Buffalo Bill's saddle sharps; or, The pledged pards of the Pony Express

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Buffalo Bill's saddle sharps; or, The pledged pards of the Pony Express

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Title:
Buffalo Bill's saddle sharps; or, The pledged pards of the Pony Express
Series Title:
Buffalo Bill stories
Place of Publication:
New York
Publisher:
Street & Smith
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Language:
English
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1 online resource (31 p.) 28 cm.: ;

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Dime novels. ( rbgenr )
Western stories. ( lcsh )
Buffalo Bill -- Fiction -- 1846-1917 ( lcsh )
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serial ( sobekcm )

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University of South Florida
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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020846253 ( ALEPH )
436937421 ( OCLC )
B14-00014 ( USFLDC DOI )
b14.14 ( USFLDC Handle )

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@ 0 0 The_Onfj1 PubficafioJ1 wrthorged by tf1e issued Weekly By Subscription $2.50 per year. Entered as .Second Class ii/alte r at Ne-& York Post O(jice by STREET & SMITH, 238 l Vi'lliam St., J V Y No. J4. Price, Five Cents. "HANDS UP, BLACK PHANTOM!" SAID BlH'FALO BILL.

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Issou:d Weekly. By Subscription $a.so per year. Entered as Second Class Malter at till! N. Y. Post Offiu, hy STREET & SMITH, 238 W17/iam St., N. Y. Entered accordin;r to Act of Cong-ress in the year JQOJ, i n the Office of the Librarian of Cong-ress, Was/1irtg1on, ]). C No. H. NEW YORK, August 17, 1901. Price Five Cents. BUFFALO BILL'S SADDLE SHARPS OR, The Pled.ged Pards of the Pony Express. By the author of "BUFFALO BILL." CHAPTER I. THE "SPOOK RIDERS" OF 'l'HE OVERLAND. They calle d them the "Spook Riders of the Overland T :ail," and they deserved the name D'ring riders all of them, men picked for pluck, to endure hard ships 1111told, aud face death as they would a friend, if need be. It was a wild, lonesome and deadly trail they rode, by night and by day, in storm and in sunsliine, in b lizzards of ice and under pouring rains, never faltering, never fearing, only determined to do or die. They had been picked for the duty, to ride the long and death-haunted express trail, the overland path that connected the risiug with tbe setting sun. If the trail proved uot lonely, that meaut that Indians were on the war-path for the Pony Riders or that it h::id becom e known that a rider was to carry through a valua ble package, and hence road agents were in ambusb, and it was" his life or the gold." Like ''Spook Horsemen," the gallant Pony Riders flitted along the deadly onrland' trail, making history; layiug the cornerstone of a grand civilization to spring up along their then desolate and dangerous pathway, and gather about themseh es l>y their deeds a halo of romance a11d fiction that will grow in charm and .interest the further removed we are by time from those scenes So much for au introduction to the heroes of tlle Pony Riders express trail, aud among whom, with many other dashiug, dariug spirits, wild riders and dead shots all of them, was \\'iltiam F. Cody, the man whose bor der name of Buffalo Bill, and who is k11m-rn in every land, across every sea aud always as representiJJg the

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2 THE BU ff f\LO BLL STORiES. id e al of splendid American mauhood, a type that must miracu l o us way, and saving the valuable fr eight he carsoon pass away from our countr.y's earlier history nev e r riecl. to to return. Jule bmg was the headquarters of one of the divisions of the Pony Riders and stage line, and Alf Slade was the chief. H ere congregated a strange mixture of humanity, and the scene was like a guarde d camp, for meu held themse lv es iu readiness to protect the property of the company from horse thieves, to fight Indians, or pursue a band of outlaws who had held up a coach or Pony Rider. Tbe camp of the Pony Riders was on the river, and there dwelt :Buffalo Bill in hi s little cabin, with two comrades. The two companions of Buffalo Bill were Hart :Rath burn and Scott i Kane, handsome, fearless fellows, and the trio had run more deadly g auntlets than ai:ly men in the pony express. Particularly bad Buffalo Bill escaped the traps set for him by the outlaws, and though he had twice had a horse shot under him, once received a severe wound, and at other times appeared to be wholly at the m e rcy of ?is foes, he had never yield ed, nor lost his treasured express pouches, but brought them through in safety. At the time of which I write the Pony Riders had been having a particularly hard struggle of it against a band of outlaws, known as the ''Night Riders." These lawless men were commanded by a chief, who was as merciless as an Indian, and as cunning as a fox. Then, too, he was one who ruled his men with military discipline, and his manner of striking his blows at the express riders, coaches and stations was peculiar, for he mo ved only at night. It was said that his men dress ed in black, and rode black horses and this gaiued them their name of n igbt riders, as well as the fact that they were seen only in the night time. Where they had their retreat no one knew outside of the band, and though the bes!: scouts had trailed them, they had never been able to find where they hid themsel ves Several times of late the most daring raids had been by tl!e outlaws upon the company's stock, and b vt!1 t:ie: c oaches and Pony Riders h a d had deadly gaunt l et:; to run--Buffalo Eill esc::ij;1ir;i death, as it were, in a The n came a letter from the Night Riders' chief to Alf of Sl ade, in which was a warni1 1 g to Buffalo Bill in particular. m Buffalo Bill did not h ee d the warning, and declined to n be sent elsewhere upon the trail to rid e, and said that as t the Nighl Riders had de clared war against him, he would a return the compliment, and the daring rider made his 1\ way to bis own camp, where he found his two compan-ions awaiting him, Hart Rathburn calling out as heapproached: "Ali, Bill, glad you've com e, for you brought me a l etter in your ruu to-day I wish to read to you, for I need your advice." "And I wish to have a talk with you and Scott,'' responded Buffalo Bill as he took his seat at the little t ab l e upon which supper had been served by Scott Kane, it b eing his week to be the cook, for the pards took tllrn s in the work to be done abollt thei r cab in ''1\ll right, Bill; what is it?" ''No; let m e your story fir s t, for what I have to say will k ee p only it is most important, as you will see. Now fire away, Hart." "We ll, as I said, you brought me a letter, and I wish to r ea d it t o you. "You know I ca111e out \Ves t fr o m a love of adventure -at l east, that i s the story I have t old, though I know man y have s u spected that I had more r easo n for so doing tl'rnn a desire to fight Indians and hunt a fortune. "The trnth is, my fathe r was an army officer, and I was born at a frontier post, as was also my sister, three years my juiJior. We were raised in forts in the South west and W est', and that for my knowing so much of wild life, though a profe ssed tend erfoot. ''At my father's death, my mother went East, and my sister was sent to boardingschool, I to college, and we were suppose d to be heirs to a good fortune. ''But mother marrie d again-a California miner who was reported to be very rich . ''He was a widower, with one son, several years older than I and he was a most fascinating young man. ''He h a d beeu educated for the army, but was forced to resign for some re::ison; he traveled for several years, until his fath e r settled him upon a rauch in Texas, and lie wo:.i my sister\s heart, au
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THE BU ff ALO BILL STORIES. 3 to allow ber to marry him, although not related, he ran oft with her, taking her from her boarding-school. "This act ou his part was forgiven, but then my mother was surprised to find out that husband was not a rich man, and be had not ouly dissipated ber fortune, which she bad to him, but my sister's a11d mine, and he had paid his own and his son's debts with our inheritance. ''Nor was that all, for there appeared upon the scene a woman who claimed the Californian as her husband, and had proofs to support her claim. ''The slwi;:k was so great my mother never recovered from it, and in ten days after the news of how she' had been deceived, and that she was left very poor, she died. "We were from South, and there we avenge personal wrongs; so I called my stepfather to account, immediately after the funeral. "I'm a good shot, you know, and my bullet cut through his heart. Then I left home and came West to ''She says I am to look for her within a week, and now I wish to ask your advice as to what I am to do?' ''Do? Why, what can you do, Rathburn, but receive her and aid her in her search?" '' 'rbis is no place for ladies; but you say she knows what frontier life is, so it will not surprise lrer '"fbere is, you know, the widow of Stage Driver Drayton, who was shot, and we'll get her to come over and be a help to your sister. We'll set the boys to work to build her a nice cabin and make her comfortable while she is here, and we'll take a hand in the bunt for that villain-husband of hers, and when we find him, I guess he'll sign any papers she wishes him to put his uame to.'' "So say I, Bill," said Scott Kane, heartily, and so it was arranged that Rita Rathburn, for Hart would 11ot call her by her married name, was to be warmly wel comed into the Pouy Riders' camp. J seek a fortune. I "Just a year after, I had a letter from my sister, in / which she told me she had just recovered from a severe attack of illness, caused by her husband's effort to kill her by slow poison. CHAPTER II. THE PLEDGE THE PARDS, In the station camp the men were divided into Pony ''He was discovered in the act by the nurse, and she put the doctor on his guard, the result of which was that they set a trap for the murderer and caught him. "He escaped by flight, carrying with him all of my sister's jewels and family plate, and then it was discov ered that he had forged her name and robbed her of all she had l ef t of the fortune, save some lauded property. "Now it turns out that this landed property is most nluable, will make both Rita and myself rich, but as all was in our stepfather's name, so placed by my mother, and he made a will before his duel with me, giving all over to his son, that son must sign certain papers before the property can be sold, as it must be, for all around it a city is springing up. ''Rita writes me .that her fugitive husband is out here, on the 0\erland, as a Pony Rider, stage driver or serv ing in some capacity, and she is comi.ng here to look him up. ''She says she will take charge of our cabin, for I \ have written her about you, Bill, and Scott, and she wishes to quietly search for Burr Ford, for such is bis name. Riders, stage drivers, and their assistants, stock tenders and hangers-on. Alf Slade was chief of all, while the separate companies had their captains. Hart Rathburn and Scott Kane were devoted to their leader and comrade, Buffalo Bill, and they :were me11 after his own heart, for they were utterly fearless, clas h-ing, generous-natured fellows. Both of them were handsome men, athletic iu build, their hair long, and while Kane dressed in the style of the camps, Rathburn always wore good clothes and a white silk shirt. Kane's life was a mystery, and not even to ',i.s -:0 most intimate parcls had he spoken of his past. With considerable interest, both Buffalo Bill and Kane had listened to all that Rathburn bad to say, and after they had expressed their intention to make hir. sister as comfortable as circumstances would permi.t, ... aiso aid in tbe search for Burr Ford, Cody said, ;n his quiet way: ''Now I'll tell you what I have to report, pards." The two were at once all attention.

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4 THE BUFF /\LO BILL STOR!ES. "I have just had a talk with Mr. Slade, and lie wishes to put me elsewhere upon the trail." ''But why, Bill?" "Don't go, Bill." ' I am not goi11g; but his reason was a kind one to me, for it was on account of a letter he bad received from Captain Kit, of the Night Riders, threatenin g my life if he kept m e o n so he wished to trai;isfer me on the trail.' ''And they are threatening you by letter, are they?" "Yes, Hart." "I don't wonder, as they have never bee11 able either to catch rob or kill you," Kane obse r ved. ''Oh, yon two we r e also m entioned, for they seemed to have waged \\'ar against us three." ."Th en we'll wage war, too." 'Yes, and the m tha t we can play at the same game.'' B uffalo Bill smiled anrl said: ''It is jus t wha_t I knew you both would say and I so told Mr. 'Slade "No w, it seems I have kept more treasure from their grasp tha n any of the riders, and y o u two come next. "Why they threaten I do not know, instead of killiug, but they do threaten u s with death, hoping, I suppose, and you, Scott, as stock t ender, I remaining as Pon: Ride,r, we ca n do a great deal of good.'' "I helieve y ou are right, Bill, but I h a te to give ur the sadd le for the s tock tender's cabin," urg ed Scott. ''And the coach will be dead slow for me after being < Pony Rider," Hart declared. ''Well, you wi ll be fonr days in camp here with yom sister, Hart, and three days on the run to Rocky Ridg( and back." "Yes, I will be glad of that, now I think of my s i ster: coming." ''Aud you, Scott, Mr. Slade will make stnck t e nder al R ock y Ridge, and with you there, Hart driving stage, and I OD m y regular run, we will h ave a chance to pick up some news about these Night Riders which will euablf us to turn the taLl es upon the m ''Do you agree?'' ''I do." 'And I a l so.'' "The n there is one thing more to be done,'' said Buffalo Bill, earnestly. "I go out ou my run rn the morning, as you know, pards, so l e t u s fix up our plan u ow whil e we are talk ing it over. "If you take the coach, Hart, you s tart out day after t o drive us off the run, and then catch the other riders." to -morrow And a s the stock teucler at the station be"But you foe chief you would not go?" ''I d.icl, and told him that I was sure you wou!J be with me in this resolve." "Right you are, Bill." "You know what cards to gam.ble on, Bill." ''Well, I told him that we were here to stay, at the same time I would pledge myself to hunt down the Night Riders, and knew that you would be with me in the goo d work." ' I am." ''C ommand me.'' ''I knew w h a t you would say, but a s it will now be a man-hunt for u s, we must change our present work in a rnca:ure, for I have a plan to suggest." Hart Rathburn said with great earnestness: "Name your wish, Bill and I ll guarantee that Scott and I will back you up. ',\s Po1;y Riders we have but one chance to strike a l,low1 and d1:.;con2r 1Yliat we wish, bnt with you. Hart, as stag<.: dnvc:r uetter Jrivt:r i:; 'JU tlJ.C; Ov.:rlauciyond Rocky Ridge has been killed by outlaws, for Indians did not do it, I a m sure, you \Nill doubtless be sent there to -morrow, Scott, so we can begin work at once.'' ''None too soon for me,'' said Kane. "I, too, am ready whenever n eeded, Bill," rep l ied R athburn. ''We ll I'll see Mr. Slade to night, as soon as we baye come to a thorough understandiug, for you know I said that there was one thing t o do first." ''Yes." '"I'ell me what it is, Pa rd Bill.'' "It is just this: To swear ourselves into a certai n compact-tha t i s, to pledge ou r se lv es t o stand b y eac!J other unto death." ''Agreed.'' 'So say I." ''You are both well aware that where so many men are employed the re are ::,lire tu l ; e sheep crecpi11g in. '.:_Wy. ilav<.: bad t:viJi;;u-:..: mort: tlrnu ouce that iu om

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n u > < u ge; .. a t e I1 e 1 t d e: n ] r BUFF 1\LO BILL STORIES. 5 there have be e n spies serving as drivers, riders and s to ckmen who were members of the outlaw band, simply ferreting out what information the y could get that was of value to them. ''You bet there are such even now in our midst, Pard Bill, though we cannot just spot them." "And lucky for them tl.Jat we cannot," added Kane. "Now I wish to bind myself and yon, in a compact that will hold. "Remember, I do not have a doubt of either of you, but where I am willing to so pledge myself, I wish you to do the same; but if you have any reason why you should not, simply refus e and tliat ends it." "I have no reasou Bill, and y o u kuow my story," responded Hart R athburn, e a rn estly. '':My life sto ry you do not know Bill nor does R athburn, aud th ere i s no reaso n jus t n o w why yo11 should; it i s a l o ve di sappointment and d eals with a bitte r pas t ; but I am r e ad y t o take the pkdge, and you \Yill fiud m e as true a s s teel, and should eithe r of y ou doubt m e simply send a bullet through my h eart w ithout warning." And S cott Kane spoke with con siderable feeling. "I w ill wa s the s t ern r espo n se of Buff a lo Bill. I will kill eithe r of you the m o m ent I am g iv e n g o od cause to d o u b t you, and you b oth have the s am e ri ght in my c ase for this i s to b e a pl e d g e to bind us in honor, to d eath if nee d be and there must be no 'treachery, no hesitancy, no secrets unknown to each and all of us.'' ''I agree.' "As do I." \ At the r e pl y of the two m e n, Buff a lo Bill arose, a nd facing his two comrades as they sat there in their c a bin sa id : "St a ud up!" The y did s o, and, going out of the c abin. b e mad e a quick circuit around it, to se e that n o one wa s about. Re-ente rin g, h e said: "Now g rasp h a nd s and we'll take the pleJg e. ' It w as done and earnestly. "Pan1 s I h ave just as much faith in you a s I b e liev e you have in m e and my 'rnr d for i t that we thre e will be the one s to run the Night Ride r s to earth. ''There a re others I would like to have join us, for it is big work to cut out for three m e n. but as long as we cannot b e sure of every man, we mus t trust no on e "Now I will go and see Mr. Slade, and then we will know just what is before us,'' and Buffalo Bill left the cabin and walked rapidly over to the quarters of the division chief. "A11 Cody, I was just about to send f0or you," said Alf Slade, as the Pony Rider captain entered his cabin. ''Anything wrong, sir?" ''Not with the company-no, for save that letter from Captain Kit t h reatenfog you, all goes "'ell. Have you reconsidered your determination to remain, and come to tell me you will be transferred?'' "On the contrary, sir, I have com e to tell you of a plan I have formed to hit back at the Night Riders. But h o w can I serve you, sir?" Good! When y ou h a ve planned to hit back it means a g r ea t d eal. But, first, to my case, and there was a sh a dow on the face of Alf Slade as he spoke. "Ye,;, sir. That is it." "I have got to kill a man." "Yes, sir." "Or he will kill me." ''Is it as bad as that, sir?" "Yes, jus t that." "Who is h e?" ''Badman B ende r, who is down on the rolls of the comp a n y as Buck B ender, assistant agent of divis ion "I h a v e heard h e wante d yo11r plac e sir." ''Yes, tha t is il, and as his secret r eports to he.:id quarte r : di d not g e t me dism i ssed he concluded t o d i s mi s s m e himse lf by killing me." ''I ai;1 sorry sir, for he is a very bad, a d a ngerot:s fell o'i\-the b est shot, hand with a knife, and the strollgest man o n the overland." "So it i5 asserte d, and he make s it his boast ; bllt there i s 0; 1 e man h e has not ye t drawn a r cYOIYer 011, u se d a Jrnif e against or tested his strength with, Bill." 'Who i s that, sir, if it i s not yourse lf ? "It i s y ou, Cod y." ' I have had no quarrel with him, ' No, y o u do n o t s ee k trouble, and he has b{: en w i s e enou g h to s ee k n o n e with you; but if he kills me I shall leav e him to you C ody." ''To m e sir?'' ''Yes, for I h a Ye orders in my last mail t o discharg e him, and it was this that brought on the trouble between us.

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6 THE BUf'f ALO BblL STORIES. 'I wanted to let him down easy, so called him aside to tell him quietly, my instructions. "The superintendent said that as my assistant he could be of little use working agaius t me, and as he had shown himself to be doing that, I should discharge him aud appoint any man I deemed better iu his place. ''I called him aside, and he at once accused me of haviug backcapped him, and drew hi s ''Yon did not draw on him, sir?" "Oh, no ; I th ink I understand men pretty well, and how to manage them. ''He called me a coward, and dared me to fight him; but I kept my temper, read the lette r from the chief aloud, and then -dismissed him.'' CHAPTER III. 'l'HE BORDER DUEL. "And did Bender kick, sir?" asked Buffalo Bill, and in his strangely quiet way Alf Slade continued: ''He was taken aback, but said the l etter was a put up job. "But, having doue my duty as I saw it, I told him then that I would meet him at the starting post to-mor row, at the time of arrival and departure of the riders, and fight him with what weapons he cared to select." "Just what I expected of you, Mr. Slade.' "Yes, it was all I could do, for disclipline must be enforced, you kuow. All the men in camp will be there, including those who saw and heard what passed between us.'' ''And what can I do, sir?' "Ftrst, I shall now appoint you assistant in his place.'' "I thank you, sir, for the honor, but I cannot accept the position." "'l'he pay is forty dollars more a month, as you know, and the pl ace a good one.'' '' '1.'rue, sir; but just now I prefer the harder work, a!!d pay of a Pony Rider, and my reasons I will cxp:uiu t e you.'' "Fir-'t, let me say that if I am killed you mmt take th .. p:ace a::; full chief of this division in my stead. me, and you know the chances are as much in his favor a s miuc, though I fear no man. ''Now, you must be assistant, wbateyer you! motives for refusing, as I know of no man here whom I ca11 put in my place to confront Badman Bender, should I fall. "Yott can do so, and he must not be left in coutrol of the company's papers, books, rnouey and property here, so I call upou you to take the place uutil auotlier can be seut here as division agent. ''Unless Badmau Beucl e r kills you, too, Bill, as be may me," added Alf Slade, witi1 a smile. "I must take the cha11ccs, as }ot1 c!o, sir; hut the lightning 11ot strike t wice in the sa m e place, I have beard," was tbe quiet r esponse of Buffalo Bill. "You have told Bad man Bend tr you would fight Iii m with ally weapons, sir?" asked Buffalo Bill, after u mo ment of thought ''Yes.'' "Yon are the challenged party?" "Yes, and I wish you to serve as my secon,cl." ''Cert a inl y, sir, for a request from my superior I regard as a command.'' ..... ''Do you not wish to do so?" "I\1r. Slade, don't take that view of it, but let me give you the rig lit one." "I sbonld like to hear it." "I am a man of the \Vest, a type of what is found on the plains a11d in the rnou11taius to a certain extent; y et, though forced of t en, i11 the discharge of duty or in self defense, to take humail life, I abhor scenes of death and bloodshed." ''I believe you do, Cody, and I also do, tiiough the I saddest scenes have been forced upou me. "But go on." "I have little more to say, srr, than that I serve you from a of du and not from a tc mingle in a death-grapple any more tba n you do." ''I believe you, and I feel that you will serve me well." ''I will do as I deem is best in the matter, and now I ask you whv you did so foolish a thing as to say you would meet him with any weapons?" "I wished him to understand that I did not fear him, or even dread him." ''That man is discbarged, you know. but refuses to acknowledge it, aud will assume my place if he kills "No one who knows you would think that; but, sup pose he selects bowie knives, as I believe he will?" wust weet

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or it e THE BUFFALO BILL STORIES. 7 "He is over six feet tall, weighs two hundred, is known to be a most deadly baud with the kuife, qnick as a panther and stroug as a bllffalo bull." "StiJI, I mu s t meet him if he s elects knives." ''Right there I take issue with you, Mr. Slade, and as you have placed yourself in my hands, I shall say no -that you, n s the ch a llenged party, shall select the weapo11s, aml they shall be revolvers, which will place you 011 even tP,rm s .'' "Hardly, Bill as he is a mnch larger target," sug gested Alf Slade, with a smile. "He must lake the chance of size, as you would have to were the weapo11s knives.'' "I fear the men may regard it as a backdown?" "Not after I have had my say, sir, and I ll have it as yonr second." "All right, Bill, I am in your hands." ''Thanks for the confidence shown in me, sir. But, this bei11g. settled, let us turn to the cause of my visit to yon!" "Go ahead.'' ''I accepted the gauge of war the Night Riders offer, and have had a t::ilk with my two pards.'' ''Rath burn and Kane?'' ''Yes, sir." "\Vell ?" '' \\e have pledged ourselves to stand by each other in this matter, to Jive or die together." "That meaus a great dea l Cody." '' lt means tbat we either nrn the Night Riders to earth or they dig our graves for us. But the compact is a secret a11d I came to secure your help." "You shafl have it, and if I fall to-morrow you are chief here to carry out yonr own views.'' "Yes, sir; but y ou will not go under, and you'll find me no false prophet. ow you know that Rathburn is a man of education, and I have heard his story.' "He is a good fellow." ''Yes, sir, and he and his have known sorrow and trouble. "His sister is coming here to visit him in his wild frontier home to try and find her ln1sba nd aud we are "She "'ill be all right, sir, for she 'yas rai$ed on the frontier, and it will heliJ the camp, he't being here." "I do not know but what you may be right, Bill. When is she coming?'' ''Within a few days, sir, and to carry out onr plan, I am. going to ask you to have Rathburn drive the coach to Rocky Ridge and back, and let Kane take the station as stock tender at Wild Water." 'But they are Pony Riders.'' ''True, sir; but Rathburn drives splendidly, and Kane understands the c are of stock.'' ''But what do they say to the change?'' "They are more than willing, sir, for that is our little game we are to play with the Night Riders." "All right; I shall issue the to-11ight, aud have them enter upon their separate duties to-morrow." '' 1'ha11k you, sir." "But Rathburn's sister is coming?" "He will, as driver, be four days in camp." "True, and you can plan as you please, and I will back you up, Cody. Now you had better get what rest you can, and bright and early in the morning I will be at the post to settle with Badman Bender." Bidding his chief good-night, Buffalo Bill went to bis quarters to tell bis comrades that all was arranged as they had wished it to be. The start of the Pony Riders was made from a post in front of the general assembling quarters, where the coaches also baited, and from 'which they departed. It was a ,large cabin, with kitchen, eating room, bar and gambling saloon attached, and there, day and night, gathered the men, drivers, Pony Riders and stock tenders. The Pony Rider was due about eight o'clock in the morning, and the one to take his pouches and continue on was always ready at bis post, so that not half a ru'.!! nte of time was lost in the change. Much earlier than usual, the men hastened toward tile Pony Riders' post, the morning after the affair betwecu Badman Bender and Alf Slade. The sympathy was with the chief, for the assistaut agent was feared and disliked, and as he had decided to going to rnake her as comfortable as po ssible." fight with bowie knives, there were few that thought "A woman in this camp, aud one who must be refined Slade h ad any chance with him in a persoual encounter aud--" fought.

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8 THE BUFF/\LO B!LL STORIES. But all knew the pluck of the division agent, and they hoped that something might occur to save him. "Boss Bender" had deliberately sharpened his bowie the night before in the barroom, and as be had remarked, had "put a razor edge on it." That there was to be a duel to the death no one doubted, and all duties were neglected so that the men could be early upon the scene. Buffalo Bill wa s to be the Pony Rider out, and an hour before starting time he was seen coming from his cabin and Alf Slade with him. His two companions, Rathburn and Kane, were already at the post, listening to the talk of Bender, who was certainly in a fighting mood. All eyes were turned upon Slade and Buffalo Bill as tlrey approached, the latter having evidently made so me amusing remark, as the former was smilin,;. "I am here to meet you as agreed, Bender," said Alf Slade, amid the breathless silence that followed the approach of the chief and bis second. ''I'm here, Slade, so git yer knife,'' was the gruff response. "I have placed myself in the bands of Assistant Division Agent William Cody, your successor, so he will arrange.' "What's be got to do with it?" ''Just what he deems best '." "Wal, I'm assistant division agent here, and soon will be chief, and acknowledge no one else.'' "See here, Bender," said Buffalo Bill, "the question is just this: As the challenged party, Mr. Slade bas the choice of weapons and I have seleded revolve rs in his behalf." 1.'he words were coolly uttered, and every eye was upon Buffalo Bill. As for Bender, he was seen to slightly change color, Int he blurted out: "The weapons is bowie knives, and he's a coward if he don t use them." ''The man who says Alf Slade is a coward lies and knows he lies, and your desire to use a knife against one who is not your equal in size, strength or dexterity in haudling a blade, shows who the coward is. ''Men, I appeal to you if it would be a fair fight with .b..Hi ves between two such men?" A pe rfec t roar of voices shouted: se "No!" an The crowd was on the side of fair play, and Be11der w realized it, but said: ''He said any weapon s and I choosed kni\es. '' "You chose the weapons you were l eas t likely to be na hnrt with, but select your secoud aud I ll arrange with him very quickly for the fight." '' Pards, I appeal to you if this is a squar' deal?'' crietl Bender. A few voices cried out: ''Knives was agreed on, and they should be used." a n w "I will meet him with the bowie," impatiently said r Alf Slade. "I say no! Revolver s are the weapons you are to use with him, but if he thinks he mus t first have a kllife fight, I will try him on!" I A perfect yell of admiration greeted this :ernark of Buff a lo Bill, and all eyes were turned upon Bender. But before he could r eply, Alf Slade said, sternly: ''My fight first, and if you are not a coward, B en der, you will meet me with revolvers." "Yes, revolver s re v olvers!" shouted the crowd and B ender s aw he wa s in a very small minority and must yield, especially as he claimed to b e the best shot on the Overland trail, so he growled out: "Revolvers goes, then, fer I'd just as soon shoot yer, Slade, as knife yer !'' Ent for the determined stand taken by Buffalo Bill, all knew that Slade would have fouglt't with knives, and w ith hardly a chance in a hundred of victory. That Bend e r deeply felt the change of weapon s was shown by the manner iu which he glared at Buffalo Bill, and those who knew him best were sure that a second duel would follow quickly on the other, should Alf Slade fall. Bender would not lo se an iustant in calling Buffalo Bill to account, aud that it would be a duel to death with knives all who knew both men were assured. "Well, draw and let us git at it l'' called out Bender. "No; this shall be a fair and square fight as we de mand ; s o name your second," firmly proclaimed Buffalo Bill. "I don't want no second!" ''See h e re, Bender, if you are in earnest, and not a coward, you will fight as we demand; so name you t1 a t t

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THE BU ff ALO BILL STORIES. 9 second, and I will consult with him, while if you attempt ,. any trickery you'll be shot so quick you will not know ''Heads!" "Aud heads it is!" cried a number of vbices. er who killed you." "'l'hen there's a gang ag'iu me?" ''No, only all are determined to see fair play. Now e name your friend.'' h Cornered as be was, Bender gianced over the crowd and called out as his eyes fell upon a man of his stripe: "Roper Dick, will you stand by me?" ''Yon bet, for Buf' !er Bill don't scare me a leetle bit.'' ''I cannot see why I should, for I do not understand why one man should fear another, Roper Dick," was the reply. "Well, what's ther game?" "Revolvers are the weapons, so disarm your man, as I ,.,.,.ill miue, and each weapon will be given them when they are in position, thirty feet apart. "At the word fire! they can draw trigger as quickly as they please and advance upon each other, firing as they do so. "Here, toss with me for the word!" and Buffalo Bill took from his pocket a twenty-dollar gold coin he always carried as a "luck-piece," it having been coined in the year of his birth. Tcssing it in the air, as the crowd gathered around be called out: "Heads or tai ls? "Tails!" "Heads wiu !" ''No, best two in three, and I wants a toss!'' cried Bender. ''All right, Bender; best two m three, and Roper Dick tosses for yo u." "No, I does myself!" ''I say no, and that settles it!" ''Then begin now!" I have won once." "That don't count," u rged Bender. "All right; what do you say, Roper Dick?" and the coin was again tossed into t h e air. ''Heads!'' "Tails win," ca lmly a1rnounc e d tile Pony Rider. "Now it is your .throw, Roper Dick." Bender whispered something to his second, as be t ook the coin and Roper Dick to ssed it high in air, Bn ffalo Bill sayiug, distinctly: "I have won the word, Roper Dick. Now place your man.'' The dista nce of thirty f ee t was paced off, but Bender did not wish to p art with his weapons, and but for the angry looks of the crowd would not have done so. f He yielded with bad grace at last, and the two men were placed in position. "Are you ready?" called out Buffalo Bill, as the meu stood, weapons in hand. "Yes," answered Alf Slade, with no show of emotio11. "You bet!" cried Bender, in a voice of thunder, as if intended to intimidate. "Fire!" The hands went quickly up, and the finger on Ben d er's trigger must have had a convulsive twitchi11g, for his revolver exploded before the weapon was at a !eye], the bullet striking the ground at one side of Slade. Before h e could fire a second shot, and quickly follow ing his, came the report of Slade's weapon. His aim had been true, for his bullet turned Beuder half around by the force of the shock, and, staggering backward, he fell his length, his reolver dropping from hi s hand. But instantly he rall ie d, grasped it, and would haye fired upon Slade who had turned away, but a shot rang out, and his hand dropped torn and bleeding to his sid e, while, with a groan, Bender sank iu a heap, apparently wounded, perhaps fatally. CHAPTER IV. 'l'HE WARNING. "I'm not dead yet, Slade, and I'll lay you out,'' cried Bender. Alf Slade bad his back to his enemy, and did n o t reali ze 'his da11ger. Buffalo Bill both beard and saw, and a quickly aime d shot passed through the hand that h e ld the revolver, and Bender's treachery was thwarted. "See if he is beyond aid, or if you can help him, Stevens," ordered Alf Slade, quietly, to his s tock-keeper, who was also the surgeon of the camp. Doc Stevens, as he was more familiarly called, went over to the groaning man and taking his hand gbn;ect at the wound

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10 THE BUFFALO BILL STORIES. to by outlaws or Iudia11s; but, as !Je was helped from !Jis saddl e, he whispered, faintly: ''The bullet passed through the hand, but did not break a bone-011 ly a flesh wound,'' he said. Then he threw the jacket back and. opened the shirt, the act revealing that the bullet from Slade's revolver had struc1:: 011 a rib and, glancing upward, had entered the shoulder. ''Night Riders!" cot ''Not dangerous. Come, Bender, you are not much hurt, though you'll be laid up for a month or so. Rally, man, rally!" "Then I hain't kilt, doc?" questioned Bender, brightening up quickly. ''Not a bit of it. I'll go to your quarters and fix you up, but lose no time for you are bleeding freely." "Then I don't die, and I get my revenge!" muttered Bender, as lie was assisted to his feet and walked away toward his cabin, just as a yoice called out: 'Here comes the rider!" Afa r off the Pony Rider was seen coming along the valley at rushing speed, a cloud of dust following him. Quickly toward the post Buffalo Bill stepped, and Alf &lade followed him. "Cody," he said, in a low, earnest voice: "You saved my life, for that man would have killed me had we fought with knives, and again, but for your quick shot -I appreciate it, Bill." He did not offer his band, but his words and look meant much; more from Alf Slade than from most men. ''You will send Rathburn on the coach, sir, and Kane to Wild Waters?" asked Buffalo Bill, shrinking from being complimented or thanked. "Yes, if you so wish, but do you still refuse the posi tion of assistant' agent, Cody?'' ''Yes, sir; for just now I can do better by riding pony express, t.hough I would be glad of the rest and the extra pay the other would give me.' ''Th ere is a reward on the head of Captain Kit, you know, and each one of his Night Riders." 'True, sir; but, put it as you please, it is blood money, and that I will never touch." "You are a strange fellow, Cody," muttered Alf Slade, and he turned to the pony rider, who just then dashed up. All saw that his left arm hung limp by his side, and With a convulsive movement, the braye carrier fell forward, a dead rnan. ''God bless him! He died in the harness, aud hung ou to life to get his pouches in! "Go, Cody, but look out for foes!" commanded Ali Slade. The leather bags were flung over the saddle of Buffalo Bill, whose fi11e bay horse was rearing in his eagerness to go, aud, with a bound, the handsome pony rider threw himself upon the back of the spirited animal and was away amid a rousing cheer for him. All watched the brave rider, goiug, as m:rny feared, to his own death, perhaps, until he disappeared in the shadow of the distant bills, and then t11rned to the dead form of Will Hope, who had clnng to life until he got in with bis precious freight, arriYing at the post on schedule time. They saw t _hat the pony rider had two wounds, one iu the arm made by a knife thrust, which showed in what close quarters he had been, while hand also was gashed, and a bullet had entered his body. '!'here was a bullet shot in the saddle, also, while one of his reins had been slashed in two by a knife, and his horse had t wo slight guus;1ot wounds, and stood pant ing and nervous after his long and hard run. "The Night Riders did it, Will Hope had said, and there is au other pony rider to avenge," A If Slade re marked. He gave orders to prepare the body for burial, and then told Rathburn and Kane to report to his quarters in a short time, to be seut on other duty. As he walked toward his quarters he mused to him self, half aloud: "Yes, he saved me, no doubt of that. A re1narkab1e man is Buffalo Bill, u wonderful man; and as he has undertaken to run down the Night Rider., I will leave it to him and not take the move against them I bad intended.'' It is an acknowledged fact that Buffalo Bill can get more out of a horse than any one else; and as for human his face was very pale, while from his fingers crimson endurance in the saddle, he made records never exceeded, drops were falling. or indeed eqnaled. There was no need to tell that he had been fired upon ... H is hor:;es of the pony trail came soon to know him, ha Bt ah sh m re A Ol s: b r

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THE BUFFALO BHLL STORIES. 11 to 'understand his pace, and they went along without s urging. He made himself their master first, then their good comrade, and they lo\ ed him as h e did them. Dashing aloug a trail that many a rid e r before him had dreaded for its ruggedness, and also for its d;;inge rs, Buffal o Bill's searchiug eyes were watching the way well ahead. No one knew better than he that every hush might shi eld a foe, behind every rock an ambushed assassin might be hiding, and canyon and timber hold a band of red ;;ki11s t o pounc e upon him or give him a race1for life. At last 011 this run, he came to a level bit of plain, with only here and there a boulder breaki11g the s urface. As he sped down the slope to the plain he suddenly saw a horseman ride out from be:1ind one of those boulders and mov e forward toward the pony trail. The horse man at once riveted the eye of the pony rider. The big stone behind which he had been in hiding might conceal another horse and rider. The horseman rode to the poi:y trail and halted. He was then a ll of two huudred yards from the boulder under whose cover he had lurked. The pony ri
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12 THE BUFF 1\L O BILL STORit::S up, I'd take you in, pard, or you could get me, just as it happened to turn out." ' \Ve will not quarrel, Buffalo Bill, and I knew I could trust you when I placed myself in your power, for, see, I am unarmed. he came out here to ride pony expres s, where pay is big, to take care of his mother and siste rs and he s e nd s his mone y home as he 'ams it. ''I has him to sit up all night and nurse a ic poor dev i l as got shot bad aud the n ride express the "I have warned you, and you do not heed, so I have next day and not mind' it." ic no more to say.'' ''Thanks for the warning, pard, but I knew what was before me wheu I became a pony rider, and threats do not scare me off Good-by and maybe I'll have a chance to do you a good turn some day." CHAPTER. V. A FAIR PASSENGER. "Then, from your driver, an the men out on this border are wicked?" '' Yas, miss, all of us, more or l e ss wick e d, some of us not so bad as others, but none of us saints, though there do b e men here as would die for a pard, give their last ce11t to one as was suffering for food, kill n man for insultin' a woman, and never b ack down ag 'in' any od d s, never lie or steal, nor --'' "Hold on, driver, for you are making a saint out of one of your sinuers, for to do what you say, one must b e noble and good indeed." ''But, then the y is rough with it all, miss." "\Vho, for instance, is a man such as you describe sinner, yet saint?' Well, miss, in. the camp to which you is going, I have in mind several men sicb as I speak of. "Now, Alf Slade, the division chief, haiu't no saint, but he's true as steel to friend or foe, generous, and his word goes fer gospil in these parts. ''Then thar' is Buffalo Bill." "I have heard of him." "I guess so, for he's done brave deeds enough to be known.'' "What of him?" 'In the first place, he's as handsome as a picter', and put up like a thoroughbred racer. ''He's peaceful as a lamb, too, but handy with a gun when it's needed, and they say-and many believes it he has a charmed life, for no Injun or outlaw bas heen able to down him. '.'He'd give his life a friend, and I has heard that W e ll, how i s he bad?" ''He h aiu't bad, only, a s I said a while ago, he'd be ;e called bad be c all s e he had to kill men along in the way )t of duty, aud s o I says we i s all a b a d lot, take u s as you pleases. ' .1 "I don't believe you for I am sure you are not bad. l ''I ought not ter be miss, for my good m other shape d h m y w a y r i ght when I was a l ad; but I ve got hard si nce the m days, and I gamble s, drinks h e a v y when not fr driYin ', an' has h e lped along the graveyards in my small way, mis s." ''That means y ou have killed men?" "Had to miss ju s t had to." "In s elf-d e fense, I s uppo se?" 0 C' "Well, yes, mi s s, and wh e n a man was trying to cheat b me at cards hold me up fer a foo l, and sich-i t all goes yer know, miss, and no b ody call s me Saint Matthew yon know m y name i s M atthew Wright-Matt Wright fl fer short, alwa y s Wright if I am wrong," and the a driver of the o v erl a nd co ac h, th e n rolling along for a Rocky Ridge, laughe d at ,-.,hat he c ou sidere d a good j o ke. His companion lattghed too and re plied: ' I don t b e li ev e y ou and your comrades are h a lf as bad as you paint the m Drive r Matt, and I am sorry yo11 do not go 011 to Jt.:lesburg lo see how w e ll I will get on with these W esten] terrors, as y ou make the m out." ''I am sorry, loo r.1 iss, but my nm ends at R ocky Ridge, thoug h I used to clri,c the Julesburg trail." ' Do y o u kuo w a1:y on e i11 the Julesburg camps b y the name of Rathburn?" ''Rathburn-Hart "Ye!i, Hart Rathburn?" ''Does I know him, miss?" ''Yes." "Well, I'll jist t e ll yer ef it wasn't for Hart Rathburn I'd not be dri, in stage now." "Why not? "Dtad m e n d on't drive c oaches, miss-at least not on ea r tllly trails, whate i er they do in hea \ en."

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THE BlJFfALO B2LL STORIES. 13 ''Did Hart Rathburn save you from being killed?" "I'll tell you h e just did. "Yer s e e, it w e re ou this very nm, and he were idin' p o uy express as he is now. "I had been held up by the r roacl-ag e JJts, and I had a ich cargo aboard. ''Thet I were going to lose all, and my life, too, were ettled, for ther chief owed me a grudge fer clri\ in' him put of ther gold camps, and he told his men ter hang 111e. ''They were pl e ased ter do it, and, more interested in ithat then in gittin' tber treasure, tbey had put a rope about my neck when suddenly, the tramp o' horses was heerd back on the trail, and I shouted out: '' 'Go on with yer funeral, parcls It's only cavalry from th er fort!" ''And I thought it was, and s o did they, for they ran off to git ther hors e s. ''They had hardly got out of sight when up came the cavalry and Lord bles s yer pretty face, miss, it was ther horses of ther road agents, twenty of 'em, druv along by Hart Rathburn, ther pony rider I ''He had suspected trouble, was on his run, was flankin' ther trail, and, seein' their horses, he tuk back an' started them on ther jump ter skeer ther outlaws, and you bet he did! "Git on yer box, Matt, and drive like tber devil!" be yelled ter me, which same I did, and saved my treasure and life, leavin' ther outlaws on foot, though they did fire at us. ''That's what Hart Rathburn did for me, miss." ''And Hart Rathburn is my own brother. I am going out to see him now,'' was the information whicll bis fair passenger gave Matt Wright. Matt Wright was known upon the Overland as a square man, and an all-around good fellow. He had driven stage for years and his faults could be se t down as two-drinking and gambling. Several times be had amassed considerable wealth, and bad started for the home of his boyhood, but would get upon a spree, squander all, and have to return to work again. When on duty Matt never Glrank. He was wont to gamble in his idle hours, but never tonched liquor until a longing came o\er him. it :-ieemed which he could not resist. The n he would give up his place, and take a few weeks off for a carousal. ''It's a w eakness, I own up; but it's nature, and on can't go ag'in'natnre. I'll never be different, and the r e are the good people at home hopiug for me to come back some da y a great man. "It's a thorn in my side, but I suffers ther most," be would say to his particular pards. He had found Rita Rathburn awaiting his coach at the end of his run, and her beauty of face and form had at once struck him, while be what liarl brought such a woman alone out into the wilds of the far West. "Some offic er's darte r goin' out to one of ther fort s, wa s his decision regarding h e r. Rita Rathburn was beautiful, for hers was a face to see and not forg e t ; hers a form the pe rfection of grace. Dres s ed in a plain gray traveling suit, she wore a soft hat that was very becoming, and lier little hands wer e sh elte r e d by gauntlet g lov e s. I S he bad slnng around her shoulder a leather satchel whi c h she kept close by her, :Hatt Wright observed. When she mounted to the box she did so with l l:e easy swing of an athlete. She had. asked to drive, when she took the reins Matt's eyes opened, for he s i w that she was a skillful driver. As they went on their way, there being no one els e 0 : 1 the coach, they became right good friends, Matt Wright and bis fair passenger, and when, at last, it became known that Hart Rathburn was her brother, the dri,er was delighted. Then he said, in a serious way: ''But what you out to Julesburg, miss?'' ''To see my brother." ''I don't wonder that you wants ter see him, for h e s a fine fellow ; but then, it bain't no place for sich as you be, miss." "I'll get used to it, and like it." ''I guess not. It's too tough and rough for that. I was hopin' you was a officer's daughter out at the fort ; it wouldn't be sb bad; but out in a wild camp you will find it too mighty rough for a young and pretty girl like you." Rita Rathburn flushed under the compliment, but said: \

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14 THE BUFF A.LO BILL STORIES. ''I was born in a frontier fort and reared amid the scenes of a wild life, so it will seem like old times to me. "Besides, in spite of what you say of the men out here, they are not so bad, ouly rough diamonds, save a few outlawed wretches who may be beyond reclaim." "Well, miss, this is the place to find all kinds, and many a man out here is dodging the gallows and the jail, and, having begun wrong, they keep up their bad life when they come West. "I am sorry you is coming out here to stay, as you tells me, for you'll see sights your prt;ttY eyes shouldn't look on. ''It's time we was meeting the Pony Rider ottt o' Wild Waters, miss, for he's ::illers 011 time, but late to-day. ''I hope he haiu't been held up by ther Night Riders, for he goes iu over this run at night, and they works only by uight." "Aud do they trouble you much, sir?" ''At times they plays the deuce with us, and the passengers aud freight, but I hopes we won't see 'em to night." 'I hope so.'' "As Rita Rathburn spoke she saw that darkness was falling fast, and the driver had told .her that it was yet ten miles to Wild Waters, and that Rocky Ridge was still double that distance further on. It seemed to Rita Rathburn that, with the darkness, the trail grew worse, and Matt Wright relapsed into silence, devoting his whole attention to managing his team. He reached the end of his run, r e c eived the retur pouches from the pony rider arriving there, and st:ute b si ack to Julesburg. R a-::hing Julesburg on s clledule time, he was compli mented by Alf Slade and again offered the position /1 assistant chief of division. Again it was declined, and then Alf Slade sai d : y "Well, Cody, we will wait and see how your plot t c entrap the N'ight Riders turns out and then, may b e, youa1 accept." h ''I think uot, sir, but I hope to be successful in mi hunt for the riders." d "You saw nothing of them on your last ride?" B "Oh, yes, sir," Buffalo Bill told of the meetinj with the masked man in black who had given him tbio warning. ''Well, they have surely given you fair warning ; bu sl I cannot understand just why they are so anxious to gel i you off the trail." "Nor I, sir; for my place could easily be filled." s it "I could put on another rider, for I am on e to believeB that no man lives whose place cannot be fill e d t.hougbbi it would be hard to find your match, Cody. "But there is some secret motive, I am sure, for the se"' Night Riders wishing to get rid of you. ft "If they desired to kill you they could do so, but n instead they warn you-try, in fact, to drive you off the b trail." s "Auel I won't be driven," said Buffalo Bill. ''I only wish, for your own sake, that you would heedc At last they entered some heavy timber, and all about the warning; but you know best. II them was pitchy darkness, but Matt Wright held on as "You saw Rathburn, r suppose? c ''Yes, sir; met him on h i s coach b e fore he reached i: though he had the eyes of a cat, and Rita Rathburn was just about to ask hiJE how he could s e e to drive, wl1en, on the night air broke the command: Rocky Ridge." ''And I sent Wild Wate rs c Kane 'dt11 11 im to go on to his pos t at'''Halt, Matt Wright, by commaud of the Night I Riders!'' "Yes, sir; he'll be there all right by my n ext ride. But how is Dadman Bende r, sir? t "Improving slowly, Doc Stevens tells me." a "We is done for!" moaned the driver, as he put his foot hard down upon the brake and reined in bis team at the same time. "You must look out for him, sir, when he gets arounds again." CHAPTER VI. Alf Slade smiled as he replied: c DOING DOUBLE DUTY. "How about you, Cody?" Bill made his ride in s::ifet y in spite of the O h I 'll k eep an eye on him, too." w:uning of the night rider who iutercepted him on the '' n o s o fnr lt e is even more bitte r against you than be tn:il. is tovrnrd t

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l'HE BUFF ALO BILL STORIES. 15 te "Did the boys arrange for the coming of Rathburn's sist er, sir?" .r "Yes, they gave her your cabin, and all chipped in to fit it up i n fine style, for I sent some things over. I "I bad the rne11 put up a cabin 11car, and I can tell you she will have a nice home of it for this part of the t cotrntry, while the camps are wild about her coming, 'l and I suppose Rathburn will find her at Rocky Ridge on his next run, and bring her home with him." 1 "Yes, sir, he expects to; but I'll go anpearauce '-ll the surrouudillJi[s.

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116 THE BUFF ALO BRLL STORIES. :Sy tbe last mail Hart Rathburn had recehed word from his sister that she would arrive by the next through coach, and so be expected to meet her at Rocky Ridge, aud when it became known in the camp that the pony rider's sister would soon be with them, every man began to brush up for the occasion . Buffalo Bill went out to the grave of Will Hope, the pony rider who had been the last victim of the Night iders, and placed a bunch of wild flowers upon it as a token of his regard. ''Poor Hope would have done as much for me," he said to Hart Rathburn, who had also remembered his pony rider pard. In fact, the grave was simply hidden under wild flowers, the tribute of kind hearts, if rough hands. The captain of the Pouy Riders reported for duty. on time, when he had to again go out on his run, and dashed away with the pouches brought in by his com rade of the trail. The next morning Hart Rathburn mounted the box of the stage, and all the camp assembled to see him off and wish liim success, for he was to bring his sister back with him, and each man was as much interested in her 1 coming as though she was his own ki. n. When Buffalo Bill arrived at Rocky Ridge he found that auother pony rider had come to grief. His horse had come on into camp, but riderless, and there were marks on his saddle that showed he had been down in the mud. A party was ordered out at once in search of the miss ing courier, and the poor fellow was found dead by side of the trail, a bullet wound in his side. He had been fired upon, wounded, but kept his saddle until his, evidently hard-rushed horse over a bit of 'rugged and slippery road, had fallen and rolled over him. Unhurt, the horse bad sprung to his feet and gone on, and the rider, crushed by the fall, had lain there in the trail and breathed bis last. his pouches lying near him. With the rider dead, and miles from the station, no one else there to take his place, Buffalo Bill at once vol-uuteered for double duty, and went o:i with the express bags, a ride of eighty-five miles further. But his form was as hard as iron aud ilis sinews like steel; he could stand any amount of hardship, lose night after night of sleep, and so he did not task, or even hesitate. Leaving the party to return with the dead pony rider,c and with a sigh for another comrade gone, Buffalo dashed away upon the task he had set for himself tohc accomplish. T His own run was a hundred and ten miles and return,n with seven changes of horses, and over the wildest, mostlll rugged part of the long trail, while it was also the dangerous, having been proyen by far the most fatal to 'I riders and stage drivers, both from the deeds of and Indians. I To this ride of two lrnudred and tweuty miles, withal the return considered, he was to add eighty-five miles more goiug, and as much returning, making in all,_ without rest, a continuous ride of tbree hundred aud ninety miles with twenty changes of horses. k As half of the distance was to be covered at night, and the trail led over mountain and plain, through can-1 yon and Yalley, across streams and through a land n haunted with danger, the reader can see that the daring captain of the Pony Riders bad cut out for himse lf a most gigantic task. Nor was this to be all that B11ffalo Bill had to face f upon this memorable ride, for he was flying along 011 his; ruu to Wild \Vaters when he drew reiu with a sudden ness that threw his horse upon his haunches, while a whistle of surprise was at a he had made i by one quick glance at the trail he was pursuing. CHAPTER VIL BUFFALO BILL'S D1SCOVliRY. The discovery made by Buffalo Bill was the tracks of shod horses, going toward a ridge, and some dozen in 1 number. Coming from the mountains, they but be foes,' and the animals being shod showed that they were uot redsk,ins. Night Riders, then, they must be and their way led to the stage trail a mile to the right, for just there the pouy trail was making a cut to save several miles. The stage trail passed through a gap in the moun tains, that led into a valley, and it must be that .the outlaws were on their way to head off the stage and hold it I up

PAGE 18

THE BUFFALO BILL STORIES. 1. "1 th Of cotirse, it was important to ptish on with the pony ; the coar.h off, give warning, and have Matt Wright press matter, but Buffalo Bill had beeu to ld that the leave the stage, motint bis passenger or passengers Oil er, oming stage to Rocky Ri dge was bearing a ricL 1 the hors es and take the pouy trail and flank the am ight in funds to pay off the Pouy Riders. drivers and bu s hed outlaws in the ambush, carrying his treasure her men employed by the company. This meant a large sum of mouey, and it was being -11, nt th rough first while it was gi\'en out that the com )St ny's payma s ter was to come by th e next co a c h, so, if 1r ld up, he would have nothing to be robb e d of. This h ad bee n divulged to Bu f falo Bill by the ent at Rocky Ridge. But the pony r ider captaiu knew that there was another th luable frei ght on the c o min g coach-Rita Rathhnrn. es At least, her letter to her brot he r sa id she would come 1, y that coach i d Wright, the driver, Buffalo Bill kuew well and ked. If the pouy express matter \\ as somewhat delayed, he n1st try to s3ve the company's money, Rita H.athburn I d nd Nfatt Wright. g How to do so was the question. i t I First he would examiu e the sit11ation So he turned off the beaten pony trail, and rode on e ft e r the one that he could readily follow, and which s as so fresh he knew it had been made within a couple f hours. a As he drew near the stage trail, he went more cau e iously. with :.im. But when Buffalo Bill crept cautiously to the edge of the precipice and looked over, to his surprise be did not see the outlaws in ambush. He s e arched all about, and, failing find them, he to look for a position from which, he could view the trail running through the valley. At last he got a place from which to scan the long, narrow, but p r e tty, valley. ''Ah! there they are!" He had discerned a gro11p of men in the edge of a pretty _grove of pines in the valley. The stage trail ran through the center of this grove, au
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THE BUFFALO BllLL aid of ScGtt Kaue and his assistant, with the horses there, for a do zeu outlaws will not be so easy lo drive away from a treasure they deem within their grasp. "By hard riding I can reach Wild \Vaters i11 half an hour, aud an hour can get us back behind the coach and make the outlaws believe we are a guard of cavalry. "Now for it!" With this, Buffalo Bill ra 'pidly descended the ridge, md when he got into the valley he knew he had to take his chances of being discovered. There might be two guards over the horses, or, if not the one might get up from his blanket and discover him. The horses, seeing him, might n eigh, or otherwise arouse the guard. The Pony Riders rode as lightly armed as pos s ible, a.nd Buffalo Bill carried only one revolver. 'l'he guard, or guards, as the case might be, would mrely have rifles. This placed the pony rider at a great di sad vantage. Aroused, through. wliatever means, the guard, being urned with a rifle, would be able to open upon Buffalo Bill before the latter was within range. ''I must make strategy serve me if he discovers me,'' decided the wary rider, as he left the range and boldly Nalked toward the scattering timber where the recumlient form of the guard was visible. There was no need of caution now, only so much as to arnke no sound to arouse the guard, so Buffalo Bill walked erect and with a firm step, his hand ready to 'rasp his revolver. His express pouches he had concealed near where he left his horse. Nearer and nearer he drew to the form on the bla,nket, rnd he saw now that it was clothed in black. The sable slouch hat lay by him, and the face was Ill asked. When within a hundred feet of the man, Buffalo Bill paused, and looked all about to see if there was another guard. To his relief, he saw none. As he continued to advance one of the horses, as often the case, discovered fiim, gave a startled snort, and . trotted to the end of his stake rope. This cansed the others to throw up tl,leir heads and 1ou11d ;ui alarm, ial Aud more, it brought the sleeping guard to his with a bound. )U He rubbed his eyes and gazed hurriedly about him. \' It was at Jocg range for a revolver, but Bnffalo B. lS w ou ld not fire until the guard showed fight; he wou I try stra tcgy to get nearer. Suddenly the guard discovered the prowler, and ti di scovery was startling on e, for he uttered a cry ,Je alarm aud sprang with great leaps toward a tree sorr rods away, where Bnffalo Bill uow saw a rifle leaning.'.o The guard must not reach that rifle, for the tern would be to o unequal if he did. So Buffalo Bill fir ed a quick shot at the running mar 'rhe bullet hit his leg and knocked him clown, but th man was upon his f ee t in an instant, and made auotbi attempt to spring for the rifle, but hi s foot would m allow of it, and seizing bis revolver from his belt he no'u turned upon tbe pony rider. "Hands up, pa rd, or I fl, 0," shouted Buffa'lo Bill. response was a shot, and the bullet came danger ously near the pony rider's head. The shot was answered with surprising quickness, am the aim was true, for the night rider fell iu a heap 01 the ground. Though Buffalo Bill saw his man fall,_ and had perfecil; confidence in his own aim, he approached cautiously. He had seen men supposed to be dead prove dangera ous very suddenly. b It had been his wish not to kill the man, to wounc and take him prisoner. n Bnt he liad ,prove n so dangerous h e did not dare tl trust him too far, so had fired to briug him dowu. u Still, he had hoped not to have him die at once, for he,:c might get a coufession-a thing greatly to be desired. Thus far most of the Night Riders brought down hac been killed outright, though there had been severa5i exceptions that proved how well the band was orgauize
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iTHE BU ff ALO BILL STORIES. 19 at one man might do what another would refuse, and ad been anxious to keep from killing the guard if he uld do so. he reached the man he turned him over upon I is back aud took from his face the black mask. He was not dead. "\V ell, comrade, I am sorry I had to fire to kill," said e pony rider, with real sympathy iu his tone. He s:i"" that the man was conscious, for he looked ody straight in the eye. 1 "I would have kiiled you." ''i;\iho are you?'' n "A night rider." 1 ''\\'here are your comrades?'' "I will 11ot tell." "Will you die and make no confession to remove the nilt from your conscience?" ''Yes." ''Yon are dying." "I know it." "I wish I conld help you." ''You cannot." Buffalo Bill hardly knew what to do. He must not let the coach be held up, and yet he dis iked to leave the clyi11g outlaw. But he felt bis cluty was to the company he served rather than to the man who had warred against it, t hough he was now dying. was comillg on, and the outlaws in the pines might hav<:: beard the shots, though he dia not think so. "Pard, I will make y0u as comfortable here as I can, rnd leave you, but late will send aid to you, for I must o ou my way. "I am sorry, bt1t itmust be so." Buffalo Bill had hoped that the man woLtld try and 1 etain him, seek to make some confession, after all; intead, he merely said: "Go; do not mind me, I have brought this upon iyself." Buffalo Bill put out his hand. The outlaw had not strength to raise his, but tried to 0 so. Tlte pony rider stooped and grasped his, and then laced him in comfortable a position as he conld. Near him he left his revolver, to keep off a coyote. Then he again grasped his hand, and in silence turned away. Taking the rifle of the outlaw from the tree, Buffalo Bill then mounted the best of the horses, tied the others two by two, and drove them back on the trail he had come. Reaching his own horse, he took bis saddle and express pouches, and at once set the horses into a rapid run. This was kept up until the pony trail was reached. Then he hitched the horses, and upon his own animal went speeding along at a tremendous pace back to Wild Waters. CHAPTER VIII. A STRANGE CAVALCADE. It was growing dark, but the horse knew the trail and soon covered the distance, and dashed up to the station of Wild Waters, where Scott Kane was now stock tender. The latter came out, rifle in hand, much surprised at the sudden appearance. His comrade was just behind him. ''Ho, Bill! you back?" "Yes, and not a moment to lose. You and Roper Dick arm yourselves; you, Scott, bring your bugle; get my horse in the corral and come with me, for we can save Matt Wright's coach from ambush. "Don't lose a minute, for we cannot spare the time. Matt carries treasure, and you know Hart Ratbburn's sister is along 011 th is run." The two meu did not take a minute to arm them sehes, and while they got the herd of horses together, Buffalo Bill saddled the two they were to ride. In jnst six minntes the three men were off to the res cue of the coacll, the horses' hoofs echoing loudly as they sped along. Buffalo Bill fully realized that be bad to act quickly, tli a t if the coach was held up, Matt Wright might be killed, perhaps some of the passengers, if there were any ?thers than Rita Rathburn, and the treasure taken and people robbed. The outlaws worked quickly and well when at their lawless deeds, aud would very soon carry ont Uheir bold intention to rob, perhaps to kill, so be and his comrades bad uot a women t to lose.

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20 lfHE BUFFALO BILL STORIES. 1'he horses of the outlaws were found where Buffalo Bill left them, and with those brought from the station, were driven on at a run, forming a large cavalcade. They were urged on aloug the pony trail for miles, and after nearly an hour of hard riding, came to where it once more entered the stage trail. There a short h alt was made, and Buffalo Bill dismounting, quickly lighted a match, and with Scott Kane, searched the ground thoroughly. They were not long in finding what they sought, for there were the fresh tracks of the wheels and horses The stage.had passed, jus t how long before they could only guess. They had no time to lose. It might be then r.earing the ambuscade in the pines. "Now, pards, I have not been able to tell you just why I came for you and what I wish," said Buffalo Bill. ''Start the horses on ahead, and we'll ride together, and I'll give you my plan." "All right, pard Bill, we are with you, whateyer is to > be done," said Scott Kane. "Yes, shout and we obeys," added Roper Dick, Scott Kane's assistant at the s tati011, and a good all-around fello w The horses were started ahead once more, on the jump, but now tied with lariats, four abreast, as the stage trail allowed of their so going. Thus they look ed like a company of cavalry riding in fours, and were thirty riderless animals. '' Pards, I came upon a trail crossing the pony path near Rocky Ridge and I investigated. "There are just eleven Night Riders ambushed in Park Valley, in the grove of pines near the center. ''They l e ft their horses the other side of the gap at Rocky Ridge, and with one guard, so I corraled them, and that accounts for the animals I have along. "And the g uard Bill?" asked Kane. ''\Ve had a couple of shots, and I l eft bim badly wounded, and yon must see to hiu1, Scott, for I go on a t once on my trail as soon as we haye blocked the game. "Eleven, you say?" asked Roper Dick. ''Yes, and wear three; but we will make them be lieve we are half a huudred, with the horses we have. ''That is why I asked Scott to bring his corn e t for he cau give a bugle call or two, ai1d we will stampede the rid e r s whether they have already h eld up the coac h or not. '' \Vhen we ge t near the pine grove we ca n charge at the call of the bugle, and ricliu g in front of onr troop o f h orses, we can open fire, bnl be careful 11ot to aim to\Yard the coach. "All we wish is to stampede the Night I But he was doubtful, and the gap in Rocky Ridge w;> what he feared. If he got through there without a hold -up, then Jll had hopes of going on all right. It was then a surprise to him when he beard the cont mand to halt, in the pines in the valley, a mile before h; reached the gap. e Not for a moment, daring as he was, would he ha\ then attempted to dash through, as be had several tim done, for fear of bringing a shot that might wound kill bis fair passenger on the box. When the challenge came he at once understood wh a was expect ed of him, and never in his life had be halte with greater promptness. "Sh! Don't say a word to let 'em know you is aw man, or they 1nigbt w ant yer fer ransom," he warning! whispered. But his foot was on the brake, his strong bands ha drawn hard on the lin es, and the team bad come to quick halt. In the darki1ess the shadowy forms of the outlaw were see n Approaching the coach on the side on which the driv sat was the tall form of the chief. ''Good-evening, Mr. Wright," he said pleasantly, a h e halted and look ed up at the driver, his mask bein1 seen eve n in the darkness. ' I doesn't call it a g ood evening when I'm h e ld up b, a lot o'.rnen who ought ter be ha11ged," boldly responde Matt. "Don't ge t cross, for it will do no goo d, and yo know we must live." "By stealin' othe r folks' goods ; but yer'll git uothi fer yer trouble this time, so take that for a IJOinter _._:

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THE BUFF ALO BILL STORIES. 21 beg to differ from you," replied the outlaw leader. es we does differ, for if I was like you, I'd be tn ro a t and thief, too." b ou't get cross, I say, Matt, but t e ll me what freight fa asseagers you carry,'' and the l eader seemed uuby the insulting words of the driver. h has one paseeuger, no freight to speak of, and 1 get nolhillg to-night, for the paymaster you hope d d didn't come 011 t his run." ou both li e a nd t e ll the trutb, Matt, for the pay er is not aloug, though I happen to know that his :e y is, for I take, it the lady passcuger you have, and is bound to s om e one of the forts, is carrying it 1 ghforhim." 11Vou is away off time." Seeing will be b elie\ing. 11 expected yo11 would have an escort, and so I con e! to hold yo11 up h e r e, instead of in the gap, for we let you go by if there was a guard with you, and resence not be suspected here. ur horses are in hiding beyond the gap, and so we ride ou there with you. But, come, I want that ure you carry, and as this lady is doubtless an offi wife, she rnust have baggage o f value along, jewels other things worth taking, while a good rausom b d be paid for her, so I shall hold her a captive and e the demand for money to buy her release. v ou see, this is a good night for me, .Mr. Wright, gh you do not seem to e11joy it." 0 he tone of the outlaw leader was politely sarcastic, every word he uttered fell heavily upon the heart of Matt Wright and Rita Rathburn. ee here, Cap'n Kit, fer that's what they calls yer, r don't dare let yer own name be known, I wants ask yer, as a Jllan ef yer has any manhoo:i left in l doe s yer intend ter take t!Jis J eddy a prisoner jis t for leetle gold yer'd git out o' it?" asked Matt Wright l gnantly. I am out for gold, Matti Wright by fair or foul ns, and if it can be gotten from a woman I will it. Yes, she will be my prisoner until s h e c a n buy her om, so that i s all there is of it," was the response e road-agent chief. 1 Well, I has heered many hard thi11g s said of yer, but blamed ef yer hain't meauer than auy man I knows." Come, no more talk or I'll silence your to11g11e for! You've got treasure aboard, as I kuow, and your enger i s worth more, and I \"a11t, and will have, all u get. Hand O\'er that money-box, Matt Wright, aud you, must dismount and go 1vith me." Oh, sir, will not you take my wor
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22 THE BUFFALO BILL STORIES. Another moment, and every outlaw had disappeared in the shadows of the pines on the right, for in that direction they could keep under cover across the valley, reach the hills, and get to the spot where they had left their horses, and which they had no idea they would not find there. 'fhen up dashed the rescuers, and, to his utter amaze ment, Matt Wright instead of beholding a troop of cavalry, beheld a number of riderl ess horses, and but three men! The cavalcade came to a halt by the coach, and, in the darkness, Matt Wright not recognize the three rescuers, but one said "Drive on, Matt, for they have no horses to pursue you with. Kane will explain. I must be off. Good night!" The speake r wheeled bis horse and dashed away in the darkness. It was the captain of the Pony Riders-Buffalo Bill. CHAPTER IX. RITA'S STORY. ''We is rescu ed, miss," said the driver, exultantly, as he drove on. ''Yes, and it appears. to have been a most remarkable rescue," rep lied Rita Rathburn. "Just like Buffalo Bill do es things, mi ss." ''And the man who rode away so quickly was my brother's friend, Buffalo Bill?" "Yes, miss." 'He said but little, and did not even give us a chance to thank him." "That's his way, miss." "He is m odes t all brave men." '' J nst as mod est as a school gal, ru iss.'' "But, why did lie l ea\ e ? "You see, he is rid in' pony express, and war b ehind on hi s ti;:!e. "He, li ke as n ot, fou nd the Night R.iders was out for blood and went back and got Scott and played it on them, for they fooled me as I thought it were a troop of cav alry." "There was a bu gler there, and a good one." ''That's Kane, for he plays ther cotuet, and be plays it good, too. ''We'll know it all when we gits to ther station, which Kane has charge of now On through the valley drove Matt, keeping his horses at a brisk pace and talking as he weut. "Kane is one of yer brotlier's pards, miss, for b e and Buffalo Bill and pard R athburn lives tergether, as I told yer. ":Bill, he is still ridin' pony express, but Karie is stock tender n ow at Wild Waters, which we is 1 to, and yer brother takes the coach on when I k 1 1l at R ocky Ridge." ,, rse s I shall be g lad to m ee t my brother's fri eads,1 an thank them for their great service t o me to-ni ght.1 br; "I don't jist know why B:iffalo Bill are ridin' . OWi run to-night, for he belongs on ther trail fror W : Waters on to Julesburg, but, maybe, ther regulasix hez been k i It." rep Poor f e llows, they are in constant dread of de: n g you also are, Mr. Wright." c o "Now, don't call me mi s ter, for it don"t go oub ee I'm plain Matt Wright and don't claim no titles.'it : ''All right; we are good enough friends, I thiul t e e 1 will call you Matt." thl ''Matt goes, miss. Yas, Scott, what is it?'' aul answered a call from Kane. ''Halt after passing throngh the gap, for I'vem ind wounded man, or a dead one, for you to carry throi\I I "0. K. I ll freight him through, living or di" he's your friend pard Kane ., On throug h the gap the coach rolled, and beyo the scattering timber, Matt halted. It was bright starlight, and the clouds had away, so the night was not very dark. t Scott Kane and Roper Dick at once tied the dr1; horses, and, mounted upon their own anim' als, bega ro search for the wounded outlaw. Following Buffalo Bill's directions, it was not s before Kane found the spot, and he saw the. form beneath the tree where Cody had left him. 1 . llt Come, Dick, here h e is," he called out to I Dick, who was a hundred yards distant, and the d heard his call and waited. "Say, pard, are you all right?" asked approached. 1 No reply came, and, stepping forward, he ben t 1 the motionless form. 3 "Dead," he mntterccl, as he placed his hand upo: head now with the icy chill of death upon it. "Ho, :\1att, drive over here, please." Matt did so, halting the coach near. 1 Kane had wrapped the body in the blanket, and c out: ''Pa rd Matt, he's dead, and 1'111 going to ask yo carry the body 011 to the station, and I 'll bury it." "Certain." r \Vbo is he?" ''A night rider." ''Good! He's a ll right. Who kilt him?" "Buffalo Bill and left him here wounded, came for ns to help save the coach from the riders. hel d you u p. "But I'll explaiu wllen I get to tbe statiou, for

PAGE 24

is [ 1 THE BU ff ALO BILL STORI ES. 2 3 hus t le away from h ere as they will corne afte r time, I'll bet big mouey," said Matt Wright, with ds ses." lanket !e nv e loped form was place d in the coach, ht. b r isk pace Malt drove on once more, the two 11' 1 . h th 1 owrng \11t eir 10rses. ro \\'at e r s \ms reaclied without further trouble, ul six fresh horses left in the corral w e re' b rought replaced the t ealll that had just come i11. de ing Roper Dick to see to the c h anging of the Scott Kane start ed to explain to Matt just how ou been r escued, w h e n tli c latter said : ':''it aud tell it to my passenge r too, for I'Ye got rn eetest Jeetle Jeddy a l o n g you ever seen, and it's n thburn's s ister. Come over to ther coach aud I'll ,ud ,, oce y e r m gl2d, iudeed, you were able to sen e Hart's v e nd we knew she was expected through on your rot and Buffalo Bill and all of us were that d nx1ous .o save yo u. dyer did a11d approaching the coach, Matt con O ss, thi s i s one o' yer brother's parcls Scott Kane, I spoke to you about, and he's proud ter m ee t yer ter intenjooce him." eed, I am g l ad to meet you, Miss Rathburn, and rather will take you 011 from Rocky Ridge." swung herself down from the box with the easy 1 ot an athlete a nd grasping Kane's hand, said, y: on have no b l y se r\'ed me, Mr. Kane, and from my d I thank you aud your brave friend, whom I wish k11ow. '' per Di c k will soo n h e here, miss, but we were a to an eud, for Buffalo Bill deserves all the credit. ha\'e 110 doubt that he also deserves my thanks, wilJ prove my appreciation when I see him." e deserves al l Miss Rathburn, for h e is Joiug ) duty. !e went through, Matt, on this ru!l, a s the rider was and so is tak in g the ride 01 1 from h e re. n hour afte r h e left he was back agai 11, 11ad me get c o r ses up, and we started at foll speed to flank the and come in behind you o n the trail. 0 t s eems Bill discovered the outlaws' trail, followed und th e ir horses under a guard, wounded hi111, l ef t there, and, findin g where tl1e bal'ld was ambushed, bac k for u s to help him. e bad the horses of the riders also, for Buffalo Bill r aptured and WC played cavalry and SO stamyour enennes. ill told me to carry my cornet al0ng, and when the s were driven off he went on his run, and a hard e 11 have oI it, enough to kill othe r man." [ e' ll make it all right, 11evf'r fear, and in ou enthus iasm. "I'll 11ever bet against Bnffalo Bill, Matt; but h ere comes Roper Dick and Miss Rathburn wi s h es to 111ee t him. Roper Dick was duly presented, and Rita Rathburn wou his heart b y warmly grasping his hand and thank ing him. 'l'he fresh tcarn was now ready, and as the bod y of the dead outlaw had been removed from the coach, Scott Kaue suggested that Rita Rath burn ride inside and get what s l eep she c o uld. o indeed! I ll uot desert my goo d comrade, l\Iatt," she replied. I will ride on the box as before," and, with a good-by, she swtug herself up with the same ease with which s h e had d escended. Matt was delighted at her decision, and away the coac h started once more t o make a rapid drive to Rocky Ridge and make up for the time that been lost the h o ld -u p by the Night Riders. ll was miduight whc11 the coach drew rein at the Over land tavern, in Rocky Ridge, aud standing in the light of th e open doorway wa s revealed the tall form of Hart Rathburn. "There i s my brother," cried Rita. I never saw him in that garb befo r e, but I know that it i s he. ''Yes, miss it's your brother, a n d he's jus t a lookin' fer yo u with all his eyes." As the coach halted Hart Rathburn stood by its side, and in anothe r 111ome11t h e had welcom e d !tis sister. ''Harl!" "Rita!" It was all they sai d but the heart of eac h was full, and l\Iatt Wright felt a lu111p in h is throat and brushed t ea r s from his eyes whicb he could not force back. A s Rita turned she saw those tears glistening i n the li ght nucl said: "You ha\"e brought 111e safel y through, good friend, al!Cl yo u know how I appreciat e it." Matt could not repl y, but wrung the tiny hand in bis pa 1111 in silence. Y es Matt, old pard, you have brought m y sister to m e, and I must a l so thank you; but did you have any trouble?" ''Well, I kimlcr reckou w e did, aud e f it h ed11'.t been fer Buffalo Bill-Cod bless him-we'd not be h e re-a t l east, yer sister w ou ldn't, :>nd somethin' I carries, too, and you has ter take on throug h so look ou t fer trouble yerself, as yer k11ows them Night Riders when they is dead sure thar is gold ter git, makes two or three attempts at it, by dividin' their band and hittin' all alou g the r trail.'' "'l'hat is so, Matt, and thank you for the warning. "Y 0'1 11:.tvc; the p aymast e r's box alon& ?:'

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24 THE BU ff ALO BILL STORIES. "Vas, and yer sister, so look out for trouble.," was the whispered warning. Hart Rathburn slightly changed color at the warning o f!Matt Wright. He recalled that the outlaws when pretty sure that a coach or a pony rider carried a valuable freight, were almost certain to make two, if not three, attempts to get the booty before it got to its destination, just as Matt Wright had said. They would divide their band in two or three parties, and strike at as many p oints on the trail, so if one missed another migllt be inore successful in securing tj1e booty, as the drivers oft e n used strategy to save their treasnre and passengers from robbery. That they knew of the paymaster's stro1;g box being aboard w as certain from what Matt Wright told l1i111 of his hold-up, and a second, if not a third, effort to rob the coach Hart Rathburn felt morally sure would be attempted. For himself h e did not fear, but then he had his sister alon g, and after a talk with !l'latt he aecided to leave her at Rocky Ridge until the next ruu of his coach. '.But when this plan wa s told to h er, Rita Rathburn would not hear of it. ''I will not dodge any danger you have to face, Hart, and you should know me better than to ask me to do so. I go through with you on this run, or take tbe con sequences," was the bold reply of Rita Rathburn. Hart knew his sister, and said no more. Supper was eaten at Rocky Ridge, a fresh team put to the coach, and Rita mounted the box by the side of her brother. Matt Wright said good-by with a sad cadence in his voice, and saw the coach drive away with a foreboding of evil. I don't think they'll hold her up afore daylight, bnt--I only w1shes I could do som e thing to help Hart and his sister out, but I don't just see what it can be.'' With this he sighed and went to his quarters. Although anxious as to the result, Hart Rathburn d id not wish to show it to his sister, and as soon as they were well on the way he said, cheerily: ''\Veil, sister, I'm more than happy to see you though it is not the best p lac e I have to welcome you to. ''Ah Hart, I s h a ll be happy in bei11g with you, for you are all that I have to care for now, and you well know I know what it is to rou g h it. ' ''Yes, yon ca u adapt yourself t o circumsta nces as well as any one I ever saw; \mt you will have a pl easan t cabin the boys will g i ve you a hearty welcome, the one woma n in camp, Betsy the Boss as she lo\ es to be called d tb will look to your comfort, and four days of the \as will be in Julesburg." er I ill0 ''Then I will have no cause to complain, for i h my guitar and violin along, my music, a lot o fd g ht and plenty of fishing tackle and ammunition, e b speak of my work basket full of needles, threa t, h darning cotton, so I can keep busy and will have I.. c:' mother to the camp.'' he ''A pretty mother you will be, sii;." "Thanks for the compliment." b .t "Oh, I did not m ean it that way, tbough ydOI pretty-yes, beautiful, m ore so than ever; but ynd nothing but a child in years--'' "I am twenty-fou r '' [aY1 "Yes, and even in you f ew years have know11ha much of sorrow and trouble; but t ell me, Rita, jus you came \.Vest?" "I will for you might as well know it now as 1: "Ves, I am anxious to ki1ow al l. "\Veil, you are not aware of all that has happen I will go back to yon--Pardon me for revivin l a t<;r memories, but I must--" y ''Don't mind 111e, sis." tl "Your fatal duel with our s t epfathe r, I ''Yes'' "Mother, poor mother, had given him full conti 1 a everything, and thus he got all our property in hisb session. 1 ''Mother's death--" ''He kille d her!" q "Yes, her heart was broken, I knew and she felW by her marriage with him aud that in trusting bit. had ruined us." ; t "You killed him, and tl.Jat made his son his beirri then began my greatest for my husband.cl determi1)e:l to get rid of rue, and, as you know, t o s lo wly poison me to death. ''The discov e ry of his crime sent him a fugitive o<\l the land, and you were also a wanderer here inc West. '' Iu settling up the estate it was discovered that 1:j was ouly a little mone y for me, but the furniture other personal e ffects I had a right to sell, ar.d did 1 i ''Then our attorney told me that what else there:h I could not ton ch without my husband's signature. B ' One day my lawy e r came to aud asked rega1.1 some land father had bought in the West long yearsb ''I told him we had always considered it worth bnt my mother l1ad paid taxes upon it as long as lived, as it was father's urgen t reques t she should d ''The lawyer said that the tax had just been I i and was for a large amount, ten times the amouut l t ofore paid. ''So h e wrote out to au attorney near there and

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THE BUFFALO BILL STORIES. 25 _d that three railroads had centered on the land a as springing up near by, and the property was 1:11g most Yaluable. r igh prices were offered for lots on our land, and as Jf d hundreds of acres there, we \viuld realize a large r 1 e by th e sa le. ea ut theu came the trouble in the shape of my hus e t s signature, which must be had to make the sale ; he was a fugitive from justice, and so must be n this unfortunate predicament there was uotliiug Y donebutfindhim." Y ncl you have come out here to do so?" : hnve.n Han you any proof of his beiug here?" 111 I have!" was the decisive reply of Rita Rathburn. 1st la CHAPTER X. SAVED BY STRATEGY. n t las t Rita broke the silence by saying: 'Yes, I put a detective on his track, and he discov that he "as last seen at Leavenworth, and came 1er west with a wagon train bound to Denver. o Denv e r however, he did not go, but came to the and it was said became a stage driver under a s by the name of Alf Slade." Alf Slade is our division chief, Rita, and I know y dri-er for three huudred miles each side of his )quarters. Ml ell, he may have up stage driving for other Ill, but I am sure he is out here, for he was last heard n the Overland near Julesburg." r,Thereo i s nothi ug h e could be doing out h ere, or I d 1 ld certainly have heard of him.' 0 He might have changed his name, and doubtless II Ah! that may be so ; but I would know him at a : ce." He wot1ld know you, Hart, equally as well." True.'' You have not changed yom name, and so he would r it, and what is n1ore, if he did h e would be 011 the cch for you, that you did not see aud recognize him. 'By growing his beard and dressing in rough clothes, r ring his hair long and assuming auother name, you ; ht not reco gnize hi111, especially as you would not pect his being here." : 'But, granti1;g that he is here, what is your intention 0arding him?" In the first place, I do not intend that he shall k i 11 as he vowed to do when you killed his father, in i t duel." "I will simply have to be on the watch for an assassiu, sis.'' ''I will do better, for I will find the man myself." ''Auel then?'' ''I will see that when I find him I have him i n my po"er." "Yes, for be would kill you as quickly as he would me, as you have had reason to know. "I have indeed.'' "Once the fascinated me, and I was as ms very slave. ''I d eemed it love, but it was his influence over me simply tbat made me marry him. "l\Iy eyes were opened, and it made another being out of me; but I tried to make the best of my mistake, to put up with my ignoble bargain. "You know wl t followed, Hart, and that he and his father sent our other to her grave, and made us, as we beli eve d, almos t beggars. "Now it turns out we are rich, but to get our own we mt1st fiud Bnrr Ford and make terms wi.th him. "He must not be killed, for he bas information and, pape rs my attorney must have. "We can g e t him in our power and with threats of sending him East for trial cau brin g him to terms. ''Now, Hart, Burr Ford must be found, and wh e n he is, leave him to me!" "All right, Rita, for I know you can manage the whole affair well. .. "I wil l pll t Buffalo Bill aud Scott Kane, my pledged pards of the pony express upon the search al so, and if he is out here we will find him. ''You may rest assured of that, Rita. I will likewise have a talk with Chief Slade, aucl see if he can gi,e any clew as to a man of his description on tl)e Overland trail.'' "Do all yqn ca n, for the man must be fou n d. "It will soon be geuerally known that I am here \Yith y o u and then, remembering his for111er po\\'er over me, I beli eve he will look me up, if only to force rnoney from me. "I only hope that he i s i11 hard luck ancl will fiu d m'"=' ,, "Don't let him make a fool of you as before, s i s. "Trust me for that, Hart. I was a fool once, but a sad experience has tauglit me sound sense and I aq1 ironhearted now." Thus they tal!{ecl, until the gray dawn of morning app eared and Hart Rathburn gave a. sigh of relief as another spo t where the outlaws had held np coaches and Pony Riders in the past was gone by in safety. The relay stations were reachecl on t i me, and the stock at each one reported that no sign of the outlaws had been seen.

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26 THE BUFf f\LO BI L L STORIES. "If we pass tbe valley ahead in safety, sister, I will f ee l pretty sure of going through all right," said Hart, as they drove away from the rela y .station where they had had breakfast. The sun rose as they left the station, and in spite of her night ride Rita Rathburn looked very beautiful, and as she again drew her thick veil over ber face Hart could not refrain from snyiug: "You have certainly become more beantifnl, sis, in spite of your sorrows, {or yot,t look as fresh as a dewdrop. But, here is the .valley, and--" ''Halt! ''The Night Riders bar your way!" In spite of being on his guard and half expecting he would be again held up 011 the trail, Hart Rathburn started at the bold command, a1:d his face whitened. He seemed to realize at a glance that the coach would be robbed, his sister taken as a hostage for rausom, and that no help whateyer was near. The coach had just desended from a ridge into a large valley, broken by timber, rocks and a stream. Tl!ere were innumerable places where an ambush could be hel'cl, a nd the presence of foe s never suspected until they drove npon them. The trail ran through a growth of thick timbe r with bowlders upon either side, and the one who had given the command to halt rode suddenly into the trail, his rifle in hand. He was mounted upon a black horse, his costume was 'black, an d his face was covered with the sable mask of the Night Ride rs. HRrt Rathburn was surprised at being halted in the daytime It '1Yas something' that he had not before of the Night Riders doing. He recalled tha t the delay for breakfast for his sister put hilll 11eRrly an hour behind, and bad he come right on \vithout h stop at the last station, louger tha11 for a changing of tenrns, it would have still be e u dark wlieu he reachecl the yalJey. The Night Riders had been expecting him soo n er, that was e\ideut and in spite of his arriving at their ambush afte r daybreak, they were not to be cheated out of their prey, and so broke thei r rule aud held him up in the daytime. Stlddenly an idea fla shed across the ready mind of Hart Rathburn, and as h e drew rein and put his foot upon the heavy California brake to halt, he said in a whisper: "Let me manage this, sis; only help me out." "I will." He dared uot disobey the command to halt, so he drew rei n very quickly and, with a sarcastic laugh, said: "Ob, I don't mind lialtiug, pard, .though I' 111 alread y behind from having met your chief, and if yo u a n y pickings af ter h e and his coyotes have gone 'i1e the outfit, you are welcome to all you get." aw "1'he chief halted you,. then?" quickly asi horseman. ''You bet he did." rea ''vVhere?'' 1e, ''In Pleasaut Valley Park." '''\;\, Thell?" )ll "A little after nightfall." :s, "What did be get?" -it ''Enollg h to make Alf Slade put a force oub, 1 down and hang every coy ote of you." 1:n: ''Good! Tb en he got the box?'' ''No; you can have the strong box if yon wau\ after has h ad hi s hand in it you may be sure clean-picked as a deer bone after a coyote has I dinner 011 it. ''How much did he get?" ''The paymaster's money to pay off the whole den for two m onths was iu tl.Je box; but you '11 have toa your head wolf tell you how much it was." l o '' Go0cl !" ''Anything else?" "Here's the box." "i ask you if he gol auytl.Jing else." ''Now you know if there was anythiug si p 0 tc else of:e. he got it. ,< '' \Vh y, he even made this lady pay a big rausn, was so meau, robbing her of things that cau do lba good." 1ti ''Well, we risk our life to get gold, and we wis we can find." 1 ''W ell, you cau look over the baggage if yoll wait t "Not mnch, for I know the chief too well fo fene h e has left anything of value; but I think if he liae the lady there for ransou1 he could have gotten lll! a "He thought so at first, but concluded if lie" Geu
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l1 THE BUf? ALO Bi LL 27 he lias not the power to act against yon for your aw less rkeds." ts yes, I know him, and I'll let you severely ready broke your rnles in holding me up in the 1e, ha\'e11't you?" asked Hart Ratl1Lurn, witli a ou ,,ere due here before d:nYn, and I waited." es, _put me bel1iud. Don't waut the box, r it's of 110 use to me.'' It o, di'irc on!'' 11 t e ; I i1:rnk you for nothing,'' and Hart Rathburn drove CHAPTER XI. Tnn SILEKl' w ARNIKG. had accomplisl.1cd the good work of saving ach from robbery, and Rita Rathburn from capture, lo Bill with a word to his pard, Scott Kane, went / silentl y as a ghost. put spurs to his horse, for he 11ot only had a hard o wake, a double duty to him, but there was much to make up, lost iu his halting to render good >f ce. Oil -be went, no longer having any dread for the so or its fair passenger, for he knew how well his i bad lion after station he came to, a rapid change of i\' s \Yas made, and, still bearing the valuable express he Pped 011 through the night. 111 urged his horse s to their greatest speed, one after e d1er, as he mounted a fresh oue at a relay station, nae was det enuined to make up for lost time if horse 10 aud h11111an eudmance combined could do it. e was just midnight when he reached the end of his d and he felt that h e bad accomplished a big task, b gii he was still behind time. Mounted upon a fresh h o rse, he was away again as soon as he had taken a small repast, and just as the s _un peered over the mount ai n s he said, with grim satisfaction: ''I will catch the coach before it reaches J u lesburg, and go in ahead of time in spite of my dc;,ubl e run." He bad hardly uttered the words when, in glancing far ahead 011 the trail his keen eyes caught sight o f a uit of paper fluttering in the air. A closer lo ok, as he approached at fnll speed, showed that a string was 'stretched across the trail, and in the center of it, about as high as his breast when mounted, was fastened a slip of paper. He at once drew rein, took the paper from the string, cutting tile latter from the trees to which it was tied on either side of the trail. The paper was addressed upo n one side to: '' W. F. Cody, Pony Rider.'' Upon the other, written iu a good hand wi t h a pencil, was the follo".'ing, which Buffa l o Bill read aloud: "The coach driven b y y our pard, Hart Rathburn b a s been twice baited, first by Captain Kit's men, who robbed it, a11d also the l::idy passenger. ''It was hai'ted near her e half au hour ago, but as there was nothiug to get, it was allowed to go on. "A third party of the Night Riders are in Black Canyon, aud the leader of that is Captain Kit himself, and he will surely hold the lady for ransom, so try your best to warn Driver Rathburn of what he may expect, and save her from a captivity that will be cruel. ''If you r e ach here too late to overtake alJCl warn the coach, you might attempt a rescue, for there wil l be but five Night Riders in the t hird band. "A bold dash might stampede them, and you baye taken chances with g reater odds, as I 11appen to well know, Buffalo Bill. "This is a silent but well-intended warning from one who can sign uo name otlier than ''THE SILENT w ARNI:\G. ') Buffalo Bill did not an iustant after reading this strange note, but put spurs to his horse and clashed ithout a moment's more delay than was necessary, 011 at a swifter pace tball before. e had ridden from Julesburg to Rocky Ridge, and 01 ce 011, and had delayed over two hours on the road q is rescue of the coach, while he had also ridden back 1e trail to Wild Waters, and theuce 011 with his t1Vo r ades from tllere. gallant pony rider was off ou his return, and the ses were kept at the same tremendous and killing He had ridden about a mile when he suddeuly wheeled station to station. out of the trail iuto what seemed ouly a deer p;\tll. :l"ild Waters was reached, aud there a halt of a few "I know what I'll do," be muttered, ill a
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28 THE BUFFALO BILL STORIESo once there, when they hold Rathburn up, maybe I will have a chance to chip in. 'But I must ride for it." Having decided upon what he would do, Buffalo Bill pressed bis horse harder and harder, muttering from time to time in a sympathetic way to the straining animal. ''I must do it, old horse, for your speed alone can help now." At last Buffalo Bill wheeled suddenly out of the deer trail, threw his rein over a limb, seized his express pouches, and began to climb the steep hillside on foot. In the meanwhile, Hart Rathburn came to the Black Canyon with the feeling of a man wo11ld be content if he passe d through it in safety. Some presentiment of evil seemed to haye impressed him. If his sister was not along-if be only did not carry the paymaster's money-he would gladly take all chances which he might personally have to run. The Black Canyon was a pass through a ridge of darkcolored rock running from mountain to mountain. The ridge was 11ot over a quarter of a mile iu width, and had precipitous sides, causing it t o have the appearance of an immense wall of stone. The canyon, or pass, was like a split in the ridge, n o t over a hundred feet wide at its greatest width, and 011 each side at its base were huge pieces of rocks which had split off aud fallen from the cliffs. There were also clumps of stunted pines growing in the canyon, and with the rocks they formed the very best pl::ices for an ambush for horses and men. The cliff on either side rose from forty to sixty f ee t, and there were stories told that the Blnck Canyon had been the scene of many an Indian massacre, when oue tribe ma ssacred another, and it was k11ow11 that a wagon traiu of emigrants had all been slain there by redskins. That there were graves and mauy human bones scattered through the canyon appeared proof of its having been a scene fatal to mauy, whether Indians or whites. ''Here is the Black Canyon, Rita,'' said Hart Rathburn, as he drove into the deadly pass. 'It appears well named, for the rocks o n either side are almost black.'' "Yes, and its history is a black oue as well." "Why, those look like human bones, Hart; they are, for see those two skulls!" ''Yes, there are many of those to be seen here." ''Why do you riders not bury them?" "Buffalo Bill suggested doing so once, but there was a great howl raised, for some are known to be whites, others redskins of hostile tribes to each other, and to bury them together the Indians would become enraged I 1 h l )llly w JJ e t ie 111en in t e camps swear t 1ey wu 110! k 00 -c skiu and paleface, good aud bad, in a grave toge C . lll "And so they r emam trnbuned, though beings." 1 e r1 "Yes, Rita, and we Pony Riders call it the ?ed 1 Skulls." e ha Rita Rathburn looked sadly about ber, and marked: of '" "The Pony Riders have well named tbe placut t i s in this .canyon that you dreaded that the NigMoo1 might again hold us up." car "Yes." 1 of "And what then?" n-c "I can only play the same bluff game, Rita, n th las t time. By Jove! I was right-see tbere!" \\' As Rath burn spoke there s.tepped out from ers large rocks, upon either side of the trail, forms I black, and masked. 1 of There were two of them, and they were on : Do as Hart glanced quickly behind him he behtb horse men also ride into view. il Then he again looked ahead, and his eyes fe< \ another horseman riding out from behind a whence had com e one of the men 011 foot. The latter halted directly in the trail and held I haud in silence. .a, Hart Rathburn drove on until his leaders we res e up with the man whose horse barred their wi' I the u he drew r ei n. l At the same ti me the daring driver broke outn loud la u g h. "You amused," said the horseman. tl "I a 111. m "'I don't see the joke, and I guess you won t t1 so funny wheu I t e ll you that you are iu the haH the N iglit Riders." t e ''Yott arc the third gang of coyotes that bas" rne si n ce last 11iglt t.'' "Ah! the11 yon have been halted before?" The question \Vas asked in an anxious tone. ''I rather think I ha Ye." ''I thouglit you we r e a new man, but you ar Rathburn, the pony rider." I "Right! go up head!" ''Who halted you?" ''Captain Kit and his thieving gang; then, miles ba c k one of his lieutenants and his pack of q and now you and your gold-hungry wolves!" "What did Captai11 Kit get?" ''Jus t take a Joo!;: and see if you can find anyth, val11e that escaped him-if so, you are heartil co111e.'' ) ''I will, for I've had more experience at this bu

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THE BUFFALO BILL STORIES. og nly ne e d l oo k at that yuung lady to see that he has ooked cap tu ring a treasure," was the bold response. 111 C apta iu Kit.' 1 5h i e reply of the leader of the Night Riders was a e d rcbufr and disappointment to Hart Ratbburn. e e had hoped, as before, his suggestion of a search of id co ac h would be sure proof that there was nothing to of ya! ue. ac ut t\1e r emark of Captain Kit that his officers bad 5bttlookcd making a captnre of Rita to hold for rausom carried out the words of the leader of the second Jd of 011tlaws, tha t if halted again the same considera_ r ... .-011ld n o t be shown the fair passenger that had 1 atu thus far. 'What do you mean?" asked Hart, pretending not to m h is words. s 1 I mean that I see a treasure to be for the ranof that young lady. 1 f 'Do you that you would dare bold the daughter h the general commauding this department a prisone r ti! she was rausomed ?11 fe 'Why not? And as I have a grudge against General p c ke, I can no" even up matters by holding you for som, Miss B11rke." 'I warn you tha t the insult will be aveuged, spoke a, indiguantly and she drew her thick veil more e sely over h e r face, which he could not see at all. rv ''It is catching before hanging, young lady, and with u in my possess i o n I can make my own terms with u t ueral Burke. ''Yo u must go with me, Miss Burke, s o get what thing you care t o fro m yonr trunks, and I will make undle of it a ll and carry it along. ''Come, dismount!'' aiHe spoke sternly, and witlr his voice raised as though terrori z e the woman. s "I r efuse to go !11 was the firm rejoinder of Rita. ' Theu I shall liave to use force. ''Dismount fro n tha t coach or I will have my men t up there and bind you sccmely, for I stand 110 rifliug llOW !11 r Hart Ra hburn dropped his h and 11po11 h is revolv er. It was evident from his look that be iuten
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30 THE BUFF ALO BilL STORIESo ''Thank you, Mr. Cody--" "I am Buffalo Bill to my best pards, Miss Rathburn, and you are to be one." ''Then Buffalo Bill it shall be. "But let me thank you for last night's rescue and now again for having been saved by you from captivity." ''I am glad I was so fortunate; but, Hart, the man I shot is not dead, and we must see what we can do for him. Then I'll have to ride for it, for I am far behind time, you know." "In a good cause, though; but you are ever merciful to think of that wounded outlaw, for I bad forgotten him. "Now, tell me how you came to be upon the cliff." "Read this letter, and it will explain, for it caused me to turn off the trail when I found tha t I could not ov ertake you. ''It was tied in the center of a string stretched across the trail. "Now to see if that wounded man is beyond aid." Handing the written warning to Hart Rathburn, Buffalo Bill walked rapidly to where l a y the wounded outlaw, and drew from his face the black mask that still conceal ed it. "He claimed to be Captain Kit himself, and-Great God, Rita, it is Burr Ford!" cried Hart Rathburn. "Yes, my guilty husband-worse even than I believed him to be, for he is the chief of the Night Riders," said Rita, in a low tone, and her face as livid as the dead. She stood like one daz e d at the discovery. Her eyes fastened upon the man lying at her feet, the man who had proclaimed himself to be Capatin Kit, the cruel chief of the Night Riders. Quickly had the bitterly wronged young wife found the man whom she bad been in search of, had dared so much to find. CHAPTER XII. THE PLEDGE KltP't. It was a sad, pitiable scene there in the ''Place of Skulls," a fitting spot for suc h a sight, such an ending to an evil life. Buffalo Bill's bullet had cut its way dowuward through nstl) the body of the outlaw leader, and he was beyoent human aid. w;r He realized it, and his eyes turned upon tbe r se rider chief, and he said, faintly: he ''You have ended my life trail-yes, I am Burr nan -tell her to come here.'' kn But Rita 1rnd already walked to where he l ay, h<;ho remo ved thick veil as though to the better seJt 5 face of the n:an who was ind ee d her husband, wha01 < had been his sins and his tre ament of her. es, "Poor Bmr and this is the end," she said, abe t knelt by his side and took liis hand. es, "The end, and I brought it upon myself-I was.at bad, Rita, aud my worst crime was rny treatme7el you." ''But I forgive you, Burr, if it is one atom of cot' ;h to you now to hear me say so." ,t 1 ''It is everything, and I will atone all in my po '11 for you shall have proof of all your claims to : rights, aud Hart's-I have them safe iu an uudernc B wear-I know that you are rich or will be, and I au plotting more directly against you, to get you to c West a nd kill you, for I knew Hart was here, and he doomed-but that man, Buffalo Bill, has ended it {-ic and--'' His eyes closed, he writhed in paiu, and the seu t,h1 was uever fiuished, for he passed away in a spasJ>l auguish. le Rita gently closed the eyes and folded the hands uj1 the broad breast. de Then Buffalo Bill broke the painful silence with: st "Hart, we will place his body in the coach, aud of bis dead comrade-and bury them at Julesburg. "No one must know who he was, or what he wask yom sister, for yon need no witnesses to prove bis di8 ot!Jer tbau mys e lf, and being dead, you and your s B 1 can claim your own without papers to prove your rigi "I desire to make up lost time, so will leave if I can find the one who gave me that silent wanl1 we can track the Night Riders to their den, very quit after m)' return to Julesburg. ''Miss Rathburn, I wili be glad to welcome you w you get to your frontier h ome, and permit me to braver little womau I 11eve r met than you are." A few llloments more aud, having seen t4e coach v

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THE BUFft\LO Bill STORIES 31 nstly human freight inside ready to start, Buffalo y o ent up hand over hand on the lari a t to the cliff waved his hat iu farewell, and soon after rc::ached e rse aud was away. he once more reached the pony trail, he saw a r ian awaiting liim. knew hi 1 u as oue he had met long before, and a hose life he had once saved from Iudians, but he se :it seen him for a long time. o, Gordon, still out here?" es, .Mr. Cody, but going-you got my note?'' a hen yoll wrote that warning?" es, for I had done wrong in tnrning outlaw, and ,d lo redeem myself in some way." e u rell, you did so; but you are a night rider, then?" as; but I have come to myself, and being a good sharp, I won abont !Jalf the money the men robbed t people of, and I concluded to quit the game. JO 'II do m ore, for I will give you a map of the trail r v c Night Riders' den, and let you know that Bad I Bender is the !:py of Capaiu Kit on the Overlaud aud badly needs banging." c e ood! but Captain Kit is no more, for I killed him ;ick Canyon, thanks to the news you gaye me." a hen I'll leave the West in double-q ui c k time, and i t hones t for I have enough saved to rnake me com-ou are to go-while you can, Gordon. u oder the circu111stauces I wish you luck, for you do a good turn, and I hope it is in you to become est-yes, I wish you luck." s I do you ill yo11r :Kight Riders' ln111t-here is a of the trail to their den-good-by, and don't refosc ke my hand, for I um honest in my reform, believe Buffalo Bill.'' tick to it," and the pony rider captain grasped the ,. of the ex-outlaw, and dashed off on his 'l\: ay once arrivin g at the end of his run just 011 time, after 1 iost remarkable ride and splendid services rendered. was indeed a warm welcome that Rita Rathburn got v the men of the station aud pony camp, and Boss There was great rejoicing over the death of Captain Kit, aud he was buried with his comrade, no one sus pecting what the outlaw leader of the Night Riders had been to Rita Rathburn. The moment Buffalo Bill had arrived in camp he held a long interview with Alf Slade, the result being that the men were called together, Bender was sent for, and he was tried as a spy of the Night Riders upon the charges William Cody brought against him. All could understand then bow it was that the outlaws had been so well posted as to the affairs of the Overland trail, the coming of treasure and valuable freight. It took just half an hour to try the man, find him guilty and hang him, and the work was just over 'When Hart Rathburu's coach came in and the entire camp stood ready to welcome Rita Ratliburn after her many ad ventures. That night a band of picked men rode out of camp, under the leadership of Buffalo Bill, and twenty-four hours later they returned successful, for they had sur prised the retreat of t!Je Night Riders. It was a case where no mercy shown, and the booty that fell to the victors was large. After a few weeks in her new home, Rita Rathburn departed, escorted by her brother, who had already sent Scott Kane on ahead as his business representative, to lo o k after the valuable landed property belonging to hi'm self and his sister. The t1yo got possession of tbeir property without trou ble, and then left for the East, leaviug Scott Kaue behiud to mana g e the e state. But some rnontbs after Scott Kane also' left for the East, and it was .to claim as his bride Rita R athburn. They were married in St. Louis, Hart giving the beautiful bride awa3, and the most !Jonored guest present was the third oi1e of the" Pledged Pards"-Buffolo Bill the captain of the ''Saddle Sharps," as Alf Slade always called his Pouy Riders of the Overland Trail. THE END. Next week's Bill Stories (No. 15) will contain "Buffalo Bill's Unknmrn Ally; or, The Brand of the y made h e r very comfortable, at once taking a great Red Arrow. A Story of the Scout's Strange Trail with to tlie lovely youug wornan. \General Cus1er.

PAGE 33

The only publication authorized by the lions \Vm. f. Cody (BUFFALO BILL) "' r w ----Tag---IlF ALO BILL STORIE Our New 5c. Weekly J\ Sure Winner Ho n W m F. C ody ( B d falo Bill) ( ; We were the publishers of the first story ever written of the famous and w or 1 d renowned BUFF ALO BILL, the most daring scout, wondedul rifle shot, expert guide, gre a test Indian trailer ever known, and a popular hero whose life has been one suc ces s ion of exciting and thrilling incidents combined with great successes and accom plishments, all of which will be told. in a series of grand stories which we shall tiow place before the Boys. These exciting stories will appear reg u larly in qur new Sc. weekly to be known as TtlE BUff l\lO Bl.LL READ THE FOLLOWING TITLES l2. Buffalo Bill's Secret Mission; or, The Fair Hermit of Mystery Valley. l4. Buffalo Bill's Saddle Sharps; or, The Pledged Pards of the Pony Express. 15. Buffalo Bill's Unknown Ally; or, The Brand of the Red Arrow. l3. Buffalo Bill's Bravo Pard; or, On the Texan Terror's Trail. LOOK OlJT FOR THE CREAT INDIAN STORIES l STREET & 1SMITH. YoRK J flCU awe 'I T c ho

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,,.. f JESSE JAMES STORIES Jesse James. WE were the first pub-lishers in the world to print the famous sto ries of the James Boys, written by that remark able man, W. B. Lawson, who s e name is a watch .Word with our boys. We have h a d many imitators, and in order that no one shall be deceived in accepting the spurious for the real we shall is s ue the b e st stories of the James Boys by Mr. Lawson, in a New Library entitled "The J e sse James Stories," one of our big five-cent libraries, and a sure winner with the boys. The first four issues are: "Jesse James, the Outlaw. A Nar ra+,ive of the James Boys," "Jesse James' Lega cy ; or, The Bord e r Cyclone," "Jesse James Dare-Devil Dance; or, Betrayed by One of Them," "Jesse James' Black Agents; or, The Wild Raid at Bullion City." STREET & SMITH, Publishers, New York. BUFFALO BILL STORIE S The only publication authorized by the Hon. Wm. F. Cody (Buffalo Bill.) Buffalo Bill. WE were the publishers of the first story ever written of the famous and world-renowned Buffalo Bill, the great hero whose life has been one succession of exciting and thrilling inci-dents combined with great successes and accomplishments, all of which will be told in a series of grand stories which we shall uow place before the American boys. The fir s t of these stories entitled "Buffalo Bill, the Border King," appears in No. I of our new five=cen t library entitled" The Buf falo Bill Stories." STREET & SMITH, Publishers, New NICK CARTER STORIES THE best known detective in the world is Nick Carter. Stories by this noted sleuth are issued regularly in ''Nick Carter Weekly '' (price five cents), and all his Nick Carter. work is written for us. It may interest the patrons and readers of the Nick Carter Series of Detective Stories to know that these famous stories will soon be produced upon the stage under unusually elaborate circumstances. Arrangements have just been completed between the publishers and Manager F. C. Whitney, to present the entire set of Nick Carter stories in dramatic form. The first play of the series will be brought out next fall. STREET & SMITH, Publishers, New York. DIAMOND DICK STORIES THE celebrated Dia-Diamond Dick. mond Dick stories can only be found in Diamond Dick, J r.,The Boys' Best Weekly." Diamond Dick and his son Ber iet are the most unique and fascinating he_ rdes of Western romance. The scenes, and many of the incidents, in these exciting stories are taken from real life. Diamond Dick stories are conceded to be the best stories of the West. and are all copprighted by us. The library is the same size and price as this publication, with handsome inuminated cover. Price, five cents. STREET & SMITH, Publishers, NEW York. rl tl


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