a log as Redwood’s sure blow struck him,
and the next moment they left him securely bound
and gagged.

“We'll have no more interruptions, I hope,” said
the chief, endeavoring to light a cigarette, “for
there she comes.”

Faint and far off as the whistle was, Cabrillo
heard it, and lost no time in recrossing the bridge.
Redwood, Tarcedo, and Jim took their positions
among the.bushes, car lengths apart, Firefly re-
maining at the tank with Cabrillo.

The low rumble of the train grew more distinct,
and was followed by a series of piercing whistles
that sounded high above the wind and rain. Then
the great glaring headlight appeared far down the
track, and the rails glittered and sparkled as the
yellow shine fell upon them. The pale yellow glare
grew nearer, the lights in the car windows defined
themselves clearly, and the magnificent steel en-
gine, puffing and blowing, came to a stand at the
tower. The next instant a fusillade of shots filled
the air, followed by the wild screams of the passen-
gers.

“Hands up!” cried Cabrillo and Firefly, boarding

G
82 SIX YOUNG. HUNTERS

the engine from opposite sides. The command was
instantly obeyed, and the outlaws had possession of
the train.


CHAPTER VI
THE HOLD-UP

OM CLARK was the engineer of the Dallas

express, which left Border City at nine each
evening. He stood by his favorite, oil-can in hand,
watching the throng upon the platform, or exchang-
ing greetings with his many friends. There was an
air of bustle and commotion about the station that
night that was very pleasing to the tried old engineer.
If he had known. that José Cabrillo and his notorious
band were even then starting upon their forty-mile
ride on purpose to hold up his train, it is safe to say
he would not have enjoyed the scene of activity be-
fore him; but he knew nothing of José’s plans, and
was content to watch and compare the different types
he knew so well. The many loungers stood as usual
with their backs to the rail, as poor and as ragged as
they were six months before. He recognized the
shouts of the cabmen, and the stentorian tones of
the hotel men, each of whom proclaimed that his
hostelry was the only first-class house in Border City.
There were many among the crowd, though, that

83
84 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Tom did not recognize: the Indian with the gaudy
red blanket, for instance, or the desperate-looking
man wearing the heavy black beard and red scarf,
who looked at everything about the train so furtively.
The engineer glanced through the windows of the
dining-room and saw there were a goodly number of
passengers for Dallas, which, in addition to those who
thronged the lunch counter, would make a full train.
He watched the sloping street until his eyes rested
upon a little figure in white, and then he smiled
happily.

“Did you think I wasn’t coming, father?” asked
the little girl, when she had come up. “Mother
was bound you’d have a good dinner, and didn’t
hurry.”

“Well, that was very kind of her. We are a little
ahead of time,” he replied, holding up a silver watch
to the light. ‘What did you bring me?”

“Oh, lots of nice things! roast chicken and pie,
and something else you like.”

“That’s a good girl,” he said, kissing her. ‘Now,
run home, for it’s going to storm.”

As the girl tripped happily off, he climbed into the
engine and placed the steaming pail upon the seat
beside him. The fireman, Josh Larkin, heaped coal
upon the hungry fire, or polished a rod here and
there with an oily cloth.

“We're in for a storm to-night, or I’m no prophet,”
THE HOLD-UP_. 85

he began, lighting his corn-cob pipe, “and I believe
we'll have trouble, too. There are more odd-looking
ducks behind us to-night than I ever saw before, —
fellers with white suits and red leather shoes, and
women with diamonds enough to blind a man.”

“Josh, you can’t stand a blow and rain any more,
nohow,” replied the engineer. ‘And as for hold-ups
and the like, I’ve been in a dozen, and have never
been scratched.”

“No, but you’ve been roped,to your own engine,
and have seen your fireman killed, which amounts to
the same thing.”

“Well, there’s no cause to worry. The marshals
have rounded up those ‘dodgers’ by this time, Pll
allow.”

“Not by a good deal they haven’t. Those fellers
shoot like pizen, and the marshals don’t want no part
in the play. Then, the crew is grumpy to-night,
Tom. They’re afraid of those night-riders, I know.”

“Don’t you believe they are,” the other replied, pla-
cing his hand upon the throttle through force of habit.
“Sanders is as good a man as ever handled a train,
my boy.”

The conversation continued in this strain for more
than ten minutes, when it was interrupted by the
appearance of the conductor himself.

“Evenin’, Sanders,” said the engineer, between his
mouthfuls of chicken, “we were just discussin’ you.
86 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Josh, here, thinks we’re in for a blow, along with
some trouble.”

“Good for you, Josh! I’m ‘feelin’ a bit that way
myself, to-night; but I guess it’s not worth worrying
about. Those things don’t come when you expect
"em. We'll have the blow, though, sure,” he con-
tinued, taking a good look at the threatening sky.
And with this he swung his lantern from his arm
and walked down the platform, calling, “ All aboard,
‘going south!”

The crowd gradually began to thin. The fat lawyer
who is always late had just time to purchase his ticket
and light a cigar, and the train pulled out.

As the yellow and white lights of the city grew dim
and then disappeared altogether, the cars moved over
the ties faster and faster. Engineer and fireman sat
upon opposite sides of the engine, eagerly watching
the shining tracks, or endeavoring to peer into the
black night. The glow from the great fire fell upon
the floor of the cab and glittered upon the coals
that had fallen from Larkin’s shovel. Over bridges
and through endless fields of corn the train swept on,
until the broad plain of Oklahoma lay on either hand.
Then Tom threw open the throttle still wider, and
the train fairly flew through space. It had com-
menced to rain hard, and the men were compelled to
close the glass windows at the front of the engine.
The occasional flashes of lightning lit up the iron
THE HOLD-UP 87

horse, and showed for an instant every detail of the
wonderful machinery.- Tom and his fireman had
evidently not forgotten their conversation at Border
City, or the storm had put them in bad spirits, for
they did not speak during the ride, but sat silent
and morose, staring out into the darkness.

Among the passengers, though, things were very
different. Dick Tracy, the train-boy, had sold more
that day than ever before, and, as he confided to the
baggage master, he thought some of the passengers
must have “money to burn.”

“They’re the ‘larkiest’ lot I ever saw,” he ex-
plained, placing his goods and a handful of change
upon a trunk, “and I don’t understand it. There’s
a feller in there that wears a piece of glass in his
right eye, and has a man to bring him chicken sand-
wiches, and cut the magazines I sell him.”

Those who had been fortunate enough to secure
berths in the Pullman, retired soon after the train left
Border City. The other passengers settled them-
selves as comfortably as possible, in the reclining
chairs, and endeavored to lose themselves in sleep ;
but it was no use, for the rain beat against the win-
dow-panes incessantly, and the loud claps of thunder
sounded like the roar of a hundred cannons.

There were a few women and children in the for-
ward cars, but the greater number were either well-
to-do ranchers, returning from the great Kansas City
88 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

markets, or young men from the great cities of the
East, some tourists, some in search of fame and fort-
une in the Southwest.

“This must be the famous Oklahoma country,
the home of Holton and his crowd,” said a gentle-
manly looking youth, lighting a cigarette and offer-
ing the case to Conductor Sanders, as they took
chairs in the smoking booth. “ Did they really send
him to prison?”

“Yes,” replied the other, “but it did no good.
There were other men ready to take his place, and
they have.”

“You mean this young Cabrillo one reads of in
the dailies?”

“The very man. He’s as bad as any, and uses
you much worse. Now, this is the kind of night he
likes, —no moon, and lots of water to cover the trail,
for they generally ride back to the hills in the creek
bottoms, which are sometimes dry. But why don’t
you turn in?”

“T believe I will. What are we stopping for?”

“Water. There’s a tank on this side of the river,”
replied the conductor, as the train began to slow up.

The two arose and walked from the smoking booth
to the dimly lighted chair car. The passengers had
arranged themselves as comfortably as the circum-
stances would allow. The ranchers from Texas had
thrown off their coats and shoes, and lay snoring,
THE HOLD-UP 89

with their sombreros covering their faces. The
young men from the East did not seem to be able to
follow this example, for they tossed about uneasily,
asking numberless questions of the trainmen as they
walked through the cars.

“Ah, my good fellow, is it nearly daylight?” asked
the tourist of whom Dick Tracy had spoken to the
baggage master as wearing “a piece of glass in his
right eye.” ‘It storms so fearfully, don’tcherknow,
that it breaks me all up.”

“We'll run through the rain, presently,” replied
the good-natured Sanders. “ Don’t worry.”

“ Are—are you afraid of the Indians or outlaws,
my good man?” the other asked in a whisper, pla-
cing his hand upon the conductor’s arm.

“No, they’ve been sent up, long ago. We've
ended that, in this country, for good.”

“Then, in the name of heaven, what was that?”
cried one of the Texas cattle men, jumping up and
striking blindly about for his coat. Though half
asleep, he had heard the last of the conversation
between the tourist and the conductor, and, as the
train came to a full stop, he also heard and instantly
understood Cabrillo’s cry of “Hands up!” .

Then there was a never-to-be-forgotten scene
among the passengers. Women and men screamed,
and, to make matters worse, the man wearing the
black beard and red scarf, who rode in the first seat,
go SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

turned and faced them like a flash with a brace of
pistols. To add to their fright and the noise of the
wind and rain, Redwood, Jim, and Tarcedo, who had
been stationed car lengths apart below the water
tank, kept up the fusillade as they threw themselves
upon the platforms.

“Down you go, there!’’ yelled Snaky to the big
Texan, who had at last found his coat and was fum-
bling for his revolver. The rancher dropped back
into the chair instantly, and Snaky held the car with
his two pistols.

Cabrillo and Firefly had boarded the engine so
quickly that Tom Clark and Josh Larkin, the
engineer and fireman, were taken completely off
their guard. They knew from past experience that
any resistance would only make matters worse, and
consequently allowed themselves to be bound hand
and foot. They heard the volley of shots that came
from the baggage car and post-office, and hoped the
outlaws would be unsuccessful in robbing the train.

Redwood was the first of the outlaws to gain the
platform of the express car, and he lost no time in
gaining an entrance. He threw himself against the
door at once, fired a couple of shots from his rifle
unpleasantly close to the clerks’ heads, and then
stood behind a dry-goods box and covered the men.

Cabrillo evidently had no intention of breaking into
the post-office, for, after stretching engineer and fire-



ii 4
By, We

Woy
ous on




[je re
Ss
José CABRILLO.



THE HOLD-UP ne)

man on the floor of the engine, he jumped to the
ground and hurried to the express car, Firefly taking
up his position as lookout among the bushes, now
and then pouring a volley through the side of the car.

“ Get out of that corner, and open the safe!” cried
the chief, entering the express car. The two clerks
lost no time in complying with this demand, for one
glance at Cabrillo and Redwood was enough to satisfy
them that it was a matter of life and death.

“Lose no time with the lock, either, or I’ll end your
jig with the butt of this gun!” he said, with a volley
of terrible oaths.

The trembling hand of the express clerk soon had
the door open, and Cabrillo emptied the contents of
the great tin box and money drawer into a leather
bag. The clerks were then quickly bound and left
upon the floor. Redwood blew the lamps out, and
followed Cabrillo across the platform.

“Stand up, all of you, and throw your hands
higher!” growled the chief of the outlaws, as he
entered the car where Snaky was patiently covering
the excited passengers. The sight of the dripping
bandits, with their pistols and bowie knives, was too
much, even for the bravest of the travellers. Cabrillo
stood holding the leather sack, his eyes glistening like
diamonds .as they rested upon them, while Red-
wood’s rifle and Snaky’s brace of pistols looked at
them from behind.
g2 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Keep your hands in the air, or down you go!”
he said, relieving the first man on the right, of his
wallet, watch, and chain. “I'll find what we’re
after.”

The cries of the terrified passengers had ceased
when they realized that the robbers would not harm
them if they complied with their demands; and while
Cabrillo searched each one with a swift, experienced
hand and eye, the silence was broken only by Fire-
fly’s occasional shots at the baggage car, which also
contained the railway post-office, and by the moaning
of the night wind.

Rings, watches, gold, and silver were tossed un-
ceremoniously into the leather bag. At times, a
passenger would pour out a volley of oaths at the out-
laws, which only made Cabrillo smile. The women
burst into a flood of tears, and buried their faces in
their arms, but all to no avail. The robber took
everything in sight, and whenever a man’s watch was
missing, he generally knew where to find it, either in
the person’s shoe or under the seat, where it had
been hastily thrown.

Conductor Sanders was backed into a seat, and
Cabrillo took possession of his watch and pocket-
book. When the last man was searched, the chief
dragged the heavy bag across the platform, where
Jim stood covering the inmates of the next car. No
one would have guessed, if they had seen the one-
THE HOLD-UP 93

eyed man then, that he had ever for a moment
thought of abandoning the wild life of an outlaw, for
he looked the villain through and through. He had
burst in upon the travellers before they fully realized
the meaning of it all, and while he stood with his
back to the door, waiting the chief’s coming, the
desperate light that shone from his one eye, and the
sight of the great, glittering pistols, effectually settled
all thoughts of resistance on the part of the pas-
sengers.

This car was plundered in much the same manner
as the first, and not a shot was exchanged. The
women gave up their precious stones without a strug-
gle or an attempt at concealment, acting as if they
were glad to have it over with.

“Take them and welcome,” they said to the chief, .
“and much good may they do you!”

The rascals then left Jim, entering the car Tarcedo
stood guarding with his rifle. Cabrillo repeated his
commands, and was soon emptying everything of value
into the bag. The faces of both the men and women
were deadly pale, and it is doubtful if they could
have moved from their positions if they had wished
to. By the time the last man was. searched, the rob-
ber chief had about all he could conveniently carry in
the leather sack.

“Shoot down the first one that moves!” he cried,
opening the door at the end of the car and firing
94 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

three. shots in quick succession. This brought a
series of wild screams from the passengers in the
Pullman, which was the last car of the train. Tar-
cedo kept his rifle upon the passengers, while
Cabrillo and Redwood stood upon the platform as
the train moved off over the swollen river; for Fire-
fly, after the chief’s three shots, had boarded the
engine and thrown open the throttle.

When the -train had reached the opposite bank of
the river, Cabrillo and Redwood slid off the steps
and disappeared rapidly in the darkness towards
their horses. The yellow lights of the car windows
gradually lost themselves in the storm as the train
crept on down the track.

The robbers found the horses just as they had
left them, huddled together beneath the jack-
oaks.

“Get out a couple of saddle-bags, and we’ll divide
the carry,” said the chief, hoarsely, “for we must
ride like mad. Are the boys comin’ back?”

“T don’t see ’em, or the train, nuther,” replied the
other, holding the saddle-bag so that Cabrillo could
empty part of the contents of the leather bag into it.
“We're well out of it.” .

The treasure was placed in three different bags,
which were securely fastened to the horns of the
saddles, and the saddle-girths were tightened. By
the time this was done, the first hallooing of the
THE HOLD-UP 95

other outlaws was heard as they came running up
the track.

Cabrillo answered the call, and the panting bandits
soon joined them and flung themselves into their
saddles. Not a word was spoken. The chief led
the wild ride the rest of the night, through gullies
and creek bottoms, past herds of cattle gathered
under the shelter of a cliff, and up and down rocky
passes, until it seemed as though the gallant horses
could stand it no longer. Coyotes, wolves, and deer
fled before the night-riders, who lashed their tired
animals unmercifully. What a sight it was! Now
and again the lightning would flash and show the
plunging horses and riders in a sweeping silhouette,
and then all would disappear, and the bright sparks
struck from the flying hoofs alone would mark the
outlaws’ trail.

Towards morning the storm gradually subsided.
The bandits entered Grouse creek three miles below
their retreat, and though the stream was necessarily
much deeper and swifter than usual, they rode in
single file to the mouth of the brooklet, where they
dismounted and led their utterly exhausted horses
up the bed of the spring.

The long ride and the fresh ely, morning air had
left them tired and hungry. They led their horses
to the corral, where they threw blankets upon them,
and gave them a light feed of hay and a little water,
96 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Tarcedo and Jim busied themselves with the camp-
fire, and presently a roaring blaze cast a genial
warmth about the enclosure, anda score of steaks
and a coffee-pot sputtered and simmered on the
coals.

The three bags, laden with the treasure, were
placed upon the table in the retreat, the men gather-
ing about the fire with their blankets, well satisfied
with the events of the night. They had done well,
the chief said, and everything had gone smoothly.
They knew that a party would be sent in pursuit at
once, but they had had such parties after them before,
and feared them very little. The heavy rain had
helped to cover all traces of the trail, which satisfied
the outlaws that they had earned a summer’s rest ;
and they certainly devoured the steaks as if nothing
was on their minds. Then they lighted their pipes
and discussed the hold-up with many a brutal laugh.

“T don’t think those little dudes will grow any for
a year,’ chuckled Redwood. “Cap’n had a hard
time to pinch their watches; they trembled like so
many aspen leaves.”

“ How much was the haul, cap’n?”’ asked Dody.

“ Haven’t looked,” replied Cabrillo, “but I’ll allow
it'll make your eyes bulge.”

“Tet’s take a peep,” suggested Jim. “Them bags
is heavy enough.”

. Cabrillo would have been very glad to have post-
THE HOLD-UP . 97

poned the distribution of the stolen money and jewels,
for he foresaw it would be likely to make hard feeling
among the men; but he could think of no reasonable
excuse for not complying with the suggestion, and
so followed the men into the house, where they stood
about the table while he cut the thongs that secured
the ends of the bags. The gray light of dawn fell
through the barred windows as watches, diamonds,
pieces of gold, and pocket-books rolled out upon the
table.

“We got them that time, didn’t we, cap’n?” ex-
claimed Jim, rubbing his hands together as Cabrillo
started to empty the second saddle-bag. “It'll make
us all rich.”

The others watched the glittering mass with the
same eagerness, now and then uttering an exclama-
tion of intense satisfaction as their eyes rested upon
a particularly brilliant stone or well-filled pocket-
book. When everything was at last emptied,
Cabrillo tore off the yellow papers and broke the red
seals that bound the express packages.

“ This was to the National Bank of Dallas,” said
the outlaw, who was inclined to be facetious, ‘and I
am sorry that it has been carried so far out of its
way, for it contains nothing but bills of a. small de-
nomination. Will you kindly see how many are
‘ there, Dody?” Tarcedo took the package and com-
menced to count them.

H
98 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“ Ah, this is better!’ continued the chief, as he
broke open a second parcel and lighted a cigarette.
“Take seats, boys, for we shall be some time at this
pleasant occupation.”

The entire band grinned at this, and followed their
leader’s example by settling themselves upon the
three-legged stools.

José took the pen, dipped it into the ink, and com-
menced to place figures upon the yellow wrapper as
he counted the fresh green bills with the ease and
quickness of an experienced bank clerk. The odd
assortment of wallets and pocket-books was then
collected, emptied, and counted, and the stray pieces
of gold and silver were treated in the same way.

“Quite a wealthy band,” he said, when the nu-
merous additions were at last completed, and Tarcedo
had turned in the amount of his lot. “Something
over eighteen thousand dollars, besides the rest. Will
you have the divide now?”

“Yes, cap’n, yes,” they replied cheers “the
job’s done, and we’ll take our pay.”

“Then, let’s have no words or hard feelin’, any one.
That won't go.”

They leaned forward with their great arms upon
the table. Cabrillo started with the currency, and
counted out a hundred dollars to each, placing
double that amount aside for himself. The men
grasped the bills and smoothed them affectionately,
THE HOLD-UP 99

resting their arms about them. He counted around
again and again until the divisions were all made,
and then he did likewise with the watches and jewels,
ending by tossing each a good-sized wallet.

When each one had arranged and disposed of his
plunder as best suited his fancy, Cabrillo ordered a
lookout of three stationed upon the barricade.

“Each one of you has made the best part of five
thousand dollars,” he said earnestly, “and you've



been a credit to the camp. Now, for a week or two,
let’s keep an eye on the country, for they’ll be after
us afore long. But as soon as one of you tries to
give me the go-by, down you go in your tracks.”
The oath that followed this threat did not make it
any more forcible, for not one of the band had ever
I0O SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

seen Cabrillo worsted, and they knew he meant
every word he said.

The lookout took up its position upon the bowl-
ders, while Cabrillo and the rest busied themselves in
tidying up the camp. The swollen legs of the
horses were then swathed in cool, wet bandages, after
which the outlaws stretched themselves upon their
blankets and smoked or slept till noon, when the
watch was relieved.

While they are leading the monotonous life of an
outlaw in retreat, let us look in upon our heroes at
Deer Lodge, and see what adventures befell them
on the same day.
CHAPTER VII
AN EXCURSION

: Ac 2O:O;suptienet::
shouted Eugene from the
foot of the stairs at Deer
Lodge, about the time
Cabrillo and his band
were climbing to their
retreat after the hold-up.
“Are you fellows never
going to get up? It’s
nearly sunrise, and the creek is just right for a
canoe trip.”

“Has it stopped raining?” asked Jack, jumping
out upon the floor and beginning to dress.

“Yes, and the sun’s coming out. We'll take Von,”
continued Eugene, meaning one of Walter’s setters,
“and a couple of the canoes with our guns and fish-
ing tackle. Shall I tell Tony to get the lunch?”

“Just as you like,” replied Arthur, “only Harry
mustn’t go.” .

“Mustn’t go!” repeated Harry, indignantly. “Tm
as well as I ever was.”



101
102 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“That may be,” said his brother, “but you couldn’t
stand the paddling.”

“ Let it go to vote,” suggested Paul.

Having come to this determination, the club, with
the exception of Harry, descended to breakfast.

“T’m of the opinion that Harry should remain just
where he is for at least forty-eight hours,” commenced
Arthur. “He got some severe scratches, which will
be a long time healing.” .

“It would never do to let him go, and rest and
quiet are the best things for him,” added Walter.
“He’s had an adventure worth boasting about, and
I, for one, would be glad to change places with
him.”

And so the matter was settled. Harry, though
impetuous and adventure-loving, possessed a good
share of what is plainly known as common sense,
and was willing to abide by the wishes of his friends.
His feelings, however, as he watched them load the
two canoes with their guns and fishing tackle, were
not of the most pleasant nature.

“I’m going to miss a good day’s fun,” he solilo-
quized, leaning upon his elbow and looking down at
the jetty. ‘But it can’t be helped now, and so I
must wait. I wouldn’t have missed the excitement
of killing that wildcat for all the fish or game they’ll
get.”

When Harry said this, he honestly believed it.

<
AN EXCURSION 103

But when his chums returned that night and told
him their story, he was willing to admit that he had
missed a great deal. A few minutes’ rapid prepara-
tion sufficed to put everything in readiness for the

start. Paul, Jack, and Arthur took seats in one canoe,
while Eugene, Walter, and the setter Von filled the
other. The boys grasped the paddles and were about
to leave the wharf, when Pietro called to them from
the bank. ©

“You haven’t forgotten your promises about them
outlaws, have you?” he said.

“No; we can’t say we have, much as we'd like to,”
the boys called back.

“Well, mind you don’t, for they mean mischief.”

With this no very pleasant parting shot, the herds-
man turned and walked towards the stable. The
boys, after calling a cheerful good-by to Harry,
commenced their journey down the swollen creek.
As Eugene had predicted, the sun soon after appeared
and warmed the air. The singing of the birds and
the occasional yelp of the impatient: setter, together
with the rhythmic swish with which the paddles left
the water, were the only sounds that disturbed the
silence of woodland and stream.

“T£ I could forget those rogues, I should be tempted
to call this ‘the sportsman’s paradise,” said Jack,
jointing his rod as a great black bass arose just below
to suck in a belated grasshopper. “Kindly back
104 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

water, fellows, and I’ll show you how we fish the
head-waters of the Delaware.”

So saying, Jack clapped the reel upon the rod and
drew the fine silk line through the small nickel hoops,
ending by fastening a gaudy fly to the end of the line.

“ The water’s a trifle brown for fly-fishing,” he said,
raising the rod above his head for a cast, “ but ‘that
fly ought to be seen most anywhere.”

And so it was. The fly struck thirty feet down
stream, and was gently drawn back but a few feet
when it was eagerly struck by the fish, which was as
eagerly hooked by the excited boy. The reel sang
as the fish started up stream, the fine line cutting the
water with a sharp swish.

“You've got him, Jack, you’ve got him!” exclaimed
Paul, turning the canoe with one stroke of the paddle.

“Out of the way, Gene!” called Arthur, as the
bass neared the second canoe, which was drifting
down upon them. ‘“ He’s a beauty.” is

Jack managed to coax the infuriated fish to turn
back, and then the battle royal took place. Time
and again the bass would leave the water with an
angry lash, and the light, split bamboo rod would
bend double. Whenever it started towards the angler,
the reel would sing again, as the slack line was taken
up and let out, or as the fish would change his tactics
and whip about under the canoe.

The struggle was watched intently by the others.
AN EXCURSION 4 105

Jack’s skill with the fly-rod was well known at the
academy, and the boys were of the opinion, after five
minutes’ exciting play, during which some cleverly
executed changes of position took place, as the fish
fought from under the canoe, that his reputation was
well deserved.

“Good enough!” they exclaimed in chorus, as the
exhausted bass was finally drawn towards the canoe.
“ He'll weigh six pounds.”

“ And we'll have fresh fish for dinner,” said Ar-
thur, reaching out and taking a firm hold of the fish’s
mouth and gills, and lifting it, dripping and splash-
ing, into the canoe. “I’m glad we shan’t be obliged
to dine upon the ‘little fishes that come in tin boxes,’ ”
he continued with a smile, recalling part of the con-
versation he had overheard the previous day, “for
Tony has put some in the basket.”

By this time the others had rigged their tackle,
and soon after another fine bass lay floundering in
Walter’s canoe. The boys continued to whip the
stream a while longer, but without further success,
and finally put away their tackle and continued to
paddle down stream.

“ How do you fellows really feel about those ban-
dits?”? asked Walter, as the two canoes drifted along
together. “Are we going to be afraid to leave
camp separately? I, for one, am in favor of stand-
ing our ground,”
106 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Of course,” replied Paul. “We ought to; we
have come to enjoy our summer, and I am not going
to confine my conduct to Pietro’s rules and regula-
tions. It is all very well for those rascals to plan to
rob us of our good things and guns, but the robbing
itself is a bird of another color.”

“But you should have seen how desperate they
are,” said Arthur. ‘ Walter knows that they have
been a source of great annoyance to his father and
uncle.”

“Yes, but that was when Holton led the band.
He’s gone now, and they have had no success in their
raids of late.”

“Then they've attempted robberies?” asked
Jack.

“Well, yes; though they were driven back to the
hills twice last spring, as perhaps some of you read
in the papers.”

“JT remember,” Eugene replied. ‘The hold-ups
were boldly planned, but for some reason or other
things didn’t pan out for the outlaws.”

“And they won’t be very likely to try it again,”
added Arthur. ‘ You remember that the young fel-
low we saw yesterday, who can be no other than
Cabrillo, for he is known as Wild Face, spoke only
of robbing our lodge. That shows that he is not
anxious to try anything very dangerous at present;
and if he is beginning to lack nerve to carry out his
AN EXCURSION 107

raids, I believe we can hold our own against him and
his band of rascals.”

““Why do you suppose he took the trouble to sell
Harry the horse?” asked Paul.

“He must have had his own reasons. Judging
from what I have heard, this man Cabrillo is a very
shrewd person, and has saved quite a fortune. You
see, some of his men had deserted him, probably in
the night, and were unable to get away with their
mounts. So Cabrillo lost no time in getting rid of
the horses to very good advantage.”

“T suppose he wanted to get a nearer view of us,
too,” said Jack, “and ascertain if we had brought
any money with us.”

“Very likely.”

While this conversation was taking place, Cabrillo
and his band, having divided the spoils of the night
in the retreat on the summit of the cliff, not a quarter
mile from where the boys were paddling, were
stretched contentedly upon their blankets. If Harry
had been with our heroes, he would perhaps have
noticed the bended branches that marked the spot
where the outlaws had entered the bed of the brook-
let not four hours before. But he had not mentioned
to his friends how he had seen the outlaw disappear
the day previous, and so the boys remained in igno-
rance of the nearness of the bandits’ camp, and of
the trail that led to it. They, of course, knew noth-
108 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

ing of the events of the night, and were in conse-
quence forced to spend a very trying and exciting
quarter hour that morning, and at the same time
instantly change the opinions they had expressed
concerning José Cabrillo and his band of rogues.

“Fellows,” said Jack, resting his paddle upon the
gunwale of the little craft, “I’m free to confess that
I’m - getting very tired and hungry. I move that
Eugene, as proposer of this delightful canoe trip,
give directions for the pitching of a camp not too far
from a cool spring, and see to the carrying out of the
’ other necessary orders for the enjoyment of a sub-
stantial meal.”

“ Agreed!” cried the club in chorus.

Of course Eugene hummed and hawed good-
naturedly, and made a great favor of consenting to
the proposal, finally ending by saying : —

“My friends: I trust that in conferring this honor,
you have no selfish thoughts whatever, and will be
entirely at my service. I can think of nothing that
will give me greater pleasure than in directing a quar-
tet of such manly good fellows, who in addition are
natural Nimrods.”

‘Hear, hear!” protested the boys.

“Silence!” replied the captain, peeping into the
lunch basket. “Tony has been good enough to put
up two loaves of bread, six boxes of the ‘little fishes
that come in tin boxes,’ a gingerbread cake, a coffee-
AN EXCURSION 109

pot, butter, and pickles. Although we have on hand
two very fine bass, we shall also need a brace or two
of quails and a camp-fire, for I am partial to the
feathery rather than to the finny tribe. You will per-
ceive a grove of oaks upon your left. As director of
this august band of young woodlanders, I command
the flotilla to land upon the pebbly beach. Private
Hillman, assisted by Von, will see to the appearance









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VON AND THE QualIL,

of a half-dozen quails within thirty minutes. Private
Trehearne will prepare the fish he was so good as to
coax from the unknown depths, while Privates Martin
and Marshall will build the camp-fire and see that the
quails, before leaving the coals, have assumed the
correct shade of brown.” And with this multiplicity
of facetious directions, the canoes struck the beach
and were drawn half way out of the water.
IIo SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Walter and Von were off in an instant, while Jack
commenced to clean the bass. Paul and Arthur
had not gone a stone’s throw into the grove before
they discovered a spring that gushed out beneath
a great blue bowlder. There were no trails leading
to it, and from all appearances the boys were the
first to camp in that wild spot. Squirrels, bluejays,
and blackbirds chattered and fought noisily among
the branches. It was, indeed, an ideal place for a
camp.

“We've found the place for the camp-fire,” said
Paul to his cousin, as he and Arthur returned to the
canoes where Eugene was idly watching Jack clean
the fish. “ Aren’t you going to assist in the prepara-
tion of the repast?”

“Couldn’t think of it. The cares of leadership
have left me physically unable to lift a finger,” he
replied.

“Then you might bag a brace of those squirrels,”
said Arthur with a smile, indicating the grove by
motioning with his hand over his shoulder.

“Ah, that’s different!” said Eugene, as he took
his beautiful little rifle from the canoe and started
for the woods.

Paul and Arthur transferred the lunch basket and
other articles to the spring, cut a goodly portion of
wood for the fire, arranged the eatables upon the
ground which served as a table, and then stretched
AN EXCURSION IIl

themselves in the shade of the oaks. As soon as
Jack appeared with the fish, they lighted the fire
and placed it, wrapped in buttered paper, among the
coals.

& Now this is what I call enjoying life,” said Paul
to his chums, as they stretched themselves once
more beneath the trees. “I’m as hungry as a bear,
Arthur, so I believe you’d better put on the coffee-
pot; the smell of steaming coffee makes one even
hungrier.”

Arthur arose and placed the pot upon the fire.
“T suppose they’ll be back soon,” he said.

“J’ve heard them both fire several times,” replied
Jack. “Yes, here comes Walter,” he concluded, as
Von came bouncing in.

“An even eight birds,” said Walter, tossing the
contents of his pockets upon the ground. “ And
Von stood them to perfection!”

“How many did he stand? Two dozen?” aske
Arthur, who was also inclined to be facetious.

Walter had no ready retort to make, and so did
not reply. The boys began to pick and clean the
birds at once, after which they were buttered and
placed just above the blaze, upon green branches
which had been stripped of the bark.

“Tf you fellows were as hungry as I,” said Walter,
after the quails and fish had been placed upon pieces
of bark, and everything was in readiness to begin the
II2 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

meal, “‘you’d vote to forget the rules of etiquette for
once, and not wait —”’

The sentence was interrupted by the sound of
Eugene’s voice, as if in distress. The boys jumped
to their feet and grasped their revolvers and guns.
Faint and far off at first, the sound grew nearer until
the words were clearly heard and understood.

“Run, fellows, run!” they heard their chum call,
the sound of his voice growing louder as he drew
nearer; the next instant he staggered into camp, his
breath all spent, his hat gone, and carrying a squirrel
and rifle in either hand.

“What is it, Gene?” the boys asked excitedly.

“Outlaws!” he gasped. ‘To the canoes!”

Then there was excitement indeed. Whatever the
boys might have thought about their ability to suc-
cessfully defend themselves against an attack by the
bandits, they certainly did not act upon this occasion
as though they cared to exchange compliments with
them. Their chum had burst in upon them with a
“ white face and startling news, and they lost no time
in reaching the boats.

“Down stream!” cried Eugene, sinking back into
the canoe. ‘We can make better time.”

Walter threw Von into the canoe and pushed off.
Arthur, Paul, and Jack followed a second later, and
the canoes darted down stream under the powerful
strokes of the paddles.
AN EXCURSION II3

“Did you see them? Were there many?” asked
Walter, glancing over his shoulder towards the aban-
doned camp-fire.

“There were six or eight,” replied Eugene, his
voice trembling with excitement, “and they fired
at me.”

“Fired at you!” repeated Walter, looking almost
incredulous.

“Yes, fired at me,” returned the other. “I heard
the report and the bullet strike in the brush ahead of
me. Hurry!” This seemed to give the paddlers -
even greater strength, for they bent to their work like
good fellows, and were soon half a mile down stream.

“ Are there any sounds of pursuit?” asked Walter,
as the canoes flew along.

“TJ haven’t heard any,” replied Eugene, who was
somewhat recovering from his natural fright.

“Perhaps it would be a good plan to go ashore
here; they might be on their way to head us off.”

“Ves; we can hide the canoes in the brush,” said
Arthur.

“Then we’ll turn into this cove,” answered Walter,
“and keep out of sight.”

“Well! of all the delays and interruptions that
ever took place before dinner,” said Jack, as he
assisted in dragging the canoes upon the bank, “I
believe this is the worst.”

“Tt is quite a change in position and peace of mind

I
IIl4 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

in a very short while,” added Paul. ‘ We'll hear the
story from my worthy cousin, now.”

“Tt isn’t quite so funny as you fellows seem to
think,” began Eugene, wiping the perspiration from
his brow. “I started for squirrels, as you know, and
worked my way through the grove in no time, bag-
ging a brace as I went. I had followed a line of
timber for about half a mile, when I was startled by
hearing the dull thud of galloping horses, together
with the excited shouts of men. I ran to the top of
a hill, and there they were, riding at full speed
around a bunch of jack-oaks. I knew they had heard
the report of my rifle, and were looking for me, so I
took to my heels. They were armed to the teeth and
thoroughly desperate, as you shall see. When within
about fifty yards of the grove, I left the oaks and
started to cut across, for I had glanced behind and
had seen nothing of them, and thought I should have
time to gain the shelter of the larger trees —’’

“ Was it then they fired?” asked Arthur.

“Yes. I had almost reached the cover when I
heard them tear over the hill at full gallop. The
foremost rider called for me to stop, which I did not
do, but turned and threw myself through the brush
into the woods. He fired once, but the bullet struck
the brush far in advance.”

“Well! Things ave getting serious,” exclaimed
Walter. “I wonder what Pietro will say to that.”
AN EXCURSION II5

“Don’t let’s worry about Pietro,” said Jack. “J
wonder how we’re going to get anything to eat, now.”

“Did any one leave anything besides the eatables?”
asked Walter with a grin.

“T think not,” replied the hungry Jack, with ill-
concealed disgust. “I'll give any gun or rod in my
collection for a brace of those quails with enough of
that spring water and bread to wash them down.”

“Tf Harry were here, he’d take you up,” said
Eugene. “I want no part of the affair.”

“ And I don’t much blame you,” answered Jack,
taking a more serious mood. “It would be fool-
hardy to attempt such a thing. The question now
is, what’s best to be done?”

“ Either one of two things,” replied Walter, quickly.
“We can wait here till dark, and then paddle back to
the lodge; or we can start now and walk cautiously
back on this side of the creek. Which do you think
better?” .

“Let’s go back now, by all means,” suggested
Eugene.

“What's that?” exclaimed Paul, grasping his
cousin by the arm.

“What’s what?” repeated the others, looking
curiously at their friend.

“Didn’t you hear that call? Listen!”

The club stood motionless and listened while the
cry was repeated.
116 SIX. YOUNG HUNTERS

“JT heard’.something that time,” said Arthur.
“Tt sounded as if it came from the camp. Let's
leave the canoes and work along the bank, and
try to see what it is. We'll be out of sight among
the willows.” "

“ Stay — wait — one moment!” exclaimed Walter,
as the club started for the opposite side of the cove.
“We may be running into danger.”

“Not if we keep well out of sight. Perhaps they
haven’t discovered the camp, and we can enjoy our
meal in peace,” argued Arthur.

This made the famished boys view the proposal
in the same light, and they were soon following
Arthur through the dense growth of willows. They
walked steadily for some minutes, finally reaching
the willows opposite the grove of oaks where they
had camped. :

“Who'll be the spy?” asked Eugene, whose cour-
age was beginning to return. “Tl go with any
one.” 7 eae

“No, one is plenty,” said Arthur with decision.
“ And since I proposed it, I shall’ be that one.”

“Very well, then,” assented Eugene. “If any-
thing goes wrong, fire your pistol.” :

Arthur was soon out of sight among the trees,
and the boys stretched themselves upon the ground
and waited. ‘They had not been at Deer Lodge
a week, and one of their number had already been
AN EXCURSION II17

fired upon by a band of notorious rascals, who had
planned to rob them of their provisions and guns.
Things were certainly getting to be dangerously
serious, and something would have to be done at
once.

“I don’t believe that fellow tried to shoot me,”
said Eugene, drawing a short breath as he recalled
his exciting chase, “for the bullet hit forty feet
ahead. Then, too, the others had time to fire.
How do you account for that?”

“They probably wished to capture you,” Walter
replied, “and thought to frighten you into stop-
ping.”

“Then they were fooled for once,” laughed
Eugene. “I wonder how Arthur is getting on,
and how many pairs of eyes are watching the
vicinity of our camp at this moment.”

“We shall soon hear something, for here comes
Arthur back on all-fours,” answered Jack.

“And looking deeply puzzled,” added Walter.
“How many of you fellows would have joined the
club last winter, when we met in my room at the
academy, if you had known that we were to make
the acquaintance of a band of thieving rogues the
first week, and that our first dinner in the woods
was to be interrupted by a cowardly attack upon
one of the members?”

“All, all!” they answered heartily, not willing to
118 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

allow Walter to bear the blame of unavoidable cir-
cumstances. “A little excitement kills no one.”

“No, but Winchester rifles do,” said Walter.
“ Another such incident, and we shall be forced to
spend the remainder of the summer at the ranch.”

By this time Arthur had come up, and stood
scratching his head, looking as though he were en-
deavoring to solve a Chinese puzzle.

“ Well, we’re impatient,” began the boys; “ give us
the news.”

“J haven’t much. The rascals have left a pole
standing where we landed, at the end of which they
have tied a small American flag and a handkerchief.
I watched the vicinity of the fire very closely for
some moments, but could see nothing of any one.”

“Good!” exclaimed Walter, eagerly, after he had
thought a moment. “Fellows, I believe that the
men were not outlaws, but a party in search of some
roving cattle thieves; everything goes to prove it.
There were six or eight in the party, any one of whom
could have hit a mark half the size of our broad-
shouldered Eugene. Their firing but the one shot
in advance of him goes to show that they meant him
no harm; and they have left the handkerchief as
a flag of truce, and the American flag to show they
were acting in the interests of Uncle Sam.”

“Excellent, Walter. You're a second Sherlock
Holmes. What is our next move?” asked Paul.
AN EXCURSION 119

“To go back and eat the dinner, for it is only
twelve o’clock. It will be a bit cold, but will taste
just as good.”

“Perhaps one had better cross the creek and bring
it over,” suggested Arthur. ‘That will necessitate
only one fording.”

“ Agreed,” said Eugene. “TI shall be glad to offer
my services to atone for the bad scare I involuntarily
gave you. Are you sure there won’t be another
“scare?”

“ Positive,’ answered Walter.

“Then here she goes,” said the lad, throwing off
his boots and wading into the stream. The others
came out and stood upon the bank, watching their
chum wade waist-deep through the water. Their
fears had been put at rest by Walter’s very plausible
explanation of the riders’ behavior, and they were
well-nigh famished as they stood waiting for Eugene
to return with the victuals.

As Eugene walked out on the pebbly beach, he
glanced at the pole which held the flag of truce and
the stars and stripes, and saw something that had
escaped Arthur’s scrutiny. It was a piece of paper
rolled about the stick and tied with a white cord.
The boys watched Eugene closely as he broke the
fastening and read the paper.

“What does it say?” called Jack.

“Tt says ‘We thought you was somebody else.
120 SIX: YOUNG HUNTERS

rp»

That was a good dinner. So long read Eugene,
loud enough for his chums to hear. “TI don’t believe
I’ll have the opportunity of conveying that delicious
dinner to the hungry members of the Greyhound
Club.”

“The thought was mutual, at any rate,” said Paul,
dryly.

“Well, go and see what’s left,” cried Jack.

Eugene disappeared into the woods at once, and
was soon at the camping ground. He was not sur-
prised at not finding a whole slice of bread about the
place. The intruders had eaten everything in sight,
and even the sardine boxes were as clean as though
a hungry greyhound had licked them. These Eugene
gathered in a paper and presently returned to his
friends.

“This is all that is left,” he said, tossing them one
after another upon the water; “everything’s eaten,
even the last pickle.”

The looks of disappointment and anger that came
over the faces of his friends showed how provoked
they were.

“It’s no use crying over spilled milk. Let’s go
back to the canoes, build another fire, and have a
dinner in spite of all. The fire’s out back there, and
things are so mussed up it wouldn’t be any fun to
dine there now. Besides, we shall have to get the .
boats, anyway,” said Eugene, taking the handker-
AN EXCURSION I2I

chief and flag from the pole. “TI’ll keep these as
souvenirs of our first attempt at camping in the
woods.”

Eugene recrossed the stream, and without another
word the party set out, Walter leading with Von.

“Shoot everything in sight, Walt,” said Paul, load-
ing his rifle and bringing up the rear, “from a
meadow-lark to a prairie-chicken.”

“Indeed I shall. I believe I’d shoot a sparrow.”

Fortunately, Walter was not forced to bag such
trifling game, for quails were soon found. When-
ever they would rise in pairs, Walter would make as
pretty a double as one could wish to see. Walter
could never explain how he had become such a crack
shot, and could impart no useful information to his
many friends.

“T wait till the bird seems to be sitting right on
the end of my gun, and then I fire,” he always said
in answer to their questions.

“And the bird invariably drops,” they would re-
ply. But try as they would, Walter was the acknow-
ledged champion wing-shot at the academy, and a
very useful and important member of the club on
occasions of this sort.

Walter and the setter marked off to the right, the
others continuing towards the cove where the canoes
lay hidden. Eugene, who again became the ac-
knowledged leader of the party, gave his directions,
122 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

and soon everything looked cosey about the camp.
A fire was built, Paul and Arthur dressed the birds
they had taken from Walter, while Jack busied him-
self preparing the second bass they had captured
that morning.

“It’s good we left this fellow in the canoe,” he
said, “or we shouldn’t have had anything but birds.
Did they take the coffee-pot, Gene?”

“They must have, for I saw nothing of it.”

Walter came in with four more birds soon after,
and a very hungry and tired lot of boys gathered in
the shade and devoured the simple fare. After the
meal, the boys lay upon their backs, as tired boys
will do, and discussed the incidents of the morning
thoroughly. They were inclined to view the thing
as a huge joke, and decided not to let Harry know
anything whatever about it.

“He would have stood his ground like a rock, even
after catching sight of Eugene’s deathly pale face,”
said Walter. “That reminds me, Gene; where did
you lose your sombrero?”

“Tt flew off my head just before I reached camp.
When I went for the dinner just now, I searched the
bushes thoroughly, but those fellows had taken it.”

“If we had left our guns, they would probably
have taken those, too,” said Walter. ‘These fellows,
after losing a bunch of steers, are about as hard to
deal with as outlaws. We've had enough of this
AN EXCURSION 123

vicinity to-day, and I am in favor of paddling
back.”

The boys readily agreed to this proposal. The
canoes were launched, and the paddles flashed once
more in the sunlight as the boats headed for the creek.
As the club advanced, a flock of blackbirds, which had
been chattering and sporting in a group of willows at
the water’s edge, suddenly took flight. Before the
whir of their wings had fairly died away, the setter,
which was in the canoe occupied by Eugene and
Walter, began to utter a series of fierce growls.
The boys looked closely at the bushes and trees, and
saw that they moved perceptibly, as though some
heavy beast were slowly working his way through
the dense undergrowth. The lads sat motionless,
their mouths and eyes wide open. The color seemed
to have faded entirely from their cheeks, and they
were indeed badly frightened.

“Do you think they’re the outlaws?” Arthur
managed to gasp at last. “Shall we shoot?”

“No; wait till you see. I believe it’s a bear—a
silver-tip !’’ Walter replied.

These words had a wonderful effect upon the mem-
bers of the club. They had read numberless stories —
about hunting the silver-tip bear, and had always been
anxious to shoot one. They had asked Walter many
times at the academy if there was any chance of
getting a fair shot at one, but he had invariably re-
124 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS &

plied that they were very scarce, but that the common
black bears were quite thick. His words, therefore,
instantly dispelled all unwelcome thoughts of Ca-
brillo’s men, and brought back their hunters’ instincts
at one and the same time.

“Do you see that black mass coming through the
brush?” asked Walter in an excited tone, pointing
with his paddle towards the shore. “How many
rifles have we?”

“Only two, and Eugene’s is a twenty-two,” an-
swered Paul, startled by the unnatural sound of his
voice.

“Then get out the pistols,” returned Walter, “and
let him have it if he shows himself.”

Suiting the action to the words, he whipped out his
hammerless revolver and placed it between his legs
‘on the floor of the canoe. He then dropped the
paddle and caught up his shot-gun, while Eugene
and Jack kept the canoes in position.

“T’ll pour this volley into the brush,” he said, as
the black mass ceased to move but was plainly visi-
ble. “If he comes out, shoot everything you can
put your hands on.”

As he concluded, he raised the fowling-piece to his
shoulder and fired twice in quick succession. The
reports of the gun were taken up by the animal,
which growled with all the terrific energy of his
savage nature.
AN EXCURSION 125

“Yes, it’s a silver-tip,” said Walter in a. hoarse
whisper, “and there he goes!”’

Sure enough, the bear had turned and pened
through the dense, dark undergrowth in the direc-
tion of the cliffs. His growls and the snapping of
the bushes could be heard for some moments, dur-
ing which our heroes held their breath in silence.

“Well!” exclaimed Jack, drawing a long breath of
relief as he dipped the paddle and headed the canoe
towards the current. ‘ That’s the most savage growl
I ever heard. I wouldn't have believed it of any
living animal.”

“Neither would I,” assented Arthur. ‘The noise
about a menagerie at feeding-time is nothing to that.
I'll bet he’s a big fellow.”

“Let’s have a look at his tracks,” suggested Eugene.

The boys were out on shore in a moment, and
were soon creeping beneath the bushes to the spot
where the bear had stood.

“Here they are,” said Jack, gleefully, “and they
look as if a rhinoceros had left them.”

“T believe it would take a young cannon to kill
that fellow,” added Paul. “Ordinary repeating rifles
would only provoke him.”

“Well, we'll have a hunt for him, anyway,” said
Walter. “He'll hang around here, feeding upon an
occasional cow as the cattle come to water. Let’s
pull for camp!” :
126 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

As he said this, he started the canoe with one stroke
of the paddle, and the other boat ‘followed in the
wake. At intervals, as the boys neared the outlaws’
camp, they were in full view of Cabrillo and his men,
whose keen eyes never left them voluntarily until
they had disappeared up the stream.

“They’ve got a ‘crackerjack’ outfit, them fellers
have,” Cabrillo confided to his man Firefly, as they
sat upon the bowlders smoking their pipes; “and we
must have the whole thing, ’cause we can’t jump to
town, now, and buy ourselves an outfit.”

“We're rich, cap’n, we can cross the big pond,”
suggested Firefly.

“Not just now, Bill. Them officers are thicker
than houses in the city, and smarter than red paint.”

“Well, I’m in for holdin’ up that shootin’ camp,
then,” said Firefly. “A gentleman with a’most five
thousand dollars in his pocket can’t afford to eat
dried meat a whole summer. I want their pickles
and preserves and wine.”

“You'll get the pickles and preserves, but I don’t
guess you'll get the wine, Bill.”

“What’s the reason I won’t?” demanded Firefly.
“You ain’t goin’ to shut it away from us like you used
to, be you ?”

“Tt ain’t that, Bill,” explained the chief; “them
fellers is a trifle too white-handed and mealy-mouthed
to carry wine along of em. Do you understand?”
AN EXCURSION 127

Firefly said he thought he did, but couldn’t see why
men with plenty of money should be without whiskey
and mixed ale.

“Tt’s all in the rearin’,” said José, “and those fel-
lers wasn’t reared that way.”

While this conversation was taking place, the boys
were paddling slowly towards the camp, tired from
their day’s outing. When they reached the jetty,
they sprang out and clambered up the cliff, greeting
the greyhounds that came running to meet them.

“Well, you “ave been neglected to-day,” said Wal-
ter, patting his courser affectionately. ‘We'll give
you a chance to-morrow, perhaps.”

The words were hardly out of his mouth when the
boys’ attention was arrested by a cheery voice from
the veranda.

. “ How now, my hearties!” called Uncle John, as
fat and as smiling asever. ‘ Where’s your game?”

“Yes, where’s the game?” demanded Harry, ap-
pearing upon the porch with his arm ina sling. “I
suppose the canoes are loaded ?”

“Never mind,” Walter replied. _ ‘“ We should like
to know why you are up contrary to the club’s orders.”

“Oh, that is easily explained !.” said Uncle John,
beaming upon the boys from the porch. “I took
pity upon Harry, and gave him permission to dress.
He has been entertaining me with an exciting account
of his adventure with the wildcat.”
128 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Well, you have taken entirely too much upon
yourself,” his nephew answered good-naturedly.
“What brought you down?”

“Several things. I wished to instruct Pietro in re-
gard to some cattle that are to be driven through
here, and I also wished to see how you are getting on.
I am glad I came, for you must be more careful.”

The boys looked at each other significantly, but
said nothing. For amoment they thought that Pietro
must have sent word to Uncle John ; but, upon hear-
ing more of Mr. Hillman’s good-natured cautions,
these fears were put at rest.

“Uncle John has had a long ride,” said Harry,
glancing at his watch, “and so I ordered supper a
little earlier. I trust you all have good appetites.”

“Very !?’ said Arthur, dryly ; “ we dined lightly our-
selves.”

“As Arthur ceased speaking, Tony came out and
announced supper, and the tired company filed into
the room.


CHAPTER VIII
THE BEAR HUNT

FTER supper, Uncle John walked out to the
stable and held a long conversation with Pietro,
while the lads got together and told Harry how they
had been within a few feet of the animal, and how
they meant to return in force the next day.
When Uncle John told the boys that he had ridden

down for the purpose of instructing Pietro in regard

to some cattle that were to be driven through there,
he told nothing but the truth. He did not add, how-
ever, that the cattle would in all probability be driven

by half-breed Indians, who had swooped down upon

the ranch under cover of the wind and rain of the
night before, and had succeeded in getting ayy
with fifty fat steers.

“Tt’s not the same crowd that bothered | us. last
winter,” said Mr. Hillman, offering a cigar to the
herdsman, “but another nearly as bad. I thought
they would probably come through. here, and might
make the lads some trouble. Seven of my cowboys
are hot after them, and I have instructed the boys to
give them no quarter.”

K 129
130 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Uncle John’s instructions were the means of caus-
ing this same ambitious searching party to fire upon
one of his nephew’s guests, which, if the genial old
gentleman had known it, would have ruffled him
considerably. But he did not hear of it until long
after, and then he was forced to laugh with the
rest.

“ Speaking of that gang that hung in the hills last
winter,” said Pietro, cutting the end of the cigar with
his jack-knife, “sort o’ forces me to say that the lads
is hearin’ from ’em already. That young Cabrillo
sold Master Harry | a clever nag day before yester-
day, and he was cheap at an even hundred.”

“You don’t say so!” exclaimed Uncle John in sur-
prise.

“Tt’s a fact, all the same. Didn’t Master Harry
tell you?”

“Not a word. It beats all, how that boy gets
acquainted so quickly. He’s met that villain and has
killed a wildcat, single-handed, before a week has
passed.”

“Yes, and that isn’t all. The others have heard
something, too. It seems they struck for the creek
after their hunt yesterday, and that they happened
to catch sight of a figure creeping through the
grass —”

“Well, well!” exclaimed Uncle John, as Pietro
stopped to light his cigar, “ that is very interesting.”
THE BEAR HUNT . I31

“That’s right, colonel. Well, Master Walter gets
down from his nag, and he and Master Arthur work
through the grass like two old hunters after antelope.
And what do you think they hear?”

“ Haven’t any idea —a bullet sing past them ?”

“Not at all. This chap in the grass was the
owner of the horse Wild Face sold Master Harry,
and had come back for the money. It seems some
of the men have deserted of late, and while Cabrillo
was dickerin’ with Master Harry, they probably
wasn’t a great way off; so that rascal builds a fire
and starts to fry a brace of squirrels, cool as a
cucumber, do you mind, when the man in the grass
kind o’ gives him the high sign and braces him for
the greenbacks.”

“ Now I am astonished!” cried Uncle John, draw-
ing quickly at his brierwood. “I supposed that band
had been dispersed, as I told you before the boys
came. Did the lads hear anything else ?”

“That’s what they did. They heard Wild Face
say that the gang had given up engine-ridin’, and
that they was goin’ to give the boys in this shootin’
camp a bad scare, and take their fancy guns and
pickles.”

“It was very foolish to go so near the men. What
do you think is best to be done?”

“Oh! we can’t do anything, unless we pull back to
the ranch, and the lads wouldn’t hear of that. I be-
132 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

lieve the rogues are losin’ their grip. The boys
promised me not to go out, except ina bunch, and
not to camp over night on the prairie.”

“Very good. It would be a pity to have to ask
them to return,” said the colonel, “and I admire
their courage and pluck. But courage and pluck
often get youngsters into serious trouble, and so you
must keep a close watch on them, Pietro.”

“ Trust me, sir.”

“ And now I’ll have a look at the horse. Ah! a
black,” he said, looking into Prince Royal’s stall,
“and very well put together. He'll gallop well?”

“The lads haven’t been out with him. He got
scratched in the timber, and has been a bit lame.”

“He looks like one of Cabrillo’s horses. Those
rascals always did ride the very best. What do they
call him ?”

“Prince Royal.”

“The horse fits the name, and the name fits the
horse,” concluded the colonel, as he walked towards
the house.

“Boys,” he said, as he approached the veranda
where the lads were amusing themselves with their
banjos and guitars, “I am sorry to hear that you
have already made the acquaintance of this band of
rogues, for I can assure you, from. past experience,
that they are a bad lot. Pietro has just told me what
you happened to hear yesterday. I am not going to
THE BEAR HUNT 133

advise you to return to the ranch, but will ask you.
not to get into any trouble with these men. I came
down to see if my men had rounded up a band of
cattle thieves, and am naturally very much surprised
to find that you are already acquainted with even
greater villains. Have all the hunting you wish, but
promise me not to oppose the outlaws in any way.”

“Yes, Uncle John, we promise!” exclaimed the
boys in chorus.

“ Good-night, then, for I am very tired.”

“Hurrah for Uncle John!” shouted the club, loud
enough to be heard half a mile away.

The boys broke into a hearty song as Uncle John
ascended the stairs, and then completed the arrange-
ments for the hunt. Harry begged so hard that the
club decided to allow him to go, but distinctly stated
that he was not to take part in the heavy work, to
which he readily agreed. It had grown quite dark by
the time the plans were completed, and the air was
still quite cool from the rain of the previous night.

“If you fellows are not too tired to write your let-
ters I should think this would be a good time,” sug-
gested Eugene. “Your mind will be upon other
' things in the morning.”

“That’s so,” added Walter. ‘ Uncle John will take
them back with him.”

The lads therefore entered the lodge and com-
menced to write their many letters. First of all, of
134 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

course, the boys wrote to their parents, and then they
were good enough to write to some “less fortunate
fellow,” as they described it, who was forced to spend
the summer at the Gap or Bar Harbor. The letters
were all in the same strain, Eugene’s, perhaps, being
the most characteristic, and so we reproduce it as it
was written. This is how it ran:—

DeEER LopGE, July 12, 189-.

My DEAR Jor: Well, we are at last settled and en-
joying the best sport we ever had. Uncle John Hillman,
Walt’s uncle, is a perfect brick, and has seen to everything
for our comfort. He spent most of his time last spring -
down here, and as a result we are the lucky owners of a
beautiful little lodge, — not so little, either, for it contains
kitchen, dining-room, and lodge-room on the ground floor,
and four rooms and a dozen bunks on the second story. The
stable is in the rear, and we have a herdsman to look after
the horses, in addition to a colored cook. What do you
think of that? The herdsman’s name is Pietro, and he is a
jolly good fellow, and thoroughly skilled in horsemanship.
Tony, the cook, wears a white duck cap and apron, and
looks for all the world like an experienced chef. He cooks
very well, too, and puts us up great lunches when we go for
a day’s hunt.

I have so much to tell you I hardly know where to begin.
In the first place, let me say that greyhound coursing is the
finest sport on earth. You have no idea how they run!
The hares here are known as jack-rabbits, and are very
large and have great ears. They turn like a cyclone, and
THE BEAR HUNT 135

lead the dogs such a chase that it is difficult, in a rough
country, to keep in sight at all. I don’t know which dog
will prove the fastest ; they’re all good. Tasso and Saxony
turn quickly, but the others are just as swift in a straight
run. It is most exciting to ride slowly through the grass,
with the dogs moving slightly in advance. Suddenly, almost
before you realize it, a great rabbit rises to view, and the
dogs and horses close in with a wild swish and clatter. Turn
after turn is made, when the dogs, encouraged by the shouts,
steady themselves and follow the rabbit with wonderful sure-
ness, ending the chase by picking it up very prettily. We
caught sight of a fox yesterday, and had some sport that
would have made the blood of a tried old Kentucky
colonel tingle with excitement.

You will not be surprised to hear that Harry has run into
mischief already. He has not only shot and killed a wild-
cat, nearly meeting his death in so doing, but he has made
the acquaintance of the leader of a notorious band of out-
laws, who are in hiding in the vicinity, and who mean to
rob us of our guns and provisions ; we heard them say so.

It rained hard last night, and so to-day we started down
stream in our canoes, and caught our second mess of bass.
We started to camp by a sparkling spring, but an unlooked
for interruption [Eugene did not say what the interruption
was] caused us to desert the spot. We built another fire on
the bank of a little cove some distance further down, and ate
our fish and quails. We had hardly reached the main creek
on our way back, when we were startled by Von’s growling
and a moving in the bushes. We looked in that direction,
and could plainly see a black mass coming towards us. We
thought perhaps it was the outlaws, but Walter was right
I 36 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

when he said it was a bear. As the animal continued to
remain in the one position, Walter fired the contents of his
double barrel at the brush. I shall never forget the growls
that followed the report. The beast turned and took to his
heels, but, as we had but one serviceable rifle in the party we
did not follow. We are going down the creek again to-
morrow, and it’s dollars to doughnuts we shall have a story
to tell by nightfall.

Between silver-tipped bears, outlaws, and coursing the
larger game, — for we shall drive the ridges for deer as soon
as we kill the bear, — we are likely to have some stories to
tell next winter.

Hoping that this letter will not make you feel uncomfort-
able in your white flannels, and that you are not neglecting
your tennis, I am as ever,

Your very sincere friend,
EUGENE MARSHALL.

P.S. I forgot to say that Harry purchased a horse from
the outlaw Cabrillo. He’s jet black, and moves like a piece _

of machinery.
E. M.

Eugene was the last to finish, and his wicked smile
of amusement, as he directed the envelope, was in-
stantly noticed by his chums.

“Well, tell us the joke,” they said.

“T’ve written a letter to Joe Blakeslee that will
make him tear his hair,” he replied. “I’ve described
everything that’s happened since our arrival.” -
THE BEAR HUNT 137

“Tl bet you didn’t mention that little affair at
dinner to-day!” cried Jack.

“How do you know I didn’t?”

“ Because I know. Let’s see.”

“Can't do it, it’s all sealed.” .

“Then /’// write and describe your method of ap-
pearing at a dinner,” said Jack, smiling as he reached
for a pen and paper. “How was it, fellows? How
will this do? ‘He sprang among us, hatless, clutching
a poor little squirrel in one hand, and a target rifle in
the other.’ ” ;

“You can’t get over losing that dinner, Jack,”
retorted the other, taking his Winchester down from
the elk’s antlers that hung above the writing-desk.

“And neither can Tony,” replied Jack. “He
wants to os what we’re going to do for a coffee-
pot to-morrow.’

“Then you’ve given orders for a lunch?”

“To be sure; and I’m going to strap my share on
my back. If we have any more such alarms, the
intruders are welcome to know the color of my knap-
sack, but I shall enjoy the contents.”

“That’s pretty good,” said Harry. “You keep a
fellow home, say you’ve had a fine time, and then
tell him only part of the day’s fun. If I were as
curious as you fellows were yesterday, I should de-
mand an account of ‘that little affair at dinner to-
day.’”
138 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“You've let the cat out of the bag, Jack,” said
Paul. “Now it’s only fair to tell Harry all about
it.”

So Harry became acquainted with the ludicrous
incident that robbed the boys of their dinner, and
joined in the laugh at Eugene’s expense.

The others followed Eugene’s example, and cleaned
and oiled their Winchesters thoroughly. The heavy
leather belts were filled with cartridges, and by the
time revolvers and bowie knives were selected and
polished, the table fairly bristled with arms and weap-
ons enough to annihilate a herd of buffalo. The re-
mainder of the evening was spent in discussing, the
various incidents in which they had taken part since
their arrival at the lodge, and then they climbed the
stairs and tumbled into bed. They did not, however,
fall to sleep at once, but tossed about on their pillows,
now and then asking questions of each other. They
advanced opinions concerning the probable size of
the beast, and different methods of obtaining a fair
shot. Would it not be a good plan to kill a steer and
leave it as a bait, and then return the following night?
Or would it not be better to take the greyhounds and
setters, and trust to the scent of the latter to find
him? No, none of these suited every one concerned.
Harry thought the killing of the steer a waste of
time and money, and Walter did not wish to see the
greyhounds torn apart with one blow from the ani-
THE BEAR HUNT 139

mal’s claw. The latter finally settled the matter by
saying : —

“I believe the bear will be found in the vicinity of
the willows, as that is the coolest spot about there.
The best way is to go in the canoes, and leave the
dogs at home. The horses are not trained to stand
fire, and if a fellow is at all unsteady while mounted
on a frightened horse, he can’t hit the side of a barn.
I know what I’m saying, for I’ve tried it.”

This opinion was the last advanced, and the boys
soon after lost themselves in sleep. Once or twice
in the night Eugene spoke in his sleep, but his
“Don’t shoot!” and “To the canoes!” fell upon deaf
ears.

The boys arose and dressed themselves bright and
early the next morning. They were anxious to gain
an early start and paddle to the cove while the fresh
breeze from the south was still blowing. Tony did
not disappoint them, for the table was steaming with
hot coffee and corn-bread as they descended, and the
lunch basket stood upon the table in the lodge-room.

“My, that smells good!” said Uncle John, enter-
ing the room and sniffing hungrily at the odors of hot
bread, coffee, and broiling meat. “Does Tony treat
you well?”

“Indeed he does,” they answered with enthusiasm.
“We have to go into the woods occasionally to make
ourselves believe we’re not at Delmonico’s.”
140 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“T’m glad to hear it,” replied Uncle John, with a
laugh.

Breakfast was soon over, and the club, after bid-
ding Uncle John a merry farewell, transferred the
lunch basket and rifles to the canoes. The dogs
were coaxed into the stable, fed, and shut in a box-
stall.

“Everything ready?” asked Pietro, looking up
from his task of mounting the wildcat.

“I believe everything is complete,” answered
Arthur, following his friends down the path that led
to the jetty. “If we are not back by dusk, don’t
worry; for we may possibly have to do some stalk-
ing.”

“Well, I wouldn’t take any risk,” said the man,
pleasantly. “All the luck in the world to you.”

“Thanks, Pietro. We'll stick together.”

The boys took their positions, and the canoes were
pushed out into the stream. The muddy water of
the day previous had faded into a faint brown, and
the bottom of the creek in some places was plainly
visible. Nota breath of air was stirring, the breeze
from the south having died out completely with the
rising of the sun.

The gentle strokes of the paddles alone broke the
stillness, but even they might have been heard fifty
yards away. Occasionally, a snake or turtle would
slide from a log into the stream, but even their move-
THE BEAR HUNT :; T4!t

ments were as lifeless as the eee birds that now
and again sailed over the water.

“It’s going to be a scorcher,” said Paul, removing
his coat and hat. ‘Unless that bear left those
willows last night, we'll find him sure. He'll never
move on a day like this.”

Harry, while listening intently to all that was said,
watched the shore on his left very closely, but was
unable to determine just where Cabrillo had left the
stream with his horse. He turned and took’a good
look at the cliff where he had been stationed when
he noticed the outlaw, and endeavored to mark the
bend in the stream. There were a number of brook-
lets leading to the creek, any. one of which might
have been used by the outlaw. Harry shrewdly con:
cluded that the man would probably make use of
water as a means of covering up his trail, but just
which spring would lead to the bandits’ camp was
difficult to decide. The bed of the stream was for
the most part composed of pebbles and sand, which
of course would not hold the marks of a horse’s hoof
for any length of time. Then, too, the water was not
clear and still enough to make a close examination
from the boats with any success, and the lad decided
that he could gain his only clew from the dense
growth of willows and bushes that bordered the
creek. But in this he was also unsuccessful, for
the outlaws had left no trace behind, and the few
142 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

branches that had drooped the day previous were
now as straight and natural as ever.

Tarcedo, watching from the outlaws’ retreat, was
the first of the three on guard to catch sight of our
heroes, and he lost no time in communicating the
intelligence to his chief.

“Cap’n,” he said, motioning his chief to mount the
barricade, “there goes those pizen kids in them cloth
dug-outs!”

“Yes, and look at the fine shootin’ irons,” added
Firefly.. “I want one of those belts and a brace of
pistols; mine are gettin’ played out. When are you
goin’ to clean ’em out, cap’n?”

“Oh, soon enough! Can’t you fellows wait till this
sort of blows over?”

“No, we can’t,” snarled Redwood. ‘ We've a’most
five thousand in our pockets, and we don’t propose
to live on raw meat no longer.”

“ Waitin’ won’t help matters none,” said Snaky,
who had joined the group. “The timber'll be full of
those blamed marshals in a day or two, and then
we'll be glad to have raw meat.” He finished this
speech with a terrible oath, and then left the group,
stretching himself in the shade.

“You don’t have to live on raw meat,” Cabrillo
called down to him. “You can build your fire on a
cloudy night, if you like, and cook enough to last a
week. But we’ll have no more fires sendin’ up their
THE BEAR HUNT 143

puffs of smoke durin’ the day, and remember it. If
anybody holds the pistols, I want to be the one, as
I’m more used to doin’ business from that end.”

“Tt ain’t no sort of grub for gentlemen,” said Fire-
fly, almost savagely; “and I want the cap’n to prom-
ise to strip that there fancy shootin’ camp blamed
soon.”

“Well, men,” the chief replied, “I will say that
I’m beginnin’ to think well of you since the other
night, and I’ll give you my hand to pop down on
those schoolboys pretty soon. Now, don’t let me hear
another word against the grub till I’m ready. D’ye
hear?”

The others acknowledged that they heard, and the
conversation was dropped.

Meanwhile, our heroes had disappeared down the
creek, little guessing what robberies were at that mo-
ment being planned upon the summit of the noble
cliff on their left.

“This is where we took to the canoes yesterday,”
said Jack to Harry, indicating the beach, “and you’d
better believe we made time.”

“‘ How far is the cove below here?”

“‘A matter of a mile or so.”

“Then we shall soon be there. Is it near those
craggy peaks on our right?” asked Harry, pointing
towards a towering hill that was crowned with two or
three peaks that shone vividly in the sun. A dense
144 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

cover of oaks stretched to the shore from the first
of these peaks, through which a spring soaked its
way into the cove.

The lads paddled faithfully, and were soon ap-
proaching the quiet spot. There wasa sort of disturb-
ance among the bulrushes as the canoes were turned
from their course; a pair of wild ducks flew up, black-
birds followed, and soon a great medley of birds hung
in the air, uttering loud screams of protest at being
disturbed at their morning bath. The boats them-
selves, however, slid into the cove as silently as their
own shadows. :

The bottom land just below the cove had been left
black and fenny by the heavy rain, which must have
poured in torrents from the sides of the towering
peak-crowned hill.

The boys ran ashore and lifted the canoes clear of
the water, hearkening, as silent as so many mice.
They took their guns, strapped their belts about them,
and started through the willows for a little hill that
seemed to be quite bare of the swampish trees. A
faint steam arose from the bog, and the distant line
of the Arkansas river trembled through the haze.
The birds that had been disturbed by the appearance
of the young hunters had redescended, and the whole
valley lay silent in the sunlight.

“T’ll wager my horse that we shall find that bear
somewhere between here and those peaks,” said
THE BEAR HUNT 145

Arthur, as the lads halted to hold a short consulta-
tion.

“TI don’t doubt it a bit,” replied Eugene, gazing at
the great, dark-green masses of foliage. “How are
we to proceed?”

“We can do one of two things: either separate in
threes and encircle the marsh, or keep together and
work the ground ina bunch. The latter would be
the better plan, for we can strike the trail he left
yesterday, thereby gaining a good start.”

“Do you think we can follow it for any distance?”
asked Harry, who, in spite of all opposition to the
contrary, meant to take part in the hunt.

“We can until it strikes the dry grass; and then,
perhaps we can for a little time.”

“Well, that seems to be the best plan, and the
thing to do,” said Walter.

The lads therefore shouldered their rifles and
started towards the willows, moving cautiously, as
though they were in an African jungle, and feared
the spring of a yellow skin.

“T can’t get the sound of that fellow’s growl out
of my head,” said Tae: bringing Be the rear. “It
sounded like a cannon.’

The others were of the same opinion, and began
to feel that. they had undertaken a great big job
when they started to kill the bear. The numerous
stories they had read concerning the silver-tip’s well

L
146 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

known tenacity came vividly to them now, and they
even remembered how one particular trapper, hav-
ing succeeded in closing a silver-tip in a cave, was
forced to go each evening for a week and empty the
contents of his rifle into the animal before he heard
the death struggle.

They crossed the spring in aishee. and had no
difficulty in. striking the trail left by the bear the
evening before.

“What do you think of those?” asked Arthur,
turning to get a good view of his brother’s face.

“T think he’ll be worth working hard for,” Harry
answered promptly.

“Then let’s be going, for nothing can be gained by
waiting,” said Paul, taking up the lead and marching
through the dense, dark trees. The boys moved
silently and steadily, for they had commenced the
hunt, and were bound to go through with it at any cost.

It was an easy matter to follow the trail, for the
ground was quite soft even in the dry places, and the
imprints left by the great beast were plainly visible.
The bear had fed from the berry bushes that grew in
profusion about the swamp, and some of the marks
had evidently been made since morning.

“The trail’s getting fresher, fellows,” said Eugene
in a whisper, as he dropped upon all-fours and ex-
amined an imprint closely. ‘ The mud at the upper
edge of this foot-mark is barely dry at all.”
THE BEAR HUNT 147

“Yes, and that’s where he slept,” exclaimed
Harry, coming upon a thickly-leaved bush that had
been bent and crushed by some great weight. “Look
at the footprints!”



THE BEAR APPEARS,

“They lead to that thicket yonder,” said Walter,
“and I believe we shall find him there.”
“Who'll shoot first?” asked Arthur.
148 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Shoot together,” answered Walter, cocking his
rifle with a faint click. ‘“ What was that?”

“T thought I heard a bough break,” replied
Eugene, in a voice as hoarse as a crow’s; and, rash
as the proceeding was, he followed the sound.

Before the others could think how. to act, before
they could even cock their rifles, the thicket burst
asunder, and the great frame and wild eye of the
animal appeared in full view. He had heard or
scented the lads, had doubled on his trail, and came
charging down upon them with a growl that rang
out like thunder on the quiet air. Eugene stood as
though he were cut in stone until it was too late, and
then he could not fire; he had no time. All that he
could do was to fling himself backwards out of the
path of the great brute, as it came rushing upon
him. -It was none too soon, for the lad felt, as he
sank back into a bush, the slight wind made by the
bear’s wonderfully quick movement.

“Shoot, shoot!” cried Eugene; but his voice
sounded strange and hoarse, and, try as he did, he
could not moisten his lips. The next instant. the
bear was past him, charging upon Harry, who was
the next in line.

Harry realized his great danger at once, and gave
one desperate bound to the right as he raised his rifle
and fired at the beast’s head. It was then that the
others, who had retreated somewhat to the rear,.as if
THE BEAR HUNT 149

half undecided: whether to remain and take part in
the battle or not, recovered the use of their senses.
Eugene’s narrow escape had left them almost stunned,
but now they had sufficiently recovered their wits to
stand their ground. As the report of Harry’s rifle
died away, and as the beast blundered past the lad,
they saw that the bullet had not struck a vital spot,
and only served to further infuriate him. Walter
raised his rifle and fired twice in quick succession.
The first bullet ploughed up the ground a few feet in
advance of the game, showing how badly frightened
and nervous the lad must have been. The second
shot was more successful, for the beast uttered a
most savage kind of growl, and charged upon Walter
before the smoke had fairly left his rifle barrel. He
dropped the gun and spurted round the thicket, call-
ing loudly to his comrades.

“Fire, fellows, fire!” he shouted, as he cleared the
ground like a deer. ‘“He’s catching me!” Bang!
bang! came the reports of the rifles, but the bullets,
if they struck, seemed only to madden the beast to
fresh efforts. The boys had unconsciously become
separated, which made firing at random very danger-
ous. Whenever the bear would be in good range,
Eugene’s trembling form would loom up like a ghost
just behind it; and whenever Eugene did not appear
directly in range, Walter would look twice as big as
the animal as he flew towards or away from them.
I50 SIX -YOUNG HUNTERS

“Pull yourself up in a tree!” yelled Harry, almost
beside himself with anxiety. “Be careful how you
shoot, fellows!”

Walter heard the words, and must have cleared the
ground at the rate of ten yards to the second. The
spurt brought him to a little cottonwood, not six
inches through the base, but which had a friendly
limb starting from the trunk some seven feet from
the ground. The thought that his friends did not



dare to shoot while the bear was in such close pursuit
quickened his speed, and with one swift, sure leap
and swing, he cleared the ground and pulled himself
among the branches. The next second the beast
struck the tree full with his head. Crash! The
trunk snapped like a carrot, and the frail branches
broke short off as they landed with a dull crash.
Bang! bang! bang! spoke the three rifles, the third
THE BEAR HUNT 151

shot fortunately bringing him to his knees for
an instant. But it was only for an instant, for
the animal was up and making for Walter before
the lad had disentangled himself from the broken
branches. There was but one means of defence left
now, and that was his revolver. More by instinct
than anything else, he reached for it, and pulled the
trigger. Other reports sounded almost at the same
moment. Down came the great beast all in a heap,
and rolled on to his side as dead as a stone.
CHAPTER IX

STARTLING NEWS

ALTER had no sooner gained
an upright position in the
young cottonwood than it was
struck squarely and with fear-
ful force by the bear’s fore-
head. As the tree went down,
the lad endeavored to gain the
use of his legs by freeing them
from the network of limbs;
but, as we have said, he was
unable to accomplish this, and
quick as thought reached for
his pistol and fired. That shot
ended the struggle, for the

brute’s claw ceased to advance towards the boy’s

foot, which of course was but a short yard from him,
and the next moment, to Walter’s intense relief, the
silver-tip had rolled on to his side and had ceased to
breathe.
The boys came running up, their faces telling the
152


STARTLING NEWS 153

true story of their terrible fright. The color had
faded entirely from their cheeks, and their counte-
nances were as white as a baker’s in a great city.

“Are you hurt, Walt?” they asked together, as
they came up fairly bristling with pistols and bowie
knives. ‘ Did he reach you?”

Walter kept his staring eyes upon the dead body
of the bear as though he very much feared another
attack. Then his pulses gradually quieted down to a
more natural time, and he was once more in posses-
sion of himself.

“No,” he answered faintly, struggling to his feet
as his chums removed the branches that pinned him
to the ground. “Why didn’t you fellows fire more
often?”

“We were afraid to trust ourselves,” they answered
with voices alla-tremble. “We could hardly separate
you from the plunging bear.”

Walter glanced at his friends and saw that their
rifles shook even then like so many aspen leaves, and
was very glad they had not trusted themselves. He
could not blame them, for he remembered how his
own first bullet had struck the ground some feet in
advance of the brute, and how difficult it had been to
raise the gun at all.

“Who did the most shooting?” he asked, gazing
at the bleeding carcass. “ That last shot did the busi-
ness,”
154 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Tt was Harry’s,” said Arthur, quickly; “and that
was Paul’s shot that brought him to his knees.”

“ He took more killing than anything I ever heard
of,’ added Jack. “I was entirely too paralyzed to
draw on him, and shouldn’t have been able to move
if he had charged upon me.”

“Yes, you would, too,” replied Eugene. “Did you
ever see more wonderful acrobatic performances than
Walter’s and mine? It was a case of necessity in
both cases. My! I almost felt that fellow’s hot
breath as he swept past.”

“Just look at the bushes he passed through!” ex-
claimed Walter. ‘They resemble a cyclone’s track
on a small scale as much as anything else.”

“Well, we’ve done something worth boasting of,
now,” said Paul. ‘That is the largest bear I ever
expect to see.”

The boys were all of the same opinion, and gradu-
ally forgot their fright as they examined the wounds.
Two bullets had struck the left shoulder, and had
ploughed their way out in the vicinity of the breast,
while a third, presumably Walter’s pistol shot, had
entered and lost itself in the region of the animal’s
heart.

Harry’s first shot had cut an ugly gash across the
nape of the neck, but a dozen such wounds would
not have checked the great beast’s mad rush.

“Tt’s unfortunate that we weren’t bunched when his
STARTLING NEWS : 155

majesty appeared in sight,” said Arthur; “we could
have given him a very warm reception.”

“We should congratulate ourselves at so fortunate
an ending of a dangerous affair,” continued Jack.
“If I were in Walt’s boots, I shouldn’t eat nor sleep
fora week. As it is, I should be glad to assist in the
preparation of the midday meal.”

“That’s so; it must be nearly noon,” answered
Walter, who had now entirely recovered his good-
nature, “for our epicure is getting impatient.”

“Send him for the lunch basket, and we'll dine here.
by our game,” said Harry.

Jack was out of sight in a moment, reappearing
soon after with the basket. The lads, after they had
viewed the dead bear from every possible point, and
had guessed many times at his probable weight,
lighted a fire and placed the coffee-pot upon the coals.
They certainly did not look as though they had just
killed their first bear. They had discarded their rifles
and belts, and lay about on the grass like old hunters.
They were as conceited over the adventure as so
many cocks upon a walk, and one would never have
supposed that they had ever fled from-any sort of
game.

“We'll have to have a club-room at the academy
next fall,” said Eugene, refilling his tin cup with steam-
ing coffee, “‘and have that fellow’s hide as the grand
trophy.”
156 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Then we shall have to begin skinning him at
once,” replied Walter. “It’s a long, hard job, and
will take till sunset. We can’t leave it here to-
night, for the wolves will be thick-upon the hills by
dark.”

The lads began at once to remove the heavy skin.
‘They worked steadily for a couple of hours, for they
were inexperienced, and the skin did not yield readily.
At last, however, to their great satisfaction, they pulled
it clean off the huge, dark-red carcass, caught it up in
their arms, and started for the boats. The skin was
rolled up and placed across the cock-pit of Walter’s
canoe, which sunk nearly to the gunwales under the
additional load.

The lads were well pleased with themselves and
with the world in general, as they paddled out of the
cove they had entered so silently that morning. Wal-
ter’s canoe, followed by her consort, was soon in mid
stream, and made good time against the current and
the light breeze that had sprung up.

Their appearance below the outlaws’ retreat was
not unlooked for, though the presence of the huge
skin was a decided surprise.

“Just take a peep at what those kids has gone and
done!” exclaimed Tarcedo, shading his face with his
hand and peering through Cabrillo’s telescope. ‘If
they ain’t landed a silver-tip, then I’ll be blowed!”

“That's what makes me so infernal mad,” con-
STARTLING NEWS 157

tinued Firefly. ‘We've got roll enough to go shootin’,
with a nigger cook, too, and have pickles and wine.
When the cap’n comes in to-night, he’ll agree to jump
that camp blame soon or there’ll be lead singin’ ’round
here.”

As the canoes proceeded up stream, Harry kept a
sharp lookout for evidences of the outlaws’ trail, but
could see nothing, and was forced to admit that if
their camp was in that region, they were certainly
skilled woodsmen.

“Perhaps Cabrillo could not continue along the
bank,” he soliloquized, “‘and was forced to take to the
creek that day. He may be miles away by this time;
I hope so, at any rate,” he concluded, as his thoughts
reverted to the exciting events of the morning.

Notwithstanding the bad scratches he had received
during his fight with the wildcat, and the indescrib-
able feeling of discomfort that came over him when-
ever he chanced to think of the outlaws, the lad was
overjoyed with the bright, sunshiny weather and the
future prospects for sport. He sat in the bow, on the
lookout for concealed snags or roots in the water, as
the canoe moved steadily against the current. He
held his rifle across his knees more through force of
habit than anything else, watching the delicately
leaved willows, or sometimes catching sight of a
kingfisher flashing up from the shallows, and darting
up the broad band of sunlight like a jewel flung
158 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

through the air. As the canoes moved quickly and
silently around a bend in the stream, he recognized
the glade upon his right as the very spot in which he
had built the fire and had broiled the squirrel he had
shot with the outlaw’s rifle. This caused him to
recollect everything that had transpired during those
two mornings, and he was forced to admit that he
could not believe anything very bad of Cabrillo.

“T say, fellows, how many more days are you
going to neglect your favorites ?” he asked at length,
as his mind reverted to congenial thoughts of Prince
Royal and the greyhounds. “TI believe this is the
second day in which a saddle-girth has not been
tightened. Walter, what is on the card for to-
morrow?”

“ Anything you like; a gallop with the hounds if
you say so,” replied Walter.

“Let’s have it, then, by all means!” said Arthur,
striking the water with his paddle. “Two days of
canoeing are enough, even with an exciting bear
hunt included. I'd like to take part in something
not quite so dangerous but just as thrilling.” _

“ And I should like to see Prince Royal, Leveller,
and Jack’s nag follow the pack,” exclaimed Paul.

“Then why not go for coyotes?” asked Walter.
“T should like to see the black run, myself.”

“J don’t believe Harry’s well enough to ride for
‘a while,” said Arthur, “and I think it would be a
STARTLING NEWS 159

good plan to have him remain at the lodge. I'll ride
Prince Royal, for he’ll need the exercise.”

“And so shall I,” continued his brother, with a
wink at his companions. ‘ When shall we start ?.”

‘Early in the morning, for they take to the brush
and cover, or lie upon the side of high hills later in
the day,” answered Walter. “Is it all settled?”

The others assented heartily as the canoes were
made fast and the skin was rolled upon the wharf.
Walter and Eugene carried it up the bank, the others
following. Tony wasidly watching Pietro groom the
gallant Prince Royal, and did not hear the lads until
the greyhounds and setters set up an impatient yelp
of recognition, at which he turned and caught stgut
of Walter, Eugene, and the bear’s skin.

“For de lan’s sake! ” cried the old negro, backing
behind the hostler and showing the whites of his
eyes. “ Pietry, Pietry, what you goin’ to do with
such young marssers? Dey’s gone and killed a
bob-tailed bear, sure as I’m livin’. Dey’ll be ropin’
panthers ’fore long, ‘deed dey will.”

The lads, proud of their achievement, dropped the
skin just outside the stable door. Prince Royal, upon
catching sight of it, reared and kicked viciously.

“ He hasn’t forgotten Harry’s wildcat hunt,” said
Eugene, casting an admiring glance at the clean-
limbed, glossy black. ‘“ We're going to ride the
ranges to-morrow, Pietro.”
160 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“I’m glad to hear it,” answered the hostler,
knocking his curry-comb against the stable door.
“The hosses are as restless as so many two year
olds. J’ll have them all shinin’ like silk to-morrer,
and Tony’ll be sparin’ with his corn-bread for the
hounds. But that’s a great hide you have, Master
Walter. Did he take a deal of killin’ ?”

“Indeed he did, Pietro, but everything came out
all right. He got after me, and there was so little
daylight between us that the fellows were afraid to
shoot often.”

“ Made you run, did he!” exclaimed Pietro, with a
twinkle in his eye. ‘Tell us how you found him.”

So Walter went on and told the morning’s advent-
ure, to which Pietro and Tony listened with the
closest attention. He explained how the bear must
have doubled on the trail, and how wonderfully swift
and sure his movements had been. Tony never said
a word, but showed the whites of his eyes contin-
ually, and occasionally brushed an imaginary speck
of dust from his immaculate suit of duck. Pietro
showed how astonished he was by drawing briskly at
his pipe, now and then uttering a short exclamation
of approval or alarm. When Walter had finished,
the herdsman led Prince Royal to his stall, saying as
he did so :—

“ Well, Master Walter, I’d like to say that I think
you and your friends are chips of the old block, and
STARTLING NEWS 161

that you did a heap better than a lot of men I’ve
known who have hunted these hills a’most their
whole lives. It was gritty to trail him up that way,
and I’m inclined to think you can look after your-
selves most anywhere.” ;

“Thank you, Pietro,” answered Walter. “What
are the chances of getting a shot at some wolves
to-night ?”

“Very good. Where did you leave the carcass ?”’

“Where it fell. You don’t suppose we could move
it, do you?”

“T don’t know. Is it in the open, or in timber?”

“Just at the edge of the willows, in plain sight
from the hill.”

“Well, the breeze is blowing from the south, so
you'll be able to get some shots by coming up on the
other side. The coyotes will come down from the
cliffs at dusk, and they’ll be thick enough to cover
the ground. Take plenty of shells, for you'll have
lots of sport if the moon comes out.”

“How many of you fellows are too tired to go?”
asked Walter.

“None! None!” yelled the lads in response.

“Then we'll start after supper,” said Walter.

“Shall we take the dogs ?”’ inquired Paul.

“No; they’re too fast for the woods, and can’t see
the trees.”

The other arrangements were completed dur-
M
162 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

ing the course of the afternoon. Pietro thought it
best to go again in the canoes, as they led directly
to the spot; and, as he further stated, there would
be less chance of alarming the wolves, which had
learned to fear horses as well as men.

“Tony seems to have recovered entirely from the
shock of the bear hunt,” said Jack at supper, reach-
ing to the centre of the table, “for these biscuits are
simply great. I believe I’ll take some with me.”

“No, you don’t, Jack,” said Harry, removing the
plate from his friend’s reach. “ You've got to fire
your Winchester, to-night; can’t have any statues
about. Who knows but what we'll meet another
bear, or perhaps a panther. Halloo! What's that?”
he concluded, looking out of the open window.

“A horseman,” answered Paul; “ and he’s come
a long way.”

“Yes, clear from the ranch. That’s one of
father’s cowboys, for I know the white pony,” added
Walter.

“What do you suppose he’s after?” asked Eugene,
following the boys as they gathered upon the
veranda.

“ Probably a message from Uncle John about the
stolen cattle,” replied Walter. “That pony’s ready
to drop.”

The boys watched the weary ranchero as he rode
slowly towards the lodge. The man had removed
“STARTLING NEWS 163

his sombrero, for the sun had gone down and the
air was beginning to cool. The pony was sore-
footed and lame, and acted as though he had been
ridden the long distance in a short time.

“Well, you’ve had a long ride, Larraby,” said
Walter, by way of greeting. “Get down and have
something to eat. Any news?”

“Thanks,” replied the cow-puncher, slinging him-
self from the saddle, “’twas a bit too much to do
since noon. The colonel sends a letter and your
uncle a package, and tells me to fetch up here
before dark.”

“Anything happened?” asked the boys, anxiously.

“ Nothin’ much,” Larraby answered, with a shrug
of his shoulders. “Here they are,” he concluded,
drawing a letter and an oblong box from his saddle-
bag.

The boys looked at each other inquiringly, as Wal-
ter took the letter and broke the seal.

“Fellows!” he exclaimed a moment after, as he
glanced hastily down the sheet, “the Santa Fé ex-
press was robbed the night before last! This is what
father says :— -

My pear Wa tTer: I am sorry to say that the outlaws
have made another fearless and successful attack upon the
Dallas Express. It occurred two nights ago— the night of
the storm, and nothing whatever has been heard from them
since. Uncle John tells me that Harry purchased a horse
164. SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

from Cabrillo, and that you have seen something of the out-
laws. I do not believe they would think of making you any
trouble, for you have nothing of value with you, and, in all
probability, they have plenty of guns of their own.

The enclosed clipping from the Kansas City Star, which
has just arrived, leads me to believe that they are hiding
somewhere in the vicinity of Grouse creek, and so I write
to advise you of the existing condition of affairs. I do not
like to call you home, as Uncle John tells me you are having
such enjoyable times with your horses and dogs. You will
show this letter and clipping to the boys, so that they may
understand with whom they might possibly meet. With
very kind wishes, I remain,

Your affectionate father,

CHARLES WALTER HILLMAN. ©

“ Well, doesn’t that beat everything!” exclaimed
Harry in great surprise. ‘ Robbed a train!”

“Yes, here’s the clipping!” said Walter, taking the
narrow slip from theenvelope. “Tl tell you what’sa
fact, fellows, we’re in for some lively times if we stay
here!”

“That’s what you are!” put in Larraby, as much
interested as the others. ‘“ Them fellers shoot like
pizen, and they’ll get your last spur.”

“T guess they won't, either,” replied Harry, confi-
dently. ‘Read the clipping, Walt.”

The boys, Tony, Pietro, and Larraby, gathered
about Walter as he read the following : —
STARTLING NEWS 165

[Special to the Star.]
CABRILLO, KING OF OUTLAWS!

The Dallas Express Held up for Forty Thousand Dollars by
Six Men
ROBBERS ESCAPE
Borper Ciry, July 11, 189-.

Word has just come from Linwood, a station one hundred
and thirty miles below here, to the effect that the Dallas ex-
press, which leaves Border City at nine each evening, was
held up by José Cabrillo, otherwise known as Wild F ace, at
Pawnee river about midnight, and robbed of nearly forty
thousand dollars. The train left Border City in charge of
Conductor Sanders at nine o’clock last night, and made
the run through the storm to Pawnee river on time. As the
train came to a full stop at the water tank this side of the
river, two men boarded the engine and instantly bound En-
gineer Clark and Fireman Larkin, hand and foot. Almost at
the same instant, other bandits flung themselves upon the
different platforms with a volley of shots, and the terrified
passengers submitted at once. The telegram from Linwood
states that Cabrillo went through the train under guard, and
that he found everything of value. The outlaws did their
work quickly, and the train was soon after started up, run
across the bridge and down the track a mile, where it was
left by the bandits. As soon as Conductor Sanders became
satisfied that the robbers had left, he went to the engine,
severed the cords which bound the engineer and fireman,
and the train was backed across the river. While the en-
166 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS —

gine was at the tank, the crew and a few of the passengers
mustered up courage enough to brave the wind and rain and
explore both sides of the river in the vicinity of the hold-up.
It is fortunate they did so, for one of the passengers stum-
bled upon a man named Jackson, who is employed by the
company as a track-walker. Jackson was in terrible shape,
and could not speak a word for an hour. He states that,
upon approaching the bridge, he heard some horses neigh-
ing, and left the track.a moment. He had not gone far be-
fore he was hailed by a man, was struck with something
heavy from behind, and that was the last he knew.

It is thought that Cabrillo and his men will keep to the
creek bottoms until they reach the Grouse hills, where they
are comparatively safe.

This is one of the boldest train robberies ever known,
and will undoubtedly induce the Sante Fé officials to offer a
large reward for the capture of the criminals and the recov-
ery of the treasure. The Wells-Fargo people say that the
loss to the company cannot fall below fifteen thousand
dollars, as very little non-negotiable paper was taken. All
is excitement here to-night. Searching parties are being
formed every hour, and it is safe to say that five hundred
people will be upon Cabrillo’s trail by nightfall. The robbers
are well acquainted with the Grouse hills, however, and will
make a desperate resistance. At the hour of going to press,
nothing more had been heard from Linwood or Border City.

“ Now, what do you think of ’em?” asked Larraby,
loosening his saddle-girth and leading his pony tow-
ards the barn. “ Aren’t they a dandy lot?”
STARTLING NEWS 167

“Much good will their ill-gotten gains do them!”
said Walter, taking up the oblong box before referred
to. “Why, this is for you, Harry. What can it
be?” he concluded, breaking the twine and handing
the box to his chum. .

“J haven’t any idea,” replied Harry, tearing off
the cover and thereby displaying a magnificent brace
of hammerless pistols.

“ Aren’t they beauties!” exclaimed the club in
chorus. ‘“ Hurrah again for Uncle John!”

“That’s for nearly loosing your life with the wild-
cat,” said Jack. “Uncle John thinks you need
them.”

“Whether he does or not, it was very kind of him.
I shall use them to-night.”

“We are to go, then?” asked Paul.

“Yes, indeed,” answered Harry. “I believe I
should prefer to ride, however. The horses need
work.”

“Then we shall all ride,” said Walter. ‘Saddle
up, fellows, and let’s be going. Would you like to
join us, Larraby?” continued Walter, addressing the
cowboy as the lads reached the stable in a group.
““We have an extra pony, if you care to go.”

“Not to-night, Master Walter. I’m a little stiff
after the ride. I'll have a chat with Pietro, and then
Pl turn in.”

“Very well—as you like,” the lad answered.
168 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Soon after the boys, assisted by Pietro, commenced
to saddle their respective mounts.

“You were thinkin’ of ridin’ the black, Master
Harry?” asked the hostler, glancing into Prince
Royal’s stall. ‘“He’s feeling pretty well, but you
can’t tell what he’ll do at night, and you'd feel better
on the pony. I don’t believe it’ll show much moon
to-night.”

“Well, saddle the pony, then,” said Harry, in reply.
“We'll leave the horses back from the trail, Pietro.
The coyotes won’t get near enough to scent them.”

“TI guess not, either,” replied the good-natured
herdsman. “Theyre pretty thick during the
nights, and hard to hit on the run.”

“Good! A little practice won’t do us any harm.
Hey, Walt?” said the irrepressible Jack.

“Nota bit. Have you all your Winchesters ?”

“Every one,” answered Arthur. ‘“ Keep the dogs
shut up for fifteen minutes, Pietro, or they’ll be after
us.”

“Right you are, sir!”

The boys wheeled, galloping around the lodge and
down the prairie. The air had cooled with the set-
ting of the sun, and a fresh evening breeze had
again sprung up from the south. The chirping of
the crickets’ filled the air as the shadows of night
began to envelop the woodland and prairie. The
impatient tread of the animals soon brought the lads
STARTLING NEWS 169

upon a sort of game path that led along the bank.
It was not very wide, but well trodden, and the lads
followed it as best they could until the moon appeared
and struck down upon it in a straight white line.
Then the stars studded the heavens, and the rolling
stretch of prairie shone with the pale yellow light.
The lads rode on in silence until they reached a
group of trees in plain sight of the peak-crowned
hill, at whose base they had slain the silver-tip that
very morning, and then they dismounted and fast-
ened their horses.

“T’m glad we forded the stream below the cove,”
said Walter, as the boys bunched together for a
short consultation ; “for the wind has already changed.
Hear that wolf howl? Quietly, now, and we'll have
some sport.”


CHAPTER X
FIREFLY IS TAKEN

HE lads worked their way towards the glade at

a rapid walk. They were all very anxious to
have a shot at a wolf in the moonlight, as it was a
new sport to them, and they gave no thought to
the horses after the animals had been fastened to the
trees. The wind had again slightly changed, so the
lads kept close to the stream until they had arrived
within a few hundred feet of the cove, when they
turned sharply to the left and followed a winding
path that shone with the silver lustre of the moon.
The cries of the coyotes came often to them now,
and they trembled with excitement, as the edge of the
willows was reached, and they caught sight of the
swampish glade framed in the darkness of the trees.
The peak-crowned hill rose high above them on
their right, while the carcass of the silver-tip, just
visible through the trees, was the chief object of
interest on their left. The soft, summer-night wind
stirred the air pleasantly, and everything pointed
towards a capital night’s sport. The lads stretched
themselves at full length behind the great trunk of a
dead cottonwood and pushed their rifles before them,

170
FIREFLY IS TAKEN 171

Presently the silhouette of a coyote was seen against
the brown of the shadow thrown by one of the tow-
ering peaks. A clump of bushes was just behind
him, at the edge of which other animals were seen
to move.

“They’ve detected the smell of the carcass,” said
Walter, peering into the shadow of the cliff; “but
are not quite sure that everything’s allright. Halloo!
What’s that?” he concluded, pointing slantwise
towards the left.

« Another coyote,” answered Harry. “ He’s mak-
ing for the carcass ata trot. It’s well the wind is
blowing straight down the glade.”

“Very. Don’t shoot, fellows; there will be others
in the open before long.”

Accordingly the lads held their cocked rifles to
their shoulders in silence. The first coyote, just
before he reached the carcass, turned and glanced |
hastily behind him. The boys had an excellent
chance to fire, but, impatient as they were to begin
the fun, wisely restrained themselves from so doing.
And they were very glad, a few moments later, that
they did so, for they were treated to an unexpected
battle that was worth a dozen shots at deer. As the
animal reached the carcass, and began almost at once
to feed, a large gray wolf appeared in the broad band
of moonlight far down the glade. He, too, stopped
long enough to assure himself that all was right, and
172 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

then came running up to the dead bear. Another
second and there was a most savage growling.

“Tut, tut!” exclaimed Walter, as Harry covered
the wolf. ‘“ They’re going to fight. Down with the
guns!”

Instantly the whole glade became alive with growls
and cries that fairly made the boys tremble. The
coyote, a large male, had backed from the carcass,
where he stood awaiting the wolf’s approach, snarl-
ing and snapping as only a coyote can. The next
moment they came together with a most furious
crash, their eyes and teeth alone shining in the light.
Down went the coyote all in a heap, and over him
plunged the wolf. With a most amazing quickness,
the smaller animal struck at the wolf’s throat, and
the cry that followed told the lads that he had not
missed his mark. Then the wolf struck at the co-
yote’s throat, and they rolled, snapping, snarling,
fighting tooth and nail, out from the shadow of the
trees. First one, then the other would seem to have
a slight advantage, until the cries of the poor coyote
were pitiful to hear.

“Shall we shoot, Walt? He’s whipped!” cried
the club.

“Not yet. See! his cries have brought others.
When they come within good range, let them have
it.”

Sure enough, the coyotes had charged out into the
FIREFLY IS TAKEN 173

glade in a body, moving with their well-known swift-
ness of foot, and were soon uttering the most mourn-
ful yelps, as they raced about their worsted comrade,
too cowardly to come to his assistance. A fairer
chance for a shot is seldom presented. They kept
running about in the glade, avoiding the bushes as
though they feared another encounter with one of
their deadly enemies.

“Ready, fellows!” said Walter, rising to his knees
and covering the wolf as he was finishing the coyote.
“Shoot often and rapidly, for they’ll soon be gone!”

The six rifles spoke almost at once. The gray
wolf dropped to his knees, three of the running co-
yotes dropped in their tracks, while a fourth crawled
under a clump of bushes, showing how well the lads
had aimed. The others wheeled and fled up the hill-
side. They crossed the low land like so many grey-
hounds, and were soon plunging up the sides of the
cliff. Their legs were not visible in the long grass,
and their dark forms, as they moved so swiftly, were
anything but easy chances with a Winchester.

“There they go, Harry!” cried Walter, rising to
his feet and drawing on the nearest animal. ‘“ There’s
the chance to make a reputation !”’

The others thought so, too, and were covering the
flying coyotes in another second. Bang! spoke
Walter’s rifle, but the animal did not swerve a whit
from its course. Eugene and Arthur fired, too, with
174 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

a like result. The others could not seem to level
their weapons satisfactorily, and did not fire at once.
Paul watched the coyote Walter had missed, until it
emerged from the tall grass and offered a fair shot.
The others had done their shooting, and were con-
tent to watch Paul’s try at the last animal in sight.
The lad covered the swiftly moving form with his
' Winchester for a moment, and then pulled the trigger.
The bullet landed with a faint thud, and with a death
yelp over rolled the coyote, just like a shot rabbit.

“Through the head or heart, I’ll stake my life,”
said Walter with enthusiasm. “Paul, that’s the best
shot I ever saw!”

“ Right you are, Walt!” the others cried. “ Hur-
rah for the little fellow!”

“Yes, and there’s not enough light to tell his head
from his tail,” added Arthur, when the cheer for
“the little fellow” had been given with a will.

There was a good deal of satisfaction and fun dur-
ing the following quarter hour. The gray wolf and
coyotes were gathered together and their hides re-
moved, and the coyote that had crawled under the
bushes was driven out and killed after a couple of
shots from Harry’s handsome pistols. As nothing
more was seen or heard of the wolves, the lads deter-
mined to return to camp, and so Eugene and Harry
started for the horses. They discussed the fight
between the wolves thoroughly on their way down
FIREFLY IS TAKEN 175

stream, ending the conversation by agreeing that
Paul’s last shot was the best they had ever seen.

In a few moments they were quite close to the nags,
probably within a couple of hundred yards, but the
brush was dense, and they could see nothing of them.
They hunted around for the clump of trees, but, as
the moon had disappeared behind a bank of clouds,
they were unable to determine just where they
were,

“T believe we’ve gone past the horses, Harry,” said
Eugene, with more earnestness than the occasion
seemed to demand. ‘“ What would the fellows say,
if some one had run them off?”

“You mean Cabrillo?”

“Yes, perhaps they lamed their horses the other
night, and are looking for others. It would be just
like them,” concluded Eugene, unconsciously lower-
ing his voice to a whisper as he followed Harry about
the woods.

“ Bosh, Gene!” exclaimed the other, as they came
in sight of the oaks and cottonwoods. ‘There are
the trees! What’s the mat —”

Harry did not finish the sentence, for Eugene
caught his arm in a grasp that well-nigh brought:
forth a cry of pain.

“What’s the matter?” repeated Eugene, in a hoarse
whisper. “See there!”

Harry looked towards the trees and saw what had
176 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

so frightened his chum. The horses were stamp-
ing restlessly about, now and then uttering a shrill
neigh.

“Some one’s there!”’ agreed Harry, moving side-
ways out of the light as the moon reappeared. “ Did
you see anything before?” .

“Ves; a light was struck for a moment before you
looked. See, there goes another!”

“What are we going to do? Get the fellows?”

“No, we haven’t time,” answered Eugene. “He'd
take the horses while we’re gone. Let’s not sepa-
rate.”

“ And why does he wait?” asked Harry, breath-
lessly.

“He isn’t waiting,” replied Eugene, quickly.
“There! He has struck another match,” he con-
cluded, as a faint light glowed duskily for a moment
and then went out.

“He's moving about among the horses. What can
he be after?” ,

_“ A certain horse, in my opinion, or the best of the
bunch. See, he’s holding the lighted matches to the
horses’ heads!”

“Yes; and he’s satisfied at last. If he has one of
the ponies, let him alone, for we must remember what
we promised Uncle John.”

The man led the horse away from the others,
tightening the saddle-girth with a bungling hand.
FIREFLY IS TAKEN : 177

The lads, almost too astonished to speak, watched his
every movement with the closest attention.

“What horse has he?” asked Harry. “I can’t
determine.”

“ Neither can I, though it isn’t one of the ponies.
He’s too large for that.”

“ Then it’s either Leveller or Blue Rocket. I can’t
tell which.”

“T think it’s Leveller,” said Eugene. “I just saw
one white foot.”

“So did I, and the blaze in his face,” Harry replied.
“We can’t allow that, Gene; it will break Walt all
up!”

“What shall we do then?”

“Stay just where we are. Here he comes.”

“ How are we to act?”

“Tl throw him out of the saddle from this side,
and you clap a pistol to his head. There’s only one,
and he won’t expect it,” answered Harry.

While the boys waited for the rider to approach,
they could plainly hear the throbbing of their hearts,
and were conscious that their hands were anything
but still.

“He isn’t very big,” said Harry, by the way of
encouragement. “I believe we can do it.”

“Very well; I’m with you,” Eugene replied, all in
a breath.

It was dark there in the shadow of the trees, and
178 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

the boys were sure they could not be seen. The man
guided the horse up the path at a slow walk, and his
leisurely movements did not in any way soothe the
lads’ ruffled feelings.

“He thinks he has nothing to fear,” they solilo-
quized; “but we’ll show him something that will
surprise him.”

The boys did surprise him, for while the man was
peering idly ahead and drawing at a corn-cob pipe,
he felt himself hurled from his saddle and his two
arms seized from behind almost before he knew it.
Harry had executed one of his lightning-like move-
ments, and the man realized, as he felt the cold
muzzle of Eugene’s pistol under his ear, that he was
dealing with wide-awake young men. After Harry
had thrown the fellow from the saddle, with an agility
that would have done credit to a member of a univer-
sity foot-ball team, he dodged under Leveller’s nose,
as the horse reared on his hind legs, and flung him-
self upon the thief, pinning him to the ground with
his knee and holding his arms in an iron grip, while
Eugene pointed a revolver at the man’s head.

“Keep your mouth shut, you clumsy horse-thief !”
whispered Harry, fiercely. “Eugene, shoot if he
moves.”

But Eugene did not shoot, for the man struggled
desperately, like a madman, and was upon his knees
in a moment. With a violent oath, he freed his arms
FIREFLY IS TAKEN 179

from Harry’s vice-like grip and staggered to his feet,
reaching for his pistol as he did so. He was too late,
however, for Harry closed with him on the instant,
and they went down together.

“Don’t shoot, Gene!” cried the lad, hoarsely,
choking the breath out of the man’s body. “He's
been drinking hard. Get a bridle to tie is arms
behind him. Where’s Leveller?”

“He galloped up the path. Wait a minute; I
have a lasso on my saddle.”

' «Then get it quickly.”

Eugene was gone but a moment, Sereeainne with
the rope. “Here it is,” he said.

“ Wind it about his legs first,” directed Harry.

As the man felt the coil of rope tighten about his
limbs, he made a last attempt to free himself, and
then sank back with a horrible oath upon his lips.

“What shall we do with him?” asked Eugene,
when the task of securing the thief was completed
to Harry’s satisfaction.

“Do with him?” repeated Harry, looking the man
over as best he could. “I believe this is one of .
Cabrillo’s men.”

As the lad said this, the man let another volley of
oaths escape him, and then cried, “Jim! Redwood!”
and other names in a thick voice; “ you won’t let ’em
take old Bill—not your old mate?” ending with a
drunken laugh, as though he thought it a good joke.
180 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Just then the noise of a galloping horse attracted
the lads’ attention, and Leveller came in sight, carry-
ing Walter and Paul, the others following at a full
run.

““What’s happened, fellows, did the horses break
loose?” asked Walter, almost before he had dis-
mounted.

“One of them did,’ was the answer. “See for
yourselves.”

As Harry said this, he grasped the drunken outlaw
about the waist and rolled him from the shadow of a
thicket out into the moonlight. The lads drew back,
with much astonishment written on their faces, and
perhaps a little fear also.

“Oh, don’t be afraid, fellows,” said Eugene, as the
wild, reckless, blood-shot eyes of the bandit fell upon
them. “This fellow has been disappointed at not
getting safely away with Walt’s horse. Harry ex-
ecuted another one of his electric movements, and
you see the result. Don’t mind the curses, fellows,
for they’re thrown in at regular intervals.”

“He’s the toughest-looking object I ever saw,”
said Jack, after the boys had heard the story in
detail. “Have you searched him?”

“Not yet. Perhaps it would be a good plan.”

Drunk as the man was, he tried every means in
his power to prevent Harry from rifling his pockets,
ending by crying out like a baby.
FIREFLY IS TAKEN 181

“Don’t take my money, lads,” he pleaded; ‘it’s
all I have in the world. Ill give you the ‘yellow-
boys’ for the galloper.”

“T’ve no doubt you will,” replied Harry; “but
that won't do.”

“What's the reason it won’t? Make it five hundred,
if you like, lads.”

“Not much; we think we know who you are.”

“Ah!” sighed the defeated bandit, and that was
all he said.

Harry was not slow to remove the contents of the
man’s pockets. Surprised and delighted as the boys
had been upon seeing the outlaw so securely bound
hand and foot, unable to move a muscle, they were
now nearly bewildered as Harry tossed into the well-
worn trail the heaps of gold coin and precious stones,
which shone and glittered in the moonlight as only
pure gold and white diamonds can.

“We understood you made a successful trip the
other night,” said Harry, removing the remaining
coins and placing everything of value in his saddle-
bag, which Arthur brought to him. “It was very
careless of you to take such risks.”

The man made no reply for a moment or two,
and then stared wildly about and said in a hoarse
whisper, as though he were imparting some great
secret, “Rum, my lads, rum did it — Cabrillo’s
rum!”
182 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Never before had the lads been so satisfied with a
day’s sport. They had killed a bear, five coyotes,
and a gray wolf since morning, and had been fortu-
nate enough to capture a member of one of the most
notorious bands of outlaws that ever existed. They
had passed through some very trying moments, and
had come out of each adventure with flying colors.
The thought that a real live outlaw lay but a few
feet away, caused them to remember the distance to
the lodge, and make preparations for the start ac-
cordingly.

The outlaw’s legs were freed, and he was placed
upon Leveller in front of Walter. The others
mounted and kept as much as possible on all sides
of the bandit, for they feared almost any kind of an
outbreak from such a character. The ride to the
cove was made without incident, however, and the
skins were tied behind the saddles with leather
thongs.

“We'll ride back on this side of the creek,” said
Walter, “for the prairie’s much flatter, and there’s
a good ford just below the lodge.”

It was fortunate that Walter decided to do this, or
perhaps the boys would not have reached the lodge
that night; for Cabrillo and his men were searching
faithfully for the deserter on the other side of the
stream, and were in no very amiable frame of mind,
you may be sure. The chief had left early in the
FIREFLY IS TAKEN 183

evening for a little outing, and during his absence
the men broke into his closet and removed the keg
of whiskey. With no one to restrain them, they
drank freely, and were soon under the influence of
the liquor. A wrangle followed, in which Cabrillo
was loudly abused for not having better things to
eat, now that they had successfully held up the ex-
press. During the discussion, Firefly, under the
pretence of watching for the captain, slipped off into
the night and was seen no more. Firefly stood in
deadly fear of José with the rest of the band, and,
though the liquor was beginning to take effect, he
kept instinctively to the bed of the stream, walking
some miles below the retreat. He laughed loudly to
himself, as he thought of the contents of his pockets,
and told himself it was about time to desert the band.

“They'll be rounded up there like so many year-
lin’s in a cow-pen,” he said, crawling out upon the
bank to his right and removing a small dark-red
bottle from his hip pocket. ‘“ And where’ll I be?
In Mexico, maybe, or Orleans. I'll fool ’em, I
will,’ he concluded, finishing the contents of the
small bottle. Then the worthy bandit fumbled in his
pockets for tobacco, and not finding any, fell into a
drunken sleep.

After a short. sleep, the outlaw was awakened by
the reports of Winchester rifles. He opened his
eyes at once, and was startled by the proximity of
184 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

the creek, for he had slept but a few feet from the
' water’s edge.

“Old Grouse must have risen las’ night,” he solilo-
quized, staring at the water. ‘We used ‘to be a
hundred feet above it, and now it’s a’most level.”
Then, remembering that he was a deserter, and how
he had come to fall asleep, he laughed heartily,
after which he endeavored to collect his scattered
wits and rise to an upright position. He was un-
able to do this at first, for his head pained him, and
he was unsteady on his feet. ,

“Wonder what woke me up,” he soliloquized.
“Must have been those kids José won’t scatter.
They make me tired with their fancy guns and
fishin’ poles and cloth dug-outs!”

At this moment the report of Paul’s rifle rang high
into the night as he made his crack shot at the run-
ning coyote, and the cheer he received a moment
later told Firefly that he had reasoned correctly.
This was followed by the shrill neighing of the
horses, which caused the outlaw to finally stumble to
his feet and grope his way in the direction of the
sound. He was nearer the horses than he at first
supposed, and was soon endeavoring to select one to
his liking. ,

“Tf Jim’s black is among ’em,” he said, striking
match after match and holding them to the horses’
heads, “then I must be blind.”
FIREFLY 1S TAKEN 185

We have seen how he eventually selected Leveller,
and how he was thrown to the ground and bound by
Harry and Eugene in a twinkling.

“T’d like to know what Pietro and Larraby will
say of the night’s fun,” said Jack, riding close behind
Walter and the outlaw. “Tired as I am, I believe
I'll sit up and hear their opinions.”

“We're all just as anxious to know as you,” replied
Paul. “But I am more anxious to know what Uncle
John will think of it. It will probably get into the
papers, and we shall be called home.”

“Don’t you believe it,” said Harry, confidently.
“Uncle John isn’t built that way.”

The boys conversed in this strain until they crossed
the creek and came in sight of the lodge. Pietro,
Larraby, and Tony were seated upon the rustic front
steps, enjoying their pipes and waiting for the lads to
put in an appearance. As the boys rode up, the men
caught sight of Leveller and his double burden, and
their eyes also detected the presence of the lariat
that secured the outlaw’s arms to his back. They
were so surprised that they could not speak for some
moments, and then they only found words enough to
ask the whole story from beginning to end. Pietro
was very severe, and said it was very foolish; but, if
the truth must be told, he secretly admired the boys’
pluck from the bottom of his heart.

The lamps in the lodge-room were lighted, and the
186 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

prisoner was carried into the house. For the first
time, the boys had a good view of the man’s haggard
face. It bore all the terrible marks of dissipation
and a wild, reckless life, and the lads pitied him
thoroughly. Larraby was the first to speak.

“You haven’t quit this night-ridin’ yet, hey, Fire-
fly?” he said sternly, looking down upon the man as
he lay stretched like a corpse upon the floor. “You
and I have this little account to settle,” he said,
pointing to a bullet mark upon his right forearm.
“ That shot from the brush cost me a deal of time and
trouble.”

“It weren’t me, nohow,” growled the man, with an
oath.

“Tt makes no difference which one it was; it came
from your side, and I swore I’d get even. I'll be the
one to see that you’re put where you belong. You'll
find your life cut short off when the tree’s beginnin’
to bud. It don’t pay, Slader, and you should have
found it out afore the other night.”

The outlaw winced perceptibly at this, but made
no reply. Harry counted the gold and silver he had
taken from the robber, and took a memorandum of
the jewels and precious stones. The lads then held
a short consultation, and decided to have the outlaw
carried up-stairs and placed in a bunk opposite those
occupied by Pietro and Tony. Larraby was also
given a bunk in the same room. Without further
FIREFLY IS TAKEN 187

delay, Larraby and Pietro caught up the outlaw and
ascended the stairs, followed by a very tired lot of
boys. The excitement of the day did not keep them
awake many minutes, for they soon fell into a dream-
less sleep, with the hoot of an owl or the song of the
crickets ringing in their ears.


CHAPTER XI
THE OUTLAWS FOILED

HEN Cabrillo and his men returned to their
retreat after their unsuccessful hunt for the
deserter Firefly, they were in no very good humor,
and ready to do almost anything. The chief of the
outlaws had all along considered it dangerous to
leave the country so soon after the hold-up, and his
men had faithfully promised not to desert. They
knew, however, about when Cabrillo would leave for
one of his “‘ outings,” as he called his frequent depart-
ures from camp, and they were determined to enjoy
the contents of the brown keg during his absence.
The stout iron bar was taken from the door that
guarded the entrance to the retreat, and Cabrillo’s
closet was opened at once. The outlaws sat about
upon the grass, drinking and smoking, and did not
notice Firefly’s disappearance for some time.
“He'll be enjoyin’ that small bottle he found in
the cap’n’s chest about this time,” said Redwood.
“What’ll the cap’n say with no one on the rocks
with the spy-glass ?”
“He won’t say nothin’,” growled Dody. “He
188
THE OUTLAWS FOILED 189

won’t be back afore mornin’. He’s always out en-
joyin’ himself.”

But in this the worthy Tarcedo was far from right,
for Cabrillo appeared among them most unexpectedly
and unpleasantly.

“ That’s what I get for turnin’ my back on you for
an hour at a time,” he cried savagely. ‘ You'll get
no more rum, you can bank on that. Where’s the
lookout, and where’s Firefly ?”

“ Firefly’s gone,” answered Jim, in a voice like a
crow’s. “He said to-day he was gettin’ plum sick of
layin’ to like a dory at anchor.”

“No; he ain’t left nuther, cap’n,” answered
Snaky. “He got an extry bottle and has gone to
tap it.”

“There won't be no more such business,” the chief
replied, kicking the spigot from the cask. He
watched the brown liquor run out upon the grass,
and then he mounted the bowlders with the tele-
scope. Keen as must have been his disappointment
and anger, he nevertheless controlled his feelings as
he took a careful view of the surrounding country,
his men watching him narrowly. When he had
satisfied himself that all was well, or was not well, he
descended among them and lighted a cigarette.

“Now, men,” he said, in voice that fairly trembled
with excitement and anger, “ Firefly’s given us the
go-by, and we'll have to scatter out and round him
190 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

up. There’s no tellin’ what he’ll do or say if they
find him now, and if he falls in with those marshals,
he'll go state’s evidence without a word, while we’ll be
hunted down and shot like so many rats in a corner.”

“You're right, cap’n,” answered Redwood. “You
know your business, and we're with you, every
time.”

“Thanks, my man. Will you kindly saddle the
nags?”

Redwood arose at once and walked to the corral.

“ Another half hour,’ Cabrillo continued, ‘and
you’d have been singin’ and shriekin’. You must
think precious little of your lives, to start the odds
against you that way.”

“ Ask your pardon, sir, but the men say the grub’s
lackin’ flavor,” said Jim, “and the camp’s a bit close
on days like these. They’ve got the money, they
say, and precious little use it is to ’em, now that
they’ve got it.”

“Tt’s no use to so many fools —that, nor nothin’,”
cried the chief. ‘ But, now, you look here ; you’ve
gone and tapped the keg without so much as hintin’
that you were a bit dry, and we’re minus a man, as a
consequence. Mark my words: Unless we scatter
out and round Bill up to-night, you can lay to it that
I'll quit you all at sunrise. Here’s Pete with the
nags. Are you with me?”

“What’ll you do with Bill’s greenbacks?” asked
THE OUTLAWS FOILED Igt

Jim, casting his solitary eye upon José. “Do we
get any of em?”

“To be sure, you do. He’s not fit to be trusted
with ’em, and will have to yield up half the roll,”
replied the leader, mounting his bay. “We've got
to enforce the rules of this camp, some way or other,
or it’ll be overrun with sight-seers, come another
fortnight.”

That was all Cabrillo had to say. The men
mounted at once, and a thorough search of the sur-
rounding hills and trails was made; but nothing, as
we know, was seen of the missing Firefly. Cabrillo
heard the reports of the boys’ rifles, and rightly
guessed them to be shooting wolves over the carcass
of the bear they had killed during the morning.

“ A tip-top time to close in on that fancy log-camp,”
said Tarcedo, who was beginning to tire of the search
through the dark thickets. “It’s my opinion Fire-
fly’s stone drunk in some out-of-the-way place. Why
not have a try for those pickles and pressed meats
to-night, cap’n?”

Not more than a mile below the outlaws, on the
other side of the stream, Firefly was at that moment
being bound hand and foot by Eugene and Harry.
If the men had suspected anything of the sort, the
lads would have had an encounter that would have
left bear hunts and wildcat surprises far in the shade.
But the outlaws had no reason to suspect that Fire-
192 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

fly had fallen into the hands of the young sportsmen,
and, after an hour’s fruitless search, much to Ca-
brillo’s disappointment, they followed their chief back
to the retreat. As we have said, they were in no
very good humor, and were ready to carry out Tar-
cedo’s proposition of robbing Deer Lodge. After:
an hour or two, during which the men smoked in
silence, Snaky spoke out : —

“What are you goin’ to do about strippin’ that
shootin’ camp, cap’n?”

“Anything you like,” replied the chief, gruffly.
“If you’ve made up your minds, don’t dilly-dally
about. See that your pistols are in good shape, for
those lads know a thing or two about shootin’, them-
selves.”

“ All’s well, and the moon rides cloud-banked,”
said Tarcedo, mounting with the rest. “Isn’t it a
little early, cap’n?”’

“Not if we ride slowly. We’ll have to keep to the
creek bottom all the way up.”

The outlaws entered the creek and guided their
horses up the stream. The rattle of a bit and the
gurgle of the water, as the horses tramped along, alone
broke the stillness of the quiet night.

“You lads’ll remember that there’s a puncher and
nigger cook under the roof, and that they’ll need
attention first,” said Cabrillo, ina low voice, as they
neared the last bend in the stream.
THE OUTLAWS FOILED 193

“ Ay, ay, cap’n,” they replied in the same guarded
tone. ‘We'll do the job well.”

“Mind you do, or you'll have stale bread and water
in place of your pickles and pressed meats; and ¢hat’s
worse than broiled steer.”

“Right you are again, cap’n,” returned Redwood ;
“but here’s the camp.”

“Keep in the shadows, men, for the moon’s goin’
to show,” cautioned Cabrillo.

As he spoke, a bank of clouds slid from the face
of the moon, and the light fell upon and silvered the
dark water. The outlaws wheeled to the right
quickly, but not quickly enough to avoid being de-
tected by a keen pair of eyes that watched from the
veranda at Deer Lodge.

Pietro, after endeavoring for a couple of hours to
get some sleep, left his bunk and descended the stairs
for a quiet smoke. The more he thought over the
capture of Bill Slader the outlaw, the less he liked
it.

“Tf they happened to see the boys tote him off,”
he soliloquized, “‘they’ll be down here in a bunch be-
fore mornin’. I believe I’d ought to get Larraby up
and stand a watch with him. I know Wild Face and
his band are hidin’ in the hills, and will be for some
time. They’ve made the divide, or Firefly never
would have had that four thousand with him. Halloo}
Some one in the creek!” continued the hostler, as he

~O
194. SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

caught sight of the robbers in the moonlight. ‘“ And
they don’t want to be seen.”

Pietro jumped to his feet and ran up the stairs with-
out another word.

“Larry, Larry, get up!” he whispered to the cow-
boy, shaking him by the arm. “The band’s comin’
up the creek in the shadow. Hurry!”

Larraby comprehended the hostler’s words at
once, and slid into his trousers and boots in less time
than it takes to tell it. In the mean time, Pietro
slipped across the hall and entered the boys’ room.

“Master Walter, get out quickly! We’re in for
some trouble with Cabrillo’s men!” he said, loud
enough to awaken the other sleepers. ‘They’re
comin’ up the creek on this side.”

“Who? where? what creek?” Walter asked,
rubbing his tired eyes and endeavoring to grasp the
meaning of Pietro’s words.

“T say that the outlaws are stealin’ a march on
us,” replied the hostler, going to the window and
looking down the creek. “I saw them a few mo-
ments ago just below us in the bed of the stream.”

“You did!” exclaimed the others, who were by
this time busily engaged in pulling on their clothes.

“Yes; five or six of ’em. I’ve been sittin’ up on
the lookout for a while. I thought perhaps they’d
be back after Firefly.”

“Good for you, Pietro,” said Harry, as he buckled
THE OUTLAWS FOILED FQ5

on his belt and loaded his pistols. ‘Have you told
Larraby ?”

“To be sure; he and Tony are already up.”

“What are we going to do?” asked Paul, who had
found his tongue at last.

“Stand our ground. They can’t see us, and we can
see nearly every move they make.”

-“They’re trailin’ through the grass,” said Larraby,
as he joined the excited group. “You can see them
from the window here.”

The boys rushed to the window and looked down
upon the prairie. The moon shone quite clearly,
rendering objects nearly as plain as day.

“There!” continued the cowboy. “ They’re on all
fours, and are cutting off towards the lodge.”

The lads looked in the direction indicated, and made
out five men crawling through the grass towards the
camp. They moved quickly, and were fast approach-
ing the lodge.

“Rifles!” cried Pietro, as the men continued to
~ advance. “Double quick, my hearties! We must
give them a warm reception. Not a sound until you
have the word, now mind.”

The lads ran rapidly down the stairs, filled the mag-
azines of their rifles, and stood waiting and watch-
ing each movement made by the creeping bandits.
Sometimes their backs could be seen quite plainly,
while at other times they would remain from sight alto-
196 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

gether for several moments, reappearing far in ad-
vance of where they were last seen.

The slopes of the knoll and a portion of the bank
had been cleared of the heavy timber to build the
lodge, and a few stumps stood directly in the path of
the bandits. A couple grew very close together, be-
hind which the outlaws crept, Peccumenly to hold a
short consultation.

“Why, do you suppose, they are comin’ up together
just in front of the door?” asked Larraby, cocking
his rifle with a click that sent cold shivers through
the boys.

“It must be the dogs,” said Pietro. “They’re shut
up in the stable, and the robbers wish to avoid ’em.”

“That’s so,” added Walter. ‘Do you suppose
they’d be of any use?” .

“No; not a whit. We'd have to get out in the
light to start them, and I don’t propose to make tar-
’ gets of you. We’re perfectly safe where we are.”

“Yes; but if they come, are we to fire point blank
at them?” asked Jack, in a trembling voice.

“Not unless we have to. Don’t expose yourselves,
and wait for the word. Remember that ‘desperate
cases require desperate remedies.’ ”

If the party in the lodge had been required to await
the outlaws’ approach much longer, they would prob-
ably have opened hostilities themselves. Tired as
all were when Pietro aroused them, they were now
THE? OUTLAWS: FOILED 197.

wide:awake, and‘ realized: the importance: of: making’
a firm stand.

“What would Uncle John: say, if he should: hear
that, after capturing one of Cabrillo’s: men, we had:
allowed: him to: escape? JI, for one, am: in favor of!
returning all that comes,” said Harry.

“Then we'll do a:deal of: firin’,’ Larraby replied;
“for here they come, pushin’ their. Winchesters before
"em

“Steady, now,” said Pietro. “Lie close. to: the-
floor, and when you hear the:word, shoot: through the
windows:.. The logs:under the: sills are. the. heaviest'
in:the:lodge, and you'll be:safe-there.”

Pietro’s voice was firm and clear, and the: boystook:
courage at'once. Tony entered the lodge-room:with
the lads, as silent as a mouse,.while the hostler: and!
Larraby: stood: in the hall, doggedly determined: to
settle old accounts:and -new,.and.not’ to: fire: the: first:
shot to’kill.

“Four of.’em have: hid-in the grass; but'the:fifth-is:
comin’ up,” whispered Larraby to the :boys..

The boys: saw that:four of the:men: seemed to have:
paused, and perhaps'to. have-rolled into a little:hollowy.
for not only did they cease to draw any. nearer,. but:
disappeared entirely from view. The fifth, however, °
continued to advance; and was.soon within a:few feet:
of the steps. The boys watched him breathlessly as:
he twitched silently along a half-dozen feet at a time;.

”
.
198 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

always taking care that his right hand never left the
stock of his Winchester.

The moon beat full upon him. His eyes glowed
duskily as he lifted his face and grasped’ the step —
the dark, villanous-looking face of the type of man
who has lost all remembrance of the word honor, and
who has sunk about as far in disgrace as men ever
go. It struck terror to the lads’ hearts, and caused’
them to glance in a kind of appeal at Pietro and
Larraby.

The hostler stood on the left side of the door, with
his rifle clubbed and upraised, while Larraby stood
with his back towards them, a glittering pistol in
either hand.

“Here he comes up the steps,” said Eugene, and
his voice shook like a taut rope.

Crawling on all-fours the man worked his way
slowly, silently, steadily up the steps; before he had
quite reached the door, he arose to a crouching atti-
tude, and then without so much as a footfall, slid into
the lodge. Pietro’s gun-stock flashed in the dark-
ness, striking the man right behind the shoulders
across his back. He gave a sort of gasp and fell
head-foremost with a dull thud.

The lads were fairly appalled, and were utterly at
a loss how to act. From their place by the window
they had heard Pietro pant aloud as he struck the
blow, and had seen him fling himself upon the
THE OUTLAWS FOILED 199

defenceless body with the agility of a monkey.
_ Larraby placed his pistols upon the floor and began
to wind his sash about the man’s mouth and neck,
while Pietro bound him hand and foot with his lariat.
By this time the lads had sufficiently recovered the
use of their senses to go to the hostler’s assist-
ance.

“Drag him into the kitchen,” the herdsman said to
Harry, as the boy joined the trio in the darkness ;
“and one of you cover him with a pistol. He’s
only stunned, and will cry out as soon as he comes
to.”

“ Here comes another!” exclaimed Walter, as Jack
and Harry dragged the unconscious outlaw from the
room. “ He’s almost upon us.”

“As I expected,” replied Pietro. ‘Hold your
posts, boys, and be silent.”

The lads therefore returned to their positions by
the window, and awaited the approach of the second
robber. He had advanced much as the first had
done, always taking care to keep his rifle slightly
before him and ready for immediate use. The boys
could plainly hear the thumping of their hearts as
the man came forward, and, as they afterwards said,
they couldn’t have raised their rifles to save their
lives. When within a few feet of the steps, the man
came to a standstill and almost concealed himself
behind a bunch of weeds, only now and then watch-
2200 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

ing:the doorway closely. There he waited for some
time, and: then. started to come forward, but hesitated
and‘ turned his ear towards the lodge.

“ All right?” -he finally asked in little more than:a
whisper ; but the air.was so still that his-words: were
distinctly: heard by'the eager waiters.

“Yes, come on!” Larraby answered, and his voice
-was strained and awkward, 'like-a rusty lock.

The man:sprang to his feet-and ran ‘up ‘the steps.
The lads-were fearful ‘that his sudden ‘movement
‘would :take the men off their guard, but’in this: they
were wrong. Down flashed the rifle again, and down

-again-went the robber, but not silently, for one awful,

long-drawn scream rang high into the night béfore
Larraby could clap -his hand over the ‘intruder’s
‘mouth. Pietro’s second: blow had not been so ‘effec-
tive, for the man struggled desperately for some
seconds, and ‘then silence reéstablished its empire
once more; for the villain soon ceased .to -pant,-and
‘the distant howl of a wolf alone disturbed the .languor
:of the summer night.

Cabrillo, Tarcedo, and Jim Osborn leaped ‘from
‘their cover as the wild sound of their comrade’s
voice reached their ears. It had been wholly unex-
pected, and, as they had not heard. a shot fired, they
could account for the cry in only one way, — Snaky
had been seen creeping through the grass, and had
been struck from behind, as they. had often.waylaid
THE -OUTLAWS “FOILED 2201

cand-struck- down-undffending -persons. The outlaws
;ranito:the' bank, :like:a horse:at:the: spur.

There!” -cried “Cabrillo, «with -an oath. -“ That
-ends:the dance. Redwood -and:Snaky’ve;gone up.”
They waited behind a clump of -bushes -for :some
ymoments, when -another cry, :fainter :-than ‘the first,
-sounded: from; the’ lodge. hae

46 What's that?” sasked Trarcedo. -“‘It:sounded like
Reddy’s:woice.”

*No,not Reddy’s,” answered the chief, * but. Fire-
‘fly's. «Can’tyyou hear;him.call?” :

‘The «men listened; intently, .while -the -cry ;was : re-
,peated. »WildFace, Wild )Face, don’t leave old»Bill
for the ‘halter!’ ;it-came clear and - distinct, with ja
-sort-of;hopeless intonation. “Don't leave me‘for: the
halter, :there’s a good mate!” He pleaded for -a
while ,longer,:and then he.stopped short: off.

“ They’ve-got -his. wind, cut off :now,” said. Cabrillo,
choking withsanger; ‘sand it’s precious ‘little :P'll do
to save him. Redwood ;and Snaky’ll feel the hand-
-cuffs :through:the bungling of -that :wooden-headed
idiot.”

/At: thessamermoment-they. descended'to the horses,
ymounted, and-were:.soon-splashing down:the stream.
‘When they :reached their retreat, they threw them-
yselves upon :their blankets with .a perfect storm. of
oaths. de:

“ Aren’t you ,goin’ ‘to give the (boys .a :helpin’
202 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

hand?” asked Dody of the chief, when the robbers
had somewhat smoothed their ruffled feelings with a
pipeful of black tobacco. “It don’t seem just
right to quit ’em, now that those kids have fetched
to windward of ’em.”

“Aha!” replied: José, contemptuously, pointing to
the empty keg which had been the cause of all the
trouble. ‘“ Other things don’t seem just right, either.
You're a pack of fools, Dody, a pack of fools!”’

“But you're not goin’ to quit *em now, cap’n?
Not goin’ to show old Reddy the cold shoulder?”
pleaded Jim, whose heart was also in the right place.
“Reddy and Snaky had no means of knowin’ that
the kids was peepin’ at ’em the whole while.”

“Well, it’s no concern of mine,” answered the
brigand chief. ‘I wanted no part in the affair from
the very first, only to keep you fools satisfied. I
never heard of such a milk-and-water raid before in
my life. Holton would have quit such a crowd in
less time than it takes to tell it.”

“ Well, you’re not Bill Holton, cap’n, and we don’t
look for Bill’s treatment along of you. You're young,
and you're rich, as they say, and you’ve seen a heap
better days than these, Wild Face. And you won’t
tell us that you'll give old Reddy and Snaky the go-
by without liftin’ a finger? Not you, cap’n! Many
a time they’ve flung themselves through a train door,
and have felt the bullets sing by ’em for —”
THE OUTLAWS FOILED 203

“Enough of that!” cried Cabrillo, jumping to his
feet and glancing at his watch. ‘“Itll be day-
break in another hour, and they’ll be settin’ out with
the boys. It’s no use tryin’ to ride up to that camp,
night or day. We’ll have to watch the trails and
give them a volley from the brush.”

So the outlaws mounted and scattered among the
hills, eagerly listening and waiting for any sound of
life coming from the direction of the house.

In the mean time, things had gone very smoothly
with our heroes at the lodge. The lads saw the three
outlaws spring to their feet at the sound of Snaky’s
voice, saw them pause at the edge of the bank and
listen a second to Firefly’s cry, and then heard them
as they splashed off down the creek bottom.
Larraby had seen them, too, and was very much
tempted to cover the foremost with his Winchester.
He knew that Jim’s tall, lank form did not belong to
Cabrillo, and, as the chief had not been taken, he
must be the first of the three, as the third outlaw
wore a heavy beard and was very large.

“Shall I twist a sash around Firefly’s mouth?”
asked the cowboy, as the outlaw began to call to his
comrades from above. ; :

“No,” replied Pietro, “the mischief’s done. Have
they: lebtieio! v=

“Yes; there they go down stream,” answered the
former. ‘That'll end the raid.”

e
204 SIX YOUNG : HUNTERS

“‘Probably,” answered :the herdsman. “Larry, I
‘reckon they'll remember :to-night for.some time -to
come.”

By this:time-the boys’ had :joined -the -herdsman;in
the hallway. They were:trembling with .excitement
and perhaps a little:fear,-and -could ;not-for : the life
of ‘them -regain «their self-control:for some moments.
“Jack -returned : from ‘the ‘kitchen -and -stood,with :the
others, while: Larraby: finished: the operation of binding
Snaky:hand-and:foot.

“* How's he doing?” asked Pietro,:as Jack’s voice
sounded in the darkness.

“Qh, all right,” answered ‘the lad,:faintly. ‘‘He's
muttering ‘to: himself: the.whole: while.”

‘*4Ts‘Master. Harry with: him’?”’

«“Ves ; he-sent me for:the: news.”

“Tell him they’ve left,and that he mustn't leave the
‘man. :Larry,:!take-a look.at,Firefly.”

As .Larraby ascended the ‘stairs, :Pietro turned : to
Walter and said :—

“What’s best tobe, done, now, my lad? It’ll:be
tough work gettin’ word to the ranch by day. -Hadn’t
ssome one better: start-just before daybreak ?”’

“By all means,” answered Walter, promptly.
Who'd ibe the :best one ‘to go?”

“Either Larraby or you, for Tony couldn’t make -
‘the time.”

“Then [ll go,” volunteered the boy ; “for~you'll
THE -OUTLAWS : FOILED “205

need :Larraby to thelp -you incase of -an attack.
Tony, put-me ,up:some lunch, and ,I’ll.start as:soon
as.it’s dark enough.”

“Don’t go, Walt,” protested :the cclub, “for: they'll
surely see you, and will make no end of trouble.”

“Nonsense!” replied the lad, confidently. ‘“ Lev-
eller can beat them all; ene besides, if I get a good
start, they won’t see me.’

“What time will you arrive? 2” asked Paul.

“ About noon, if I ride fast. We'll be back late
this evening.”

As the lad said this,:he raised the window in the
rear of the lodge-room,:crossed the veranda, and ran
to the stable. _Almost at the same instant, the grey-
hounds set up their plaintive greetings, and the set-
ters barked loudly. Walter slid the slatted door back,
while Arthur and Jack, who had followed: him,-assisted
with the .saddling and bridling.

“Stop your noise, Von!” commanded Walter, as
the setter barked .and jumped about -in his glee.
“Don’t you know-we never shoot birds at night?”

“Here’s de lunch, Masser Walter,” said Tony, as
he hobbled out to the soles “De best success, sah,
de best success to you.”

Just then the brightness disappeared valeawechen
and looking up the boys saw that the moon had be-
come screened behind a great black cloud, and almost
at the same moment Walter led Leveller from his
206 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

stall. The lunch was placed in the saddle-bag, and
Walter threw his foot across the saddle and galloped
off into the darkness as his chums called a last fare-
well in a guarded undertone.


CHAPTER XII
WALTER A CAPTIVE

T must not be supposed that Walter had set out

upon his journey with no fear of the three bandits
in his heart. He did not wish to leave his friends.
with only Pietro and Tony to assist in the protection
of the lodge and the guarding of the captured out-
laws, and he knew that Larraby would be of great
help in case of hostilities, and would inspire con-:
fidence among his chums. It was true that Tony
knew the trail to the ranch perfectly well, and that
he had been a trusted servant for many years; but
he was well on’in years now, and a gallop of some
fifty miles would have been a little too much for the
old negro. The lad felt confident that Leveller would
make the journey without turning a hair, and that he
would be back late that night or early the following
morning with a half-dozen rancheros and a deputy
sheriff.

The club had retired after an exciting day’s sport,
very much worn out, only to be disturbed in the midst
of their slumbers by the startling news that the out-
laws were creeping through the grass towards the.

207
208 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

lodge. That was enough to cause the lads to tumble
from their bunks with wonderful alacrity, and to
assist as best they could in the capture of the high-
waymen. As Walter rode on down the prairie towards
the trail that led to the ranch, he recalled all the ex-
citing events connected-with the attempted raid, and
was forced to ask himself three questions: Had the
outlaws seen .Firefly taken’ to the lodge? What
reasons had’ they for planning another robbery so
soon after the successful hold-up of the express? and
What would have happened if Pietro had not detected
them before they had reached the camp?

Walter had no: means of knowing whether the
brigands had seen Firefly led towards the lodge. or’
not; and could not induce himself to believe that
they would run such risks for a few’ provisions and
firearms; though: the reader knows that such was’
the: case? The last question was not a very pleasant
thought, and the lad banished it for more congenial
soliloquies.

“ They’ must think we’re a lot of mealy-mouthed
dudes,” he told himself, “and that we’d surrender at
the very’ sound of their names. They did give us
quite a scare, though,” he went on, his breath uncon-
sciously quickening, “and one’ we won't get over
very’soon: Didn’t Larraby answer that fellow they:
calli Snaky well, though? He’s a perfect brick, is
larry? He should have been’a detective!” ~
WALTER A CAPTIVE . 209

Walter ran on in this strain until he had recalled
everything of importance that had taken place since
their arrival, and was forced to acknowledge that
things were altogether too serious to make any sort
of sport enjoyable.

“Well, I'll be able to accept almost any sentence
now,” he continued, “and couldn’t blame Uncle John
or father. The fellows will be safe enough until I
get back, and then we shall talk the thing over.
Whatever happens, we can at least look back upon
a week of exciting sport.”

While Walter was thus occupied, he never for a
moment relaxed his vigilance. He had gone nearly
five miles when the first gray streaks of dawn began to
appear; and soon after a little wind rustled the leaves
and waved the prairie grass. This, with Leveller’s
steady tramp, tramp, tramp, and the chirp of the
countless insects in the brush were the only sounds.
Not a bird, not a bunch of steers upon the horizon;
the very largeness of the view, as day advanced, in-
creased the lad’s sense of solitude and loneliness.

“We've had some long rides and good old hunts
together, haven’t we, old boy?” said Walter, patting
the chestnut’s glossy neck; “and we're likely to have
more, if things come out all right.”

And the horse threw up his head as though he
understood, quickening his step and shaking his bit
playfully.

P
210 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Feeling pretty well, aren’t you, old fellow?”
continued Walter, gathering the reins firmly in his
hands; “let me see one of your three-mile gallops
before it gets too warm.”

Leveller, before he had fairly felt the touch of the
spur, broke into a graceful gallop that carried horse
and rider over the prairie at an astonishing pace —
down through rocky creek bottoms, some dry, some
a foot or two deep, avoiding rocky cliffs, past great
strings of tall cottonwoods, and around clumps of
jack-oaks that were well-nigh impenetrable.

“There!’’ said Walter, as he reined in the ambi-
tious animal and started for a line of willows that
sprung up from a rocky ledge. “TI believe you'd like
a little grass and water, and I’m sure I’d like to see
what Tony has put up for my breakfast.”

He rode along the ledge until he came to the head
of the spring. It was a picturesque spot, surrounded
by rocks and willows, which fairly rang with the
songs of robins and brown thrushes. Quails were
whistling merrily in an adjoining thicket, and the
soft morning air was beginning to dry with the rising
of the sun.

Walter dismounted, removing the heavy Mexican
saddle and blanket. He then relieved Leveller of
the bridle, and threw his lariat about the animal’s
neck, fastening the other end to a nearby tree. He
next took the lunch from the saddle-bag, and spread
WALTER A CAPTIVE 211

it upon a rock by the spring. Tony had put up a
couple of hard-boiled eggs, three slices of buttered
bread, and a half-dozen sweet pickles. The lad
meditated upon them a moment, and then grasped his
rifle and started for the thicket in search of a quail.

“ This ride and the events of the night have made
me hungry as a wolf in winter,” he told himself, as he
cleared the ledge and walked towards the bushes.
“That breakfast isn’t worth a biscuit.”

“Bob White, Bob White,” came regularly and
often from the thicket, and the lad paused just long
enough to take a shot at a cock. Crack! spoke the
Winchester, and over toppled the quail, shot through
the head. The others rose to wing with a great buzz
instantly, but they did not fly close enough to present
a good shot. They alighted a couple of hundred
yards further up a gentle slope, in another clump of
bushes. Walter picked up the dead quail and started
for another. He worked his way along slowly and
cautiously, and was finally rewarded by bagging a
second bird.

He started back for the spring, well pleased with
the prospects for a savory breakfast. He could not
see Leveller as he approached and concluded that
the horse had jain down for a good roll, or was per-
haps enjoying the cool spring water. This proved
to be the case, for another moment and the shining
back of the chestnut rose to view.
212 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Perhaps it was foolish to fire my rifle so near
camp,” he said, when he had arrived within a few
feet of the rocks. ‘I wonder how far I’ve come;
probably ten or twelve miles.”

The very next instant Walter started to step upon
the rocks, but recoiled before the muzzle of a Win-
chester that was thrust directly beneath his nose.

“Cabrillo!” he cried, as he felt every drop of
blood sink to his feet, and then rush back again to
his heart.

“Drop — that — gun!” said the chief, truculently,
pausing between each word to display a savage smile
and glittering set of teeth.

Walter saw at once that it was useless to resist,
and let the rifle fall from his hands.

“ Now, kindly remove that belt, and mind you don’t
put a finger on the pistols —they look so neat in the
holsters.”

The lad unbuckled the belt at once, and it, too, fell
to the ground.

“Stand where you are!”’ he commanded, dropping
his rifle and advancing with a pistol in his right hand,
which he pointed straight at the terrified boy. “Place
your hands behind. Hurry!” he said, raising the
pistol as if to strike the lad a crushing blow. ‘That's
right, now keep them there.”

With his left hand, the outlaw freed the lariat from
about his waist, and in a twinkling had confined
WALTER A CAPTIVE 213

Walter’s arms securely. He kept his pistol in his
right hand all the time, and it was marvellous how
dexterously he handled the thong.

“That’s better!” he exclaimed, as he finished by
winding the lariat a couple of times about the lad’s
waist. ‘Now we'll have some breakfast, for I’m a
bit hungry myself.”

Walter followed him to the spring, where he viewed
the bread, eggs, and pickles with eyes of scarcely
veiled contempt.

“Were you not to have something warm?” he
asked, his lips curling.

“T have shot a couple of birds, if that’s what you
mean,” replied Walter, who had by this time some-
what recovered from his terrible fright.

“And soI thought. Where are they?”

“In my pockets,” answered the former, seating
himself upon a rock.

“Of course. How stupid of me. I suppose you
cannot conveniently hand them to me, so I shall be
obliged to relieve you myself.”

As he spoke, he thrust the pistol, with which he
had been toying, back into his belt.

“Ah,” said he, as he drew the quails from the
lad’s pocket; “shot through the heads — very clever
indeed. We're all clever—some in one way, and
some in another.”

Walter made no reply to this speech. His face
214 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

looked all the anger and fear he felt, and words
would have been useless. He watched the outlaw as
he skilfully picked and cleaned the birds, after which
the man scraped a bunch of twigs and dried leaves in
a heap, and lighted them.

While he was thus employed, Walter was busy
thinking of a dozen things: What would the fellows
say, if the party from the ranch failed to arrive by
midnight or the following morning at the latest?
And what did the outlaw intend to do with him?
—together with many not very feasible schemes of
escape. His meditations were eS by the
outlaw’s voice.

“ How comes it you're off on a ten-mile ride so early
in the morning?” he asked, as he turned the quails
upon the coals. ‘Out for the air?”

“I was out for a little gallop,” answered our hero,
endeavoring to emulate the outlaw’s friendly tone.

“That’s good —a fine morning. Do you often ride
ten miles before breakfast ?”

“Frequently,” was the reply.

“Tn the direction of your uncle’s ranch?”

“ Sometimes.”

“Do you think that bird is sufficiently cooked?”
asked Cabrillo, with an accent so curious that the lad
could not for the life of him tell whether he was
being laughed at or whether the brigand was asking
information. He preferred to think the latter.
WALTER A CAPTIVE 215

“It looks so,” answered the boy.

“T think so too,” continued the other, cocking his
head on one side with the air of a connoisseur. ‘It
isn’t often I get such grub.”

“T don’t doubt it,’ replied Walter, with disgust.
“ Your meals are necessarily few and far between.”

“Quite so. That remark, however, will cost you —
your breakfast.”

“ Breakfast or no breakfast, I should like to know
a few things myself, if you are through with ques-
tioning me,” said the boy, growing a bit bolder.

“ Fire away,” replied the chief, eating heartily.

“Well, I should like to know why you have held
me up, and what you are going to do with me,” be-
gan Walter, his voice choking with anger. “I’ve
done nothing to you, and, what’s more, I won’t goa
step with you.”

“Ah, but I think you will,” answered the chief,
tapping his pistols meaningly. “Tl need you fora
few days. Leastways, I think so.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean, just as well as I do,” he
cried in reply. ‘You were on your way to get help.
to move my lads to the lockup, the.three you’ve
ketched because they’d been taking a glass of grog,
and perhaps another to wash it down. Don’t try to
deny it. They doa rattlin’ piece of work one night,
and another night they act like a lot of lay-figures.
216 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

You’d never have been on the peep last night, if it
hadn’t been for that red-headed idiot Firefly. I
don’t know how you ketched him, but I do know he’s
the fishiest thing that ever breathed. Now, let me
tell you lads one thing: You’ve come down here with
your fancy guns and fishin’ tackle, and long-legged
hounds, and not only shoot our game, but go to
runnin’ a sandy on my men. By gum! You're
the first lot that ever came amongst us, and you'll
be the last. The Indians, theirselves, don’t come
trailin’ through here any more, — they know better ;
and we'll have no more of it from a lot of school-
boys.”

“Ts that all?” asked the lad.

“Well, it’s all you’re to hear,” returned the man
with a deep growl, as he tackled the second quail.

“T’m glad that it is,” continued Walter, settling to
a more comfortable position. “I know about what
to expect at the hands of such a villain as you, and I
shall not be surprised if I am ill-treated and starved
for a few days. But after that, let me say that there
will be trouble for you, and trouble of the worst kind.
My uncle and father have offered you every induce-
ment to change the course of your wicked lives, and
you have flatly refused time and again. When they
hear that I started for the ranch this morning, as
they will hear in-a couple of days, and have not been
heard from, they will know exactly where to look for
WALTER A CAPTIVE 217

me. And the hills will swarm with blue-coated sol-
diers and detectives in all sorts of suits and make-
ups.”

“Let them come,” cried the chief, derisively.
“ They’ve tried that often enough. The Grouse hills
has a bad sound to them that knows.”

“ Perhaps they have had,” answered Walter, strug-
gling to free his arms. “But all things have an end,
and these clever people sometimes come up with a
short turn.”

“ As you did after shootin’ quails like you was at a
clay-pigeon match,” continued the other with a grin,
holding ’a slice of bread and pickle in one hand and a
bird in the other. “ Delicious is the very word.”

“Tm glad you think so; I must take your word
for it.”

“Indeed you must, my unoffending, little ‘ tender-
foot.’ When did you dine last?”

“Last night at supper.”

“Really? I had anidea you had hot birds and
cold bottles after that very clever performance last
night. How did you manage it so quiet-like? Iwas
studyin’ on it this mornin’.”

“You'll never know, Cabrillo. You have lots to
learn.”

“Havel? -I’m glad to hear it. The papers say
I’m very clever and very bad.”

“Certainly the latter. Now, if you expect to keep
218 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

me from my friends very long, you'll find that another
of your plans won’t work. We know that your camp
is not a great way from ours, and where to go to find
it; let me tell you that.”

“You do?” asked the outlaw, eyeing the lad curi-
ously. And then, evidently thinking he had shown
too much interest in the question, laughed tauntingly
in the boy’s face.

“T guess not,” he continued, rising to his feet and
wiping his great knife in the palm of his hand.
“You can’t fool me, lad, and the sooner you find it
out, the better it'll be for you. Mark those words.
Ah! it’s a wild lot of birds I’ve had the handlin’ of,
and. more’s the wonder they haven’t more of ’em
felt the cold coil of rope about their necks, or the
handcuffs a-jangling on their wrists. I know how
they look, with their black faces, and wicked, twin-
kling eyes, as they march them from the cars for a
snack of grub, for I’ve seen ’em do it, though I’ve
never felt the cuffs a-jangling on my wrists. It was
at Border City some five years ago, and I stood along
with the crowd on the platform. ‘Is that Jim Per-
kins?’ asked a fellow on my left, and another one
answers, ‘That! sure, that’s Perkins, the outlaw, on
his way to the halter; he’s had a long, free swing,
but now he’ll swing high and dry, and won’t have
the whole territory to dance on.’ And I can hear
the others laugh as they heard the words, And am
WALTER A CAPTIVE 219

I goin’ to risk my neck for a bunch of striplin’s that
come down here with their razor-hounds and cloth
dug-outs that you fold up and put in a box? No,
not I, and you can bank on that. By-gones is by-
gones, and I’ve run too far on the other road to ever
turn back.”

Cabrillo paused, and Walter could see that the
man’s words had left him in no very good humor,
for he scowled fiercely, and tightened Leveller’s
saddle-girth with a final twitch that made the grace-
ful chestnut turn his head in astonishment. He then
bridled the horse as quickly, and wound Walter’s lasso
about his own waist. After he had caught his own
horse, which had been running at large, he came up
to the lad, his pistol in his right hand, and said with
a growl :—

“ Now, boy, let’s have no nonsense, or ’ll hit you
a rap with the butt end of this gun.”

Walter looked at the man, and saw he meant every
word he said, and decided that it would be the poor-
est kind of policy to offer any resistance just then.
He therefore placed his foot into the stirrup which
Cabrillo held for him to ascend by, and, with a little
assistance on the part of the robber, was soon in the
saddle. The lariat pinned his arms so tightly to his
sides that the lad was not a little surprised when
Cabrillo tied his right leg with a leather thong where
it dangled just below the horse’s flanks, and then
220 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

passed the cord beneath the animal’s body, and tied
it securely to his left foot, just tight enough to be
uncomfortable. |

“ That’s right, Mr. José Cabrillo. You'd better be
very careful, for I might get my arms free, and then
you’d see no more of me.”

“Ah, is that so!” replied the outlaw, mounting,
and lighting one of his yellow-covered cigarettes.
“ How would you manage it?”

“With a touch of my re. I could aioe you a
gallop that would astonish you.”

“You did this morning. I thought I never would
come up with you.”

“Then you were following me all the while?”

“For some time,” said the bandit with a grin.
“Did you think we had left the country?”

“We hoped you had; but no such good luck could
happen.”

“ And you'll have worse luck before you're through
with us. You'll regret the day you ever came amongst
us with your flat saddles and silver spurs.”

“Perhaps I have regretted it already,” said Walter,
to whom the silence was more oppressive than idle
conversation. ‘We have to thank you for spoiling
a summer’s sport.”

“Well, you haven’t had a taste of what is to come.
We'll teach you to cross our trails like.so many jack-
rabbits,” responded the man, scowling fiercely. “I
WALTER A CAPTIVE 221

shouldn’t think your uncle would have trusted you
down here with one puncher and a nigger cook.
That’s what bothers me.” :

“My uncle is no more afraid of you than we are;
and that is very little,’ said Walter, coolly.

“None of your impudence now, or you'll go with-
out your fried steer for dinner,” growled the chief-
tain.

This threat had its effect upon our hero, who was
naturally beginning to feel very hungry. The thought
of fried steer was not at all repulsive, and even invit-
ing to the hungry lad.

“You keep a ranch in connection with your other
business?” Walter asked at length, when he had
grown tired of watching the outlaw in silence.

“No, we don’t have to go to that trouble, I’m glad
to say,” replied the man, with a grim smile.

“T understood you did not. How far is your
cave?”

“What makes you suppose we live in a cave?”

“TI have always believed that outlaws spent most
of their time in a cave.”

“Well, in this you are wrong. I am glad to say
that we breathe the fresh air with the rest of the
world.”

“ How soon shall we be there?”

“In the course of an hour. Do you think you can
stand a gallop as you are?”
222 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“T could try.”

“Then we'll give you a chance.”

As the robber said this, he came to a halt, and
dismounting, tied his sash tightly about the boy’s
eyes.

“There! that will do,” he said. “What can you
see?”

“Pitch darkness,” was the reply.

“Very good; now, mind your seat.”

Walter heard him remount, and the next moment
they were off at what the lad considered a break-
neck speed. Down gullies, up steep banks, and
through thickets that scratched the lad’s lower face
and neck badly. If the outlaw noticed the streaks
of blood that Walter felt trickling down his neck, he
did not mention it or check his speed in the least,
and the lad was too plucky to remonstrate.

“It wouldn’t be of any use, and I won’t give him
the satisfaction of knowing that I mind it.” As
Walter finished the soliloquy, he felt Leveller’s head
turned to the left, and the next moment he was spin-
ning around like a top — first one way, then the other.
The animal did not relish this treatment any more
than his master, and began to rear on his hind legs.

“You've lost your bearings, I reckon,” said Ca-
brillo, as the horses once more came to a stand.

“Completely,” answered the lad, who felt dizzy
from it all.
WALTER A CAPTIVE 223

In another second Walter felt Leveller cautiously
pick his way down a steep cliff, and then heard the
splashing that told him they had come to a ford.
“ But it must be a wide ford,” thought the lad, as the
horses continued to splash through water for some
minutes. “It must be the Arkansas.”

Walter was far from right in this, and would have
been very much surprised had he known that, during
the long ride in which he had been blindfolded, the
brigand chief had been approaching Deer Lodge,
instead of riding from it, and that the lodge itself was
not four miles distant.

The lad earnestly hoped that Cabrillo’s camp would
soon be reached, for he was very tired, sore, and
hungry, and he felt that he would be allowed at least
a little liberty at the journey’s end. He had not long
to wait, fortunately, for Cabrillo dismounted and fast-
ened Walter’s bridle-rein to the horn of his saddle,
and the lad’s lariat to the limbs that screened the first
entrance to the outlaws’ retreat. Walter felt and
heard the chestnut follow the bay, and the next mo-
ment became aware, from the continued splashing of
the water, that, although the horse had left the bed
of the main stream, they were still standing in some
depth of water. After Cabrillo had arranged each
disturbed branch in a faultless position, he unfastened
Leveller’s bridle-rein from the horn of his own saddle,
and spoke to the bay, which clattered up the brook-
224 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

let. He then grasped the chestnut’s bridle firmly in
his right hand, and started to follow the bay. Up,
up, up, Walter felt himself carried, until he thought
he must be a couple of hundred feet above the stream.
He felt that they had entered some very heavily
wooded grove, for it was deliciously cool after the
long ride in the hot sun, and the songs of the robins
and the musical flow of the spring were pleasant
greetings to the prisoner.

Whenever Leveller would pause and rear slightly
at the strange surroundings and bridle-path, Cabrillo
would grasp the lad about his ankle and plunge the
spur into the animal’s flank. Walter was powerless
to resist, but felt the blood rising within him, and he
gave an unconscious tug at his bindings.

All at once, when the top of the cliff was reached,
Cabrillo whistled twice, for all the world like the call
of a quail, and the iron bar grated in its iron rings as
it was drawn back. The bay gave a whinny as he
trotted to the corral, while the chief led Leveller up
the short incline. Walter instinctively felt that they
had reached the end of the journey, and hoped he
would be given a chance to stretch his limbs. This
proved to be the case, for Osborn, after bolting the
door, assisted the chief in releasing the prisoner.

Walter was lifted from his horse, and the sash, to
his intense relief, was removed from his eyes.

“Have a look about you, lad,” said the chief, “and
WALTER A CAPTIVE 225

see how you like the looks of ovr camp. Not so
dainty as a fancy log-house with a wide shelter, I
can hear you say, but still very fair—those will be
your very words.”

Walter did not hear the most of this speech, for
everything looked bizarre and yellow as the cloth was
taken from his eyes. Gradually, however, things
began to assume a more natural tone, and he improved
the chance to look about him as he stretched his arms
akimbo. His eyes fell upon Jim almost at once, and,
much to the outlaw’s surprise, he addressed him.

“So you’ve come back to your old business, have
you?” said the lad. :

“By gum!” exclaimed the one-eyed man, wriggling
like an eel in his surprise and embarrassment. - “ How
in thunder did you know that I gave the cap’n the
go-by?”

“Never mind,” answered Walter, enjoying the fel-
low’s discomfort. “But I say,” he continued a mo-
ment later, “you have a very pleasant spot here,
Cabrillo. May I sample your water?”

“With pleasure. Jim, bring the lad some beef; I
faked his birds this mornin’.”

Walter went to the spring, and, kneeling down,
drank and bathed his face. The red scar left where
the sash had been wound about his face had not yet
disappeared, and it was all he could do for some time
to control the motion of his hands.

Q
226 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Jim placed a wooden platter of cold broiled beef
upon a rock close by, and, though both salt and pep-
per were missing, the lad ate long and heartily; and,
as he afterwards said, it was far more enjoyable than
one of Chap’s spreads at the academy.

Before Walter had finished his last slice of beef,
the same emulation of a quail’s cry was heard from
without, and the chief opened the heavy oak door
and admitted the villanous-looking Tarcedo.

“Well, you ketched the youngster, did you, cap’n?”
he said, throwing his rifle and sombrero upon the
grass. “I reckon he’s a bit surprised. Hey,
boy?”

“No more than you will be before you’re two days
older,” replied Walter, with a curl of his lip, as he
rose to his feet and walked slowly off.

“Now, wouldn’t that kill you?” said Dody, strok-
ing his great black beard and smiling grimly after
the retreating form. ‘“ Anybody’d think he was sit-
ting behind a royal flush.”

“Oh, he’s fly, he is,” said Cabrillo, rather pleased
than otherwise at the lad’s independence of manner.

“You're not goin’ to give him all this rope,
cap’n?”

“Not much. He’s stretchin’ his limbs after the
ride. Got any news?”

“No; on’y those kids are sittin’ around under the
trees, and lookin’ from the door with a spy-glass.”
WALTER A CAPTIVE 227

While Tarcedo tackled a great platter of beef,
Walter walked about the camp, followed closely by
Jim Osborn, who held a revolver in his hand.

“T see you’re watching me, but I’ll spare you any
trouble on that score; I’m not fool enough to try to
escape from three men, all good shots with a rifle,”
said the lad, endeavoring to draw the man into a
conversation.

“You'd better not, for the cap’n shoots turtle-
doves on the wing with a target rifle,” said Jim,
following Walter out to the corral, where the lad fed
and watered his horse.

“You've got some fine horses here, haven’t you?”
asked Walter, as his eye took in the fine limbs and
flaring nostrils of the animals. “How do you get
corn for them?”

The outlaw looked at the lad curiously for a
moment, and then drew quietly at his pipe.

“Did you think we raised it?” he asked finally.

“T didn’t know,” the lad answered, trying in vain
to get a view of the surrounding country over the
barricade.

“ Well, we don’t, and you can lay to it,” said the
other. :

“And the horses?” asked Walter. “They’re
splendid animals.”

“Ves, toler’ble fair,” agreed Jim, becoming quite
friendly as he saw that Walter made no effort to
228 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

escape. ‘That was my black that the cap’n sold
one of your friends.”

“Indeed!” said the lad in surprise. ‘“He’s an
excellent horse, and cheap at a hundred.”

“ That’s what I told the cap’n; but he said that
was all the lad could lay his hand on, and so let the
nag go for that.”

“Was he the swiftest horse you had?”

“Not much, though he’s a great galloper all the
same. The cap’n’s bay there is the best in the
bunch now, and fe can’t hold a candle to Holton’s
old mount.”

“Where is Holton’s horse now?”

“Oh, she’s back in Kentuck’ a-sportin’ silk these
two years past, and they say she’s a daisy over the
grass. Gloaming, they call her.”

“T remember reading about her. So Holton used
to ride Gloaming, did he? What made him sell
her?”

“He didn’t sell,” the robber answered with a
grin. “They ran her off the night I lost this
headlight, and that was the last we heard of her
till spring.”

Walter walked back, his mind filled with wild
schemes of escape, none of which seemed worthy of
atrial. The door of the retreat was open, and the
lad walked in. Cabrillo was conversing earnestly
with Tarcedo, and the men lowered their voices as
WALTER A CAPTIVE 229

the prisoner entered. Walter glanced at the table
and saw that they had been writing, and then turned
his attention to an examination of the interior of the
retreat. It was rather more comfortable and far
more cleanly than he had expected to find it, which
not a little surprised him.

“Cabrillo’s seen better days than these,” he told
himself, as he glanced furtively at the chief, who,
with his hat off, presented anything but a bad pict-
ure. “If it weren’t for that wild light that some-
times comes into his eyes, I should call him a very
good-looking chap.”

The odd characters burned into the wall amused
him greatly, and the presence of the slashed mail-
bag emphasized the fact that they were real live
outlaws and train-robbers.

The afternoon wore slowly away, and towards
sunset another huge plate of beef was brought from
the house and placed upon the log. The men paid
little attention to the lad, though Walter noticed that
they left no firearms about, and gave him no knife
with his meat.

As the sun set, the prairie breeze began rustling
and tumbling in the woods, and the air began to
cool. Walter was sure that the outlaws would make
some sort of move by this time, and was therefore
not surprised when Tarcedo saddled Cabrillo’s horse,
took his Winchester, and rode out of the gateway.
230 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Anxious as the lad was over the events of the day,
he nevertheless was glad to be bound hand and foot
and tumbled into a berth, little guessing what sur-
prises the morrow would bring.


CHAPTER XIII

HARRY ON THE TRAIL

Tarcedo had reported
to the chief of the des-
peradoes, the members
of the Greyhound Club
had spent the greater
part of the day in rest-
ing beneath the trees,
and in keeping a sharp
lookout for any signs
of Cabrillo. They were
not sorry, when they
came to search Red-
wood and Snaky, that
none of the stolen money was found; for, if these
two outlaws had had their shares with them, the
boys told themselves, Deer Lodge would have been
in danger of an attack at any moment. They dis-
cussed the outlaws continually, always ending by
congratulating Pietro upon his clever reasoning, and
saying that they had him to thank for everything,
231


232 : SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

which was quite true. Pietro was very modest, and
only replied good naturedly to all these praises.

“But we didn’t get the flower of the flock,” he
replied on several different occasions, as the lads
gathered at the stable door and watched the flying
currycomb and brush. “If we had taken Wild
Face, the others would have been a hundred miles
from here by this time. He’s the backbone of the
whole troop, and they’d soon split up without him;
but he’s a bit too foxy for anything of the sort, and
I’m afraid he’ll make trouble yet.”

“You don’t think Master Walter will meet him?”
asked Paul, who wished a thousand times a day that
he had never seen an outlaw.

“I’m not sure,” replied the herdsman. ‘You can’t
tell anything about it. We'll have to wait until to-
night or to-morrow noon at the latest. They’ll send
men enough to stand any sort of an attack by three
men. If the punchers are on the ranges, it may
take a few extra hours to round ’em up.”

“What would happen if Master Walter did fall in
with Cabrillo?” asked Harry, who now wished that
he had accompanied Walter to the ranch. “Of
course they would not harm him, and he would be
perfectly safe while in their hands as a prisoner.
Don’t you think so, Larry?”

“Yes; and then there would be a bit of trading.
Master Walter would stand for the three rascals up-
HARRY ON THE TRAIL 233

stairs, and we’d lose the colonel’s everlastin’ respect
for letting ’em go.” ;

“Well, it would have been the same if they had
ketched you, Larry,” argued Pietro. “It would
have made no difference in the trade, and we
couldn’t all leave camp at a jump. I believe Master
Walter is well pious by this time, and’ll fetch up at
the ranch by noon.’

Walter was well along at that very moment, and
going at a break-neck speed over hills, through
gullies, and down steep banks, bound hand and foot,
and wondering to himself how much breakfast his
friends would have eaten if they could have seen him
just then — probably about as much as he had had a
chance to eat, he told himself.

The day proved to be long and monotonous. Pietro
wished to run no risks, he said, and so the lads were
stationed, two at a time, to watch the captured out-
laws. This proved a break in the dreary monotony
of waiting for night, and, as the sensation of guard-
ing noted desperadoes with a loaded Winchester
was decidedly new, the lads rather enjoyed it for a
time. The men themselves, however, seemed to think
the presence of our heroes decidedly objectionable,
and did not hesitate to tell them so in no very pleas-
ing tones. Firefly, of course, came in for the
butt of their anger, and it is a wonder that the
red-headed man did not break the cords that bound
234 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

him, so great was his wrath under the continued
abuse.

Eugene and Harry stood the first watch, and were
relieved after two hours by Arthur and Jack, Paul
being employed as lookout from the lodge-room
windows and doors with the telescope. The whin-
ing and barking of the greyhounds and setters did
not add to the lads’ enjoyment of the strange situa-
tion, and it is safe to say that for the first time since
‘their arrival at the lodge time dragged very slowly.

“If they learn at home what has been going on
down here, I’m sure that our deer coursing will be
knocked higher than a kite,” said Harry to Eugene,
as they stretched themselves upon the bank beneath
the oaks. “The dogs and horses are just beginning
to feel like galloping, and it is a shame to keep them
shut up on a day like this.”

“Those are my sentiments exactly,” replied Eugene;
“but all things have an end, and I believe everything
will come out right side up, with care. You'll find
that Mr. Hillman will be delighted at the capture of
these three men, and won’t even mention a return
to the ranch, or I’ll miss my guess. He’s been a
boy himself, and likes a good horse and dog as well
as any one. He saw you were a brick, Harry, and
so sent you those pistols we all admire so much.”

“They are handsome,” said Harry, removing his
belt and unbuckling the holsters. “I never saw
HARRY ON THE TRAIL 235

such carving on modern pistols before. They’re
almost too fancy to be of any use,” continued the
lad, polishing the pearl handles and silver mountings
with a bit of chamois.

“Have you tried them?” asked the former.

« A’ few times. I’ve cracked at squirrels off and
on, and at that wounded coyote last night, when I
heard him in the brush. Let’s have a little target
practice.”

Accordingly, the lads put up a mark some fifty
feet distant, and began firing with a rapidity that
brought loud calls for help from the second story,
where the bandits lay stretched in their bunks. ©

“Cap'n! cap’n!” they shouted wildly, “give ’em
a broadsider, and let’s get out of this!”

“It’s no use, gentlemen,” replied the facetious
Jack, with a broad grin, as he went to the window
and saw what was going on. “ My friends are having
a little target practice just below. Does the noise
disturb you?”

The growls that followed this remark made Arthur,
who was seated by the window reading a book, feel
as if he were in a menagerie, and a magnificent tiger
had just made a gallant though unsuccessful effort
to escape. We have all been in just such positions,
no doubt, and we have all told ourselves, as the slight
bars bend and ring under the gigantic effort, that
“we are so glad he is caged.” Arthur was a boy
236 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

clear through, for he forgot his book instantly, and
grasped his rifle, which lay across his knees.

“ Any more funny attempts, Jack, and the leather
lariats wouldn’t hold,” he said, as the thongs sounded
under the futile efforts of the bandits.

Fortunately, the watch was soon after relieved,
and the boys descended to assist Larry and Pietro
in stretching the silver-tip’s skin. Guns were then
cleaned, and another batch of letters written to
many envious friends in the East. The boys gave
a full account of the encounter with the brigands,
and, as the papers were full of the train robbery
at the time, it is no wonder that the members of
the club were indeed heroes when they returned to
the academy in the fall.

“T tell Sam Fuller that we have three under our
roof, and that not a shot has been fired. Won’t that
make the Shelter Island crowd stare!” exclaimed
Harry, sealing an envelope. ‘I believe the fellows
will take the next train for the West. We couldn’t
take them in unless we should change our by-laws.”

“ Don’t worry about that,” said Arthur, confidently.
“They may have reason to congratulate themselves
upon not being members of the club, and upon never
having forded the Arkansas. The region of the
Grouse hills does not bear a very good reputation,
as you know.”

“Good for game, at any rate,” said Paul. “ Have
HARRY ON THE TRAIL 237

you fellows seen the wildcat since it was mounted?
We have placed it on the mantel under the buck’s
head, and facing the hall. You fellows should notice
these little additions.”

“Not so very little, either,” continued Harry, roll-
ing up his sleeve and displaying the marks left by.
the knifelike claws. ‘‘ That was a little ahead of the
bear hunt.”

“Walt doesn’t think so, at any rate,” added Eugene.
“Larry’ll watch the prisoners while we’re at supper.
Let’s go in, for I hear Tony calling.”

The lads gathered paper, ink, guns, and pistols
from the grass where they had been sitting, and
entered the lodge, followed by the entire string of
neglected dogs, which had grown in the habit of
watching for dainty bits of chicken and stray crackers
from their respective masters.

“Tony’s feeding the dogs on air, I guess,” said
Jack, sharing a slice of corn-bread with his favorite,
much to the astonishment of his chums. “I guess
he thinks we’re going to have a hunt after a while.”

“ And so do the rest of us,” replied Paul. ‘“ Here
he comes. Now, ask him yourself.”

“Tony,” began Jack, as the genial old negro hob-
bled into the room with a plate of steaming corn-
bread, “what are you doing to these hounds that
makes them appear so thoroughly impoverished?”

“How’s dat, sah?” replied Tony, quickly, grin-
238 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

ning and showing the whites of his eyes. ‘“How’s
dat, sah?”

As he repeated the question, he removed his white
cap and stood scratching his head with an expression
that brought peals of laughter from the club. Then,
as Jack touched each bone of Boomerang’s body
slowly with his forefinger, the meaning of the words
gradually began to dawn upon him and he replaced
his cap.

“Dar’s whar a heap ob dese people makes a great
mistake. Dey go on feedin’ and feedin’ until you
can’t tell de hounds from rabbits off clover, and den
dey specks de hounds to pick Mars’ Jack up at de
secon’ turn in de medder. How, by gum, I know?
*Cause I had ’em prove it, sah, like dis,” said Tony,
marking upon the fingers of his left hand each part
of the story. “We ’uns had a pack dat was allus
nummer one ’bout Dinksville till long comes a nigger
' wid a big yaller hound dat runs ’way from de ’tire
pack at Dinksville like dey was hitched to a tree.
Now, w’at you tink dat nigger done? He puts ona
pink shirt an’ glass diamon’ an’ owns de hull town
for more’n a week.” :

“What did the other members of the Dinksville
Coursing Club do then?” asked Eugene, tipping
back in his chair.

“Shooks! Dey sat roun’ an’ tore dere curly locks,
while I goes north ob town and borrers a white hound
HARRY ON THE TRAIL 239

dat looks for all de world like Mars’ Harry’s. I takes
him to Dinksville an’ tries him wid de Dinksville
hounds, but he wasn’t in de hunt. I takes him north
ob town dat evenin’, and says de hound ain’t no ’count,
nohow, to de boss. He picks up a little block ob
wood like he was mad, and cuts it all up in little
shavin’s. ‘Now, Mars’ Irvin’,’ says he like dat, ‘ef
you tink dat hound can’t run ’way an’ hide from
dat yaller pup, you’s mistaken. You go an’ tie dat
hound in your potato cellar, an’ give him one corn
biscuit a day for three days, an’ drink ebery meal.
After dat, if he can’t beat dat yaller hound, den
you’re welcome to de contents ob my corn crib.’ I
takes him home an’ Lisa says: ‘Goodness grashus,
w’at you gwinter do?’ an’ I tells Lisa wat the man
done tole me. W’en de three days come roun’, we
all goes to de medder an’ starts a ‘jack.’ Well,
gem’men, dat yaller hound looks like he was runnin’
de other way, an’ Jess Blossom had to strike his
colors, sah. W’en we got up to de white hound, he’d
eaten de ‘jack’ clean up, and was fixin’ to go to
sleep. Dat’s why the hounds ought to pear so ’pov-
erished like, as you say, Mars’ Jack.”

“ But we’re not going to get any chance to hunt,”
protested Jack, with a feigned earnestness. “I be-
lieve Master Walter’s uncle will request us to pack
for the ranch when he returns.”

“Laws, honey, w’en you says dat, you don’t know
240 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Mars’ Hillman like dis here nigger — ’deed you don’t.
Mars’ Walter will ’pear ‘fore sunrise, Mars’ Jack,
mark w’at I tell you now.”

The boys were of the same opinion too, and
finished a hearty supper in very good spirits. The
remainder of the day was spent in guarding the
prisoners and in making arrangements for the night.

“You're all in favor of standing watches to-night?”
said Pietro, as the boys came out to see him feed and
put fresh bedding in the horses’ stalls. ‘Who's with
those rascals now?”

“Master Paul and Larry,” replied Harry.

“Then you and Master Eugene had better re-
lieve them at eight o'clock. It is now half-past
seven.”

“ Who'll go on at ten?” asked Jack.

“Not at ten, but at twelve,” replied Pietro. “I
think four-hour watches better at night. I'll do a
turn with Master Jack and Master Arthur from
twelve to four, and we can finish the night by lettin’
the other four take us to daylight.”

“What will Tony be doing all that while?” asked
Eugene, as the cook came up to borrow a pipeful of
tobacco from the hostler.

“Tony is entitled to a week’s rest after that beauti-
ful fabrication at the supper table,” said Jack with a
deep sigh.

“TI specs dat’s so, Mars’ Jack,” replied the cook,
HARRY ON THE TRAIL 241

with a broad grin. “I learnt to make ’em at Dinks-
ville, Mars’ Jack, an’ I tell you dey tastes good.”

“Ha, ha!” laughed the club. “Master Jack
wasn’t speaking of the flapjacks, Tony, but of your
story. He wishes to know more about it.”

“ Dat’s all I knows, sah, sure enough. But Mars’
Jack, he likes his little joke, does Mars’ Jack.” And
with this the old negro hobbled off to the kitchen to
attend to his dishes. The shadows soon after began
to clothe everything in pitch darkness; and before
Harry and Eugene ascended the stairs to relieve
Paul and the cowboy, Pietro called the lads together.

“Tt’s going to be a black night,” said he, “and
we’d better leave one in the room durin’ the watches,
while the others ought to watch the grass from the
windows. I wouldn’t go too near the light, ’cause
they might get the drop on you. We'll have to move
foxy-like to-night. Do you understand ?”

“ Perfectly,” answered the club in chorus. ‘“ What
time are we to expect Master Walter?”

“ About midnight at the earliest, but it ain’t likely
he’ll be here afore sunrise,” replied the herdsman,
as he ascended the stairs to take a last look at the
captured outlaws. ;

Paul and Larry were then relieved by Eugene and
Harry, while the others, after trying in vain to amuse
themselves with their banjos and guitars, tumbled
into their bunks, and were soon after snoring loudly.

R :
242 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“My!” exclaimed Eugene, as he stopped at the
door to have a word with Harry. “I never saw such
a dark, quiet night. It makes me afraid to breathe
hard. I believe something’s going to happen.”

“Nonsense,” returned the other. ‘Go and make
the rounds of the house, and come back here in a
couple of hours. I’ll take that end of it then. But
keep your eyes wide open, for you don’t know what'll
turn up.”

Thus encouraged, Eugene shouldered his Winches-
ter and descended the stairs, where he kept a careful
watch for a.couple of hours. The greyhounds and
setters were great company for the lad at first, and
the time did not drag as slowly as one would suppose.

“I’m glad Pietro let the dogs out,” he said to him-
self, “ for they don’t all sleep at once, and would be
likely to hear anything unusual, and make a fuss.
Pietro seems to think we won’t hear from them before
midnight, if at all. Ill be glad when those con-
founded rascals are run down, and we can have a
hunt with no disturbances. Hey, boy?” Ashe said
this, he bent over and patted his favorite, which
wagged its tail in response.

Although one or more of the dogs was always mov-
ing about, Eugene nevertheless was not sorry when
the two hours had arrived, and he changed places
with Harry.

“It’s pretty lonely in the shadow of that veranda,
HARRY ON THE TRAIL 243

Harry,” said Eugene, as he joined his chum. “I'd
get a fencing foil and keep those dogs on their legs,
if I were you.”

Harry was, with the possible exception of Walter,
by far the most daring of the members of the club,
and much preferred the black night to anything else.
The darkness had never hurt him, and had always
oddly fascinated him. He had taken many long, fast
rides at night, both on horseback and afloat, and had
never come to grief in any way. ‘It’s much more
enjoyable and exciting to go ploughing through the
waves and storm under a double reef, in pitch dark-
ness, not knowing or caring where you are, than to
sail with your gunwales high and dry, with a brass
compass and land on either hand,” he used to say to
his many friends, when the subject of sports was the
.all-absorbing topic of conversation, as it was a great
deal at Andover.

“T don’t understand why Eugene feels as he does
about these rogues,” he soliloquized, as he descended
the stairs with a decided feeling of anticipation.
“I’d much rather be here enjoying the breeze than
up in that stuffy room with those men. It seems to
me that we’ve got the upper hand on Cabrillo’s crowd,
and that there’s little to worry about. I don’t believe
they’ll run any risks for these fellows.”

Harry speculated a while longer upon the probable
outcome of the club’s experiences with the band, and
244. SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

then began and walked in the shadow of the ve-
randa around the lodge. As Pietro had said, the night
proved to be dark and cloudy, and the grove of oaks
looked but slightly blacker than the intervening grass-
land. The wind moaned, sighed, and tumbled irregu-
larly in the woods, and nearly drowned the chirping
of the crickets. Harry began to grow impatient, and
longed for a chance to try his pistols or the ever-ready
rifle. He had wondered many times that day why
he had not taken a flying shot at Cabrillo and his
men as they darted for the bank after they heard
Snaky’s cry. He inwardly acknowledged that he
was badly frightened at the time, but was certain it
was because he had heard his chums’ knees knock-
ing violently together.

“Tf I get any more such chances, I’m liable to take
them,” he said, as he marched slowly about. “They’d
do that very thing to me if —”

Harry had just turned the corner of the lodge, and
was about to end his soliloquy, when he was thor-
oughly startled by catching sight of a dark figure
gliding swiftly from the stable door. Nine boys out
of ten would have fired their pistols in the air, and
would have set up a yell that would have done credit
to one of Buffalo Bill’s Indians, and this is what our
hero should have done. Instead of this, however, he
dropped upon his hands and knees and peered through
the railing towards the retreating form. Much to the


HARRY ON THE TRAIL 245

lad’s surprise, the man cleared the bank at a bound,
and Harry thought he heard him crashing through
the bushes. He listened intently, and was sure he
heard him, a few moments later, splash into the
stream. Von and Tan must have heard him too, for
they growled savagely, and the greyhounds followed
their example.

“Hush!” commanded the lad, as the dogs began
stirring about. ‘Lie down! go to sleep!”

The dogs did not seem at all inclined to obey, and
Harry was forced to coax them into the kitchen and
throw out a plate of corn-bread before they quieted
down. Then he returned to the east end of the
veranda and listened again. ,

“If that fellow splashed into the stream, he’s got
a horse there. That’s so!” exclaimed the excited
boy, as a bright thought struck him, “and it’s my
horse!”

The thought of having Prince Royal stolen from
under his very nose caused him to forget all caution
and fear and rush to the railing. Dropping his
rifle, he vaulted silently to the ground and ran out
to the stable. He placed his hand upon the slatted
door and started to push it back. As he did so,
he grasped a bit of paper in his right hand, and was
surprised to find it was held in position with a pin.
The lad opened the door at once, and walked quickly
to his favorite’s stall. Striking a match, he held it
246 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

low, and saw, to his inexpressible joy, that the black
was safe and sound. He therefore unfolded the
paper without delay, and knelt in the corner of the
stall as he read the following : —

“The young gentleman riding the chestnut horse
is in the hands of José Cabrillo, and wishes to tell his
many friends at this shooting camp that he is
heartily sick of living on broiled steer and water,
and would like to be released. The said José Ca-
brillo knows a thing or two himself, and says he will
let the lad go when three of his men return to his
camp in the mountains. If the men are not back by
noon, the lad swings high and dry from a cotton-
wood.”

That was all the strange communication said, but
it was quite enough to cause the terrified boy to
change color half a dozen times in as many seconds.

“Walter a captive!” he exclaimed, as he turned
the sheet over in the hope of seeing something on
the other side. He caught sight of an odd design,
but his match went out, and he was obliged to strike
another. He regretted extremely a moment later
that he did so, for the design was nothing more nor
less than a skull and cross-bones, which shone clear
and distinct against the heavy white linen.

“That was written by Wild Face himself,” he said,
noting the spelling and punctuation of the note,
together with the skull and cross-bones. “ That’s
HARRY ON THE TRAIL 247

pretty good linen for such a message, and a pretty
good sketch, too. Now, what shall I do? There’s
nothing to fear until noon, and even then I don’t
believe there’ll be any high-and-dry swinging from
lofty cottonwoods. The fact is, those fellows’ knees
have begun to weaken since we captured three of
their men, and they don’t quite know how to take us.
It’s too bad about Walt.’ I wonder how it happened.
I don’t believe he ever said anything of the kind, and
will expect assistance in a day or two. I’d give most
anything to know where that fellow is.”

Harry walked back to the stable door and closed
it. As it shut with a soft rattle, a leather strap
dropped to the ground. Picking it up, Harry felt
that it was a belt, and that, by the embossed leather,
it was Walter’s.

“A delicate way of showing that their message
bears the truth,” said the lad, as he tossed the
leather aside. He stood pondering for some mo-
ments in silence, then walked rapidly to the camp
and entered the lodge-room. He felt rifles, pistols,
fishing rods and fencing foils, boxing gloves and
sombreros before his hand at last fell upon a lariat.
This he wound about his waist and returned to the
door.

“Tt’s a shame the fellows keep so much on that
table,” said he, as he paused a moment to ascertain
if Eugene had been disturbed by the low growling
248 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

of the dogs, and if his absence at the stable had been
noticed. “A fellow never finds what he wants under
quarter of an hour.”

Harry caught up his rifle as he cleared the railing
for the third time, and then ran in a crouching
attitude towards the bank. Nothing but the moan-
ing and tumbling of the wind in the trees disturbed
the silence, and there was no clew to the whereabouts
of the dark figure that had glided so swiftly away
but a few moments before.

Although Harry had never forgotten the fact that
he had distinctly seen Cabrillo cover up his trail by
dismounting in midstream and open a bridle-path
by fastening his lariat to a limb, his unsuccessful
efforts to determine just where the desperado had
left the creek had quite convinced him that he was
wrong in supposing that the outlaws’ camp was
among the cliffs below Deer Lodge. He was cer-
tain, however, that their camp was down stream, for
four things pointed clearly to the fact: he had met
the chief of the brigands below the lodge; Eugene
and he had captured Firefly still further below; the
outlaws were approaching up stream when they were
discovered by Pietro; and the chief had met Jim
Osborn not far from where the bear had been shot.

“Cabrillo is noted for covering his trail,” the boy
told himself; “but I don’t believe he and his men
would take the trouble to ride in the creek bottoms
HARRY ON THE TRAIL 249

if their camp were twenty miles away. I'll just trot
down stream along the bank, and see if I can’t see
something more of that dark figure.” .

So Harry grasped his Winchester firmly in his
right hand and ran swiftly down the bank for three
or four hundred yards, until his breath was all spent.
Then he slowed up to a quick walk, and started to
follow a deer trail that led down to the water’s edge.
Luck was certainly on his side, for he had not taken
a dozen steps in the descent before the moon showed
herself fora moment. Brief as was the space of time
in which the vale glowed faintly in the pale light,
it was nevertheless sufficient to afford our hero an
opportunity of catching sight of Tarcedo’s dark form
as it moved silently along the bank. The man’s
hands were shoved into his pockets, and he carried
a gun in the hollow of his right arm. Harry was on
the point of ordering him to halt, but on a second’s
reflection he wisely decided not to do so, but to fol-
low the outlaw to Cabrillo’s camp. The man moved
like a cat, and it was easy to see that his woodcraft
had come with an experience of many years. He
wore heavy boots, but even then did not make as
much noise as our hero did with his light Indian
moccasins. Whenever the bandit came to a fallen
log or heap of dead branches, he would turn aside
without the sound of a bough breaking, or the loss of
a moment. Harry found it difficult to keep him in
250 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

sight, for the stream turned sharply many times, and
the bushes in many cases grew shoulder high. At
last, however, after the lad had followed him more
than a mile, the outlaw halted in a little moonlit
glade and whistled softly. Harry was naturally
badly frightened, for he expected to see the other
two men appear from the bushes at any moment.
Fortunately, his fears were of short duration, for a
magnificent horse trotted out from under the trees
and approached the man with a playful kick of its
heels. The lad thought, as the moonlight danced
and sparkled on the animal’s head, neck, and saddle,
that he was even handsomer than Prince Royal, and
that his movements were about as graceful. He did -
not have much time to spend in idle comparisons,
however, for the man mounted at once and entered
the creek with a splashing of hoofs.

Harry realized at once that the hardest work was
now before him, for the horse moved rapidly off down
stream. The lad knew that it would be unwise to
follow in the creek, for the noise he was sure to make
would certainly be heard by the outlaw. He therefore
took the only course possible under the circumstances,
and followed as best he could through the thickets
and undergrowth that fairly covered the bank at this
point. The splashing of the outlaw’s horse came only
faintly to him now, and Harry knew the man was
gaining. The lad was very active, and plunged into
HARRY ON THE TRAIL 251

the darkness unflinchingly. His Winchester was a
great handicap, and he thought seriously of dropping
it many times. But the remembrance of his encounter
with the wildcat was still fresh in his memory, and he
bravely clung to it through all. He felt that his face
was bleeding, and that his garments had been badly
torn. The darkness beneath the great trees was
almost as black as the thickets themselves, and it
was difficult to distinguish one from the other. The
sound of the retreating horseman gave him courage,
and he gallantly struggled on. At last, after a seem-
ing eternity, the sound of splashing ceased, and Harry
improved the opportunity to rub his aching limbs.
He looked below and saw that he was on the bank of
a little stream that sparkled down the quiet vale from
the heights above. The sound of the running water
reminded him that he was about as thirsty and hot as
he had ever been before in his life, and caused him to
forget for a moment the object of his scouting. He
was forcibly reminded a moment later, however, for a
noise in the creek caused him to turn and look quickly
to the right. He could see nothing for a few seconds,
and then was fairly appalled by seeing a great black
mass of foliage move outward as if it-were swung
on hinges, followed by the appearance of the horse,
riderless, in the bed of the brooklet. The limb
swung back into position, and the man crept out
from beneath the bushes. Harry flung himself flat
252 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

upon his face, and waited breathlessly until the sound
of the outlaw and his horse had died out altogether.
Then he removed his sombrero and fanned his face
for some moments in silence.

“What if I had been caught drinking from the
spring!” he exclaimed, descending to the water with
a stealthy step. “I’d have been a prisoner with
Walter by this time, and much good would my trip
have come to. I ought to have remembered that lit-
tle operation I saw Cabrillo go through. Well, ‘all’s
well that ends well,’ they say, and I hope it will
prove true in this case.”

The lad occupied the next quarter hour in bathing
his face and hands and in having a good rest. It
was astonishing how soundly he reasoned in regard
to the outlaws and the probable position of their
camp, and how fearlessly he started to ascend to the
summit of the precipitous cliff.

“There’s no chance of their seeing me ona night
like this, and it isn’t probable that they have any
dogs about the place, for dogs are dangerous tale-
bearers,” he soliloquized, leaning against a bowlder
for a little rest and thought. And then he began to
feel that it would be very foolhardy to approach any
nearer the camp; for he knew about where it was,
and could guide Pietro, Larry, and his friends to that
very spot. Upon second thought, however, he con-
cluded that it was his obvious duty to draw as close
HARRY ON THE TRAIL 253

as possible, under the favorable ambush of the great
rocks and black night. He therefore continued the
ascent, and soon felt that he was drawing near to the
outlaws’ camp. Nor was he deceived, for he soon
. heard the not very distinct tones of human voices,
which grew steadily louder as he approached. Harry
judged by the sound that they were talking earnestly,
and almost angrily, but no intelligible words came to
his hearing. :

Crawling on all-fours he approached steadily and
cautiously towards them, till at last, raising his head
to a six-inch aperture among the rocks, which shone
just a trifle in the darkness, he could see straight
into the outlaws’ camp. The sight of the rough-
looking men, only duskily flickered over by the blaze,
suddenly put the boy in great fear, for he ducked his
head, and lay there listening for some minutes, as
silent as could be.

He soon raised it upon hearing some one moving
about, and saw that it was a great tall fellow heaping
wood upon the fire. Harry watched the scene with
breathless interest and attention. The man took a
great piece of beef from a limb, and, placing it upon
a log, cut a score of steaks, after which he returned
the beef to the tree. The others watched him idly
as he superintended the cooking of the steaks. When
this was finished, the three stretched themselves upon
their blankets.
254 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

The chief began with a perfect storm of oaths, and
continued to abuse the men for allowing Firefly to
escape, and for making all the trouble. Before he
had finished, Jim’s face was lifted appealingly to his,
and Tarcedo showed by his actions that he felt the
sharp rebuke as well as the other man.

“ Here,” went on Cabrillo, his eyes listening 1 like
white diamonds, but mere specks in his well-modelled
head, “we'll have those men along about sundown
to-morrer, or rabbits won't be the name for us. All’s
up — you can’t turn your lives now, more’s the pity;
and you'd better cling together. It’s to save you
and me and all from the blessed halter, and the clink
of the handcuffs, that I’m speakin’. I’ve given you
my reasons afore, and sound they are you won't deny.
I reckon they’ll think well of that little communica-
tion, and’ll slice the lariats that hold the boys down
without any chatter. You can lay to it, we'll be
tippin’ glasses with the three of ’em to-morrer night.”

Harry thought that Cabrillo would have been very
much surprised if he could have known that the very
communication referred to was in the pocket of a
young man who was at that very moment listening
to every word the three bandits uttered. ‘He'd be
mad enough to kill me on the spot,” said Harry,
drawing a sharp breath, as the conversation was re-
sumed by the outlaws.

“Have you any more stuff about, cap’n?” asked
HARRY ON THE TRAIL 255

Tarcedo, clearing his throat as if he were suffering
from a bad cold on the lungs.

“Not any more about here, and don’t you forget
it,’ answered the chief, tauntingly. “ But I can put
my hand on it for those that deserve it, any time, and
you can bank on that.”

“T’ll yield up a sparkler for a small pint,” said
Dody, with another hoarse cough.

“That's it, yield up a sparkler for a small pint,
will you! And then you wonder why I’m rich and
you're often wantin’ a brace of pistols to start busi-
ness with!” cried the chief, passionately. ‘‘ You
haven’t got the sense of a wooden Indian.”

And then all of a sudden Tarcedo’s humble reply
was interrupted by a rapid firing that came from the
direction of the lodge. The rocks of the cliff re-
echoed it a score of times. The men jumped to
their feet instantly, and ran to the barricade. Harry
had scarcely time to twitch under the bowlder before
Cabrillo himself mounted just above him and stood
listening for a repetition of the firing. The lad was
so frightened by the sudden movement that he
hardly allowed himself to breathe. To make matters
worse, the moon shone clearly for a brief period, and
Harry was certain that he should be discovered if
Cabrillo descended on that side; for there was not
enough overhang to the bowlder to enable the lad to
keep entirely in the shadow. Then, too, the thought
256 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

that his friends at the lodge were in trouble through
his deserting his post, was a crushing blow, and he >
told himself that he had been guilty of an unpardon-
able offence. What if Eugene had left the captured
outlaws to search for him, and they had freed them-
selves during his absence, and had turned the tables
on the club! All these things passed through his
mind in a twinkling, and caused cold perspiration to
cover his face.

The firing was repeated a second and third time at
intervals of one minute each, and Harry’s fears were
thereby put at rest; for he recognized them as one
of the club signals which had been adopted before
leaving the academy, and which was meant as a call
for him to return.

“JT can’t answer it now,” he thought, “but I will
as soon as possible. I suppose they are greatly up-
set.”

Cabrillo, fortunately, did not descend on the outer
side of the barricade, and Harry was left undiscov-
ered. He breathed more freely as the outlaw once
more returned to his blanket, and their conversation
was resumed.

“T can’t tell for the life of me what those kids are
firin’ at,” remarked the chief, puffing quietly at his
cigarette as he fell into a brown study. “It'll not be
the boys so soon, I reckon. Did you see anything of
‘a watch, Dody?”
HARRY. ON THE TRAIL 257

“Not I,” replied the other, quickly. “I came up
behind the stable and wasted no time in carryin’ out
orders.”

“Well, we'd better stand watch ourselves, though,”
returned José. “Jim, you take the first end, and I’ll
come on at three.”

“ Very well, cap’n,” returned Osborn. ,

“Dody, you've earned a straight sleep; you'd
better have a look at the lad, and then turn in.”

- Harry watched the outlaw as he arose from the
ground and entered the house.

“So Walt’s in there, is he!” exclaimed our hero,
as the man disappeared. “I wonder if I can get a
chance to speak with him. My! if Pietro and Larry
were here, we'd fix those fellows in about three
shakes of a lamb’s tail.”

But no such good luck was to happen, and Harry
was obliged to abandon the idea of having a word .
with the prisoner. Cabrillo did not turn in, but slept
right before the lad upon the grass, his belt and rifle
close at hand. Jim shouldered his rifle and made an
inspection of the horses, after which he returned and
took a seat with his back against the retreat. The
fire gradually died down and then went out; the
wind ceased to tumble in the woods, and barely
moved the leaves in the trees above. Once or twice
the robber chief would waken with a start and cast a
furtive glance at Jim, who would always start up and

s
258 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

make the rounds of the enclosure. Harry was oddly
fascinated by the strange scene, and did not realize
for some time how exhausted he really was. As
soon as Cabrillo’s snoring reached Jim’s ears, that
worthy dropped his head upon his chest and followed
suit. Harry thought the time had come to enter the
house and release his chum, and was on the point of
scaling the barricade when Cabrillo awoke with an
oath and sent a broken branch flying towards the
guard.

“Keep your single deadlight open, you wooden-
head!” he cried fiercely, “or you'll go out of here
with another slash in your arm. Mind that!”

The man’s tone and manner struck fresh terror to
the lad’s heart, and he wisely refrained from scaling
the wall. As Jim did not seem inclined to return to
his seat after the stinging rebuke, Harry closed his
. heavy eyes and was soon sleeping soundly. He was
awakened once during the night by a sound from
within; but as soon as he had satisfied himself that it
was only the chief changing places with Osborn, he
fell back again and did not open his eyes until the
shrill neighing of horses coming from the direction of
the corral brought him to his senses.
CHAPTER XIV
HANK DOBSON

ARRY awoke with a start. He was greatly sur-
prised upon finding that day was already begin-
ning to break, and that he had rolled from under the
rock in plain sight of any one who might chance to
mount the barricade. It was clear that he must change
his position at once, and so he rose to his knees and
peered through the aperture in the rocks. Jim Osborn
lay stretched at full length upon the grass, snoring
loudly, while Cabrillo was engaged in the operation
of rolling a cigarette. It was beginning to grow light
very fast, and Harry saw that he had not a moment
to lose. He looked along the wall to the right and
left, and decided that the best shelter was afforded by
a thick growth of evergreens that grew hard by the
oak door. To this he crawled rapidly on all-fours.
As he did so, he could hear the neighing of: horses
repeated, and, as he took a quick, bold glance through
a crack in the door, he saw Cabrillo receding in the
direction of the corral.
“He’s going to feed,” thought the lad, “and, as
that one-eyed fellow is sleeping soundly, I may as
259
260 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

well stay here by the gate. That black-bearded ras-
cal won’t wake for another hour. Now, I wonder
where they think I am, back at the lodge.”

This soliloquy caused our hero to glance quickly
down the bed of the spring. The thought of escaped
bandits was not very pleasant, and he decided that it
was not safe to remain about the entrance to the re-.
treat any longer. A last look through the crack was
enough to satisfy the lad that Cabrillo was about to
carry out some sort of scheme; for he was seen to ad-
vance towards the door, leading his magnificent bay all
saddled and bridled. He paused at the spring long
enough to allow the animal to drink, and then they
crossed the tiny stream, the horse standing at the
door of the house while Cabrillo entered.

“ That’s the same horse that fellow rode last night,”
said Harry, still keeping his place at the gate; ‘and
he’s a perfect beauty, too.”

Harry forgot all about the horse the next instant;
for the chief appeared at the door with the blindfolded
Walter in his arms, placing him upon the horse as he
had done the day before, and confining his legs about
the animal’s flanks in the same manner. Walter was
about as much surprised as Harry, especially as the
chief seemed anxious to avoid being heard by Jim
Osborn or Tarcedo. It would have been very easy
for Walter to cry out and awaken the other outlaws;
but the fact of the matter was, he much preferred a
HANK DOBSON 261

little moving about to being confined in the retreat,
now that his interest in the strange surroundings had
worn away. He therefore made no resistance as
Cabrillo led the bay silently towards the gate. Harry
had just time to hide securely among the evergreens
when the door creaked on its hinges, and the horse
followed his master out and down the trail. The lad
was now utterly at a loss to determine what was the
best course to pursue. It was true that Cabrillo’s
separating from his comrades was of great advantage ;
for the boy had but one man to face now, whereas be-
fore there were three men against one boy, for Walter
was of course thoroughly helpless to assist in any way.

Harry was surprised at the rapidity with which the
bay picked his way down and around the bowlders, _
and concluded it best to keep the man in sight, at
least until he had fully made up his mind. But fol-
lowing a man by day is rather more serious, though
far less difficult, than trailing by night, and the lad
realized that he stood in danger of being held up at
any moment. He knew, too, that when a man of
Cabrillo’s character ordered hands up, there was only
one thing in the world to do, and that was to put
them up at once. Harry Martin was not the lad to
desert a friend in need, however, and followed the
retreating horse with a beating heart, always taking
care to place a friendly bush or tree between the
enemy and himself. By the time the lad reached the
262 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

base of the cliff, Cabrillo was heard splashing down
stream at a rapid rate. So fast did he go, indeed,
that Harry was forced to break into a run in order
to keep the sound in his ears. It was far easier than
it had been the previous night, although the bushes
were just as thick and trails as scarce.

Harry thought he must have followed in this way
for nearly four miles, at any rate until they reached
the pebbly beach where the club had found the flag
of truce on the day Eugene had been fired upon by
Colonel Hillman’s searching party. Here Cabrillo
left the trail and started for the peak-crowned hill, at
whose base the bear had been shot. He had glanced
quickly behind him once or twice; but Harry had
always been fortunate enough to be under or near a
secure cover, and the lad was certain that he had not
been discovered.

He plunged into the stream without a pause, and
ran out upon the other side after the vanishing horse
with its double burden. The Winchester, pistols, and
lariat proved a very heavy load, and the lad was
forced to grit his teeth more than once as he paused
for breath. As Cabrillo began to ascend the hill
from the south side, he slackened the bay’s speed,
thus giving Harry a chance to catch up, which he
did after another long run. Then horse and riders
disappeared into a strip of woodland that seemed to
reach almost to the very summit of the second peak,
HANK DOBSON 263

which by this time was beginning to catch the first
rays of the rising sun.

“They'll go straight through that grove, I’ll bet,”
said Harry, as he stumbled pluckily along in the rear,
“and will bring up among those craggy peaks. I’m
going to take my time.” As he said this, he took a
position that commanded a good view of the peaks,
and watched closely for any further signs of the
desperado. ;

He was not to be disappointed, for the horse was
finally seen to leave the grove and struggle up the
incline, disappearing behind a great, yellowish gray
rock. It looked a long way off to the exhausted lad ;
but he nevertheless determined to follow on, and
walked rapidly along until he reached the grove,
where he discovered a cool spring. After a long
drink he felt much better, and continued up the hill
as fast as his legs would carry him. He had almost
reached the edge of the woodland when the sound of
flying hoofs arrested his attention, and he had barely
concealed himself behind the trunk of a tree when
Cabrillo swept past on the gallant bay.

“If I were a dime-novel hero now,” said Harry, as
the outlaw’s sombrero looked as big as a circus hoop
between the trees, “I should have to take a flying
shot at that fellow, and he would throw up his hands
and fall dead in his tracks. But those things don’t
happen in real life, and very few care to shoot at a
264 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

human being, except in self-defence, no matter how
great a villain he is. I wonder, now, what he did
with Walt.” Harry knew that he could not find out
by remaining behind a gigantic oak, and so followed
the faint tracks left by the animal on the way up.
As he thought, they led to the yellowish gray rock
before mentioned; and then, after a series of turnings
and twistings about great bowlders, they ended at
a small, dark tunnel that looked as black as night.
The sound of running water was also heard, which
left no doubt in the lad’s mind that the camp was not
far distant. The tunnel was evidently for the most
part natural, and it was impossible for the lad to say
how much had been opened by blasting. In some
parts the rocks looked old and moss-covered, while in
others they were split and presented an unnatural
appearance.

“T hope there’s an end to this darkness,” said the
boy, as his supply of matches threatened to give out
before the end of the tunnel was reached. “It seems
to go up into the skies. Halloo! There’s daylight
again.” As he turned the last corner abruptly, he
emerged into a beautiful little glade that seemed to
be sheltered on all sides by the towering crags.
Stunted oaks grew in profusion, and grapevines and
undergrowth clustered thickly about, almost covering
any signs of rocks or a rocky soil. It was too early
in the day for the sun to penetrate the quiet glade;
HANK DOBSON 265

but the lad could see that, owing to the height of the
surrounding crags, the spot would always be cool in
summer and well protected in winter.

Harry, very much interested, looked towards the
centre and saw, almost entirely screened from view
by the foliage, a neat little stone building, hardly
fifteen feet square. It had undoubtedly been built
by a mason, for the stonework was excellent, and,



what surprised the lad still more, the roof was
shingled with regular factory shingles, and everything
about the building looked as neat as a pin. A wall
had been built about ten feet in front of the door, for
the purpose of keeping the falling earth from blocking
the path, and a flight of stone steps and rustic rail-
ing led down into the vale.

“TI could understand this if we were in a gold
country,” said Harry, approaching the closed door
with a beating heart. “But knowing as I do that
266 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

there’s not an ounce of gold this side of the Rockies,
it’s hard to think of. this as any kind of mining
camp. I wonder how Cabrillo stumbled upon
it.”

Harry placed his ear to the door, and heard the
regular breathing of a human being from within.
There were no windows upon the north or west sides,
and so the lad walked on tip-toe to the south side,
and looked cautiously through a small square win-
dow. The room was fitted up in the most fantastic
manner imaginable, and told more of the life of the
owner than a volume of words.

The walls were papered irregularly with signed
etchings and original sketches, between which rifles,
pistols, rapiers, and bowie knives were crossed upon
antlers and carved wooden pins in every sort of
fanciful design. There was a Chinese teakwood
stand crowned with a medley of silver smoking sets,
while gray wolfskins and a couple of small Turkish
rugs covered the floor.

Harry was too surprised and bewildered to move.
A sigh finally sounded from within, which he felt
came from Walter. Placing his arms upon the win-
dow-sill, he jumped up and looked down upon his.
chum, who lay stretched upon a divan directly be-
neath the window.

“Walt! Walt!” exclaimed Harry, in a voice he
did not recognize as his own. “Are you hurt?”
HANK DOBSON 267

“Harry! Is it you?” cried the much-abused lad,
struggling desperately at the lariat. “I’m so glad
you’ve come. Can’t you get in?”

“Yes, I think so—wait a minute,” replied the
first speaker, entering the door almost at the same
time. ‘Have you any idea where you are?”

“Not in the least,” returned Walter, as the sash
was removed from about his face. Then, as his eyes
rested upon the unexpected surroundings, his face
spoke his surprise far plainer than words.

Harry was but a moment in unfastening the leather

thong that pinned his chum’s arms behind him, and
then rubbed the aching limbs and joints for a quarter
hour, after which the boys stood up and looked about
them. a)
“Did you ever see such a place?” asked Harry,
as Walter looked out and saw that they were com-
pletely shut in by the lofty crags. “ It was enough
of a surprise to me after I had followed you for about
four miles, and knew exactly where I was. But you
must feel like a fish out of water, Walt. How far
from the lodge do you suppose we are?”

“We must be twenty miles or more, for we’ve done
a lot of riding together,” replied Walter, continuing
to rub his aching joints.

“You're far from right,” said Harry, watching the
entrance to the tunnel. “We're near the summit of
the second peak, at whose base we shot the silver-tip
268 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

and coyotes,” pointing northward in the direction of
the valley.

“You don’t say so!” exclaimed Walter in amaze-
ment. “And where was I last night?”

“On the cliff about four miles below the lodge on
the left-hand side of the stream,” promptly replied
Harry. “They have another camp there.”

“Then why did Wild Face bring me here?”

“He must have had his own reasons.”

“ And how did you get here?”

“I followed you up. But this won’t lead to any-
thing. Let me hear your story, and then I’ll tell
you mine,” suggested Harry.

And so Walter commenced and told how he had
been held up by Cabrillo and taken to the retreat,
where he had spent the night, and how he had been
blindfolded for the second time that morning, as
Harry knew. Harry’s story was somewhat longer;
for he related all that had taken place since Walter
left the lodge, ending by saying that he really be-
lieved Cabrillo’s treasure, if the reports concerning
him were true, was hidden in or near that very glade.

“It’s his secret camp,” said Harry, finally, “and he
comes here only when he’s tired of that crowd of
ruffians. You see, he allowed you to go about as
you liked in that other camp, but here he intended to
keep you blindfolded the entire time.”

Harry’s reasoning was apparently sound, and so the
HANK DOBSON 269

boys soon after began a thorough examination of
the premises. Everything about the room suggested
the man of culture and refinement, not unmixed with
a suggestion of the wild and roving wanderer. For
instance, there were cut glass tobacco jars upon the
tabouret, filled with choice smoking tobacco, beside
which lay a black stick of chewing tobacco, from the
end of which a piece had been bitten. Then there
was a long, itemized record of a cash account in a
red leather book, which gradually got extremely
small; and in the same book there was a weekly
diary which had been dated from Honolulu, Lisbon,
Odessa, and other cities scattered over the globe, in
which the writer gave the amount of his winnings
or losings, presumably at card playing, and these
amounts were invariably figured in the cash account.
The final entry in the diary had been made at Border
City in September, 189—, and stated that the amount
of cash on hand was $2.67.

“There!” exclaimed Harry, “I believe he drifted
down here when his money gave out, and has been
going from bad to worse ever since. It’s a pity, for
the fellow undoubtedly possessed the instincts of a
gentleman. What do you think of the room?”

“Extremely interesting and certainly artistic,”
replied Walter. “These water colors and drawings
are by some of the best men. I wonder how he got
them here.”
270 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Oh, that was no great trick! When the Osage
Indian schools were being built below here, there was
a perfect line of trucks on the road all the time,
I have heard Pietro say; and it was no trouble to
have anything carried. That’s probably how he got
the shingles for the roof and the boards for the floor.”

“T suppose so. Do you think he’ll return this
morning?”

“Hardly. He'll go back and see if the men have
been released, and then he’ll act accordingly.”

“It’s strange that none of the five hundred who
started to search the country have been seen about,”
said Walter, selecting a couple of pistols that were
crossed upon the wall. “I guess they don’t relish
the idea of being shot from the brush.”

“Well, you'd never think that Cabrillo had been
through so much,” added Harry, with a sigh. “If
we succeed in capturing him to-night, we’ll be heroes
in the community as long as we live; for his reputa-
tion as a train-robber has spread from ocean to ocean.
Our luck so far has been simply marvellous. Are you
in for holding him up?”

“ Certainly.”

“Then we'll get the flower of the flock, as Pietro
says, and that will scatter those other two quicker
than buck-shot. If it doesn’t, we can steal a march
on them some night after dark, and surprise them
with six or eight lean rifle tubes.”
HANK DOBSON 271

“Harry, you're getting as bad as a dead-shot in a
yellow-back novel. What’s given you so much cour-
age in the last day or two?” AON

“Well, you see it was one thing or the other: we
either had to face these fellows and have it out, or we
had to get out ourselves.”

“Yes, it was coming to that, and I’m glad things
are turning out so well for us. I think Cabrillo will
be back before night, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to
get something to eat now. Would you dare fire a
rifle, Harry?”

“No; I don’t think it’s a good plan. Let’s make
a couple of sling shots and get a mess of small
birds.”

“Very well. It will give us something to do.
Where is the spring?”

“Just below. The stone steps lead to it. Don’t
you think one of us should watch the entrance?”

“You haven’t been here over fifteen minutes, and
it’s doubtful if he could make the trip to that cliff and
return in much under an hour.”

“That's so; but then it’s always better to be on the
safe side,” replied Harry. “Tl cover the entrance
while you see what’s below. You must be very
thirsty.”

“Tam. Cabrillo never offered to give me a drink,
and I wouldn’t ask him. He never said a word to-day,
and seems to be put out about something.”
272 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Yes; I suppose he couldn’t understand those
shots coming from the lodge.”

While this conversation was taking place, Walter
was making a cautious descent of the steep stone
steps; for they had been used very little of late, and
had begun to tumble in upon each other as the clay
washed out. Walter entered the building through
a break in the wall, and saw that he was in a room
that was in reality the ground floor of the structure.
A cool spring bubbled out from a rock that had been
hollowed with cold chisels, and upon which were cut
the names of Bill Holton, Perkins, and various dates
going back as far as the seventies. There was no
attempt at ornament or luxury in this room, which
had evidently been used as a kitchen; for in one cor-
ner, opposite the spring, a fireplace had been built,
and a hook had been driven into the stone, from
which hung a black and dust-covered kettle. In fact,
the only bits of color that relieved the sombre sur-
roundings were the bright greens and reds of the
printed express bills that fairly covered three large »
trunks that were piled upon each other in a third
corner. The fourth corner contained a door that
fitted into the break in the wall through which the
boy had entered, and which was strengthened with
irons that were two inches thick.

“You ought to have a look at that room, too,” said
Walter, after he had examined everything to his sat-
HANK DOBSON 273

isfaction; “I didn’t see anything of any eatables,
however.”

“Nor you won’t, either,” replied Harry, changing
places with his chum. “The dust and cobwebs go
to show that the place has been little inhabited of
late.”

Harry examined everything in the lower room
carefully, even going so far as to open each of the
trunks and search every nook and corner. But, as
he expected, no part of Cabrillo’s treasure was found,
and he finally joined his chum to complete plans for
the outlaw’s capture.

It was agreed that the entrance to the glade was
to be watched by one or the other constantly ; for, as
Walter said, if Harry’s tracks were discovered by
Cabrillo, the outlaw would be certain to return with-
out delay, and in such a way that his coming would
not soon be forgotten by them. The window at the .
south side of the stone house afforded an excellent
position from which to guard the tunnel, and Harry
accordingly stationed himself there with Walter’s
Winchester protruding over the sill, while Walter
removed a couple of stout rubber bands from some
papers and old weeklies he found in a tin box.

Many years had passed since Walter had made
his last sling shot; but he never forgot the little
weapon that had so fascinated him in his younger

boyhood days, and was soon fastening the rubber
T
274 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

bands to a crutch he had cut from a very young
maple. There was no loose shot among Cabrillo’s
ammunition, but plenty of shells, the largest of
which were loaded with buck-shot.

Walter removed the end wads from a dozen of
these and filled his pockets with the shot. of blackbirds had lighted in the glade, and were heard
splashing and sporting in the cool water deep down
in the dell.

“Get six or eight of those, Walt,” said Harry, as
his chum descended the steps. “They’re just as
good as turtle-doves.”

The spring, after it left the stone basin, soaked its
way through luxuriant grass into a little pool at the
upper end of the glade. Walter caught a glimpse of
the water through the trees, and made rapidly for it.
The birds were indulging in an early morning bath,
and did not appear to notice the lad’s approach.
They made a very pretty picture as they flashed like
black diamonds there in a broad band of sunlight,
and, if it had not been for the lad’s increasing hunger,
he would not have fired upon them. He also knew
that Harry had not eaten any breakfast, and that he
must be nearly famished after the long, hard trailing
of the previous night and that morning. Walter
therefore placed a shot into the leather, and drew
upon a big fellow that had a handsome bright scarlet
mark about his neck and breast.
HANK DOBSON 275

Zip! sounded the rubber, the bullet striking the
bird full on the wing, and bowling him. over like a
ninepin. The lad reloaded at once, and got two
more, before the birds began to grow wild and take
to the trees. The lad followed after, bagging another
as he worked up from the dell and towards the end
of the glade.

And now, for the second time since leaving the
ranch, Walter was thoroughly terrified by having a
flat stone hurled past his head and land in the bushes
on his left. It brought him to a standstill with a -
wildly beating heart, causing him to drop the weapon
he was holding, place his hands upon his pistols, and
turn his eyes instinctively in the direction from which
the stone had come. He caught a glimpse of a half-
clad figure behind a dozen black and bended iron
bars, and then he heard the rattle of the creature’s
boots as he ran back: from the bars out of sight.
Walter thought it more than probable that the man,
if a man.he really was, had gone for his rifle, and
the lad therefore dropped upon all-fours behind a
nearby tree, his pistols cocked and ready for use.
He had not long to wait, for the figure instantly re-
appeared, and then flitted back into the darkness like
a deer, reappearing once more at the iron bars and
falling upon his knees. Yes, it was a man; there
could be no doubt of that. And, wild and cadaver-
ous as he looked behind the bars, the lad nevertheless
276 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

feared him thoroughly, and was within an ace of call-
ing his chum. But the fact that the creature was
behind stout iron bars,’ and evidently without a
weapon, reassured him after a moment, and his fear
of Cabrillo began to revive in proportion. Heé, there-
fore, refrained from calling aloud.

As the man dropped upon his knees, he thrust his
clasped hands through the bars in supplication, and
pleaded for his freedom. Walter saw that the man
was thoroughly defenceless, and he took courage at
once. He arose to a crouching attitude and started
resolutely for the bars.

“Well, who are you?” the lad asked in a harsh
voice, that he thought at the time was rather more
confident than he really felt.

At this the man leaped to his feet and ran back
again, instantly reappearing and throwing himself
flat upon his face.

“I’m Hank Dobson, I am; and I’ve been livin’ on
dried steer these past six months,” he replied, ina
voice that sounded as if it were wholly out of prac-
tice. ‘Don’t shoot, boss!”

“I’m not going to shoot,” replied Walter, peering
into the cave. The cliffs rose forty or fifty feet high
at this point, which had gradually crumbled during
past years, and had fringed their bases with masses
of broken stone. Probably fifty cubic feet of this
fallen rock had been scraped away about the entrance
HANK DOBSON 277,

of the cave, and iron bars had been drilled into the
rock, and were held securely in position by a cross
piece of iron chain and lock. The rocks about the
entrance were firm and hard, and Hank Dobson was
as securely imprisoned as though he were confined in
a government vault.

“Six months!” repeated Walter. ‘Who impris-
oned you?”

“Wild Face. Didn’t you know?”

“Not I. They’re not our style,” was the boy’s
reply.

“So I thought, mate, so I thought,” said the man,
viewing our hero’s leather boots and neat corduroy
suit with childish pleasure. ‘“ But who are you?” he
asked a moment later, his rusty voice not unmixed
with startled slyness.

“My name is Walter Hillman, and I live with my
parents at the Salt Fork Ranch. At present, I am
hunting with a party of friends in this region.”

“So I thought, lad, so I thought. It might have
been you shootin’ day before yesterday,” he said,
with a look of great shrewdness. ‘“ Did you hear
me yell?”

“No; we did not,” Walter answered.

“Lad, I would have given five thousand to have
been heard yesterday,” the man continued, with the
air of a millionaire.

“Five thousand dollars!’ exclaimed Walter, watch-
278 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

ing the strange antics of the man with breathless
attention. First he would wink slyly at the lad, and »
motion him nearer the bars, and then he would en-
deavor to tear out one of the irons with all his energy.
The presence of Walter on the outside of the cave
seemed finally to drive him out of his senses, for he
began walking the floor rapidly, in a crouching atti-



tude, as the cave was not more than five feet high.
He ran his fingers through his hair like a villain in a
play, and then, all at once, he stopped short off and
sent up a cry that echoed and reéchoed from the tow-
ering crags, and caused the patient Harry to desert
his post and rush out towards the sound.

“Silver and gold! silver and gold! silver and |
gold!” he wailed. ‘ Lad, let me out and I’ll make
yer rich!”
HANK DOBSON _ 279

He ended the cry with one awful, long-drawn
scream, which sent the whole flock of blackbirds
above the glade with a simultaneous whir, and led
Walter to believe that the man had really gone mad.
Harry’s voice was at this moment heard hailing him
from the bottom of the vale.
CHAPTER XV
THE LAST OF THE OUTLAWS

se OME up here, Harry,” called Walter, in re-
sponse to his chum’s cry; “I’ve found a wild
man in a cage!”

These words fell upon Harry’s ear clearly, but
they made no impression whatever. The horrid
scream that had followed the unknown’s cry, told the
boy that something dreadful was taking place, and
he lost no time in rushing to Walter’s assistance.

“Where is it?” asked the lad, as he struggled up
the steep bank further down the glade.

“Up this way,” replied Walter, smiling uncon-
sciously as he noted the determined expression of
Harry’s pale face. As Harry came up, Walter
pointed with his pistol into the cave. Hank Dobson
was once more flat upon his face, and was crying,
“Silver and gold! silver and gold!” and so on, in
a voice that penetrated every nook and corner of the
glade, and whose mournful echoes made the lads’
courage sink within them. ;

As Harry’s eyes rested upon the nondescript, half-
dressed in his tattered garments, and then upon the

280
THE LAST OF THE OUTLAWS 281

stout black bars that imprisoned him, he could not
have been more surprised if a rhinoceros had charged
upon him in that very glade.

“So!” said the lad, as soon as he could find his
tongue. “Who and what does this fellow say he is,
and what is he doing here?”

“He says he is Hank Dobson, and that he has
been living on dried steer for six months.”

“How on earth did you get into such a place,
Hank?” asked Harry, as he caught sight of the
man’s emaciated face. He said this in a calm and
collected manner, which he was far from feeling. If
the man had really been imprisoned in that place for
six months, and had lived on uncooked beef, he cer-
tainly was not to blame for any eccentricities, and was
entitled to the kindest consideration and aid.

“It’s a short tale, lad, and one that’ll not surprise
you. Have you a little tobac’ along of you? Itsa
long time since I filled a pipe, my lad.”

He stood clutching the bars as he had often done
in his efforts to escape, and Harry saw that his hands
were mere skeletons. He thought of the tobacco he
had seen in the stone house, and ran to get it.

When he returned, the man stretched his hand
between the bars and grasped it eagerly, stuffing the
tobacco into the bowl of the chief’s brierwood as if
his life depended upon it. It was extraordinary how
his spirits returned after he had drawn quietly at the —
282 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

pipe for a few moments, and a more natural color
came to his face.

“Ah, lad! That’s food and drink to me, my pipe.
Wild Face had pounds of it shut up there, but he
knowed better than to pass any through these bars,
and you can stake your life on it!” And he tried
to punch Walter knowingly in the ribs.

“Why is he keeping you imprisoned here?” asked
Harry, who wished to determine what was best to be
done with the man. “If you will be kind enough to
tell us your story, we shall be glad to help you out
of your difficulties.”

At this the man motioned the boys to come nearer,
which they did reluctantly. “And I’ll make you
both rich,” he whispered, with an air of great impor-
tance. “Hank Dobson, you'll say, is all right. He
made you both rich.”

The boys looked at each other, and were very much
inclined to burst into a hearty laugh. The idea of
that nondescript having even a good coat seemed too
improbable to ever come true.

“Rich or poor, let’s hear what you have to say for
yourself,” said Walter, as he commenced to pick and
clean the four birds he had shot. “Cabrillo may
return at any time, and then perhaps you won’t have
a chance.”

“Well, if Wild Face jumps in an’ finds me out of
this cage, I’m‘as good as pork, an’ I know it. You
THE LAST OF THE. OUTLAWS 283

see, it was this way: Along about the middle of last
winter the boys was gettin’ pretty blue over at the
camp, an’ things wasn’t pannin’ out to suit any of us.
We holds up a couple of trains, but the cap’n gives
us the worst of it on the divide, at least I says he
does, an’ we have a shot or two pass in the dark,
and p’r’aps another to show the link wasn’t sealed,
nohow. Well, one night about Christmas, for Pd
been keepin’ track of the days pretty reg’lar then,
the boys set out with the cap’n, but I kicked over the
traces an’ hung back,” —with a sly wink at the boys,
—“an’ hung back to square myself with the cap’n.
They was gone a’most the whole night, an’ when they
got back they was two short, an’ had made a pretty
short haul, now I tell you, an’ was down in the gills.
The cap’n never let on I was livin’ for a couple of
days, an’ then he kind of opened up the old score by
using a sandbag on my nut, an’ bringin’ me up here.”

“But he surely didn’t intend to starve you on
account of your little difference, did he?” asked
Harry, too bewildered with the series of exciting
experiences he had gone through to think clearly.
“He must be a perfect fiend.”

“ Not altogether on ’count of the little hard feelin’,”
replied the other, knowingly; “but mostly ’cause of
that. It seems that some one had faked a tin box
durin’ the cap’n’s absence, and the cap’n kind of
guessed twas me. It might as well have been, for

‘
284 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

I’ve been boxed up here and fed dried meat for

‘more’n six months, without so much as a word from
the cap’n, except for him to ask me if I think I could
find that box, and me always answerin’ I never so
much as saw it. But, now, let me tell you, lads. I
can see you're as smart as timber-wolves, an’ quick
to see through a crack. Am I right? Hank Dobson
thinks he is, and says you're the lads to make five
thousand without so much as turnin’ a hair. An’ I’ve
got the gold, lads, an’ you know it. Silver and gold!
silver and gold! heaps, lads, heaps of it!”

As he finished, he knocked the ashes from his pipe
into the palm of his left hand, and, stooping low,
danced gleefully about, his rough boots grating on
the stone floor.

“Tf that is all you have to say, my man, we’ll go
and talk the matter over,” said Harry, as he met
Walter’s eye with his own.

“You'll come back?” he asked, placing his face
between the iron bars.

“Yes; you can depend upon it. And we'll bring
you a bite of lunch,” replied Walter.

“And a glass of grog?” he added, with a look that
said he needed it.

“Tf there’s any there,” Walter answered.

“Ah, you're a good lad,” the boys heard him say,
in a voice that showed that he was very much re-
lieved.
THE LAST OF THE OUTLAWS 285

“Tt’s plain to see that he was the one who took
Cabrillo’s box,” said Harry, as the lads reached the
stone house.

“Perfectly,” replied the other.

“Well, he either got a large amount of money, and
is determined to keep it, or he’s the most unfortunate
man I ever heard of. Probably the former.”

“Yes; I suppose he thinks that Cabrillo will give
in when he sees he can’t get it. But I don’t believe
that. Now, let me take the rifle and guard the en-
trance, while you start a fire and broil those black-
birds for Dobson. By the way, that name reminds
me that he is entered at the outlaws’ camp as a dead
man. How do you account for that?”

“Probably Cabrillo considered him as good as
dead. How did it read?”

“* Dobson, he bit the dust,’ or something of that
sort. I don’t just remember,” answered Walter.

“We'll tell him that when we bring him his break-
fast. It'll be a good appetizer.”

“No doubt. Are you going to give him any
liquor? There’s some in this stone jug.”

“Yes; half a glass with water,” replied Harry, as
he struck a match to some twigs he had placed upon
the hearth, while Walter ascended the steps and
watched the entrance from the window.

The lads felt it their obvious duty to see to the
wants of the imprisoned outlaw without delay, and
286 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

forced themselves to forget their own stomachs for
the time being.

Harry found a tin plate in a wooden box, upon
which he placed the blackbirds as they were broiled.
He then poured a tin ,cup full of brandy, and filled
a small tin pail with water from the spring. As
Harry approached the captive with the viands, he
felt that it was little enough to offer a starving man,
but all that could be expected under the circum-
stances. The outlaw reached through the bars and
grasped one bird after another, crushing them
quickly with his teeth, and swallowing bones and all;
he then drank a little water, after which he took the
tin cup in his hand, first smelling the liquor, then
drinking a swallow or two, smacking his lips and
lingering on the taste, with the air of a connoisseur.

“Dobson, I’m afraid you're a little partial to
grog,” said Harry, pleasantly, as the man seated
himself and prepared to drain the cup.

“Ah, lad, you know that’s right,” he replied,
throwing back his head and allowing the brandy to
flow down as if it were running into a two-inch pipe.
“And the cap’n always did have good liquors, the
~cap’n did. But I say, boys, you'll get me out to-
night, won’t you?) The key to that there lock that
I’ve tried day an’ night to bust is on the cap’n’s
_ chain. He used-to come to me an’ say: ‘Have you

found the box, Hank? I’ve got the key ready to let
THE LAST OF THE OUTLAWS 287

you go, if you’ve found the box,’ an’ I’d always tell
him I’d never seen the box.” As the prisoner con-
cluded, he grinned frém ear to ear, and winked
knowingly at our hero, who soon joined his chum.
It was now nearly noon, and the boys were about as
hungry, they thought, as they had ever been before
in their lives. Accordingly, Walter shot more birds
with his silent weapon, and the lads devoured them
about as quickly as the starving prisoner had done.

During the afternoon, the outlaw was frequently
visited by one or the other of the lads, and he
promised faithfully not to make any sort of an out-
cry if he happened to see his former chief enter the
glade from the tunnel, which was but half screened
from view by reason of a break in the trees.

As evening advanced, Harry and Walter began to
fear the approach of darkness. They had no means
of knowing whether or not Cabrillo would return
alone, if at all, and the thought of spending a night
in that spot was far from pleasant. They were not
the sort of boys to allow gloomy thoughts to get the
better of them, however, and were soon busy pre-
paring supper. A medley of small birds helped to
make up a tempting dish, to which they all did full
justice. The prisoner begged so hard for another
glass of grog that the lads finally consented, and in-
deed it was a real pleasure to see him drink it..

The sun’s parting rays, after lighting the west
288 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

faces of the rocks brilliantly for half an hour, gradu-
ally disappeared, and the soft air of a calm summer
evening, as twilight came on apace, looked purple
and misty. Although the evening breeze failed to
penetrate any part of the glade, the air was neverthe-
less fresh and cool, and a heavy dew pressed the
odors from the grasses.

The boys leaned upon the window-sill and watched
the tunnel closely, scarcely raising their voices above
awhisper. It proved to be a faultless night; a night
to sail a summer sea, with topsails set and wind
enough to hold the fluttering pennant from the mast,
while the mandolins and guitars are fairly drowned
by the joyous college songs that float over the water.
Not a cloud veiled the brightness of the stars, and
not a sound disturbed the oppressive silence.

The thought of returning through that lengthy
cavern at such a time was not inviting, to say the
least, for it was not at all improbable that the
brigand chief would return at any hour. The moon-
light was shed about the house in the full of the
young night, and the summits of the craggy walls
looked like phantom forms against the clear, cold sky.

The lads turned and looked about them; there
were all the dust-covered belongings of the outlaw,
just as they had seen them that very morning, only
now but duskily shining through the darkness. Each
article, no doubt, had a history, for the man’s life had
THE LAST OF THE OUTLAWS 289

evidently been one long, sealed chapter. The pres-
ence of genuine Turkish rugs and cut glass in such a
country seemed bizarre and incomprehensible; and
the fact that one of a noted band of robbers had
been found nearly starved to death in that very glade
did not help to quiet our heroes’ pulses.

“Don’t you think you'd better get a rifle, Walt?
Have a look at some of those,” said Harry, pointing
to a collection of guns that stood inthe corner. They
were of all sorts and sizes, and Walter finally selected
a thirty-eight calibre Winchester. Harry then un-
wound his lariat, which he placed upon the broad sill,
all coiled and ready for use.

“‘ How are you going to open operations if he comes
in alone?” asked Walter, his voice trembling in spite
of himself. “It doesn’t seem probable that he’d
leave me here without food or drink for more than a
whole day.”

“That's what I think, myself,” replied the former ;
“and that’s why he may be expected at any moment.
Pietro’s method was very effective, and I think we’d
better try that. Whatever we do, we must move like
chain lightning, and take no chances whatever.”

As Harry ceased speaking, the very crags seemed
to tremble with the report of a rifle that rang high
into the night, and echoed and reéchoed again and
again from the tunnel-passage. Before silence had

reéstablished herself, before the lads could place the
U
290 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

direction of the sound, the hoarse voice of a man was
heard unintelligibly, followed by a great tumult in
the passage-way, as if two great beasts had clashed
together; and then a perfect fusillade of shots threat-
ened to blow up the cavern. There could be no doubt
that they were the frenzied voices of human beings;
for the volley of oaths, as the lads continued to give
ear, grew clearer and louder and more terrible as the
men advanced. Then, as if he had been shot out of
a cannon, Cabrillo appeared in a broad beam of sil- .
very moonlight, slanting through a break in the crags,
and falling white and serene across the glade. The
outlaw carried a streaming knife between his teeth,
while in his right hand he held a pistol, and in his
left the handle of a square tin box. He dropped the
box as he faced about like a flash, and fell upon all
fours. Harry and Walter, their hearts beating
wildly, expected every second to see Pietro or Larraby
appear in the mouth of the tunnel, and were conse-
quently greatly relieved when the chief called out : —
“ Stand back, Dody, or Pll end your dance!” in a
voice that shook like a strained sheet in a gale.
“End it, then, yer thief! You've killed Jim, now
kill me!” cried the black-bearded bandit, as he fol-
lowed the lean rifle tube of his Winchester from the
mouth of the tunnel, and drew upon the other.
Flash! the rifle spoke once, and the bullet landed
where the robber had been, burying itself in the turf.
THE LAST OF THE OUTLAWS 291

The next instant the chief’s pistol flashed thrice, with
wonderful quickness, before Tarcedo could double
the lever of his weapon for a return fire. The out-
law’s hands flew straight above his head, and he fell
back dead, but still twitching.

It had all happened in less than twenty seconds,
and had left the lads confused and terrified beyond
description. They had never seen anything or any-
body move with such lightning rapidity before, and
their fears of the unavoidable encounter consequently
grew in proportion. Harry thought that Cabrillo
had moved three times to the wildcat’s once.

And now another terror smote the lads to their
very hearts, for Hank Dobson, who had faithfully kept
his promise not to cry out up to this time, now began
to yell, “ Silver and gold! silver and gold!” and “A
fling from the cap’n’s cask!” at the top of his lungs,
which was saying a good deal.

The lads thought that the cry would lead to their
being captured, and were therefore greatly surprised
and relieved when Cabrillo took no notice whatever
of it, but advanced and turned over the dead body of
the outlaw with the toe of his boot, after which he
picked up the box and approached the house.

The time for decisive action had now arrived.
Harry and Walter took up their positions on oppo-
site sides of the door, as Pietro and Larraby had
done at the lodge, and waited for the door to open.
292 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Tf he looks in the window,” whispered Harry,
whose back was facing the opening, “ you'll have to
shoot, or he’ll shoot us.’”’

As he finished, the sound of Cabrillo’s footsteps
was heard without, and the door was opened without
delay. Walter, who had stood facing the window
with an upraised pistol in his right hand, struck at
the outlaw’s head first. The blow descended swift
and sure and with crushing force; but the heavy
brim and material of the robber’s sombrero caused
it to glance slightly.

At the same time Harry, who had clubbed his rifle,
struck from the other side. He stood so close to the
wall that the stock of course struck the edge of the
door as he drew it back, and a half-stunning blow
was all that fell. The outlaw, for his part, turned

- like a flash and ran full into Walter's arms, who

closed upon him. Harry tried in vain to land another
blow, but as the two struggled furiously, it was im-
possible, from his cramped position and with a
long weapon, to be sure of anything. He therefore
dropped the Winchester and tackled the bandit about
the waist with all his strength. Crash! the three
struck the wall with force enough to carry stone and
all, and pictures, pistols, and guns went down in a
heap. Cabrillo never uttered a cry, but struggled
like a madman. Another crash, and they struck the
door, then tripped over the tin box on their way out.
THE LAST OF THE OUTLAWS 293

The next second they were struggling over the bank
together, just missing the steep flight of steps, and
crashing through the bushes like a trio of infuriated
elephants. The tin box followed down the steps,
ringing with the sound of hard money.

As they fell into the spring together, Harry rained
blow after blow into the outlaw’s face, while Walter
from behind fought desperately with his arms. Then
Harry caught him about the throat, and tightened his
grip until Cabrillo’s tongue protruded, and he ceased
his gallant struggles.

“Get the lariat, quickly,” said Harry, between his
gasps, as he felt the man’s breath go out altogether.

Walter was away and back again in less time than
it takes to tell it, and José Cabrillo was bound hand
and foot with all sorts of knots and fastenings, to the
lads’ inexpressible joy. They trembled and panted
for some time, like a brace of greyhounds after the
chase; and then, after lifting the worsted outlaw into
the lower room, they bathed their faces and hands
and dressed the man’s wounds. It was extraordinary
how gallant had been his fight after Walter’s blow
with the Colt revolver, for the wound had by this
time swollen to the size of a turkey’s egg. Harry’s
blow, too, had opened up a gash in the back of his
head, ugly enough to render any ordinary man un-
conscious for a dozen hours.

His eyes, too, were badly swollen where Harry had
204. SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

peppered them with his fists, but he never ceased his
terrible oaths and tirades long enough to have them
bathed with the cool spring water.

It was really astonishing how Cabrillo’s capture
had affected the lads. Tired as they were from the
excitement of the past days, they now began to
whistle and sing as they went about making prepa-
rations for the night.

The dead outlaw was left in the lower room, with
a blanket thrown over him, while Cabrillo was finally
carried up the bank and stretched upon the floor.
The tin box, which the lads supposed contained the
treasure, was then placed under the table; and the
boys, too weary to discuss or do anything else, took
possession of the divans, falling into a sound sleep
almost immediately, from which they were awakened
by the sound of Hank Dobson’s voice calling for
something to eat.


CHAPTER XVI
FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS

HE boys were upon their feet in

a moment. After seeing that
Cabrillo was safe and sound,
their first thought was of the
treasure box, and towards this
they cast their eyes at once.
There it stood, just as they had
left it, upon the crosspiece be-
neath the table. It was a large
box, probably two feet each way, and quite heavy ;
it was painted black, with a broad band of white
on the cover, and the handle was also white. Wal-
ter noted these things casually, and then, as Hank
Dobson continued to call, he decided to go to him,
and started to leave the house.

“Take him a cup of brandy,” said Harry, as he
divined his chum’s intention. “It ll be some hours
before we can get him anything fit to eat. By the
way, perhaps Mr. Cabrillo would like a glass.”

The outlaw did not reply to this, but looked at the
lad with an expression that told more plainly than
295



d
296 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

words what his feelings were. Walter ran down the
bank, and was soon approaching the prisoner, who
was standing at the bars.

‘Mornin’, sir,” said the man, grinning as his eye
fell upon the tin cup. ‘ You’ve brought your pardner
anip, I see. That’sa good lad. Thank ye, says I,
and here she goes,” guzzling the liquor as he spoke.

“T thought you promised not to cry out if Cabrillo
returned,” said Walter, as the man handed him the
cup.

“Not I, lad; I never said a word, mind that.”

“Then it must have been the liquor; but it doesn’t
matter, for we got the best of your captain last night.”

“Not Wild Face!” cried the man, running his
arm through the bars and endeavoring to pinch the
lad. “Say,’—with a sly wink,— ‘you didn’t see
anything of a tin box along of him, did you?”

“What kind of a tin box?” replied Walter, who
did not know exactly how to answer the man.

“Aha!” he returned, with a knowing laugh.
“You're a cute boy, so you are, a cute boy. But
Hank Dobson, he’s pretty fly, too, don’t you know.
Well, now,” he continued, after a brief pause, “it
might have been red, or white, or yaller; an’ then
again it might have been black with a white stripe.
You don’t by no means know, an’ Hank Dobson
won't say till you douse the glim an’ fake the cap’n’s
key for this here bird-cage.”
FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS 297

“Well, Hank,” replied Walter, who knew now that
Cabrillo had, by some hook or crook, discovered the
hiding-place of the box Dobson had stolen from him,
and that the very box was at that moment less than
a hundred yards distant, ‘‘ we'll have something good
for you to eat before many hours, and plenty of it.
Don’t worry.”

“Good for you, lad; you’re honest, an’ I can see
it with these deadlights closed.”

“Harry,” said Walter in a whisper, as he reached
the house, “that is the very box Dobson stole from
Cabrillo, for he described it just now. Let’s leave
quietly, for the camp is seven or eight miles distant,
and return as soon as possible with Pietro, Larry, and
the fellows. There’s nothing now to fear.”

“Are you sure that Dody said that Jim was
killed?”

“Yes; those were his very words.”

“Then we'll have to hide the box. It’s too far to
carry it.”

“Very well.”

Accordingly, the lads entered the house and re-
moved the box. This nearly drove Cabrillo mad,
and indeed his tirades were terrible to hear. The
treasure was carefully hidden between a couple of
bowlders, and some rocks and dead branches placed
upon it. When this was finished, the lads took a
last look at Cabrillo’s fastenings, and then, filling their
298 ’ SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

pockets with a goodly supply of matches, began the
descent through the winding tunnel.

As they reached the open after a long march, their
eyes fell upon Cabrillo’s horse, and another that had
been owned, presumably, by the dead outlaw. The
animals were grazing about the entrance to the tun-
nel, and, as they made no effort to escape, the boys
were soon in the saddles.

“Didn’t those rascals have the finest set of gal-
lopers you ever saw?” said Walter, as Cabrillo’s bay
started off with Harry. “I believe that fellow can
beat Prince Royal as far as you can throw a stone.”

“Well, if he can, I’ll keep him — at least for a little
while — and give Arthur the Prince.”

“ Nobody is more entitled to him than you,” replied
Walter, recollecting his encounter with Cabrillo with
a shrug of the shoulders.

After the lads had emerged from the woods, they
struck a stiff gallop, and kept it up until they were
obliged to ford the creek just below the lodge. As
they galloped through the jack-oaks, they caught
sight of their chums, who had gathered about Larraby.
The cowboy’s white pony stood by, cropping the grass,
and it was evident to our heroes that Pietro was de-
livering last instructions.

“Hurry,” said Walter, “ oe they'll see us berare
Larry mounts for his jourhey.”

‘The boys touched the horses’ flanks with their
FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS 299,

heels, and the gallop was quickened to a full run.’
Over the grass-land they fairly flew, thundering up to
the lodge, and waving their sombreros triumphantly.
The sight of their comrades, so strangely mounted,
was a welcome surprise to the very-much-worried
members of the club, but not half the surprise that
Harry’s first words were.

“ You needn’t start for the ranch, Larry,” said the
lad, as he reined in the bay before the astonished men
and boys. ‘We'll need you in other quarters this
very morning.”

“What quarters?” asked the club in chorus.

“ At Cabrillo’s camp. Fellows, we’ve heard the last
of the outlaws. Wild Face lies bound hand and foot
about eight miles from here, the other two are dead,
and the fourth is as securely caged as a panther at a
circus.”

“ A fourth!” repeated the club.

“Yes, a fourth; but that is a long story, though
well worth the telling. After we put these thorough-
breds up, we'll give you full particulars from begin-
ning to end.”

Accordingly, Walter began and related all he had
gone through up to the time he heard Harry’s voice
at the stone house, and then Harry told everything
from the time he had deserted his post and had fol-
lowed Tarcedo down the stream, describing vividly
Walter’s strange meeting with Hank Dobson, the out-
300 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

law's luxurious camp, and the fight in which the des-
‘perado was finally worsted. So interested were his
friends that they did not move a muscle during the
story, and, when Harry had at last finished, they
were too nonplussed to speak at all. Tony, however,
came to their rescue.

“Laws, honey,” said the old negro, grinning from
ear to ear, “lemme get my han’s ober my mouf.”

“Hurrah for Harry Martin!” cried the boys,
throwing their sombreros into the air, and dancing
merrily about. ‘Hurrah for Harry Martin! What’s
the matter with Harry Martin?” And then they
answered with a gusto that made that young man
crimson to his temples, “ He’s all right!”

“Boys,” said the hostler in a hoarse voice, coming
up to the lads, “you’re a couple of bricks, and
there’s my hand on it. What say you, Larry?”

Larraby said the same thing, so did Tony, and
the club members again and again, until they were
as hoarse as so many crows.

“Tony, get us up a good lunch,” said Walter,
“and plenty of it. Master Harry and I will have a
bite now, too. Larry, you can remain with Tony
and guard the prisoners, while the rest of us will go
for Cabrillo, Dobson, and the dead men.”

Pietro thought this the very best thing to do, and
the horses were accordingly saddled at once.

“You can take Prince Royal, Arthur,” said Harry,
FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS 301

very much to his brother’s surprise ; “ and Paul ought
to have Dody’s horse.”

This plan was readily accepted. Walter jumped
up behind Harry ; for he had decided to stop in at the
first camp and get Leveller. When everything was
at last complete, and Pietro, after distributing the
liberal lunch among the different saddle-bags, had
mounted with the rest, the six horses cantered down
the prairie.

The boys soon forgot the troubles of the past days;
for they realized that they were now free to enjoy
their hunts ‘as they pleased, and had, in addition,
broken up a notorious gang of criminals.

“We'll drive the ridges for deer now, and won’t
have to worry about anything,” said Walter, who felt
as gay as a lark over Cabrillo’s capture.

“Yes; and we won't have to ride any mustangs,
either,” added Arthur, who did not endeavor to con-
ceal his great admiration for Prince Royal.

“Well, Pll stick by Osage Chief,” continued Eu-
gene. “ You fellows may throw dust in my eyes for
the first mile, but after that you'll find that I’ll see
more of the chase than any of you.”

“That may all be,” returned Paul, looking like a
jocky on the dead outlaw’s horse. “ But all the same
a broncho isn’t in it with the long, sweeping stride of
a thoroughbred.”

“Do you think these are thoroughbreds?” asked
302 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Harry, who was always at home when the subject of
horse was introduced.

“Thoroughbreds, yes, every inch of ’em; a better
looking horse than that bay never sported silk,”
replied the hostler.

“Tm glad to hear it,” said Harry. “Fellows, I
feel we’re about to have some coursing that will leave
all our other experiences far in the shade. I’m in
favor of starting out early to-morrow after coyotes
and rabbits. Pietro and Tony have got the dogs in
grand shape.”

“Grand shape it may be,” added Jack; “but it
makes one hungry to see them. I counted every
bone in their bodies this morning.”

“They’re about right to run,” said Pietro. ‘“ And
you'll have to ride to keep in sight of ’em.”

“Who'll be the first in at the deaths?” asked

Eugene.
“T’m inclined to think the bay will,” answered the
former. “ He’s a proud rascal.”

“ And which of the dogs?” added Paul.

“That’s harder to say, Master Paul,” replied the
hostler. “It'll be betwixt Saxony and Tasso, or I
miss my guess.”

“Well, now, fellows,” said Harry, as the club
neared the outlaws’ retreat, “while in Rome, we
must do as the Romans do, and so we shall have to
enter the creek right here.”
FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS 303

When the club reached the spring, Harry dis-
mounted and fastened his lariat to the limb just as
he had seen Cabrillo do, and knew Tarcedo had
done. Pietro examined the trail in the water care-
fully, ending by saying it was marvellous how well
they had succeeded in hiding any tell-tale marks of
the animals’ hoofs.

The club dismounted at the creek, carefully exam-
ining everything of interest about the entrance.
The limb which had performed such good service as
a blind, was of oak, very heavily leaved, and growing
at right angles with its trunk, which was fifteen feet
distant, but very near the edge of the water. Osage
orange hedge, willows, and other undergrowth had
been planted all about the oak, on either side of the
brooklet, so thick that only an occasional glimpse
could be had of any part of the creek.

“YT wonder how they ever got the marks of the
horses’ hoofs out of the spring bottom,” said Arthur,
who was trying to determine, from the appearance of
the bed of the spring, how long the trail had been
used.

“This solves the mystery,” cried Harry, taking
nothing more nor less than a garden rake from under
the willows. “You see, the bed of the spring is
sandy and rocky, and a little careful raking every
day or two would lead one to suppose a horse had ©
never entered it. As they approached from below.
304 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

and above, through the creek, smoothing the sandy
bottom of the stream to the centre was quite enough
to mislead a Pinkerton detective, especially when the
water is at all roily.” ;

“A very good explanation,” added Jack. “And
then, too, very few would ever think of looking for
trails in a creek bottom.”

“That’s so, Master Jack,” agreed Pietro. “ And
very few ever cared to hunt ’em down, except in a
half-hearted way.”

If the lads had been in attendance at the final
championship foot-ball match of the season, watch-
ing the fleet-footed half-back hotly pursued by a half
score of plunging athletes, his long hair streaming
out behind, they could not have been more interested
than they were as they led the horses up the cliff,
and entered the retreat after Harry had scaled the
barricade and had seen Jim Osborn lying dead upon
the grass, a double shot in the region of his heart.

Everything was new to our heroes, excepting of
course Walter and Harry. Walter brought the bay
into the enclosure, leading him straight to the corral,
where he found Leveller and the other horses rest-
lessly pawing the ground. Harry followed him out,
while the others examined the log-house and its con-
tents, the curious marks and names upon the wall,
and were, as Walter had been, greatly surprised at
the neatness and solidity of the structure.
FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS 305

“We ought to place Osborn in a bunk until we
return,” said the hostler, looking down upon the
man’s white, lean face. “Cabrillo must be a wonder-
ful shot. Those are pistol marks, and not two inches
apart.”

While the others were carrying the dead man into
.the building, Harry and Walter fed and watered the
horses. The others soon joined them, and each
animal was thoroughly discussed.

“You won’t have to name the bay, Harry,” said
Eugene, as he stepped into the animal’s stall, “for
here’s his name cut in this rock.”

Harry followed Eugene into the stall, and saw that
the names of a half-dozen animals had been cut upon
the bowlder, with the dates opposite each. The last
name was Ramblewild, and the date corresponding
was May, 189-.

“That does save me lots of thought,” replied
Harry, as he glanced at the names again. “I sup-
pose the horse gets that name from not running off
when you turn him loose, and is allowed to ramble
wild.”

“Here, here, none of that,” cried Jack. “But if
you insist upon being a Sherlock Holmes, tell us
what the name of Paul’s horse signifies.”

“What is it?” asked Harry, as he approached the
stall.

“Exile,” answered the other.

x
306 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“Give it up, unless the outlaw felt very repentant
when he named the animal,” said Harry.

“Have you seen all you wish to sce, fellows?”
asked Walter, as he saddled Leveller. “We've got
quite a long ride before us, and I think it would be
as well to start at once.”

“Very well,” they answered. ‘“Let’s be off.”

And so the gallop to the peak-crowned hill was
begun and completed in the course of an hour.
Although they had received an accurate description
of Cabrillo’s secret camp from Harry and Walter,
they were nevertheless very impatient to see the
strange surroundings, and particularly anxious to
have a look at “the wild man in the cage.”

The horses were tied in the shade of the great
bowlders, and the journey through the tunnel was
begun, Harry leading the way. As the end was
reached, the lads saw at once that their chums’ de-
scriptions, though accurate, had failed to impress
them with the wonderful charm of the place. It
seemed, as they said, that they had suddenly been
transported to a tropical scene; for the trees and wild
flowers looked as though they had never known a
winter wind, and the birds sang as if they had never
been driven to the shelter of a ledge, nor remembered
a battle with wind and rain. :

As the boys approached the house, Cabrillo’s oaths,
and tirades were frightful to hear, and the lads, after




FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS 307

they had seen all they cared to, left the building.
Harry and Pietro examined the outlaw’s bindings
thoroughly, and then, when the lad had filled a cup
with brandy, followed the others out to see the pris-
oner.

Hank was full of his strange antics; but sound
‘reason seemed to return upon sight of the tin cup,
and he praised Harry unstintingly, telling him over
and over that he was the best boy in the world.

“ And now, before we lunch, we may as well have
a look at that tin box,” said Arthur, forgetting for the
moment that Hank had set great store by that very
tin box.

“Tin box, is it?” he cried passionately. “Not my
tin box with the white stripe, lad?”

“No, not yours, Hank,” replied Harry, soothingly.
“Will you have a little lunch now?”

“Grub, did you say? Well, I reckon. An’ did
you bring a sour cumcuber?” he must have meant
cucumber. “It’s been a’most a year since I had any
sour cumcubers.”

“Yes, we brought some for you, and will have
them here in a jiffy. Pietro, run and get my saddle-
bag at the house. It’s under the table.” ~

Pietro returned at once with the article in question,
and Harry handed Hank the lunch he had been so
thoughtful as to tell Tony to prepare. It contained
sardines, a dozen pickles, well browned, buttered
308 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

corn-bread, a pound of dried beef, and a bottle of
tomato catsup. It was astonishing how quickly the
man spread the pickles and catsup upon the corn-
bread, and then devoured it all more quickly than a
ragamuffin can make way with a purloined banana.

“The poor fellow hasn’t tasted any relish for six
months,” said Jack, pitifully, “and I don’t blame him.”

“ Ah, lads, that’s right,” replied Hank, endeavoring
for the tenth time to pinch the boys; “but I’m
a-bankin’ on gettin’ out when you fake the cap’n’s
keys. He wears ’em ’round his neck, lads, you can
bank on it.”

Leaving the outlaw busy with the beef, the club
returned and searched the chief’s pockets, ending
by removing the cord from about his neck. Hank
had told the truth. There were the man’s keys, a
dozen or more, of the very finest patterns, with which
the lads unlocked a quartet of small boxes, two of
bird’s-eye maple, which were inlaid with the sup-
posed initials and monogram of the man upon their
respective covers. Not the letters J. C., but L. W.
H., which the lads conjectured stood for the out-
law’s realname. Although the house was searched
thoroughly, and many interesting and costly articles
were brought to view upon one or two of which the
same initials had been engraved, nothing further was
learned of the man’s strange life.

“He’s no more Mexican than you or I, Harry,”
FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS 309

said Walter, as the boys went to get the box, “and I
should like to know more about him.”

The saddle-bags were placed upon the ground just
outside of the lower room, and, after Cabrillo had
been fed, our friends themselves enjoyed a hearty and
never-to-be-forgotten lunch.

“These are the marks of our fight with Cabrillo,”
said Walter, pointing to the ploughed ground about
the brooklet.

“You fellows have done yourselves proud, and
have immortalized the club,” said Paul, to which the
others all agreed.

“But perhaps we haven’t recovered the treasure,”
said Harry, fitting a key to the box. “A few seconds
will show.”

And a few seconds did show; so much, in fact,
that the lads’ eyes fairly left their heads: jewels,
diamonds, watches, and great rolls of bills of high
denominations, and all sorts of odd trinkets of value,
together with gold enough to take the entire club
twice around the world. That was the treasure for
which Cabrillo had spent the last years, and which
had cost the lives of so many honest men. What
sorrow and poverty, what gaping wounds from
Winchesters, what deceits and cruelty it had cost in
amassing, no one alive could tell.

“This explains the fight last night,” said Harry, —
taking out a leather bag, upon which Tarcedo’s name
310 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS .-

was burned faintly, and another upon which Red-
wood’s name was lettered in ink. “Cabrillo robbed
his comrades, and they had it out, much to their
sorrow. You see, here are bags belonging to Snaky
and Osborn.”

“Yes; and containing about the same amount we
found upon Firefly,” added Eugene.

When lunch was finished, the boys, at Pietro’s
suggestion, decided to make the return, and plans for
the release and binding of Hank Dobson were dis-
cussed, none of which seemed judicious.

“The tin-cup racket is the best,” said Harry, going
for the brandy. ‘When he sticks his arm through
the bars, Pietro, grab it, while I'll open the gate and
slip the lariat about him. He may as well know
sooner or later what he is to expect.”

This was accordingly done, and the last of the out-
laws was bound hand and foot.

Paul then took the box and led the way through
the tunnel, closely followed by Pietro and Harry,
who carried Cabrillo, and they were followed in turn
by Walter and Arthur, carrying the dead body of the
outlaw Tarcedo, while Jack and Eugene brought up
the rear with Hank Dobson.

“ And now, Mr. José Cabrillo,” said Walter, when
they had reached the horses, “allow me to assist you
into the saddle, and tie you as you tied me the other
day. ‘Turn about is fair play,’ you know.”
FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS 311

And thereupon Walter freed the outlaw’s legs, lift-
ing him, with Pietro’s assistance, upon Leveller, and
securing his legs to the horse’s flanks just as the
bandit had done with him.

“It’s not very pleasant, you know,” he said with
a smile, “but then I guess you'll stand it.”

The other two were taken upon Blue Rocket and
Ramblewild, the dead body being firmly lashed to
the saddle and supported by Pietro, who insisted on
changing mounts with Harry.

The club struck a good pace under the circum-
stances, and were approaching the lodge in less than
an hour and a half, having stopped for Osborn’s
body on the way.

“We've got some visitors,” said Pietro, screening
his eyes with one hand, while he held the reins and
supported the dead body with the other.

“Uncle John!” exclaimed the club, their cheeks
glowing with pride.

“Not Mr. Hillman,” replied the hostler, ‘nor the
colonel, either.”

“Who is it, then?” asked the boys.

“A party from Linwood, and a couple of soldiers.
Boys, you'll be spared the trouble of a trip to the
ranch, and you'll be made heroes in the bargain.
That’s Captain Brown of the army, and you never
met another like him.”

The men were seated about upon the porch; but
312 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

arose immediately and came towards the boys, whose
faces told how proud they were, and how glad now
that it was all over. Captain Brown shook their
hands again and again, as he heard the whole story
from beginning to end, saying many times that the
lads ought to enter West Point in a body that very
fall; that the country needed just such fellows.

“T hardly know how I’m to thank you for the very
pleasant surprise you have given me,” said the cap-
tain, grinning with delight, as he clapped the hand-
cuffs on Cabrillo’s wrists. “But I can say that we ©
crossed the trail of at least a dozen deer at noon, and
that we saw them soon after entering the flint ridges,
which lie five miles due west.”

“Good!” cried the club, with a gusto that made
the woods ring. ‘“ Hurrah for Captain Brown!”

“You couldn’t have told us anything else that
would have pleased us half so much, captain,” said
Walter, when the cheer had died away. ‘“ We've
had so much of outlaws lately, that we’re all anxious
to have a chase as soon as possible, and we’re de-
lighted to hear that game is so near.”

“Then, if you'll allow me, I’ll take the men off
your hands.”

“Certainly ; and the treasure box, too. I suppose
it’s all right for us to ride the horses?”

“To be sure. They’ll go to you, anyway, with a
large reward to boot,” replied the genial soldier,
FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS i 313

The following hour was spent in assisting the sol-
diers and their friends in getting everything ready
for the start; for the captain had said, while declining
Walter’s invitation to remain overnight, that it was
his obvious duty to make an early report.

“ But we'll be back to see you soon,” said the cap-
tain, as he waved a good-by to the lads; “and then
we'll have a hunt with you and a look at the camps.”

That was the last he said, for the horses were soon
out of sight among the jack-oaks, and our heroes
were left to enjoy their hunts and excursions as only
manly good fellows can.

“A herd of deer not six miles away,” cried Harry,
galloping out to the stable. “Think of it, fellows,
and then cast your eyes over these greyhounds, fairly
asking for a trial, and as fit to run as can be.”

“Ves; and so are the horses,” added Arthur, run-
ning his eye over the five splendid animals, which
made Eugene’s gray mustang look smaller than he
really was.

“Then let’s give them a rest this afternoon, and a
gallop in the morning,” said Jack.

“That’s the way to talk,” agreed Pietro. “And
you might have a look at your saddles and bridles.
I’ll see to the horses’ legs.”

Accordingly, the remainder of the day was spent
in a careful examination of saddles and bridles, and
-in dispensing with every useless article that would
314 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

tend to make any extra weight; for it was clear that
a Mexican saddle, with all its paraphernalia, was far
too heavy to use in a deer chase.

“Tm going to use my English saddle,” said Harry,
as the boys joined him in the saddle room, “for it’s
twenty pounds lighter.”

Jack always rode in a flat saddle, while Walter had
an English saddle in addition to his heavy Mexican.

“You fellows can’t get much the best of me,” said
Eugene, as he approached with the lightest kind of
aracing saddle. “I brought this with me, thinking
I would need it for an occasion of just this kind.”

“You mean to give the gray all possible chance, I
see,” said Walter.

“Yes, for he’s going to cover himself with glory.
At least, I think so.”

The time was then spent in selecting and polishing
bits and bridles, and in having a much-needed rest.
They climbed the stairs early; some to dream of out-
laws and their retreats, and others to chase the light-
ning bound of the deer, or feel the wonderful stride
of the horses quicken beneath them, and hear the
dull clatter of flying hoofs before and behind, as the
gallant animals strive to close the gap that pep eKatee
them from the fying pack.
CHAPTER XVII
THE DEER CHASE

sIETRO and Tony were up long
before sunrise: the following
morning. Pietro to feed and

groom the chargers, and
_ Tony to prepare a tempting

breakfast. By the time
Pietro had finished with three
of the animals, and as he stood
admiring their satin coats, the
lads came tumbling down-stairs one after another,
as eager for the chase as either the horses or the
dogs.

“They’re looking tip-top, Pietro,” said Walter, as
his experienced eye fell upon Leveller and Ramble-
wild.

“Yes; and they’re feelin’ like a bunch of two-
year-olds,” replied the hostler. ‘ You'll have a cool
north wind most of the day, Master Walter, for which
you may be glad.. Come up on the south side of the
ridge, and drive towards the creek. There’s less
timber that way.”



315
316 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

“As I thought. And now, fellows, we'll turn in
and have some bacon and coffee.”

Breakfast was soon over, and then came the opera-
tion of faultlessly saddling and bridling the animals.
As the lads wore riding boots, trousers, and shirts
only, their respective weights were considerably
lessened by the absence of their heavy cartridge
belts and pistols.

The dogs had been shut up the entire night after
being fed, but were now freed without a morning
meal, and leaping about the horses sportively, as
though they understood what was coming, and meant
to do their best.

“Are you ready, boys?” asked Harry, who stood
struggling with Ramblewild’s bridle-rein. “This fel-
low is as impatient as he can be.”

“And so are the hounds,” added Walter, mounting
his handsome chestnut.

“Good luck to you, boys,” called Pietro and Lar-
raby, as the horses moved off. “Keep a steady rein
and hand, and pick your course.”

“Thanks; we’ll try to,” answered the lads.

And now the thoroughbreds pulled, and fretted,
and swerved in their impatience to extend their gal-
lant limbs in the fresh morning air. Ramblewild,
unused to the light saddle and rider, and still lighter
hand, put his head between his knees in an endeavor
to draw Harry over his withers, while Exile reared
THE DEER CHASE 317

again and again straight upright, fidgeting after the
greyhounds in a longing to be off; Prince Royal, a
stranger to the coursers, viewed the proceedings with
nostrils dilated, until the scarlet tinge on them glowed
in the rising sun. As for Leveller, he was by far too
old and tried to mind the excitement about him, and
only wondered why such an old campaigner as Osage
Chief should show such quivering muscles and flash-
ing eyes.

“It’s the day for a chase, if we ever had one,” said
Walter, as the horses struck a cool, swinging canter.
“Harry, you'll lead the bunch without doubt. The
bay looks ready at a touch to take the lead.”

“And so do the dogs,” answered the boy, watching
the coursers as they paused to snuff the air.

“Yes; they’ve had a good rest, and will make a
good race,” said Walter, noting the condition of each
animal. ‘Call them in, Gene. They’ll be after a
rabbit ‘in another moment. We'd better keep in this
trail, as we'll be less likely to start one here.”

And so the distance to the flint ridges was com-
pleted. The lads made a wide circle so as not to
alarm the stags, and then halted to tighten saddle-
girths in a little sheltered glade at the base of the
ridge. As they remounted and rode slowly forward,
the horses twitched with passionate impatience at
their bits, and threatened every now and then to send
their riders hurling through the air.
318° SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

The lads wore no gold-broidered jackets to catch
the eye of the deer, no scarlet coats to alarm the
stags a mile away. They advanced slowly through
the tall grass and sparse jack-oaks, too intent upon
the ridge to mind the swerving, impatient animals,
and too brown and sombre to be seen by the two
stags that were clashing antlers a quarter mile away,
clear in a broad band of sunlight. On their left the
prairie stretched unbroken to the horizon, while just
beyond them the ridge sloped gently down to the ‘
level, here and there studded with a clump of bushes.

And now the greyhounds began snuffing the air
more often, advancing with their lean heads cocked
on one side, and trembling in every limb like a pen-
nant fluttering in the breeze, ready at a sight or
sound of game to leap forward with their wondrous
strides, and to race the most gallant stag to death.

In an instant a branch cracked on the left, and a
doe, launching into a sweeping run, flew from them
like an arrow, straight for the battling stags.

“Hie on, Tasso!” yelled Walter, as the grey-
hounds closed with a rush that made them scarcely
distinguishable. ‘“ Down with her, Tasso!”

The next second the horses had swerved to the
left, and were running, with pricked ears, clear of the
woodland, just on the edge of the prairie. Another
instant and the herd broke from the covert like
lightning at the noise of alarm, and rushed with the
THE DEER CHASE 319

speed of the wind straight down the slope, the stags’
antlers gleaming and flashing in the sunlight, and
their eyes telling the true story of their fright.

As the pack followed in hot pursuit, Tasso and
Saxony leading by a dozen yards, the boys set up a
yell that caused the frightened deer to swerve to the
right with the exception of one stag, which continued
to sweep down the incline, followed by the now
fairly flying hounds, whose wonderful strides became
. faster and faster, until they seemed hardly to touch
the ground at all.

“Tasso! Tasso!” yelled Walter again, as the blue
greyhound opened up a gap of daylight before Sax-
ony. ‘Stop him, Tasso!”

The gallant greyhound heard his master’s cry, and
launched faster out, which caused the stag’s tail to
fly up as he quickened his enormous leaps.

In a moment after the herd broke from the thicket,
our heroes, trembling with excitement, settled firmly
in their saddles and took a quick glance at the
prairie beyond; for they realized, as the horses tore
after the hounds that now streamed in front of them,
that no bit or bridle could check’ their headlong
flight, that words were useless, and that they must .
follow in that neck-or-nothing chase until the trem-
bling limbs could stride no longer, and watch the
greyhounds race the deer.

_ And how they did race! Startled, and fresh from
320 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

the cool wandering of the night, the stag ran as only
a frightened stag can, over the sun-warmed prairie,
straight for the creek, whose green woodlands shone
against the clear blue of the summer sky.

The horses had got their heads, and were deter-
mined to keep them. Ramblewild went to the front
at once, and ran with his head high in the air, his
hoofs sounding on the grass like dull thunder.’ Ley-
eller came next, his master vainly struggling to get
him under control, while Exile, carrying Paul’s light
form as though it were a mere feather on his back,
thundered just behind. Blue Rocket, Prince Royal,
and Osage Chief followed in the order named. Try
as Eugene did, he could not catch the others, and
the lad’s heart sank within him as the space between
Osage Chief and Prince Royal increased. The gray
struggled bravely on, but was no match for the
others.

On fled the stag, on rushed the dogs and horses;
faster and faster, until the greyhounds had gained
half the intervening space, and the air rang with the
shouts of “Tasso beats!” “Now for it!” “Ram-
bler’s gaining!” “Diana’s past Saxony!” “Not
yet!” “ He’llmake the timber!” “ Tasso gets him!”
“The stag’s gaining!” “ Boomerang stops!” “Take
him, Tasso!” There was a reckless, almost breath-
less, pleasure in that wild ride down the prairie, with
the greyhounds and stag running as they never ran
“THE DEER CHASE oot

before, with the thoroughbreds thundering after,
their breath hot in each other’s nostrils, and the
grass-land flying past beneath.

How the lads pitied, even at that very moment,
their many friends who had never seen a greyhound
fairly launching forth with his wondrous stride, and
had never felt the excitement that comes with a gallop
at full speed across an open country, when the dull
thunder of the flying gallop and the bracing currents
of the summer wind seem to blend, and the foam
_ from the hunters’ mouths is flying on each other’s
withers !

And now, as Rambler joined Tasso and vied with
him for the lead, Walter came up with Harry, and
the two raced neck and neck, side by side, neither
gaining nor losing an inch, until it seemed as though
the others were as much interested in them as in
the greyhounds; for they called, “ Harry wins!”
“Walt’s got him!”. “The chestnut’s winning !”
“The bay gains!” “Nose by nose, but Harry’ll
beat him!”

Carried along at a pace they had never before
known, the boys displayed wonderful judgment in
keeping their mounts well together and in selecting
the flattest country.

By this time Rambler and Tasso had come within
striking distance of the stag, which was now running
at right angles with the original course, in the direc-

Y
322 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

tion the others had fled. It was plain that he was
beginning to tire, for his stride lacked the wonderful
spontaneity he had shown during the first two miles,
his tongue protruded badly, and his every movement
showed that the greyhounds, running game, true
and straight, were about to make their first strike at
his throat.

But now, for the first time, Walter saw that the
stag had been approaching a little cliff, and was
about to go over it. The dogs pressed him closely,
and just missed his throat at the first attempt. They .
straightened themselves in an instant, as the wild
shouts of their masters reached their ears, and then
stag and coursers leaped from sight, soon followed
by the remainder of the pack.

“Here! here!” cried Walter, as he jerked Ley-
eller’s right rein violently, just succeeding in turning
him into a hollow that sloped gently to the lower
ground. “Turn in here, fellows, or you'll go over
the cliff!”

As he spoke, those following saw their peril and
managed to turn their horses’ heads in time to avoid
the rising ground. But it was too late for Harry.
He heard the cry with the rest, and leaned far back,
with his legs straight before him, endeavoring with
all his strength to check Ramblewild’s mad rush for
the cliff. He might as well have pulled upon a wain-
rope about an oak tree. Whether it was the loss of
Bry -.

P
AMG
“a “all Vas



HARRY GOES OVER THE CLIFF,


THE DEER CHASE 323

blood caused by his encounter with the wildcat, or
the fact that Ramblewild’s headlong flight had
thoroughly terrified him, the boy could never tell.
He knew that he pressed his knees close to the ani-
mal’s shoulders, and pulled back until the cliff looked
hazy, finally swimming beneath his eyes. He heard
his brother’s shouts high above the others, felt the
bay slow perceptibly, then felt himself lifted high
into the air, land with a dull thud, and roll from the
saddle. Ramblewild lay upon his breast a moment,
his forelegs resting on the ground slightly in advance,
and then struggled to his feet, none the worse for
the tumble.

As Harry missed the sloping ground and started
towards the cliff at that terrific pace, his friends
seemed to forget everything else in their anxiety.

“Harry! Harry!” shouted Arthur, at the top of
his lungs. “Drop off, or he’ll kill you!” The others
could not say so much, and only called “Harry!
Harry!” in husky voices.

The other horses swept down the incline to the low
ground, and their riders saw, to their great joy, that
Harry had risen to his feet, and was not seriously
injured. Walter, who was of course leading, then
looked in the direction of the stag, which had turned
sharply to the left upon striking the ground. All he
saw was the tail end of the greyhounds disappearing
again to the left, and called to Harry to mount the
324. SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

cliff as he swept past, while the others continued up
the low ground until they reached another incline
that ran from the hollow.

As Harry reached the summit of the cliff, he could
see the trusty greyhounds striking at the stag’s throat
time and time again. The rest of the pack were clos-
ing now, and as Tasso took a firm hold of his throat,
down went the animal, heels over head, but was on
his feet before the sweeping pack had reached him,
and had increased his speed again.

The dogs were gaining fast now, however, and
closed upon the gallant deer with the speed of the
wind. Again Tasso rose for the strike, his jaws
gleaming, and his lean head stretched far out for the
effort. He left the prairie like a tennis ball, and rose
with one crowning impulse of the trembling limbs;
one bound in mid air, and the stag dropped again to
his knees, rolling over and over upon a sandy spot,
until stag and greyhounds became one snapping,
snarling mass. The horses, by this time under whip
and spur, thundered down upon the stag: Exile a
half-length in the lead, with Leveller and Blue
Rocket close up, and Prince Royal gaining at every
stride.

“Hurrah, Arthur!” shouted Harry, as his former
favorite flew by Blue Rocket like a shot. “Give him
his head! Give him his head!”

Arthur gave the rushing black freer rein, and
THE DEER CHASE 325

struck him for the first time with the spur. In an
instant he shot to the front, and tore after the retreat-
ing pack. ©

As the horses struck the sandy spot where Tasso
had thrown the stag, a great cloud of dust flew from
their heels, and as they continued to plunge through
the dry and sandy ground, it seemed as if they towed
from their saddle-girths some furlong lengths of gloss-
less golden silk.

Sweeping before, as if their very lives depended
upon it, the greyhounds, so sure of fang, rose at every
leap, and brought the struggling side once, twice,
thrice to his knees.

Saxony, Diamond, and Diana would throw him,
and then Boomerang, Rambler, and Tasso, panting
like tired engines, rose through the air and fell with
the gallant deer.

The prairie stretched before them, green and level,
waving in the fresh northerly breeze, and shimmering
in the sunlight. The dogs now ran. close together,
their wondrous strides lengthening, quickening, gath-
ering all for the final effort. Boomerang led slightly,
Saxony following, the others lapped.

“Hie on, boys!” cried Walter, whose foaming
chestnut was head and head with Prince Royal.

“Down with him, Tasso!”

And Tasso, who had lost ground since the last
time he had thrown the stag, now heard his master’s
326 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

wild shouts of encouragement, and passed the others
like a shot from a rifle. .

“Once again, Tasso!” cried the excited Walter
at the top of his lungs. ‘“ Once again, boy!”

“Rambler! Rambler!” shouted Paul, as the courser
neither lost nor gained, but ran straight and true as
steel in the very centre of the pack. ‘On with you,
Rambler!”

The stag, now swerving slightly to the left, began
to act as though he meant to turn and fight; for he
seemed to quicken his speed in an endeavor to throw
himself about and face the dogs. Too closely pressed,
he again started with his nose straight before him.
Tasso, Saxony, and Diamond rose together, struck
true at the stag’s dripping throat, and down, they all
went in a heap— fighting, snapping, snarling, until
the air was filled with their sounds.

Walter saw that the end was near, and that the
stag would never again fly before the gleaming grey-
hound fangs. He, Paul, and Arthur put spurs to
their mounts, and raced neck and neck to the death,
followed by Jack’s Blue Rocket and Eugene’s gray
mustang, which had been last the entire way.

The stag was no match for the six dogs, for Tasso
and Saxony held him by the throat, while the others
cut him with their fangs, like a knife, a dozen times
before he could struggle to his knees; but he rose
only for a moment, and then, bellowing like a bull,
THE DEER CHASE 327

fell back in the death struggle, while the air rang
again and again with our heroes’ wild cries.

“Hurrah for the Greyhound Club!” cried Paul,
dismounting from the honest Exile. ‘ Walt, you’rea
brick!” :

“Where’s Harry?” asked Arthur, after the cheers
for the club had been given with a will.

“He’s coming slowly,” said Eugene, turning in his
saddle; “for Ramblewild’s lame.”

“Well he might be,” replied Walter. “Harry’s
the luckiest fellow in the world.”

And so the others thought. When the lad came
up, the chase was discussed enthusiastically, the dogs
were praised and petted, and another cheer was given
that must have reached the lodge.

“Harry, you come up behind me,” said Walter, ex-
amining Ramblewild’s swollen and trembling fore-
legs. ‘Paul, you take the stag on Exile, and Arthur
will lead the bay. That will make it easy all around.”

“Are we going straight for the lodge?” asked
Harry, examining a bruise on his right arm. “I’d like
to get some water pretty soon.”

_ “Ithought of making for a spring that starts among
those rocks,” replied Walter, pointing towards the
creek. “We'll all enjoy a drink, I guess.”

The stag was thrown across the saddle in front of
Paul, Arthur took Ramblewild’s bridle, and Harry
jumped up behind Walter. The boys all enjoyed the
328 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

rest and drink at the spring as much as the dogs,
and discussed the morning’s sport from beginning to
end. When the horses had cooled off, the saddles
were replaced, and the ride to the lodge was begun.
They arrived in time for a good lunch, and spent the
remainder of the day in giving Pietro and Larraby a
glowing description of the chase, and in assisting in
removing the stag’s skin. The horses were thoroughly
bandaged, and Ramblewild’s legs were looked after by
the hostler.

“We'll have venison to-morrow,” said Jack, as he
watched Tony dress the carcass. “If we have any
visitors now, we’ll be able to feed them on the fat of
the land.”

The boys did not receive another visit for some
days, however, and then it was too late to offer any
of the first deer killed at the lodge. In fact, they did
not think of it, for Uncle John had other things to
talk about.

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CHAPTER XVIII

CONCLUSION

“ NV eee boys, what am I to say to you?” asked
Mr. Hillman, good humoredly, lighting his
pipe after he had heard the lads’ stories from the
beginning of the trouble to the very end of the deer
chase. “You've placed yourselves in all sorts of
dangers, contrary to promises, and have made heroes
of yourselves into the bargain. I was never more
astounded in my life. Captain Brown sent me word
that he had been scouting on his own hook, and had
dropped in at the lodge for any information, and also
for something to eat. I don’t blame him for being
surprised when Tony told him that three of the out-
laws were up-stairs, bound hand and foot, and the
others were expected at any moment. Do you?”
“No, not at all, Uncle John,” replied Walter.
“But then, you see, they ran right into our hands.”
“That red-headed man they call Firefly didn’t,”
answered Uncle John, who was glad to acknowledge
to himself that the lads were made of “just the right
stuff.” “And that bit of scouting on Harry’s part
was very commendable, even though he did desert
: 329
330 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

his post. You've had some exciting times, my lad,
have you not?”

Harry flushed to the temples at this, but did not reply.

“Well,” Uncle John continued, with a twinkle in
his eye, “you boys will have a fine time at the
academy next winter. You'll have a bushel basket-
ful of applications for membership awaiting you, and
you'll be asked to relate your experiences three times
aday. If you have that club room I hear you talk-
ing of, you'll have to have a visitor’s day, or you'll
be overrun with inquisitive students, who'll ask to see
some of Cabrillo’s relics, and so on.”

“ How will they know about it?” asked Arthur.

“Know!” exclaimed Uncle John. “The whole
country knows, and I tell you I’ve been busy answer-
ing telegrams from your parents, boys. They have
finally consented to allow you to remain; but they
distinctly state that you are to return to the ranch if
you hear anything of ‘dodgers’ of any description.
Wouldn’t you like to come back with me?”

“Oh, no, Uncle John,” protested Harry, with an
earnestness that made the genial old gentleman laugh
outright. ‘“We’ve just got horses to suit us, and
expect no end of fun coursing with them.”

“ Are they very fast?”

“Yes; we're all delighted, and hope to kill a dozen
deer before the season’s over,” replied Harry.

“Well, boys, I'll stay and have a hunt with you,
CONCLUSION 331

while the herdsmen go below and drive up some
cattle. I’m not so old that I can’t ride a couple of
days behind the hounds without feeling it.”

“You're not going to ride that old bone-yard, are
you?” asked Walter in alarm, as his eye fell upon
Mr. Hillman’s ugly-looking mount. “I thought he
died six years ago. I'll be glad to let you have
Leveller.”

“Never mind, my lad, but I thank you just the
same,” replied his uncle, with a smile that spoke
volumes.

Of course the club was delighted to have Uncle
John join them in a hunt, and started to drive the
ridges again the next day. Harry rode Prince Royal,
while Arthur returned to his old mount.

Homely as Uncle John’s horse was, he neverthe-
less made an excellent race, and the lads were forced
to go to the whips during the entire last mile in order
to keep daylight between them and the old frontiers-
man. When the deer was at last caught after a
splendid chase, and the lads had dismounted and
stood by their horses, which were panting violently,
they noticed that the “bone-yard,” beaten only a
half-dozen lengths, began cropping the grass after
but a moment’s quick breathing. After that they
had nothing to say against the “bone-yard,” and
always remembered that a horse’s coat did not make
the animal.
332 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

Uncle John spent nearly a week with the lads, and
then returned totheranch. He had been kind enough
to ask the boys to visit him on their way back, and
they were glad to accept the hospitable invitation.

“When we get to the ranch,” he said, just before
leaving, “I'll send Larraby with the papers. They’ll
interest you about as much as anything else.”

Uncle John not only found the newspapers at the
ranch when he returned, but also a lengthy communi-
cation from the governor of Oklahoma, in which he
desired to thank the young sportsmen of Deer Lodge
for their valuable services in acting in the interests of
the country, and asked them to select any of the out-
laws’ horses they might care to own, together with
any articles that struck their fancy at Cabrillo’s
camp. Pietro and Larraby each received a very.
liberal reward, enclosed in the same letter.

Uncle John forwarded the letter and papers at
once, and it is needless to say that the contents of
both thoroughly amused and delighted our heroes.
There were sketches of the entire club in the papers,
and there was also a realistic drawing of Cabrillo’s
capture. The outlaw was pictured as a Mexican
villain, with long hair and rings in his ears, strug-
gling with the six members of the club, who were all
about him, some with lariats, which had settled over
his head and were drawn tight, and others advancing
with clenched fists.
CONCLUSION 333

“ About as near as newspapers ever get to accounts
of this kind,” said Harry, smiling in spite of himself,
as he noted the expressions the artist had given the
different members.

Another paper, which also gave a glowing descrip-
tion of the affair, contained a sketch entitled “ How
the Boys of Deer Lodge amuse Themselves.” This
was by far the most amusing of any; for there was
a very poorly proportioned deer in the centre, hotly
pursued by a mastiff and a St. Bernard; while in
another sketch, just to the right, a young man was
landing a brook trout by a mountain stream. The
corresponding illustration.on the left showed a youth
in a hammock, reading Cicero, while upon the ground
lay a copy of Virgil and a Greek grammar. There

could be no doubt of this, for the letters were plainly
marked upon the covers.

“Tf that man had any better knowledge of this coun-
try, I don’t know how Id stand it,” said Paul, dryly,

-which caused the others to burst into a hearty laugh.

Soon after the receipt of the letter and newspapers,
the boys received a communication from the Santa
Fé railroad, which enclosed annual passes for the
members of the club, and went on to say how fortu-
nate the railroad had been in having the band dis-
persed, and that they, the officials of the road, desired
to extend their very hearty thanks, and wished them
the most enjoyable of outings.
334 SIX YOUNG HUNTERS

The lads selected a half dozen of Cabrillo’s belong-
ings to remind them of their adventures with the
bandits, if indeed they needed reminders, while the
articles left in the stone house were taken in charge
by Captain Brown, who in turn delivered them to the
proper authorities.

Nothing further was learned of Cabrillo’s strange
past life at the outlaws’ trial, and the lads were forced
to judge him from his surroundings. They were
rather more sorry for him than for the rest; for they
were confident that he would have spent his life more
honorably if it had not been for the corrupting influ-
ences of his youth.

The club had many enjoyable times during the
remainder of the summer; but none, you may be sure,
half as thrilling as the events that transpired during
the first week spent at the lodge. They made many
trips to the outlaws’ camps, where they frequently
ate their lunches, discussing their adventures over
and over again. So the summer passed pleasantly,
and towards the end of August the lads packed their
trunks and stated for the ranch. ,

After a very enjoyable visit with Colonel Hillman
and Uncle John, the boys returned to the academy,
where they were indeed heroes. Uncle John’s words
proved true. The lads’ many friends were never
tired of discussing the outlaws and the hunts the six
young hunters had taken, and the club room at the
CONCLUSION 335

academy was always well filled with congenial com-
panions after study hours. Perhaps we shall meet
our heroes again at no very distant date, and tell you
something of their lives at the academy.

Harry and Walter were the closest chums that
winter, and often discussed the outlaws and grey-
hounds as they sat about the fire during the long
winter evenings. They both had good cause to
remember most forcibly many thrilling events con-
nected with the first outing of the Greyhound Club.
And though they often recalled the wildcat encounter,
the bear hunt, and deer chase with quickening breaths,
it is safe to say that nothing impressed them half so
much as the voice of the imprisoned outlaw, ringing
through the glade in the still of the night, “ Silver
and gold! silver and gold!”



(IRR RA a ae

TRELLIS

Et jores

Bete ges erees






xml record header identifier oai:www.uflib.ufl.edu.ufdc:UF0008708700001datestamp 2008-10-21setSpec [UFDC_OAI_SET]metadata oai_dc:dc xmlns:oai_dc http:www.openarchives.orgOAI2.0oai_dc xmlns:dc http:purl.orgdcelements1.1 xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.openarchives.orgOAI2.0oai_dc.xsd dc:title Six young hunters, or, The adventures of the Greyhound clubdc:creator Parker, William GordonNorwood Press ( Printer )J. S. Cushing and Co. ( Printer )Berwick and Smith ( Printer )dc:publisher Lee and Sheparddc:date 1898dc:type Bookdc:identifier http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/ufdc/?b=UF00087087&v=00001dc:source University of Floridadc:language English