FRANK MERRIWELL'S BRAVERY
BY BURT L. STANDISH
Author of "Frank Merriwell's School Days," "Frank Merriwell's Chums," etc.
PHILADELPHIA DAVID McKAY, PUBLISHER 610 SOUTH WASHINGTON SQUARE
Copyright, 1903 By STREET & SMITH
Frank Merriwell's Bravery
I—Two Travelers 9 II—"Hands up!" 16 III—A Thrilling Accusation 21 IV—For Life and Honor 29 V—Hurried to Jail 35 VI—Solomon Shows His Nerve 43 VII—In Jail 50 VIII—The Lynchers 55 IX—The Assault on the Jail 62 X—In Cade's Canyon 68 XI—Black Harry Appears 73 XII—A Chance in a Thousand 77 XIII—A Thrilling Rescue 84 XIV—Walter Clyde's Story 90 XV—Professor Septemas Scudmore 96 XVI—The Mad Inventor 102 XVII—Gone 109 XVIII—Miskel 114 XIX—Old Solitary 122 XX—Mouth of the Cave 130 XXI—Human Beasts 137 XXII—Professor Scudmore Returns 145 XXIII—Last of the Danites 152 XXIV—Yellowstone Park 159 XXV—Fay 164 XXVI—Old Rocks 170 XXVII—The Hermit 176 XXVIII—Vanishing of Little Fay 181 XXIX—Face to Face 188 XXX—Search for the Trail 195 XXXI—A Fight with Grizzlies 201 XXXII—Trailed Down 207 XXXIII—The Rescue 214 XXXIV—In Sand Cave 219 XXXV—A Peculiar Girl 231 XXXVI—Friends and Foes 237 XXXVII—Boy Shadowers 243 XXXVIII—"Queer" Money 249 XXXIX—Pursued 255 XL—Eluded 261 XLI—Big Gabe 267 XLII—Over the Precipice 273 XLIII—A Frightful Peril 280 XLIV—A Girl's Mad Leap 285 XLV—Queen of the Counterfeiters 292 XLVI—After the Fight 298
[Transcriber's Note: The following list of illustrations has been created for this electronic edition. Some illustrations have been moved to positions closer to their appearance in the text.]
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"The outlaws entered Cade's Canyon amid the mountains and finally reached an old hut." (See page 63)
"You must not linger here. * * * Even now the Destroying Ones may be moving to fall upon you." (See page 124)
"The grizzly folded Frank in his embrace, crushing the lad against his shaggy breast." (See page 205)
"Frank brought the butt of his Winchester to his shoulder, and began to work the weapon." (See page 296)
Frank Merriwell's Bravery.
"Well, that's a pretty nervy piece of business!"
It was Frank Merriwell who spoke the words, more to himself than to any one else.
Frank was westbound, from Oklahoma City at the time, continuing the extensive tour mapped out after his Uncle Asher had died and left him so much money.
As readers of former books in this series know, Frank was not making the tour alone. Professor Scotch, his guardian, was with him as was also Barney Mulloy, his old schoolmate from Fardale. But, as the professor and Barney had not wanted to stop at Oklahoma, they had gone on ahead, leaving Frank to catch up with them later.
The "nervy piece of business" to which Frank referred was the following account of a hold-up published in a leading Oklahoma newspaper:
"BLACK HARRY'S LATEST STROKE.
"HE HOLDS UP AN EXPRESS TRAIN, AND SHOOTS AN EASTERN BANKER.
"As we go to press, an imperfect account of Black Harry's latest outrage reaches us from Elreno. Ten days ago this youthful desperado was unknown to fame, but within that number of days he has left a red trail from the Texas Panhandle to the Canadian River. He began by raiding Moore's ranch, and killing a cowboy, and he and his band of desperadoes, which he calls his 'Braves,' have robbed and plundered and burned and murdered at their own sweet will, till the climax was capped last night by the holding up of the northbound express on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific, shortly after leaving Chickasha and crossing the Washita. Between Chickasha and Minco is a twenty-mile stretch of desolate track, and a better place for a train hold-up could not be found.
"Just how the express was stopped we do not know at present, but the trick was accomplished, and Black Harry and his Braves boarded the cars. Strangely enough, they did not attempt to enter the express car, but were satisfied to go through the train hastily and relieve the passengers of their valuables. In this work, Black Harry took the lead; but Mr. Robert Dawson, an Eastern banker, who happened to have quite a sum on his person, objected, and snatched the mask from the young ruffian's face. Before the eyes of Miss Lona Dawson, who was traveling with her father, Black Harry deliberately shot the banker down, and then relieved him of his watch, diamond pin, and pocketbook, having first re-covered his face with the mask.
"The robbers made a hasty but very thorough job of it, leaping from the train at a signal from their boy leader, and quickly disappearing in the darkness. But Black Harry's face was seen fairly by the banker's horrified daughter, and by several other passengers, so there will be no trouble in identifying him if he is captured. Sheriff Kildare, of Canadian County, is aroused, and Burchel Jones, an Eastern detective, has promised to round up Black Harry within a very short time. Let us hope, for the good of the Territory, that the young ruffian's career may be quickly terminated, and that he may receive his just due at the hands of the law.
"Mr. Dawson was taken to Elreno, where a surgical operation was performed. He is still alive, but his chance of recovery is small. His daughter, who seems to be a girl of spirit, has stated that, if her father dies, she will know no rest nor spare no expense till Black Harry is run to earth."
The article terminated abruptly, showing it had been hastily written, and had been inserted at the last moment before publication.
"Truly an outrage!" Frank continued. "It would be a good scheme to organize a hunting party, and give this Black Harry a run for it."
"Just my idea," said an oily voice, as a man slipped into the seat beside the young traveler, without as much as saying "by your leave." "The people out here do not seem to mind these things. I suppose they are used to them."
Frank glanced the speaker over, with a pair of searching, brown eyes. He saw a slender figure in a well-worn suit of gray. The striking features of the man's face were his eyes and his nose. His eyes were too near together, and his nose was long and pointed. He was smooth-shaved, and there was a cunning, foxy look about his face.
Frank did not seem in any hurry about speaking; he continued to inspect the man, who moved restlessly beneath the scrutiny, and said:
"I have not been very long in this country, but I have noted the peculiarities of the people. They do not seem to have time to bother much about an affair like this train hold-up, and the shooting of an occasional tenderfoot, as they call all Easterners. If they should happen to capture Black Harry, they would give him their full attention for a short time—a very short time. They would be pretty sure to lynch him, as they would consider that the easiest way of disposing of him, and they would not consider it worth while to spend time in giving him a regular trial. To be sure, this train robbery and tragedy occurred in Indian Territory, but I understand that Hank Kildare, the sheriff at Elreno, has offered three hundred dollars reward for the capture of Black Harry himself, and fifty dollars each for his men. Er—ah—ahem! My name is—Walker. I am from Jersey."
"How do you do, Mr.—er—ah—Walker. I presume that what you say about Black Harry's chances, if he is captured, is quite true—he will be lynched."
"Oh, it is not certain, of course; he might obtain protection by officers of the law. But he would stand a good show of being lynched. And Elreno is the worst place in Oklahoma for him to show his face in at present."
"I should presume it might be. Dawson, the wounded banker, is there?"
"And his daughter—can she identify this young desperado the moment she sees him?"
"Black Harry will be very foolish if he goes to Elreno."
"He is not likely to go there, I fancy."
"I don't know about that. He is a dare-devil fellow."
"So it seems."
"And he might take a fancy that Elreno would be the last place where he would be expected to appear, and so he would go there."
"He might do that."
"Now, in your own case, if you were Black Harry, for instance, you might put on a bold face, and show yourself in Elreno, while everybody outside that town would be on the lookout for you."
"Possibly, you are right."
"I think such a trick would be very like Black Harry. He might go so far as to take the train to Elreno from some place that would make it seem that he could not have been in the locality where the hold-up was committed. If he were to come into Elreno on this train, for instance, it would be a blind."
"How far is Oklahoma City from the place where the train was robbed?"
"Between thirty and forty miles, direct."
"That distance could be made on horseback between the time of the robbery and this morning—do you think so?"
"Well, it is very likely. What do you think, Mr.—ah—er—I beg your pardon?"
"My name is Frank Merriwell."
Walker lifted his eyebrows in a very odd manner, which Frank did not fail to observe.
"You appear as if you doubted me," came a trifle warmly from the lad's lips, while the color rushed to his cheeks.
"Oh, not at all—not at all! You are in Oklahoma on business?"
"Didn't notice you had company."
"I have not, at present."
"H'm! Ha! Your friends—are they on this train?"
Walker elevated his eyebrows again. His nose seemed longer and more pointed than ever. It was a nose that reminded the boy of an interrogation point. It seemed built to thrust itself into other people's business.
"Ha! Not on the train?"
"You expect to meet them?"
"How many of them?"
Frank was answering curtly, and his manner announced his dislike for his inquisitive companion. Still, he was courteous and cool, holding himself in check.
"I presume your companions are older than yourself?" questioned the prying Jerseyite, his small eyes glistening.
"One is; the other is a boy about my age."
"Ha! H'm! Just so. You are from the East, I presume?"
"It seems to me that I have seen you before, but I cannot remember where it was. And I do not remember your name. Do you mind giving me the names of your traveling companions?"
"Not at all. They are Professor Horace Orman Tyler Scotch, of Fardale Military Academy, sometimes known as 'Hot' Scotch, as he has a peppery temper, and the initials of his first three names form the word 'hot.' The other is Barney Mulloy, a youth who was born in Ireland, and has not recovered from it yet. The latter was a classmate of mine at Fardale, and he is traveling with me as a friendly companion, which he can afford to do, as I pay all the bills."
"Haw!" exclaimed Walker. "You must have money to burn!"
"No, I have not. My uncle left me a comfortable fortune, and his will provided that, in order to broaden my knowledge of the world, I should travel in company with my guardian. He selected Professor Scotch as a proper man to become my guardian, and specified that I might take along a schoolmate as a companion, if I so desired."
"Re-e-markable!" cried Walker. "A most astonishing will! And how does it happen that you have become separated from your guardian and friend?"
"We were going through to Texas on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific. I wished to visit Guthrie, the capital of Oklahoma, and they did not care to do so. I left them at Caldwell, in Kansas, with the understanding that they were to proceed to Elreno, and wait for me there."
Walker's nose seemed pointing at the boy like an accusing finger. Doubt was expressed all over that foxy face.
"You tell it well," said the man, with another queer lifting of his thin eyebrows.
"What do you mean by that?" demanded the youth, sharply, wheeling squarely toward Walker. "Do you insinuate that I am not telling the truth?"
Before Walker could reply, a commotion arose in the seat directly behind them.
"Aw! Thay, weally, this ith verwy impudent, don't yer know!" drawled a languid voice. "What wight have you to cwout yourthelf into a theat bethide a gentleman, thir?"
"I don'd seen der shentleman anyvere," replied a nasal voice, a voice that had the genuine Jewish sound.
"Thir! Do you mean to thay I am no gentleman, thir?"
"Vell, I don'd mean to say nodding aboud id. I don'd vant to hurd your veelings."
"You insulting w'etch!"
"Don'd get excided, mein friendt."
"Will you leave thith theat, thir?"
"Cerdinly I vill—ven I leaf der drain."
"I thall call the conductor!"
"Don'd vaste your preath—peckon to him."
"Thir, I would have you understand that my name ith Cholly Gwayson De Smythe."
"Vell, I vos bleased to meed you. Anypody vould be pleased shust to dake a look ad you."
"My name vas Solomon Rosenbum, vid the accent on der bum. Shake handts vid yourself."
By this time everybody in the car was staring at the Jew and the dudish fellow beside whom Solomon had taken a seat. The latter was a youth of uncertain age, with an insipid mustache, a sallow face, and spectacles of colored glass, which seemed to indicate that he had weak eyes. He was dressed, as far as possible, in imitation of an English tourist.
The Jew, who had given his name as "Solomon Rosenbum, vid der accent on der bum," was a rather disreputable-looking man of about thirty, having the appearance of the Jew peddler, and carrying a pack, which he had stuffed down between his knees and the back of the next seat, thus completely fencing in Cholly De Smythe.
"Will you wemove yourthelf fwom this theat?" squawked the dude, in a flutter.
"Say, mein friendt, you vas nervous. Now, I dell you vat you do vor dat. Shust dake a pottle of Snyde's Shain-Lighdning Nearf Regulardor. Id vill simbly gost you von tollar a pottle, dree bottles vor dwo tollars. I haf shust dree pottles left. Vill you dake 'em?"
Solomon began to untie his pack.
"Stop it!" squealed Cholly, in terror. "I don't want your nawsty stuff, don't yer know!"
"Berhaps I know petter dan vat you do. I haf studied to pe a horse toctor, und I make a sbecialty uf shack-asses."
"You wude thing!"
The other passengers in the car were enjoying all this, and the laughter that had begun with the first passage between the two now threatened to swell to a tumult.
"Uf one pottle don'd gure you, der dree pottles vill—or kill you, und nopody vill mindt dot."
"Vill you half der dree pottles?"
"Veil, dake von uf dem ad sefenty-fife cends."
"I alvays haf von brice vor all uf mine goots, und I nefer make a bractice uf dakin' off a cend; but I see dat you vas on der verge uf nerfus brosdration, und I vant to safe your life, so I vill sell you von pottle vor a hellufer-tollar."
"I don't want it—I won't take the nawsty stuff!"
"Dat vas too sheap at hellufer-tollar, but in your gase I vill make an eggsception, und you may haf von pottle vor a qvarter. Dake id qvick, before I shange my mindt."
"Help! Take the w'etch away!"
"Moses in der pulrushes! Vat you vant? Vas you dryin' to ruin me? Dot medicine gost me ninedy-dree cends a pottle, und I don'd ged a cend discoundt uf I puy dwo pottles. Dake a pottle ad dwenty cends, und I vill go indo pankrupcy."
"Conductaw! Conductaw!" squawked Cholly.
"What is all this noise about?" demanded the conductor, as he came hastily down the aisle and stood scowling at Cholly.
He had overheard all that passed, and he was enjoying it as much as any of the passengers.
"Conductaw," said the dude, with great dignity, "I wish you to instantly wemove this verwy insolent cwecher. He cwoded in thith theat without awsking leave."
"Have you paid for a whole seat?"
"I have paid one fare, thir, and ——"
"So has this gentleman. He is entitled to half of this seat, if he chooses to sit here. Don't bother me again."
The conductor walked away, and Cholly looked at Solomon, faintly gasping:
"Thith gentleman! Gweat Scott!"
Then he seemed to collapse.
Solomon grinned, and lifted his hat to the conductor. Then he turned to Cholly.
"Vill you half a pottle uf der Nearf Regulador ad dwendy cends?"
"Let me out!" gurgled the dude. "I will not stay heaw and be inthulted!"
"Set down," advised the Jew. "You ain'd bought a pottle uf medicine, und I can'd boder to mofe vor you."
Cholly fell back into his seat, giving up the struggle. He turned his head away, and looked out of the window, while Solomon talked to him for ten minutes, without seeming to draw a breath. Cholly, however, could not be induced to purchase a single bottle of the "Nearf Regulador."
All through this, Mr. Walker had not seemed to remove his keen eyes from the face of the boy at his side. The lad apparently enjoyed the affair between the Jew and the dude as much as any one in the car, laughing merrily, and seeming quite at ease.
Somehow, Walker did not seem to be pleased at all. He appeared like a man with a very little sense of humor, or he had so much of grave importance on his mind that he did not observe what was going on behind him.
When Cholly De Smythe had collapsed, and the Jew had ceased to talk, the boy squared about in his seat, and seemed to settle to take things in the most comfortable manner possible. He pulled his hat over his forehead, and continued his perusal of the newspaper.
This did not satisfy his seat mate.
"You seem to be very interested in that paper," said Walker.
"I am," was the curt return, and the boy continued reading.
"You are not much of a talker."
"H'm! Ha! I am; I am very sociable."
"So I observed."
"I have been wondering what we would do if a band of robbers was to hold up this train."
"I am sure I cannot tell what I would do. I scarcely think any person can tell what he would do in such a case till he meets the emergency."
"I presume you go armed?"
"In the West—yes."
Walker's thin nose seemed to resemble a wedge which he was driving deeper and deeper with each question.
"Would you mind permitting me to look at your revolver?"
The boy uttered that word, and remained silent, without offering to take the weapon out.
"H'm! Ha! I think you misunderstood me."
"I think not."
"I asked you if you would mind letting me look at your revolver."
"And I said I would mind."
The Jew's voice sounded in Walker's ear.
"I haf a revolfer vat I vill sell you sheep. Id vas a recular taisy, selluf-cocker, und dirty-dwo caliber. Here id vas, meester. Id vas loated, so handle id vid care. Vat you gif vor dat peautiful revolfer, meester?"
Walker took the weapon, glanced into the cylinder, to see that it was actually loaded, and then suddenly thrust it against the head of Frank, crying, sharply:
"Hands up, Black Harry! You are my prisoner!"
A THRILLING ACCUSATION.
The words rang through the car, startling the passengers, and causing them to stare in astonishment at the man and the boy.
The man with the revolver was quivering with excitement, while Frank, at whose head the weapon was held, seemed strangely calm.
Exclamations were heard on all sides.
"Is it possible?"
"Not that beardless boy!"
"It's a mistake!"
"If that's Black Harry, his Braves are near, and there is liable to be some shooting before long."
"Sufferin' Moses!" came from the Jew, who owned the revolver. "Ish dat der ropper vat ve read apout der baper in? Stop der cars! I vant to ged off!"
"What do you mean by this crazy act?" calmly demanded Frank, looking straight into Mr. Walker's eyes.
"I mean business, and I am not going to fool with a fellow of your reputation a minute! If you don't put up your hands, I'll send a bullet through your head immediately!"
"Then I shall put up my hands, for I have no fancy for having the top of my head blown off."
Up went the boy's empty hands.
"That's where you are sensible," declared the man with the foxy face. "I have dealt with your kind before, and I know better than to let 'em monkey with me. I am a man with a reputation for catching criminals. At the sound of my name, the professional crooks in the East tremble."
"Walker does not seem to be such a very terrible name."
"Walker—bah! That's not my name!"
"Pray, what is your name, then?"
"I am Burchel Jones, the famous detective," declared the owner of the gimlet eyes, swelling with importance. "Out in this country the fools call me a tenderfoot, but I will show them the kind of stuff I am made of. When they want to catch their desperadoes and robbers, they should send for a tenderfoot detective."
The boy laughed outright.
"You are more sport than a barrel of monkeys," he said, merrily. "What do you think you have done, anyway?"
"I have captured Black Harry, the terrible desperado, who has been giving them so much trouble out here of late."
"You think I am Black Harry?"
"I do not think anything about it—I know it."
"How do you know it?"
"By your face."
"Have you ever seen Black Harry?"
"On the northbound Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific express."
"You were on that train?"
"I was, and I saw Black Harry's face when he was unmasked by Robert Dawson—saw it distinctly. You are Black Harry!"
"You were never more deceived in all your life. My name is Frank Merriwell, as I can easily prove."
"Your real name may be Frank Merriwell, but you are the boy desperado who is known as Black Harry, and you are the chap who shot Mr. Robert Dawson."
The detective spoke with conviction, and it was plain that he really believed what he said. The boy began to look grave, as the situation was not exactly pleasant.
"You came from Elreno to Oklahoma City on the first train this morning, did you?" asked the youth.
"How did it happen that you took this train back?"
"I spotted you. The moment I saw your face I knew you, and I shadowed you till the train started. I boarded the train with the determination to capture you. I seldom fail when I have resolved on a thing, and I did not fail this time."
"Then this is no joke?"
"You will find it is no joke."
"Well, I can't ride from this place to Elreno with my hands held above my head, as you must very well know."
"Of course you can't. I'll have to put the irons on you. Here, young man, hold this revolver to his head while I handcuff and search him."
He spoke to Cholly De Smythe, who had been watching, with staring eyes, his jaw dropped, and a look of amazement on his face.
"Haw?" squawked the dude, aghast. "What ith that you want, thir?"
"Take this revolver, and hold it to this boy's head. If he moves, shoot him as if he were a dangerous dog."
"Good gwacious!" gurgled Cholly. "I nevah touched a wevolver in awl my life! You will hawve to excuse me, thir."
"If you are determined to treat me as if I were a mad beast, I beg you to let some one who knows something about firearms handle that revolver," said the captive. "I will give you my word not to make any trouble if you lower the weapon."
"Your word does not count with me," declared the crafty detective. "I wouldn't trust you a second—not a second."
"I can show you my card, letters, and other papers to prove my claim that I am Frank Merriwell, a traveler."
"Black Harry would be likely to have such letters and papers ready for just such an emergency. That trick will not count."
"Oh, well, don't fool around with that loaded gun held up against my head! Put on the irons, and give me a chance to rest my arms. Hurry up!"
"Shust led me dake dat revolfer, mine friendt," said the voice of the Jew. "Uf dot poy tries any funny pusiness, he vill be deat, vid der accent on der deat."
"Can I trust you?" cautiously asked Burchel Jones.
"Vell, I dunno. You can uf you vant to. I alvays make a bracdice uf doin' a cash pusiness."
After some hesitation, the tenderfoot detective decided that he could not do better than trust Solomon, and the revolver was surrendered to the Jew.
"Don'd you vink!" commanded Solomon, as he screwed the muzzle of the weapon up against the lad's head. "Uf you do, you vas a deat poy!"
The detective searched the youth, removing a handsome revolver from one of his pockets. That was the only weapon found anywhere on his person.
Burchel Jones was disappointed, for he had expected to find "guns" and knives concealed all over the lad.
"Oh, you're slick—you're slick!" he said. "But you can't fool me. I know how to deal with rascals like you. I have handled hundreds of 'em—hundreds upon hundreds."
"You must be a very old hand in the business," said the captive, with a laugh. "Still, you seem to need assistance to capture a boy, who has made no offer to resist you, although he knows very well that you have no legal right to arrest him."
"Oh, you are ready with your tongue—altogether too ready."
Having searched the lad, Jones produced some manacles, and snapped them on the wrists of his prisoner.
"There," he said to Solomon, "you needn't hold the revolver to his head any longer. I have him foul now."
"Dank you," nodded the Jew. "You vas much opliged vor der use of my revolfer."
"Of course, of course."
"V'y you don'd puy dot revolfer, den, und gif a poor man a drade?"
"Oh, get out. I don't want it any longer."
"Vell, I am glad uf dat, vor it vas long enough alretty. Uf you like id so vel, v'y you don'd bought id?"
"I have one of my own."
"Vell, haf dwo. I gif you a drade on dat revolfer. I sell you dat revolfer vor elefen tollar."
"Don't want it."
"Don't want it."
"Say, shut up! I wouldn't take it for five!"
"Vell, you may haf him vor your tollar, und dot vas less dan haluf vat id vas vort'. Shall I put a biece uf baper roundt id?"
"I won't buy it at any price."
"Moses in der pulrushes! Do you vant me to gif him to you? I vill dake tree tollar, und dat vas der rock-pottom brice. Here you haf him."
But the detective still declined to take the weapon, which made Solomon exceedingly disgusted and angry.
"You vas der meanest man vat I nefer met!" he cried. "Uf I hat known how mean you vas, I vouldn't helluped you capture dot ropper! I hat better do pusiness vid der ropper anyhow."
Burchel Jones was well satisfied with himself. At Yukon he sent a dispatch to Hank Kildare, the sheriff at Elreno, saying:
"Have captured Black Harry. Bringing him in irons. Have Miss Dawson at station to identify him when train arrives.
BURCHEL JONES, "Private Detective."
Jones was surprised at the quiet manner in which Frank had submitted to arrest, but he felt that the lad had been cleverly taken by surprise, and had seen by the eye of the man with the revolver that the best thing he could do was to give in without a struggle.
The boy saw it was quite useless to attempt to convince the man that any mistake had been made, and so, after the first effort, ceased to waste his time in the vain struggle. He remained calm and collected, much to the dismay of the some nervous passengers, who were certain the train would be held up by Black Harry's Braves, who would be on hand to rescue their chief.
Jones heard one man declaring over and over that he knew the train would not reach Elreno without a hold-up, and the detective immediately declared:
"If an attempt is made to rescue Black Harry, it will be very unfortunate for Harry, as I shall immediately shoot him. I do not propose to let him escape, to continue his career of crime and devastation."
The boy smiled, in a scornful and pitying way.
When the train drew into Elreno, a great crowd was seen on the platform of the station, and, for the first time, a troubled look came to the face of the youthful prisoner.
"The whole town has turned out to see Black Harry and the man who captured him," said Jones, swelling with importance.
Frank said nothing; he knew well enough that such a crowd was dangerous in many cases. What if it were generally believed that he was, in truth, Black Harry, and the mob should take a fancy to lynch him? His chance of escaping a speedy death would be slim, indeed!
The train stopped, and, with his hand clutching the boy's shoulder, Jones descended to the platform.
"Thar he is!"
The cry went up, and the crowd surged toward the two.
"Stan' back hyar!"
A man that was six feet and four inches in height, and weighed at least two hundred and fifty pounds, forced his way through the throng, casting men to the right and left with his muscular arms. He had a hard, weather-tanned face, and looked as if he did not fear the Evil One himself.
"Are you Burchel Jones, ther detective?" asked this man, as he loomed before Jones and his captive.
"I am, sir," was the dignified reply; "and this is Black Harry. I surrender him to you, and claim the reward offered for his capture."
"Thet ther skunk known as Black Harry?" said the giant sheriff, in evident surprise. "He don't look like a desperado. Wal, we'll soon settle all doubts on thet yar point, fer Miss Dawson is hyar, an' she will recognize him ef he is Black Harry. Come on, boy."
Kildare, the sheriff, for such the giant was, again forced a path through the crowd.
In the station door, a woman and a girl were standing. The girl was not more than seventeen, and was very pretty, despite the traces of grief upon her face.
Kildare led the boy up before the woman and girl, and he spoke to the latter:
"Take a good, squar' look at this yar kid, Miss Dawson, an' see ef yer ever saw thet face afore."
The girl looked at Frank, and then fell back, horror and loathing depicted on her face. She stretched out one hand, with a repellent gesture, as if warning them to keep him away, and with the other hand she clutched at her throat, from which came a choking sound. The woman offered to support her, but she sprang up in a moment, pointed straight at the youthful captive, and literally shrieked:
"He is the wretch who shot my poor father!"
FOR LIFE AND HONOR.
A sudden, mad roar went up from the crowd on the station platform. They swayed, surged, struggled, and shouted:
That cry was like the touching of a torch to dry prairie grass. Men climbed on each others' shoulders; men fought to get nearer the prisoner, and the mob seemed to have gone mad in a moment.
A hundred throats took up the shout, and it became one mighty roar for blood, the most appalling sound that can issue from human lips.
The face of the menaced boy was very pale, but he did not cower before that suddenly infuriated mob. He showed that he had nerve, for he stood up and faced them boldly, helpless as he was.
Burchel Jones, the detective, looked as if he would give something to get away from that locality in a hurry.
A black scowl came to the face of Hank Kildare, and his hands dropped to his hips, reappearing from beneath the tails of his coat with a brace of heavy, long-barreled revolvers in their grasp. The muzzles of the weapons were thrust right into the faces of the men nearest, and the sheriff literally thundered:
"Git back thar, you critters, or by thunder, thar'll be dead meat round hyar! You hyar me chirp!"
Lona Dawson, the banker's daughter, was badly frightened by the sudden outbreak of the mob, and, with her older companion, she retreated into the waiting-room of the station.
"Death to Black Harry!"
A man with strong lungs howled the words above all the uproar and commotion.
"Bring the rope!" screamed another.
And then, as if by magic, a man struggled to the shoulders of those about him, waved a rope in the air, and yelled:
"Hyar's ther necktie fer Black Harry!"
And then, once more, there was a roar, and a surge, and a struggle to get at the handcuffed boy.
"Stiddy!" sounded the voice of Hank Kildare. "Back! back! back! or, by the eternal skies, I'll begin ter sling lead!"
But twenty hands seemed reaching to clutch the lad and drag him away. The sheriff saw that he would not be able to retain his prisoner if he remained where he was.
"Inter ther station, boy!" came from the giant sheriff's lips. "It's yer only chance ter git clear o' this yar gang!"
"Howly shmoke!" cried a familiar voice just behind the handcuffed youth. "Pwhat are they doin' wid yez, Frankie, me b'y?"
"Yes," quavered another voice, likewise familiar, "what is this crazy mob trying to do? This is something appalling!"
"Barney! Professor!" cried the boy, joyously. "Now I can prove that I am what I claim to be!"
"I've got him!"
A big ruffian roared the words, as he fastened both hands upon the manacled lad, and tried to drag him into the midst of the swaying mob.
"Thin take thot, ye spalpane!" shouted the Irish boy, who had appeared in company with a little, red-whiskered man at the door of the station.
Out shot the hard fist of the young Irishman, and—smack!—it struck the man fairly in the left eye, knocking him backward into the arms of the one just behind him.
"It's toime ye got out av thot, me b'y," said Barney Mulloy, as he grasped the imperiled youth by the collar, and drew him into the waiting-room of the station.
"That's right, that's right!" fluttered the little man, who was Professor Scotch. "Let's hurry out by the back door, the way we came in. We were detained, so we did not arrive in time for the train, but we came as quickly as we could."
"And arrived just in time," said Frank. "I am in a most appalling position."
"Well, well!" fluttered the professor. "You can explain that later on. Let's get away from here."
Frank held up his hands, and, for the first time, his friends saw the irons on his wrists. They cried out in amazement.
"Pwhat th' ould b'y is th' m'anin' av thot?" demanded Barney Mulloy, in the most profound astonishment.
"It means that I have been arrested; that's all."
"Robbing, shooting, murdering."
"G'wan wid yez!"
"This is no time to joke, Frank," said Professor Scotch, reprovingly. "Are you never able to restrain your propensity for making sport?"
"This is a sorry joke, professor. I am giving you the straight truth."
"But—but it is impossible—I declare it is!"
"It is the truth."
"Who arristed yez?" asked Barney, as if still doubtful that Frank really meant what he was saying.
"A private detective, known as Burchel Jones. He surrendered me to the sheriff of Canadian County, Hank Kildare. That's his voice you can hear above the howling. He is trying to beat the mob back, so he can get me to the jail before I am lynched."
"Before you are lynched!" gurgled the little professor, in a dazed way. "What have you done that they should want to lynch you?"
"Pwhat do they think ye have done?" asked Barney.
"I presume you have heard of Black Harry?"
"Well, they say I am that very interesting young gentleman."
Small man though he was, Professor Scotch had a deep, hoarse voice, and he now let out a roar of disgust that drowned the stentorian tones of Hank Kildare.
"This is the most outrageous thing I ever heard of!" fumed the professor, in a rage. "Somebody shall suffer for it! You Black Harry! Why, it is ridiculous!"
Barney Mulloy seemed to regard it as extremely funny, for he laughed outright.
"Thot bates th' worruld!" he cried. "But it's dead aisy ye kin prove ye're not Black Harry at all, at all!"
"I don't know about that. I have been identified."
"I have been recognized by a person who has seen Black Harry's face."
"Who is that fool person?" demanded Scotch, furiously. "Show me to him, and let me give him a piece of my mind!"
"There is the person."
Frank pointed straight at Lona Dawson, who was regarding him with horrified eyes from a distant corner of the waiting-room.
"The young lady?"
"Who is she?"
"Miss Dawson, daughter of Robert Dawson, the banker, whom Black Harry shot during the train hold-up last night. Dawson tore the mask from the young robber's face, and she saw it. A few moments ago she declared that I was the wretch who shot her father."
The girl heard his words, and she started forward, panting fiercely:
"You are! You are! I will swear to it with my dying breath! I saw your face plainly last night, and I can never forget it. You are the murderous ruffian from whose face my father tore the mask!"
Professor Scotch was fairly staggered, but he quickly recovered, and swiftly said:
"My dear young lady, I assure you that you have made the greatest mistake of your life. I know this boy—I am his guardian. It is not possible that he is Black Harry, for——"
"Were you with him last night?"
"No. We were——"
"Don't talk to me, then! Black Harry or not, he shot my father!"
"But—but—why, he would not do such a thing!"
It seemed that nothing could shake her belief.
"Av yez plaze, miss," said Barney, lifting his hat, and bowing politely, "it's thot same b'y Oi have known a long toime. Oi went ter school with thot lad, an' a whoiter b'y nivver drew a breath. He'd foight fer ye till he died, av he didn't git killed, an' it's nivver would he shoot anybody at all, at all, onless it wur in silf-definse. Oi give ye me wurrud thot is th' truth, th' whole truth, an' nothing but th' truth."
The girl was unmoved.
"I have sworn to avenge my poor father!" she declared. "He shall not escape!"
"It is useless to talk here," said Frank. "She believes she is right, and her mind will not be changed till she sees the real Black Harry at my side. It must be that the fellow is my double, and so my life will be in peril till he is captured, and meets his just deserts. From this time on for me it is a fight for life and honor."
HURRIED TO JAIL.
At this moment another wild roar rose outside the station, telling that something had again aroused the mob:
Hank Kildare was in the doorway, blocking it with his gigantic form, his long-barreled revolvers holding the crowd at bay, while he hoarsely cried:
"You galoots know me! Ef yer crowd me, some o' yer will take his everlastin' dose o' lead!"
They dared not crowd him. He could hold them back at that point, but there were other ways of reaching the interior of the waiting-room, where the prisoner was.
"Ther back door!" howled a voice. "We kin git at him thet way!"
"Hear that?" fluttered Professor Scotch. "They're coming, Frank! We must get out before they get in that way! Quick!"
He caught hold of the boy, and started to urge him toward the rear door; but Lona Dawson placed herself squarely in their path, flinging up one hand.
"Stop!" she cried, her eyes flashing. "You cannot pass! You shall not escape!"
A look of admiration came into Frank's eyes, for she was very beautiful at that moment.
"As you will," he bowed, gallantly. "I may get my neck stretched by remaining, but your wish is law."
"Well, I like that!" roared the professor, in a manner that plainly indicated he did not like it.
"Av ye choose ter make a fool av yersilf, Frank, it's not yer friends thot will see ye do it in this case!" cried Barney.
The Irish lad grasped Frank by one arm, while the professor clutched the other, and they were about to rush him toward the door, for all of any opposition, when the door flew open with a bang, and a man pitched headlong into the room. This person carried a bundle, which burst open as he struck the floor, scattering its contents in all directions.
"Moses in der pulrushes!" exclaimed the nasal voice of Solomon Rosenbum, and the Jew sat up in the midst of the wreck. "Dat vas vat I call comin' in lifely, vid der accent on der lifely!"
"The dure!" shouted Barney. "They're coming round to get in thot way!"
The frightened station agent thrust his head out of an inner office, and said:
"The door can be braced. The brace is just behind it."
Not a moment was to be lost, for the mob was at the very door, and would be pouring into the station in a moment. Barney sprang for the heavy brace, but he would have been too late if it had not been for the singular Jew.
Solomon leaped to his feet, sprang for the door, and planted his foot with terrific force in the stomach of the first man who was trying to enter, hurling that individual back against those immediately behind.
"Good-tay!" cried the Jew. "Uf I don'd see you some more, vat vos der tifference!"
Slam! The door went to solidly. Bang! The bar went against it, being held in position by heavy cleats on both door and floor.
"Holdt der vort!" rasped Solomon, with great satisfaction. "Dot was very well tone. I didn't vant dose beople comin' und drampin' all ofer mine goots. Id vould haf ruint me."
The mob beat against the door, howling with baffled rage.
"Thot wur a narrow escape, Frankie, me b'y!" said Barney.
"That's what it was," admitted Frank, who realized that his chance for life would have been less than one in a thousand if the crowd had burst into the room.
"Vell, I don'd sharge nodding vor dat, uf you puy a goot pill uf goots vrom me," said the Jew.
"The window!" came from Professor Scotch. "They are about to come through the window!"
Crash! Jingle! Jangle! The window was smashed, and the mob was seen swarming toward it.
Suddenly, Solomon Rosenbum sprang toward the opening, a revolver in his hand.
"Holdt on, mine friendts!" he cried, waving the weapon. "Uf anypody dried to get in py dis vindow, he vill ged shot, vid der accent on der shot!"
"Begobs, thot is roight!" shouted Barney Mulloy, as he suddenly produced a "gun," and took his place at Solomon's side. "Kape off, me jools, av ye want ter kape whole skins!"
The mob hesitated. Thus it had been baffled at every turn, and the mad heat of the moment was beginning to subside. Still, it could be aroused again in a twinkling.
Hank Kildare alone could not have protected his prisoner from the crowd, but he had done all one man could possibly do. Now, of a sudden, he retreated into the station, closing and bolting the door.
"That," he said, with a breath of satisfaction, "so fur, everything is all right. An' now it is ter see ef——"
He was interrupted by pistol shots outside, and bullets began whistling in at the broken window.
With an exclamation of anger, the fearless sheriff flung his massive body into the window, roaring:
"Hold up thar, you critters! Don't you know anything a tall? Thar is ladies in hyar, an' yer might shoot 'em ef yer keep flingin' lead round so promiscuous like!"
"We want Black Harry!" yelled a voice.
"Wa-al, ye'll hev ter want!" returned the sheriff. "You galoots know me purty well, an' ye know I ain't in ther habit o' talkin' crooked. I tells yer right yar an' now thet ye can't hev Black Harry. I offered ther reward fer ther critter, an' I'm goin' ter hold him, you bet! He'll be lodged in jail, ur Canadian County will be minus a sheriff!"
It was plain that his words impressed them, but they were reluctant to give over the hope of lynching the boy prisoner.
"Look yere, Kildare," said a thin, wiry, iron-jawed man, who wore a huge sombrero and leather breeches, "I'm Bill Buckhorn, o' 'Rapahoe, an' thet's a place whar we don't 'low no critter like this yere Black Harry ter go waltzin' round more then sixteen brief second by ther clock. We ketches such cusses, an' then we takes 'em out an' shows 'em how ter do a jog on empty air. Over in 'Rapahoe we allows thet thar is ther way ter dispose o' sech cases, and I'm ready ter show you people o' Elreno ther purtiest way ter tie a runnin' knot in a hemp necktie. Whatever is ther use o' foolin' around an' dallyin' with ther law when it's right easy ter git rid o' critters like this yere Black Harry without no trouble a tall, an' make things lively in ther town at ther same time? Pass him out, sheriff, an' I'll agree not ter do ye ary bit o' damage!"
"Wa-al, you are kind!" returned Kildare, contemptuously. "You're mighty kind, an' I allows thet I 'preciates it. I reckons you galoots over in thet forsaken, 'way-back, never-heard-of hole called 'Rapahoe sets yerselves up fer a law unto ther rest o' Oklahoma an' all other parts o' creation! You allows thar don't nobody else but you critters know what is right an' proper, an' so you has ther cheek ter come over hyar an' tell us what ter do! You even offers ter show me how ter tie a runnin' knot in a rope, an' I will admit thet I've tied more knots o' thet kind then you ever heard of! Take my advice, my gentle stranger frum 'Rapahoe, an' go get right off ther earth, afore something happens ter yer which yer won't like none whatever!"
This bit of sarcasm was appreciated by the assembled citizens of Elreno, and they raised a howl at Bill Buckhorn, scores of voices hurling derisive epithets at the lank stranger.
Buckhorn grew intensely angry, and he howled:
"You galoots make me sick! You're short on fer hawse sense, an' thet's plain enough!"
"Take a tumble!"
"All right! All right!" cried the man from 'Rapahoe, waving his hands, each of which clutched a huge revolver. "You kin run yer blamed old town ter suit yerselves, an' I allows thet Black Harry fools yer all an' gits erway! I hopes he does, an' I draws out o' this yere game right now."
He thrust his revolvers into leather holsters made to receive them, and strode away, forcing a passage through the crowd, and pretending not to hear the derisive epithets hurled at him.
Hank Kildare smiled, with grim satisfaction.
"Thet wuz ther best thing could hev happened," he muttered. "It took their 'tention erway fer a minute, an' now it's likely I kin talk them inter reason."
He tried it, without delay. He urged them to disperse, promising that Black Harry should be lodged in Elreno jail, and properly tried for his life.
"This yar lynchin' is bad business," concluded the sheriff. "I will allow thet I hev taken a hand in more than one lynchin' party, but I'm derned 'shamed o' it. Law is law, an' no gang o' human critters has a right ter take ther law in their han's. I hev swore never ter let one o' my prisoners be lynched, ef I kin help it, an' I'll set 'em free, an' furnish 'em with guns ter fight fer their lives, afore I'll see 'em strung up by a mob. At ther same time, I'd ruther be shot then forced ter do such a thing."
Kildare was so well known that every one who heard him felt sure he was not "talking wind," that being something he never did.
There was muttering in the crowd. The worst passions of the mob had been aroused, and now it hated to be robbed of its prey.
"Hank Kildare means whatever he says," declared more than one. "He'll fight ter hold Black Harry."
Some cursed Kildare, and that aroused the anger of the sheriff's friends, so it seemed at one time as if the mob would fall into a pitched battle among themselves.
"Let 'em fight," muttered the giant, who still held the broken window. "Ef they git at it, I'll find some way ter slip 'em and put my man inter ther jail."
But they did not fight. Kildare called on them to disperse, and a few went away; but a great crowd lingered in sullen silence outside the station, waiting and watching.
"They want ter git another look at Black Harry," muttered the sheriff, knitting his brows. "Ef they do thet, they're likely ter break loose again, like a lot o' wild tigers. How kin I make 'em disperse, so I kin kerry him ter ther jail?"
"I will appeal to them," said a musical voice at his elbow.
He turned, and saw Lona Dawson there.
"Yes. It is possible they will listen to me."
"They mought. I'd clean forgot you wuz hyar. Go ahead an' try yer luck, little one."
He stepped aside, and she appeared in the window. The moment she was seen, all muttering ceased in the crowd, and every one gave her attention.
"Gentlemen," she began, speaking clearly and loud enough for all to hear, "you must confess that I have as much interest as any one here in seeing this youthful ruffian brought to justice. I do not wish to see him lynched, but I wish him to receive such punishment as the law may give him."
"Ther law is slow!" cried a voice.
"An' it often fails!" came from another direction.
"In this case there is no reason why it should fail, for there is proof enough to convict Black Harry. It will not fail."
"He may escape from jail."
"That is not likely. Now, for my sake, I ask you all to disperse—to allow the officers to take Black Harry to jail. If you do not disperse, I shall remain here, and I will protect the prisoner with my own body and my life, for I am determined that he shall be legally tried and properly punished."
There was a moment of silence, and then a voice shouted:
"Thar's stuff fer yer, pards! Ther leetle gal has clean grit, an' I'm fer doin' as she asks. Who's with me?"
"I am!" a hundred voices seemed to roar.
"Then come on. Good-by, leetle gal; we're goin'."
Every head was bared, and the crowd began to disperse with swiftness, so that, in a very few minutes, all had departed.
Then came the deputy sheriffs, with horses, and arrangements for conveying the prisoner to the jail were swiftly completed.
Frank had advised the professor and Barney not to be too outspoken, for fear they might also be arrested. He advised them to keep quiet, but to work for him to the best of their ability, and lose no time.
A handshake, a hurried parting, and the boy was borne away to jail.
SOLOMON SHOWS HIS NERVE.
The jail at Elreno was a wooden building, hastily constructed in the feverish days of the early boom, with many weak points and few strong ones.
Not for long were prisoners confined there, as "justice" in the new Territory moved swiftly, and an arrest was quickly followed by a trial.
Hank Kildare and the guard moved swiftly with their prisoner, avoiding the most public streets, and taking the boy to the jail by a roundabout way.
It was well they did so, for, although the mob had dispersed, at the request of Miss Dawson, the street along which it was believed the sheriff would take Black Harry was thronged with citizens eager to get a square look at the boy outlaw, who had become famous within ten days.
It is possible that Frank might have been taken along that street without trouble, but it is much more likely that the sight of him would have aroused the mob once more, and brought about another attempt at lynching.
In fact, Bill Buckhorn, the man from 'Rapahoe, had gathered an interested knot of tough-looking citizens about him, and he was dilating on the "double derned foolishness" of wasting time over a person like Black Harry by taking him to jail and giving him a trial.
"Over in 'Rapahoe we hang 'em first an' try 'em arterward," boastingly declared the man in leather breeches. "We find that thar is ther simplest way o' doin' business. Ef we makes a mistake, an' gits ther wrong galoot, nobody ever kicks up much o' a row over it, fer we're naterally lively over thar, an' we must hev somethin' ter 'muse us 'bout so often.
"Now, ef we hed ketched this yere Black Harry—wa'al, say! Great cats! Does any critter hyar suspect thar'd been any monkey business with thet thar young gent? Wa'al, thar wouldn't—none whatever. Ef we couldn't found a tree handy, we'd hanged him ter ther corner o' a buildin', ur any old thing high enough ter keep his feet up off ther dirt.
"Hyar in Elreno, ye'll take ther varmint ter jail, an' it's ten ter one he'll break out afore twenty-four hours, arter which he'll thumb his nasal protuberance at yer, an' go cayvortin' 'round after ther same old style, seekin' whomsoever he kin sock a bullet inter. Then you'll hate yerself, an' wish ye'd tooken my advice ter hang ther whelp, sheriff or no sheriff. You hear me chirp!"
There were others who thought the same, and it was hinted that Hank Kildare might not be able to take his prisoner to the jail, after all.
Burchel Jones, the private detective, was in the crowd, and he hustled about, loudly proclaiming that he was the man who captured Black Harry. Bill Buckhorn heard him, stopped him, looked him over searchingly.
"Look hyar!" cried the man from 'Rapahoe. "Is it a straight trail ye're layin' fer us?"
"What do you mean by that?" asked the man with the foxy face, in a puzzled way.
"Dern a tenderfoot thet can't understand plain United States!" snorted Buckhorn. "Ther same is most disgustin', so says I! Ye've got ter talk like a Sunday-school sharp, ur else ther onery critters don't hitch ter yer meanin'. Wat I wants ter know, tenderfoot, is ef yer tells ther truth w'en yer says yer roped Black Harry."
Jones stiffened up, assuming an air of injured dignity.
"The truth! Why, I can't tell anything but the truth! It's an insult to hint that I tell anything but the truth!"
"W'at relation be you ter George?"
"Sir, this attempt at frivolity is unseemly! Why should it seem remarkable for me to capture Black Harry?"
"Ef a galoot with his reputation let an onery tenderfoot like you rope him, it brings him down in my estimation complete!"
"I took him by surprise. I clapped a loaded revolver to his head, and he could do nothing but put up his hands."
"Wa'al, you might ram a loaded cannon up ag'in my head, an' then I'd shoot yer six times afore you could pull ther trigger," boasted Buckhorn. "Black Harry ain't got no license ter live arter this, an' I thinks it's ther duty o' ther citizens o' this yere town ter git tergether an' put him out o' his misery."
"That ith wight," drawled a voice that seemed to give the man from 'Rapahoe an electric shock. "The w'etch ith verwy dangerwous, and I weally hope you will hang him wight away, don't yer know. It ith dweadful to think that the cwecher might get away and stop a twain that I wath on, and wob me of awl my money—it ith thimply dweadful!"
"Great cats!" howled Buckhorn, staring in amazement at the speaker. "Is thar ary galoot hyar kin name thet critter?"
"Uf anypody vill name id, I vill gif id do 'em!" cried a nasal voice, and Solomon Rosenbum, with his pack, newly bound up, was seen on the edge of the crowd, having just arrived.
"My name, thir, ith Cholly Gwayson De Smythe," haughtily declared the dude. "I do not apweciate youah inthulting manner, thir. I demand an apology, thir!"
"Apology!" howled Buckhorn, looking savage. "Of me?"
"Ye-ye-yeth, thir," faltered Cholly, shivering.
"Wa'al, I'll be derned!"
"Do you apologize, thir?"
"Ter a thing like you? No!"
"Thee you lataw, thir."
And the dude took to his heels, breaking from the crowd and running for dear life, literally tearing up the dust of the street in his frantic effort to get away in a hurry.
"Haw!" snorted Bill Buckhorn. "See ther varmint go! I reckon I'll hurry him up jest a little!"
Then the man from 'Rapahoe jerked out a big revolver, and sent three or four bullets whistling past Cholly's ears, nearly frightening the poor fellow out of his clothes.
Buckhorn supplied the revolver with fresh cartridges, at the same time observing:
"Over in 'Rapahoe such a derned freak as thet thar would be a reg'ler snap fer ther boys. They'd hev more fun with him then a funeral. Somehow, this yere place seems dead slow, an' it makes me long ter go back whar thar is a little sport now an' then."
"Vell," said the Jew, with apparent honesty, "v'y don'd you go pack? Maype uf you sdop a vile, you don'd pe aple to do dat."
"Haw? What do you mean, Moses?"
"My name vas nod Moses."
"Wa'al, it oughter be, an' so I'll call yeh thet."
"All righd, Mouth; led her go."
"Wat's thet?" shouted Buckhorn, surprised. "Whatever did you call me jest then, I want ter know."
"Dat vas righd."
"Thet ain't my name."
"Vell, id oughter peen; your mouth vas der piggest bart uf you."
Buckhorn literally staggered. He looked as if he doubted his ears had heard correctly, and then, noting that the crowd was beginning to laugh, he leaped into the air, cracking his heels together, and roaring:
"Whoop! Thet settles you, Moses! You'll hev a chance ter attend your own funeral ter-morre!"
The Jew quietly put down his pack, spat on his hands, and said:
"Shust come und see me, mine friendt, und I vill profe dat your mouth vas der piggest bart uf you."
"I ain't goin' ter touch yer with my hands," declared the man from 'Rapahoe, once more producing the long-barreled revolver; "but I'll shoot yer so full o' holes thet ye'll serve fer a milk-skimmer! Git down on yer marrerbones an' pray!"
"Look here, mine friendt," calmly said the Jew, as the crowd began to scatter to get out of the way of stray bullets, "uf you shood ad me, id vill profe dat you vas a plowhardt und a cowart. Uf you shood ad me, der beople uf dis blace vill haf a goot excuse to holdt a lynchings."
"Wa'al, I'm good fer this hull derned county! This town is too slow ter skeer me any ter mention. Git down!"
"Uf I don'd do dat?"
"I'll shoot yer legs out from under yer clean up ter ther knees!"
"Vell, then, I subbose I vill haf to—do this!" Solomon had seemed on the point of kneeling, but, instead of doing so, he ducked, leaped in swiftly beneath the leveled revolver, caught Buckhorn by the wrist, and wrenched the weapon from his hand, flinging it aside with the remark:
"I don'd vant to peen shot alretty, und, if you try dat again, you vill ged hurt pad, vid der accent on der pad!"
Buckhorn seemed to be stupefied, and then, uttering another roar, he lunged at the Jew, trying to grapple Solomon with his hands.
"I'll squeeze ther life out of yer!" snarled the ruffian.
"Oxcuse me uf I don'd lofe you vell enough to led you done that," said the Jew, nimbly skipping aside. "Your nose shows you vas a greadt trinker; shust dry my electric punch."
Crack! The knuckles of the Jew struck under the ear of the man from 'Rapahoe. It was a beautiful blow, and Buckhorn was knocked over in a twinkling, striking heavily on his shoulder in the dust of the street.
The fall seemed to stun the man in leather breeches, but he soon sat up, and then, seeing Solomon waiting for him to rise, he asked:
"Whar is it?"
"Vere vas vat?"
"Ther club you struck me with."
"Righd here," said the Jew, holding up his clinched hand.
"Haw! Ye don't mean ter say you didn't hit me with a club, or something like a hunk o' quartz?"
"Dat vas der ding vat I hit you vid, mine friendt. Shust ged up, und I vill profe id py hitting you again."
"I don't allow thet I'm as well as I might be, an' I ain't spoiling' fer trouble none whatever. I'm onter you. You're a perfessional pugilist in disguise. If you'll let me git up, I'll go right away and let you alone."
"Vell, ged up."
"You won't hit me when I do so?"
"Nod if you don'd tried some funny pusiness."
Buckhorn struggled to his feet, keeping a suspicious eye on Solomon all the while. He then picked up his revolver, but made no offer to use it, for the Jew was watching every movement, and he noted that Solomon had one hand in his pocket.
"A critter thet knows tricks like he does, might be able ter shoot 'thout drawin'," muttered the man from 'Rapahoe. "I don't allow it'd be healthy ter try a snap shot at him."
A roar of laughter broke from the spectators, as they saw the ruffian put the revolver back into its holster, and turn away, like a whipped puppy.
"Hayar, you mighty chief from 'Rapahoe," shouted a voice, "do yer find this yar town so dead slow as yer did? Don't yer 'low yer'd best go back ter 'Rapahoe, an' stay thar? Next time, we'll set ther dude tenderfoot on yer, an' he'll everlastin'ly chaw yer up!"
"How low hev ther mighty fallen!" murmured Buckhorn, as he continued to walk away.
Great was the disgust of the crowd when it was found that Hank Kildare had taken his prisoner to jail without passing along the main street of the town. It was declared a mean trick on Hank's part, and some excited fellows were for resenting it by breaking into the jail at once and bringing the boy out and "hangin' him up whar everybody could see him."
The ones who made this kind of talk had been "looking on the bug-juice when it was red," and they finally contented themselves by growling and taking another look.
In the meantime, Frank found himself confined in a cell, and he began to realize that he was in a very bad scrape.
Throughout all the excitement at the railroad station, he had remained cool and collected, but now, when he came to think the matter over, his anger rose swiftly, and he felt that the whole business was most outrageous.
Still, when he remembered everything, he did not wonder that the mob had longed to lynch him.
Black Harry was a youthful desperado of the worst sort. He had devastated, plundered, robbed, and murdered in a most infamous manner, his last act being the shooting of Robert Dawson, the Eastern banker.
And Lona Dawson, the banker's daughter, had looked straight into our hero's face and declared that he was Black Harry!
"It is a horrible mistake!" cried Frank, as he paced the cell into which he had been thrust. "She believed she spoke the truth. This young outlaw must resemble me. I cannot blame her."
The manacles chafed his wrists.
"Are they going to leave those things on me, now that they have me safe in jail?" he cried.
His door opened into the corridor, and he called to the guard, asking that the irons might be removed.
"I believe Hank has gone fer ther key," said the guard "He didn't take it from ther detective what put them irons on yer."
"Will they be removed when he returns with the key?"
"Then I hope he will hurry. I am tired of carrying the things."
He turned back, to pace the cell once more.
"This is a flimsily-constructed building," he said. "It would be an easy thing to break in here and drag a prisoner out. I escaped death at the hands of the mob because I had friends at hand to fight for me, and because Hank Kildare is utterly fearless, and was determined to bring me here. But the whole town may become aroused, and to-night—— What if Robert Dawson should die!"
The thought fairly staggered him, for he knew the death of the wounded banker would again inflame the passions of the citizens, and a night raid might be made on the jail.
"They would stand a good show of forcing their way in here, and then it would be all up with me."
It was a terrible thing to stand in peril of such a death. Frank felt that he could not die thus; he would live to clear his honor.
But what could he do? He was helpless, and he could not fight for himself. Must he remain impassive, and let events go on as they might?
"I do not believe fortune has deserted me," he whispered. "I shall be given a chance to fight for myself."
It seemed long hours before the sheriff appeared, accompanied by Burchel Jones, the foxy-faced private detective.
"Has he been disarmed?" cautiously asked Jones, as he peered at the boy through the grating in the door.
"Yep," replied Kildare, shortly. "Do you think I'm in ther habit o' monkeying with ther prisoners yar?"
"H'm! Ha! No, no—of course not! But, you see, this fellow is dangerous—very dangerous. He is not to be trusted."
"Wa'al, he's been mild as milk sense he fell inter my hands."
"Trickery, my dear sir—base trickery! By the time you have handled so many desperate criminals as I have, you will see through them like glass."
"Now," continued Jones, with the wisdom of an old owl, "mark the curl of his lip, and the bold, defiant stare of the eye. Mark the covert smile on that face, as if he were really laughing at us now. All those things are significant—mighty significant. You do not dream of the treachery hidden beneath that boyish exterior; but I, sir, can see by his eye that he had rather cut a throat than eat a square meal. The peculiar shape of his lips denote blood-thirstiness, and his nose, which seems rather finely formed to the casual observer, is the nose of a person utterly without conscience. His forehead indicates a certain order of intelligence, but this simply makes him all the more dangerous. He has brain power and force, and that explains why he has succeeded in becoming a leader of desperadoes. That chin is a hard, cruel feature, while the shape of his ears indicates an utter disregard for anything sweet and harmonious of sound, like music. That is an ear which finds more music in the shrieks of murdered victims than in anything else."
Frank literally staggered.
"Great Scott!" he gasped. "I never before dreamed that I was such a villainous-looking creature!"
Kildare began fitting a key to the lock of the door.
"Are you sure he is disarmed?" asked the private detective.
"Well, you are at liberty to do as you like, but I should not remove those irons. It would be far better to keep them on him."
"Well, you see—that is—hum!—ha!—such a creature cannot be held too fast. There is no telling what he is liable to do."
Kildare gave a grunt of disgust, entered the cell, and removed the manacles from Frank's wrists.
"Thank you," said the boy, gratefully. "They were beginning to get irksome. I am glad to get them off."
"Ther man what calls hisself Professor Scotch has dispatched East fer yer," said the sheriff. "He sw'ars thar has been a mistake made, an' he kin prove you are what ye claim, an' not Black Harry at all."
"That can be easily proven," smiled Frank. "All we want is a little time."
"Trickery! Trickery!" cried Jones from the corridor. "They will do their best to get his neck out of the noose; but he is Black Harry, and I shall receive the reward for his capture."
"You'll receive it when it is proved thet he is Black Harry, so don't yer worry," growled Kildare, who had taken a strong dislike to the foxy-faced detective.
"He has been identified by Miss Dawson; that is proof enough."
To this Kildare said nothing; but he spoke again to the boy:
"Make yerself as easy as yer kin, an' be shore ye'll hev a fair show from Hank Kildare. Thar's talk in town about lynchin', but they don't take yer out o' hyar so long as I kin handle a shootin' iron. I'm goin' ter stay hyar ter-night, an' I'll be reddy fer 'em ef they come."
"Thank you again," said Frank, sincerely. "All I ask is a square deal and a fair show. I know it looks black against me just now, but I'll clear my honor."
Burchel Jones laughed, sneeringly.
Kildare said nothing more, but left the cell, locking the door behind him.
At noon Frank was brought an assortment of food that made his eye bulge. He asked if that was the regular fare in the jail, and was told it had been sent in by his friends.
"The professor and Barney, God bless them! I wonder why they have left me alone so long? But I know they are working for me."
It was late in the afternoon when Barney appeared, and was admitted to the cell. The Irish lad gave Frank's hand a warm squeeze, and cried:
"It's Satan's own scrape, me lad; but we'll get ye out av it if th' spalpanes will let yez alone ter-noight. Av they joomp yez, we'll be here ter foight ter ther last gasp."
"I know you will, Barney!" said Frank, with deep feeling. "You are my friend through thick and thin. But, say, do you think there is much danger of lynchers to-night?"
"Av Mishter Dawson dies, there will be danger enough, and, at last reports it wur said he could not live more than two ur thray hours."
When Barney returned to the hotel he found Professor Scotch in a very agitated and anxious mood.
"This is terrible—terrible!" fluttered the little man, wringing his hands. "How can we save him?"
"Phwat has happened now, profissor?" asked Barney, anxiously.
"I have received no reply to my telegrams."
"Kape aisy; the reploies may come lather on."
"And they may not till it is too late. I leaned out of the window a short time ago, and I heard a crowd talking in the street below. That horrible ruffian, Bill Buckhorn, was with them, and he was telling them how to make an attack on the jail. Some of the crowd laughed, and said Hank Kildare had been very slick about getting his prisoner under cover, but he would not be able to keep him long after night came."
"Av they make an attack on th' jail, it's oursilves as should be theer to foight fer Frankie," said the Irish lad, seriously.
"Fight!" roared Scotch, in his big, hoarse voice. "Why, I can't fight, and you know it! I can't fight so much as an old woman! I am too nervous—too excitable."
"Arrah! Oi think we have fergot how ye cowed Colonel La Salle Vallier, th' champion foire-ater av New Orleans."
"No, I have not forgotten that; but I was mad, aroused, excited at the time—I had completely forgotten myself."
"Forget yersilf now, profissor."
"I can't! I can't! It's no use! I would be in the way if I went to the jail. I shall stay away."
The professor was an exceedingly timid man, as Barney very well knew, so he did not add to his agitation by telling him that, while returning from the jail, he had heard it hinted that the boy prisoner had two friends in the hotel who might be treated to a "dose of hemp necktie."
The professor, however, suspected the truth, and he kept in his room. Danger could not keep Barney there, and, having reported the result of his conversation with Frank, he went out to learn what was going on.
Two persons very much in evidence since the arrival of the train were the Jew and the dude. The Jew had a way of insinuating himself into the midst of any little knot that was gathered aside from the general throng, and, if they were speaking guardedly, he seemed sure to hear what they were saying and enter into the conversation. As a rule, this was not what would be called a "healthy" thing to do in such a place and on such an occasion; but the report of Solomon's encounter with Bill Buckhorn, the Man from 'Rapahoe, had been circulated freely, and the Jew was tolerated for what he had done.
While he appeared very curious to hear anything that seemed like private conversation, the Jew did not neglect any opportunity to transact business, and he made so many trades during the day that the size of his pack materially decreased.
The dude seemed scarcely less curious than the Jew. He had a way of listening with his eyes and mouth wide open, but he lost no time in getting out of the way if ordered to do so. For all of his curiosity, he seemed very timid.
The day passed, and night came. Still Professor Scotch had received no answers to his telegrams.
Shortly after nine o'clock that evening, the report spread rapidly that Robert Dawson, the Eastern banker, was dead.
Immediately there was a swift and silent stirring of men—a significant movement.
"Thot manes throuble!" was Barney Mulloy's mental exclamation. "Th' sheriff should know av it."
The Irish lad believed that he was watched, but he hurried to the professor's room, telling him to lock the door and keep within till the storm was over, and then he slipped out of the hotel.
Barney did not hurry toward the jail at once, but he took a roundabout course, dodging and doubling, to bother any one who might attempt to follow him.
Finally, having doubled on his own course, he struck out for the jail.
There was a moon, but it was obscured at times by drifting clouds, something rather unusual in that part of the country for a night that was not stormy, and did not threaten to become so.
Coming suddenly to the main street of the town, which led straight from the hotel to the jail, Barney paused and listened.
He heard a sound that caused his heart to beat faster, while he held his breath and strained his ears.
Tramp! tramp! tramp! It was the swift and steady rush of many feet.
There was no sound of voices, but the crouching boy knew a body of men was approaching.
Barney drew back, concealing himself as well as he could, and waited.
Nearer and nearer came the sound.
A cloud passed from the face of the moon, and then the watching boy saw a band of men rushing swiftly past his place of concealment.
The men were masked, and all were armed.
They were moving straight toward the jail.
"Th' lynchers!" panted Barney. "They are afther Frankie! Oi must get to th' joail ahead av thim!"
He ran back along the side street till he came to another that led in the same direction as the one along which the mob was rushing. Turning toward the jail, he ran as he had never ran before in all his life.
On the front door of the jail was a push-button that connected by a wire with a gong within the building. A push on that button set the gong to clamoring loudly.
"Wa'al, what's thet mean?" growled Hank Kildare, as he leaped up from the couch on which he had been reclining lazily. "What derned fool is punchin' away at thet thar button like he hed gone clean daft! Hyar ther critter ring!"
Kildare looked at his revolvers, then picked up a short-barreled shotgun, and went out into the corridor that led to the door. Reaching the door, he shot open a small panel and shouted:
"Whatever do yer think ye're doin' out thar? Will yer stop thet thar racket, ur shall I guv yer a dost out o' this yar gun!"
"Mr. Kildare, is thot yersilf?" panted a voice, which the sheriff had heard before, and which he immediately recognized.
"Wa'al, 'tain't nobody else."
"Will yes be afther lettin' me in?"
"What's ther matter?"
"Th' lynchers are comin'!"
Kildare peered out, and the moon, which did not happen to be hidden at that moment, showed him the boy who stood alone at the door.
Clank, clank, clank!—the sheriff shot back the bolts which held the door, open it swung a bit, out shot his arm, and his fingers closed on Barney Mulloy's shoulder.
Snap—the boy was jerked into the jail. Slam—the door closed, and the bolts shot back into place.
"Howly shmoke!" gasped Barney. "Is it all togither Oi am, ur be Oi in paces?"
"Ye're hyar," came in a growl from the sheriff's throat. "Now tell me w'at yer mean by wakin' me an' kickin' up all this yar row."
"Th' lynchers are comin'."
"How do yer know?"
"Oi saw thim. Less than thray minutes ago."
"Back a short pace."
"How many of them?"
"I didn't count, but it's a clane hundred, sure."
Kildare asked Barney several more questions, and he was satisfied that the boy spoke the truth.
The deputy sheriff had slept in the jail that night, and, together with the guard, he was now at hand.
"Look out fer this yar boy," directed Kildare. "One o' yer git ther hose ready. I'm goin' ter try my new arrangement fer repellin' an attack."
He rushed away.
The deputy sheriff, whose name was Gilson, opened a small square door in the wall of the corridor, and dragged forth a coil of hose.
"Pwhat are ye goin' ter do with thot?" asked Barney, in surprise.
"Wait, an' ye'll see," was the reply.
Then the deputy spoke to the guard.
"Tyler, be ready ter let ther prisoner loose if the mob breaks in an' gits past me. You kin tell by watchin'. You know it's Hank's order thet ther cell be opened an' ther poor feller give a chance ter fight fer his life."
"Where is he?" palpitated Barney. "Oi'll shtand by him till he doies!"
"Ye kin do better by stayin' hyar," declared the deputy. "Ye may be needed."
Bang! bang! bang!
The lynchers had arrived, and they were hammering on the door. The gong began to clang wildly.
"Open this door!"
"Why don't Hank turn on ther water up above?" came anxiously from the lips of the deputy. "Kin it be thet his tank on ther roof has leaked dry? Ef so, his new scheme fer repellin' an attackin' party won't work very well."
"Open this door!" shouted a commanding voice outside.
The deputy sprang to the small panel and flung it open.
"What d'yer want yere?" he demanded.
"We want to come in," was the answer.
"Wa'al, yer can't."
"We'll agree to stay out on one condition. If you will pass out something, we'll agree not to break in."
"What's ther something?"
"I reckoned so."
"Will you give him up?"
"Then we shall break down the door, and I warn you that it will be very unfortunate if any of us is injured. It might bring about the lynching of other parties besides Black Harry."
"Wa'al, I warn yer ter keep away from yere. We're goin' ter defend ther prisoner regardless, an' somebody's bound ter git hurt."
"For the last time, will you open?"
"Down with the door!"
Crash! crash!—the assault on the door began.
THE ASSAULT ON THE JAIL.
"Why don't Hank put on ther water?" groaned the deputy sheriff. "Et'll be too late in a minute!"
Crash! crash! The assailants were using a heavy battering ram, and the door was beginning to give.
"Oi'm afraid it's all up with poor Frankie!" gasped Barney.
A wild yell came from the mad mob at the door.
"Death to Black Harry!"
Bang—splinter—crash! The door was breaking, and the battering-ram was being driven against it with renewed force.
There was one last great shock, and down went the door before the assault.
"No water yet!" cried Gilson. "Now it is too late!"
He flung down the hose, taking to his heels before the gang of masked men that swarmed into the doorway.
Barney Mulloy heard a hissing noise, and then he leaped forward and caught up the nozzle of the hose. He turned the large stop-cock, and a bar of water shot out, striking the leader of the lynchers in the neck, and hurling him, gasping and stunned, back into the arms of those behind.
"Hurro!" trumpeted the Irish lad, in delight, his blood aroused. "Come on, an' git washed off th' face av th' earth!"
This method of defense proved unpleasantly surprising to the attacking party. The stream of water swept men off their feet and flung them, half-drowned, back from the doorway into the night. In less than half a minute Barney had cleared the doorway.
"Hurro!" he shouted, once more. "This is th' kind av sport! We'll howld th' fort till th' last drop av warther is gone!"
There was a lull, and Hank Kildare came panting to the side of the lad with the hose. When he saw the broken door an exclamation of dismay came from the lips of the sheriff.
"Something wuz ther matter, so I couldn't turn ther water on," he said. "An' now they've got ther door down!"
"But Oi bate 'em off!" shouted the Irish lad, triumphantly.
"They'll come in when ther water fails."
Barney had not thought of that, and his feeling of triumph turned to anxiety and dismay.
"Pwhat kin we do?"
"Where is Gilson?"
"Th' spalpane run whin the dure wur broke."
"We might fight, but what if we did shoot down a few o' ther critters? It w'u'dn't stop 'em, an' we'd hev killed somebody. Stay hyar—hold 'em back long as yer kin."
"Pwhat are ye goin' ter do?"
"Git ther prisoner up onter ther roof. Mebbe we kin hold 'em back from gittin' up thar."
"All roight. Oi'll do me bist here."
Kildare ran back along the corridor and disappeared.
Of a sudden rocks began to whistle about Barney's head, and then one struck him, knocking him down. The nozzle of the hose fell from his hands, and he lay prone and motionless on the floor.
Wild yells of savage delight broke from the mob.
Then, with a clatter of hoofs, a band of masked horsemen came tearing down the street, whirled into the open space before the jail, and began shooting into the mob. The horsemen were dressed in black, and every man was masked.
"It's Black Harry's Braves!" screamed a voice that was full of fear.
Twenty voices took up the cry, and the mob, utterly demoralized, broke and ran in all directions.
Some of the masked horsemen sprang from their animals and dashed into the jail, springing over the prostrate body of the unconscious Irish lad.
Kildare was removing Frank from his cell when those masked men came upon them. In a moment the boy had been torn from the sheriff, and the men whirled him away.
Out of the jail rushed Black Harry's Braves, the boy was placed astride a horse, and away they went, with him in their midst.
Frank had believed them lynchers, and he thought them lynchers as they bore him away.
"It's all up with me," he mentally said.
But his hands were free, and he was watching for an opportunity to escape. He meant to make one more effort for life, if given an opportunity.
Through the town tore the wild horsemen, yelling like so many fiends, shooting to the right and left.
Out of Elreno they rode, and then the man on the right of Frank leaned toward the boy, saying:
"We came just in time, chief. If we'd been ten minutes later, the lynchers would have had you sure."
"The lynchers?" gasped the bewildered boy. "Why, you——"
"They had the door down when we reached the jail, but a dozen shots set them scattering."
"But—but—I don't understand."
"We didn't mean to strike before midnight, but Benson brought word that they were liable to lynch you, and so we lost no time in getting here. We rode twenty miles like we were racing with an express train. You must allow we did a good job this time, chief."
"Chief? Why I——"
Frank stopped short, choking the words back. At last he realized who these men were.
They were Black Harry's Braves, and they believed him to be Black Harry!
He reeled upon the horse he bestrode.
"What's the matter?" asked the man, quickly. "Are you hurt any way?"
The boy's voice was hoarse and unnatural.
"What can I do?" he thought. "How long will it be before they discover their mistake? I must keep up the deception, and I may find an opportunity to escape."
In a moment he had recovered his composure. As old readers know, Frank was a boy of nerve, and he began to feel very well satisfied with the situation.
"I have escaped lynching," he thought, "and these men believe me their leader. I am out of jail and now I shall be given a chance to fight for my life and honor. In order to prove my own innocence, I must capture Black Harry. This may lead me to the opportunity."
But for one thing his heart would have been filled with exultation. That one thing was the memory of Barney Mulloy, whom he had seen lying prone and motionless just within the broken door of the jail. Had they killed his faithful friend?
He feared the Irish lad had met death while trying to hold back the lynchers.
The outlaws did not seem to fear pursuit, and they slackened their pace somewhat as soon as they were out of town.
"Where shall we go, chief?" asked one.
Frank was at a loss to answer, for he knew that a slip might betray him, and he was determined to be on his guard all the time. His hesitation was observed, and the man said:
"I reckon it will be safe to return to Cade's Canyon for a while."
"I reckon so," said Frank. "We'll go there."
"I warned you that you would make a mistake if you ventured into Elreno," said the talkative outlaw, "but you were determined to have another look at that girl, and so you took chances. Girls have caused more trouble in this world than everything else combined."
"That's right," admitted Frank, who was wondering what girl the fellow meant.
"Did you see her?" asked the man, with a sly chuckle.
"Oh, yes, of course."
"Ha, ha! I like the way you say that, chief. No offense, but Benson said you saw her in the railway station as soon as you landed in Elreno."
Now Frank knew that Lona Dawson was meant.
"Yes," he said, "she was there, and she informed the public in general that she had seen me before."
"I don't suppose you will bother with her any more, and so we'll move on as soon as possible, and get out of this part of the country? It's getting right hot here."
"It is all of that," admitted Frank; "but I am not for running away, as if we were scared out."
"Well, you know our original plan."
Frank spoke as if he knew it well enough, but he was wondering what it could be. However, the man soon explained.
"We are to carry the expedition through into Indian Territory, and disband when the Arkansas line is reached. Then we can scatter and defy pursuit, and we can come together at Ochiltree, in the Panhandle, at the time set."
Frank felt like thanking the fellow for the information.
"That's right," nodded the boy, speaking carefully; "but this little affair has made me rather mad, and I don't feel like running away so very fast."
"Especially from the girl."
"Hang the girl!"
Frank felt that it would not do to allow the fellow to become so familiar.
"You didn't talk that way after seeing her last night. Why, you were sorry we didn't carry her off when we left the train."
"Oh, well, a fellow has a right to change his mind. I have seen her by daylight."
"And she didn't look so well?"
"Still, she is something of a daisy."
"She'll do; but I can't waste my time with her. There are others."
"Now you're beginning to talk right, chief. The boys felt a little doubtful of you when you went racing off after that girl, and they will be mightily relieved to know you have come to your senses."
Frank grunted, but spoke no word. During the entire ride, he talked as little as possible, but he kept his ears open.
IN CADE'S CANYON.
The moon had swung far down to the west when the outlaws entered Cade's Canyon amid the mountains and finally reached an old hut, where they halted.
"You must be rather pegged, chief," said one of the men, addressing Frank.
"Well, I am not feeling too frisky," said the boy. "I didn't sleep much in Elreno jail, for I wanted to be wideawake when the lynchers came."
The men had removed their masks, but their faces were shaded by wide-brimmed hats, and Frank was not able to study their features. However, he had heard the voices of several, and he felt sure he would not forget them.
He was not going to be in a hurry about escaping. There was plenty of time, and he was beginning to believe that he must be the perfect double of Black Harry, else why should these men be thus deceived?
He wondered if none of them would detect the difference when daylight came.
"If they do—well, I can't be worse off than I was in Elreno jail. I'll have weapons, and I can fight. I may be able to make it hot for them before they down me."
Frank was reckless, and he felt a strange delight in the adventure through which he was passing. Somehow, now that he had escaped being lynched, he believed he would be successful in bringing Black Harry to book and proving his own innocence.
Frank's first care was to obtain some revolvers, and he was soon in possession of a pair of fine weapons. With these loaded and ready to his hand, he breathed easier.
Of course he had no idea of sleeping, but he entered the hut and looked the place over.
Morning was not far away, and the time soon passed, while Frank pretended to sleep. At daybreak he was astir, and looking the place over.
The cabin was built in a strange spot, standing close to the verge of a chasm that opened down into the lower depths of the canyon, through which ran a stream of water.
Dan Cade, the man who had built the cabin there, was said to have been crazy. He had lived there years before the opening of Oklahoma to settlement, and had died there in that wild gorge. His only friends were the Indians, as he hated and mistrusted his own race.
It had often been remarked by those who passed through the canyon that no man in his right mind would have built a cabin in such a place. It looked as if the building was crouching on the verge of the chasm, preparing to spring headlong into the creek below.
Here the outlaws had camped.
Frank found a flight of stairs that led to the cabin loft. They were shaky, but he ascended to investigate.
There was a square door, shaped like a window, at the back end of the cabin, and this the boy opened. He thrust his head out, and found he was looking down the face of the bluff straight into the stream far below.
The light that shone into the loft revealed, to the boy's surprise and wonder, a coil of rope. He examined this, and found a stout clasp-hook at one end. The other end of the rope was made fast to a rafter.
For some time Frank wondered to what use old Cade had put the rope, but it came to him at last.
"With this he drew his water from the stream down there."
This seemed evident, as there was no other apparent means of procuring water.
The outlaws slept heavily, apparently fatigued by their exertions of the night. They had left sentinels in both directions, up and down the canyon, so that they could not be taken by surprise should they be followed by enemies.
The sun had not risen when Frank went forth into the morning air.
The horses were tethered near the cabin, and a half-blood Indian was watching them. As Frank approached, the half-blood peered out from beneath the blanket, which was drawn up over his head. The boy saw the fellow's beady eyes regarding him, and then the blanket was drawn closer, indicating that the Indian was satisfied.
Once more Frank thought that he must be the perfect counterpart of Black Harry, else he would arouse the suspicion of the fellow who owned those eyes.
Frank believed it would be an easy thing to mount one of the horses and ride away, as if he was going a short distance. He believed he could do so without being challenged or questioned, and the desire to attempt it was almost ungovernable.
Then came another thought.
Where could he go?
Surely he could not return to Elreno, for, now that he had been carried away by Black Harry's Braves, he was branded in that town as the youthful outlaw beyond the shadow of a doubt.
He did not know which way to turn, and the thought that his situation was most remarkable forced itself upon him. If he remained among the outlaws, they were liable to discover how they had been fooled, and that would make them furious. If he escaped and hastened to any of the nearby towns, it was pretty certain that he would be taken for Black Harry and lynched.
"This is a real jolly scrape!" thought the boy, ruefully. "What can I do?"
Well might he ask himself the question.
He walked a short distance down the canyon, and thought it over. The impulse was on him to get away as soon as possible, but his sober judgment told him that he would leap from the frying-pan into the fire.
Frank did not care to be lynched. He seemed helpless for the time. Although he longed to fight for his honor, he was unable to strike a blow.
The result of his walk was a determination to stay with the outlaws and keep up the deception as long as he could.
Black Harry himself must appear sooner or later, and Frank longed to see the young rascal whom he so much resembled.
Most boys would have improved the opportunity to get away, but Frank was not built of ordinary material, and it was like him to do the unexpected.
He strolled back to the cabin, seeming quite at his ease.
It was not far from sunrise, and the men began to stir. Several of them came out of the hut, and a fire was built.
Of a sudden, from far up the canyon, came the musical blast of a bugle, causing the outlaws to start and look at each other in surprise.
They listened, and it was repeated.
One of the men turned sharply on Frank, hoarsely crying:
"What does that mean?"
"I don't know," replied the boy, at the same time feeling for his revolvers, with the idea that there was trouble on hand.
"It is your signal!" burst from the man's lips. "And that means trickery! There is something wrong!"
"You're right!" cried several voices.
More of the braves came running out of the cabin, there was a hustling for arms, and the men prepared for trouble.
"My signal?" repeated Frank, to himself. "By that he must mean it is the signal of Black Harry! He is coming!"
Frank felt the blood tingling in his veins.
Black Harry was coming!
"Now," muttered Frank, "I shall have a chance to strike a blow for myself! Let Black Harry come on!"
BLACK HARRY APPEARS.
There was a clatter of hoofs, and a doubly burdened horse swept into view, bearing straight down upon the Braves, who were waiting as if ready to fight or take to flight.
The horse was foam-flecked, and it was plain he had been driven to the limit of his endurance.
The person who handled the reins was a youthful chap, and, as he came nearer, Frank gasped with surprise.
"Cholly Grayson De Smythe, the dude! Is it possible?"
In his arms, held upon the horse, was a bundle, like a human form, wrapped in a blanket.
The outlaws looked for a posse of armed men to follow the boyish horseman, but he was not followed, and he did not hesitate or turn back when he saw the party awaiting him.
Straight down upon them he rode, and Frank drew aside, shielding himself behind one of the men.
"It can't be possible!" muttered Frank. "It's ridiculous!"
Straight down upon the desperadoes rode the dude, seeming utterly fearless.
"Halt, thar!" cried one of the men, leveling a rifle at the young horseman. "Hold up, ur chaw lead!"
The youth gave a surge that flung the horse upon its haunches.
"Steady Bolivar!" his voice rang out. "Would you shoot me?"
"Who be you?"
"Don't you know me? Ha, ha, ha! Well, I do not wonder. I'll look different when I peel this mustache and wash off my make-up. I have her! See here, boys!"
The blanket was flung back, and the face of Lona Dawson, the banker's daughter, was revealed!
The girl was not unconscious, and she suddenly squirmed from the grasp of her captor, slipped from the horse, and ran into the midst of the outlaws, crying:
"Save me! Protect me!"
"Stop her, boys!" laughed the youth on the horse. "Don't let her get away. I've had trouble enough, and taken risk enough to get her."
"Wa-al, who be you?" roared one of the band.
"Who am I? Look here; do you know this sign?"
He made a swift motion with his hand, and nearly every man cried:
"The chief's sign! But you are not the chief! He is here with us! You are an impostor!"
"Am I? Look!"
He tore off a false wig, jerked away a false mustache, took a vial from his pocket, turned some of its contents in his hand, and seemed to sweep the make-up from his face.
The result was a wonderful transformation, and the face revealed was almost exactly like that of Frank Merriwell.
The men stared in bewildered astonishment.
"It is the chief!" gurgled one of them.
"Of course I am," laughed the unmasked youth. "You wasted your time in carrying off that other fellow who looks like me. Why didn't you leave him to be lynched? Then the fools would have thought they had put Black Harry out of the way."
"The other fellow?" repeated more than one of the men. "Who is the other fellow?"
"He is the fellow who looks like me," laughed Black Harry, for the new arrival was the boy chief of the marauders.
In the meantime, while this unmasking was taking place Frank had not been idle. He had longed to meet Black Harry face to face, but now he realized that his situation was perilous in the extreme. He must act at once.
But the sight of the captive girl and her appeal for aid had bestirred all the chivalry of his nature. He longed to do something to save her.
Swiftly moving near her, he suddenly caught her up, swung her over his shoulder, and, with her held thus, regardless of the shriek of terror that broke from her lips, he dashed straight for the open door of the hut.
Cries of amazement broke from the lips of the outlaws.
"There he goes!" shouted Black Harry. "That is the fellow who looks like me, and he has the girl! After him!"
The men leaped in pursuit.
Into the hut bounded Frank, and the door went to with a slam. The foremost man, who flung himself against it, found it had been fastened.
"Well, we have him fast," said Black Harry, easily. "He can't get away in a thousand years. We'll dig him out at our convenience."
The men now gathered round their boy chief, eager to hear his explanation. It was difficult for them to realize that they had been deceived—that the boy they rescued from the lynchers at Elreno jail was not their leader.
"I was not fool enough to go into Elreno without disguising myself," said Harry. "I knew I should be recognized if I did. I fixed myself up in the outfit I just threw off, and, with this English tourist rig and a sissy lisp, I succeeded in deceiving everybody.
"You may imagine how surprised I was when I saw this other fellow, who is nearly my perfect double. He took the train at Oklahoma City, and I sat directly behind him. I was there when the private detective, Burchel Jones, who fancies he is so shrewd, arrested him.
"If they had lynched him, I could have disappeared, and it would have been thought that Black Harry had gone up the flume. But you fellows thought that I was in the scrape, and you came round in time to save him.
"I watched my opportunity to scoop the girl, and I have brought her here, although I was hotly pursued for a time, and I did not know but I'd have to drop her and get away alone. I succeeded in fooling the pursuers, and I arrived here at last.
"My double and the girl for whom I have risked so much are in that hut. I propose to break down the door and go in."
A wild shout came from the men. They were furious to think they had been so wonderfully deceived.
"Down with the door!"
"Drag him out!"
With a hoarse roar of rage the Braves rushed toward the cabin, and flung themselves against the door, which went down with a crash, letting them into the hut.
A CHANCE IN A THOUSAND.
Frank, with his usual daring and gallantry, had resolved to make an effort to save the unfortunate girl—to rescue her from the clutch of Black Harry.
Having determined on such an attempt, he lost no time in catching her up and dashing into the hut with her in his arms.
Dropping her upon her feet, he whirled, slammed the door shut, found the wooden bar with which old Cade had made it fast, dropped the bar into its socket, and cried:
"Hurrah for us! This is the first step to freedom!"
Turning, he found the girl was leaning against the wall, staring at him in a wondering way, but without fear being expressed on her handsome face.