Buffalo Bill's road-agent round-up, or, Panther Pete's revenge

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Buffalo Bill's road-agent round-up, or, Panther Pete's revenge

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Title:
Buffalo Bill's road-agent round-up, or, Panther Pete's revenge
Series Title:
Buffalo Bill stories
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Buffalo Bill
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New York
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Street & Smith
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English
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1 online resource (30 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
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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020849317 ( ALEPH )
07398948 ( OCLC )
B14-00076 ( USFLDC DOI )
b14.76 ( USFLDC Handle )

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No. 76. j A ,'WEERLY PUBLIC :r1o N OEVOTED TO BORDERM1 5TORY A SHRIEK THAT ECHOED IN BUFF.A.LO BILL' S EARS FOR MANY A DAY BROKE FROM THE OUTLAW' S LIPS AS HE FELL. I

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ook ,, ,\ ,, l "-"t'"il . /1'1rf /:" .. A 'WEEKLY' PUBLICATION DEVOTED TO BORDER Hl5TORY Imutl WeeUy. By S>IMcription $11.so per yea r Entered as Second Class Malter at Ille N. Y. Post Offic , by STREET & SMITH, 2,18 William SI. N. Y. Entered ace1rdin,r" to Act of ConJrress in flu year rqoa, in the Office of the Librarian of Concress, Waslzinrfon, D. C. Price Five Cents. OR, P ANTHE R PETE'S REVENGE. CfIAPTER I. NED NORDECK'S BOX PARD. When Ned Nordeck, the driver of the stage line be tween Fort Taos and Fort Summer, two posts on the far frontier, pulled out of Herders' Ranch, a mining settlement at which the coach stopped, his team going well, a cigar between his teeth and a miner seated upon the box with him, he was not in the best of humors, for he had hoped to have the company of Lieutenant Willis, a bright, young officer stationed at Fort Taos, and who had been spending a few days at Herders' Ranch, on the l ong ride in s tead, as he told Jack Tobin: "A guy like that." And he pointed to the man who was to be his outside passenger But Ned Nordeck admitted to himself that he had mis taken his man before he had ridden very far. "Have another cigar, for yours is about burned out, pard," was the way the stranger broke the i ce. N ed accepted . "Was it not about h ere tliat there was a big battle fought l ately?" ask e d the stranger. "Right on this ridge ahead, and Lieutenant W illi s, of Taos, was the officer in command, along wit h Buffa l o Bill, the great scout. "It was a great victory for the so l diers." And the settle r s for Herders' Ranch an d the r ranche11 turned out a' big force, and they caught the Inju ns b e tween ther soldiers and themselves and, oh, my! Wal, ther r e dskins ain't quit wailin' over it yet, I guess." Then Ned described the battle that had occurred there, wh ich he knew nothing about having heard no l e s s than forty versions regarding it, and the str anger listened attentively, at last remarking: You have driven this trail for years?" No, I ain't." I thought some one told me so. " They was stuffiin' yer, or lied knowingly for d r ive r s in these parts don t drive no trails for years. "Why not?" "They don't live long enoqgh." "ls the country unhealthy?" "Wal tha r s a disease here thet are quite fa a l t e r many."

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2 I "What is it?" "Bullet fever." "Ah!" THE BU!'f and <'plained wja phiJo,opher was, and Ned replied: / "Then, the drivers catch it?" "You bet they does! "Are many killed ?" "Wal, on ther Taos trail I drives, from Sink through Herders' to Fort Taos, a run, there h as been five deaths in ther pastthree years." "Five drivers have been killed?'.:' : . "Sure; an-d seyen others has been run off ther trail, not wishin' ter go ter glory from a stage box ai;id two has been wounded so bad they is lail;l up, "This is a bad record for the trail, indeed. "Vv ere you ever shot at?" "Was I ever shot at?" "Yes." "Does yer see this wound in my left hand?" "A bullet chipped a piece out off there; thcr scar on my cheek?" "Yes." "A bullet chipped a pi .ei;::e out of there, ancl I has a piece o' lead in my leg now and a wound in my body. "Oh, yes, pard, I has been shot at sundry times, and l'm glad it was no worse." "You are a brave man to still drive the trail.'' "See here, pard, if I wasn't o, brave man, I'd cut my throat, for a coward ought to die, and I don t mean ter praise myself, nuther." "You expect to still stick to the trail then?" "Pard, I am a driver. "I-went into the work fro111 ldve o' horses, driving, and to be out in God's fresh air, looking al: the beauties of nature He had made. "I took slim chances when I began, for it wasn't in the Injun and outlaw country; but, when I wqs sent here ; I wou)dn' t b ack dovin when they fold me this box had been the execution block of a nnmber of good men. '"If better I be was willing to die here their duty, then I might risk it, I thought. a11d am stiU r isking it, and, so far, has been picked, but some day, or night, I'll get a bullet tlmmgh my heart or brain, and I will take the trail so many has gc:me, b efo r e .111e, so many has :xet go, an' d the. end of which only the dead knows, for 110ne ever come back." "Ypu take it very calmly.: 1 "vVhat is ther use o' frettiu' ?" "I sleeps well when off duty, 1 comes up fer my feed times .
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THE BUFF ALO fa ILL S TORI ES 3 "YOU think so ?" "I know so." "You knows more than I does." "No, I do not; but it is your duty to say that you have not. "Now, I know that there is a large sum of greenbacks, government money besides, with valuable express matter for the fort, and an important registered mail." "You thinks you has it down fine." "I have, as you will see." He took from his pocket an official envelope, and", tak-ing a letter from it, read : "Detective Carrol, of the United States Secret Service Corps, is hereby commanded to select a guard of picked men from his force, and guard the mail coach, that carries a large sum of money to the First National Bank in Santa Fe, also some government funds sent to the paymaster at Fort Taos, v-aluable express matter, and an importa;it mail, some of it registered. "By order of THE CHIEF." Ned Nordeck gave a whistle, at hearing this, and then said: "Let me see thet paper, pard ?" "Pardon me, but I am not allowed to trust it out of my hands; but I read it to you to let you feel you need have no anxiety about being robbed of your valuable freight, as we are here to protect you." "Them is your men inside?" "Yes." "Not miners ?" "No." "All detectives?" "Yes.". "Five?" "Yes; five of them." ''Well, I hope the Cobras won't jump us, for ther fight will be hot, or there won t be any." "How do you mean ?" "\Vaal, I means this : "I has traveled trails a long time, and I mind when I come out of Herders' Ranch, with two on top and eight inside, including me, eleven of us. "Well, them men was armed all over, ter hear them talk, I just hoped ther Cobras would be on hand, for we'd plant a graveyard right whar they tackled us. "Them men sung big, sung loud, and I began ter feel sorry for ther Cobras. "At last we come to a place whar' ther C,)bras had jumped me afore. and thar' was several green mounds 011 ther side of ther trail, which nobody can mistake for other than what they is. "I hed seen ther bodies in 'em. "V./ aal, all of a sudden; loud and pipin' come a cry ter hold up. "I were covered with a gun, I seen thet, and .so I halted quick. "Then ther robber, for there were but one in sight, he :;ays thet he has twenty men, and would kill ther horses and riddle ther coach if there was any sign of tight. "Then ther singing was low ter soft music, for it turned into beggin' and prayin' fer mercy. "Thet outlaw chief then Li!ade 'em git out, one by one, and lay down. "Then he picked 'em clean; he tuk dollar, 'vatch and chain, they bed;' and they hed a great deal, fer they was a lot of young fellers goin' ter ther fort ter ther wedclin' of a young officer they knew. "Oh, how they prayed, sandwichin' profanity in with prayer; they begged, promised, and all to no good, for the out l aw got it all." "Did you lose mttch ?" "Bless yer, he never bothered me, though I hed a big freight aboard, only ther men who was goin' ter wipe ther Cobras off ther face of ther 'arth." "He let you go on, then?" "Yas; told me tcr hump along, and I did so, and it were like a funeral procession all ther rest o' ther way, fer them gents was so quiet. "They all hed weddin' presents fer ther lady and gent who was ter be married, and them was tuk, too, and ther party had come all ther way from. New York." "And they never recovered their things ?" "Every dollar, and eve r ything else, was waitin' fer 'em at the fort, for ther outlaw chief was Lieutenant Mc Kenny Willis, who hed made bets with brother officers he could hang up ther whole outfit, which he did, and all alone, and won his bets, too, and ther joke nearly kilt them ten fellers," and Ned laughed heartily at the re membrance of the young officer's practical upon the tenderfeet wedding guests. I CHAPTER III. NED NORDECK SURPRISED. The detective had listened with interest to Ned's story, but then seemed to think that it reflected upon the cou r age of his men and himself, so said : "So you think we would surrender, too, if the outlaws held up the coach ?" .;W aal, you hasn t been singing loud of what you would do, and, as fightin' is yer trade, I guess you'd do some shootin', but I want ter tell vou that, no matter how brave men is, and how many, when they hears ther order of "Hands up, or die!" from ther thicket, or behind a rock, they does jist what they is told, ninety-nine times in a hundred. ;'I has driven brave men over this line, r hain't no coward myself. but I has seen them hand ove r their valuables, and I has fished in my pockets and got out my little pile, fer a revolver muzzle p'intin' in yer face is a mighty strong argiment, and extends a very pressin' invitation fer yer ter com<;; down out of yer tree. "No, pard yer is caught in a ambush, and, though men loves ther money, they jist lets it go when it comes to a question of gold or life." "Then you think sending me along, with my four men as a guard, is a poor protection to the coach?" "That's what I thinks." "I am sorry." "Now, you mav be used ter thief-catchin', c r oo chasin', and all that, but when it comes ter sendin' tt'i derfeet out here ter down Cobras, they ain't in it a littl e bit. 'If you was Buffalo Bill, now, with four scouts that officer I spoke of, Lieutenant willis, and a squad of sol diers, c .expressly for a fight, ter trap ther trappers, then, when ,got ther word, they wouldn't be kn ocked

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l'HE BUFf l\LcJ BILL STORIES. l I silly by scare and but would pile out and go at it, :ind ther chances are Mr. Cobra would have ter crawl fer ther nearest hole ter hide in." The detective laug-hcd, and then the relay was reached, where a change o f horses was made. The men got out, stretched their legs, and talked w111 the two stock-tenders, and the trip was re stt med. The detective again returned to the box, and, after going a number of miles, he asked: "\?'/as there a hold-up anywhere near here?" "Ri g ht on ahead, and yer'll see ther graves I told yer of. 'It was the r e that Lieutenant Willis masked a11d in rough clothes, up th e r weddin' party ." ''Don' t pa11s the place without showing me." "I won't, fer it's ther boss place fer a hold-up." another cigar. Ned accepted the invitation, and soon after said: "Thar is ther pl
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q'HE BUfFALO BILL STORIES. 5 \ "Whar is Cap'n Cobra?" "Here, there, everywhere." "That means nothing." "He may be here any minute, he may be in Hetders' Ranch now, or at Fort Taos, or Sumner. "None of us know anything about his moveinents." The leader seemed now to be growing impatient, and his anxiety was shared in by Ned Nordeck, who began to fear his horses would be taken. But, after an hour's delay, and just as the leader had ordered the men to unharness the six horses, one of the outlaws called out: "There they come! Through the timber wa s seen coming a man wearing a ma sk, and dre ss ed in the green costume representing a snake 's s kin. He was on foot but he carried a rifle on his shoulder, and came along at a brisk step. As he approached, he saluted the leader, and said : "The horses are all ready, sir, if you are. "We have been here an hour waiting "Any word from the chief?" "Only that I was to have horses at a given point for you, and come on to this place to meet you, and come Oh foot to leave no trail." "So my instructions said. "Come, men, unharness these horses; urtfasten every buckle, and scatter the harness about. "Then get the wrench artd take the nuts off the wheels and it will give Ned here a couple of hours' work to get ready to start on, and that will allow us ample time." The orders were carried out, and Ned Nordeck was left standing alone in the trail, viewing his scattered harness and the work left for him to do, while the outlaws disap peared in the timber, carrying their booty with them. CHAPTER V. THE MEETING AT THE FORD. Ned Nordeck was not a profane man, but he admitted that just then he tried a few choke oaths, to &ee if they would comfort hirn To his surprise, he discovered that they would hpt rise to the occasion so he sat dowrt to think over tbe situation. But he sat for a mor11ent only, and, springing to his feet, cried : "I clean forgot Buffalo Bill "I'll meet him on ther trail ahead I" Buffalo Bill, king of scouts, was at Fort Taos at; the time, and had recently killed the leader of the Cobras He was still the trails, however, fearing that the band might. get together again, under some new l eader. This thought seemed to inspire him, for he quickly picked up the wrench, pttt the nuts on again, and then began to collect his pieces of harness. This was no easy task, for every strap had been un buckled and scattered. But he got them together at last, put the harness upon his horses, hitched them to the coach, and, springing upon his box, called out : "Now, go like skeered antelopes!" Away went the team, and Ned did not spare them. He held the reins well in hand, kept his whip ready to touch up atfy horse that showed a sign of laziness, and cast mile after mile behind him. At last the descent began toward the river, and he was nearing the ford, when he beheld a horseman riling along bank and coming down the stream. He had a horse following him, and, as he rode out of the timber, Ned Nordeck gave a yell that could have b een heard a mile anc! cracked his whip a dozen t i mes by way of a salute. "Buffalo Bill Buffalo Bill ''I'd rather see yer now than git a fortune!" "Ah I Neel, I thought you were on a racket when I s aw you, said Buffalo Bill, as he halted by the coach. "Pat:d Bill, I'm drunk clean through with mad. I tell yer, I've been done fer awful." You hav e b e en robbed by Cobras, who took passage in your coach, and th e y got a rich hattl." "You knows it all ?" I am on a little secret service wor)<." "That's what ther feller said thet robbed ther coach." Buffalo Bill laughed, and replied: "I did hope to get here in time to warn you, as I had information that the Cobras were going to break out again; but it's a long and ; hard trail I have to travel, so I am too late to prevent the robbery. but may be able to recover the stolen goods." Then Ned Nordeck told the whole story of the ride from Herders' Ranch, all that the leader of the band of plunderers had told him, of the halt and robbery, the coming of a man who reported horses wete in waiting for them a couple of miles away, and how they had scattered his harness and did other things to delay him. "I will see Lieutenant \i\Tillis, as he is at Herciers' Ranch, and by daybreak we will have that booty, if i t has been taken where I suppose it has "If it has 11ot, ,i;hy. I can circle around the place C1f hold-up, a couple of miles away, and strike their trail after they reached their horses, and track them "Now, Ned, I wish you to tell the colonel the whole situation, and ask him to send to the ford here a sergeant, corporal, and sixteen men from Lieutenant Willis' troop, and Brazos Ben, Dot Driver and twelve other scouts, and start them off as soon as possible, and either Lie u tenant Willis or mysdf will be here to meet them." "I'll do it, sir; out, now, let me te ll you that Lem Luby's coach is going to catch it, too.' "How do you know this ?" "I'll tell yer," and Ned told what the road-agent had said: "Luby leaves Herders'. Ranch at midnight, and he will be held up soon after dalbreak. I may be able to head them off. "Now, I'm off, and you had better push through at good speed," and remounting his horse, Buffalo Bill crossed the river and rode hard for a secret camp, in v. hich he hid while watching the trails, while Ned set hi:, team going hard for the fort. CHAPTER VI. THE SCOUT LYING IN WAIT. Buffalo Bill found bis horse left in camp Jooki1t g l one s ome, but still with his long stake line, finding rass in plenty to feed upon, and with the brook near for water.

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THE BUFF i\LO BILL STORIES. \ H e hastily cooked his supper and ate it "Now I must be off, and Comrade has got to travel for dark is coming on and I have got to drop all els e now to warn Lem Luby of the intended attack upo n hi m and it is mighty near a fifty-mil e ride from h e re ," he said With this, Buffalo Bill turne d off of the trail to the right, and began to go across country, taking his own ideas o'f t h e way to guide his horse. He had the points of the compass the distances from place to place the lay of the land, and the general direc tions the stage trails led d o wn fine, so he kn e w just about where he would strike into the one leading from Herders' Ranch to Fort Sumner He well knew that the coach driven by Lem Luby would leave the ranch at midnight drive along at a good pace until it struck the 'first rela y and the n would reach the hill country and g o slow, as the trail would be rugged, and it would be night Once in the hill country, and da y having dawned Lem Lub y was liable to run upon the Cobras an y where He would not come to another relay to change hors es until fifteen miles this side of Fort Sumner, and between the two relay stations the outlaws had been wont to act the nature of the country protecting them in an e s cap e So Buffalo Bill pushed ahe a d st e adily, urg ing his hors e into a canter wtJenever he could do so and m aking t he best time he was abl e Midnight came, and found him tw enty miles away from the trail. But he argued that Lem Luby had more than that dis t a nce to drive before he reached the s pot where h e wished to head him off. dawned, and Buffalo Bill was but a few mile s from the trail and Luby was not due for a couple of hours So Buffalo Bill halted in a piec e of meadowland bord e ring a brook, unsaddled his horse, and staked him out, and then built a fire to cook hi s b r eakfast. He was perfectly calm, and a confident smile was upon his face. He was as h e said to himself, pla ying to win ," and he had the cards well in hand. He ate a hearty breakfast put out the fire, lighted his pipe, and leisurely saddled his hor se, which was much refreshed by the hour's rest . Mounting again, the scout pres sed on, and in half an hour came out into the sta g e trail. He turned in the directi on of H e rders' Ranch and, riding a short distance, ha l t e d the re. Then he set to wo r k, after staking his hor se out, to get a disguise he carried, which made him r ese mble one of the outlaws ready to p u t on, should the re be an y on e on the coach box with Lem Luby Over half an hour he waited, and then cam e the rum bling of wheels, and he muttered : "The coach is coming. Anxious that Lem Luby should not mi s t ake him for a road-agent Buffalo Bill stood out in the trail, whe re h e could see him, and waited for the coach to c o m e in si g ht. Soon it did so driving at a slow pace and a glance a t the trail ahead revealed the for m of the sc ou t to Lem Luby, who at once came to a h a lt. Taking off hi s sombrero B uffalo B ill wave d it, and beckoned Lem Luby on, for he s aw that the driver did not recognize him at first glance. But Lem quickly s a w that the one who his way was the scout, and he gave a yell of delight, and drove on. As he cam e to a halt, he was about to give another yell, when Buff a lo Bill put his fing e r upon his lips and the driver at onc e s aid, in a whisper: "What are it, pard Buff a l o B ill ? " Trouble. "Enough said . "I thought you was a Cobra-don' t shoot me-when I s ee n yer in ther trail, bu t wh e n yer pla y ed yer cards I kne w yer, and m y hea r t dropped back where it lives for it wer e crowdin m y ton g ue out b e tween my teeth " I don't wond e r that you w e re al a rmed, Lem, for y on have a v e r y valuabl e frei ght aboard "You knows ther game, ?" Ye s ." \.V ell, I d e clare "And so do t he Cobras." "Oh, Lord! I've played the wrong card!" "Not yet, for I rode all night to head you off, to save the fr e ight." "Pard, you is a trump "Ned Nordeck w a s h e ld up y esterday, and robbed of a m o st valuabl e mail, expre ss, and his money box." ;'My!m !" "The gang play e d min e rs, bonnd for Santa Fe, and r ode throu g h with him. "Liei.1te nant Willis is on the trail, and will have scouts and soldi e rs rea d y by to-morrow to strike, for the Cobras a re at their o ld g ame a g ain." "And playin t o win?" "Yes "\II/h a t shall I do?" I came to h e lp y ou out." "Jist so, and I bless you, Pard Cody." Y ou h a ve a ver y v.aluable cargo, so my id e a is that y ou let me hold y ou up and take it all from you." "Y Ou b e t !" "I will take it or s end it by my men i nto Herders' R an ch, and on your way back y ou can brin g an offic e r and soldiers to carry it to the fort, under escort "You are playin' yer trumps now, pard. "The Cobras will cert a inl y catch y ou on ahead and. you can paralyze them by simply saying you were held u p back on the trail b y outlaws and robbed. "We will make tra cks here, and every si-gn of a halt and pilla g e of the c o ach to show that y ou are telling the truth; in fact, will s m as h your strong box, and leave it here, for I will have t o 1.a ke the things in m y saddle-bags. "If the y wish to prove what you sa y t he s e si gns will do it, and y o u might say that you saw one man on horseback--my self y ou k now-and two on fo o t, yo u and I, for i t will not b e l y ing." "Pard Cod y, don t you worry about my lying, for I can do it when there is a reason \Vhy, I has had blisters on m y t o ngue fo'r weeks from dod g in th e r truth." All right. I am gfad your conscience w ill not ca u s e y ou t o suff e r to an y great ext ent. ' Now, let us get to work." "Ther cards is shuffled, cut and ther pl a y begins, s aid Lem Luby w ho as an inveterat e gambler wh e n off duty, always spoke by the cards" when he had anything to say. The frei ght was a valuable o n e even mote so than had b een that carried by Ned Nor d e ck.

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\fHE BU ff BILL STQRIESo 7 But B\1ffalo .Bill packed it all a.way upon his horse, and the signs to indicate a robbery were scattered about. "Now,, Lem, tell the colonel just what I did, and that I turned road-agent from necessity to save your freight. Tell him if I cannot get the pooty into Herders' Ranch on time, I will hide it, and send a letter to Jack Tobin for you, so the officer sent as an escort can find it." "I'll tell him, sir." drive at a slow pace, and look like a very wretched man, as ybu sit upon your box, as though you diet not care. whether you lived or died." "I can look it; I used ter put that look on when my mother-in-law was around, for she drove me to drink; and, to reform, I took to the trail and drove a coach. "I'll wear iny too-much-mother-in-law expression." "Then you'll make the Cobras weep, said Buffalo Bill, as Lem gave him an example of how he intended to look. "Maybe it will drive them ter throw up ther cards o' sin and play ther game o' salvation." "They will-when they die; not before. "But my idea is yoti'll be held up about five miles from here, and, if you delay all you can, it will give me over two hours' start of them, and that will be enough, for maybe, if they follow me, they will run upon a snag they are not looking for, if I can get to the lieutenant and his men. Lem, and I hope the loss qf the booty will not get you into trouble." I hopes not; but I'il take what comes no matter. how the game goes, if I can only save the jackpot, and Lem Luby, a rough diamond hero, drqve on his way, as Buf falo Bill mounted and rode off through the timber. CHAPTER VII. A WI!3E PRECAUTION. Lem Luby drove on hi s way, playing his part well. His team went along, with loose reins, and the driver looked like one who had lost his pocketbook and best friend. One door of the coach was open, the cushions w:ere off the seats, the boxes beneath were open, and the rear boot wa. s unstrapped. The who le appearance 0 the driver and his coach was one of demoralization. Thus Lem continued for several mi!es, and he then, in spite of his apparent dejection, began to cast anxious looks ahead of him. He knew J1is danger if the Cobras suspe<,:ted he bad outwitted them on purpose. . They were liable to put a bullet through his brain, an c l l eave him dead in the trail the coach standing rlear )Vith out a t'earn. No one knew bette r just what the Cobras w ere and would dothan Lem Lubv. So he kept his eyes ,;ell abroad, and at 1<\st muttered: "vVell, I'd like ter pass in thet' game ef I were able, but if I can't I'll play my hand. J told yer so!" It was himself whom Lem Luby had "told so," for this last remark was occas\onecl by s1ttldenly seeing a 1t1askecl man step out i11to the trail ahead of him and lev e l a rifle full at him. Others appeared also, as if b y magic upon each side of the ttail, until Lem saw that there were sevet1 of them. They were all mask ed and dressed in the garb of the representing the skfr1 of a snake, and stuffed serpent skins as hat-bands. There was no ne e d to utter the command of "Halt! and hands up !" That rifle leveled -at his heart spoke volumes, .and Lem drew rein by callin g to his horses .and pt1tting hi s foot hard upon the brake, while he called o,u.t: .. Has I got ter be robbed ag'i11 ?'. !'Yes Lem Luby, as long as you carry booty,, the C-0bras need pocket change, you will Jmve t o be robbed," said the leader, stepping forward. "Then yer ought ter go in cahoots, fer t'other gang got I has." "What do you mea ,n{" the leader, sharply. "Jist what I says, for all I bed was in ther jackpot t'others got. " vVhat others ?" "Them that ordered me up back on ther trail." "'iVhere ?" "Some five miles back." "When?" . '.'A leetle over a hour ag
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8 THE BUFF "LO BILL STORIES. "See here, Pard Thief, I thinks I has suffered enough v,rithout being turned back on ther trail; besides, it's bad luck ter turn back." "You have had your bad luck." "I could have more." "How so?" "I wasn't called upon ter pass in my chips and tarn my bloomin' toes up to ther daisies." "You will be, if we don't find it' as you have sa id." "What does yer mean?" I mean that you go with .us back on the trail; if there is not the proof we seek of what you say, we will kill you, and leave you in your old hearse ." "God bless Buffalo Bill, fer ef h_e hadn't put ther signs thar, I'd hev tuk ther glory trail," muttered Lem .Luby, with a heart full of thankftilness for the scout's thought fulness in manufacturing proof of the hold-up. Lem Luby put ba,ck over the trail with evident reluc tanc e But there was nothing else for him to do than obey. The outlaws went into the timber, m\:mnted their horses and rode back with the coach, some ahead some following behind it. Lem saw that there were just seven of them. He drove rapidly, for he knew he would be some four or five hours late in getting to Fort Sumner as it was. He saw that the outlaws were very much disturbed by what he had told them. They did not und e r stand who the other band of road agents could be. Lem Luby enjoyed their anxiety immens ely, and called out to the leader : "Don't yer know who it is thet got my booty, pard Cobra?" "Oh, yes, we know." "You is lyin' now, sartin, for yer looks as melanchol y as a corpse at a buryin' ." "I tell you that I know !" "And I says yer don't fer yer is skeered ter death; but somebody got it, and teq yet thet I thinks ye r all ha s fooled by some o yer gang. "Maybe it war' ther chief, fer h e were a fine-l ook ing e1ler thet held me ttp." "X ou said be was maske'd." "I says so now ; but he were tall and too fine a gent ter be in the road-ag en t trade, I tuk it." "The re were three, you said "I seen three of 'em. "If I;d 'a' know d there wasn't more, I d h ev made a break for it. 1 And gotten your h ead shot off." "I'm right good myself in playin' trumps, when ther playin' card s is shootin' irons. "Oh. we know that, Lem Luby. "You are a plucky fellow, a good fellow, a dead shot and take big chances in doin g your duty, and it is just th ese virtues you pos sess that have saved your life scores of times. But, though those men who held you ttp were Cobras beyond a doubt, I cannot just place them, for you know that Buffalo Bill came down here and hunted us bard." "Y 011 hain't the King o' Clubs, then?" "No; I'm a sub-officer." "I thought maybe, ]:OU was so perlite and such a nice looker, you might be ther Ace thet wins ther fer I hears thet Captain Cobra your ne w chi ef, are a r emarkable man." The outlaw leader was riding alongside of the coach now, and he seemed much pleased with the flattery, for he said: "Many mistake me for the chief, but I am 011ly second in command." Lem Luby laughed, and replied, in his fearless way: . "\JYal, it's a wonder yer ever got thet hig.h, onless ye r km cut a throat.better than any one else, for I was only jokin' when I called yer a gent, and said yer look ed like ther chief, just givin' yer a leetle sweetenin' afore a bitter dose; for I does regard yer as a very hon'ry specimen o' a man, the worst card in ther deck. .. "Look like ther chief? "Ho, ho, ho! Why, ye r is thet bow -l egged ye r couldn t head a sow and pig off in a lane, and they'd hev ter put bay winders inter yer coffin for ther spreadin' out of yer legs. He, he, he !" The enrage d outlaw gave a look up at Lem, to warn him to desist, and dropped his hand upon his revolver. But Lem was mad clean through at being turned back ; he had gotten reckless, and h e always jee red the outlaws and defied them, so he c on tinu ed : "Look like ther king snake o ther nest, inde e d Why, yer w ears yer mask ter keep yer face from frightenin' yer horse, for, if he seen it h e'd kick his s ho es oft. fryin' ter hit yer wit h 'cm. He, he, he!" The man grasped his revolver, s ndd eply threw it to a l evel, af1d pulled the trigger. Lem Luby coolly reined his horses back at the shot, and said; without the least show of emotion: "Yer is a blamed bad shot, fer, though thet bullet went t hrough my hat brim, it missed my nose four inches." One of the outlaws quickly said something to the leader in a low tone, and he returned his revolver to his belt, and glanced around upon his men, all of whom had collected about the coach to h ea r L em Lub y 's opin i o n of the outlaw The leader relapsed into silence now, while Lem drove on at a more lively pace, eying, however, w h e nev er h e s aw the opportunity, the crowd of Cobras, who rode too near his coach wheels, and once unhorsing one, though not hurting him much; for there was no more reckless man on the fro ntie r than was Lem Luby when he got into one of his u gly humors. "The re 's ther place 1 war held up, so make \'vhat yer kin out of it," he cried, as they drew up at the spot where Buffalo Bill had left the "signs" of the pretended robbery. The outlaws sprang fr9m their horse s T hey saw the strong b ox, broken open, and the leader said : "He has told the truth, for here is the proof." Luby heard just what was said, and called out: "I suppose I kin go now, Snakes?" "Go Lem waited to hear no more, but turned his coach about, and started off at a brisk pace, but, glancing back ere he had gone very far, he uttered a startled exclama tion, for he saw a hors em an approaching the Cobras. "If it ain't Buffalo Bill playin' a lone hand, a s Viper,

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THE BU.fFALO BILL hope I ma y die; but I can't help him, for I don't dare stop, as it might give ther racket away. ''Ob, Pard Bill, let ther angels up yonder pertect yer novv, fer them devils h ol ds a full hand ag'in yer !" CHAPTER VIII. BUFFALO BILL'S BOLD VENTURE. \i\Then Buffalo Bill rode away from the spot where he 'had played such a clever game with Lem Luby, to save his freight -:rom the outlaws, he went a few miles back in the direction he had come. The disguise that Buffalo Bill carried was one that h e had secured from o ne of the Cobras he had met and killed. This was a new man, known as Viper, who had been sent on an errand by the chief, and had m e t the scout and been killed by him. A note he carried showed that h e was a new man, and it served to introduce him to the other members of the band, and Buffalo Bill hop ed to pass him self off as V ip e r, with very lit t le difficulty. So he dismounted, and began to carefully make hi s toilet. He had his comb and brush with him, hi s raz or, a small mirror, and the effects taken from Viper, along with the disguises. Among his own effects there was a wig that had been pawned by a bald-headed rnan for a bar bill, and the hair was --This the scout put on, after he had snugly packc-;d his long hair close to hi s head. The Mex ican suit of the Cobra and the sombrero added to the disguise, while, having cut off hi s imperial, and taken his mustache down from curling upward at the ends, by the aid of soap, he was a very muc h d i sguised man from the h a nd some, clashing, Buffalo Bill. Then he blotched his face w it h some i od i ne he had in '!}is holster medici ne chest. and assum(!d a totally different. expressio n from that natural to him. Satisfied \vi t h his make-up, he mounted bis horse; and began to look abo u t for a hiding p la ce for the booty he carried. He was not l o n g in finding the very place, a ct:evice be tween two rocks, where all was black b e low. -Letting the bags clown with hi s lariat, he foui1cl a r est ing place for the booty, ancl, cutting a vine, he bound it in the crevice, thus hi ding the lin e which held the bag. Then h e set off for a cliff cavern, where he knew the Cobras sometimes hid, and was not long in reaching It did not take him long to di scove r that there was a fre s h trail there, doubtless made at earlv dawn, as the outlaws had pushed through after robbing Ned Nordeck. There were the tracks of seven horses, which would ac count for the five Cobras who had been passengers in the coach with Driver Nordeck, and the man who had come to the scene of the on foot to meet them with one horse to spa re. The track s showed that the men had not been very long at the cliff, but h ad gone off in a direction toward the Fort Sumner stage trail. Buffalo Bill dismounted, and approached the entrance to the retreat, cautiously. Having b een there once b e fore and seen the secret entrance, he knew well how to gain admission, by means of the trunk of a large tree, which had been hollowed out, and, brought to the spot had been placed over a hole in the ground, and fastened there. The trunk sto od in a thicket, which no one would enter without some good reason, and about the height of the s cout's head there was a swinging door cut into the tree, which he opened. Reaching his hand inside, he drew out a s h ort ladder which enabled him to step up and enter the opening, and, drawing it in after him to descend to the ground within, where the re was a hol e in the r o ck. The props which held the old hollow tree trunk in place furnished a ladder for the desc ent into a large cave, which opened out into the solid face o f the cliff. Not a sou l was within this cavern, as Buffalo Bill could see, but, that it was a secret r et reat Qf a band of hunted men, there was i undoubted evidence about him. Rifles revolvers, and knives hung here andthere, and rolls of bedding were scattered about w ith cooking uten s ils laria ts, several l anterns, and a lot of provisions. There had been a fireplace made of rocks near the open ing, and a chimney, from which a stovepipe could be thrust out some feet from the cliff w hen a fire was needed. But there no trace of the treasure he sought, though -that the outlaws had b ee n there he had ever-y evi clenci;:,_ for a few embers still.burned in the fireplace. Suddenly the scout s aid : 1'Th ey hav e a secret hiding place h ere I know, -but how to find it is the question. 1 "Ah I hav e it! They are far fr o m here now doubt less, but those vvho areto hold up Ned Nordeck must know, and I will find them, for this disguise and the letter I got from the outlaw I killed will pa ss me. 'Anyhow, I'll chance it," and he left the ;;avern and started back for the stage trail, to come upon the seven otttlaws just as Lem Luby was driving away. -The outlaws started as th ey saw Buffalo Bill coming through t he t .imbe_r, and were on their _guard at once. B\1t they beheld no one elS<;. and; : as he came leisurely a lon g toward them, he saw that they were masked, so he took a mask from his pocket a nd held it befor e his face, as a means of show ing that he was one of them. Not one of the seven me n now grouped together, with a rms in their hands, rec.alled what o ne of their band th e h orseman could be, and yet they felt sure there was no mistake; he must be a Cob ra. "Ah! He is o ne of the men who robbed the coach, and was acting__ under orders from the chief Thus the leader, and this seemed to be the accepted opinion of all. Another minute Buffalo Bill had ridden up to the group, and he b o ldl y lowered his mask, and asked: "Is t his Rattle's band of men?" ''No; I am Moccasi n, and it is my band. Who are _you?" "I am Viper, a new man, and a messenger from Cap tain Cobra, bu t I was to seek Rattle who had orders to hold up the Taos c oac h. "Did he do so ?" "Yes, but I was late, so missed him, and took the trail on this way to the secret cavern, but found that it had been there and gone, a nd knowing that you were to at tack the Sumner c oac h, I came on here, thinking Rattl e

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I 10 THE BUFFALO BILL STORIES. / had joined you. Here is my Rattle> if you tead Spanish . . The ma n w h o had led the outlaws, and called himse lf Moccas i n, took the note and read it, wh ile he said : "I am h a lfMexica n half American, so speak Spanis h as I do English So yo u m i ssed Rattle?-'' "Yes" Then. B ill recalled wha.t Ned had to l d h im abo u t the o u tlaw hav ing sa i d an, attack was also to be made ufon Lern Luby's coach, and h e continued: "As shall now go back to tell t h e chief that Rattle made his haul all ri g h t, what shall I tell him from yo u ?" "I am so r ry I ca n not send good news; but, the trutJ1 is, the coach was h eld u p bef6re i t reached us. "Th ree n.1en did it, but who they were we have no idea, and I now beg i n t o fear that. they were either traitor Cobras or not of our band "Did t h e captain say a!lything to you about a third p a r ty being out?" 1No; he only ordered you and Rattl e to act." "Th en those who robbed t h e coach we re, evidently, not of tj1e Cobra band "Can yo u not trail them from here?" asked Buffalo Bill, innocently, recalling how well he had covered u p the tracks o.f his hor.se a short distance away. "Yes, for t h ey mi.1st h ave all J;ieen' mounted. though the clriYer of the coach to l d me there was only one that he saw on horseback. "And they got all the booty? 'Every peso. ''What shall l tell the captain?" '' \iVhen do yo u go back?' "Right away, u n l ess your is near, so I could go there t o rest and get a meal." ''Our r ytreat is thirty miles from here "I am a new 1nan, yott kow, so am not aware of the r etre
PAGE 12

THE BU ff ALO BILL STORIES 1 1 But Buffalo Bill was very watchful of the man, who had begun to appear a trifle nervous. He was a large, athletic fellow, and looked like a very Hercules, while his movements were quick and decided. Entering the cavern, the man said : "So the captain did not tell you how to find the booty?" "No, Jor he expected Rattle, who knows the secret, would be with me." "True. Now, see here !" They had approached the entrance to the cavern that looked out of the. cliff. It was a splendid view they got the re of the country beyond for miles, the river dashing along far below at the base of the cliff a perfect window, as it were, in the rocky wall. CHAPTER X. THE HIDDEN Tl,IBASURE. The outlaw stood a mpment looking out of the opening in the cliff, as thbugh admiring the view, and then said: "So you don't know how to find the secret hiding place?" "No4" "Well, it is a good secret, as you will see. It is not in the cavern." "Where is it?" ''I'll show you." He stepped back to the dark corner, down which the shaft came from above, and brought back with him a stout sapling, with hewn sides, some fifteen feet in length. Retlirning to the corner, h J brought another of the same size, and laid both of them with one end pointing out of the cavern opening. Then he shoved them close against the rocks on either side, the one on the left fitting closely in a rtiche in the rocky doorway. Each end extended about three fe.et out of the opening, and the other ends were then propped hard down by poles put upon them and fitting hard against the ceiling of the cavern. Buffalo Bill watched the man's movements carefully, and the outlaw worked with a look on his face, for he was unmasked now, as though he delighted in surprising Captain Cobra's new man. Returning again to the dark corner, the outlaw came back bearin g a wide board, or plank. It was very heavy, for it was twenty feet in length, and the scout aided the outlaw in placing it in position. This position was in shoving one end out of the open ing resting upon one beam and catching the other under the beam on left. This h e ld it in position, one enq running out along the face of the cliff for some fifteen fee t. 1 But the outlaw was not yet satisfied, but fastened the end under the prop securely to it with a lariat. "One has to have a cool head to rig this platform and go out upon it. How is your head?" "All right." "I am glad, for I would have ro bring you all the booty to see. Do YOU know there are but two of us in the band now who h.1;ow this secret?" Stepping out upon the broad, thick planking, the out law said: "Come; for it will hold half a dozen." The scout followed; unflinchingly, and stood gazing down from the dizzy height at the roaring river beneath him. The cliff shelved under from the top, and, as he fol lowed the outlaw along the dizzy walk, Buffalo Bill saw that th ere was a slight curve in the rock some six feet from the entrance to the cavern, and the plank was resting against this. Around this curve half a dozen feet he beheld a h o l e in the rock. It was s01TI'e five feet square, and the bottom of it was nearly on a level with the plarik. From the entrance of the cavern, any one looking out could not have seen it, on account of the curve in the rock. To hide it from any one looking up from the plain across the river b e low, a piece of canvas, a curtain, painted the color of the rock, had been hung, and was securely tied at the bottom. "The chief found this cave by accident. "He saw it while riding on the plain one day, and some time after, when on the cliff, beheld the hole in the rock. "Tying his lasso to a tree he went down it, and found this retreat, so made use of it. "Lowering himself over with a lariat one day, to find a break in the r o ck where he could hide treasure, he saw this hole, which is a small cave as you see, half a dozen feet de e p only. See?" He had unfastened the canvas curtain as he spoke, drew it up, and revealed the little cave filled with booty. The scout gazed with interest, for he saw there more than the bags which had been taken from Ned Nordeck. There were rifles and revolvers, fine Mexican saddles studded with silver; fine silk serapes, artd a locked box, iron bound evidently containing valuables. But, be st of all, there were Ned Nordeck's mailbags, and what else had been taken from his coach. Looking over them in a casual way, Buffalo Bill took .l list, and said: "I am ready to go now." "All right; we will have to take down the platform, for the chief ne ver leaves that up; in fact, never allows it to be put up in the daytime; but we will soon have it down." CHAPTER XI: A SUSPICION VERIFIED. Buffalo Bill returned to the cavern from his dizzy po sition, taking good care to keep a sly watch upon the out law, to see that he did not slip anything into his pocket of value. The two set to work to remove the platform, the scout aiding, and noting just how it was done. Then the two left the place, Buffalo Bill going up last, for he was getting 1J.10re and more suspicious of the outlaw. As the latter closed the door behind him, and followed Buffalo Bill toward the horses, he said: "Well, I must be off, and report to the chief, and I'll have him understand fully that you were in position and ready, and held up the coach, but the work had already been d o ne d ou btless by this man Lem Nichols you StJOke of." "Yes, for I
PAGE 13

12 I I I THE BUffALO BILL "You are going right on to the retreat, I s uppose?" "Yes; I'll overtake my men before night, or at their camp." "As I am a new man, I wish you'd be good enough to give me an idea of how yott get to the retreat. "Y 9u leave the trail at the river, you say? "Yes, and go down stream. "The river is not d eep, you know, except irt places, but you can -watch where the shoals are, and follow them, keeping toward the right ban!.::. "At times you will have to swim your horse from one shoal to another. "After passing some reel cliffs, five miles trail crt:Jssing, you wlll see, on the right bank, three pines growing on a iJOint. 1'But swim your horse i-ight for those pines, for there is a break if! the rock bank right beneath where you can land, and a split in the cliff which you can enter and rid e up to the top, or, rather, lead your horse, for. it is a'. rough climb. "Once. on _th_e top, you can fol_low the the retreat, which 1s 111 Canyon Mqm1ta111," "Thank yoll, for that is explicit." "But, I forgot to tell you, there are rubber pants the chief had made, to draw over your clothes, and they are thoroughly waterpoof, coming up. to your waist. "You will find them in the point of rocks, j 11st below the ford, before the water grows deep." "You are very kind. Good-by." The scout shook hands with the outlaw, and they parted, Buffalo Bill riding away in the direction of the Taos trail, the other toward the new stronghold of the Cobras. But Buffalo Bill did not go far before coming to a halt. "I feel that that fellow is going to loot the cave, and, as I intend to do the same, though from a different purpose, I will watch him. ''I'll go back." 'vVith this, he dismounted, unsaddl ed hi s horse, staked his mount, for he wished io him all the rest he could, and started back on foot. As he neared the cliff, he gave a low chuckle, for his1 s uspicions against the outlaw were verified. The horse of the Cobra was hitched close up to the cliff, and the rider had alr.eady enterecl the cavern. Buffalo Bill leaned his rifle against the hollow tree, for the ladder was outside, the bark door swinging open. Unbuckling his belt of weapons, he took out his bowie knife and one r evolye r thrusting the former jn his breeches waistband r eady for t\&e. Then he threw off his coat and hat, and got ready for a desperate struggle, if it must come to a figli.t for life. Buffalo Bill then stepped into .the hollow tree, and slowly began to descend, having softly clos ed the shutter behind him, to leave all dark at the bottom of the shaft. As a bre eze was blowing, the rna1i' \Yonld, do ubtl ess, think the door had blown Dovvn the shaft, step b y step, the scout went, and, .-each ing the bottom, he turned, revolver in hand. Buffalo Bill stood in the shaft, watching and waiting. Soon the outlaw appeared in the opening, his arms full. I-Ie stepped into the cavern and, taki11g ttp a large pair of thick cauvas saddle-bags, evidently made for a pack-horse and to carry booty, began to put the different valuable articles in them. He took great care in packing them away. But Buffalo Bill made no move to interfete. The robber returned to the staging and disappeared. Soon he came back with another armful of booty. T his too, was packed away more carefully. A third trip was made, and still more booty was put into the But still the outlaw w ent again. Returning, he had several repeating rifles in his arms, and half a dozen belts of arms, revolvers, and bowie knives. "I'll ask him to hold up. with this Buffalo Bill stepped out into the cavern, walked quickly to the front of the cavern, and s tood just across the canvas saddle-bags. He had thrown off"his wig, his long hair had fallen d wn, and one who had ever seen him before would now n t fail to recognize Buffalo Bill. A mon1ent more; and he heard a step on the staging, and the man appeared in sight, with one of the fine bridles swung over his arm, and a splendid Mexican saddle held in his hands in front of him He intendecl to make an exchange of his own outfit for those he carried, and get all he could. But as he came in front of the entrance his eyes fell upon the tall form of the scout filling the cave, and vtith a revolver covering him, while he heard the words: "Hands up !" The shock was a terrible one, the despair of failure and death filling the place of triumph and joy. He dropped the saddle upon the staging and sprang backward for the shelter of the cliff but he missed his footing, a wild shriek of terror and despair broke from his Jips, a shriek that echoed in Buffalo Bill's ears for many a long day, and he fell from the dizzy height and plunged downward to the surging torrent b e low. CHAPTER XII. TWO HORSEMEN. Buffalo Bill, with all his nerve, received a shock when he saw the man go backward off of the staging. He realized that the sudden surprise, the destruction of all his hopes, at. beholding him barring his way, had caused the man to momentarily lose his nerve, and, weakening, he had thus fallen. Springing into the entrance of the cavern, the scout leaned over and looked qownwarcl, just as the body struck the water with a loud r eport. For fully a minute the scout stood lo oking from the cavern, and then muttered: "A frightful death, but preferable to hanging, I should say. "Now to get away from h e re for I do n o t care to go through more to-clay than has already fallen to my lot ." He stepped out upon t h e platform, glanced into the little cavity in the rock, and took note of what remained, putting the saddle and bri
PAGE 14

THE BUFF ALO Bi LL STORIES., full of booty, back from the entrance, and then set to work to remove the platfonn from along the face of the cliff. He closed the door in the tree behihd him, leaving all as he had found it, and putting the saddle-bags over his shoulders, he walked towatd the outlawjs horse. It did not take him long to mount and ride away from the cliff retreat, taking the direction where he had left his horse. Reaching the spot, he saddled up, and then transferred the sa
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