Solid Sam, the boy road agent, or, The branded brows : a tale of wild Wyoming


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Solid Sam, the boy road agent, or, The branded brows : a tale of wild Wyoming

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Title:
Solid Sam, the boy road agent, or, The branded brows : a tale of wild Wyoming
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.
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
1 online resource (31 p.) 20 cm.: ;

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Subjects / Keywords:
Dime novels. ( lcsh )
Adventure stories. ( lcsh )
Genre:
serial ( sobekcm )

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
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.
Resource Identifier:
026004903 ( ALEPH )
27118598 ( OCLC )
D22-00033 ( USFLDC DOI )
d22.33 ( USFLDC Handle )

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Co p y r igh t 1800-1S86, by Beadl e & Adams. Ent e red at Post Otflce, Kew Y ork, N Y a s secon d clas s atte r .Mar. 15, 1899. No.32 THE ARTHUR WESTBROOK CO. Cleveland, Ohio Vol. III 0wzu.J WELL111 TRP: OLD MAN DFMANDt:D, AS &:p; SURVEYED THE LINE OF HORSEMEN. WlTll ILVlDENT DISPLEASCR&. WHAT BRUIGS YOO UPON TB& Oii WBrrli: JIEAJU)J'. f

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! Opyrl ght 1800-1886, by Bead l e & Adams. Ente r e d at P os t o mce, N e w Y ork, N. Y a s second c lass matter. Ma r. 1 5 189f :No.32 ._.,. 1 . THE :ARTHUR WESTBROOK CO 1:; 1 Cleveland, Ohi o Vol. III THI< OLD HAN' DVllANDED, AS HS l!ORV.EYED THI!: LJNB OF" BORSElll!:N. '\VrraJ ,IJVU>_ENT J?JSPLIU.S...!!_Rf.. "98AT BIWIOS 'll'OU l1110ll "Tll& . ._f.'/"

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Solid Sam, the Boy Road-Agent. Solid Sam, _The B o y R o adA g e n t ; OR, THE BRANDED BROWS. A TALE OF WILD WYOMING. BY EDWARD L. WHEELER, OF DEADWOOD DICK NOVELS, "ROSEBU:Q_ ROB" NOY.;;:LS, ETC., ETC. PROLOGUE. A DASTARDLY DEED. THE time was in the spring of the year--an eventful one, too, for all wint.er long the mountains and prairies had been wrapped in deep, silent sheets of pure whit.e snow, now to be melted by an incessant thre9 days' rain, until the dun of the prairies and the gray of the mountains were exposed to the sight. The result of the preaipitat.e rain and thaw had been to fill the streams to overflowing, and strike terror to the hearts of the squatters along their courses, for m<:Lny a cabin or shanty was swept away by the stubborn and resistle.>1 ele ment. For miles and miles the Mis;onri oe the North, the Yellowstons and both branches of 'the Platte were more tl!an bank fnll 1 and raging and as only a thuroughoriid freshet can, while ths lesser strearus were proportion at.elv high and dangerous. 'Way np alo:J.g the Yellowstone stc>o:l a fotle squatters' town upon the immediate banks of the river, where dwelt trappers, hunters and settlers tp the number of so:ne two-score. One day during the hight of the lloo:l, a "nrairia schooner" cams acro.;s the northern plains and entered the s e ttlement, and the occu pants, a couple of rufltanlv-looking fellows, en gaged accommodations at the litt!A tavern. They claimed to be trappers going south of the Yellowstone, and would have to wait until the flood abated _ere thev could ford that now stream. But little attention was paid to them, and they wandered about the settlement during the day. About midnight, following the day, they had stealthily left the settlement behind, and in their "schooner," drawn by a spanking pair of horses, were making rapid time in a southerly tion, following the course of th0 noisy and turbulent Yellowstone. The sky was cl ear, ani the moon looked down upon the prairie witn sps ctral effect. At last, when several miles from the settle ment, the wagon came to a halt upon the bank of the river. A raft lay partly launched, near by-bein!?; several logs fastened together with lariar.s. and also securerl to a stake upon the shore. This raft had been som e distance from the water, origin ally, but the flood had gradually crept up until rude craft was nearly afloat. 'l'he two men disembarked ftom the vehicle, "lltlgoing to the rear end, opened a. gap in the canvas, and hauled forth, first a woman, youn! and pretty, and then two children, a boy anti girl, in the neighborhood of six years of age, and apparently twins. Both the woman and the children had tbeil anns secured behind their backs, and terrified e xpres s ions upon their faces told but too plainly that tbey,.1 feared the ruffianly pail" in whoo3 pow e r they w e re. In tbe name of Heaven, su-, I pray you 1n tell me what you intend to do with me and childr e n?" the mothPr cri e d, as the larger and fiercer of the two ruffians plac e d ber upon her feet. "What evil moti v e prompted you tI' snatch m e from my home at the settlement, and bring me hither?" "Waal, mum, we bad orders ter do it, ye see, an' we allus obey orders," the giaat r e plied. "Orde rs!" tl'l\l yeung moth e r cr.ied, in nation-" orders? By whom did you receive otde1s to bring me here, pray!" The two men exchanged glances, after which the larger one replied. "I dunno's thar's euny harm in tellin' ye, mum, sence ye ain't got long to live. We aire respectively Black Eph and Bosting Bill, prac tical cut-tbroat3, an' ssch like, an' we war hired ter do tbe1 job by your own afl'ect10nate hns whom we met up in the mines. Et ap pears tbet he left ye ter seek his fortune, an' hevin' struck it rich, an' found anuther damsel he likes better'n you, be has a desiIe ter git rid of you So he hires me an' Bosting Bill ter put ye aboard a ragin' raft on ther ragin' Yellow stone, an' let ye go, trustin' ter luck thet ye never turn u p ag'in, ter bother him I During this rude recital the woman had stood in the grasp of the ruffian's powerful band, whit.er than the b l ocks of ice rushing by upon the surface of the angry stream. Evident it was that the revelation of the ruf fian came to her with stunning efl'oct. My God! this cannot be true," she gasped, tremhlin$ from head to foot. "Yon are lying to me-uu.v would never be guilty of such an infamous scheme!" Thet's jest where y,,., make a mistake, mum," Black Eph replied, confidently "Ye tho't ye know'd yer man, but got fooled. We war hired ter set. ye adrift, by Guy Hathaway, and no oae else." But you will not do it--
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Solid S a m t h e Boy Road-Agent. 3 court death upon that awful sheet of water?" Mrs. Hathaway demanded, wildly. "Sorry mum, but tbet's tber orders, an' we nllus obey ordere So ye'll bev ter take a ride on ther raft, an' as et's moonshiny, et ain't a-goin' ter be so baJ, arter all. Bosting, biud tber kids' feet an' I'll secure the Jeddy's." "Villain! monster!" Mrs. Hathaway cried, scornfully. "I defy you to do your worst, for your accursed master. I am not a coward, and I will face my fate, trusting in the One who never deserts his children-God I" "That's bizness I" Black Eph commented coolly, as he secured her fe et. .Ye hev got good grit, an' I ye fer it, I do. Shell I lash ther young kids to ye?" "Yes I yes I it was kind of you to think of it. I want them by my side." The little boy i.nd girl, both pretty children, were accordingly bound to the mother with larie.ts in such a way that they could not be washed overboard unless she was, too. Both were speechless with affright, but pluckily kept from crying. The trio were now placed upon the raft, and Boston Bill undid the fastenings which held it to the shore. The moment it was freed from the land, the heavy float swept out into the roaring, moonlit stream, with Mrs. Hathaway croucbing upon it, and her two children lashed to her sides; and away they were borne by the rushing waters, at a frightful velocity, soon r assing from view of the two ruffians upon the shore. We shall not attempt to picture the feelings of the horrifioo mother, as she was borne onward by the unconquerable freshet. With wild eyes, and deathly face, she kept i n the center of the raft, speechless with the hor ror of her perilous situation. For hours the raft rushed on, threatening every minute to go to pieces, in the surface of crushing ice, water and flood wood, while the roar of the t urbulent river was deafening. In silent prayer the moth(>r was swept on, the children n 'l w sobbing with terror. "Mamma, where we doin'1'' the boy de manded, between his sobs. "Nellie an' I so 'fraid mammal" "'Sb! dear!" was the faint.reply of the mo ther, meant to be cheerful. "We are going down the river-to Our Father!" "Ohl oh!" the little fellow exclaimed, joyfully. Cheer up, Sis, we see papa, byme-by, maybe!" Maybe! How that Bingle word chilled the heart of Mrs. Hathaway, and caused a blinding rush of tears to dim her eyee: She felt that her inno cent children would never live to see the realization of that; hopeful maybe." The river !!eemed now to run. faster and faster, and the raft kept pace. The velocity at which it was borne on was truly alarming. This fact was intensified when Mrs. Hathaway made-the discovery that they were approaching a rapids. Ahead loomed up a rocky point, against and oartially over which the wailers tumbled with a iullen roar. Down upon this bar the raft was dashed, and the occupants hurled high and dry upon the sandy shore, while with a groaning sound the clurusy craft went to pieces, and ita timbers were washed away with the flood. On the following forenoon the floOd bad abat ed considerably, and the river bad shrunk to its usual proportions, when a horseman came from over the eastern plain and halted upon tlte shore of the Yellowstone, just opposite the bar that stretched its peninsular neck out into the stream, and against which the raft had been wrecked the night before. A dashing young fellow of eighteen years, handsome of face and form, was the horseman, and bis garb of buckskin and well-selected wea pons betokened him a hunter. "Ugh I Prince, the river is rather a cool bath, isn't it?" he murmured as he patted his horse upon the neck; "nevertheless, we shall have to cross it in order to reach our destination. The flood bas gone down, and I reckon this is about the shallowest ford we are likely to find; so, go ahead, old boy, and see if we cannot make the bar yonder." The current was still swift, but seemi n g to understand the words of the young bunter, the horse plunged into the stream and swam it regolutely until he finally emerged upon the bar. Scarcel y had the young ho rseman gained the bar ern be discovered the bodies of the pre-vio u s night's wreck, lying where they bad bee n cast, in an insensible condition. Hastily dismount he approached them, and made an exam-manon. . "A mother and her children, evidently," h e muttered, sadly. "But, bow came they bound in this shape? Some band of red.filrins m ust have left them here to be washed away. Hal the little girl's heart still beats I The otben are dead -With his knife be severed the lariat that bound the trio togetberh and raised the little girl from the ground. T ere was no mistaking tb11t her heart still beat, although she was yet in$ensible. "Poor little waif," the young hunter murmured, tenderly laying her upon a blanket . "I h'lVe found her, and I would be a brute to leave her here to die. No; I will take her with me and care for her. But first, I must be sure that the others are dead." A closer examination failed to disrover any sign of life in the mother or the boy, and hll.ving no implements the bunter was forced to leave them lying there unburied, while, with the little girl in bis arms, he mounted his horse, and galloped away to the southwestward. Not over two hours after the departure of the hunter, a second horseman forded the Yellow stone to the peninsula, and discovered the bodies, with considerable surprise. He was a large-framed man, clad throughout in buffalo-skin, with the furry side out, and in face looked to be about fifty years of age. His hair and huge beard of great length, however, were as white as snow, and there was a dull, sorrowful expression to bis ey01S, that told of sorrow which had wrecked hill mind, and caused it at times to wa;->de:r. lie was well -

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4 Solid Sam, the Boy Road-Agent. I armed with rifle, pistols and knife, and the horse he bestrode was no common brute. Immediately upon discovering tbe bodies, he drew rein, dismount.ed an!i approached them. A strange cry escaped him as he bent over the woman-a cry of anguish and remorse "Be thel! Bethel! Oh! my God have mercy!" he moaned, bowing bis bead upon the co Id inanimate form, and sobhing c onvulsive ly. "Dead-my child. dead, and here in this wild spot? Ab! by Heave n! she has been bound, but her bonds have been severed by a keen-OOged blade." The Whi e Beard had now leaped to his feet with a terrible expression of rage in his e yes. I see! I see!" he hissed, his hands clinehed, and mus:!les standing out.in bold relief "Foul work has been done here, and I know at whose door to lay the crime of murder. Bethel, my child, hear me swear in the presen ce of God, t hat your wrongs shall be avenged. Ab I" The old man started, for he saw the limbs of the boy stir. A hasty examination revealed that be was alive, but insensible. A gleam of joy flushed over the cld man's face at this discovery, as if he bad already planned some future course of action. Carrying the body of poor Mrs. Hathaway into a natural niche in a huge mass of rpcks near by, he left it and rolled a bowlder fore the entr ance. Then returning to the boy be raised him tenderly in his arms, and vai'.Jted into the saddle as spryly as any y
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Solid Sam, the Boy Read-Agent, clasped bis hands to bis heart, with a groan staggered back, and fell into the arms of the youth! With a scream of rage the old hag snatched a pair of revolvers from his belt, and turning, opened a deadly fire upon the staiDpeders, her example being followed by the boy,11s soon as be found that White Beard was dead, and could lay him upon a rude couch in the room. But, in this case resistance was useless. The stampeders leapf\d from their horses with hoarse cries of vengeanc e and poured into the cabin by the way of the door a11d the windows, in overwhelming numbers. and in short order the hag and the boy found themselves prisoners in the bands of the miners. Curse you l curse you t" the bag cried, with fierce efl'orts to free herself. "You have killed my husband, and usurped the iights of our hom e but I will have r even&el Hear me swear it, that, thoug h people may mvade Buckskin Canyon in thousands, and houses and spires maY' be erected h e re, the place shall never prosper. D evastation and ruin shall attack it-toad-agents shall plund e r it-death shall reach every man that attempts to carry an ounce of gold out of this canyon! I swear it! I curse you, all!" Some of the men looked a little startled. Throughout all the Wind River region of Wyoming was Wild Meg known and as a strange, myste rious creature, whom many believed to be a v eritable witch or l eagued with the d e vil. For years she and White Bea.rd bad bee n known to Hve in Buckskin Canyon, but the superstitious dread of them had heret ofore caused the min ers and prospectors to steer -tjde of the plaee. Th e r efore, h e r curse was n<. a thing particularly d esirab l e apd most of the min e 1s lo oke d disturbe d and afraid. On e how ever, appeared r ec kl ess of fear, and be was Black Eph, a notorious ruffian, who had visited nearly every mining strike in the West. "We don't ke e r a durned fer yer curses, old woman I" he d ec lared, rudely. "We ain't afeard uv ye, ef ye be a witch, an' all we want o' ye is ter clear out an' leave us in persession. Boys, tie h e r an' ther b'yee outer two bosses, an put; a thorn or sage stalk under their tails ter wa"ke 'em up. B e t a cooky we won't see no more o' ther Witch, fer a dog's age!" The old hag began to shriek and curse so terribly n ow, that she was g agged. Horses were then produced, and both she and the boy were tied into the saddles; after which tbornappl e brush was fastened in und e r the tail of each horse, and they were turned loose. With almost human shrieks, they dashed off down the canyon at break-neck speed, wild with pain, and bearing the woman and tbe youth into unseen perils, and leaving the stampeders masters of the situation. CHAPTER I. rHE SUNSET CHASE OF THE BRANDED BROWS. ANOTHER l apse of six years, and we once more take up the thread of our romance. The sun was going down the horizon, and bathing the mountalns in a farewell glory of go lden Hght, one balmy June day; tbeperfumed western breeze was lulling nature into a sweet repose; even tbe dark recesses of Buckskin Can yon seemed pregnant with the balmy peace of the approaching night, until the drowsy echoes were startled by the rapidly approaching clatter of hoofs. Nearer and nearer they came, accompanied alternately by yells of triumph, and yells of de fiance. Finally1 from around, a bend in the canyon, swept a oand of at full tilt-a wild looking set of fellowe, attired in tanned buck skin, and armed to the teeth. One startling preuliarity about their eppear ance was a biam.ded mask upon tbeir fac-a black, scar-like belt that ran across each man's countenance, beginning just below the bridge of the nose, and ending half-way in the middle of the forehead, just above the brows. It was no mask, but a brand of black, upon the skin itself. and gave the party a most strange appearance. Most of the men wore beards, but the single horseman who led the advance, was yet a mere youth, evidently, for he wore no beard of any kind, and was smaller in frame than the others. There were some eigbt or ten in the party, and the y were urging their animals to their greatest speed, which fact was accounted for wben shortly after the appearance of the Branded Brows, another body of horsemen swept into view, around the beng, in hot pursuit. Four times as many were there in the numerical count of the pursuers, as in the pursued, and their at tire proclaimed them to be miners. The Branded Brows, however, were in no immediate danger, unl ess their bol""es gave out, for they were out of easy rifle range, and gaining ground, if anything. Halt, there I 'tis usele s s for you to seek to escape," shouted the leader of the miners, a large, broad-shouldered man, with silvered beard and hair. "We will pursue you to the end o f the earth, but what we'll have you. " But you won't get me, nor my men t" the youi.g captain of the Branded Brow s retorted, coolly. You bad better take your miner dogs back to Placer Cityi General Hathaway, and by so doing save their ives I" "Ha t bat I'll risk their lives. When you and your black-hrowed d e vils surrender, we will go back.On! boys-on! Five hundred dollars to tbe man who captures Solid Sam, aHve!" "Hat ba!" the young outlaw lau ghed ha c k. "I'll gi v e five hundred additional, mys e lf, to tbe ucky man! On, pards on I" Fiercely then did the purs uers and the pursued urge on their already foaming h o r ses throu!l:h the long, level canyon which stre tched for miles away, into the heart of the Wind River Mountains, the clatter of the iron-shod hoofs arousing echoes that mayhap bad never been aroused before. On-on-on they dashed, silence reigning in the stead of the previous cries-the miners who bad take n upon themselves to do Vigilante ser vice, resolutely determined uot to let the noto rious gang of road-agents escape. For six months this unknown band of branded brC11Ved men bad played the road-agent in Buck skin Canyon, in tbe most bold and daring man

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8 Solid Sa.m, the Boy Road-Agent. ner, and with a success that no amount of vigi lance or precaution appt>.ared to baffie Not a t0tage or a miner left the canyon in any direction, without being halted, summa rily. Hordes of tbese same Branded Brows were scattered through the mountains and canyons, and the leading spirit of them all was a bold, reckless person of youthful years, whom nobody knew except by his reputed "handle" of Solid Sam. On-on-on sped the chase, the speoo gradual ly lessening instead of increasing, for the horses of either pa.rty were bard blown by the long race, and were flagging out. Solid Sam noticed this with a fierce glitter in bis eagle eye, and also noted the fact that the pursuers were slowly gaininoon them. On, boys-urge on your horses, or they will get into short rifle-range yet I" he cried If they do, our jig is up, fer they're four to our one The Branded Brows seemed fully aware of this, but there was no help for it, for, urge their jaded steeds though the y did, they could not close their eyes to the fac t that the enemy was slowly but surely gaining on them. Solid Sam saw this too, and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like a curse It's no use o' torturin' the horses, boys," be said, finally. "We're losin', and the first we know we'll get a dose of round lead in our backs. We m1ty as well make a stand and fight it out!" "You go on, captain, and we'll stay and fight it out!" one of the men suggested-a young man. nearer the yonng chief's age .t Solid S a m flushed indignantly. Lieut enant Breeze, you do me a great in justice!" he replied, chidingly. "While 1 have led the Branded Brows have ycu ever known me to desert my men, no matte r what scrape we've got into? Nohsir! I'll stick to the gang till t:...., 1ast Hal w at did I tell you?" Even as he spoke the towering canyon walls echoed the report of a score of rifles, ii'b.d a yell of victory cam e from the pursuers. Four of the Branded Brows threw up their arms and dropped forward upon their horses' necks, and even with the shadow of Cleath cre e p ing over thAm, they had the pres e n ce of mind to l ock their arms about the necks of the animals, and were accordingly not dismounted. Instantly Solid Sam and the other r e maining outlaws wheeled their horses toward the Vigilantes, and opened fire, with their deadly Winchester rifles I Six of the miners'were hit, more or less seri ously, and dropped behind, while the remain der came on, firing and yelling like a pack of bloodthirsty Comanches. Bravely the Brande d Brows stood their ground, and returned the fire with telling effect, for the number of the Vigilante band diminished rapidly. But not without company, for one by one the road agents dropp e d off, until only Solid Sam and Lieutenant Breeze alone faced the ene my, vuounded, but still able to attend to business. "It's no use of standing longer!" the young captain said. "Make another spurt, and see if we can't get away!" .According l y they once mor e w h eeled thei r horses, and applie d the spurs vigo r ou.sly, and the nobl e animals responded with a brave eff ort. Fortunately for the two fugitives, the Vigilantes we r e not supplied with breech loading or magazine rifles, and, after each shot was fired, i t was several mome.nts ere they could reload. Having discharged their weapons to a man, upon the instant before Sam and Breeze re sumed their flight the interval required for re loading gave the f u gitives a chance to get once more out of ran!?e. "Hal ha I ha!' Solid Sam yelled, his fist back at the pursuing tnu m phantl y "We're ahead agrun, my noole Gen eral Hathaway, and cnce more we defy yo u as we've got it all our own way now." "How do yo u mean?" :Breeze demanded, anxiously. I'll soon show you B e low here is the deer trail that leads up through the Hed ge Pine s l ope onto the hog-back. It's a road I was over once, and is our nearest route to the peak." The lieutenant nodded, and they dashed on. Soon they rounded another bend in the canyon, and here the walls retreated into gradually steep slopes, which were covered with pines, grown close tngetb er. Wheeling his horse from the canyon, Solid Sam l e d the way ov e r a path that penetrated the pine jungle; Lieutenant Breeze followed. The path was a deer trail, and was narrow and tortuous, bnt the animal of Solid Sam followed it with as much ease as would an old trailer. The route now lay up-bill and it was impo$Si ble fo r horses to go faster than a walk; accordingly the two fugitives allowed their fagged-out steeds to take it leisurely, for the young chief well understood that tbe pursuers would not be apt to indulge in any rando m racing through the thick forest. "Maybe they'll conclude it ain't healthiest for them to follow us now." Breeze r e marked. "Don't fear that. They'll follow us until we get to the Devil's .Abyss, at !Aast," Solid Sam repli e d "Then, I reckon, some of 'em will halt." right; they will," lieutenant agreed, with a nod. 1 J don't believe they' ve got a horse that can leap across." "If they bad, there's not a man among them with p l uck enough to attempt it." Loud yells in the rear now announced that the Vigilantes had discovered the fugitive s escape, if not the direction in which the y had gone. But the fact did not materially alarm Solid Sam, for be kept on, steadily, a quiet smile lin gering about bis handsome mouth. For an honr or more, both he and Breeze fol lowed the tortuous ascending trail through the pin e wood, and like vengeful sleuths, the Vigi lantes were beard dogging behind. Night closl'ld in, but an early moon, nearly at its full, soon arose, and shot strangely gro tesque bars of light down through the pine branches. Finally, the fugitives emerged from the for est upon a stretc h of mountainous table-land, hundreds of feet above the canyon bottom One& out of the g l oomy woodland, the ni ght

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Solid Sam, thti Boy ., assumed a more brilliant aRpect, with a horiwn of ethereal bazines,, a soft blue sky, &nd a soaring moon which diflused a flood of me!l)w light upon the wild but pic tureque l andsc.ape Before the fugitive' stretch ed a line or chain of mountains, on tee right and left of which yawned frightful a b ysses. This natural hogback was smooth and level, aud of considerable length, stretching awpv toward the northwest. ''Ab! I see ;vhen; Wt> are i:mw," Breeze Iated, as they i'merge d from the fines. 'We can indeed laugh at the Vigilantes. "I sb,,uld feel somewhat like laughing my self, were it not that we've Jost so many of the band," Solid Sam replied, sadly. "But, the poor fellows shall not go unavenged. I am beginning to wake up to the fact that I have not given the miners of Buckfkin Guieb a strong enough deal. They shall have cause to f ear me and my vengeance even more in the future, tban they have in the i:ast!" "Bravo, Captain Sarn i As u surpers of your the y have no right to expect that you will submit to their invasion, By right of the testament of old "\bite Beard, the canyon i s yours." A good fifteen feet. did the t:rB!rnid steeds ot the road-agents l eap, to a safe footin!; upon the further side, 11nd then dash c J on, while !Solid Sam and Bill Breeze gave vent t ""' iuJ!SA. you so great nn !lnmity, captain?" Breez e 1 leTION. manded, as the y spurred a l ong, side by sidr. soLID SAM and Lieutenant Breeze, airer "Perhaps because I bear bis nn.tie. I know ing the baffled V i gi l antes, rode on along the of no other reason," the young outlaw replJP.d, bog-back for perhaps half an hour, wbrn they "Then, too, as you know, l've made i t a prac-came to its termination in the form of a round tice of late to toll bis iuterPsts, be being one of mountain, three sides of which sloped nearly the wealthiest of the Placer Cityites. Six years perpendicularly downward into a frightful ago, when Wild Meg and I were driven from yawnin g gulch, while the fourth side connected the place r mines, that we had worked for a with the mountain table-land, or bog-back. number of we jointly took an oath, that At the point of connection there wa s a large we should have a portion of what was rightfully black hole in the face of the mountain, from our own, by tolling evety n:llner or grist of which gleamed a chee r y light, and into which at each and every opportunity. That's how l Solid Sam and the lieutenant rode. became a road-agent. The interior proved to be a high cavern of It was evident, from his tone and expression, considerable size, and was the 'retreRt of the tha t he felt bitter toward those miners and ad-Branded Brows. venturers who had turned their quiet canyon One portion was usrd as stabling for the claim of six years before, into a noisy, bustling hors es < f the band, while the other part was ocshanty mining city of the present. cupied by the outlaws themselves. A fire brun Further conversation was now cut short, for Pd in the center of tbis section, to keep off the the Vigilantes at this juncture emerged from chill and
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Solid Sam, the Boy "Because we got chased by a gang of the Placer City miners, and lost every man but Breeze and I," he said, finally. It's partly your fault, too, for I shouldn't have gone yet for a week, if it hadn't been for yo11." "Pooh! the loss of the men is trifling, when we can easily get more. Did you make a raise from the outward bound stage this morning?" the Witch asked, eagerly. "No; the usual stage did not leave the town." "Why did it not1 "I aon't know, exactlv. There's a pile of gold scattered about the camp among the mine owners, and they're trying for a c bance to work its passage out of the place without my knowing it." Na I curse them!" the Witch exclaim e d, darkening with rage "They have usurped our claim and driven us from it, and now they would beat us out of the revenue we have ex-acted. Curse t h e m, I say!" / "Curses w on't hurt the m no more than the bite of a m.J squito ," Solid Sam r e plied, with a smile. The y think that the mines of Buckskin Canyon are rightfully theirs and tha t w e e .re committing a gross sin by 'robbi n g the stage,' as the y call it, and tolling the b ank of such pilgrim s as h a ve made their pile and started for othe r p arts So they've org anized a Vigilance gang, and a s a result, I g o t started out of tow:n to-clay, and the whole of u s got cha.s ect up the canyo n. All the band w ent d own with t heir b oots on, facing the musi c except m e an' Bree z e an' w e esca p ed." Wild Meg paced abou t t h e cav ern fo r several moments in sil e n ce, but the picture of c ousum inofury be was a u uncanny l o okin g creature, at the b e st, with h e r wrink l ed, u g l y co untenance and thiu, ang ul a r form and h e r manne r of dress in n o way enha n ce d h e r beauty fo r she w o r e a flari n g r ed skirt, t a t te r e d an.d and a dirty g r ee n wai s t, b elted and the belt co nt!tiu ing a h a lf-dozen h eavy c a v a lry pis t ols N o cov ering s h e wore u pon h e r wild, dish e veled hair, that the frosts o f many years bad streak e d with silver, and h e r f eet w ere also bare. Six of the toe s w ere gone-cnt off close to the body of the foot and the m os t r emarkable part o f the matte r was tha t s h e bad cut the m off herself-on e o n each yearly annive rsar y of the d eath of h e r forme r husband, White Beard-a nd strung the m upon a wire about h e r shriveled nec k! H e r m otive n o one could asc ertain-not e v e n Solid S a m, who h a d b ee n cared for by h e r fro m early year s u p to an age whe n he was able t o te.ke care of him self; but s h e had b ee n h eard to grimly d ec l a re, that. sh e should c ontinue the dis m emberment, a s l o n g as s b e live d, finally wind ing up by cutting h e r head off. F'or som e time s h e continue d to pace to and fro, as if to w ork o ff h e r p ass ion the eyes of Solid Sam and t h e Brande d Brows followin g her with doubting g l a n ces "General Hattiawa y is at the bottom of this movement? she finally d emanded, stopping short, and g a zing at Solid Sam, inquiringly. "Yes," h e replie d, or rather at-liead of tt, for be led the chase to-day." did you hear anything more con. earning himr' He's going to be married, as you have expected. The woman he is to marry came in on the morning stag e, acco mpanied by a young lady she calls her daughter, and a man reported" to be General Hathaway's bro t ber." The Witch started :with surprise'llt this. "Ha! what is this brother's first n a me, did you hear?" "Yes. The general m e t the m at the stage, and welcomed them-the man, a s C o lon e l Car rol Hathaway-the others, the ladies, as Mrs. and Miss Miner." "Yes, yes, I believe he did have a brother," Wild Meg muttered thoughtfully, as if unmind ful that she had auditors. "I heard tell of the f e llow, Can-ol, as a wild, reckless devil, suc h as the army produc e s But1 you have not told me, boy, wh e n this proposea marriage of the general t.tkes place ? B e spry, now, for I am muc h c o n ce rned. H a h a yes, v ery muc h concerned!" The wedding comes off to-morrow in mid fore noon, I b e li e v e at the gen eral's shanty." Good! I will be on hand! h a 1 h a y es-on hand!" the witch his se d, glaring f!.t t b e ruddy fir e which burned in the ce nter of the cavern. The n sh e turne d and o pened a large wood e n ches t near by, and proceeded t o haul out dresses of the costliest materia l s ; j e w elry, and the num erous articles of a lady's toilet, laughing strange ly, the meanwhile I 'll go d ow n to the weddin' in style," chuc k le d, g l aring wildly around. It's a lon g time since I dressed up gay, au' p ainted and puffed. But, I haven't y e t forgot the art, an' I'll show e m h o w to !;>ut on s t y l e H a l h a I'll sho w em, and the r e ll be blood on the altar, tool" Arme d with a ric h a ssortment of f eminine parapherna li a the old w o m a u the n r etired into a sort of inner caver11, to make h e r preparations. Whe r e six y ears befo r e had stood a rude log c abin in Buc k skin Cany on, n o w r ose a miniature mining city-a coll ection of shanties ten anted for a variety of ...purpos es as d w e lliugs, stores, offi ces saloons, gambling -b e lls a h d dancehous e s -quite a respectable sizec! young city, too, and calle d Placer, or Place r City Som e two tho us and so uls c l a im e d this city of the gulc h as its and average fioatitfg populati o, and the ract of its constant growth and the additio n to its people was mainly owing to the richness and see min gly inexhaustible sup ply of i t mineral r esources Sinc e six y ears before whe n the stampeders h a d take n po ssess ion o f the canyon, by killing the h ermit, White B eard, and driving o ff the Witch, it b a d panned ot l arge ly, and sl owly but surely grown b e tter. The sand y formatio n o f the bottom w a s strong ly "salted with g old, and f o r a mil e and a h alf up and down the g ul c h, fro m the forme r site of the hermit's cabin, claims innumerable w ere lo cated, the larger share of them in the control of monopoli s t spe culators, with a few belonging t.o sin gle individuals. G eneral Guy Hathaway was the big man of Placer City. Every place has to have a sort of

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Solid S a m the Boy Road-Ae;ent. 9 leading citizen, and such a person the aged genwas to the little mining st.rike in Buckskin Gulch. He owned five dHl'erent mines in company with a man whose name was Ath erton, or Santa Fe Syd, and a large interest in the shanties of the town belonged to him. His income from the five placer claims was estimated at a thousand dollars a day, and be sides this, he and Atherton had a drilled into the rocky wall of the canyon; with good prOSJ!OOtB for another rich strike. Bemg a man of commanding figure and dig ;:iity, and one of the original stampeders, he had bOOn universally looked up to as a sort of lead ing c itizen. If a dispute occurred, or any was needed, the general was always looked to to de cide the matter. His wealth he spread about with a liberal hand, and he grew to be the most popular man in the gulch. Placer City, perhaps, you cannot find upon the maps, for, being hidden away in the wild fast nesses of the still wilder Wind Rive r Mountains, 'W!ith only two stages daily communicating with the outside world, it bas not gained any notorielf' as a mining center, more than has a hun dred other similar strikes. Some two hundred rude shanties and cabins were scattered about in the vicinity of the h ermit's old cabin, two of which served the purpose of gambling dens, fourteen as salo ons where "tanglefoot" was dis pensed to thirsty pilgrims, as a smitliy, and another as a combined grocery, drygoods store and post-office. Th e n, there were a c ouple of dance-houses nightly in full blast, a newspaper office, from which was issued the Dail11 Progress, a cabin u sed for a church, and the old hE'rm1t's cabin, now turned into the only hotel in the place. Th e citizens were, as a rule, the same class found in all towns-a mixed mass of hu manity of many different nat'ibns and natures, the adventurous class and the ruffianly element largely predominating. On the d-i.y following the night that bad wit nessed the race between tbe Vigilantes and the Branded Brows, Place r City was alive with excitement, for in mid-fore noon, General Hath away was to take to hin1s elf a wife in the person of a charming lady of Chicago, who had already arrived. This fact, together with an other, which was that this was the first matri monial event on the Placer City r ecords, creat ed an extraordinary sensation, and the miners to a man, laid a side the pan and shovel, to in dulge in a holiday, in honor to the general. .AD.d when the h our came for the consumn:ation of the nuptials every man, woman and child that could, crowded into the rude church. The general and the bridal party bad luckily taken refuge in the "church" ahead of the crowd, and consisted of the general in person, a 110rtly man, well dressed, and somewhat digni fied m his bearing, with silvered brown hair and beard. and eyes of the same hue. Next came the bride-to be, a richly-attired lady of five-or-six-and-thirty years-comely in face and form, with dark hair and eyes, the latter piercing in their glances. The groomsman, Colonel Hathaway; a. brother of the general, was a tall well-formed man, with immense fie r y red side-whiskers, and a counte-. nance inclined to be rather prepossessing, but for tile sensual expression about his mouth. He was richly and flashily attired, and appeared rather disdainful in bis bearing. The bridemaid Miss May Miner, who was said to be the bride' s daughter by a fvrmer mar was a very pretty and modest-lo'Jking maiden of seventeen or eightei>n, richly attire d, and looking very charming, with her fair coun tenance, soft golden hair, and eyes of sparkling blue. And the rough audience at once decided that she was the one best fitted for the general's wW; CHAPTER III. JimOT A T THE ALTAR--THE WILL. AFTER the patience of the crowd bad become nearly exhausted at the long wait before the splicing took place, the general led his lady forward to a spaoe that bad been reserved by the groomsman and bridemaid. The mrnister, Jim Byles, by name, the n read the customary marriage service, in a loud voice concluding with the following deviation: "Do you, General Hathaway, take this hyar woman fer yer legally wedded wife, an' sw'ar by the pin't o' yer bowie knife, ter hang tew her, in the-r journey thru this we11.ry val e o tears?" I do 1" the general replied, with a fajnt smile "An' do you, mann, promise ter bang ter ther general, ditto, an' pervide his repasts, an' be a luvin' wife, wi'out lookin' bias at uther pil grimsl" "I do," Mrs. Miner said, a trifle haughtily, for this uncouth fashion of marriage law of Placer City, did not impress h e r very favorably, s h e being a city bred lady, and not a little proud and supercilious. "Then in tber name o' tber great and only Jebova, I, Jim Byles, minister o' tber Gospel, do turn the r ke, in tiler padlock an' pronounce ye man and wife. Whom God joined tergetber, let no ruan put asunder." "Hal ha! whom God hath j oined together, I will put asunder!" shrieked a wild voice, and the next instant a pistol report rung loudly through the room. With a groe.n General Hathaway clutched bis garments in the nei g hborhood of bis heart, and staggered back into Colonel CaITol Hathaway's arms. With a wtld shout from the crowd; all eyes were turned toward one of the windows of the cabin where the repulsive face of Wild Meg, the Witch. was seen glaring into tbe church. It was quickly withdrawn, however, and the next minute the swift clatter of horse's feet was beard. While llOIIle of the spectators rushed out of the church to give chase, others crowded forward, to ?et at the wounded man. My UOd, brother Guy, are you killed?" Col onel Clll'l'O} cried, anxiously, as he supported the general to a seat, while the new MrS. Hathaway drew ne11, with a whitening face. "Where-
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10 Solid Sam, the Boy Road-Agent. "In the region of my heart," was the fai .nt reRly. "I'm done for, so carry me home, for there is much I must attend to, ere I di e!' Will some one assist in c arrying the general to the shanty he occupies?" the colonel d e manded, glancing around. A nalf-dozen of able-bodied men instantly volunteered their services, and the general was rais0a and borne from the church up the street to his rude but commodious shanty, where be was laid upon a bed, in a neatly-furnished bedchamber. He was pretty well exhausted, by this tim e, but a doctor soon came, and admin i stered remedies that revived him, in a measure. An examination of the wound proved that there was no help for the big citizen of Place r City, for, while it did not bleed outwardly, it did in w;ardly, and was rapidly filling up. When apprised of this fact by the surgeon, be smiled, faintly. Yes I am going to di e and by the h and of a creature I don't know-a wild roving lunatic, who bas often threatened m e with h e r babble, but whom I have n ever paid the least attention to. Doctor, how long have I to Jive?" "It is hard to determine," was the grave r e ply. "You may survive twAnty-four hours, and, again, may not liv e ove r an hour. If you have anything to attend to, you bad betf.er do it at once.,, The mine-owner was silent a few moments, as he lay back on his pillow, as if in meditation. The colonel, th.e new bride>. o.nd her daughter, together with the parson, Jim B.vles, and the surgeon "Doc" Lee, con stituted the five who were gathered about tbo death-bed. "I am very rich," Hathaway finaUy said1 as if talking aloud to himself. "1 have a million d o Uars Raved up, in pure gold coin and greenbacks, besid es my mines worth at least a million more This weaith I cannot take with me, and shall have to leave it to some of you, I suppose." There was rath e r a r egretful expression to his tone, as muc h as if h e was lotb to l eave his riches b e hind, and his eyes wand ered over f ; he faces of those around him, critically any efforts they may have mad e to conceal it, there was 11J1 eager, hop efu l expres sion upon the f aces of Colonel Carrol and the new Mrs. Hathaway, which seemed to s u ggest plainly that they were r eady and over-wi.l.ililg to step into the dead m an's shoes. The general see med to noti ce this, and a gleam of cunning shot into his eyes. You two n eed n o t l oo k so hopeful h e said, decidedly, "for I perc e ive the drift of your and shall b affie you by cutting you off, short of your expectations. W ouldn't you be plensed to have m e leave the whole of the property and cash to one or the other of you? Hal ha! undoubtedl y you would. Your f eet are probably itching to pull On my ShOf\S. Ha! ha I that would be nice, but I shall baffl e you!" Guy, my d ea r brother, you do both your wife and m e a g reat injustice!" the colonel said, evidently chagrined at the pointed accusation. "Neither of us have the least hope or desire of l>P.comi.ng your heirs. Indeed.. we wish you to use your own judgment in malling your devise, beli ev ine: tha..t we shall be perfectly satisfied witbit.'l' "Of cou r se, dear husband," Mrs. Hathaway said, bending over and toucbinfi the fo:;ebead of the dying man with h e r lips. You must not carry such an unjustsuspicion, thatwehaveany mercenary motives. We all dearly love you, alone for your own sake and not for what you. a1e worth." "Humph I maybe," the general replied, gruff ly, but, I shall take care you do not deceive me. Byles, will you go summon L.awyer Green, and Santa Fe Syd to appear before me1" The parspn nodded, and donning his slouch hat took his d eparture. "Who is this Santa Fe Syd, brother? Colo nel Hathaway asked. "His real name 1s Atherton, and I shall appoint him my executor. He has a half-interest with me in each of my gold-mines and is per fectly trustworthY,i." the general r eplied The lawyer and >::;anlja Fe Syd soon arrived. The form e r was a" skinny," shrunken, shriv eled little man, with b e ardless face, sharp, twinkling little eyes1 and reddish hair, while his attire seemed to indicate that be had not as yet amassed a large fortune at the pursuit of his profe ss ion. The miner. Sydney Atherton, was a stalwart handsom e f e ll ow of thirty years, although he looked five years younger. with a fresh, goodnatured countenance, lit up by a pair of reso lute blue eyes ; blonde hair and mustache, and a well -pr oportioned form clad in miner's habili ments, from the inevitable top-boots to the s lou c h hat up<>n bis bead. "General Hathaway, they tell m e you are badly wound ed, h e said, approaching the bed, and taking the dying mine-own er's hand. Is there not something that cau be done for you? "No-I'm past human aid, for I am filling up with the blood that only flow s internallr,'' was the r e ply. "I sent for you, Atherton, because I know you are honest. I know you are honest, because you have eve r dealt so with me. I wa.nt to make a will, and appoint you executor of my estate, and have you see that everything is done as I want it. By the way, I will make YOll.acquaint;ed with Mrs. Hathaway. my wife of a few momeuts,_Colon e l Carrol Hathaway, my brother, and .ll'liss May Miner, my step daughter!" Santa F e Syd turned and bowed to the trio in acknowledgment of the introduction, giving a surprised start, as his eyes r ested upon Mrs. Hathaway, and her daughter. But, quickly concealing the surptise he prob ablv experienced, he turned to the mine'6wner "I am happy to meet your fri e nd s, general," he said, "and think that it would probably be better to intrust the settlement of your affairs to...,your brotlwr." "No! no! I wil' have no relative of mine con trolling my busines s You are the man I want, if you will accept." "To accommcdate you, sir, J will act for you to. the best of my ability," Santa F e Syd re pli ed, "Very well. Lawyer Green, prepare the forrn of a will, and get ready to jot down my bee

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Solid S am. the Boy Road-Aeen t 11 q uests. Sydney, you remember that, several days ago, you made me an offer fm my inter ests in the mining claims, which I promised to consider." "I did, sir. " I have thought the matter over, and con cluded to accept the offer. You have the cash at your command, I suppose, when it is wanted?'' "I have, sir. The offer I made you was seven hundred thousand dollars, I helieve1'' "It was," the general replied. But, see J:\ere I" the colonel interposed. I do not believe you can sell this property without your wife's consent." "Ahal I thought you'd show your cloven foot," the dying man said fiercely. I think I see through the intricacies of a whole accursed game. I think I can see why you invited me, a year ago, to your home in Chicago, and entertained me like a prince, and consta.ntly sung'in my ears unbounded praises of yonder woman until I grew blind and prom ised to marry her. You foresaw that I would marry her, and God only knows how much more. You plotted anyhc;v so t .hat you calcu lated you would get possession of a share of my wealth-if not by actual gift, or devise from me, from that woman I have just made my wife, and whom I have suspected of being in league with you. But, curse you, I'll block that little game I The mines were literally bar gained for before this marriage; all that wa3 left for me to do being to close the bargain by refusal or acceptance. That puts me without property, and no wife can attach money that has been accumulated or disposed of by agree ment previous to a marriage. Lawyer Green, is this not the Jaw in Wyoming!" I believe it is," the pettifogger replied. "The general has a legal right to act as it has pleased him in this matter, as i! it were peroonal property." "It must be a devilish queer law they have up here in Wyoming, then," the colonel replied, sullenly. Queer enough to thwart all your schemes, Carroll" line 5 .:::::?Al retorted. "Mr. Atherton, p l ease note my bequests. :LJawyer Green, are you ready!" "Quire ready, sir." "Then, listen: I, Guy C. Hathaway, being in full possession of all my mental faculties, do, upon my death-bed, make the following will and testamentary bequests of my personal wealth, with a prayer that God may pardon all my sins, and prevent all wrangling and ill feeling on the oart of mv remembered and dis r.emembered tieirs. To Sydney Atherton, my :former busine s s and confidential partner, I do hereby bequeath the whole of my moneyed possessions, consisting of one millicn and seven hundrOO. thousand dollars in gold and green backs, on th1> following conditions: That he shall court and if possible wed my te.r, MayJlfiner, <.'aught.er of my wife at tbe time of my decease. Should such an alliance be effected, within a proper length of time-say a month-said Sydney Atherton, who is to keep the money in execution of my will, u p. to that period, is to divide amount w ith his bride, upon the altar, after the marriage. Should such an allia1 m not be effected, said Sydney Atherton forfeit all claim to the fo r tune, and simply retains it in his keeping subject to the second clause, which is, if COl one l Carrol Hath away and May Miner become man and wife, on favorable and happy conditions, each is to be delivered a por tion -consisting of hal f of the who l e fortune. " That is perfectly satisfactory," COi one l Hath away said, blandly. "It places inl'l out of the embarrassing position of being suspected of having a mercenary inrerest in the making of the will." "I also am satisfied," Mrs. Hathaway said, taking the cue from the colonel. "I have some money of my own, and May will be as good an heiress as you could have chosen, dear husband." Supposing the conditions of the seco n d clause are not fulfil led 1" Santa Fe Syd asked Then, you are to pay the whole amount to--" General Hathaway did not finish the sentence right away, but when he did, he said-" Nobby Nelli" CHAPTER IV. WILD NARRATES. THE will was made, and Lawyer Green p r e sented it and received the {wner was con siderably exhausted, and the physicians ordered that the room be c leared in order that he might have a few moments of quiet. As Santa Fe Syd was about leaving the shanty, -be was overtaken in the kitchen by the new Mrs. Hathaway, who had stealthily followed him, and now introduced her shapely form b.r tween him and the door. Stop I" she said, a uthoritatively. I know you!" Ob I you do1" he replied, coolly. "Well1" "You are not Sydney Atherton-you are Sydney Miner." "I never give the lie to a lady," the hand some mine-owner said, withafaintsmile. "You are \mdoubtedly mistaken, my dPar madam. "I am not mistaken at all," she replied, in a exed tone. I knew you the minute my eyes rested upon you, and you also knew me." "It is not impossible. A face, or a foe of your magnitude one cannot easily forget. I did recognize you, but kept the recognition a .secret. I was not surprised to find you at your old pro fession of scheming. Do you remember resolution we adopted at our last meeting, madam?" "No!" Humph! I believe you lie I" the miner said, bluntly. "We passed a resolution, then, that forever hence we were str.angers, yet foes, and while we knew each other not to the world, we were to have the privilege of balking each otber'i; interests whenever we so chose." M r s. Hathaway scowled. "I believe there was something said to that effect," she admitred, l oo king displeased ; "buts

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12 Solid Sa.m, tJie Boy Road-Agent. I, for my part, am truly repentant. I would like to hav e a long talk with you, Sydney, if you have time." "Whic h I have n o t-" h e said, decidedly. "As I said b e f o r e, we do not know each other. I bid you g ood-d a v, madam." "But, h o ld! you mus t not go until you have told m e w h ethe r you mean to fight against me1" she said, hi ss in g ly, her face whitening, and eyes blazing ilang e rously. "To the bitterend!"he replied, sternly. "You mav count strong on m e tool" H e then brus h e d past her, aud left the shanty. St&ndin!l; in the doorway she gazed after him as he stro1.e down the street, an unreadable ex-pression upon her face As she stood thus she was joined by G'Olon e l -Carrol Hathaway, who had just come downstairs. "Ah I s o you're watching the executor, are lou1" he said with a. dis g uised spice of jealousy -in his tone "I s uppo se you have already fall e n in love with him? She wheeled upoll' him, fie rcely. "No I h ate him, eve n as muc h as I love you. You know h o w muc h tha t is," and she laughed a little wildly. "Yo u might better have said as muc h 1;.) the dying brothe r up-stairs h e r etorterl, stroking his huge s id ewhi s k e r s "By the way, the doc tor thinks h e will n o t live longer than s unrise, to-morrow." I h o p e n o t 1 s h e said, co ldl y. The n you a r e not p l ease d wHh the r es ult, s o far, eh1-t h a t i s, the making o f the will ? " N o, I a m not!" wa s t ue r eply. "It was n o t as e i t h e r yo u o r I h a d expected. The old f oo l s u spe c t e d too muc h o f the true s t ate of a ff airs " W e w ill c h eer full y admi t tha t Guy was :always a h a r d g rasping, avaric io us m a n, who s usp ected that eve r y b od y was t rying to bleed him. Yet of late years I h a v e always b ee n bis sincere admirer, o n a ccount o f h is money. Ha! bal m o ney is a truly g reat magn et! But, the will i s not so bad, a fter a ll May must m arry m e, whic h fix es it all rig h t." Y o u f orge t The s ettl ement of the m .. t te r is in the h a n ds o f this Syd n o y Athert o n who I may as w e ll t e ll yo u i s m y e n e my. H e will try to m arry the g i r l a n d the r e b y shove us out in the co ld "Curs e h i m! b e s h a ll n o t s u cceed! "You d o n o t k now tha t . H e i s a stubborn, immovabl e foe, wh e n b e c h ooses, and is influ en1;ial, h e r e B esides, May b as a w ill of h e r o w n, and the r e i s no t elling whe n to depe nrl o n h e r "If coaxing a n d pers uasi o n don't fill t h e bill, are o t h e r wavs of bringing a refractory spirit into s u b j ectio n ,' the co l o n e l s u ggested signifi ca n t l y B y t he way, who i s the 'Nob by N e ll r e f erred to b v Guy?" "1 h a v e n o idea. Y o u must m a k e inquiries, and fin d o u t. Also, i t will b e w e ll e n o u g h t o
PAGE 14

Solid Sam, the Boy Road-Agent. 18 "Fools! do they not know that it will be possible to cheat you?'' sh e exc laimed. "They do not know anything of the advantage I have over the m throug h this," Solid S a m r e plied indicating his telegraph instrument. "But t e ll me about the assassmation of Gen eral Hathaway Murde r is a crime I did n o t 1.hink you cap able of. " H a 1 h a You d o n o t kno w me-you do not lmow the ranco r and hate o f an imbittered life. If you did you would not marve l that the sight of Guy at the altar frenzied me, and caused me to do a sinful d e ed. But, you shall bear the story, which I have always k ept fro m you. Listen attentive l y without interruption, and I will tell it all to you." There was a greeni s h, fiery glitter in the old w oman's e yes, and a perceptible tremor to h e r person, a s she seated h erself near the Boy RoadAgent and fixed h e r gaze upon the floor. It was evident that the memories caused by the propose d r e h earsal w ere of anything but a pleasant or attractive nature To b egin with,'' she said, I will go bac k into the far p a s t-nearly half a century ago. At the time of whic h I speak there lived in the N e w York, a y oung manied coupl e by the name of Vanc e, who being ble ssed with an infant daughter, w e r e a s happy as the day was long. John Vance h eld a positi o n of trus t in one of the city offi ce s, at a goodly salary, and with the lov e of a the n amiab1e wife had nothing to yearn for or crav(', in his happy exist enre Little B ethe l t heir child, was a sweet fairy, and as s he g r e w in y ears she increased in beauty of b oth face form and w omanly qualities, until, a t the age o f s e v 1mtee n s h e stepped upon the" of fashi onable society, theacknowledi:; ed h ello of the seaso n. H e r s mil es and soc i ety w e r e courted by many a rich and a cco111plis h e d gallant, much to the anxiety of h e r p a r ents, who knew the dangers of fashi o n a"!Yle assoeiatio n s but she the best of the m by in a pleasant, firm way that c ould n o t be misunde r s tood, and at the same time inspired the d ee pe s t admiration of her many suitors. "This, until she arrived at the age of eighteen when h e r sent h e r to Paris and Italy H ere she was to finish h e r musical education m a two years' c ourse o f study. To h e r parents B ethe l was a loving and obe dient daug hter, and in t h eir blind affection for h e r they ind ul ged her in e v e r.vthing sh A desired. To s u c h an extent, that whe n sh e returned to America after t w o y ears' abse n ce John V a n M found tha t his bank-account was e xh a usted. "About a m onth after B e thel's r eturn, s h e once m o r e ente red m etropolitan society, and in a short time became acquainted with a young militar y office r Guy Hat b a way b y n amP, w h o was o f a good f a mil y, and had w o n a sbip, for service in t h e w ar. The acqu a intan ce soo n ripe ned to infatuatio n on the par t o f Bethel. and sb o wan ted to m arry young Hath a way o n his ow n t erms, w h i c h we r e, that s h e must deliver to him a sum o f flftv t h o usand dolla r s, u pon the marr fai;e w hirh h e wo ul d invest for he r so t h a t it would t' e oortain to provide a good livelihood for her .as lo n g as she hved. "'l'his proposition she broached a.t once tQ her parents, b u t the y promptly r e fused agr&ing that it was an unmanl y scheme on Hathawa 'Y's part t o s w indle h e r out of the money "Moreo v e r the y forbade h e r to have any furthe r a cquaintance with him. B ethe l was n o t only disappoint.ed at her failure but greatly ince nsed toward ber parAnts and in anger de clare d n othing should prevent h e r from h aving the young g e n e ral. '' About this same time John Vance mortgaged his hou s e and lot and personal property, fo r a limited numbe r of days, for thirty thousand dol lars, see in g .an opportunity for a paying invest m ent. As h e would not use it in a f e w days, he d e posited it in bis d e sk, at home, in preference to putting it in the bank. W e ll t o make a lon g story short, the money turned up missing, and the d a y after this, Bethel was manied t o Guy Hathaway. "Knowing of cours e that she had taken it, h e r fathe r immediatel y sent a searcb-wanant after h e r ancl. the y o uL g gen eral, but all to no purpose No trace of the missing mone y could b e foun d and both r be and Hathaway d enied h a v ing any knowledge or possession of it, whatever. Shortly afterward, Hathaway r e ceived t h e command of a small fort on the Western frontier, and with Bethe l l eft N e w York f-:;rever. "The parents of B e thel, having no ruoney to redee m the mortg age, were eventually turned out of house and hom e, and the friends that once kne w them, kne w the m nn more The shock o f the great blo w which had swe p t away both child and fortune was great, and had the same e ff ec t on both-to affect tneir minds with a species of insanity which was a strange mixture of madness and reaso n "The y wandere d from the citI, making t h e i r way w estward. The y grew w1ld through illtreatment and privation; folks avoided them be cause of their shabby appearance-feared them, because o f a belief t hat the y were in some way conne cted'or leagued with evil-doers." CHAPTERV. SOLID SAM AND ms FATHER. "You, the n, are the mothe r of her t hat was B ethe l Vance?' Solid Sam a s k e d. I am. White Beard who was killed six years a g o in Buc k skin C a n yon by the stampede r s, was h e r f athe r By s low stages we wandered int o the minin g and trapping s ections of the W es t, subsisting mainly upo n what we could b e g from the <;amper s or the game we killed "Six ;r ears after leaving N e w York, during which :ti.me w e had beard but once or twice fro m Bethel found us located in a wil d distric t in the Y ellowstone r egio n A t time s r eports cam e back t o inquiri es w e s ent to stra ngers, that Beth e l d i d not Hve happil y with Guy, and the sam e r eports told that, tho u g h h e often abuse d h e r and h e r two twin childre n-...a little boy and girl-s h e still bor e patiently wit h him, SPemin g to be a s m u c h infatuated with him as at fir st. On e first o f our stay the Y e!-

PAGE 15

14 Solid Sam, the Boy Road-Agent. lowst.one country-there came a terrible flood that brought us back our Bethel-but G;;;J. knows as a terrible gift. "Wbite Beard found h er, one day after the flood had subsided, so mewhat-her and her little 110n, both washed upon a bleak point of the river, where the freshet had cast her. "He r ecognized h er, and brought you home to our bumbl e abode, rm be suppo""ld her to be dead. But, unwilling to believe it, be at last went back, a nd truly eno u gh, found her alive, but so injure r l, that she died shortly afterward. Before she did die, however she told a tale of bitter wrong that bad been done h e r by Guy Hathaway, the c ulminati on of which was his causing a couple of ruffi ans to kidnap her, and with h e r children, send her afloat on the flood;;;! Yellowston e upon a log-raft. She was wrecked upon the bar, and for mauy hours lay stunned and bleeding. She remembe red, however1 of having her two six-year old g hildren bouna to her at her l as t recollection, and as White Bea.rd found her bonds cut, on first discovering h er, it was evident some one had alTived a.bead of him, and appropriated the little girl. "Before she died, Bethel also b egged forgiv e ness from her father, which was freely given, and White Bea.rd soothed her in her last mo ments, promising that be would care for h e r child, the boy, and make all efforts to find the girl." T hen, I am the son of B ethe l and General Hathaway!" Solid Sam cried springing to bis feet with a star t of surprise. "You are!" the Witch replied, "and I am you r grandmother. You can now see why I shot the human monster, your father, for there has not been a day since B ethel died, that I have not reg1stered0an oath befor e high Heaven that Guy Hatbawity should never live to treat another wif e as be treated my child." Solid Sam was silent a few minutes, before he spoke, his gaze riveted upon the floor. "You did right in speed that fatal bullet, per haps," h e said, with a voi c e tremulous with feeling," for you saved me doing the same awful deed, if you are telling me the truth about him. I a lready bate him b eca use he was instrumental i n t he death of my mothe -J" I am telling you the truth, so help me God the Witch said, earnestly. "Before the floorl., we used to send with trusty trappers who visited the various places o! r esidenc e of the Ha.thawa.ys and have them make inquiries. As a result. we al ways received the same r ep ly, literally-Hathaway seemed to hate bis wife and ch ildren, and abused them !!hamefully, in addition to letting them suffer fo r want of the nec!lSSaries of life, and courting the society of other women I" "Brute-monster, then, be is and I have no svmpal!by for him!" Solid Sam said, fiercely. D id you kill him outright1" "No, I didn t. I am no fool I meant thaj; he !iho ul d live lon g enough to make bis will. You a r e his h eir-the on l y rightful one I know of. H e m ust leave his prop<3rty to you, a n d it your siste r is ever foun d, we will share it with hei:. Go at once, lest you be too l ate, and make known to him your i d entity. Tell him all I h a v e to l d you and lying at t h e point of death as he ls, he will not dare disown yo u or refuse to do what is right." True If I have a right to his property I am to have it, for I shall never get what I don't figh t for, it appears. I will drop in upon him to-night, when matters are quiet, in Place r City, and if you do uot see me bat'k in several days, do no t be surprised." "You will n eed to be t'areful!"WildMegsaid, with a hak e of h e r head, "for the miners and roughs down there are bitter against you, and I saw a half a dozen reward papers posted up a.bout the town, offering five hundred dollars for your capture." H a l ha! let them paste the whole town with such papers, and I'll y e t snap .my fingers at the m and whistle at their curses in defiance But, to prPpare against trouble, I'll take Fleet wind with me One of the pockets of Solid Sam's jacket was curiously constructed, being lined with sieve wire, and protected by a buttoned lapel. Going to a little cage in one portion of the cave, he took forth a small but plump carrier pigeon, around whose downy throat was fastened a tiny blue ribbon, that in turn was tied to a bit of paper. Opening bis pocket, he shoved the bird gently into it, and then fastened the l apel to its placo with a button. The cau se of the wire pocket now beca.mu obvious. While the outer view of the coat re mained unchanged, the inside was left so that air could circulate free l y through this nove l but excellent bird-cage Arming himself we ll Solid Sam then mounted a large gray horse, a n d took his departure.. Pursuing a short route a.cross the mountains he was not long in reaching the Canyon, where be dismounted, and continued on his way toward Pla<:er City on foot, first having secreted bis horse from the view of the trail. Wild Meg had never to bis knowledge lied to him, and therefore the young outlaw no reason to believe that she had deceiv e d him in narrating the wrongs instigated by the leading citizen of Placer City. That night, General Hathaway lay upon hf q bed, alone in bis room, t he doctor having retired for a short nap. Unable to sleep, the mine-owner lay ther1.1 with probably anything but pleasant thoughts for there was a troubled expression upon his face It was about this time that a door softly opened, to admit a dark figure, wrapped in a blanket-a. man, \vith his slouch hat pulled down over bis eyes. The hat was raised as the n ew-co m e r approach ed the bedsid e however, and the gimeral gave v ent to a gasp of surprise and horror. "Solid Sam! the roada.gent!" be uttered. hus kily. "The same, si r," Solid Sam r e plied, coolly, 81 h e cofE>red tbe invalid with his revolver, Don't be at all noisy in your demontrations. or I shall have to silence you. Do yo u ltnow me, Guv Hathaway!" "No-no m ore than as the accursed outlaw ot the canyon I" was t h e fierce reply.

PAGE 16

Solid Sam, the Boy us ''Then it is time that you did know me,'' Solid Sam ruplied. I am yom &on, rightfully, lawfully-the only son resulting from yom union with Bethel Vance I" "" General Hathaway uttered a smothered curse. "You lie!" he gasped, paling before the stern gaze of the Boy Road-Agent t have no son tivhfg. My fir s t wife aQd children diej years ago, and you are a scheming impostor!" "How did yom wife and childr e n die!" Solid Sam asked, fiercely. Dare you own the truth, sir, lying as you are at the point of death?" The mine owner groaned and avertea bis face, upon which there was a ghlrstly expression of terror. Go on!" he gasped If you have anythin& to say, I will bear you through." your attempt6 to make me die by the Vigilant.es My principal reason in coming here, on learn ing that you are !PY father, is to induce you tio make your will in my favor." No. That is impossible. The will is r.lready made, and I cannot change it." "Will not, you mean1" "Yes, if you like. I do not owe you anything. Indeed, I have no conclusive proof that you are not an impostor?" "Daro you doubt me! Lying at the point of death, can you not s e e that I am the only one who would come forward, and give such strong proon You know I am your son, sir-have known it, or suspected it, maybe, all along, which accounted for your enmity against me!" Whether I have, or not, I decline to say I" the miner-owner repli e d, stolidly. "At any rate, I shall not leave you a penny. My pros pects for the futme are dark, and I may as well continue as I did before, as I have no faith that a ch!!nge for the better would help me, now Kill me, if you choose, as it will not make much difference whether I die now, or a few hours hence " No!" Solid Sam replied, rising. There is One who will give you your just deserts more effectually than I can do I will, however, have a share of the wealth you refuse to b& queath to me-to that I swear I I now bid you good-by, forever; may God have more mercy upon your soul than I could have!" Then the Boy Road-Agent took his departure, as silently as came. T he next morning Placer City was acquaint ed with the fact that Gene ral Hathaway w a s dead. __ "You are my father, although I am in rio way or manner proud of the fact. Because of yom crimes and villainy, it is not strange that I do not bear you either the love or good-will of a son. How long have I wondered what mystery surrounded my early life, but was unable to learn or conceive until to-day, when Wild Meg came to the front and granted the information-the whole strange story of bow you bad wedded her daughter, Bethel Vance-bow you bad caused Bethel, my mother, to steal a large sum of money from her parent!!, which caused their financial ruin; bow you bad emi grated to the West; how they bad learned of your constant abuse of your wife and children; how they found Bethel and one child-the little hoy-wrecked upon the blood-stained shore of 1 :he Yellowstone, one spring, and received from her a confession of your wrongs against her, the culmination of which was your causing her to be set adrift on the flood, with her children, calculating, of course, that you would never be troubl ed by them again. Ahl Guy Hathaway, CHAPTER V I even though you are my father, I can but hate THE POST-OFFICE AND THE POSTMISTRESS. you for your black, brutal, villainous past!" THE night following the one on which Solid "You are not to blame for bating me, boy, Sam, the Boy Road-Agent, had visited the gen if you are indeed my son I was a brute in eral-now lying a corpse at his shanty, up the those daysinspired by an evil, reckless nature, gulch -was a beautiful one, with a balmy over which I had not the mastery. I don't ask breath of radiant nature blowing up from the you to me, or even regard me with re-south and a gloriously bright moon soaring spect, for I qo not deserve it. But, go ontell throu gh the heavens' blue dome, with its brilme if Bethel escaped alive, and what became of liant settings of starry diamonds. the other cbildi" Notwithstanding the great beauty of the "My poor mother only lived long enough, night, and the fact that crowds of people were the Witch says, to confess her woes to White out upon the Rialto of Placer City, as the simBeard, who found her i then she died. I was ple gulch street had been christened by some the only child that Whiw Beard found wben he one, more out of sarcasm than admiration, other discovered her, but some other person bad been crowds of humanity were congregated in sa upon the spot ahead of him, and without doubt, loons and places of amusement but the mos t carried away my little sister, of whom no trace characteristic representation of Placer City cit-has ever been found since izens was to be found at thP. '' post-Office." General Hathaway was silent for severa l minThis was the principal bang-out of that class utes, his face covered by his hands. wbo did not as a rule frequent the saloons and All I can now do is to be penitent, and danc&-houses, and also of many of those who pray to God fo r forgiveness and pardon," be did said, slowly I am sorry-have been sorry "Mail-time" was the ripe time to find the for years, but could not recall the dead -to crowd there, and to-night was no exception to life I will not crave your forgiveness, for you the usual gathering. would probably not accord it." The "post-offis," as an establishment, occu" You are right. The story I heard from j pied a large cabin, some fifty feet wide by sevWild Meg was enough to set me against you. enty long, and answered, in addition to its offi Besides, as a citizen of Placer City, you have I cial calling, that of a general supply store, a not particularly endeared yourself to me by news and cigar stand. the unselfish interest you have manifested ill The office in q u estion was a partitioned ai:tart;

PAGE 17

18 Sam. the Boy Roa.dAgent. ment in the rear end of the building, with a pigeon-hole of moderate size opening out into the store-room, into which each pilgrim was obliged to shout bis name, and if auy mail awaited them! he received it back through this aperture. A aoor opened from this office behind each of two countersr which flanked either side of the cabin, and admitted of one person attending to the several businesses connected with the estab lishment. Placer1City was proud of its postmaster, or rathe r po stmistress1 for it was a woman who superintended the ousiness-a dashing, vivacious, irrepressib le young woman, whom every body admired and yet feared to "r'ile." Miss Nell Nugent was said to be her name, but uni versally she was known simply as Nobby Nell. Who she was, or whe1e she had come from, was among the uncertainties. Once upon a time1 in the early existence of Placer City as a mming-eamp, Bill Simpson, who had been deputized P. M:., was invited to a "neck-tie party" by the citizens, for fingering the contents of the mailsi.. and when the question was put who was to fill i:;impson's boots, Nobby Nell had put in an appearance, and begged the city fathers" to turn the positiop over to her. A little fifteen-year-old midget s he wa.S, at the time attired in a hunting-suit of elaborately decoratel buckskin, with the inevitable slouch hat ; and top boot s, and a mining outfit strapped to her back; and, impressed with h e r frank, in depend ent appearance, the "city" dignitaries had installed her boss" of the post-office. Little by liLtle she had saved up money from her salary,.and by what she made at weighing auriferous, until, at the time we enter the post office, she owned the building and the whole stock of merchandise in addition to retaining her position of postmistress. Few yvo:nen in Placer City were there who did not have some caus e to have some envy of Miss Nobby Nell Nugent, for the miners and men generally admired her, and then, she "Vas pretty, whrnh was a secret, perhaps, why the crowd always managed to saunter into the post office, hours before each mail was due. Let us take a peep into tha aforesaid office. Som e thirty or forty man are collected within, ranged alon g the counters-a strangely contrasted array of humanity, both in face and attire. The r ed-shirted, stogy-booted miner, and his more villainous resemClee, the professional ruf fian; the well-drPssed speculato r or mine-owner the fla shily dressed exqtisite (card sharp) and his prototype the sport, bullwhackers, pros pectors, gamblers, and j oc k eys, in large numb ers, with n o two alike in feature, dress or expressio n. Behind the counter stood Miss Nobby N e ll, who, as the evening mail-stage had yet arrived, was busying herself in weighing out groceries for a big bewhiskered miner, and making a very pretty picture in the light re fle cted from her well-cleaned lamps. She bad worn "the breeches" on her first ap pearance, and she wore them still, in con 1u.nction with a dainty jacket, vest and spatless llllen bosom, with a tie at the throat, jaunty, broad-brimmed hat upon her head, and neat boots upon her feet, into the tops of her loose trowers were thrust. Manly though was hoc attire it well became her, and was not" loud" or flashy; it was really very cute. In faco and form, she was rema.rkably at. tractive Her figure was b e low the m edium hight of women, a trifle, yet gracefully and symmetrically deve l oped and rounded to a de gree of perfectio n at ouce notiooab l e owing to her n eatl.v-fitting attire. H e r face was fair and\. prettily chiseled, the features being faultless in their outline aud charming in e:qiression, es pecially the mouth1 iuclined to be the least bit; large, but bewitchingly tempting, which the miners, pi a man, voted was "too killing for anything." -And who shall say they were not right? Her brigh t brown eyes alw1tys were aglow with the feeling of a warm, impulsiv e nature, yet; beto ke ned an independent spirit, that could bEo aroused to stern wrath. Her hair had someday b een shorn close to her h ead, and now grew in a confusion of short auburn curls, infuiitely be coming to her. In fact with h e r eighteen years of life l eft behind, N'obhy Nell stood at the threshold of a glorious W(\manbJOd, without a peer 8.j to beauty and powers of fascination, in the Wind River Min es Another attraction about h e r was the fact that she was "all ou ther sCiuar'," as the miners expressed it. From the ti:me of her coming, she had manifested a sturdy will and disposition to guard and protect herself from insult, and it was said that at least a half-dozen precious pil had "cha wed plumbago," as a sequel to ofl'ermg her insult. Anyhow, while she was universally admired and r espected above other unmarried women in the camp, even the boldest, or those upon friend liest terms with her, knew better thau to crowd intimacy b eyon d a certain point, haVlllg no fancy for a voice from one of the polished six shooters she eve r wore in her belt. Among those congregated within the post office, to-night, were the better class of Placer City's citizens, with of course a sprinkling of the rougher and more adventurous element. Lawyer Green was a center of attraction, of course, and m answer to innumerable inquires, b e r el
PAGE 18

Solid Sam, the Boy Road-Agent. 17 say about that," Lawyer Gree n observed, dryly. "l'her gal Miss Miner h ez sumthin ter say about thet." ,\n' Santa Fe Syd he's soft on Nobby Nell. beer, au' dursen't go ag'in'her wisbes, for fear o' gittin' planted, which quashes thet little indi<'t inent!" declared Black Eph, who was voted by all to be the ugl iest rough customer in the miuPs1 when the "snakes" were tickling the bottoms or his feet which was not seldom. "Hello! who lipped in for me, then?" the pretty postmistress den-anded, looking u p from the figuring-up of a bill of groceries. Was that you what made thet rem'ark, Black Eph?" "I'll allow I'm the man," the border ruffian answered, emphatically and coolly. "I intimated thet, bein' tied ter yer skirts, Santa Fe Syd wouldn't d urst take on no other craft, w'ich I opine is a complerment ter ye, right from ther shoulder." "Well, look out you don't make too free wi' yer compliments," Nell replied, a 1ittle flush of indignation dyein&" her fair cheek. "Mr. Sydney Atherton is m no way bound to me, nor have I any claim upon him whatever." On course she ain't, Black Eph,'' interposed J em, who always took the verbal defense of the pretty postmistress. "Y'u're a leetle too free wi' yer chin-music o' late, an' need sum good chap ter dress ye out, you do." "Mebbe you'd like ter take ther job!" the ruffian growled. '.:-I've got an open date fer ary pilgrim as wants ter grab ther leetle persition of dressin'-maid." But J em shook his bead, with a sad smile Constable though he was of the town, he had no particular hankering after rough-and-tumble scrimmagers. For Black Eph held undisputed sway as the bully of the town, and was feared far more than he was respected, for a great many dark deeds bad been laid at his door, and he was rough and revengeful at the least provo cation. Without, in the balmy moonlight night, was now heard the jolting rumbl e of stage-wheels, which cut short further argument, that might have resulted in bloodshed, for he was a poor stick who couldn't drop his man in a q uanel in the moral city of Buckskin Gulch. Out into the street poured the inmatesofithe post-office, as the creaking stage rolled up, to add to the crowd already collected. It was not an uncommon occurrence for a large delegation of new citizens to arrive in the coffin-cage," as the stage had been affectionately christened, and these Placer City-ites were always on deck, ready to give the new comers a critical inspection. To-night, however, there were but-four pas sengers; but four though there were they were most siugu'arly contrasted. The first was one of that class of Westerners easily distinguishad in their profession as cattle drovers, by the fact of their -constantly carry ing a bull-whip-a young man in years, with a slight mustache. brown eyes, and Jong wavy hair that tluched below his shoulders, while in face be was particularly wearing a fear less and independent, yet gerual exprns&ion. He was attired in tlie usual costume of the prairie cattle-drover t with a pair o f serviceab l e revolvers stuck in nis be lt-sl ouch hat, knee boots, and homespun, the woolen shirt whic h opened with a co llar a t the neck, b eing fanci fully embroidered. Young in years appeared this young dr over, yet the "grip" of his eagle eye betrayed the fact that be was no coward in a big crowd, and the way he pushed through the assemblage of citizens into the post-office, was a guarantee that he was in the habit of going whither be pleased, regardless of hindrance. T he other passengers who followed him, were a China man, and a man and woman of the most striking appearance-the man being every inch e. six-footer, if not taller, and one of the lankest, most gaunt-looking specimens of humanity that it bad ever been the fortune of these l'lacer City ites to beho ld Evidently there was not a spare pound of flesh in his composition, his skin appearing to be drawn tightly over the bones, and the loosely fitting garments he wore over the skin. His features were gaunt and sunken, his eyes large and of a yellowish shad!', while bis mouth and feet were extremely large. His bead was totall y bald, and as shiny as the appearance of a fu ll moont not even so much as a few hairs vege\ \ ting tnere. Upon bis face a sickly stubble of hirsute co \ ering had collected-that was all. His attire was ridiculously ragged and dirty, with worn-out shoes upon his feet, and a clown shaped hat upon his bead. Iiis companion was precise l y his opposite, in appearance. She was a coarse-featured, red-faced wQman of four feet six, and nearly as big around as she was tall; a person, who, at the least calculation must bave weighed three hundred pounds She was dressed in a stylish traveling costume of costly silk, and, as compared with the "skinny" man, to whose arm she clung tight;. ly as if afraid that the stiff mountafa breeze would blow him away, she was a remarkable contrast. The Chinaman, a flat-visaged, aJmond-eY., ed, greasily-attired pig-tail, was evidently attached either to the drover or to the two llow, and a murmur of disgust and demur went the rounds of the crowd. "A gol-durned Chinerman !" grunted one miner._,, I say, boys, who imported 'im 'ere? We doan't want none o' thet breed." "On course w e doan't," assented seve ral others, in a voice. "Wage s is low enuff, as it ill, wi'out any of them p'izen cusses." Hurre. l that's tber talk!" chipped in Black Eph, who now formed one of the crowd that;

PAGE 19

18 8olkl S a.oi, the-Road-Agent. had partially surrounded the Celestial, "Say, see hyar, you John Chinaman, don't ye know you're IUvadin' a Paradise thet warn't nevyer IUtended fer pig-tails, an' sech like? You've got to bounce." "Nixy Chee Fee Ching-go no bounce e 'Melicau man no makeeChee Fee bounceel" the son of Confucius decli>red, mdependently. "'Me lica free land-Chiueeman he heapee likee 'M e li ca-go whe r ee pleasee.'' W a a l I ll h e cussed ef we won't jest erbout ea to r thet y e durned flat-snooted sacker!" Blac k Eph cried savagely. And he forward and seized the unoffending Chee F e e Cuing-go by the collar, and yanked him arouncl unme rcifully. "Bring a rope, boyees, an w e 'll h e v e r l ee tle pick-nick, jest as nice as ye pl e as e all by tbe r o' ther moon." A doz e'.l Qlin e r s hmT1ed away in quest of the des ired halter, for it was down in their rough code that a Chin1.iman was not fit for anything else but to h a u g The young lte.cle r bad heard the disturbance, and n o w came out of the post-office to learn the cause H e ll o!" h ejaculated, as his flashing eyes took in the s cene What's the matter? What are you a-g oin' to clo wi' thet Chinaman, old mau! "Hang 'im, by thunder!"BlackEphchuckled. "Me bbe you've got some lip to chip in ag'in' it?" "Me bbe I have," the herder declared coolly. I mix in my gab, when I see fit. What's the Cele 3 tial bin doin', that ye_want to s end him upl" "Notbin'-po3itively and precisely nothin'," Black Epb r e pli e d, with a leer. So what are you to d o about it, my yoUllg gobbler!" I m g oing ter persuade you to abandon all notion o' stringin' up tbe Chinaman, I opine!" the young h erJ;ir replied, quickly a pair of r e v olvers from his belt and cockmg th. em. Take your hands off from that China man, and let him go, or I'll put a semi-colon right b etwee n your eyes qtiicker than a kitten can say its cato c hismsl" N Cus> yet d'ye mean it, you yoUllg the ruffian fiercely I don't mean nothing else," was the reply. The C e lesti a l hasn't harmed any one, and d>m' t d e s erve to be hUllg, or ev e n molested. Thi s i5 a free country, and everybody has a right to go wli e r e they please, except when the law interferes, and therefore you've no business to lay a hand on that fellow." A murmur o f disapproval came from the cr0wd. It was not to their liking, this interference. The young cattle-drover still stood with bis revolvers le v e led in a way that seemed to indicate that Blark Eph's prospects for a funeral were large unl ess he speedily obeyed. "See hyar, young feller, this ain't no fair shake h e growled'runeasily. "I'll allow ye've got the r drop? but want to a.rgy ther p'int, in the r b e h a lf o our citerzens, to whom I'm a re presentat i v e Et's an established fact that ther cussed Chmamen hev did more to'rd fetchin' down than ary other race on ther earth, an' et ain t nateral fer us laborin' class ter love 'em fo r it, overmuch. Up ter we've kent our town free frum ther pesky deTilS 11ll 1 I'll oo cuss blamed ef we aire a-goin' ter Jet lem swarm in an' cut us out o' our jobs. Ain't this so, boys !" A grunt of assent from the miners, was the answer. On course et's so I" Black Eph averred, warming np1 in an oratorical way, to the sub ject. "We Ken't l>e blamed fer pertectin' our mutual interests, an' w'en a pig-tatl galoot cums a waltzin' inter our town-w'ich same be a foretaste o' more that's ter cum-I opii1e et's our moral an' religyus duty ter treat ther cuss ter a private hempen celebration, an' thereby e ncourage ther rope manufacturin' interests o' ther land. Hain't et so, boy ees-bain't thet logick right frum the r foUlldation 1 On course et is, an' ev'ry mother's son o' ye in favor o' giviu' ther pig-tail a boost, will make manifest by sayin' I I" "II" was the ringing response, from many a throat, I I" "Contrary no!" cried the young herder. "If you .are all in favor of hanging this China man, I am not, and I'll drop the first man who attempts to boost him! That's me, Wyoming "\Valt, right down frum ther cattle regions, and chock full o' pwe beef an' blood in the bargain. Remember! I give you fair warning. The first man who offers to invest in this lot tery, will get a grand prize of a"two-by-six pine box, provicling the town authorities sees fit to supply it." The crowd were waiting on 'Black Eph, for the decision, for one and all had long known him as a lawless leader in scrapes of this sort. The ruffian knew that he was left and glared aroUlld him, as if in doubt what to ao. "W aal, boys, ye'll hev ter !five me a Ininute t e r decide ther case," he said, 'but ye kin draw yer pop-guw, so that ther cowboy don't get too frisky." "Stop!" Wyoming Walt yelled, sharply and quickly, a stern ring to his voice. "I'll blow the skull off of the galootthat draws a pistol!" "And so will I!" All eyeS were turned toward the door of the post-office at the sq_und of the ringing voice, and II eyes beheld Nobby Nell, the pretty post mistress, standing there, a pair of silver moUllt ed r volv.ers in her hand5bleveled at the crow!.. Oh I it's me I" she o served, "and I guess I'm pretty 00enerally known. I jnst n imarked 'And so wi:lI I,' the translation of which means I'll blow the head off of the pilgrim who offers to harm the pig-tail or the herder!" "Boyees, et's '.Our Gal,' w'ot speaks," said Jim Byles, steppmg forward. "Be we a-goin' ter hang by the luv we've allus hed fer Nobby Nell, or be we goin' ter hang ther pig-tam W'ich1" "Hang ther pig-tail," growled Black Eph, fiflrcely. "NobbyNelldon't run this yeretown, ner she ain't got ther say in this matter." "Ther gal is trump I" a half-dozen different miners replied. What she says we'll make our law. Ef she says don't hang ther Chinaman, so be it!" "Well, I do say it and I mean it,'' Nobby Nell replied, decidedly. "The young stranger

PAGE 20

Solid Sam, the Boy RoadA g ent. 19 i s right. You citiz e ns an' landmarks of Plaeel:_ City haven't no more right to lay hanas on the Ce lestia l than Solid Sam has t o r o b the stage. Let the r p ig-tail g o, bo ys an1 you'll sl ee p bett.e r f e r not hangin' him to-night. Th e words see m e d to have an immedi ate e f f ect, for the m e u mostly r es tored their weapons to their belts and C hee F ee Ching-g o was p e r mitted to go h! s way. The cattle -h erder, W y oming Walt, then turned bac k into the pos toffic e fro m whi c h h e h a d e m e r ged on hearing th.i d i sturba n ce and cam e face t o f ace with Nobby N e ll, who had evidently bee n waiting fo r him, a s she was not b ehind the counter. "See h e r e," s h e said motioning him aside from the immed i a t e h ea r i n g of any chanc e bystand e r s Maybe it i s n t any o f m y busin ess but I'd lik e to know your name if y o u have no objections "No n e at all,'' the y oun g h erde r r e plied, pleamntly. "I gave my handle to t h e crowd as Wyoming Walt-I'll give it to you in the same fashion " But, that is only an as s um e d nan">. "How do you know that, pray! " Because I gue ssed so. Th ere ts a young cattle-drover named Wyoming Walt, but you are not him! "How do you know that, pray?" was the r e joi n der, interrogatively. "Be cause I have s ee n this Wyoming Walt and he is not at all like you-is c oward ly, and iufflan!y, and u g ly-looking, while you are quite the reverse," Nobby Nell said, gazing at him, unflinching l y. Oh I as to that, there c o uld easily be two person s by the sam e name, in s uch an extensive TeITitory as Wyoming," the young herder re plied "Indeed, I know of a good many per sons who go unde r on e nom de plume." "But you are not Wyoming Walt," P lacer City's pretty young postmistress persi sted, with a smile. "It is not likely there would be two by that pe culiar name. You are som e on e e ls e who have hit upon the expedient of disgui sing yourself T ell me, is this not so!" "Possibly! you know is pos s ibl e.; nowadays. But, whethe r I am the perso n 1 claim to b e or not, what does it matter to you! "We ll, I ll tell you. My n a me is N obby Nell, or N e ll Nugent, f.or short, and I am a great admire r of brave r y You showed good grit, a bit ago, but it o c cuITed to me that you \Vere some one e lse t h a n Wyoming Walt, and were running a g reat risk in h ere. " Thanks for y our kind anxiety in my beh alf, b u t I am n o t at all in Llange r I opine, and w e r e I, it does not matter so much You are the postmistre ss; I beli ev1>! "Yes." "Isn't there a l etter h ere, for Wyoming W alt! ''No, but there is one for Solid Sam," and Mi s s N ell lowered h e r voic e a s s h e spoke. ."Oh, there is Wyoming Wal t said, without any apparent interest. "A friend of yours I dare say "No; I am not acquainted with him, but neverthe l ess admire his gri t and appr ove of his cause. But here comes the mail, and I must change it. The c o a c h-driv e r now entered, burdened with a we ll -filled mail-bag. And that v ery fac t c a u s ed many a miner's ey e s to sparkl e with anticipations of the r e ception of l etters fro m hom e . Nobby N ell nodd e d to Wyoming Walt pl e as antly, and the n vaulting li ghtly over the co unter, s he r e c e i ved the mail-bag and disappeared b ehind the p artition. A faint g l eam of admiration entere d Wyoming Wal t s e y es a s h e watc h e d h e r l e a ve. She 's as sharo as a razor, literally sp eaking," he mutte r e d, unde r bis breath. "She is pretty, t oo and of a lovabl e n aturn, I allow. I won d e r who w e r e h e r parent and what are her antec ed en ts!" Qui c k o f s i ght and quick of touc h, it did not take N obby N e ll l_o n g to assort h e r mail No boxe s did Placer City's po stal syste m boa s t of, but behi n d the partitio n Nell h a d con structed a sort o f tro u g h, containing twenty-six c ompartments numbe r e d alphabetically, so that A's mail was put into Divisi on A, and so on, which enab l ed h e r to know jus t where to l ook for each party's mail without tro uble Th e little wic k e t-door soon flew open, anil a crowd surg ed forward to receive tlieir install ment of l etters and Many were the r ec ipients of b u t some there w ere who received none, as was easy to tell by the gloomy expreS10ion u pon thei r fac es Th e n the r e was another c l ass w h o inqu ired at the d e liv ery as regu larl y as the mails arri ved who had no idea or hope of receiv ing even as much as a postal car d N o fri ends or r e latives had the y who cared enough about their we lfar& to inquire about it, a;nd t heir main reason for askin g for mail seemed to be beca u se they wished to hear Nobby Ne ll 's p l easant, musica l but a treat w hen' vouc h safed by Miss l'lell. More out of c u riosity than anything e lse, probably, Wyoming Walt joined in the line of mquirers, and when it cam e his turn, put forth his call, and to his surprise a letter was p l aced in hi s band. Not gfancing at it, he stepped from the line, and a llowed the next man to take his place, who chanced to be the b ullying ruffian of the town, Black Eph, u pon whose face there was suddenly seen a strange, triumphant l eer. Stepping to on e side, Wyoming Walt glanced at the dire c tion upon the env e lope of bis l etter and gave a s urprised start. I t was addre ssed to "Solid Sam-the Boy Road-Agent," in a bold, graceful s tyle of chi -rography. A faint scowl of annoyance rose to the herd er's brow, and he g lance d sharpl y around to soo if any one besides hims elf had seen the diiec tions. As be did so h e caught the le ering gaze of Black Eph, and at onc e decided tbat he, i f n o one else had seen them. But, with a coo l ness that evidently came n a tural to him, he tor e open the l ette r and glanced over i t, his senses, how6ver, so much on the a lert, that he was well aware of what was going on a r ound him.

PAGE 21

20 Solid Sam, the Boy Road-Agent. H e was al'lO aware that the ruffian was ap proaching him, and accordingly, without appa rent design, be p u t the letter mto bis pocket j ust as Black Eph came within arm's reach. "Hello! got a letter, did ye!" the bully de manded, pausing, with a cunning grin. "Well, what if I did?" Wyoming Walt re plied. Anv one got a better iigbt, I should like to know!" "Luk out, ye young bantam; don't go to sn.s sin' me, or I'll suddenly chaw ye up, I will. Let's see yer letter. "Well, I guess not," the herder declined, cool l y. What for!" "'Ca'se I wanter see it that's all,'' Eph an swered, blusteringly. Cum, pass et erlong, will ye, u r shell I takeitaway frum ye1' "Maybe you'd better try to take it away, j f you imagine it would b6 healthy amusement for you!" was the calm suggestion, and the young man folded his arms complacently across his breast. Oh,! ye defy me, do ye?" the ruffian growl ed. Ho, ho I maybe I hold the game card jest about now. I see'd tber directions uv thet l eetle billet-ducks, I did. Wnat d'ye say to that?" "Nothing of particular moment. T he letter was given me through mistake, evidently, and not meant for me. "Oho! thet won't work, me boy. 1 know all about et. Jest let me see thet 'ar epistel, or I'll tell who ye aire, an' then tbar'll be fun!" "You will!" Bet yer stogiest boots I will I" "Wbat'll you make by it?" "I'll make you fill ther same noose ye got tber Chinaman's neck out of, cuss ye!" "You will?" "May I be shot fer a pigeon, ef I don't!" Then, go ahead! I defy you to do your very worst!" was the young herder's answer. With an oath, Black Eph stepped bac k a few paces, and pointing bis finger at Wyoming Walt, he cried, in a loud voice : "Boyees, we've g9t 'im, now I That feller's Solid Sam, the road-agent!" CHAPTER VIII. SOLID SA.111 STEPS OUT-FREE ADVERTISING. 1 THE effect of the ruffian's words was magical. Out came a great numbe r of r evolvers from different b e lts, t0 be grasped by sturdy bands, and the miners and citizens and adventurers who fill e d the room advanced a step, with dark ;;conls, that were threatening in the extreme. Yas, sir-ea! that feller's Solid Sam, an' I know it!" Blac k Eph dec lared./. with triumph. "I smelt a durned big rat, did 1, the r fur;t min nit I see'd him, an' so when he went u'l yauder ter ther mail d elivery, I p eeped over his shoul der, and see'd him get a letter addressed ter 'Solid Sam.'"' "Is this so, young man?'' asked Bill Bolivar, who aspired to be Mayor of Placer City some day, should the place ever attain sufficient di mensions to need a mayor. "Is Eph a-tellin' the truth erbout this yere letter!" "!(' is, undoubtedly,'' Wyoming Walt replied, not at :ill disconcerted, still standing fac mg the scowling crowd, his arms folded acro:s his breast. I received such a l etoo r from i b e post-office, but it evideBtl y was handed m e through mistake. "Ob I no it wassent !" Black Eph chuckled. "Nobbr, Nell she knows her biz, you bet, an' she wouldn t be apt ter make a mistake like that." Of course she wouldn't. Bolivar agreed; "an' so, l\fr. Road-agent, you may as well sur render, ter oncet. Thar's fifty on us ter one o you, an' escape is impossible." It is, eh?" the young herder cried. Then you are perfectly well satisfied that I am the genuine SOlid Sam Hathaway? "We are,'' Bolivar assented "All the differ ence 'twixt ye is thet ye bain't got no black streak across yer brow." Which ought to be conclusive evidence that I am not Solid Sam," was the calm reply, a faint expression of amusement lurking about his mouth. "If, howeve r you will have it that I am the notorious outlaw, I do not see in what way I can help it. "What's the matter here?" Nohby Nell de manded, emerging behind the counter from back of the postal partition. "Ahl are .they trying to ?et you into trouble again, stranger?" It would seem R o," Wyoming Walt replied. "You gave me a letter through mistake, evi dently, which was addressed to Solid Sam, the road-agent, and this man they call Black Eph saw it, and now accuses me of being the party himself!" And so they propose to introduce you to Judge Lynch, eh?" That's about the size of it, I reckon,'' was Wyoming Walt's response. "Well, if I can help it, they won't. Gentle men, you'ye made a mistake here, I allow'w" th!> pretty po stmistress said This pilgrim, yo ming Walt, is 11 herder from up in the cattl e regions. Solid Sam, indeed! Why, Solid Sam h es r;o t a scaracross bis brow, an' this pilgrim ain't"' "See byar, Nobby Nell nobody axed 'you fer yer lip-in, in this case Ef you're 11 pardner ter this gal oot, that ye back his case so strong, why, we'll boost you too, mebbel" Black Eph snarled, savagely. "I've b ee n in Wyoming T e r ritory fer a dorg's age, an' neve r heerd o' secb a chap as Wyoming Walt, afore. Ef be ain't Solid Sam, why in blazes did ye give him the letter?" The l etter bas been lying here in the office for several days, and so I I'd gi'l'E} it to some one in order ter git rid of it, and Wyoming Walt happened to be the one that got it. l didn't 'spect any such harm as this or I shouldn't have let i go out of the office. That's what's about the r letter, old man!" "But mebbe w e won't take yer word fer thetl" Black Eph r eplied. "I opiI\,e you've hed yer way, hya r in Placer City, about lon_g enough, an' et's time we herl. a change. This galoot's Solid Sam, an' we're goin' ter bang him. What d'ye say, boys?" "We say yes, on course ef he's really Solid Sam," Bill Bolivar proclaim3d. "But, Nobby Nell orter know, mebbe for she knows 'mbst evervbody." Gentlemen!" Wyoming Walt cried, "yo u i;ieedn't argue the case any longer. Miss Nobby

PAGE 22

Solid Sam, the Boy Road-Age n t Bl Nell evidently made a mistake i n giving me t h e letter, and believes me to be Wyoming Walt. Nevertheless, she is mistaken, for I am the very i ndividnal you have been trying to make me out --Solid Sam, t h e Boy Road-Agent!" A. murmur of astonishment escaped the crowd, for this was certainly startling information, boldly delivered. Even though many bad at first believed him to be the notorious young o utl aw,. t be.y had hardly been expecting bis bold d ec laration of the fact. Coolly: st.ood be there, after vouchsafing the fact, w ith arms folded across bis breast, and his eyes flashing a dangerous light. "Yes I am Solid Sam he r epeated "the road-agent of Buckskin Ca'.nyon, the boy ;,.horn you drove out of this gulch six years Do you wonder I am forced to take matters mto my own hands, gentlemen, when you look around you and realize how much you are usuri;:=;s my ri1rbts?" 'i< We ain't usurpin' nothin'," Black Eph growled. "You lie, ?;Ou are l" Solid Sam declared, undauntedly. All this gulch had been staked off, and rightfully secured by John Vance, alias White Beard, previous to the time when a party of invaders, you included, came into the gulch, killed my grandfather, and drove my grandmother and myself away from our home. We both swoce then that not much of our rightful gold should ever l eave the canyon, ann I allow there hasn't much l eft." "Oho 1 ye brag o' (.e r robberies, do ye?'' B lack Eph shouted. 'Waal; ye may's well play game while your coura?.e is up, fer we're goin' ter boost ye to glory, d rectly. Cum, ye may's w e ll surrender, and save us ther pleasure o' saliva tin' y e!" "I rathe r reckon not," Solid Sam retorted, coolly. "Nor will you make tbe least attempt to take me. While you were intent upon catching your game, you were being captured your selves. Hal ha! if you look at the windows, my loving pilgrims, you will undoubtedly see what I mean." They did look with a start of surprise, and what they saw, carriro significant weight to the words of the Boy Roau-Agent. Three windows there were upon each side of the building, looking into the store-room, and throug h these were l e vel e d a glittering array of rifle-barrels, some score or more in number, in such a shape that nearly every person in the room was covered. A murmur of rage went the round.;;, while Solid Sam l a u gb!'d, tauntingly. "You see l10w it is, boys!" he said, smilingly. "My band happens to be 'flush,' arnl I take the game. Hal bal I am sorry to rob you of your anticipated pleasure of hanging me, but l'm not ready to cross over the rive r yet, which makes tbe difference. You see you are covered,..and of course youwm be wise. You will make no attempt to hinde r my departure, for each of the rifl es you now see gazi n g at you, i s manned by a Branded Brow, wbo will shoot the first man who offers to raise a murmu r of dissent Sorry to have to tear myself awa;r from your afl'Pc tionate society, but, such is nevertheless the o:ase, and so I bid you all a p leasant adieu1 Make way to the door, pleas'l, and don't stir from your tracks to follow me, under penalty of instant death!" He was obeyed. Loth, though these citizens of Placer City were, to let him escape, who bad abstracted so much from their J;>eCUniary possessions, tlley were in no way desirous of losing their wind, as they were liable to do, if they offered to prevent his departure. Therefore, a passageway was cleared to the door, witl:t .grim scowls, and Solid Sam walked through it with as much indiff erence as though he w1>re a monarch marching through a bodyguard of his admirers. When he reached the door, he turned and raised h's hat triumphantly, a plc,asant smile upon his face;,then turning, he quickly left the office. At the si,me instant the rifles were withdrawn from the windows, and when those within the post-office gained the open air, nothing was to be seen either of Solid Sam or b is Branded Brows Had the earth opened up and swallowed them? On the following morning, Placer City's daily n ewspaper contained a boom" in news, and had a ready sale. Among its local items of interest were the ap p ended which the editor bad evidently labored bard to present to bis patrons: "SOLID SAM t.GAIN.-The notorious Boy Road Agent, Solid Sarr again came to light last night, but as u s ual ma( e hfs escape, not to tbe credit of our citizens. TUs : uung outlaw i s constant1y grow ing IJolcln and b J)dPc, and some certain measures should be taken for l.i eradication. If ou r citizens-all of then! bard<"11ed and manly nug gets of the old school -cannot fff e ctually put a stop to tbe fellow's wild, lawl ess career, why not send to New York for Cap tain Will!ams the champion clubber of tbe 'finest police in tbe w o rld?' He probably could fix our youthful r oad agent. "It i1; hinted by some, that Solid Sam is roded and ab ette.l b y the strange o d hag, Wild Meg. who is credit.ed with b e ing possessed of witchcraft., also that thr re ir: dang r t o e very citizen of otir town, fr0!'.;'.1 this unnatural pair. lt seems that. in the firse hitory of this town. the ba g and h e r hu sban d together with the boy, lived h e re, but werE> driv e n away by th e settlers. The man was kil!r'd for r e fusing to go. claiming that b e and his wife qwned not, the Wit ch and th e younl': road-ag ent still claim to be the owners of the canyon, and give this as theil reason for their constant d ep redati ons upon oa. citizen Prompt measures should be taken for th ... ea rly 'plan I ing of this precious yet dangerov: crop of human thistles." In another place was: "The funeral of our esteemed citiz en, Genera Hath away of whose assassination by tbe Witch, wu spoke in yesterday's issue, occurred before day break this morning as his early decomposition ren dered quick interment necessary. But a c e rtain tll>7 were present to witness the last sad rites." In still enother place, was another item: "It appears, according to a statement mad6'u1 our emrnent oarrist.er. Lawyer Gr9"n that 8ollil Sam, the road-agent, ls the son, by a tl;st marrl>\1 of the deceased Gene r al Hathaway, and consequent< ly the ri{Jlllful or legal hei r to the decea sed's wealt h,

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92 Solid S a m, the B< y R oad-Agent. The lawyer tells a singular story which be claims the genera.I confessed to him, before be breathed his last, and as the lawyer is a man notP.d f o r his vera city, we are in duty bound to believe him, ah bou gh the storr, seems mcredible, and we r efr!'in from J>Ub lisbing it. In case, however that it IS true, lively tim es a.re impending, for Solid Sam is not bered In tha genera.l's will. The will is as follows: n our townsman, Syd Athert on, can effect an a.mica.hie matrimonial a.Ilia.ace with Min r, the gen era.l's pretty step-daughter, tae property to him and h e r, jointly. If not, in case the same ar rangement can b e eliectE'd between Mis Mine r and C o lonel Carrol, the general' brother, the property goes to them, resp ect ively and equally If neither of thes e alliances can be e!Ieoted, the wholewealtb, of which Atherton Is trustee. Is to be ha.ode d over to our p etty postmistress, Nobi>y Nell Nug en t. It Is a novel case in th ex reme, and Its settl emen t sug gests a fair chanc e tor six-shooters and gunpowder." The reading of these extracts ca.:ised quite a sensation among all conditions of Placer City's citizenship. It did look, indeed, as if there was a big chance for a grand struggle, and the matter was dis cussed by every man and woman in the town. Colonel Hathaway and Santa Fe Syd were chief centers of notice, but n either spoke to the other, and both were rathe r quiet. Several days pMsed by-days of feverish an7 ticipation to the gossip-mongers and excitement lovers of the town, who were eagerly awaiting developments that did not come. Nothing had b een or heard from Solid Sam since hi s escape from the postrlJffice; nevertheless he was expected to be heard from, again, at any moment. The notice he had received in tho newspaper had but served to increase his notoriety, and also the dread of him that was generally prevalent, and those who had any quantity of gol:len treasure in the town, held fast to it, hardly daring to risk sending it out of the gulch, for fear it would fall into the hands of the watchful young outlaw. One stormy, windy night, about a week later, the publisher of the ciaily paper, while sitting in bis sanctum, received a caller. No unusual occurrence was it for some pilgrim to drop in, for the purpose of solicitin g a puff, or to examine the latest papers and smokA the editor's pipe; and, therefore, the aforesaid .editor, a lean, hungry-looking man, did not look up from his writing until the cold contact of something hard was pressed against his temple, sending a shiver down his sensitive spine, and he made the horrifying discovery that the muz zle of a formidable six-shooter was indeed threalienin g his h ead, held in the unwavering gripe of au individual of some eighteen years, aero: whose brow was a black streak, as if paint;ed there by a searing instrument. No man of mighty courage was this weak representstive of the newspaper fraternity, whose name was Blotf s ; iudeed, he had a i;nortal terror of warlike instruments and the fact that one of these dapgerous tools was pressed against his head caused him literally to wilt in his chair, and tremble all over. "Rea vens don't-don't kill me I" he gasped, his teeth chattering. "I beg-don't shoot! vV-who are you!" "We ll, my Christi:in friend, I happen to be that notorious 'thistle' you deem easy to re move from this moral sphere," was the response. "Otherwise I'm Solid Sam, and I mean biznessl" CHAPTER IX. MAY AND SANTA FE SYD-SOLID SAM'S POSTERS. ABOUT this same minute, when the Boy RoadAgen t had the newspaper man covered witl.his r evo lver, Smta Fe Syd left the post-ofilce, equipped with an armful of groceries, and hurrie d aown the street, through the wiud and rain toward his bachelor's shanty abode. It was a wild night in the extreme, with a fierce gale blowing down over the mountains, driving before it a continuous sheet of rain, and there were but few persons abroad on the main street of the little mining-camp. Yet when jn the n eighborhood of his shanty, the handsome mine-owner met a cloaked female fi.,<>ure, whom the strong wind was seemingly trying to prevent from going up the street. A second glance discovered who it was. "Why, can it be possible that is you, Miss Miner!" he exclatmed, crossing over to her. "Wbat in the world ever brought you out in the storm-Qr isn't it any of my business!" 11 Yes, it's your business, for you are the son I started forth to find,'' was the gaspmg reply, for the huge raiu-drops beat tattoo in tha maiden's pretty face. "I had no idea it stormed so." ".It's a wild night," Syd repli ed. "But come -you must in )Ut of the storm. Yonder is my shanty, if you will accept of its friendly shelter." "Until I have had a short talk with you, yes and Miss Miner timidly took the s .alwart gold-digger's arm, until they were safely at the shanty, and she was seated by a cosey fire. "It's a rough night-the roughest I've seen for some y aars,'' Santa. Fe Syd said, as he de posited his purchases upon a table, which form ed one of the appointments of a neat room. Something of unusual moment, I take it, must have occurred, to bring you out in such a storm, Miss Miner!" N o I only came to talk with you concerning the will of General Hathaway and other matters, sir," was the answer. "But, first, I want to know if the woman I have been led to suppose was my mother, is my mothe r!" The mine-owner looked surprised. "Why, do you come to me to ask this!" he deman ded turning upon h e r with a searching glance. '.' Because I know that you know something about me!" May r eplied, firmly. "The glances exchan11:ed between you and Mrs. Hat.ha.way, ou your meeting, did not escape me, and then, she has of lien hinted to me that I was nothing to her. Tell me, Mr. Atherton, I beg of you, 1f I am in any way related to that wom1t11! You know-you can tell me that which I most wan1i to know-who I am!" Santa Fe Syd paced a turn about the room, before he answered. "Do you have an: recollection "of a former lifer he finally ask..id, stopping before her.

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Solid Sa.m, the Boy Roa.doAgent. 23 "Does your memory date back to-say twelve and fled to Chicago, where I found her, on giv years ago?" ing chase, in company with this man, Colonel "No. I cannot back as far as that. Carrol Hathaway. I rememb.er when I was eight years of age, I "I immediately applied for and received an lived with the woman I now call mother and absolute divorce, and also tried to get you from that one day when I played truant, she tbrew her, but as I bad given you to beri lawfully, me upon the floor, and pou1.1ded me so badly I could hot take you from her. 1i1aking her that I was sick a great while, and in under the first promise to treat you well, I then left for care of a doctor. Further back than all this part of the country, and never !Jave seen seems to be a blank to me. Y e t I have someeither of you since, until you came here to Placer times thought that I have seen your face, a good City." while ago, for itissingularlyfamiliarin feature. "Thank Heaven she is nothing to m e!" the Where or when, I have no idea1 but yet I am girl said, fervently. "But still, you have not almost positive that I have seen it." told me who I amwhose child I was, before I "It is not impossible," the miner said, slowly, was given into her care." gazing at the upon the hearth. "But, be-"No, and cannot, just now, for I do not Elven fore I answer any of the questions, I want to know myself. I will make efforts to find out, .ask you a few What do you think of General however, and report at another time." Hathaway's wiJH" "Very well. What information you have "I think it is the strangest aftan .1. nave ever I voucbSBfed tome is of greatest value to me, and! heard of. Did you read the piece in the newswill oe coment to let you use your own judgpaper about another who is a rightful heir?" ment as to when to answer. me the rest. But "Yes, and beli eve it. The Boy Road-Agent, there is another thing to settl e ere I go. What as be is called, bas borne the name of Solid Sam is to be done in regard to the will'!" Hathaway ever since I knew anything about "There is no hurry to decid e that. Let it go him, and I have often heard General Hathaway awhile; in the m ea n time utterly refuse all pro speak of him in a bitter way that caused me to posals on the part of Carrol Hathaway and the believe that be knew something more about other, keeping me posted occasionally as to him than he pretended. Lawyer Green claims their conduct. If they go to showing too muc,b that tlie general sent for him, just before he of the cloven hoof, I will soon dispossEss them of died, and made a confession of bis sins, and shelter, for the shanty belongs to me." owned that Solid Sam was bis only l
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Solid Sa.m, the Boy Road-Agen11. very fine poster-work at very short notice for t.en dollars a hundred, cash in advance-wa ranted to give satisfaction." But I not going to pay you a cent for it," Solid Sam assured, with a laugh. I own this hyar gulch, and everything in it, having n1>ver received any rent, and consequently I don't pay for any little jobs I may want done. So JUSt you olim1' fer yer stick lively, and set up tber form, or I'll make your ideas scarcer than the t.eeth in a Centennial mule." "Don't shoot! don't shoot," Blolfs prot.ested. "I'll do just as you say, if you only don't shoot me." Well, get to your work, then. Haul out vour biggest type, and form a head-line of 1 With perceptibly trembling limbs, Bloffs l eft his chair to do as reque sted, and Solid Sam seated himself and lit a c i garhnot forgetting, however, to kee p the lean publi s e r c o ve red. Soon the t y pe form was begun, headed in hiv lett.ers by the word noti ce. -1\ So far, so g ood," Soli d Sam said. "Now, if you please s e t the form after this copy," and he laid a pie ce of pape r upo n t he table. Bloffs ob e y e d with a lacrity. No d esire had he to get the c ont.ants of the young road-agent's re vol v ers, and con sequently worked away a s earnestly as though big m o n e y was in the job. Long mto the w ee s m a ll h ours of the night was it ere S o lid S a m l eft the office arme d with an armful of p osters and took bis way b oldly thro u g h the n o w d ese r ted streets of the infant m etro p o li s pitch e d down in the d epths of Buck skin C anyo n. On the following morning wh e n the natives crawled ou t each and e v ery one expe rienced a thrill o f a larm, for, p asted C'onspic uously to the fronts and s id es of 'Vario us buildings, was the foll o wing: "NOTEI I "To ALL WHOM IT MAY CoNOEnN:-Shakespeare, a modern poet, engaged upon some East.eru lit.erary paper, and stated that the woman was a love-sick admirer of bis poetical gems, wbo persisted in after him, in hopes that he would make her his wife. The woman's name was Juliet Clawhamrper, she said, and also declared that B. R. Shake speare bad promised to marry her, and she was 'a-goin' to make him do it, if forced to follow him to the ends of the earth." These d eclarations on the part of eccen tric pair furnished a fun d of amusement for the miners and usual stree t loung e rs, day aft.er day1 for the poet and his Julie t were here, there anc1 e v erywhere. Where went the poet, followed his f eminine admirer; if be laughed, she laughed; if he s moked, she smoked; if be drank, she drank. Tbe lank man eve r carried with him a bundle of manuscripts, and bis chie f aim see med to be to dis pese of them, at exorbitant figur es On the afte r S o lid Sam bad billed the town with his post e 1 s Colon e l Carrol Hathaway was among those who lo u n g ed in the p o s t-Office awaiting the arrival of the e v ening mail. But1 inst.ead of minglin g freely among the differ e nu classes, whi c h had bee n a popular c h arac t.eristic of hi s brother, b e h eld himself h a u g htil y aloof and busied hims elf in airily stroking his luxuri ant sid e-whis k ers. It while thu s eugag ed that b e felt a tap upon his shoulder, and turned t o fiud standing in bis prese n ce the lean, lon g, hungry-looking poet, Bill Romeo Shakespeare w h ose comp a n10n, the faithful Julie t, was n o t far away k ee p ing an eye on the aforesaid ].lOOt," in a w a y tha t elicited a titter pf amuse m ent fro m the specta tors. "Well, what do y o u the co l o n e l d e manded grufHy, surveying the would be m ast.e r of the Mu ses with dis pl easure Ef y e please, capt'm, I've a little v erse o' poeti cal logic to read y ou," the po et r e plied, with a bow. CHAPTER X. K now ye, o n e a n d all o f ye who do re s ide within that m o untain inclosed gulch, known as Buc k s kin Can yon. t ha t I, S am Hathaway s o l e h e ir and owne r t o said c anvo n do h e r e b y warn y e to r a iSt' a sum o f on e hundr ed th o u s and d olla rs in currency, and ] CORNERED. plac e it at m r di>posal, b eing th e purcha se mone y o f AND from his pocke t the s econd Sha k e speare the d eed I w ill rrompt l y o v e r o n the took a roll of w l'itin g pape r and procee d e d to rec eipt of said m oney. n cas e sum o f money uutie it, a bl and express i on u po n hi s strange facti. 1s not pl aced at m y d 'Y'tllm. th e next ten "Stop! Y o u n eed no t tro u b l e y o urself f\1r I day s af te r the appe1.l'an ce o f thi s nonce. T swe1r to d h f caus e the certa in des tru ctio n o f th e town a s it n o w o not want to see o r ear any o y our n o!1 stands, a nd turn t b e hhab itants from th eir abodes. se n se, the col o n e l r ep li e d, savage l y "I will without an y s b e l ter, w h a t e v e r. This is final, an not be b ored I" shalJ m y p r omis e "Oh I I d o n o t intend t o bore you, as I have Signe d Sp,Lin S A M H ATHA W A Y ,. no a ul'ler, b andy," B ill R 0 m eo r e pli e d calmly Th e Boy Road-Ag e nt. "No r i s the v e r se I w o ul d read y o u n o n sellS(I. It is A grand mast.e r p i ece, equ a l to any of those That was all but it se t t he ball o f excitement old -time effus i ons. c r ed it.ad '\o the immortal on1;e more in moti o n, wi t h r e new e d vi g or. bard. Jus t listen I pra y t h ee : The two qu ee r pe o pl e who arrive d on the stage the night of the disturbance a t the pos toffice, were c h arac ters, in the ms e lves. E v i d0ntly n eithe r w ere gifted with an extraordinar.v allo w a n c e of brains, and they w e r e uncon sc i o u s l y the butt of much ridicule by the loafers and adventurers, According to their own "t.ell," tho y w ere in no way r elated to eac h othe r Thto lean individual claimed to be Bill Romeo "From d own b e hind th e mi g hty bllls Wh e r e all m a n klnr1 attains t h e chill s A sc oundr e l ca m e in g ui se o r man, Wh o l ea gu e d is wit h the d e vil' s b a nd; A m a n o f k ee n d esign' ng mind, A sinll'l e ac e-no two 'fa kind; H e flees from whP re the ea stern sun Alon g th e momin5;'S h orizo n run. Clo s e at bi s trail a s h a d o w t ags Lik e a bloodh o un d o n t h e trail or stags. But, see I a c loud i s on the sky, Which signifies that I am dry!"

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Solid Sam, the Boy Road-Agent .. Clomel shall we go have something at your exJ>6!1SB9'' The crowd tittered again. The co l onel bit his lip with rage. "Curse ;rou 1 get out with your nonsense. I want none ol. your poetry, nor am I in the habit of drink ing with 1unaticsl" And with mighty dignity he turned and strode from the office. Down the street he went, for several blocks; then paused abruptly and gared back in the direction of the post-office "No, I am not blind," he muttered, a danger9US glitter to his eyes and hoarseness to his tone that betrayed his emotion. "There was a meaning for me in that rude composition-perhaps there is also a similar meamng in the fact of (;hat cursed f e llow's presence here. I must have n.nother look at him." He retraced his steps toward the post-office, a 1lark scowl upon his face. Instead of entering he positioned himSGlf at a window, and gazed eagerly within. The poet was still tbere1 attacking others with 1 1 ehearsalsof his composit10ns, the fat Juliet now lteeping a close hold to bis aJm, seemingly with l'.ear lest he should escape her, or get wit)lin upeaking distance of the pretty postmistress, who was an amused l ooker-on. For several minutes Colonel Hath!iwaywatch. ld the strange pair narrowly; then, with a n ''ath, he left his position a-q.d walked rapidly lo the Hathaway shanty, where he found the late general's wife seated in the sitting-room, enga7ed in perusing a novel. Where is May?" he demanded, as he laid bis hat upon the and bit the end from a fresh cigar. "Is she in her room yet?" Mrs. Hathaway looked up with a vicious ex-pression. "Yes-under lock and key. She declared she will die before she will marry you; moreover, ;be claims to know that I am not her mother. Santa Fe Syd has been putting her up to thi s I" "Undoubtedly," the co lon e l assented with a frown He is altogether too much mixe d up in our affairs. BesiD, what do you I scarcely know. Can the girl not be persuaded to marry me?" No, I do not believe she can. She bas plenty of grit in her composition, and I candidly think she would suffer death before she would marry you." Curse her. Providing that she is in possesslon of some of our secrets, as we ba ve s uspect ed, from time to time, she would be better dead than alive, anyhow!" "No! no! Harm must not come to her-I promised Syd that!" ''Humph!" and the colone l 'Sneered, fiercely. "Then you regard your promi'0s to him, eh?" In this case, yes. Had I staid with him, I should to-day be the better for it. Butt let that pass. Laying aside May, what other plan have you?" There is but a narrow path left. Either we must put Santa Fe out of the way, and take possession-or, we must make a raise of all we can, and skin out. It's our only chance of sal vation, to leave this town behind .us, as quickly as possib le. Did the ruffian, Black Eph, come, to-night?" Yes, and I sent him in to the kitchen to await your arrival." Then I must see him and consult with him, He is probably the very party I want." Several days passed by. Days of anxious suspense, they were, to the poorer class of the citizens of Placer City, who looked eagerly to the mono:i;olist mine-owners to raise the one hundred thousand dollars de manded by Solid Sam, and thus save the town from an unknown peril. But, no sign of any such a move was made among the wealthy ones, except in the case of Santa Fe Syd, who offered to donate one-tenth of the amcunt if others would come to the front with the other nine-tenths. This they positively refused to do, believing ./;hat it was only a scare on the part of Solid /Sam, and consequently putting no faith i.n the warning he bad place1 before their eyes The same night after the occurrence of the events last narrated, a muffl.ed figure stole into the town from down Buckskin Canyo n, when the gold e n camp was wrapped iu slumber, and to the rear of the cabin used as the pos t-office building. Here h e paused, and cautiously removed bis boots; after which he carefully fitted a key intc the l ock of the rear door, and in a m&-ient it was open. Stepping within the building, be found him self in the small apartment, sacred to the uses of the postal service. There was a table on which were spread a number of letters and packages destined to go upon the morrow's mail; a lamp furnishe d a dim illumination being turne d down m one corner, upon a rude couch, Nobby Nell h a d thrown h erself a t the conc lusion of a weary day's labor, to seek rest in repose. With a sharp glance at h e r, as if to assure himself that she was asleep, Solid Sam-for it '"as be-stole quietly to the table, and assorted the letlltlrs spread out upon it, with cool audar city.

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S6 Solid Sam, the Boy Road-Agent. Not finding eny to his liking, evidently, he next proceeded to l ook over those in the deliverytrough where they had been placed,, subject to the morrow's inquiry. H e was thus busi.ly engaged when he felt a tap upon his shoulder, and turned to meet the unflinching gaze of a polished revolver muzzlethe same deadly instrument being held in the grasp of Miss Nobby Nell "Ohl it's you, is it?'' the young outlaw interr ogated, coolly, proceeding to assort the letters over with the greatest nonchalance. "I didn' t know but some .of Judge Lynch's pardners might have got the drop on me. Nice evening out of doors, isn't it1" "Probably!" Nell retorted, tersely. "But, if you ever hop e or expect to enjoy another one, rou'd better keep your hands off from that mail. [Jome! who are you, and what do you want?" "Oh! I'm Solid Sam, you seei" and the.night bawk unbuttoned his huge c oak collar and raised bis hat enough so that she could see his face, w;_th its Branded Brow. "I had a desire to learn if these Placer Cityites have been attempting to smuggle any of rny rightful prop J)rty through the mails Nobby Nell lowere d her revolver and r estored it to h e r belt. "No, they have not," she sai
PAGE 28

Soli d Sam. the Boy I:.oa.d-Avent. can perhaps help me better as a silent friend than as an open one." Maybe you are right, and I'll do as you wish." She accordingly once more laid down upon her couch, and permitted him to bind her hands and feet and tie a handkerchief ov e r her mouth. "The night is light as day, the moon shines. so brfgbtly and I am going to s e t my earner pigeon foose," he whispered, "then surrender, upon conditions." He seated himself at a table, and hastily penciled a few lines; then taking the pigeon from his pocket, be note wing. A cnimne y bole m one side of the cabm serve d as a means of exit for the bird, whfch was soon sailing away through the night, toward the stronghold of the Branded Brows. The n drawing and cocking his r evolvers, Solid Sam approached the rear door and rap ped upon it smartly. CHAPTER XI. SURRENDER. IN the mean time let us return to the shanty of the Hatbawavs. Colonel Carrof has t.ened from the presence of Mrs. Hathaway, to the kitchen where he the :ruffian, Black Eph, seate4, engag ed m smoking a gr!my pipe, and sampling .a bottle of old wine wbich latter he had found m a close He looked up with a nod, as the colon. e l entered his eyes bloodshot from excess of drmk. "Well I got yer card, an' so I cum," he said, as the Chicagoan seated himself. 'Ye sed ye wanted ter engage me in bizness?'' "Exactly!" the colouel assented. "I want a man who is not afraid to do a nasty job, so long as there is a straight hundred dollars be hind it." "The n I am your huckleberry,'' the ruffian assured. "Where ther's cash, I'm allus ready. Hain't particular what ther job is, n either; an' w'at's more, I can allus be depended on t e r work fer tber interests o' tber man w'at pays hlghest. Want me to give some galoot ther send-off?" "Yes. "You've hit it exactly. Now, first, I'll give you a few pomts of explanation, and the directions afterward. You s e e, by the will of my bis wife was almost totally ignored, and I, bis brother, l eft with no hope of coming in for a share of bis fortune, except I marry bis step-daughter, whic h I do not find it COf!Venient to do. This l eaves the fortune to outside parties, and we, the rightful heirs, have come to the conclu sion to make a strugg le for our share. As there does not seem to be much of a chance for getting possession of it by fair means, I propose to resort to oul. To-morrow night, you and I will pay a visit to the shanty of Santa F e Syd, and whil e vou take care of him in an effectual way I will take care of bis fortune, and slide out. To-morrow morning, perhaps, I will dispatch Mrs. Hathaway to Camp Stambaugh, and on. tbe following I'll send her by the stage, a sacbel, r.ontaimng I will remain a few days, to 11:vert and then will join her, first bavmg prud you your hun dred. See?" "You bet! I ain't. Black Eph replied. "How do ye want Santa l' e Syd sent cfl'-by lead or stee!1" Steel is tbe safest," the colonel replied, significantly. "Tbat will do for the present. You can go1 now, and como around to-morrow night. about this time, ready for lmsiuess Dark shadows hovered about the Hathaway shanty; from m1t of the m the form of Santa Fe Syd gliuewner cautioned. It is mes. S "Solid Sam?" the voice interrogated, in evi dent surprise. "No-Santa Fe Syd. "'Shi don't make a noise, and I will try and get you out of tb1s." A bunch of keys bad the miner in bis possession but none out of the lot fitted the lock. The next best thing was to remove the l<:>
PAGE 29

as Solid Sam, the Boy rounded'!'' the Boy R oad-Age::it demanded. "Correct. I 'll take yqu at your word," Solid "Seems to me you're crowdin' things a little." Sam declared. "If you go back on it, the crimu "W aal we opine not," the voice r espo nded. will be on your own b eads. I will surrender on. "Ef you're Solid Sam w'at's speakin', an' I the conditions proposed." reckon ye aire, we've got ye cornered, now, And unbaITing the door, h e threw it open, and where tbar ain't no hope fer ye. Thar's only stepped out into the night. two ways ter ther caso-lid Sam t.o the morrow, 'thout b ein' lynche d, I'll s uIT ender. If town jail, which boa,ted of the somewha t sug not, I won't. That's the long and short of that name of the" Tomb." matter." They had just arrived from tlnir flight from Tb ere was a protracted sile n ce. the Hathaway shanty, and paused in the doorEvidently those who surrounded the postwa" to gaze upon the crowd that surged by. r,ffi ce were h olding a consultation. Ah! they've captured Solid Sam, at last," "I guess they're d e lih eratin'," the Boy Road-Atherton said, as he saw the Boy Road-Agent Agent said, approaching Nob!>y N e ll. "If I beinghurriedalong. "Iwonderifthey'regoing can get a repri e ve of about forty hours or l ess, to string him up, at oncef I hope not, for I canit will give the Branded Brows a chance to ring not see that b'e is so much to blame for his wild in a deal." career. The peop l e are in reality usurping his "But are you not afraid they'll promise you, rights." till they get you in tbeir power, and then go Lawyer Green stepped up, at this juncture, back on their word 'I'' the young postmistress from among the crowd. breathed, thro ugh h e r gag. "They've got the true heir to the Hathaway "I hardly beli eve they'll do that; anyhow, I'll millions, at last" he said. "They caught him run the r:isk. Ab 1 here comes the answer," as a up at the post-office, and the aspect lboks dark rao thundered uoon the door. for him." t Hello, the r e!" came from th1 outside "Going to lynch him'!'' "Well, h e llo yourself," Solid Sam r eturned. "Yes Not now, however. He's got a short "If you've got anythin g to say, say it. reorieve. "Waal, open ther door an' surrender. We've 1 I'm sorry for him," Atherton said. '\But tuk a vot.e on et, an' ye kin hev till Thursday, at it may be lucky for the town, that they've been ]Sunrise, in tbe r jail, afore ye're boosted What able to nab him, before b!S threatened destruc-do ye Sll.y now?'' tion of this place. Solid Sam took out his watch and gazed at it, Green shook bis head, m editatively. It lacked fifteen minutes of being "It is my firm belief that his ca,:iture will Wednesday. H e would have a little over only hasten t.he promised event," h e r ep lied. twenty-four hours' chance for escape, if he sur"Tbe Branded Brows will soo n bear of bis cap rendered. ture, and we may expect lively developments That, be argued, wou' d be a sufficiently lon g It seems strange, wo, that he sl:iould be the late period of time, providing the carrier-pigeon gereral's only son, and rightful l;efr. '' safely reached the stronghold. "Yes; but is there an:v proof that "Is this all a square d eal now'!'' he demanded. h e is sucM" Santa Fe Syd queried. "If I give myself up, can I depend upon what ""Ohl yes-plenty of it. The general himself you have said?" told me the whole It,llCems that On course," was the reply. "Mebhe you be, tbe general, becoming dissatisfied with life. ain't luved ennytoo muc h, but we'll keep up our with his first wife, her up at a village along flide o' tber trace, all right.," the Y e llowstone, and came on into the ji;r

PAGE 30

S _olid Sam, the Boy Ruad-Aeent. .. t.erior. In the spring, twelve years ago, he hired two roughs called Black Eph and Boston Bill, to go up to the on the Yellowstone, and put his wife and children out of the way. They followed his instructions by capturinq the mother and her two six-year-old twin ch!laren, a little boy and girl, and placed them afloat, upon the raging river, on a fratlraft, the mother bound hand and foot, so i,bat she was helpless, and the children in turn bound to her. "it was the calculation of the ruffians that they would all be washed or spilled from the raft and drowned, hut in they would have been doomed to disappointment, had the y taken pains to follow the raft, for it was tossed high upon a projecting bar in the river, and neither the mother or her little boy was drowned. What became of the little girl is not known. The mother and her boy were later found by old White Beard, the hermit who it turned out was the fathe r of General Hathaway's discarded wife. "Mrs. Hathaway was -too much injured to Jiveh and died shortly afterward, but not until she ad placed her boy in White Beard's charge, and ma.de known to him her -pitiful story. White Beard took Sam-which was the boy's name-and he was reared in a hermit's home, until the latter was killed by the stampeders, in tills canyon, six years ago, since when young Hathaway and his have lived to gether somewhere m the SW-rounding moun tains." But was nothing learned in regard to what became of the little girl1'' Santa Fe Syd asked, with sudden eagerness. "No, not so far as the general knew. I saw the old Witch tcH'lay, lurking near the town, and 'collared' her, on the subject. She corroborated the late genera.l's story, with thepd ditional charge that be was one of the greatest villains at heart that ever lived. I asked her in regard to whatever became of Solid Sam's sister, and she did not appear to know. She stated that when White Beard fouud the waifs of the wreck, there were only Mrs. Hathaway and her boy, lying upon the shore, in an apparently lifeless state. Near by, howev er, were bonds that it seemed had once bound them, but had been severed by a sharp blade Horses' tracks also led from the spot, and Whlte Beard bad surmised that some horseman bad previously crossed the river at this point, and finding the little girl alive, and the other two apparently dead, had m e rcifuUy taken charge of the femal e child, and proceeded on his journey. Wild Meg Mys they made every effort to trace the party, but all to no avail. The man had as StiI'ely disappeared with Solid Sam's sister, as though the earth had opened 11p and swallowed him." 11 And from your story. I am, no doubt, the identical man." Santa Fe Syd said, ;with a meaning smile. Twelve years ago, in the spring time, I found this same shipwrecked party, upon the Yellowstone shore. The woman and the boy were, to all appearance dead, and as the little girl was still alive I took h e r in charge, and continued ou my southward journey, never dreamine: any romance would come out of t.1111 case.'' 11 Thellr-Ob I Mr .Atherton, am I the 1'8ff you fouJKlr' May Miner gasped, excitedlY' "Yes you are the same," Sante Fe Syd replied; ,7 moreover, according to Mr. Green, you are the of the late General Hathaway, and a.re Solid Sam's sister!" CH.APTER XII. THE END OF PLACER CITY-CONCLUSION. "CAN all this be true?" Lawyer Green ex claime d. "Well, well. It is altogether a most romantic romance in real li fe. So it turns out tha t i f yo u come intopossessiou of the Hathaway wealth, Miss May, you will only begetting what is rightfully your own." "Ohl sir, I do not care so much about the in her:itance as I do that the mystery of my past life is cleared up. So that young man we just saw marched past is ll"Y brother!" He is Santa Fe S ytl a ss wed. But he, of course,,_ kbows not that his sister is so near to him. Lawyer Green, if you can get a n oppor tunity, I would like you to make this new dis covery known to him; and, also, you may as sure him that I will look to bis rights, and his sister's. The Hathaway wealth is all in my possession, and I have made up my mind that no one shall ever finger it ahead of the legitimate heirs of my late partner." 11 Very well. l will try and get the message to him," the lawyer replied, as he ]Jade them adieu, and hurried on down the street, while Santa Fe Syd and his ward entered the miner's shanty. .At the same time a strange figure stole from the shadows near the dcor, and dodged away among the crowd. The attire of this party was that of a man, but in the ugly repulsive features it was not hard to' discover the identity of Wild Meg, the Witch, although there were probably none among the swging crowd in the gulch street who noticed the fact. She bad evidently been an eavesdropper to the conversation between Santa Fe Syd and the lawyer, and there was a peculiarly unree.dable expression Ppon her face as she hurried awa_y. .A noisy night it was in the town of Placer City;, nevertheless it quieted down to some ex tent nefore morning. Shortly after the departure of Green, Santa Fe Syd conducted May Hathaway to the hotel, which nearly adjoined bis 'sbanty, and left her in tb<1 care of the hostess for the night, while he returned to his own abode and" turned in." It was, he judged, well on toward morning when he was aroused to the conRcious fact that he was bound hnnd and foot, securely gagged, and in the power of two men, who were bend ing over him. vVho they were h e could only infer by the blac k, scar-like bands across the lower portions o f their forehead s, and their eyes. Being unable to speak, be could only look daggers at them anrl wonder what was their purpose .Aft.er carefully inspecting the bonds, evident ly to see that they were Recure, the two night hawks laug hed, and taking the miner by the bead and heels, bore him from the shanty into the little canyon street. Here the;y were

PAGE 31

Solid Sa.m., the Boy Road-Agent. by two other Branded Brows, who bore between tile::n no less a person than May Hathawayfalso securely bound! Th e street was at this hour deserted; th,e s 1loons had closed their doors: no longer the cracked music and sounds of drunken revelry cam3 from the neighboring dance-houses. In fac t, the camp was wrapped iu repose, whlch for the b o ldness of Solid Sam's age nts. Two horsem e n now rode out from the shadow o f a buil c ling, aucl were handed the two prison e1s before them in the saddle. Then, with the utmost caution, they guided their horses down the street and out of the limjts of the gold e n camp. 1'Vhen morning once more dawned upon the littla city, the forme r posters of Solid Sam were r<>placed with fres h ones, which read as follows: CALLI "THOSE citiz ns of Plac e r City who are wealthy and influ e ntial, havino; ma.de no move toward pay ing for the rights the y are usurping, I herP.by warn them that unless S >lid S:im is set free, by noon to day. and th e mouey d e manded previously, is paid over to him, the towu o f Placer City might better have never exi st.eel; and I warn those who desire to escape without injury, to take tbeir everlasting leave of this place at onc e if the prisoner and money are not fo1'tbcoming, by th e above stated hour. "This is fair and final, and should be heeded "LIEUTENANT BREEZE: Acting-commander Branded Brows." No matter what had been the previous excite ment, in the mining-camp of B uckskin Gulch, this capped the climax Business was quite suspended, and throughout the d a y the street presented a crowded, ex cited aspe c t. At times it looked as if mob-law would pre vail, and the s::ieedy lynching of Solid Sam seemed in e vitable; but the influence of a few sturdy miners as p e acemakers, prevented any open rupture Al l day long a restless set of humanity surged in the street, and s e ntinels were posted at every approach to the town, by those capitalists and speculators who would not pay the money de manded by the Boy Road-Agent, to prevent any of the Branded Brows from gaining access to the town. The discovery was made during the day that several min3rs and their families had taken leave, and this fact only served to add to the fears of thos e remaining, that the proposed vengeance of the Branded Brows would come, as promised. Noon arrived and pas s e d, but Solid Sam was not set at lib erty, nor paid the money. That fac t seal e d the fate of Placer City, as a mining town. About dus k Colon e l Hathaway left the street, where he had b e en promenading. the most of the day, and entere::l the shanty that had had formerly h'en the of his brother. In the kitch e n he foun'1. Black Eph and Mrs. Hathaway, e;idently waiting for him. T he latter was arrayed in male attire as well as the f orme r and both were armed to the tooth. "Everything is r eady and success promises to greet us." the colonpl announced. "Santa Fe Syd and the girl are missing, anCl unless they took tl;le gold with them, which is not likely, it is ours. Eph; you may accompany us, until we get safely out of the gulch, for there may be trouble, y et." They left the shantyh and hurried rapidly to. that of Atherton. r e door was ulllocked, and they had no difficulty in effecting an en trance. In ten minutes they emerged again onto the street, the colonel armed with two hand sachels, which were crammed full of something bulky and heavy. As they left the shanty, there was a mighty thundering roar that made the very earth tremble-a vivid flas h that illumined the sky, and the air seemed full of sparks, and particles of burning things. "By Heaven, Myers's supply store h as blown up!" a miner cried, rushing by. A pandemonium of yells followed the report, and the vast crowds surged eagerly toward the scene of the disaster, leaving the other parts of the town fairly deserted "The Branded Brows have begun operations, evidently the colonel had to confess And now is our time to bid good-by. Heir by craft is fully as good as heir by law, and having the Hathaway and some of the Atherton wealth in our possession, we need not comp lain. Come We will fiud saddle-horses waiting just bexond the town." 'Yes, an' et 'll be healthy ter get out o' ther place as soon as we can, ' Black Eph added1 with an oath. Look, will re. T he Brandee. Brows are keeping their p r omISe!" H e pointed, as he spoke, in the severa l direc tions of the compass. The blowing u of t h e supp l y-store, evide n t l y, had been but a signal of what was to fo ll ow. Here, there, yonder-everywh ere sheets of lurid flame began to creep up in the night, all over the village, from the sides of shanties that incendiary hands had fired. A circle of fire sur rounqed the doomed town, seemingly in a sing l e insta"Ilt, and the lurid reflection upon the sky grew brighter and brighter each minute. "Come!" Colonel Hathaway cried; "there is no time to be lost. Let's escape while there is a chance." And with fear-blanched faces, they hurried away toward the northern part of the camp, falling in with tbe yelling, frightened mass of women and children that were also endGavoring to <>scape beyond the fiery limits of their former abodes. A pandemonium of yeUs and curses rung upon the night. Every person seemed only intent on saving as many of their personal effect s as possible, for it needed no second glance to teli that the town was doomed by the destroying element. A fierce breeze was blowing through the canyon, and it was not in the powe r of mortal hand to check the conflagration. In five minutes after the blowing up of the supply store, there did not-seem to be a building in the towR except i t was wrapt in flame. Nor were any of the Brande d Brows caught in the act of setting fire to the shanties, so

PAGE 32

Solid Sam, the Boy Road-Agent. did they plan and execute their work. Nor in the panic of the fire did any one seem to think of the impri, oned Boy Road-Agent, Solid Sam, except one person, BJJd she the pretty postmistress, Nobby Nell. As soon as Myers 's Supply bad blown up, she left the post-office, and hurried in the direction of the cabin-jail as fast as her feet co:uld carry her. A brawny guard stood ..Qefore the door as she ran up, an exprei;sion of impatience upon his face, which declared bis desire to be at the fire. "For Heaven's sake, go help to put out the fire!" Nobby Nell cried1 as she ran up. "The Branded Brows are trying to destroy the town and unless prompt measures are taken they'll succeed. Go! you can help bett.er than I. I'll take yo= place beret" A nod from the miner expressed bow agree able this was to him, and the next he haQ surrendered the keys to Nobby Ne 1, and hurried away. To unlock the door and liber.TS. Peterson and Pratt, detectives, from Chicago, where you and your female companion, here, are wanted upon the charge of forgery and bank robbery. After having so extended a tour for yow health, I dare say you will be ready to go back with us. Have you any objections to parting with the precious pair, Sir Road-Agent?" "None whatever," Breeze replied, as he and bis men rode away with the treasure, leaving the unfortunates in the charge of the olever pair of tracers. Down in Buckskin Canyon no second city rose, pbenix-like, upon the site of the former mining camp, for shortly after the fire, Leadville's fame became heralded to the world, and proved a magnet for the mining-class. Yet a couple of cabins there are in the gulch, and in one of them Santa Fe Syd and she tnat was May Hathaway live happily as man and wife. The other cabin is tenanted by Wild Meg; for to her and his sis ter, jointly, Solid Sam gave over all bis interest in the mirres, and in the Hathaway fortune pre vious to his disbanding of the Branded Brows and departure to other parts of tbegolden West, where a love for excitement Jed him as by a powerful hand Nobby Nell also left for parts unknown, al though it was surmised by the Atbertons that she would eventually bring up wherever did the strange youth-for whom she seemed to cberii:h more than a girlish fancy-Solid Sam. END.

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PAGE 34

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