Gold Rifle, the sharpshooter; or, The boy detective of the Black Ranch


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Gold Rifle, the sharpshooter; or, The boy detective of the Black Ranch

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Title:
Gold Rifle, the sharpshooter; or, The boy detective of the Black Ranch
Series Title:
The Deadwood Dick Library
Creator:
Wheeler, Edward L. (Edward Lytton) 1854 or 5-1885
Place of Publication:
Cleveland, Ohio
Publisher:
Arthur Westbrook Co.
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English
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1 online resource (31 p.) 20 cm.: ;

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Dime novels. ( lcsh )
Adventure stories. ( 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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The University of South Florida Libraries believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries.
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026002324 ( ALEPH )
76930311 ( OCLC )
D22-00017 ( USFLDC DOI )
d22.17 ( USFLDC Handle )

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g o p y rl ght I SiS1885, by Beadl e & Adam s Ente r e d at Pos t omce, N e w Y ork, N Y ., as second c lass m atter Har.15, iia No.1 4 GOLD RIFLE, TUE Sharpshooter; ne Jto1 DetecttTe of the alack Bauch. ID' E. L Wheeler. /.THE ARTHUR WESTBROOK CO. Cleveland, Ohio V o l. II

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hpyrlght 18i8 -188ti l>y Beadl e & A dame Entered at Post Office, Ne w York, N. Y., as c lass matter. Ma r. 15, l!l!l No.14 I GOLD RIFLE, THE Sharpshooter; O K, The of t h<. Jl&n C I. [ L Wheeler. rHE ARTHUR WESTBROOK CO C leveland, Ohio Vol. II

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Gold Rifte;f.he Sharpshooter. THE Gold Rifle, SHARPSHOOTER; OR, The Boy Dctccthe of the Black Ranch BY EDWARD L. WR!l:ELER, AUTHOR OF THE FOLLOWING HALF-DIMJ:!i LIBRARIES! 1'qos. 1, 20, 28, 28, 33, ;j9, 42, 45, 49, 5J, 57, ETC., ETC. CHAPTER I. THE CHARME:D GOBBLER-GOLD RIFLE'S SHOOTING. THE brig-ht hot summer on tho plaius had gone, followed by its n ex.t bri111anthuecl aeighbor, autumn, and winter had spread her mantle over the prairies and mountai:is of the Far West showered her feathery-white fiakPs clown so copiously that the wilderness was, as it were, impassable except with the aid of snow-shoes. A terri])le storm bad fallen furiously over the Northwest. for four clays preceding Christmas. and wheu the bright, yellow sun Slan t ed her rays across the plains of whit" after so long an absence, it seemed like a loving smile on Nature's deathly face, and millions of sparkling diamond-like particles were born in the glorious illumination of Goe.l's shining-countenance. The day promised to be a fair one, with clear skies, and warmth enough in the sun to obviate the bitter wintry st.lug which bit th" nose of the early trapper, and caused a ll the animal kingdom of the mountains anti prairie s to keep as much to shelter as possible. The streams were all frozen over, solid, and everywhere stretched that desolate waste of purest white. Very little of life had there been on frontier during the last week-I mean out on the wide savan nas, where the snow had fallen to the depth of four or five fept on the level. Most of the wild, roving the setUetnentt:, a few of which were scattered nlong the course of the Northern Pacific Railway, in Dakota, or to their individual retreats, w berever they might be. There was one little settlement where a large r share of this population had gathered, dur ing the protracted storm-a statio n where the steam horse of the rail stopped for wood and water; and too, which 'va.s a station, from whence P "ltries were shippeJ by car-loads to the East. From its insignificance, perhaps, the place had never adopted any higb-t med name. hut whenever nrnntione1, was cal1<1cl ttlement, which answered all purposas. Its only life and commerce were in the skin and fur trade. Fifteen or twenty dwelling cabins. and a tavern block-house imd smithy was all ther3 was of the Settlement. A 1rny to the s mth but a matter of four miles loomed up the F .)rt. garrisoned with sol Hers und r the command of General Jlhynarrl, and around it were scattered a fff.,. i;etUers' dwe11ings, prominent amons which was the neat farm-house or H quarters of G .!u 3ral }iaynarU. Thus, the territ 1ry acljacent was settled parsely, but this did not prevent fmquent rai.js. by rrrack' s outlaws, and the rovbg t rihPs of ro1-.sh.irn; who bunted ou the plains a.nu .!n t',, ... n1ount:iins, not a doz e n rnlles from the At the Se"tl-
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Gold Rifle, the Sharpshooter. 8 one knew it; yet he always had p lenty of money, and suspicion s had often been arouse d that he got it un fairly, thoug h just bow no one, of course, knew. He was frequently away for several days from the S e t tlement, but no o n e kne w whither h e went-fe w care d beyond a n a tUl'al curi osity. H e was o f medium bi ght, stout of limb, and laTge ly d e v e l o p e d in muscl e with a face that was darkly indicative o f h i s e vil nat w e. There was nothing to attract in his m ake-up, y e t be had the name c f b eing quite a lady 's-man, wh e n be ming l e d i n soci ety, such as the far frontie r atrorde d. Some h alf a d o z e n trappers followed Strong in his attempt t o knock ov e r the turke y, but b e y ond the loss of a f e w feath e r s the bird unharme d. Jay Toleman a t las t took the stand with a sat i sfie d smile and r a i sing his long rifl e, shot tile turke y s bead otr, wi t h a s muc h composure as though he had been firing at r andom. A cheer w ent up from the soldi ers and the cro wd, es an Indian bro u ght in tbe neatl y d e c a {litated bird for it was a n extraordinary sho t, consid ering that several expert marks m e n h a d fail e d. "There! didn' t I t e ll y e? crie d young Tol eman, looking triumphantly around. "I cum t e r cl e itn out tile r turkeyc o o p s an' that' s my first shot. Hay, down the r e-put up anothe r turke y Anothe r bird w a s "pe edily put up a ccordinglytand several shots w e r e fired, some of which brushe a the b ird. but fail e d t o knock it ov er. Whe n it came Toleman's shot, h e settl e d the mat ter with one bulle t. And so the shooting went on, the young crack-shot winning every time, m uch to his own e latio n and the disgust of tbe crowd. Such shooting was beyond the average-incomprehensibl e l\Iany of t b e trappers refused to shoot against such odds, and withdrew from the contest".but there were enough others confident in their skill, to keep the e nt 1ee full and the shooting exciting. But Tolma n w o n every time, and at last the only remaining fowl was put upon tbe stool. He was a monstrous turke y gobbler-the l argest any of the spectators had eve r seen. He had a body s everal times large r tban tha t of the average domes ti cate d goose and the owners announced his weight to be seventy five pounds He truly was a nobl e and aristocratic old f e llow, with a disdainful gobbl e, as he took the sta nd, and a cheer wen t u p fo r him from the cro wd.* The exc i tement nver the h!!hdsome fow l was intense. and larg e sums were otrere d the owners, for the bird, alive, all of which were d e clined. The backwoodsme n d eclare d that h e was on l y to b e bad by the lucky shoo t er. And a hundr e d or more chances w e ri> s old on him, both men and wome n entering f o r the sport, The last one on the li s t of e n trie s was the young bull y of the s e ttl >ment. Jay Tole m a n, and v e t h e bragged that he should b e the one to tumbl e o ver' the giant gobbl e r. During the preval ent excitement, a bon> eman h a d approache d from the and sitting in bis saddle w a s casually surveying tne crowd, and the prize g o bbl e r H e was n o t one l ong to r emain unnoticed, for soon many curio u s glances w ere l eve l e d at him. About twe nty ye!t r s b a d passe d o v e r his b ead. but the s &years bad been bus ied in p erfecting and devP l oping what was n o w a hand s o m e form, stout, pli able, and athle tic, capable of c elerity, great strength and e n dura nce. Tbi:r e was g race. too, in the body and its carriage p leasmg to the eye In face. tbe young was ordinar il y good -lo oking in the way t h e world l ooks a t beauty ; it was a p lain, every-da y face at a glanc e, t anne d brown by exposwe, with round f e a *The turke y-slfoot and this big g obble r are a ll facts, according to tbe v eracious papers of Yankton, Dakota. .A.UTHoR. tures; yet study migh t have revealed outlines in the face, in the hazel eyes, and the firm mouth, de noting many manl y qualities worthy of possessionexpressions of character tbat w e r e n o bl e and hon est; ot ambition to obtain eminence of c ourage, of fearle ssn e ss, and of firm will that was m:ichangeable when in the right. The strange r was c lad in a s erviceable hunting cos tume of buckski i liberally fringed with mink fur, a round mink c a p and knee-bo ots upon the feet. He was mounted upon a wiry little whit e mustang, of fiery spirit and "icktd e y e and bis saddle and its accouterments were handsome. In his b elt w e r e r e v olvers, a knife, and fie ld t e le scope, a t the bac k of bis saddle a b o w and quiver of arrows w ere attached; while, r e s ting the pommel i n front of him, was a gold-pl a t e d R emingto n r epeat ing rifle It w a s a r 'markable l coking weapon, tte barrel and all the steel i:;art s b eing h eavily plated with gold, and polished until the y shone brightly. The sight at the muzzle of the barrel was set wi!b a flashing diamond I Toward this y o u n g strange r and b i s r emarkable rifl e many inquiring g lance s w e r e leve l e d but heap p eared quitA undisturbed, end watche d the shooting for old King G obbler, which was L a w b egun, but unde r rathe r unfavorabl e auspices at the best. For a gray pallor 1:.ad graduall y stol e n over the heavenR, and a fine powdery snow was sifting down, rende ring the shooting uncertai n as the t arget was dimly discer n i b l e at a d istance of three hundred yards. Shot after shot was fired without the least reward, for the Ki n g Gobbler stood p1 cudl y upon the stool, with b i s great fan-tail o utspread. and occasionall y emitting a gobbl e of indignation as the b ull ets whizz e d past. Rapidly the contestants thinn e d dow n to a littli> bunch, and still the turkey remained untouched, and the exci t ement grew i n its intensity. What mystery was thisf asked tbese astonished peopl e. the old Gobbler possesse d of a charm ed hfel It was a n enigma, and w h r n even Jay To l eman ftn ished the last of his three shots, unsucceSBfully, loud expressions Qf wonde r were heard on every side, while the young bully c ursed and swore in a fright ful manner. "String's over:,. fellers I" cried one of the owners o l the gobbler. Three hundre d a11d thirty three shots p lugge d at t h e t aire turk, b u t nary a ore tuk etrect. Al l ow me ter remark, gentlemen, that thet fow l bas bin put up at fiv e different shoots, but nevyer i;tot hit y e t. He bears a charme d lif e an' i s two year9 as1"al luck fer a quar,, 1Hayrl I'll shoot a gain!" growl e d younia-T o lA man, tendering a quarte r I was t o o n ervous be fore." Can't h e l p that, young f e Il e r ; you 're not entitled ter ernnthe r shot. no more'n the rest. Sum feller as hain' t plugged com e for'a'd, Hey, you gold rifle chap, C!ln't yon hit ibe t g obbl e r ? "Guess s o was tbe r e p l y o f the stranger. "Thet ain' t half a s h o t ; can stand on my bea d and knock that g obbler' s phiz . rifl e in hand. HQw much is the bill o f fare boss?"

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G old Rifle-;tlieSharpshooter. "Twenty-five cents, young feller," replied one of the managers. "Whew! That knocks me down to par, then!"' Gold Rifle said, with a wry look. "Bu'sted, ye s e e1 haiu' t s>en a quarte r f e r an age. Tell ye what I'I do, t!l'.>Ugh: I'll give yea verbal mortgage, afore the crowj bee r, on my rifle. Ee I hute the gob', both rifle and gob's mine; ef I fail the rifle's yourn." "Agreed!" eagerly accepte d the managers. "Yo u1r a to stand on your head." "If you like, anrl will furnish m e a piece of board to keep my bead from Rinking into the SJ,lOW." The prtlparations were made amidst tT1e greatest Bets were made, some having courage enough by the Gold Rifle's coolness, to b e t that ho would win althou!?h the maj<>rity w ere n ext to positive that his attempt would be a grand failure. be possible for him to fire a ritl3 with accuracy? The question was not long to puzzle the wonderers. Gold Rifle, as the young stran!l'er had bee n quickly named, rapidly made preparat1011s for his feat. A large, wide piece of board was packed down upon the snow. and upon this Gold Rifle took his position. An ludian boy stood close by, with the gold rifle, which was cocked and ready fer use. After 1ch as would be eli gibl e acquaintances. for Captain Bass was but thirty, and a prime good fellow, who lik e d to see every body social with everybody. While they were makinz the rounds. three men wPre standinf{ apart from the n1ain crowd, some what, aucl in watching narrowly the sharpshooter, upon whom nearly all eyes were level ed. in admiration. But the eyeg of the&e three men emitted only i?lances of sus pi c ion and hatred; tlvidently the Boy Sharpshooter was not f\ strano;er to them. On e of the trio was Jacob Toleman. the fathr of the y oun!l' bully. He was a little. dried-up. villain ous-looking man. with ill-attendance to bis personql habiliments, and a furrowed, evil countenance that spoke but too stron'.;'ly of excessiv!l drink. He had a shrewd cast of eye, however, which .would have impressed one with the opinion that he was clever at plotting or bargaining-a man of few scruples. The s econd of the trio was Omerbaun, gun* Indeed, many or the far western papers wrote glowing articles on it, giviug of course tll e hero's true name, while we only deal for the present with the title by which he was so widely known. smith, who manufactured or re{laired firearms bis mitby. which was situated 111 t dark, gloom gorge, not far to the west of the settlement. was a man something very nearly after the pa.e of Jacob Tol eman. except that he was stouter, and had even a more disagreeabl e, hang-dog look tha the trader. Hoover Legree, the third of the part:y, was, at e. glance, a tlrst-watn border ruffian. br1stlmg weapons. dark, wolfih-looking, bra.vny--0ne of th heavy villains, sometimes so admirably represente on our principal theate r stages. Besides his personal appearance, which was brutfil and ruffianly in the extreme. h e possessed all th11 r e qui sites of a ruffian-was a whisky-guzzler, aver; wildcat on a fight and of a quarrelsome nature. Few men cared to cross him, for when enraged h e was a fearful man to handle. He was considered bl some to be very rich, having done, and still doing the most Ruccessful trapper business in the Terri tory. Each of these three men eyed the young sbarP' shooter with savage glances, occasionally excha in?, confid e nces. 'The kid's the ve, y image of your man, Toleman1 .. Legree saia, with an oath. which be always used lil speaking as a H finisher" or u starter. 11 "Ken ye see it in bis durned countenanc cl'ar a brandy?" "I dunno," replied Toleman, dubiously. "Mebbd you're right, but I can't see much "But the Ill'" giv e s him away, I tell ye." put Omerhaun. 'I made thet plating an' put et on the gun, five years ago, when we war m Kentucky. Don't ye suppose I've got eyeg, ye fool!" "Well, suppose that is Walter Wagner's what then!" "Sure enough-what!" sneered Legree hitin fierce l y at his briimndisb black mustache. 1 It th ynung feller inherits a whit or Wild Walt's dare-. devil disposition, be 'd be a hard customer to a"' tack." "Ye'r' right. Boover. Wild Walt war wuss ner any: painter an' I kin see a doz e n p'intg o our old ca t'in in ther young galoot yonder. Jest ye watch hi more, will ye! He's ready t e r jump out o' his hid inter a flo-bt under a minnit's notice. "Yes, 'lie bas undoubtedly been trained by Wil Walt, and knows his P's and Q's. D'ye s'pose he recog-nized us?" "Nol He war ter young, an' then we've all chane:ed our since five years ago. Rht I'll bet ther boy war sent beer ou our trail. Wild Walt 'II never forget ther past." "0' conrse not. W!l must blot et f e r him. tho'!" "Ten thousand in gold "I'd like ter sneeze at et. ef 'twouhl put et inter my cot'l'ers I" averred Legree. "The hoy's got to be tumbled ovP r, or we're no good." 'I've n. :plan worth a doz e n o' yourn !" Toleman, senior, said. dig!?ing with his fing ers among the roots or his hair, in a speculative way. "You notice about the feller, yonde r, a slight re semblance in form, to the outlaw, TiQ"er Track?" Both and the gunsmith started, aud gazed at G'>ld Rift who was now standing conversing with Capt. Jae Bass. "Thar is some resemblance in figger assented Legree. "An' Tiger Track's face ye know, is all us behind a mask. What else d'ye want ter make an outlaw out o' the b oy, yonder?" "Humph! you old rascal, what ye plumbin' after?" "I'll illustrate," replied Toleman, with an evil amile. "Ye see, that cuss yonder may's well be put out o' ther way, as we couldn't make him tell whar Wili Walt is, no more'n we ked a grinds tun. Th1Lre fore, et' our line duty ter put him wbar he 'II be an angel, instean uv an enemy. I'll get Jay, my son, to accuse him o' being Tiger Track, and by joinin' in

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Gold Rifle, the SharpFhooter_ res&n. rhen we'll buy bis carcass, tie et ter thet boss o' his, an' ther boss 'II natterally pull fer ther retreat o ther lad, as l ken see et'Sla smart animal. We'll toiler ther trail, an' in thet way mebbe come across Wild Walt?" "A daroed good plan!" assented Legree. "I'd Eive a big pile ter git a tug at our rascally capt'in S thrcate, choke me, ef I wouldn't." The plao seemed to satisfy the trio for in the course of a few minutes Jay Toleman was motioned for llnd given iostructions by his father. Awhile later, the Bor Sharpshooter, Gold Rifle, was still conversing with Captain Bass, when the two Toleruans, Omerhaun, and Boover Legree sud denly approached, and stopping in front of him, Jay Tol eman cried: "Hat hat Mr Gold Rifle, yer jig's up, f e r we four hev recognized you as the cuss who us with a dozen outlaws d own on Sleigh ton creek last winter. You are Tig e r Track, the outlaw." "You lie like a thief!" replied Gold Rifle. greatly eurp1ised at theaccnsation. "My name is Kit Wagner, and I come from beyond the Clay Bottom Stream!" "Bab I ye ken't lie ter us, you whelp!" here interposed Legree. "We know ye, ao' yer up. Fellers, grab thet cuss, ef ye'r' after wantm' Tiger Track, the outlaw and trapper's foe!" Words lik e t"liese acted Iil1ooter. lie was b.Y t!!is time o n a lin e ";t h the turkey stool, anrl though none of the bul1ts struck him, his horse was hard hit, and dropoed dead beneath Jim. Pausing only long enoui;-h 'to take some papers from his sad le-ba s, the fugitive kef.t on over the snow-covered prairie at a rapid speec nearly equal to that which llis horse had made. for there was a crust formed overt e snow sufficient to bear up un d e r his weight, which was indeed fortunate for the fugitive. Witi10ut looking behind him. Gold Rifle ran on for some distance. as fast as his legs could carry bim. Perhaps ten mnutes elapsed. and then he paused and l ooked around. Ile was in a shallow valley or d<'pression in the prairie, and had stopped at the e dge of a dark motte of blasted pine timber. From his position h e was unble to look back upon the settlement and shooting-ground. because of the intervention of tbe swell he had descended. For several seconds he stood gazing around him, along the vai!ey and into the dismal stretch of tim ber. hardly knowiu;:which way to turn. While he was standing thus. a man with an ax on his shoulder C"lrne tramping out of the wood. HeJl o GraCious I who're you?" was tbe saluta tion. 11 Look kinder as if y e war lost, or skeer'cl or in a perdi ckament, stranger. I swow ef ye ain't a picter o' my aunt Sallie's boy, Jim. Jim's a preech <'r now, an' they do say he's sum on slingin' Gospel. mutt's the matter. stranger?n "Oh, nothing of much account." Gnld Ritle re pli ed. "l'm trying to doclt(e a. pack -of fools who are laboring undJ:lr the delusion that I am Tiger Track, the outlaw. Was jut considering which way I'd best go." "Ye don't say so? Waal now tha.t's tew bad, I swow to breeches. I 'tarnally hate I.er see one feller ant onter by a big passel o' rougbskfor 'taln't right. Ef everv man wa.r only like my un l e Ike ued to be up in New Hampsher'. He waz a good Christian, a.n' allus used ter say his prayers every ui<;ht afore he retired. S'poSI! r,e'd like ter find a bidin'-place from them chaps w a.t's arter ye, eh?" Yes, and I must be moving." replied Gold Rifle. "Although I'm not Tiger Track, J do JJOt want them fellows to get hold of me. Good-by." "But hold up, stranger, 'l' wo hrnds ar' better'n one, efoneon 'em's empty. Jest ye toteJercarcass along after me. Ain't often I kin do a ft ll
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Gold Rifle, the Sharpshooter. They did runhand G<>ld Riffe had to exert himsel! to keep up wit the clumsy Yankee. On over the bard crust of snow they sped like a couple of startled deers, their heads bent forward. and pointing toward a handsome farm-house which was visible in the white dazzling expanse. Perseveringly the two men kept on, with a mile be tween them and the pursuers, and at last they bounded into the yard that SUITounded the general's And the pursuers still came on. CHAPTER III. "DELIVER, OR DOWN GOES YOUR SHANTY. 11 HERE we are, stranger. at General Maynard's. an' a gosh-darned fine f e ll e r the general is, too Clean essence from his forefathers, an' as squar' a feller as ever cbawed his cud. Bet my character ag'in' tbe r best bushel o' potatoe s as ever g-row'd, thet ther g-ene ral wull give you a warm welcome, but ye see I ken't jest say how't'll be with Miss she's cl'ar gone sweet over m e an' hain't got an eye-winker fer any other .feller, less et ar' th et dratted Irisher. Now ef I befriend ye, like a man of character should, stranger, y e're not to stick yer fin!':e r inte r my pie, ner luk sweet at her, 11er try ter coax her ar ter ye, n e r any conducements likely ter disturb my future prospects." "You need have no f ear of me. Jos'>," r eplied GolJ Rifle smiling "I don't think I be likel y t e r interrupt ther harmony of your courtship. Lead ahead." Josh accordingly led the way up the front steps of the e lei(ant farm-house, and into a spacious hall, which in grandeur was beyond anything Gold Riffe had ever sezn. The walls and c e iling were beautifuUy decorated, and the-fftor carpeted richly, and furnishe d with mirror, hat-rack and coat-case. Josh l e( on. anj they entered a grand parlor, where a cheery fire was blazing brightly, and casting fort h a modero.te warmth. Here in thi3 were all evidences of wealth and taste. The apartment was richly furnishedwith handsome chairs, tables and sofas, with costly carpeting unon the fbor, and chandeliers pending from the ceiling. Pictures and portraits decked the walls, whil e strewn a'oout here and theld; her features were c1ear, r e'l"tlia r and delicate. with cheeks tinted with the glow of healt'i; a mou&h sweet an I tempting-, and eyes of hazel hue, shaded by heavy lashes. Her hair was lighter than brown-a sunny shade, and worn i n its wondrous wealth down over the shoulders in an unconfined mass. Her attire was neat and stylish, and gazing at h e!" in her budding womanhood, G<>ld Riffe felt his youlljt heart beat faster, and a fiush of enthusiastic admi ration came involuntarily over his own good-natured face. Both Gen eral Maynard and his daughter looked u p in surprise as Gold Rltl e and the eccentric Josh Hemperhill entered the r oorn. But both exhibited their courtesy when Josh had introduced his young chart;e. "General an' Miss May, this 'ere's a chap they call Gold Riff e as :re mought jedge fru:n his gun hrar. I found him in a fix, pursued by ther s ojers o your command. an' a ll tiler trappers an' roughs this side o' Dakoty line, an' bein' a man of solid basis character-a tr3il w'ich descended frum o ld Nebnchadnezzar Hemperhill, who di e d ir: fifteen hun dred an' forty-I fetched him along wi' ther insur ance o' pertection. why. sir, thetsa m e l ad. he tells me, stud on his head and shot a turke y ter-day." G eneral Maynard bowed, and gazed at Gold Rifle keenly. u Your name-what is it, young m'itn?" he asked, his tones kindly yet stern. What is this Josh is telling?" a My name is Kit sir." the Boy Sharp s hooter replied, "though am Imoregen erallycall9d G o l d Riff e a'ter my gun. here. As to what your man here has said. it is mainly true I have bee n and an1 now purs ued by those who participated in to-day's turkey shoot, at the Because I won the last turkey it seems a feeling of eumity was c raated against me; and a young fellow o f about my own age, whom they call ed Toleman,,ac cuse l m of being Tige r Track the outlaw. His as sertion was co1.1firmed by a q nartettc or so of his pals, and to save bemg lynched by the crowd I had to make a dash for liberty. Baek here apiece I met y our man, and he insisted upon my coming h ere. But I think I h'l.cl not best trouble you. If I go at once, I may succeed in outwitting ihe pursuers, yet.'' The n you d eny that you are Tiger Track, the outla.w ?,, "Most assuredly I do. I never heard the name of Tiger Tr.i ck unt il a couple of days since 111y home is beyond the Clay Bottom Stream; and I a:n a stranq-er hereabout s.' "Well, w ell I This is rather a remarkable c1se!" the general observed. watching Gold Riil9 as the h1wl< watches its prey. "You don't look ex:ictly like an young man; and yet, in this dccep tive life, we are all liable to make mistakes. What do you think about the matter, May!" and the white haired veteran turned to his daughter I what Gold Rifl e says, papa," May May nard r e pli e d, \vitb a slight color in h e r chee k a; her gaze met that of the young sharpshooter. I am sure he does not in the least Tiger Track, who you remember chased and tried to capture us, but a month ago." "My opini on exactly. dear. You say your name is Wagner, sir?" 11 Yes sir" "I had a friend by that name, y e ,,,rs a!SO. Now young m:in, I hardly know what to sav for you. for I see your pursuers are coming hotly t owi, rd the h ouse ; and they are too, for l.tave b ee n heaped upon both soldillrs anJ trappers by Ti.i:;er Track and his outlaws. I dont beli0ve they'll accept any explanation from e v e n m e and it be necessary for you to try your luck at esca;> m g. "But. b e li e ving you to b e what you r epresent, I shall not let you go w it'iout friendly assistance. May, mv dear you may take this youn!S gentleman to the Secret Corral, and give hiin a of tbe hors e s. J osh, you may remain with me, and we will keep the rabble out of the house as long as possible."

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Gold :i:tHle, the Sha.rpshoote:.-. Gokl Rifle arose t-0 follow Jllay Maynard, but first turned to the general, a suspicion of mois.ure in his eyes. "You are a good and noble man,. sir" he said, shaking the extended band warmly, "ancl if it ever comes within my power to do you a good turn, be lieve me I shall impro1 e the chance. I thank you all for the interest you ba ve ta Ken in me, and maybe it won't be lo n g e r e I can repay you." "Nothing of the kind is required, younf'( man, al though l co m e nd your spil'it. Rigbt 1 s righ1, in this world and I have fvught for it the wbole of my life, and shall continue to do so as long as I have breath. Good-by, sir, and God grant you success." Then Gold Rifle turned and was about tu follow May from tbe parlor, but he was once more interrupted hy tae Yankee. Josh, who pulled him mysteriously to one side, bis rude countenance a puzzle of combating expr essions. "Neow, you SPe beer, stran gPr," be began, in a hoarse whisper-" aire you a man o' sou nd moral an religyus character? Be ye proof ag'in' ther smiles an' fascinasbnns o tber female sex? Ef ye a in't let me warn ye, that the devil flsbetb best for the sou l of man when his book is baited with a lovely woman Neow, young stranger, ef ye,re a man o' h ono rable character ye won't look c r oss-eyed n e r git spoony on my gal, May, while she's esquartin' ye ter liberty. Ye won't whisper soft sentimental nonsenses inter her ear, ner feecl her on sugar-p lum s?" 'Certainly not, J osh. You shonlcl put more confi d ence in me than that; and tben, too, Miss Maynard is almost a tot..'1.I stran,!?Pr to me." 0 Yas, that's so, sur1-"'s prePcbin'. but, I swow ter breeches, ye ken't put nC' dependence in boys an' gal nowadays, as ye nstbr c u'd. They solid basis chnracter. Thar, fer intance. ar thct lrish?r, Pat Dolani -nn-bedn't bin h e r e tbrPe howrs afore he war castin' shrep's eyes at Miss May. Now, stranger. mind how ye conninst Gohl Rifle, whom he believe planks." Gold Rifle did so, and to his surprise they fell back, lea,ing an aperture of con!'-iclerable size. I hrougb this b e went. accordinto May's orders, she follow-ingand closin!!' np the hole. They ''ere now in a dark passage, about eigh t feet by eight in width and hight. This p rssace runs ebout tw o miles in under ground," expl a ined llly, as they hurried dve r a hard g-r()und floor. It was constructed so that in the cae o f a n Indian iege we could have some mode of escape. and it hrts an opening into a small prairie v a lley. Its exitencc is a secret. except to my father and myself, and p r .or Jo'es were feeding, at1enderl by an Indian groom. Jllay made hurrier! PXl lanations to the young sav age, and tb?n !!'iving Gold Rifle a warm presure of the }and and bidding him Gcd speed she hurlied back toward her home above the earth, while the youn<: man se lected a fine st Peel from the corral, and mounting, rode on through the wonderful avenue of passage, into the light and f1 eedom of a little prairie valley __ CHAPTER IV. LEGREE !ROWS ms CLOVEN FOOT II CHARACTER." UNnEn the charge of the ver Legree. the gunsmith Omerhann. an
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Gold Rifle, the Sharpahooter. _/ nge, and that knocks all our prospects o gettin' the fortune back frum Wild .Wa lt." 1 don't b'lieve the fe ller ever left o ld Maynard's house!" sneered J a : Toleman. "That gal o' May nard's put him away, while ther o ld cuss cum out side an' harrangued to usl11 "Mebbe ye're right, but ther galoot's slid o u t a fore this time" "Of course," assented the gunsmith, lighting his pipe. That young cuss i smarter than you bhink for He ha got lots o' Wild >'lalt's blood in him, and I'll bet you won't easy get ahead of h\In," "We must c rmtrive to somehow. Where doe s this Clay Stream fay, which he mentioned?" "West of here. replied Jar Toleman. "I have been there several times fer beaver. but didn't get enough to make it pay. It is about thirty or forty mil es, I reckon. ov e r hi ll an' pln.in." "Ha I the n it is somewhere in the neighborhood o f T iger Track's trte ra. A story has bee n tol d frequ ently of a Black Ran" h on prairies, w'lich is surrounded by a fence of lank sixtee n hie:h,,. and assumed to be the retreat or the out laws. But i guess no one kno,vs the truth of the matter." I'm not don e with Tig-er yet, by a long shot I" oathed L e gree. The pr-.z9 he stole from m.v cabin on Lent creek t e n :ears ago must be re stored to m e when I get a grip 0'1 C1e ruffian." Tbe Tiger Track of tet1 years ago, and the Tiger "rack of to-day cannot b e sar-,c," su!l'ges t e J Jacob Toleman, 'for the the chim'.tnt of tne title is r epresente d to be scarcely more than a youth. Yet h i s 'Sldll iu handling! '.s men in a fight, proves th"t h e mt1st have been und r the training of the older outlaw. who t ook ( \0 fie ld shortly after our baud broke ti[) and scatt 3 red." "It matters not. I b'li eve th9t A"'nes ';\"agner is still in the power of the Tiger Tmck outlaw band, and if evyer God sees fit ter prrt het in the power of L egree, she'll find that s i has a hal'd taskm,.star in the man she scornfully refused ere she be cam9 Wt!d Walt's "That h:ts be e n a ntter of long stand L e g r ee an l nc.arvel that you still r a m 'n.ber it I "I shen't fer;et mv e:l'lli'{es till dirt's piled on top o' m 31" repli e tra. ler, sava.<>ely. T vod tys pts<>n hart summoned up courage to venture fol'th into the wildernes' of snow, giving as his r e ason that be had au gang-" or traps out, upon tbe S outh Fork, which mu5t he looked after. On the seco11d day 'ltf'.ter Chris tm1s. the borderrufftan B )Ove r mounted his horse, and rode down over the heavy crust to General ll:lavnard's. H e often ma1e it a part of his business to call at the f arm-hon: cold snap, the trader found May Maynard alone in tbs cosey parlor, the general haYing over to \be fort, on busines. was looking her loveliest h'.l a stylish snit of Mme d elicste brown material, wltb more color than usual to her chee ks, and a brighter Juster in her hazel ey e s. Gazing at l!er-at ber Jovel v sy 1ph -lik e fo r m, her g raceful carriage, a n d her pretty face, half-framed by her falling wealth of SUBny hair one coul d but be impressed with t h e glory or h'1" budding womanhood And the evil eyes of Boover Legree were fastened g loating upen her while s h e sat. at the piano, as he stood for a moment unobserved in the doorway leading into the parlori he was contrasting her ex g! presence of the Tolemans.-Agne s Wagner. She is a fine woman and the of beauty which is rarel y found. Ah I but I'd giv e a kin!(' S ransom to possess her, and make her furnish light to my c loudy o l d heart. And, what's to hinder?' and her e a devilish glitter into the ruffian' s eyes, "what's t o hinder? Maybe I coo ";n her con sent, and I have thA p lan all ready. Once I get her In my power, Agnes Wagner can go to the devil." The v ill a i n stood several gloating over his intended victim, then steppecl b<>ldly into the room. I May wheeled around with a littl e S>Cream, as she heard his heavy tread, her face grown suddenly pale. Oh, Mr. Legree is it you? You frighte ned me by your abrupt coming. Eh? fnghtene d ye, my d rwe?" the trade r said1 softly, as he took a seat near th' piano. "I got lonesome up at the Settlement, und so v?ntured down here, where it Is pleasant. Bes ides, I have a mission of mercy to fulfill Hal hal Sounds strange. does it not to hear an old tough lik e m e talkin' uv mercy? Well, ye see, I've got a heart after all, an' hain't quite so bad as I'm cracked up to be. Ye re member th'
PAGE 10

&old Rifle, the Sha.rpshootel'o 9 "Why-why you see-" he began then st.opped as he caught the stern glance of May1s eyes. ''Enough I" she said, with a contemptuous laugh. "Do not imperil the future of your soul by lying any further. I know your little game, now, LP.gree. Gold Rifie is n0 doubt in safe :,uarters, ere this, and as for your deliberate lie it has utterly failed. We have been warned that you would show your cloven foot, and it bas now come forth. There, Boover Le gree, is the door through which you came. You will please take your departure through it." "No, my prettf dove I'll do nothing of the kind at present I" the trader replied, with a frightful leer. "Since you've found me out, partlyiwe may as well become bette r acquainted. When leave this 'ere ranch, I'm goin' t e r fetch you along with me!" "Don't y o u dare to lay a hand on me, villain. I am in my father's house, and I command you to leave instantly, or I will call the servants, have you forcibly ejected." "Hal ha! ha!" andLegreelaughedloudly-" that's :i;>retty well done. Miss Maynard. Your vocation should be that of an actress. Why, to my own knowled1
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10 Gold Rifle, the Sharpshooter. to think that be was "hitting one" at the Irishtr." Calling him one Ride. with a roguish glitter or fun in the expression of her hazel eyes, i\1ay approached him on her proposed plan. "Josh. you have quite a notion of liking me, hav en't you?" "Eh? why, bless your heart, yes. Miss Mar I swow to g-racious e f ye didn't cum near takin the breath c]'a.r away frum 1ne." That is b ecause you were appropriating Dol an's pies. Josh, which is very wrong. How would you like to have me make pies for you to eat, Josh?" "Oh I Jeiusalem: 11otlrln'l that be 0. K. ?" anc l the Yankee's f.lce lighted up with a beaming gioin. u Y oud )Jl, t m ean it fer sart'in, do ye, Miss May?" "Why shouldn't!, Josh? You're agreatgoodfel l o w and ought to have a ll the pie s you could eat. You kuow the Fourth of July isn t a greatwaysolf." "Fact, byJimminy. Hedn'tlukedthatferahead, yet.' "And the glorious Fourth i s an auspicious clay fr"Jr celebration or the nuptials of a happy pair, Josh?" i. Hey-how's that. May?" I say. thf' Fourth of July is a happy occasion fer one to-get spliced." "Whew! Jewhitaker yes! Yer sol-ider than a brick there, 111iss May!" "Yes. and I see you appreciate my candor J ogh Not man.v young ladies woulrl rul these litt l e conft lences, but I believe that you'd do almost anything for me, as you seem to lov e me-and and-1' "So I do-so I would. l\Iiss Ma1.-sure's Methodist preachin' ar' full o' glory I Lor,.y I Ulss l\hyt I'm a man of charactcr-tbcr solid double IJasi s, auplex article-an' I'd wade t'.irough fire an' blood for yer sw ePt sake I" "Oh, no, Josh !"-with a little outburst of merriment-" I don't want you to wade thro ngh1rnything but snow. Now, will you promise me to do me a. tavor?11 "On course I wiU. Miss May-anything le're a. mini b ask. I'm allus a generou s chap, e I am a leetle bit green. Thar were ther hull Hemperbill family, clown old Nebuchadnezzar himself. who war noter\ for their generoFity--0\d Neb o..ice give his right away ter an o l d mairl named J onPs, an' she dbl an' left him a fortin' o' n milynn. Yer see ther streak o' character dated back ter ther Antedi lnve itse:.r: "Yee, Josh; and now I t e ll yon what I'll ask o! you. You remember the young fellow you brought here-Gold Rifl e? "YC's I reckon. What o' him?" "Well, I want yon to go and hn'.lt him up, and de live r to him a note which T shall give you. You may have to bo absent a week. o r even a month, before you ftnd him; bnt afte r that you can have a whole winter to yours<;lf in his company. With your wPa"f'Ons you can supply yourseff with food, and have JOllv sport." "Yes. Misq M1v; but sense I've got a hankerin' &rt e r you, I kinder hate t c r r,o mrny." "P00hl D o n t be> a baby now, orlshallsayyou've lost your charac0r. Josb." "Then I'll e:0, Mss May. darned if I won't! W'en ye sling a sllot at my character, like ther Hemper hills of the ol,len time. I'm on my muscle." So it was arranged that Josh should depart at once, anJ he was furnished witl1 a fine equipment).. consisting of a fur-tiimme d snit of buckskin, iw:;harpe's army rifl e pistols, knife, hatche t, snow-shoes and cooking ute nsils, and by tbA time he was ready to start, he had a horse-had of traps. Best of all. h e was supplied with numerous articles of food among which were several of-the c'>vNe'l pies, which Dolan bad spi>nt time in preparing for New Year's, now but two days dis a nt. Then mounting his horse, Josh bade a sorrowful adieu to the farm-hous, .. and its occupants, all ex cept Pat, to whom he gave a. parting scowl, and set I out ove r the white prairie into the west ern wi!de!'o llPSS. May Maynard had some doubts about sending hlm adrift iu mid-winter, for it seemed crnel to her, but when assured by the general that Josh was a good shot, and not the one to eithe r starve or freeze, she felt better. and her young h eart beat faster, and a little beauty-ftnsh came upon her chee k as she t 'iought of Kit Wagne1, the Go ld Rifle, and the sur prise that would b e his on mA like a kind uv a fraud!" he soliloquized, shutting one eye, obliquely. ''I swow e f I Cl n't b'lieve thet Miss May's jest b'in a hwnbuggin' m e, t e r git rid o' m e. But m ebbe I ain't right. Leasthow et looks crooked thet she'd want me to kerry a billydoo ter thet aire Gold Rifle chap, e f she keers a plug o' terbaccy ferJosiah Hemperbill." The snow over whic h the Yankee directed his course, was forme d into a heavy crust. capable of safely bearing up the wei hurry to return to the farm-house, from which he !lad been banished in s o neat a manner. "I' ll hunt up thet Gold Rifl e au' keep my agree ment w;th ] \Iis s May, anyhow." h e muttered, "fe r thet'll add ter ther strength o' my character. I 'll b ta copper thet Mis May's laughh' in her sleeve, now; but, sech h; lif e n.s olcl unkl e Nebuchadnezza r used to say, whe n h e corraled bugs on his pum'kin vines. An' thar's that hlarsted Iris h e r! too-hain't got no mor e charn.cter'n a l ame gan 1 er, an he's g1innin', too, ter think h e's got thcr hull field ter himself! But. I'll bet Miss M 1y 'II set !lack hi im perdence, fer I still b'lieve she hain't got e.res fer no one else but Knowing that not enough snow had fallen since Christmas to ohliterate a trail Josh decide d r o repau to the little vall e y in which Gol:l Rifle had debouched from the s ecret pas age, and here there were chances that b e c ould strike a tr:iil that would eventually bring; him u p to the sharpshooter. After about a half-hour's ride he descende d into the valley in question, and found n faint borse trail sure enough, from the vicinity of tlle pa.ssa!l'" along the valley the westward. -'That's Gold Rift "s trail, k erect," Josh muttered, running his t ,be valley, "but the next thing ar' t erfolle r i t. Ef itdoan'tplayout, I'll swow cfl aon't f o ll e r it, an' ov.,rtake J\Ir. Gold Rifle in a jiffy." On l ooking at the sun he saw thn.t it was d0clining toward the western horizon raj' ) idly, but he resolved to pusb on and accomplish w mt cli,tance he could b efore night came on, for the open prairie was a poor bivouac-place. ancl he hoped to reach some convenient motto of timber in time to camp. Therefore he rode on throuo h the c lear sparkling winter's afternoon. neve r cl""vinting from the plain trail w h ich the hoof-stroke s of Gold horse had macle upon the crust, riding at a swift gallop, as he bad done. Although Josh had bee n but a year in the Far West, mingling amon g ite strange m e n, he had picked up a considerabl e s:natteliug or prairie and woodcraft. He knew O.l1 Indian s ign when he saw it, nnd had, on several occasio1 s, scouted ahout and fetche1 in valuable information to the fort. Consequently h e bad less fear in going into the wilderness than though he had no experje nce. Dakota papers remark upon the thickness and strPngth or the snow-crust durinir the mid-winte r o f which IYe write. Ul)on plains its like was never known even by the oldest hunters and trappers, 1

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Gold RUie, the Sharpshooter. But now, as he rode along, his mind would go back to the Maynard farm-house, and to the conclusion that he had been designedly banished from the light of May Maynard's beautiful eyes. ' Et's a durned, doggoned shame, be muttered, "an' I'll tell Miss May so, see'f I don't. She orter hev hed sum respects fer a feller's feel in 's, even ef I did kum frum Varmont. Reckon I'm as good as any gineral's ef I am green and gawky. Thar \Var old Saltpeter Hemperbill, fer instance, who in bes bo;v:hood war calkylated to be as gawky as they make em. But thet ar' feller tad tber true solid basis oharoct,r, and darned ef he didn't rise up ter be trustee o' ther Skimmerville school-an' now they clo purtend ter say he's runnin' for Congress. So much fer character." Following the course of the valley for a couple of hours, Josh then ascended to the level prairie still directed by the snow trail. This h e followed as rapidly as possible, and just at dusk sighted a motte of cottonwood timber ahead, which promised helter for the night. He was considerably fatigued, and without thought of danger, he rode briskly forward and entered the woodland, where but little snow b&d fallen upon the ground, although the branches and boughs were heavily laden with the flakes. Dismounting in a well-protected spot, the Yankee turned his horse at liberty, and began making preparations for an evening camp-fire, when he was suddenl.v and rudely interrupted. There was a chorus of savage yells, and he was quickly seized, thrown to the earth, and bound band and foot. As quicklv as be could collect his scattered Senses, be looked around, and d iscovered that hAWaS in the power of a band of 1edskins, some twenty in number, who wore war-paint upon their faces, and were of a savage, repuls ive aspect. Moreover, Josh saw by theIT h ead-drese, and the fancy carving upon their cheeks, that they were bra'{es of the Sioux nation. Without otl'.ering any verbal explanation, the red-'skins dragged their victim along through tne woodland by tlie heels, taking extra pains to take all the stones and stubs m their patb. At last they reache d a temporary Indian encampment of seven l odges, and Josh was placed, under gnard, by a roaring camp-fire. In the course of an hour he was visited by a large, portly chief, accompanied by nearly the whole camp. The chief was well known to the Yankee, for he bad once participated in a hunt for the big war rior or the Sioux nation; and this chief was Sitting Bull. A fugitive from the Black Hills country, there were months when his whereabouts w ere really un known, and these months were spent in dodging among the motte-islands of the great savannas of northern Dakota. "Waq:h I Sitting Billl has see n the white Yankee before," the chief said, a sudden wave of recognition passing' over Lis grim countenance. so horribl e in its decorative paint. .. He chas d the SiotL> warriors from tbe fort, ere the snows of winter made the plains ,.-bite. Sitting Bull does not forget." "No, ye' re darned rig-ht I" J os h retorted, with a grin, as he thoug-ht of the mentioned occasion. "Ye're durned right, old Chair-bottomer. An' now thet ye've got me, 1 calkylate ye'll be after skulpin' me, or roaRtin' me?" "Nol Sitting Bull has even a l-etter sport for his warriors. .A. wild young hnffalo bull bas been captured, and shall take tbe Yankee toward the setting sun. Sitting Bull bas said it." A. long lariat was faste ned about Josh' s feet, and be was again dragged through the timber-this time to where the western side of tlle motte met the prairie. Here the lariat was to tbe hind legs of an untamed bull. and Josh was ready for raoirl tran$it. about ten yards of rope intervened between him and the heel s of the bull and things promise! to be mutually interesting. The whole encampment of savagee had by this time gathered upon the and r.t a signal from Sitting Bull, tlwre was a wild chorus of savage screeches. and tbe young bull gave a snarl of terror, and plunged madly away into the night, out over a boundless expanse of prairie, and dragging poor Josh ruthl essly along in the rear. CHAPTER VI. HUNTING THE BLACK RANCH On over the wintry plain plunged the terrified young buffalo, with snorts and bellows. and at every bound of the st:-ong young animal poor Josh was jerked along, at a terrible speed-now on h.is back and then on bis b e lly, in and out of hollows, over hummocks, and through bushes-it seemed that hi9' infuriate d war-horse would never top. In vain he endeavored to sit up long enougl1 t<> grasp the rope with his hands. wh1cl;i were now free, but each time be was jerked back, and subject to the agony of wild ride. It was fortunate that tbe snow-crust covered most of the rough spots over which they went, or be could not bave4et:Jned hls consciousne ss, during the first ten ml nut< s of his journey. But. the snow, his cl othes w ere toru and his skin blistered. The motte i sland encampment of Sit1in1t Bull and his warriors was left far behind, and the buffalo was heading due westward toward a long lin e of timber that grew u:pon the shores of the little .A.cder. Althoug h it was a dark night, tbe groundwork of white had the effect to make objects at a con siderable distance visible to the naked eye; hence, J os h discoverec\ their approach to the timber when they were yet Eome distanc e awav, and was now assailed with doubl e fears for his personal safety. Of c curse, should the bull attempt to pass tl rougb. the timber, all hope of bi escar,mg alive was Jost; to be dragged along through the timbe r would be almost instant d eath. Nearer and nearer to the timber they approached, and Jos h s h nir began to stand on end a t the prospect ahead of him, wlien there was a sharr, ringir.g rifle r eport. a b ello w of pain. and the bull went crashing forward to the ground. The impetus of the fall neal'ly jerked the wits cut of Josh, but he soon r ecove red to find the buffal<> floundering in death-throes at his feet,, With his unloosened hands be soon had his feet at liberty, and rose to gaze around him. H e was not a bundrH l yarns from the edge of th& timber, and yet he could see nothing of the whereabouts o f any perso n from whom the death-shot might have come. The bulle t bad struck the buffalo in the lower part of the neck, and p enetrated to the heart. "Waal, I'm ther lu ckies t cuss afoot. darn my socks ef I r in 't I" J osh rn1,1ttered, finrling -that his strong Sharpe's army rifle was still lashed to bis b ack, and his h elt weapons all intact. "Reckon all l 'm laCkin' ar' a boss nn' grub, a n' I fiwow ef rm goin' back ter tber general's. onti!Miss lllay gits luvsick over me, and sends fer me cum back ter her arms. No, siree: tbnr' s too much o' ther old Nebn chadnezzar Hemperbill so lid basls character in me, fer thrzt. I'll bet tber gal's a-sobbin' arter me now, these female s are so caprici ous, u n l ess-unless that gosh-darned Irisher is yuttiu' on his graces. Blast it, why didn't they senc him out hyar. too?" "Because two o' a kind is too nrnch even fer good nature to tolerate!" spoke a pleasant voice. and a handsome form loomed up through the darkn e s. "Hello! I'll be .iugged ef et ain't the Yankee, Joshi" And no less a persqnage than Gold Rifle advanced to the side of the dead bull "Yes, an' y e r thet Gold Rifle chap I'm buntin' fer!" cried Josh. with a broad grin of delight "How d'ye do, anyhow? I'm as tickled ter see ye as I

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12 Rifle, the" Sharpsb.votex-. 1.-oul:i be ter my boss. w'ich I left back heer in ther hanJs ot old Chair-bottomer-Sittin' Bull." "Ah! then it is to the re this ride, eh? and a smile illuminated Gold Rifle's face. "I tnou<:ht so, when I heard you coming. I knew .Sitting Bull was somewhere around on the plains, but was ignorant of his exact whereabouts. But, whatever you out here so far from the fort?" ;Jest in search tor you!" Josh grunted, with a scowl, a s he thou".!ht of May Maynard and tbe Iri,h man. Y e see, Miss May sent me fer t e r fetch ye a !ette r. an' she's goin' ter marry me next Fourth o' July." :: luckiest 'coon in this k entry. Promised me this very morn:in1 afore we parted." "Ge t out! You shouldn't take what she says lo heart, Jos h. She's only foolin' y e, I guess." "Da rn a ti o n, no! She's lef("itimately engaged ter me, an' we're ter hev frostin' an' firecra c k ers <>n ther weddiu -cake. An' e f s}le tri-;s t e r go back -on me. I 'll s u e her fer britches o' promise, I swow ef I won't,, "We ll, I wi s h you muc h joy already. Josh!" Gold Rifle said with a srnil "But you say Miss Maynard sent a message. Come along to my camp in yonder wood, and let me have it." Acco rdingly. the young sharpshooter led the way over the prairie toward the gloomy line of timber, .and Josh limpe d after him as fast as he could, for he wos decidedly stilf from his rapid ride over the prairie Never in all lus boyhood's coasting experience had Ile ridden so fas t over the snow with nothing between him and the snow but his clothinl? It was something novel in its way, yet quite t1Illnterescing to the person concerned. ''I'll go?" was his instant reso lve, "and have a good time. If betwee n now and then I cannot clear myself of bei g Tiger Track, it is curious. I have the whole thing pretty well seasoned for cooking already." "Waall" growled Josh, as the young shal]l: shooter slipped the note into his pocket-" what did my gal wnte ter ye, Cap? 'S'pect she guv ye an invite. ter our weddin', eh?'' She give an invitation to a birthday gathering, J osh, the sixteenth of next month. To-morrow iii Lbe flrstLNew Year's. And I mean to make the momentCJ count, too." "Ye don't say?-an' did she put in any kisses o r luv poetry fer me!" "Nary Joshi She aid you was to remain with me, until I get ready to go back to the general's. to follow the trail I lead, for the "All right. I'm ther chap as kin do it, ef I do say so. I swow ter breeches ef I don't b elieve I could outwalk ye!" "I haven' t the l e1ti t doubt of it, Josh. But we won't try. Nc,w, then, it i& necessary that you should know my business. as w e are to be together. Look at this, and ;rou will understand my calling ed. the Brelight glanced upon a plate badge of solid gold, with a star in the center, and an inscription on the plate, in b eautiful read: U.S. GOVERNMENT TO C. A. WAGNER, In recognition of faithful services as a detective spy. They soon arrived at Gold Rifle's camp, which was pitched in unde r the shelter of the timbe r, and c o n-Upon the other edge was an inscriptive dat&tiguous to the bank of a medium-sized stream known "March, 187-" as the Little AdLler A fire was burning brightly "Waal. by gosh, ef ye ain't one o' them detective within a lodge of buffalo-skins, and it was a welcome chaps I" Josh exclaimed, in astonishment. "Who'd, si!/ht to hlf-rr ozen J osh. ever 'a' thought it? Thar war my old unkle Nebu' H e r e we are!" Gold Rifle cried, as they entered chao.!nezzar, who w a r once in tbet lin e-uster set for the cheery lodge where was warmth and the odor a hull hour on a stretch, a-tryin' ter detect w'ether -0f cooking meat: "Now give me tllc letter from mice got into the r granu e r y 01 not." Miss Maynard, and y o u can warm and repair dam"Yes, I am a detective," Goll Rifl e confessed, :ages.,, 11 anLl my business here i s to break up Tiger Track"s "Seems ter me ye'rA in an awful hurry ter git a outlaw band, aurl clean out a certain nest of deviltry letter frum one ye ain't got no claim to." grumbled known as the Black Ranct-the stronghold of this Josh, taking off one of his cow-bide boots same Tiger Track, by the way." and producing a crumpled envelope. "Thar it ls, ''Phew! ye don't say so! :-sh Hemp hi11, with the request th fn e l a nrl thev tnrnPd in ro r the night. A flush of jr)y sto l e over Gold Rinc,s f::i.co. as h e E'\rh.,. on thi::ii followiug mornin'? thf'Y W (\re &sti, peruse1l thu nb0\'0-J1v h"'C':t 1S9! of ti1P honor co ntl.'irl aftPr PntinQ' w h q t w11s ]Pft from evenin"' iferr e d upon hy t h e Mavuar. ls, and brcrwse h e I meal. Go l d Rifl furnishefi t"-o mutrngs fron a was given t '1c OP!)()rt unity t J ca11 U"'IOll an.l torm a in timher. And holb he an
PAGE 14

due north, and rode rapidly, the crust holding up beneath the strokes of the nimals' feet. Josh fol lowed close behind, for, although he was large, awkward and he was by no means a poor norse mnn, as Gold Rifle saw at once_ About the middle of the forenoon they came upon a single trail, headed in a northwesterly direction. It was evidently several days old, and had partly filled up. "Whne do you 'spect tbet aire tra il leads ter?" asked J osh.,, as h e drew rein a ongside Gold Rifle. '"White or,.Lnjunf' White!" was the reply; "don't you see the horse was shor n r oute was only a round about way, to thro" off scenli. "We have tbe straight trail 'fore us now, eh?" Josh demanded. Y es, I should say so. If ;;otbing hapnens, w e may sight it before dark. -They rode rapidly f o nvart.. The formation of the prairie was now perfectly level for miles to come, and the snow-crust stout, so tbat they were enablea to make fair progress. The afternoon wore away toward darkness; the sun sunk t o a l e vel with the ocean of white, and a way to the nortb, on the crest of a prairie billow a dark speck grew visible to the searching gaze of the two horsemen. At first it wa. no larger than a pea; then it grew steadily until it had assumed and was gradually assuming l a rl,l:er proportions, the further they ad vauced toward 1t. In half an how they w ere near enough to deune a 11reat barn-like edifice upon the towering c rest of a distant prairie billow, surrounded by a high fence o f plank. And Gold Ritl e gave vent to a shout of joy, and drew r ein as h e belleld all this, motioning Josh to stop. also. "That's the Black Ranch and stronghold of Tiger Track, undoubtedly," he said, "and that is all we want to know at present. The next thing is to find a hi d in g -plac e, for I'm satisfied we'll have a chance to fight outlaws, soon I" CHAPTER vn. J. DOY IN OAMP-A STORY OF MAID!A AND TllE BLACK RA.NCH. UPON thEI day following Gold Rifle's discov ery of the Black Rauch upon the prairie, an Indian pony made its way to the Settlement, and came to a halt on the village square. It was not riderless, for a up in One by one the villagers were attracted to the spot, and gathered around the lad with the greatest curi osity. At a g lance the waif did not belong eithe r at the fort or Settlement. yet h e r e be was, alone and unaccompanied; and from whence did he comef H e was fat and chubbv o f hi s age, v<'ith a stolid boylsb face. a firm-set mouth, p eculiar to see In one so young and eyes as black as coal, and having the sp
PAGE 15

14 Die -sliarnsliooter. General Maynard started violently in his saddle, and gazed eagerly at the boy. "What! what! Mabel-Mabel what boy?" and the veteran wail terribly excited "Speak I what is the remaind e r of your mother's name?" "I don't know!" the boy replied, ?rowing frightened. "Name jest Mamma Mabell' ... Mabell Mabel! my God, can it b e possible!" Gen eral Maynard muttered, running his band across his e.Y,es. "Gentlemen "-turning to the curious crowd, I believ e that I am on the eve of a discovery that will enlighten m3 concerning a lost one who has been dead to me for the last ten years. I therefore claim the right to this boy, until I learn more defi nitely what I wish to know. Are you willing I shall take him with me?'' "Ayl ayl" was the rousing shout in concert. for the general was highly respected by the large share of the settlers. "The boy is yours." "And, my men, I may call upou you to assist in attacking this unknown n es t of the outlaws, the Black Ranch. Can I rely upon your aid?" "Ay I ay I genera!J" was the eager response. "We're with you, heart and soul." Then General Maynard rode away toward his !arm-hous9, leading the horse which bore Master Jack, by his side. When they arrived at the farm-house, little Jack was taken to the parlor, where May gave him a l ov ing welcome, and before an hour had passed he was auite at home, although be occasionally m e ntion e d mamma," which showed that she, whoever she was, had a deep hold upon his childish affection. Nothing was said on the subject to the boy, but May and the general bad a long talk about her and the Black Ranch. "Jt is undoubtedly my Mabel," the old man said, bowing his l:iead iu his hands, "who has been lost to me these twenty years. Poor Mabel! to think that she is languishing in a barbarous prison, when she mwht be here, a comfort to my declining year&1." And who is this Mabel?" May Maynard aslred, with interest. "You never told m e of her hereto f o re." "Because I did not 'vish to bringupthepast. May, you litt.Je know a ll the disgrace I have suffered ln mv years, and I may as well give you a brief of the story, to-day. Mabel was my first and ont11daughter. Don't start, my dear, for I will ex plain about, you, by and by. Mabel as I said, was my first daughter and a lso my only chi!:! by marriage. H 9 r mothe r died upon giving birth to her, and Mab e l was p laced under the charge of a compe tent nurse. "During the succeeding seventeen years, t must confess that I w a s little with my chlld ;' war, to gether with a multitude of other 1uatters, kept me away for a most of the time. Yet I had a handsome home on the Huds on, which I had inherit ed, and w1ts able to rear my child in luxury and give her all the advantage s of education. At the age of sevPuteen she wa1 the bell e of her social cir cfe, and I began to entertain hopes of her makillg' an eli.,.ible match. l/ .A bout thi time I saw a chance for gigantic speculations in western railroads, and disposing of 'lll my Eo.stern property, moved away to this coun try. Aud it was the curs" of my lire, for in three ehort months I had no daughter, she having secretly wedded a mo.n of questionable charac t 3 r. and had fied. I heard afterward that he became the chief of a hand of r o bbers. For the of my child I e earched and toiled until the outbreak of the great war b etween the North and the South; then having nothingto deter me, I rejoined the army and fought until victory was ours, and I had attained the hon ors of which, thank God, I never dis graced. Just a y ear o r two before the war I took you-:tdopted you as my own child, fro m the death bed of a gallant old officer of the regubr army, and have n-v Df\'11f\ YO'l 'vorc !'ll exact ima;:\'e of what my Mabel once was, Your real name is May Faulklantl, but you are welcome to mine own,,. until you make a choice of a husband, and may 1.:tOd grant that your choice be crowned wit b success." "Yes, dear papa; hut do you b e lieve it possible that the l\label of whom this little boy speaks, can b e yonr long-lost daughter? "Yes, May, I do candidly believe that the prisoner of the Black Ranch, and my long-lost Mabel are the same. Indeed, the child, yonder, bears a striking resemblance to Mabel, as sbe looked when last I saw her." "And, do you know, papa, there is another, whose features resemble those in yonder portrait-whlchis of ;rour lost daughter, is it not?" Yes, tbat is a correct portrait ot Mabel; and to what other do you refer?" To the young man who was Hying to escape the mob, on Christmas-Gold Rifle." "Ha I is that so? I did not notice, I am sure." "Yes, I was struck at once with the resemblance between the two, but I did not speak of it, as on0 often meets pers-us resembling each other who en tertain not the slightest degree of relationship." '' Well, if tnis is so I should like to see the young man again, for he may indeed be the child of my daughter by her outlaw husband. for it s eems to me that the name of Wagner is not foreign to my mem ory. or not I have heard it in connection with the.name of my daughter's husband, I do not know. .After leanng home she was called Agnes. He changed his name, doubtless, after he became an outlaw "Well, what do you propose to do in this case, be lieving that Mabel is indeed alive and in the mysteri ous Black Ranch!" "Do? why, I shall organize a company out of the trappers and hangers-on at the Settlement, and start to the rescue at once. And, white I think of it, 'twould be a good plan to start at once, while Master Jack's borso s trail remains distinct. No doubt by it, and tbe little fellow's direction-for h e is observ ant and as keen as a razor-we can find the den of outlaws 'vithout much trouble. And then we must t a k it!" "Ohl 'twoulti be glorious fun, papal" May cried, with a zest. "I should lov e to be along. Can I go, please-can I? T can dress up in my male hunting and you know that I'm a capital shot. May 'l',Yes, child, eve n though it may he to instant death for T fear to leave yon h ere alone and unpro tected, with t\vo such hearLless wretches hovering at the S ettlement, as Jacob Toleman and Boover Legree. Yes, get your outfit in readiness. at once, for I shall start as soon a s I can ride back to the Set tlement and equip my men." "Why not talce the soldiers, papa!" "Because the y would be of litt l e or no service in this kind of work. I want m e n who will know what I m ean when I say fiqht I Such are found among our huntellil and scouts. As I said before. get your self ready; arm yourself thoroughl.v, and provision anct clothe yourself for a long sie!(e, for it may be months era w e g e t back from our journey." Then the general arose and left the parlor, to or der his horse, and !11ay also hastened to her room to prepare for her expeditil)n into the \vilderness1 which she was confident would b e a source of great delight to her. For she was a lover of the ride and hunt and wild life incident to C'lmping out; had on more than one occasion scoured the plains in search of game, and prove n herself an unerring shot. A-1d it was a pleasurable thou<:ht to her, that. by goiu<:? n"w, she might h e abl9 to do good to a suff e r ing sister; then too, 'wJJ.y down in her young heart there was the least bit of a hope that, in the path of their journey, tbey might run across the yoang sharpshooter. Gold Rifle. Fm hn1t-:.r aucl sc')ut was constantly on tier mind; and haunted h e r dreams, until she had

PAGE 16

Gold Rifle, the Sharpshooter. gmwn to listen expectantly for his footstep, and dream sweet dreams of him, in whose face there was so much that was nobl e. First of all she provided herself with and donned a semi-male hunting-suit of which had done her service in many a prairie' tournament, bd !ore, aud fitted her to 12e11'ection. Then she armed herself with a Sharpe s mid-range rifle, and revolvers and knHe. Her horse. a handsome bay animal was then brought around by Pat Dolan, and the saddle-bags equipped with a good stack of cold meats and other provi sion for tbe coming campaign. By the time all this was accomplished. the general arrived at the farm-house with twenty men whom he had enlisted in his service at the Settlement. They were mostly trappers and fur-traders, a rough, but kindly-disposed band. The general had bee n careful in selecting his men, for he well knew that a ll"reat deal depended upon their skill and trustiness. A well-stocked l a rder eve r being a fact in the Maynard mansion, the band were all provisioned there before starting, for little of the game kind was to be found for the searching in the snow-bound wilder ness. At last everything was in readiness, and with the alcade over the snow-er st toward the Black Rane!:. .for General Maynard had secured the s rvices of an old trapper who had seen the famous outlaws' den, A.nd was confident he could guide the party to it without trouble. CHAPTER VIII. GOJ'..D RIFLE'S DARING VENTURE-A TRAP TIIAT CAUGHTFROM LIGHT TO DARKNESS. F'RoM the Black Ranch it would have been comparatively an easy matter to have detected the two horse m e n as thev stopped in full vie w upon a crest of white Gold Rifl e was wPll aware of this, and but little doubt that their rash advance had already been discovered, he kne w it would b e necessary to hunt a place of r efuge; hence his words at the conclusion of a late chapter. Glancing sharply around he sought and found a place whizh he knew would bette r answer their purpose, in case of an attack, than the open prairil'. It was a motte of a few scattering cottonwoocl which grew around a buffalo wallow; yet it commanded a view on all sides. and was the best cover to b e had in the vicinity. "If it were not that we were obliged to leave a !'now-trail." the youn!\' detective said, as he and Josh made ha.te to take possession or the motte if it were not for this, we might evade the cusses yet." "How cl'ye kno' they've seen us yet?" was the Yankee's demand, for he was one who believed in looking on the bPst side until it came to the worst. "I don't know for positive but it looks very likely. You notice that there is a bigh tower rising from one corne r of the Black ltanch 1 I have no O.oubt but that is a watch-tower." "Waal. mebhe ye'r' right. But, what's theruseof outlaW<> coming out here? I swow ter breeches ef they ain't foolish ter think o' flghtin' men o' solid basis character like me an' you!" Correct; bnt that makesnodifl'Prencewith them. They fight all men alike and I reckon they're pretty rough customers to handle. Nor do I believe that they confine their depredations and cloing-s alone to outlawry in thiacountry. To m\}tstands to reason that they could not exist upot. me few pelts they capture and dispose of--they wouldn't fetch rnore than enough to supply the gan'\ with bad whisky. And, then. the surroun,ling expitnse of ter1itory for miles and offers no great inducement for raiding and nluuder. No, sir; there is a deeper some thing behind a'l this outlew !:mslnes:i, ana l'm t b e one that is going to unl.'llveJ tJie bau or bu'st, :vou hear me! Already I've got my mind glued onto the busigess. and 'm going through with it." Tul'mng their horses' heads whil
PAGE 17

1 6 Gold th;'" Shari)shooter. pHsh about twice the distance that would have been necessary, had be gone overland. But he cared not for this, .is the skating was excel lent, and he enjoyed it huge ly. Every stroke sent him nearer and nearer to his destination. In two hours' time he concluded he must be in close proximity to the Ranc h, and accordingly slacke ned his s p eed finally coming to a halt. With his sk:i.tes still fastened to his feet, he left the ice, and cautiously ascended so that his face was on a level wi"h the prairie. He gazed around. lt was a daik moonless night, y e t he was able to distinguish oojects at a consiJerabie distance, the snow lighting up the i:round. dimly. 'l'he B!ack R i nch now lay to tbe north-east of him ;;everal miles, but by the line of bushes wbich fringed the valley, he saw : to work. With his stout hunting-knife, he cut out in S'lnare cakes a large space of snow-crust. taking ct.re to work under the dark shadow of the f e nce. These cakes he made about two feet square, and whe n prie d out they had a solid thickness of about five inches, au cl were all a person would care to carry. After cutting over a hundri>d of the se, a task which occupied fully an hour. he carried them tgf that by standing on the last step he could just pee r over the top of the fence. In two minutes after the completion of his novel suow-staiI'S, h e had drawn himse lf up on the top of the fence, and a hurrieil. glance, he dropped lightly down iuto the yard-and into the grasp of half a dozen men who had all the time been crouching in a black shadow. In vain the young C:.otectlve fought to free himself from the iron grasp upon him. and t-0 get at one of his revolvers. But he might as well have tried to raise the earth. He was borne down upon the snow, and bound se curely, hand and foot, and then carried between four brawny outlaws into the Black Ranch, which was a monster building. roughly constrncted, and repellent in its midnight c11Ior. In tbrough a series of halls and entries. and then flnall.y the captors halted in the c enter of a long wide apartment, fur nishe d only with rude settees. Gold Rifle ,vas placed on one of tbese, and allowed the privilege of sitting up. The room was brilliantly lighted with chandeliers containing lamps, and the young detective bad a chance to see who bis captors were. One he remembered of h a ving seen at the Christ mas turkey shoot, and heard addressed as Jacob 'l'olemau--one of the foremost in denouucing Gold as the outlaw, Tiger Track. The others w e re but that they were some of the trader's pa.ls there could be no doubt. The trader now, a devilish expression of jubibnce upon bis face. "Ha I ha! you .voung hawk, you didn't escape us so nice. afte r all, di r l ye?" he leered. "You put yourself in our mant.rap neatly. Now t"en. I don't mtend ter spe nd much breath over ye, but I've got 11. few questions ter ask ye. Ye're Wild Walt Wag ner's kid-that we know. Now then, whar's yer "Find out and you'll know I" r etorted Gold Rifle. "I'll not tell ye." "All right; we won't urge you. Search him, boys, and then cast him into the pit without bonds. He can't never !(it out-that's bin proven. A hurried search of Gold Rif\e's clothing was ac cordingly made aud an old letter found and handed to Jacob '\'o\Pman. Re tore it O'\)eu and perused it eagerly, his vi.1lainous countenance assnm\ng a more d\a.bo\ica.\ expression. When be had ftnisbed he sain: "It's a couple of months old, but here's what it says: "DEAR SoN:-When this reaches you I shall have left our mountain home, and taken the gold t o a safer hiding-place. On my return I have a grent mission to perform-this ls to resc11 :vo111 r mother and my wife from captivity. Only yestc rrl-:y \

PAGE 18

Gold RiflE', t h e Sharpshooter. 1'1 I got an inkling that she whom we have so long mourn"d as deadl is living and a prisoner in Tige r Track's strongho d. If yop. cau d e anything, do it quickly, for our mutual sake. YoUR FATHER." "So ye thought you'd come and search for yer mother, did ye, boyf \Yell, we're goin' ter g iv e ye a chance among the human skeletons as will kee p in the pit. D'ye know where Wild "Nol I wouldn't t e ll if I did!" returned Gold Rifl e indignantly. He 'll b e the d eath of you yet." No more was said; the four m e n pounced upon him, and though he struggled with all his p o wer they bore him to a well-like opening in the center of the floor and pitched him over into it head-fore most. Down-down-dow n went the young sharpshooter into the black d epths, and the four ruffians turned away with honibl e chuckles, as though the work were nothing unusual to them-a sort of by-play to pass away time. CHAPTER DL IN THE EARTH-GOLD RJFLE'S ACTION. WHEN Gold Ri fle found himself go ing down head foremost into the pit of drukn essJ be felt sure that be was going to bis death, yet bau the presence of mind to make a desperate attempt to turn over, so that he would strike upon bL< feet. Whether or not he s ucceeded be never lmew; all he realiz ed was a terribl e jar, then a blank came aud he knew n o more. How long he lay iu this condition of course he could not tall, but a t last there came an awakening. He opened his eyes. Everything that bad passed came clearly to him, and in a second be knew that he bad been cast into the pit b"neatb the Ranch. For many minutes he lay perfectly quiet. fear ful to move lest that act should bring to him the discovery tbat some limb had been broke n or mis nlaced. H e could feel no soreness as h e iay upon the ground, and after awhile came to the '!Onc lusi o n that h e was not hurt at all and with an elfort rose to bis feet. He now found that he had sustained no injuries otherwise than a severe shock which ba1 made his lower limbs ratbo r s tiff and tbat he was still better than half a d oze n dead men. He tood for .nany minutes at loss what to do. Around b;m all was Stygian gloom. H e could not even see bis l.Jand in front of his face. Above, many hundred feet it seemed, was a tiny round s peck of ligh t, and this h e kn e w emanated from the room o f the Black Ranch, from which he had bee n hurled into the pit. He was iu a hole deep down in the bowels of the earth, whi c h was Intend e d as his tomb. That others bad di e d here was plo.inly evid ence d by the terrible stench that prevailed_:_a deathly sickening odor of d ecaying bodies. A horrible place it was, and a shudder escaped Go l1 Rifle as he breathed the foul atmosobo r e "Ug h!"' be mutte r ed, half-fearing to stir: "this iA about tber worst. d ose of perfume! ev!'I" .. ot What's to be did f that's the question befor ther Investi gatin' Committee A feller can't r em:i in }f)ng-in this stench and liv e : and as long's l 'm hui l honed :vet, I ain' t a-going to sny die. The first requi site is a light, and I have the very article of productio n in my coat sl eeve which i s handie r than a pocket in a shirt. G lad them chaps were kind enough to leave my hands and feet free." B e ndJDg ov e r he fumble the h ou r o f twdve, but. he was u n abl e to tell whether it was noon, or midnight, not knowing how lone: he h ad h ee n insensible Believing by fh e state of his tomach that it must b P n oon be p a used lung enOUfih to partake c f the scraps of venison :which w e r e m hi s haversack ... He then went on d1ggmg reso lutely and worked untu be f n und that bP. must lield to exh a usti o n and r est. H e accordingly cease bis work, out a deep hole iu the dirt, ensconc e d h1mseff m 1t, .. nd went off intu a sound, re.freshing sleep, firH, n o w ever, blowing out bis candle. Wh e n be awoke a couple of hours later, be felt grei
PAGE 19

!8 Gold Rifle, tne Sharpshooter. stalnlaae, a large, deep cavity In the earth of the pit, in what he concluded was the northern s i de. He spent several hours in its construction, for he meant that it should be large enough so that two persons could move about handily. Two persons-forwitb remarkable daring his form ed plans now included the r escue of his mother, and escape by way of this very pit I After he had complete:! the little cave h e proceed ed to complete his staircase, working carefully, and with as little noise as possible, for was now danger of b eing overheard by the outlaws, should any of them ch>ince to be in the room overhead. Couldn't have done I t better yourself, could youY There I take care you don't speak loud, or I'll send you where they have brimstone hash for board. Now, then since you're my prison er, I have a per .. feet right to subject you to a rigorous cowse o f questioning which may not be at all to your liking, but which you must swallow and digest as you would a sugar-coated pill. "And also you must answer every question, and if you don't, ancl go a-tryiu' ter yell, or talk l oua to at tract attentio n, or any dodge games. down goeS' you r shanty into that pit o' the dead, lik e a donble distiUed thunderbo l t D'ye hear?:' The man assente d by a nod of his h ead. He kne w it wasn't his trump flop, yet. Therefore, s1viftly, b e wor k e d silently, and i n the course of half an hour he had attained a ;;ta iding positwn from wh nee he co uld grasp_ the floor rim above with his two hands without fallin g, CHAPTER X so that it would be an easy matter to draw himself QUESTIONING-FALSE HA'R-PLAYTNG GUARD-A CAPup out of halffilled pit. TURE ANil ESCAPE INTO THE CA VE. But this he was not anxious to do immediately. "WELL then," continued Gold Rifle g liding away, He had been caught by the outlaws once, and if be and closing the door which the guard had left open, was to he caugat again, h e meant that it should not and also turning on a greater power of light from be for lack of precaution on his part. the lamps, "the first question T shall ask yon is what Finishin g the last step n ecessary, be returned to is your name? Answer i n a low prompttone, and his Hr.ti e cave. feet bel ow, and sat down to rest yon' ll not be harmed." and listen. From here almost everythin7 going on "My name's Mose Renfraul" was the sullen re-in the room overhead could b e dist inctly neard. spouse. Som e tima elapsed b e fore Gold Rifle heard any "Mose Renfrau, eh? Do you belong to Tiger sound; then came the tramp of heavy-booted feet, Track's outlaws?" and a m'.\n p ee re1 ov e r into the pit, with a strange, "No-I belong to Gang 2." hollow laugh Directl y afterward the lights in the "What's !'Oom wen turne d low, and Gold Rifle heard the fel"The gang w'at works inside The outlaws ar' low tramp away. No. 1, and hev nothin' ter do wi' u s f e ll ers. "Humph!" he muttered," I guess the coast i3 "Ohl that's the Jay-out is itf You're a guard'. clear now, a n I I can up safe ly. R eckon that then?" chap wa.s a guard, and it w ill be my duty to "Yes. I have charge of the whole building-a if h e gets in my way. The room abol'e evident-beat through every ball' to see that all is right." ly is not, used except on occ when the band "Do y o u ever enter the rooms?" meets to try a f e llo v-m ortal for S)me offense, and "Ov course; I hev ter give ther signal and they chu0 k him down into the pit." let me in." L 3 avin'l' the shove l in the cave, and arran(l'ing bis "What is the s ignal ? anti .. volvers in a c:mveuient position, the "Gofiud out-rll not t ell ye." chtective set out on his daring venture. By "You wnn't, eh ?11 Gold Rifle r em ind ed seizing the p:)wer of hi s str Jng arms h e drew h imself him and forcing him forward toward the hoie ot the up out of the pit the H e was now free pit-" then down ye go, end over end." in one from impri.ionm ent in that deep, The fellow's face assumed a white, scared look darkS3'llO e 'lrtb-du u geon as h e was confronted by the yawning abyss, and It will b 1 r e m mbere1 thoi.t he left bis boots in the he tre mbled in ev ery limb snow, outside o[ t h e f(reat fenc e; therefore he could "Yes! yes! I'll t e ll he gasped, his teeth chat. now move nearly noiseless ly, clad in bis thick, warm tering, 'only don't shove me ctown in that grave. m Gccasins. What is it yo 1 want to know?" Gliding into on e corner of the room where the "The you spoke of." shado1vs were the thick e st, b e down upo n "Well, it is five successive light raps upon the one of the rude settee s an'1 wai t e d. !'.fa had as yet door. On e f eller never speaks ter ernuther, durin' not fix ed upon any plan of immidit3 action, but he workin' hours. could not remain loag udiscovere l. IndeeJ. he n ow Gold Rifl e gazed at the guard sharply, to see if he heard the clumsy-footed guard comiag b:i.ck, with was l ying, but he was evid ently not, judging from muttered curses upon some objec t which he had his couutenance. But, one thing did not escape the dropped. lynx e.ves of the y o ung detectiv e a ragged edge o f "Ken't he I drappe'1 it intertber pit!" h e growl ed, bide where the hair and bea1'd met above the ear. tra'llpinz in t o roon, and apuroaching the b lack "See h ere!" h e excl aimed grimly, "you ain' t ther h o l e in the flo o r. "Woul d n' t 'a' lost t h 3 t plugo' ter-chap ye seem at all. What means this?" and with baccy fer a counterfeit doll'.ir, 'ca'se thar ain't no his hands h e j erked off first a long false beard, and more in ther R:incb, ef old J,n'i B nd e r the qu 1rterthen a wig of h a ir. maste r don t lie Kinder 'spect Jim's hid ther weed "What kind of a crooked game are ye tryin' ter fer hi s own use and wants ter make the r b'yees go play, anyhow?" wi'out, durn his old hid3, an'" The m a n swore roundlY' In French, and his eyes "Halt! One move o r word and yon di e!" came a l ooked like ball s of fir e Shorn of bis hirsute pos low command, acco mp'.inied by the click chck, or a sessions. he appeared a man of thirty-fiv e, smooth revolver Jock. "Stand perfectly still, without l ookface.cl, and the very photograph of all that was evil. Ing either way, o r over .YC'U go ino that pit, eend "You may as well out 'vith it," said Gold Rifle, ov e r eend, as snre's tbar's strength enough in sb:: "for I know that you are n o t h ere wi houtan object. fellers to put you thar You are under disguise, and have some plan afoot, The gnard obeyed-with a muttei:ad curse. He or you would not b e n e r e Needn't be afraid to

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get rid of her. Do you not think I ought to hate liim?'' I should say yes. And now, are we to be friends or enemie s? You evidently care nothing for the band, except to accomplish your object; I am here to rescue my mother who has long been a prisoner in Tiger Track's power. You can let me have your place as iruard until I get her free, and then assume this disguise again for your own plans." "Correct; but where will I stay during all that time?" Down in tlie pit. Tbe dead are all far under the ground and the r e is no smell. You can remain there and I will low e r you down provisions. If a day goes by without your hearing from me, you can come up by aid of a. stairway I have cut into the earth. You will find your trap in this room." They talked at conSlderahle length, and after giv ing Gold Rifle all the information possible, Renfrau consented to b e lowered into the pit, on condition that Gold Rifle would not forget the food This the young detectiv e promise d. and procuring a long, stout rope, be lowere d the Frenchman into the pit. He then donned the wie. and false beard, after which he closely rese mbled the man whose place be was usurping. The first round he mrule of the beat he was watchful and ready for defense. should his assumption be detected. He passed s e veral men in the l ong halls of the Ranch, but none of them paid the 1east attention to him. After making half a dozen rounds. according to Renfra.u's d'rections, he repaired to the cook-room and got his morning meal, which consisted of veni son and corn-dod!l'ers for which he hrul a strong r e lish. So strong1 ID fact, that be managed to store away five of the aodgers in bis pockets. These be dropped down to Renfrau on his r eturn to the audience-room. Of the elder Toleman be hrul seen notbing1 and no one mentioned him. The outlaws be f ound ro occu py quarters in the southeastern part of the build mg, wh ere they remained, hardly ever venturing into any other parts. A day and a night passed, and still Gold Rifl e re mained on guard duty. The large r part of the clay he was a llow ed to sleep. as the r e w ere plenty astir throughout the Ranch; night was when his srvices came into requisition. Although he had been nearly all through the Ranch he hrul not stumbled upon the room which contained the imprisoned Agnes Wagner, bis longlost mother. Renfrau had told him that she was somewhere in the g1 eat building, but eve n he did not know exactly wl:ie re. But there was one discovery be bad mrule-one which no one outside the outlaw clique had ever sus pected. Tl1e Blark Ranch waE in reality a counterfeUers' den, .nller base coi11 was manufactured and finished for the market. Gold Rifle bad been in five rooms d evoted to its manufacture, the first being th e molding. the second the sizing the tb.ird the stampingand the fourth the w eighing and perfecting room. The flfeh apartment was the store a:irl bnxing--room. and als<:> the office. As near as be could learn, without betraying himself with over-inquisitiv e ness, Gold Rifl e concluded that the counterfeiting had been going on for nearly six months, during which time over twenty thousand dollars' worth of spurious coin bad been success fully "floortecl," and still the counterfeiters bad twice that amount on hand for future use. They only worked at the dead of night-from elev en o'clock until daydawn; then the counterfeitingrooms were locked up, and the men, some eigohtE'en or twenty in numbe r. scattered to their various rooms tbroughont the building. There was a bar in o n e room, and this ,-.as the general resort of all within t .be Black Moreover. Gold Rifle l earnPd that a squad of ten men contantly acted as pickets in the yat'ci outside of the building and a man k ept watch in the tower. And he saw that it would be next to Impossible for Mm to escape, unless it was as he had designed, by tunneling out i1;1 under the Ranch. This he resolved to do, as soon as possible after finding his prize, the imprisoned Agnes Wagner. For the day following he bad no occupation. and In these hours, when there was no danger of their being discov e r e d, both he and Renfrau worked at the tunnel, for the Frenchman saw that it might serve him as an a venue of escape, after he had com pleted bis meditated v engeance on 'J.iger Track. About six o'clock in the evenin!!' Gold Rifle resum ed his guard duty, but Henfrau kept on digging. In one of his rounds through the halls on the second floor of the Ranch, the young detective beard a groan, and approaching close to the door nearest him, he paused and listenefl. There were voices inside, enll;aged in conversation. It was evi dently a man and a woman. and the man was speakinfi, in the unmistakable tones of J, cob Toleman. There! there! sbet up yer blubbering, woman, over tbet brat o' ourn. Et cum tu ther Settlement, an' I had it brained, as I told you I would, ef you eve r tried any games to escape. I reckon {e'll tlnockery in the sigbt of h eave n for I have a husband living No I nol you need not l<>er and scc lf. for Wild Walt still liv es, and I shall be again his ere long. Something tells me so, and I cannot drive off tl1e Impression. It clings to me by day and by ni\!ht." "An' '11 hev ter keep a-clingin, f e r all ther good it will do you. I see L egree a few days ago, an' he's as hot as ever a.t Tiger Track fer stealin' ye. Legree is a very devil!" "But an angel, compared with you, you wretch!" was the retort. "I know J'm not an angell" replied the villain, with a malignant chuckle. "Indeed. it is one of the greatest delights of my lif e to worry and torment you-to make your existence a foretaste of bell. 'rbat is because I lm;e you so. But I cannot tarry longer. uow. for I must away to other work. Gen eral Maynard, your father, I may as well tell you, will soon make an attempt to take this Ranch. with the vain hope of repossessing himself of you. He bas but a handful of men-one to our three-and in side of twenty-four hours from now, if they an proach near, tbeir bodies 'II make coyote fodder. So good by, you she-tigress cub, and may your dreams hereafter not be so s illy. Your days are doomed to be srent within these dismal walls, and when you die shall cremate yon, ancl retain your ashes as a souvPnir, in a glass cae at the bead of my bed!" With a horribl e lau!!'h the ruffian turned, and Gold Rifl e heard him coming toward the door. H e stepped to one side, an Pxpression of grim de termination upon bis face, his eyes gleaming forth the pPnt-up anger that was in bis breast. "I'll b&ste the inhuman beast one rap," he muttered, seizing a hickory walking--stick, which stood near. "If J 't drop him. I've got a knife to finish him with, a.side from as noisy a pair of revolvers as eve r cracked. I dare not use them here, bow ever."

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20 Gold Rifle, Ne&rer the ruffian came, and Gold Rifie seized bis 1tick firmly. There was much depending, now and be resolved to be the victor when be bad the chance. The key turned in the lo g, the door opened, and the e lder Tol eman, or Dolph Carew, as the prisoner bad called him, stepped out i.::.to the ball. Then c:irue a whiz and a whack of the club, and without even a groan the o ld ruffian dropped to the floor. Gold did not i;>ause to see if he was seriously hurt or not, but seizmg him by the heels, dragged him hack into the room occupied by the prisoner. "Come I" be said, turning to her and b e bvlding a P.ale, sick l y-looking woman of eight-and-thirty years. If you would escape from this living death, come with me, for I am your son, ccane to rescue you, my long-lost mother I" And he advanced toward her with outstretched arms. "My sonl" she gasped, rising toward him, her eyes gloiiously with a new-born hope; "my God, can this be true, or am I going mad-mad-mad?" "You are not wrong, dear mother I" the young de tective r eplied, kissing h e r tenderl.l'.t.." for if you are Agnes Wagner, the wifA of Wild wait, I am your son, whom you have not seen since be was a little boy. But come, dear mother, we mnst not tarry here, for you probably well know the men who sur round us!" "Oh, God I I have not prayed to Thee in vain for aid, and You have sent me a noble gift which overwhelms mtl with gratitude toward Tlice. Yes, come, my son for I would not lollger tarry In this horrible confinement. Is be dead?" with a motion toward the senseless rlftlan. "No. 1 think not, so I will lock him in this room, that be may have a taste of what you have experi enced, here I" Gold Ritl.e said, giimly. He hastily gathered up a bundle of wraps and clothing, which caught his eye. and the n led the way out into the hall, Jocking the door after them. Then they cautiously descended the stairs, and made their way through a labyrinth of halls. most lucki ly not encountering any one of the enemy. On reachini( the pit room, Gold Rifle by Reufrau's assistance, succeeded in !l'etting Mrs. Wagner safely down into the little cave 111 the s'de of the pit; the n Gold Rifle went to the cook room and succeeded in capturing a l arge haunch of venison, already roasted for the morrow's meals. This he took down into the little cave, aild then Renfrau received back bis disguise and went on guard duty above, the same as at first, promising to warn the young detective in c'l.Se of dangur. After slicing no the venison. and secreting it ab!>ut bis person, Q3Jd Rifle set desperately at work in tun ueling toward the river-shore, which bad already well CHAPTER XI. OUT OF EARTH-ON THE ICE AND A RACE FOR LIFE THE PA.TH OF AN AVALANCHE. DJETERMINED now was Gold Rifle to escape, for be had a dear mother to care for, and he worked away with a will. Tbe dirt was now light and loam y so near the surface, and be made rapid h eadway. When it was about morning, he ceased bis labors for a few moments,.and with Mrs. Wagner partook of some or the veuison he had captured. He then went at it again, and by noon he conclud ed by a gurgling sound just in front of him. that he was almost through. So he paused, and went back to the little cave in the dirt, at the commencement of the tunnel, wlllere he bad left bis mother. He found the guard, R enfrau, here also, waiting anx iously to know the result ot the labor. "I guess I'm nearly through," Gold Rifle answered, to bis inquir.v, "but whether I shall come out above or under the ice, I do not yet know. I shall not bre:ik out until darkness ag&io. How is it otU;. side?" "Sharp and clear, with moonless nights. You'll get off, easy enough, an' I wish ye God speed, an' the !eddy too." Tne guard then took bis departure, and Gold Rifie and his mother waited anxiously for the coming of darkness. Duling the time intervening, tbey found much to say to each other, and Wagner was g-reatly overjoyed to learn that b et husband was alive and som<'where in the West. The knowledge was con soling to her. The afternoon passed quickly, and when b.v his watch be knew it was growing dark, Gold Rifle led the way into the tunnel, and 011 reacting the spot where he bad left off di!l'ging, be set to work to break through the remaining dirt. It was an easy matter, for a few shovelfuls of dirt only w ere taken out, ere a dull li ght shone in. Peering out of the aperture, he l!'GVe an exultant lit tie cry, for bis calculations bad bef'n s o correct, that they would come out fair and even upon the ice. In five minutes be had the bole large enongh to admit of their egress, and they breathed the pwe air of freedom. Before them stretched the night and a snowy wil derness. And they had n ow to rlepend upon their feet to bear them away from the terrible d e n that had so lon g been Agnes Warner's piison. "Obi God be praised," she murmured, as &he gazed out over the boundless view of crystal white, and up at the heavens, where a few pale stars were twinkling. "This is the grandest, most grateful sight that has greeted my eyes for many long years. IL seems like coming out of a dark world mto a. brighter one." "Anc l so it will be to you, dearest mother, for I shall and others will strive to make your future life most happy and bright. You will remain, please, while I skulk around the neighbnrbood and get my boots and rifle, which I l eft outside the fenee <'re I atte .,p -e d to enter the Ranch and got caught. I won,t be long." u But [ou into peril again, my son.,, ''No, tun not risking much, dear mother, and will soon return So Gold Rifl e crept from the hol e out into the open air, and along in the shadow of the creek bank. Aboe him towered the shadows of the v-eat Ranch surrounded as it was by its black, Mgh fence, Everything l ooked about the same to the young scout-detective, l\S when be had entered, now some fortv-eight hours before. Stealthily he crept along the bank several yards, and then came upon his rifle, securely Mdde n in the sage bushes. Leaving it, he crawled along over the snow to ward the !ence, near where he had scaled it, for it was here he t.ad buried bis hoots. I t was a daring venture, but be was aware that be must have them, in order to escape. Inch by inch he crept along, ex minute to get a challenge, or a bullet But luck was with bim,.and without evident dis covery he found and puued on bis boots. He was about to retreat, when bis eve caught sight of an ob j ec t close at hand, and his heart gave a jump when he saw that it was a medium-sized frame hand-sl ed, with a lasso attached. It had tlvidently been left there by some Ranch hand; yt, it occurre:l to Gold Rifle, might it not be a decoy? Jt was jnst t'1e very thing bP wanted to draw bis mother upon. st.ill he hesitated and Jay upon the snow, watching with vhe eyes of a lynx. "Reckon a fell e r can't more'n try, any bow!" be muttered. at last. "an' e f I nm discovered, I calcu Jat ... wi1 my skates oo I kin outrun 'em." Cre<'pbg forward he grasped the lariet and began creeping hastily toward the riv.r, pullin g the sled behind him. Without accident h e reachtd the ice, and securinll: bis rifle and skates, be advanced along

PAGE 22

Gold Rifle, the Sharpshootex 2 1 op to the bole. Here be found Mrs. Wagner awaitirig anxously. .. Had you any trouble?" "No, but I opine we'd bette1 be gittin' out of this, l ively 'Twon't be long before there'll be a rumpus in the enemies' camp. Yon get on the s l ed, while I a m putting on these skates, and we' ll soon be oft "Hark! liStenl a shout I" exclaimed Mrs. Wagner breathlessl y, pointing i1:to the hc:le. Quickly Go l d Rifl e sprung to the openmg, and listened for a repetiti on. It came booming along the tunnel a mo ment later, in a hoarse, cleev vo1c&-the voice of the guardsman, Henfrau: "Fly I .ftY I they've rliacove red yer jliglit look out fer em, a goo. t sVtn dozen strong. Fly 1 "As I expected!" Gold Rifle muttered, with a grim con:raction of b i s brvws. "We've g9t to git, in shape.' He finished buckling on h s skates, then placing Mrs. Wagner upon the s l ed, be wrappe d her warmly in the blankets he had fetched from the Ranch. Every minute now seemed a n hour umil the y s hould get started. "Now hang-on!" be said, aT'int for s everal leagues a r uund, a I remember, and I can see the , utlawK if they a r e anywhere on the p r airie within eye-bot. The mountains of the Littl e Panther range cannot be far back of us." "And is there w here you are going, my son?" "If I am pursued, yes. Otherwise, I shall cut around and make for the fort, of which your father has command." The darkness cleared away rapi d l y n ow and the li&"ht of a clear1 crisp day dawned over t h e s n o w wilderness. A n a the si"bt that was presented to t h e view of Gold Rifle was little more tban he expected. The out laws w ere at the spot where he had left the i ce, some five miles to the eastward, and we r e just starting out upon liis trail. He .aw this much, by aid of his glass; but be also made a discovery tbai; was in a encouraging. 'l'nere were but about a score of the pursuers, all told. Tile rern .lincle1 of the outlaw gang had evi dently taken another ccurse. ''Can yon see the Black Ranch, my dear?" Mrs. Wagner asked, corning out to the edge of the tim ber, wh e r e Gol d Rifl e was standing. "One corner of irs r0of-no! it's the tower of the Ranch, 'way off y o nccr. The remainder of the place is J1idden hr bind a prairie swell. greater than this. But ,,,..<; must not tarry hen, but must r ecommence th e race. 'J he 0utlaws are already be ginning pursuit, where we left the ice, and I wish to rea c h the 1ncuntaiui::. ere we stop again." Mrs. Wagne r again her position upon the sled, seizing the lariat, Gold Rili e set out briskly to the "est ward. No h alt was made. tut he pnshed determinedly on toward a high mountain peak which loomed up Lefore them in the distance. l ooldng like a giant SP<'cter in its sheet of pure white. "TbPre's a cave h alfway up tl-at mountain-side, if I ti e yorng c!etcctive said. as thry advanced, "for I 1l:ink that is the Elk or Earth quake peak l'Ye Leard old Alva Lanche tell aboutil do.wn at Yankton lf we can get in the cave, we' b e all right, and can fight off the varminls until thfy git sick." But iu the course of a half.hour, a new change ap The heavens suddenly became 0vercast with a dull grny color, and snow to fall fast a nd thick, every fla' e com.ting. bei:::Jg Do large nEar ly as a 11ickel. Evidently a severe storm was "t .band. A stern expression came over Gold Rifle's features, and Mrs. \Va,gner uot iced it at once. ""'hat i s it?" s h e ques tioned. not this snow cover up our trail't" "Yes, anrl us, toe, un l ess we strike cover inside ot two boms," was the disquieting r ep ly "Et's goin' ter b e an old snorter, sucb as ye read about I" *Many of my readers will say, doubtless-"Wby I should think he would hav<' frozen, l ying there?'1 But my answer 1s, no! Several winters ago. I had occasion to trf the experiment, at the suggestion of an old woodsman, for we were out where neither shelter nor fire was to bP had. I laid down. and being fatigued, dropped into a sleep which lasted until morning, when I was a"lltkened, very much refresh ed, not feeling the cold scarcely at all. I have often since tried to study out the reason of my not freez. ing, but gave it up as a mystery.

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2 2 Gold Rifle, the Sharpshooter, He increased his walk to a run and kept on, while the white flakes came down in dense clouds, cover ing them perfectly white. On-on, resolutely yet doubtingly, and at last they arrived at tbe footbills of the mountains. but to thei r disappointment not a tree was tllere to ofl'er them shelter. And the sn<>w came down faste r and faste:l it had already fall e n to the depth of a foot, and stil no signs of cessation. "Get oil' and let me assist you I" Gold Rifle saiJ; "we shall have to try and hunt up the cave, up in the mounta in-side or perish in the snow I" Tbey began the steep rocky ascent, which was nearly perpendicular, and gained an altitude of fifty feet or more ; then stopped with white, scared faces, as they heard a strange humming. rushing roar above tbem-something awful in its import. "My God, we are in the patli of an avalanche!" Gold Rifle exclaimed. _ OHAPI'ER xn. ON TH!ll PRAIRIE-RUFFIANS AND REDSKINS. THE man whom General Maynard had engaged as 311ide into the Black Ranch country was in many respects au" odd 'un" on the side of human character. He was e vid ently along in the forties, strong and muscularly built, with a quick sharp glance for every new object, and a habital watchfulness about himse lf, lest he should be stricken by an enemy, or should betray He was one of those old roving spirits who had spent a lifetime on the border, and see n rough life in near l y all its different phases; was a man of liberal education, evidently, but uncouth and eccen tric of speech as a general tning. Little of his face could be seen for the h eavy beard that swept nearly to bis belt, and at a glance into his black, gleaming eyes one would say tbat h e was not the man to brook Insult or much offense. He gave his n ame to Gen eral Maynard las Old Steuben, and by this title he was made known to the whol e party. After leaving the farm-house the cavalcade struck into Aif of the party were mounte d upon steed s whose po.ve rs of endurance bad had many a test, anc! whose speed \Vas hare\ to equa'; and therefore there was a jolly spirit prevailing_:._ P erhaps, more than nil else, it was because pretty !Vlay Maynard headed the band, looking gay and bright in h e r artistic costume-for she was now a m-in among them, and every man could have well wished her their captaiil. O l d Ste:.iben rode on in advance, grimly silent and uncommunicative, except when questioned. The man seemed to have some burde n resting upon his mind, s ome secret which caused the reserve which was one of his personal peculiarities. May notice d this. and ber tender young beart kin dled toward him, for his quiet wibhdrawal from the rest of the men l ook e d as if none were fri endl y to him. "A.re you lonely without company, sir?" she ask ed, galloping forward to his sic:!e. "l should think you would be." "Eh? lones:ime my Jeddy? No, I don't reckon I am, more'n usual. Kinc!e r nat ural to me, y e seethis preference for solitude. 'Tab't >nany ladies as comes t e r talk ter an old nut like ine." "That is because they are so b lind as not to see that men ofttime s are found nuder the rudflst cover ing, s ir." was the reply. God bless ye, lady, f e r thar's r truth in 'em words thun ye'd suppose. Thar nas a time when Old Steube n hed as much style .d any o' ther boyees, but life on this frontier '11 '!>oon take ther polish an' starch out o' a fellar." May could but b e impr<'SSfld with his words, and saw that there was a sound, dee ply-sensible man, under the rough exrerior of Old Steuben. They travele d along swiftly i n the afternoon's sun light, making a picturesque sight as they trailed over the white winding-sheet of the prairie About sundown they came in sigh t of a "prairie isl and," or n1otte of timber, several mi1e-s ahead, and General Maynard signaled to to tbe scout, who ap proach e d respectfull y You see the timbe r ahead, scout-would that not form us an admirabl e camping-ground for the nig-bt?" "Yes, general1 if i t is not already occupied bf thez enemy. Them ar mottes ar' ginerally occupied, in sech weather, by red-skins. or ruffians o' sum sor t, an' they'll be sure t e r fight fer their grounds." "True, but I unrewarded by a glimpse of enemy. something seemed to tell him that enemies were the re. And if thev were r e d-skins, he was well aware what that signified-they would be follow e d and attacked. "I guess we'd better not camp to-night," he said, better push 'And why not camp. scout?" "Beca'se. general, we've got n leclcly among us, an' I kno' ye wouldn't want her ha'r fingered by a. red-skin's greasy fingers I" "Great heaven, no. Why? do you apprehend dan ger from Indians tonii!ht?" "Mought beer frum tber r e d rips ef we war ter git in rang-e o' 'em." "Well, then we must keep moving and keep out of their way, for a charge on m and consequent loss or numbers must now b e avo ided If p oss ibl e On, men I L e t no halt be made until au hour daybreak." Aud on gallope
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Gold Rifle. the S h a rpthoGter. so cavalcade about midnight, at the edge of a l:>elt of cottonwood tin.ber. "Well, what is the news?" Gener.t i Maynard de manded, anxiously. Did you see anything of the enemy?" "No; I gues we have outwitted them, sir. Hev ye bin in this tim her?" Ye-or I sent t rep, of theboys, here, and they made a thorough search, without finding anything in the enemy line." "Well, then we mought as w e ll stop hayr an' rest, fer thar's no telJin' w'at tf'rmorrer '11 bringfortb." They acccrdinily rode into tbe heart of the motte, where no snow nad fallen, on account of tbe dense matting of tree-tops, an,! a camp-fire was built to keep off the cold of the night, "We must post three sentineJ3 arountl the border of the motte I" said Steuben, to insure safety, and prevent any one getting into tbe timber unknown to us. I for one will stand guard. How is it with you, Cotton 1" addressing an old grizzled trapper. :: sentinel I" announced May Maynard, eaiidn 't 1 tell yo he war a tl.Jief, eh?" "You are incorrigible, sir_ I did not ask becaus, I was in love with him-I n1ean-I mean-" -Just what you ay_ Miss Mav; an' e f ye'll take an ole cuss's 'vke, lik e me, ye'll "kee p right on a-Juv in' Gold Rifle, fer he's a lad, an' as a border de tectiv e, he's agoin1 tcr make a bit.,, They now separated_ and resumed their b eats. but the old scout's words had left May M ey n ard's heart in a little flutter, a11d it beat and t.hrobbed faste r when she thought of the young sh&rpshootei-and how g lad she would be to see him again_ She little knew that at ti. is same hour he wrs bur rowing lik e a prairie dog in the earth btneatb the Black Ranch, working for liberty. l Jut in her thoughts of him, she did not forget that the safety of the camp w 'asdependingon her wa ch fnlness, and she kept a sharp eye out upon 1he sr:rw white praiiie, onto "hkh she could look but fifty yards er so, because of the darknern" It was w ell along toward mrrning, the darkest. part cf night. whrn he saw two men ri d ing dir < ctl.v toward the n1otte; and at tbe i;:;ame tirue a fie rce vin dic t ive yell wrnt up fro m the southern end of tho motte followed by a rifl e re port. Instaptly May fired at cne of the approaching horsemen, nnrl with a curse be tlu:nbled to the ground, but the other prcESed on toward hPr. "What is the matter?" demanded Genera l Mnynaru, as he and h alf a dozen men came running out of the timber. Ruffians!" said May, slipping a fresh caitridge into her breech-Jondt r. "Red-skins, and old Sitting Bull at th et I" c1ied Old Steuben, da&hing up, and then away again in an instant. CHAPTER XIIl. A LI'ITLE SCRU1.MAGE A.ND A BIG STORM. "Did you fire, May?" asked the general, for a mo m nt at a Joss what to do_ "I heard a rifle report . u Yes, I fir ecl, and droppert my man, sir," Mey re pliecl, h e r eyes rparkling. "Here comes t be other f e llow, and l '11 lay Um out. providing he d oern t stop on hail! Ha1t I you ruffian, halt!" and her gleaming rifle bore directly clown upon the approach ing horseman. But he heede d not her words. and despite her rin r in g rifl e -shot his horse lea-pe:l forward to the ecJge of the motte, and the man shd from the saddle. "You needn't hev bin o cursed imperdent!" be growled, limping a trifle w'Pn a feller's tl")in' ter warn re o' ther redskins. Most humans w 'u'd been glad_' "Boover Legree!" cried May, stepping back in alarm. "Yas, my daisy; but ;i:e needn't be afe11.rd o' me on 'em old scores_ fur I m bee r fur a different pur0 pose, ter-night. Gineral, git yer m e n tergether, and go ter ther southern end o' ther matte, fer tbar s nigh about a bu clred o' Sittin' Bull's !1aug thar, an' Old Steube n fightin' 'em off_ That's w at's tber matte r. Come a head, you lout s I" and awey leaped the trader, with rifle in hand, t o a>s st in n pelling the attacke rs. Seeing that his W DE' evidently honest for the present, General Maynard ordered his men to follow his example, while he and May hurriedly brought up tbe rear. There were n o w l o ud yells in the direction of the southern end of tl::e motte, that W!'re fierce and sav a!!e, aT\c1 were foll.)wed by an accompaniment of rifle reports, whi e h echoed fitfully out upon tbe night_ In three ntinutes they reached the battle-ground, to find Old Steuben asailed on every side by a swarm of varmints; bnt the arrival ... of the scouts turned thp tide omewhat, and it wr,s a hand-to-hand conflict o n every side-a desperate,

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.J4 Gold Rifle, the Sharpshooter determined for victory on the part o f both reds and wMtes "Sock et to 'em, boys!" yelled the guide, Old Steu ben, as be did wonderful execution with both knife and revolver-"' let the skunks hev et f e r all ye're wu'thl" One by one the savages went down, until full a score bad fallen. General Maynard bad sent May back into the trees, for be feared f o r her to join in the battle, and he fought in the midst of the afl'ray. But the struggl e could not last foreve r and at last there was a signal whoop, then the savages quickly ceased fighting and withdrew out upon the prairie, leaving their dead, but dragging t h ei r wounded after them. "Hooray I tbet's tber kind o' medicine ter give 'em!" shouted Old Steub0n, dancin!}' delig-btedly about-" tb et's ther kind o' bull-dozin ter guv tber red ripscalli ons. Hurra I fer ther victory we've wont" And the trappers all accorded with the sentiment by a yell. Morning was now dawning in the east, rap idly, and the whole party remained u pon the battle ground until the day was light enough to see how the field Jay. Then it was that som9 t wenty-five of the red-skin s had been killed, while Sit'ing Bull and his remainin g warriors had wjthdrawn to th e prairie, a mil e awav, where they were grouped down, evi dently awaiting action on the part of the whites. "They mean to follow and torment us I" said Gen eral Maynard, turnine; to old Steuben. "Sitting Bull is f)ne of the worst demons on the frontier to battle with-a dogging _cut-throat of snakish animosity!" "Ye're right, thar, ginerall" agreed Steuben; "foot an' hand, tbe t old Bull's a hard 'un. But, 'tain't gnin' t e r b e nefit us ter st:iy hayr. Let's g-it out at once. Ef them cusses foller, we kin lend 'em a hand." / 1..ccordingly arrangements were made to leave the motte, and continue on toward the Black Rcinch, which Steuben declared could not now be over a half day' s journe y further weEtward \.VWl e prC>pa.rations were m ade lthere was a Ji>tlo conmotion, occasioned by Old Steuben, who ha tl1r eateningly confronted the man Legree, who barl declare.lit his intention to accompany the bri gade. The eccentric guide and trappr had confront!'d the tracl e r, upon him for the first, with flaming eyes, and an expression of countenance which was savag e "Hal ha! Alf Kin'\'. s' you're here, are ye-here where your fo e 3 are thickest, and your life hangs on a thread? Good I I'm g lad of it-I want ye, present1.v-ivant to pa 1 you a trifle I've owed you for years. But not now-we have no time to arrange duels over individual disturbances. Gen.,ral Maynard, you will please kee p watch f)Ver the wretch, for h e is a man of min< to deal with and must not escape. Shoot him down if he attempts it!" "Who in ten thousand d emons are 11ou !" growled LiFee, fie rcely, with half a notion to spring forward an'l annihilate the cool guide, yet somehow fearing to attempt the job. "It matters not who or what I nm, you wolf. I am one who will do the worlr l a favor by ridding it of you, forever!" W'1.S the reply, as the guide turned away. The cavalcade now mounted, and Legree was placed between two mounted guard3. "You'll have to Rubmit to this, or go over and join Sitting Rull," the general sai l, in answer to a growl from the ruffian trader. "None of us trusts you hehind our ha0ks, anc l we can do no less than keep you under watch. You should have stayed at the Settlement, where there is larger seope for your . vill"iny, for if you joined us, with the hope of steal-ing away my daughter May;you will be disappointe d by finding her wide a wake, and fully as alive to her --own interests as we are. So your mission n tirely unrewarded, unless by some act of treachery you get a bull e t throug h your skull!" The gnard who bad been left on the southern end of the motte now returned, with the announce m ent that the red-skins bad made no move to change their quarters yet, but were e viden tly eating their morninR meal. Now's our time, then, to get out!" he a'.lded, ''and git a start.,, Correct I" agreed Steuben; come ahead I Look out f"r danger, and foller me." H e led the way through the heart o f the motte to the northwestern corner, and thence out onto the r o llin g ,i:rairie beyond. "Wero goin' ter b e v a thunderin' storm, by-an' by!" he said to General Maynard and May, who rode on either side of him, after giving a speculative glance at the sky. Et'll b e a sn01 t e r, too." Why do you judge so, scout! I see no signs upo n the sky, which is as btight and beautiful as the smilinoo countennnce of God can make it." l'I True enough, but l 've got a barometer in my bones by w'ich l kep foretell as correctly as a clnck can tick. In about two hours-no, say four, at the longest, y e'll see a change, wi' snow-flak1>s a-fallin'." "Then it behooves us to find a place of shelter as soon as possible, does it not? These heavy .&!_orms are not pleasant things to meet upon the open prairie." "Right ye aire, gener11I. anc l we must trust ter ou r luck i n flndin' a motte. f r I don't know o' any, very contiguous to the Biack Ranch." The y moved along-on ov e r the white g-listening snow-crust into the wilderness, at a j!Og trot. For the animals had receh-ed but comparatively little rest and were less biech spirited than on the previous day. A sharp l ook -out was kept in the rear, and it was finally discovered that the savages were pursuing-were stealing along in the b!lck ground at their leisure, with no apparent desire to overtake the enemy, y t. "They're goin' ter find w'at our !av-out is, furstl" said Steuben, "an' tbe n try an' nonpluss us. But I reck on w'en et comes ter snow, they'll hev ter git a big 'twill find us." "I fear their consolidation with the outlaws whom we are going to attack I" said the g eneral, uneasily. "We'd he in a bard fix, tb e n." "Don't ye fear, general, f e r sech won't be ther case, at all, fer I've heer'd thetOld Sitth1' Bull hate s ther outlaw Tiger Track, like tber Old Nick hates holy water. He'll quicker put in a dig fer us, first, an' then try ter oounc e us, afterward ... On-on over tlle glistening waste of white the party advanced; then, after a couple of hours came the change wMch Steuben had predicted-a quick clouding over of the sky to a somber leaden huJ, ancl a few feathery flakes of uncommon size began to descend hesitatingly. In ten minute s aft.er the first flakes had b egun to fall, a perfeot hnrricane of sno w was and the brigade w ere wrapped in a g-hostly mautle as they urged on their horse s through the terrible storm. "Never saw like this before, I declare I" General Maynard gro1T!ed, with a "l'm of the opinion that we're in for a b:ird tim e before we get out of this. I wi s h I'd left you at home, May; where you'd have comfort and warmth, in stead of peril and cold to submit to." "Pshaw! pap'.!, you needn't worry about mPI" May replied, wit1 1 a little ripple of lanzhter, "for I'm warm, and all right. I prefer this wild sport to being uo h the house. Don't fear but what Id complai'l if I had any caue." u I don,t b'lirve y0u w o ulcl, you1re such a plucky little thing!" the old officer riding ahead a Jittl ? to join Steuben "Do you think there's any danger or our bei : g snowed under, scout?"

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Gold Rifle, the Sharpshooter .. Dunno. gineral; ken't tell aoout tbet. fer tbar's o tellin' what is what, ner when sech a storm as bis is goin' ter quit. Reckon ef et snows u s unde r, bar's enough o' us ter dig out, sumbow. n And it did look exceeding l y as if there was danger of their b eing snowed under, for the falling cloud bursts of snow were gaining in ground depth with astonishing r apidity and making the labor of the h orses sev ere in the extreme. But they kept on, unde r the urge of the scouttolling along through the blinding storm, whose denseness was something unparalleT ed. Jt was growing darker, too, which lo oked as if the heavi et part o f the storm had not yet fallen. On consideration, it was decided that it wou l d not do to stop now-the y must needs keep a-going, at least until the storm abated_ "Bin out in a few storms, myself2 observed an old trapper by the name of Deking, 'hut durn my old picter ef I evyer beerd tell o' ther beat o' this. Why, fell e r s ef et don't quit afore on?., we're goiu' ter be entombe d alive, afore our time. "An' bev a fuaeral all ter ourselves boys I" chimed ln Old Steuben. One thing we orter b e thankful fer-tbar ain't many wolves an' buzzards around, this weather, ter pick our bones." Jn the ternble blinding storm, it, was hardly possi ble to advance in regnlarity, and so the:v scattered somewhat, each one picking a path for himself. It so h!!.ppened that the trade r, Boover Legree, was left unguarded and unnoticed by the res t of the bri<;ad e But with a flendisb expression of satisfaction he fol lowed on, now and then chuckling to as he heard ll1ay Maynard's clear silvery voice rn1ging out through the storm, ancl muttering a curse when he thought of the scout. Old Steuben. "Ef thet cuss kn ows me, an' he do ft>r he called me by name, I do not know hint--{)au t think of an enemy of the past, whom he might be-unless-but 'shaw I that man is dead 10t1g ago, although Jake Toleman b e lieves to the contrary. And thA girl JovE' l she's a queen to Ewen what Agnes Wagn e r use d to be. and ef I don't possess h e r r the storm ceases, may l never be able to raise a "illain's hand again." And the man laughed lo w and crafty at some mPditated f>lan of action. He lag<"'ld behind all the rest of Lhe'brigade, but wRtched those ahead of him as well ns the storm wouJd p ermit. And he saw, "ith great satisraction, that llfay .Maynard was gradually fal!lug b eMnd 1 be rest, bPr steed having grown contrary and lazy. Sh e evi. dently was unmindful of the fact. and had forgotten the existence of a wolf in th" But w as not ucmindful; h e watching her as the bawl< watches its prey-wit:1 a gl.,aming, t:;;uister eye. He had come fro'11 thA Sett'emPnt with the purpose of capturing May lllayu ard fuliy fixed in his miud; had fallen by the daring beauty's fire; but he would not-no I the vici im was dropping nearer and nearer, unsuspectingly igncraut that she was not keeping up with tbe rest. Uutil she felt a strong grasp laid' upon her shoul der. and looked arotmd to discover that she was alone with the villain Lfgree h e r only companion! The brlp:ade bad ] rft her behind I Help I help I" she screamed. And turning his horse's head sharpl y from tb"l trail as it ran in a northerly course, be gave the beast a cruel jab of tbe spur and seized May's tbor oughbred by the bits. But when bis horse bounder! madly forward, May's balked in its tracks, and as a result t ho trader was jerke d backward from the saddl" onto the snow. Ha I ha I ha I That's the time y o u didn't make a point I" May exclaimed, with a laugh. Then she put her band to her belt for a revolver, but to h e r wr prise she did not find one there. They bad all be e n removed, and her knife also. "Ha I ha!" chuckled L egree rising from bis plunge into tlle snow. He laughs best who laughs last, my dove with clipped wings. I've got ye j es t as completely in my p o w e r as I bed before I"' "No, siree, you bain'tl" exclaimed a oice and who should ride in upon the scene but Jos h Hemper hill, the Yankee. "W'en et cums ter pass theta man o' no character or wi s dom or book Parnin', f."nags hisself ag'in' a man o' solid basis, dnbble-duplicate character. as r epresented by tber Hemperhilf fami l,\'., he allus gits 'bisself i n a box-tra p defikilty. Character aire one o' ther!J"ime ackomplishments o' tbe r H family. frum ol Nebuchadnezzar down to yer 'umbl e sarvent, an' we've bin a healthy, prosperous race. H e ll o I darn my socks I I ef et aiu 't llfiss May and thet cuss I boosted once af0re !,, And the eccentric Yankee covered the trader with bis revolv e rs, while a grin of triumph spread over his countenance. "Oh I Josh, is it you? I am so glad you hava come I" ll1ay cried. "Yas, I recl:on ye must be sum'at tickled, seein's ye war in a fix," Josh replie d, with unusual "Danger ginerall y alters the r opinions o tber female line. Fer instance. ye war orful tickled wben ye got rid o' me by rnndin me oil' after Gold Rifle, but I notis Josh cums in mighty welcome about rescue time I" "Ob I Josh. not quite so bad as that. But, did you find Gold Rifle?" "Reckon so. an.' lost him ag"in. Darn bis picter, be left me in a motte te1 wait fer his return, but ther outlaws got a leetle too h ot, an' so I slid out fer tiler fort.'' "Aud what becamP of Gold Rifle?" "Dunno. Stavted f e r tber Black Ranch. a'1' didn't cum bac;k. Guess as how be got gobbled up by tbe r ruffiansbor mebbe he's all hu?1.7. But, where's the rest o' t er folks-bow'd ye git out bayr?" 4' There's m ore ahead, toward the north-" "No. tbey1re here. now!" excl aimed a voice, and Gen eral Maynard and the b1igade rode forward. "What's the cause of ttis dtJlay, May, my child?" "There's the cause, papa I'' Ma.v replied, pointing to LegrPe. who was cowering m 'der tbe bea1 ing of Hemperbill's pistols Tbe villnin 1ri d to carry me off, b11t failed whe n Josh came up and showed bis banrl." "Hal is this so? Josh, you're a trump! Boy s. s eize the accursed ruffian and bind Pi s hands, and l eave him alone h ere on t ile 1 rairie, without bi g borsp. If he out wit1 out freezing or st.arviug, it's all the punishment I care to him." Th e order was executed to tbe Jetter and Li>gree CHAP'I'ER XIV. was left alone in mid -prairi e, while the brigade reDEATH OR VICTORY IMPENnr:a. sumed its course, with Josh in company. "Cuss ye, et wou't do ye no good ter screec'l fer j May rod e by his side, and when no one was near, help!" growl ed Legree. rude l y clapping his band questioned bim concerning Gold Rifle whQ was DO>v over May's mouth. "Ye'll find ye've fallen inter 1 the center cf all interest to her. ther claws of a tiger!" "Do you think Gold Rifle was captured by the "I fear yon not!" replied May Indignantly. "and outlaws, Josh?" I defy you. ll1y friends are not far away, and will j "Dunno I Guess he's smart enough te hoe his answer my cry." own row." "' "Will they, tho'? Mebbe so an' mebbe not. Jest "What did he sa,y when you gave him tbt 'etter?" you cum lllong wi' me, or be sorry; none o' "Sum thin' about yer invitin' J1im ter yer \ rtliday yer screechin' nO'W, ef ye don't wanter get killed I l'.":i:tY Neow, see hyar, Miss May, ye'r' 11' et a teroncet." ter strong ter suit my notion, an'ef1 don't

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26 fu>\l.d l{?Ji..lo. t:. _, Sharpshoote. stnp. r!J h<>V ter s u e yer fpr breeches O' promis', bwow \.OOt' g':acio11P ef I won't!'' "Jost? you s ill y fellow. I hope you don't imagine f o r a momE nt that thne i s any engagement existing b etween as, or that I love you? No I no I you must not be so blind and foolish. I lik e and respect you an frie\dd and all that, but as for warrying you, I could not think o r such a thing." '"Then ye aire fishing after Gold RitlP. ehr Ye !:alkylate he'll fit yer i leAS b etter'n me, eh?" I don't. know, J osh; but don't you think w e'd make a better match, he being nearer my own age?' "Yas, mebbe ye'r' right, an' I won't kick so hard ef ye aiu't a-goin' ter let Pat Dolan, the Irisher, inter yer good graces." "I promise that, J osh. for Pat's at home, and we're off here, and liab l e to be for some t ime." The snow-storm continue d with unabated fury, and it gre1v mor!'l and m ore difficult to urge the horses along, for at every step they sunk deep in the feather y bed. The cavalcade was wandering on, not knowing exactly the direction a ll w e r e going-w:tndering on, to kee p from being snowed under, with scarcely an object now, unle s s it wa5 to find a place of shelter. Some ol the m e u were growing v ery much fatigued. and a large number of the horse s threatened to play out b efore long. "Hark' did you hear that?" d emandeJ v e s acciclent:i l y stnmbl es a l one; in this direction. The outlaw.:;; wiil k c e p c lose to the ir d"'n tl1i s weathe r." "Y e 'r' \vrongt h a r I sw an tpr grac iou sef ye ah.'tt put in Josh, "fer a gang o' ther salamanders invad-ed m:v camp, early this mornin', '':"hich war ther means o' makin' me skedaddl e. I h t out. an' thel ofter 1 n e ontil tber snow came, w'en the y couldn t see in e no longer "Then. sumthin's ther row. l\Iebbe Go l d Rifle found and esl'aped "'i' r,e r daughter, gt:n eral, w'ich callee! out th e r roYghs? "Go l forbid tbat they are out Jn such a storm as this," replie d the gener.1, with a shive r. The evening was spent in warmingand eating-. around the great fire; then a ll turned in to s leep, ex cept Steuben aucl anothe r scout, who stood guarcl at the westem and no1thern side s of the motte. About midnight the snow c ease d 10 fall as abruptly as it had come. and in h:tlf an hour the sky was c lear and a few stars hung pendent in the heavens. All around the motte lay n w i d e long wilderness of purest white pil e d upo n white while ove r it and all nature a strange quie t prevailed-not a sound to break the monotony of the w eird d ead winter or the midnight hour. But the quiet of the nig-ht did n o t make Old Ste u ben less on the al ert than usual. H e kn e w that they w ere just as liable to b e surprise d as if t!JPre w e r e no s n o w upon the ground . Now and th<'n he w o uld pass thro u F h the camp, t o a'c0 rtai11 if all w ere.sleeping right; the u back to bis p o s t h e w ould go faitbfull,;. i't was getting alongtf')ward ere diq .. covered any signs which he culculated were c f the enemy. But at las t hh sharp e y e caugh t a glimme r o f light out upon th e w este rn prairie s u c h as mi g h t have emanated f rom h e torc h of some 1ligh t-tra veler. lt was visiblo for some time, and the n totally disap p eare d. We ll, scout, wbatdoe s it mean?" It w a s General Maynard who spoke h e having c c m,. out from th e camp so sil ently tha t Steube n had fuilew ,V'bite with the fall e n s now. "That's th e Black gineral." s aicl Old Steub.on, uwhar y e say y e r daughte r is, an' e t s a tough o l d place to a ttack, I t P ll Y"'" Little llfaste r Jack, who had been fetchP d a long with the brigad e unde r the charge of an old trapj)"r, w a s brought forward, and instantly recognized Lhe Jack want to sf\e his m amma; s11 P over in big house>." "Ann, G oel g r a ntine;, you soon shall see h er, my pet," thP g ? n P r
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Gold Rifle, t h e S ha.rpshootel". 2't d o ubtedly outlaws of the notorious Tige r Track's b a,vd . The eastern enemy were the n earest, and it was not until they were less than a mile c. wa.v that it was discovered that they were armed with rifles of a long range make. 'fhis was discovered by a id of a field glass. "Thet puts a new aspect ter tter case!" Old Steuben said, "and f 'v" ever calkylate ter git out o' this wi' our skulps on, we' ve got ter do sum o' tber tallest fightin' on record. White lnjuns. an' lots of 'em at tber same time, aire a dose I ain't fond of.'' Half of the men w ere distl'ihuted along the eastern side of the motte, and half along the western; then with fast-beating hearts they waited for the enemy ;;o come within rifl e Death or vi ctory was impending. CHAPTER XV. OUT OF DANGER-FIRE} IT was a terrible fact that the words of Gold Rifle expres&ed. "My God I we are in the path of an avalanche I" Above, the storm-bound mountains r ose sheer and dechvit<;:is; around them the whirling snow was a feathery vortex; above all came that ominous, frightful roar .. A whati" Mrs. Wagner demanded, growing deathly pale; "a-" "An avalanche I,. Gold Rifle repeated, scarcely above a "'\\"e are doomed, unless we can get out or the way in four minutes or Jess He stood not an instant idl e, but worke d e1'e n while be spoke. H e bad kicke d away tl e lately fallen snow until be came down t the !Jard-fro zen cmst beneath. Then with bis stout !Junti:ig knife he cut out a large block o this crust. B elow tbe snow was soft and unpacked-"-easY to penetrat0 "Quick! quick! h e gaspecl-'h elp scoop out a hol e with your hands-there i s not a second t J be Jost! N eithe r there was. The fearful hissing rumbling roar was growing loude r; coming nearer each ment, with a terrible slide of snow and ice upon its wingli. A f e w seconds when a man is working f o r dear life. will accomplish miracles. Both Gold Rifl e and his mothe r set desperately, almost wiidly to work in digging a trench below the crust-they worked like mad, hurling the snow out and dePpening their excavation. Tbe avalanche glided on with accel.irating velocity; was not t e n yards away, when the y lay flat in the he n c h and Gold Rifle pulled the dislodged crust into its forme r position above them. Then tbe very mountains eemed to quake and tremble. as the giant mass of snow and ic e o\'er them, and plunged in a huge b'nk among the foothills with a roar like an ocean hurricane. Gold Rifle's ingenuity had saved them. For when the terrible avalanche had passed, he raise d the cake, and they emerged from the mountain-side. unharmed. "God be praised, for h e has; watched over us, kindly!" Mrs. Wagner said devoutly. "My son, clo you think there is danger of anothe r of those c:readful !;DOW-Slides?" "No, mother dear. Do yon not see, the mountain has been swept of all the loose snow. and it will require t i m e for mov e to accumulate sufficient to cause another avalanche. W e will keep on un a way further, and I have hopes-that w e will find the cave I have mentioned." And with a n inward prayer of thanksgiving for _their escape. thev continue d the of the st.eep mounhin-side Go l i Rifle had to lead. and with a '1eavy stick make indentations in the crust in which to step, or they could not have advanced a rod without slipping-back a yard or m o r e. In tbe course of half an hour they arrived in front > f a..n overhanging cliff of rock, in which was a large round hole-the entrance to the cave Gold Rifl e had spow:e n of. At first he to enter, fearin&" he might b& imperiling h i s mother by taking her m to a bear's. den. But reconnoissance dispelled this idea, and they entered, to tlnd it a snug little cavern of twenty by sixteen f e et, dry. and not ill smelling. It had evident![ been inhabited bPiore, as there w ere eviden ces o tenancy-a broken kettle, a lantern, and fire wood piled up i n one corner. "Ha! this is just the place w.i are looking for," Go l d Rifle gladly. Here w.i can remain until 1 find my falber, or until the storm stops, and then l'll take you to tbe fort. It's a good round forty miles, but wc can clo it easily in a couple of da.ysi afoot, by cutting across by a route I have in view." "Do you think the outlaws are still following us, my dear boy?" "No. Tbey undoubtedl y gave up the chase when they found that the snow was in one sense befriend. ing us. They probably came out unprovided witlt provisions. and w e re unprepared for a siege." Thanks to the capture b e hacl made in the Blac larder, Gold Rifl e knew that they would ncJ. want for food for severul days to come. He built a rousing fire out of the dry pitch wo0<'2 and cones, and soon had a genial warmth pervading the cave. Out of the venison they made a comfortable meal, and then leaving h is mother 10 warm at the fire Gold R fie left the cave to take a view of thei r roundings from a more e levated point. Bm; night was dra\dng n ear, and it was still snowing, s o tliat be bad to return without making uny discovP.ry wl:rat e ver. H e found bis mother standing at one side of the cave, with a fired torch in her hand, and she was vi sibly excited. "Ob Kit, do come here!" she exclaimed, excited ly. "He re's y our father's name writte n upo n the w a ll.'1 "Then h e must have been here before us," replied Gold Rifle approaching and glanciu g at the inscrip tion paicted upo n the r ock: "Wild Walt, October lOtb, 187-." H e bas not been here since Octobe r probably. I Lav" not seen him for two year>." "Oh I th& h e were here now, for Walt was e1'er good to m e said Mrs Wagner, witb a igh. He was a man o f questionable repute when I fled with him, ancl turned out to be an outlaw chief. But I lov e d him none the less for this, and soon p ersuaded him to leave the b ane!. and l ead an honst, u1;right life, which he did, until I was abducted by Alf King, one of his own m e n." Gold Rifle did n o t C( ,osider it necessry to keep a guard, as be b elieve.! that very f ew knew of tbe monnta in cave, and l rss were lik e ly to attempt to reach it in tbe driving, storm tbatwas now sweeping ov e r the Northwest. So he lay down ancl accepted of nature's gift of refre,hing sle
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28 Goi d Rifle, the !ftia.rps hooter. General Maynard and Josh Hemperhill had I of the half-score or men who lay within the m otte on the eastern si : e_..while Old Steuben with May May nard-Captain may, as she was call e d--;b the deep snow All were maskd and armed with rifles and army revol ve r s, and they wera a desperate l ooking set of men. I tell ye what exclaimed a n o ld trappe r, "I've disldve red one p'int ahead o' ye, boys. Tbet chap t har in th r lead's none other than the cussedg.iloot tl.Jey call Tiz""r Track, an' t know it.,, "Hnw cl'y13 know et, G reckel?" Beca 'se I war oncJ tuk a prisoner by him, but escaped." "Lav low. boys I" cautioned Ge n e r a l Maynard. "Hark! the d ev ils have attacked t'othe r s i de. Hur ry up-let's clean out these roughs, an' join ther rest 01 the r Que-two-three-" Auel a report of t e n rifl es rung out, aud every sa 1c11e was emptied although some of the out laws w"'re not killed but severel y wounded, and left lyi ng upon the prai ri e by the horses wh ich were sk11rrying away in nearly ever y direction. Without waitiug to l ook after the wounded. Gene ral Maynard and his men hurried to the western side of the motte, where they found a hot contest wa!(ing. A number of bulle t s had bee n exchanged, but no one kill'ld. 'l'be outlaws on t bis side were a r ound score, in nnmber. and fierc e l y u r ger! on b,y n o l ess than t h e two ruffian trade r s, Jacob Toleman and Boover L gree. who in some inexplicabl e way hacj joined in with the outl aws. Old Steuben had b ee n badly wounded in both arms. and could uo longer p rticipate in the affray. but he c heered on the m e n. andJrnpt them w id e awake to the enemy' s weak point!f." "Yousef' them two men, Joshi" he said, pointing out the ruffian traders to the YankPe. "Waal. them chaps aire after Miss Ma.y. an' e f ye don't put a buzzer m their ears, I'll no longer count y e a pard." And, in the next charge that wa.q made both L e gree and T o leman fell, mortally wounded. S everal of the brigade were bard bit, but the y poured such a destructive volley into the ruffians that they "turned tail," to use a western phrase, and beat an ignomini ous r etreat. Licked em, by thunde r, an' character's what di d their job-duplex, solid basis character, snre's I'ma r e lic o the r characteristic family o' H e mperhill I" Josh exclaimed, dancing deligbtooly about Miss May, ye're a g qod'un an' no mistake! Ye're solid an' ef ye war only ter link y e r fate wi' a man o' un doubted character. like me, w'at happiness would be ours yours an' min e !,, "I'm sorry, Josh!" May replied, with an efl'.ort to kee p from laughing; "lt is decreed that I shall esteem you a.s a friend. not as a husband." "All rig h t, honey, I ain't going to blubber nor spout jest because ye hev given m e ther I"litten. Thar's lots of fishes in the r sea w'at'll bite at characteristic b ait. "Of course, Josh, and make you a bette r wife than I w ould. The outlaws c ontinued to retreat unt11 ihey were out of sight from the watchers at the motte. They did not go t oward the Black Ranch and this looke d rather strange, t oo, seei ng that it was tjJ.eil. nearest place o f r efuge. "I tell ye what! averre d Old Steuben. "I've jest got an idear o' wha t ther row i s w i them chaps_ The re's but a dozen o 'em left, an' they cakylate t hey ain't.strong enough to h o ld tbe r Ranch, w'ich i s undoubte dl y empty. So t hey're goin' ter light out an' quit this country. "Perhaps you're right," assented General May. n ard, "and after we have gathered in our prisoners we'll attempt to investigate the matter. All h a nds, n ow, assist in bring-ing in the wounded.,, It was a work that occupied o nsiderabl e time, and eighteen, in all, w Pre brought in of the o u t law s, and their hands and fee t bound, and their w ounds sldllfully dressed Among them were Legree and Tiger Track-Jacob T'oleman having expired s h ortly after be had been shot. On removing the mask of Tiger Track, i t was a great surprise tu the men o f the SettlP.ment to hehe ld the evil face of the dead trader's son-the bullying Jay Toleman, whom we introduce d at the beginning of our narrative. The excitement of this discovery h ad not yet wholly abated when Olcl Steuben, who had been on a 8Cout, came rushing into camp with l o n g leaps. '"fhe Pancht the Ranch!" b e c:'i ed-"it is a il CHAPTER XVI. BORDER JUSTICE-CONCLUSION. Ir was indee d true-the Black Ranch was wrapt in flames. The smoke and fla m es were darting from many a window and crack, and tbe heavy body of snow upon the roof had a ll me!t.ed off. There was scarcely a visibl e spot o f the building above t he high plank fenee but was on fire, and the fire was evident l y a well-executed scbeme of an incendi ary. "God forbid that my dau<:hter Mabe l is in yonder huilcling now!" General Ma.yn a.rd said anxiously, "for no earthly power can save that outlaws' str ong hold. See; yonder i s a horseman just leaving the g-ates and flyiog southward. H e is evidentl y the fire fiend in tbic; case. ,, "Sum gal oot, like enough, who bed sum g rudli' e ag'in' the outlaws!" suggested Old Steuben. I reckon thet Gold Rifle succeeded in rescuin' yer darter, g in e r al, an' tbet's w 'a.t started the ou\faws abroad.'' "I truly h o p e t hat such may b e the case, scout, for to have my l o ug-lost daughter r estored to my arms, would b'e onP of the greatest joys I can iro agin a in my o ld age. Of her I have ever a h o pe-that w e would meet again. D'ye think, general, the t e f ye war ter l:lev yer I

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Gold RiBe, t h e S!iarpshooter 29 daughter restored to you, tbet ye could freely for1,rive her past desertion o' you, an' also forgive the at-one-time outlawed husband with wbol)'l she fled providing be had reformed from the past inter a ma.n 01 men?'' "Yes, scout, most freely would I forgive them both and take them to my heart in my declining age, for except my dear May, here, I have no one to love or care for m e. But, wny do you speak thus, scout-wbQt know you of my daughter and ber husband?" I simply know that Wild Walt will b e rejoiced sir, and embrace an early opportunity to take a place at your family board as your future stay and support. But, enough of this; tbe buHdmg is now going rapidly, and soon the Black Ranch will no longer b e a thing of existence. Wbat do you pro pose to do with the out)aws, general?" "I propose to give them an immediate trial, and string 'em up, if the v erdict so decides." was tbe stern reply. I think there will be sufficient evi d ence against them, and I'm satisfied that they wouldn't have granted us Pven the mercy of a trial." All bands "tood upon tbP, edge of the motte and watched the burning of the BlacH: Ranch-this place of death and the devil, which bad become a rival in tbe Northwest to what tbe slaughte r stat. ion of the inhuma n Benders was a few year ago upon the middl e border-watched the flames lick up the wood fiercely, until the great pil e, f ence and all, was re duce d to a b e d of ashes and glowing coals. The n the p arty w ent back to the camp, in the heart of the motte, and preparations were made for tbe trial of the outlaws. General Mayuard assume:l the position of judge at the request of the litt l e band, and opened tbe court with a stirring speech, relating bow the coun try bad lately been scourl;l'ed by bold, lawless men who had raided thiev<:>d and destroyed homes with out number; and be wound up with a r equest tbat the gentlemen present who knew anything concern ing tbe outlaws would step forward and be sworn, and give their testimony. "An old ".,yet," by the name of D arrel, came for ward, was sworn, and d eclared that Tiger Track and his band bad raided bis home bnt a year ago. murdered his wife and mother, and robbed him of stock and money. Anothe r man, from Cheyennt, testified that be had seen Tig e r Track stab a man to d eath, in an uppe r settlement, and then escape. Still another t estifled that he had been one of a train crossing the pla ins on the previous summer, which bad been attacked by Tiger Track's band, and a ll hands save himself and teamster were mur dered. "This is enough, Gentlemen of the Jury. to satisfy tbe minus of any h onest meu. But, if there's any Jnore testimony, let's have it. "There is !" exclaimed a voice, and who should rid e forward into the space where the border court was h e ld but Gold Rifl e I can testify, and swear to it, if necessary, that I was r e c ently captured by old Jacoil Tol eman, and T ige r Track's outiaws. and take n into the Black Ranch, where I was pitched into a pit, wh e r e ther e were many dead bodies, some of the m recently placed there, others decaye resolut.ion of the R egulators was not to be broken. Jay Tol cman was tbe only calm one among the lot, as they w ere borne away t oward the assigned lynch ing ground. He had a sort of bull-dog defi n nce-did not quail, but rathe r d e n uunced the Ci'.p tors in the vilest lanll.?age of his vile vocabulary. Tbe young wretch s heart was too hardened-bis soul too deeply steeped in crime for him to care for death. At last all of the outlaws had been removed to the southern end of tbe motte, and all of the brigade ex cept four bad gone to witnes the "sport," for in the remote West. a good o ld-fa s hion e d lyn ching i s con sidered by the frontiersman next to the Fourth of July. The four r emaining behind were General May nard; G o ld Rifl e, Old Steuben and May The quar tette stood facing each ot,her for some moments expectancy upon the faces of the genel'al and tbe scout. Gold Rifl e stood with arms folded a half-humorous expr ess i o n upon his countenance, and a gleam of triumph in bis e;y:es. ''Well," h e said, glancing from one to another, "I take it, by your looks, that you're expecting some thing of me." And you're exactly right," replied Old Steuben, with a laugh. "\\"e're expectin?: mw h of you.' Bnt first, let us know each oth
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arpsboo'teP. \ "I joined an outlaw band, general, after I fled, ac companied by your daughter In the community in wbiob you lived at that time, I WM nearly unknown, and the name of detective bad been little heard. J. uas a detectiv e on my own book, and joined the out laws purposely to ascertain thei r force, and bow to successfully break them up. I was ruade their chief, and known as Wild Walt Wagner. I had not been forty-eight hours with them when I was een and recognized by a party of hunters, and branded as an outlaw. It was usless now tu leave-them, as dPatb awaited me outside of thei!' ranks. So I stayed un til the goodness of my wife, here, caused me to flee from them, with our little boy. I hid myself, but Alf King, one of the men, stole away my wife, and she was appropriated, later, by Dolph Carew, known t o you as Toleman, Jr. With him she came to this countrv, and she has just told me that the wretch forced her to mairry him. The little boy, here is a result of their unio n But. be shall never lack for a father, in me, and now that we are all reunited in one happy family, I see no reason why we should ever part." After about an hour tbetranpersand traders came marching back from the southern end of the motte, sing in g in wild harmony a peculiar lynching song: "We've bung up the cusses to a cottonwood tree, To a cottonwood tree, to a cottonwood tree, They plead an' they argied, But we couldn't all agree, So we booste d 'em up to glor-r-ry." "YM, capt'in, we've suspended them galoots above wolf reach, an' they're out o' sin an' tempta '' I swow ter breeches. thar warn't only one solid basis character galoo t among 'em I" put in J osh. "He war thet Jay T o leman, or Tiger Track -tuk his rations as natteral as ary b oss ked do, wi'out a gru nt." "If you've hung the wretches you've done the country a good service," said Wild Walt., "for them outlaws had uo equal for fiendish cruelty and devil ishness. May God, however, forgive them, as we all hope to b e forgiven our sins." To whicb there was a bearty amen. That night whe n all were gathered around a rousing camp-fire, Gold Rifle was importuned to r elatfl all a.bout bis adventures in rescuing Mrs Deronda., bis mother, which h e did, touching lightly, however, on parts wnere b e bad played the heroic. He re lated what be bad discov ered about the Bia.ck Ranch, concerning the counterfeiting scheme, and his expe rience in the death pit. "Who do you think fired the Ranch, Kit?" W ild Walt asked. The guard who aided me to escape, no doubt, for he was a bitter enemy of Tiger Track. His name he said was Renfrau." Do you thiuk it will pay to overhaul the ruins of the Ranch to get at that counterfeit money?" No. It has doubtless been melted, and could be of no use to us. an.vhow." And so the Black Ranch's ashes w erfl left un1 CONEY ISLAND BEACH and 58 other So ngs. 24 OLD SrnoN, THE HOT-CORN MAN and 60 others. 25 1'111 rn LOVE and 56 .:itber Songs. 26 pill.ADE OF THE GuJ. aos and 56 other Songa. 27 Yo, HEAVE, Ho! and 60 other Songs. 28 "l'WILL NEVER no TO Gm IT UP So and 60 others. 2\1 BLUE BONNETS OvER THE BORDER and Mothers, 30 'l'HE MERRY LAUGHJNG MAN and 56 other Songs. 31 S'VEET FoRGETlllE-NOT and 55 other Songs. 32 LEETLE BABY MINE and 53 other Songs. 33 DE BAN.JO All! DE INSTRUMENT FOR ME and 58 others-34 T.r sent post-pad, to any address, on l!'eit, ceipt of Six c.mts per numbe r. l:t"F,.A{)LE AND ADAMS, PuBLl&HERS, 9'l WILLlilll STREET, NEW

PAGE 32

DeadW00d Dick Library \ LATEST AND BEST. HANDSOME TRI-COLORED COVERS. 32 Pages. Boy One and Y oo Will Buy the Rest! Vor Sample Qover See 8tbea 814e DEADWOOD DICK LIBRARY. l Deadwood Dick, the P rince of the Road Double Daggers; or, Dick's Defiance Ii 'fhe Buffalo Demon; or. The Border Vultures 4 Buffalo Ben, Prince of the Pistol II Wild Ivan, the Bo y Claude Duval 8 D eathFace, the Detective 7 The Phantom Min er; or, Deadwood Dick's Bonanza 8 Old Avalanche, the Great Annihilator; or, Wild Edna, the Girl Brigand 9 Bob Woolf, the Border Ruffian 10 Omaha Oil, the Masked T error; or, Deadwood Dick in Dan2' e r 11 Jim Bludsoe, Jr., the Boy Phenix; or, Through to Death 12 Deadwood Dick's Eagles; or, The Pards of Flood Bar 1 8 Buckhorn Bill; or, The Red Rifle Team 14 Gold Rifle, the Sharp,hooter 1 5 Deadwood Dick on Deck: or. Calamity Jane 16 Corduroy Charlie, the B oy Bravo 1 7 Rosebud R ob; or, Nugget Ned, the Knight of the Uulch 1 8 Idyl, the Girl Miner; or, Rosehnrt Rob on Hand 19 Photograph Phil; or, Ros ebud Rob's R eappearance 00 Watch-Er e the Shadow 21 Deadwood Dick's Devic e ; or, The Sign of the Doqble Cross l!2 Canada Chet, the Counterfeiter Chief 28 Deadwood Dick in Leadville; or, A Strange Stroke for Liberty 2t Deadwood Dick as Detective 25 Gilt-Edged Dick 26 Bonanza Bill. the Man-Tracker; or, The Secret Twelv a '.lfi Cl1ip, the Girl Sport 28 Jack Hoyle's Lead; or, The Road to F ortune 29 Boss Bob, the King of Bootblacks 80 Deadwood Dick's Double; or, The Gh os t ot Gulch 8 1 Blonde Bill; o r Deadwood Dick's Home ;,:ase 82 Solid Sam, the Boy Road-Agent 83 Tony Fox, the Ferret; or, Bos Bob's Boss Job 84 A Game or Gold; or. Deadwood Dick's Big Strike 85 Deadwood Dick or Deadwood; or, The Picked Party 86 New Yor k Nell. the Hoy-Girl Detective 37 Nob by Nick o f Nevada; or, The Scamps of the Sierra.a 38 Wild Frank, the Buckkin Bravo 39 D eadwood Dick's Doom; or, Calamity Jane's Last Adventure 40 D eadwood Dick's Dream; or, The Rivnls or the Road 41 Deadwood Dick's Ward; or, The Black Hills Jezebel 42 The Arab Detective; or, Snoozer. the B o y Sharp 43 The Ventriloquist Detective. A Romance of Rogues 44 Detective Josh Grim; or, The Young Gladiator's Game 45 The Frontier Detective; or, Sierra Sam's Sch eme 46 The Jimtown Sport; or, Gypsy JacK in Colorado 47 The llliner Sport; or, Sugar-Coated Sam' s Claim 48 Dick Drew, the llliner's Son; or, Apollo Bill, the Road-Agent 49 Sierra Sam, the Detective GO Sierra Sam's Double; or, The Three Female Dete<'t ives 51 Sierra Sam's Sentence; or, Little Luck at Rough Ranch 52 The Girl Sport: or, Jumbo Joe's Dis1rnise 53 Denver J>oll's Devic e ; or, The Detective Queen 54 Denver Doll a DPtect-i ve 55 Denver Dnll's Partner; or, Big nuckskin the Sport 56 Denver Do il's Min e ; or, Little Bill's Big Loss 57 D eadwood Dick Trapped 58 Bu c k Hawk, Detective; or, The Messenger Boy's Fortune 59 Dead\vo o d Dick's Disguise; or, Wild Walt. the Sport 60 Dumb Dick's Pard; or. Eliza Jane, the Gold llliner 61 Deadwoort Dick's Mis ion 62 SpottPr Fritz: or, The Store-Detective's Decoy 63 The DPtective Road-Agent; or, The Miners or Sassafras City 64 Colorndo Charlie's Detective Dash; or, The Cattle Kings


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