The young rough rider in old Mexico, or, The haunted hacienda


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The young rough rider in old Mexico, or, The haunted hacienda

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Title:
The young rough rider in old Mexico, or, The haunted hacienda
Series Title:
Young rough riders weekly
Creator:
Taylor, Edward C.
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New York
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Street & Smith
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English
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1 online resource (28 p.) 28 cm.: ;

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Western stories. ( lcsh )
Dime novels. ( lcsh )
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serial ( sobekcm )

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University of South Florida
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University of South Florida
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The University of South Florida Libraries believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries.
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025563509 ( ALEPH )
17906150 ( OCLC )
R16-00003 ( USFLDC DOI )
r16.3 ( USFLDC Handle )

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Another rough-looking man dashed out of the shrubbery, and leaping on the horse behind Ted, tried to pull him out of the saddle.

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.l000U0Cement Readers of this weekly wlll f i nd that the stor ies h ave been Increase d more tha n one -thir d f' over t h e ir for m e r len gth Th i s I nc r eas e I s m ade I n re sponse t o a gen eral dema n d tha t t h e weekl y be Issued mor e fre q uent l y t han on ce a week. To do th a t Is I mpos sib le, but we h ave Inc reased t he lengt h to sho w our ap predat ion of the favor with which these s t ori e s have be en recei v ed Y ou will fin d that there i s n o drop lo the quality wltb the inc r ease. From this on, these stories wlll be the longest as well as the best o f their kind published. Issued Weekly B y Subscript i on $11. 5 0 per y ear. E ntere d accordinr t o A c t of Dmrre s s i n tlu yeat IQOS, i n tlu Office o f t lie Libraria n of Conrrus, Waslzi nrton, J), C., by STREET & SMITH, 1138 W illia m S t., N. Y. APPiication m ade a t tlu N ew York P os t O ffic e for entry as Second-cla s s Mat ter. No. 44. NEW YORK February 1 8 1905 Price Five Cents. The Young Rough Rider in Old Mexico; OR, TIIE By NED TAYLOR. CHAPTER I. ESTEV AN, THE SHEPHERD. It was a beautiful ni ght, la t e in the y ear, bu t t he air wa s as warm and s o_ft as it is in A ugust in northern l atitudes -On all s ides stre tch e d th e rolling land that formed on e o f the b es t g ra z in g stre tch es in o ld M exic o The r e w a s n o moon b u t th e sk y pres ente d a mor e brilliant a s p e ct th a n it e v e r does n orth o f the t ro pic s T h e a ir o n th e t a bl eland s o f Mexico i s wo nd e rfull y clear a nd pure, a nd throu g h it the stars s hin e wit h a r ad i anc e that cann o t be d es crib ed. The r e w as n o t a clo ud in the s ky, and the wh ole h ea v e ns w e re a beautifu l fretwork of golden con s tella t ions. In s outh e rn regio n new groups of s t ars, such a s are n e v e r s ee n furth e r n orth, s ee m e d su s pended fa r ab o ve th e h o rizon b y invisible wir es. The r e wa s th e s o uthern cro ss, th e most beautiful of all const e llations, a nd a hundr e d oth e r s tars and plane t s known onl y t o thos e wh o h a ve s tudied th e skies thro u g h th e l ong w atch es o f a tropical ni g ht. The re w as a faint light, through which the cou n t r y c o uld b e see n for mil es a ro und It w as ope n rollin g c ountry, brok e n here and there b y m ottes o r clu mps o f timb e r that l oo k e d like black s h adows in th e nig ht. In all th e wid e e x panse that could be see n on eve r y h a nd th e r e was on l y o n e h tima n bein g Thi s b e in g was s t a n d ing nea r a roc k o n th e top of a low hill l eaning against a l ong staff, and brooding over

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I 2 THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WE'.EKL Y. the scene with strange and tnelanchol y eyes, more like the eyes of some solitary animal than the eyes of a m an. He had been standing motionless in the same pos i tion for nearly half an h ou r, and yet not the first sign of restlessness or fatigue showed in any of the lines 0 his figure. He wore a battered straw hat, the brim missing from one side, and a heav y blanket was over his shoulders. His other garments we re a stained cotton shirt, cotton trousers with hol es at the knees, and on his bare feet were rawhid e sandals, with a string passing between the b ig toe and the rest of the foot. His lon g, black hair hun g d ow n over his eyes, and a straggling beard covered the lower part of his face. His eyes together with their settled expression of melancholy, wore a curio us, startled look. This was Estevan, the herdsman. He was a Mexican peon, in the service of Senor Gon zales, one of the richest sheep farmers in the country. It was his duty to take care of the flocks of this out lying sheep farm, and a more solitary life his could not be ima gined. Twic e a yea r this man brought his flocks fo the ranch house, twenty miles away, for shearing. The remaining time he spent in loneliness on the P rairie or in the chaparral thickets. His wages were six dollars a month in Mexican money -a good deal less in ours-a bushel of meal, a little salt pork and a little coffee. Supplies were taken to him every thirt y days, but were generally kft at his camp from which he was absent except when h e was sleeping. Thus it was that for months at a time h s, h e ld converse with no human being. Occas io nll y he saw the vaquero s riding the ran g e afa r off ; still more rare! y, o n e of them came close enough to him to hallo to him. He was not thirty yea r s o ld, but exposure and brood ing gave him the l ook of fifty. He h ad no w e apons, and depended entire ly on a fire to him to halloo to him In short he was a typica l Mexican shephe rd a man who, like all his class, had grown to have a distaste for th e society o f his f e llow men. And yet Estevan, in spite of hi s wild eyes and animal ap pe arance, had a g r eat deal more courage than mqst o f his fellows. Five men in succession had disappeared from the sheep range which he was now watching. How they disappeared, no one knew. The Mexicans said that it was a ghost-"The White D e ath," they called it-that had carried them off o ne after the other, as they had been sent out there. /ith the death of each herdsman there had been a loss of numbers of sheep. The animals left withou t a shepherd invariably follow each other to their de st ruction, over some precipice or into a chaparral thicket, where they are killed by the wild beasts. One herdsman after another had been sent to take care of the sheep that were left. Senor Gonzales had acted ort the theory that his men had gone crazy and wandered off or killed themselves Herdsm e n owing to their solitary life, often do this. He laughed at the superstitious talk of the White Death, and said that the re was no such specter save in the imagination of the people who talked about it. Finally, however, there came a time when all the herdsmen had refused to take charge of these sheep, and this sheep farm was left as deserted as though it had been ravaged by the plague. Gonzales was angry. 1 He had lost thousands of dollars' worth of she ep. and he finally se2t an escort of armed vaqueros to watch the place and. try and discover the cause of the disa ppear ance of the herdsmen, one after the other. With the vaqueros had gone Estevan, who had ap plied for work at that time and said that he was not afraid to face the White Death. And it seemed now that the White Death was r eally imaginary. For a full week seven vaqueros had camped out on the rolling prairie, watching and guarding Estevan while -Estevan watched and guarded the sheep. Day after day had passed away. A watch was kept both by day and by night. Yet nothing out of the ordinary was seen. Not even a wolf howled n ear the camp of the vaqueros, and search as they might, the watches could find n oth in g t o indicate the presence of the specter that they had h eard so much about. At the end of the week, Gonzales had decided that his fir s t idea was the correct one. There was no need to pay his m e n to watch out the re on th e prai ri e for nothing. They we r e needed elsewhere as the ranch er was mak in g a round-up of his herds, prep aratory to sending one of them North to market. He summoned his vaquero s back to the ranch, and they rode off, leaving Estevan alone with his sheep. It was th e first night after the leaving of the vaqiieros. They had pranced away on th e ir gayly caparisoned steeds, and through that day Estevan, the herdsman, had been left in the solitude that he IOved abov e all other things.

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THE YOUN G ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. 3 Now h e w a s standin g alone in the starli g ht l o ok i n g out ove r his flock. It was stretched out on the hill s ide b e low h i m and no one but a herdsman could have distin g uished it at all Estevan however could see the animals plainl y enough in the starlight. His eyes were trained so that he could see sheep any where in almost any light. All quiet muttered Estevan to himself in the Spanish dialect that the M exican p e o n s use. "All qui e t and the sheep are slumbering. There is no need for fear. T,pey were try ing to fri g hten me when they told m e o f the White Death. The v aqu e ros s ta ye d for a w e ek, and they could not see it. I am here alone now, I cannot see it. Estevan noticed a stir among his sheep and he stepped forward a little. At the same time a long low wail came from somew here in a m a tte of timber off to the right. Estevan started and listened. It was something like the howl of a wolf. The shepherd ran back to his fire, which was smolder ing and threw on a lot of fresh wood. The fire blazed up and threw a bright light around. The howling ceased, lJut a moment later it arose from another quarter "Strange!" muttered Estevan gripping his long staff tight in his kn o tted fingers "For a w eek we were here, and no w o lf h o wl ed. Now the v aqu e ros have gone The wolf howls What can it signify? The howling ceased again as suddenly as it had commenced Estevan stepped forward and glanced over his sheep. There was onl y a small flock left on the range. The rest .of th e m had been killed. By the White Death the p e ons said ; b y the careless ness of the s heph e rds Gonzales said. E s tevan glanced at them and saw that they were all right. The n he looked at the motte of timber from which he h a d h ea rd the h o wlin g of th e wolf As he loo k e d there came an o th e r l o n g -drawn howl. It was th e how l o f a hun g ry wolf this time, and no mis ta ke. Esteva n dash e d b ack t o hi s fire and seized up a brand of pin o n wood th a t burned and flared out like a torch. W i t h th i s i n his hand he a ppro a ched the timber to sc a r e t he wolf a w a y He appro ached the timber without the first idea of fear in him. He knew that a wolf w a s easil y scared b y fire and he was so familiar with the animal s that, although he was unarmed, he had no dre ad of them. As h e c ame n e arer h o wever the howling ceased I will find o ut th e wolf w h e r eve r it i s muttered E s t eva n a s holdi:Jg his brand, abo v e hi s head, he march e d boldl y up to the timber. "Halt!"' The command seemed to be spoken in a sort of ghostly whi s per. Y e t it carried in all directions. The s o und seemed to fill the whole air about him E s t e van came to a standstill staring at the timber b e fore him The br a nd fell to the ground from his hand and hi s e yes dilat e d with horror. The re in the timber before him, was the White Death! The re could be no mistakin g it. Estevan had heard descripti o ns of it from natives who claimed to have seen it. He had thought that they were lying Now he saw it himself and knew that they had de scribed it truly. It was the figure of a man, apparently much taller and larger than ordinary men. It wa s dressed in a sweeping sombrero and a long Spani s h clo ak that fell almost to its heels. The face was clearly distinguishable from where the sh e pherd stood It wa s a horribl e face to look upon, large and bony with a great, hooked no s e and an evil smile. It seemed the face of a man who had grown old in crime and whose face bore the traces of all his evil passions. But th e re was something else about the figure that was more surpri sing and alarmin g than all of this. It was whit e fr o m h e ad to foot. The swe e pin g sombrero was white The l o n g p l ume th a t fell over the brim on on e side was w hit e The face was white e yes and lips, even; and yet t h e features wer e pla inl y dis t i n gu i s h able. The Spanish cloak that f ell t o th e of the figure was white. It was a luminous s or t o f w hit e-no t a dead white, but a 5ort of phosphorescent color that gave off a weird h alo of lig ht. Estevan tossed his hands in the air and fell to th e ground He had fainted with fright. Those who came to look for him a week later, found th e s heep stra y ed and scatt e red The s h e ph e rd could not be found.

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, 4 THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. CHAPTER II, AT THE LAS ANIMAS RANCH. At a long table in a comfortable room in a ranch house, sat four remarkable-looking figures. The one at the end of the table was the one that would perhaps have attracted attention the first. It was a handsome boy, brown1eyed and brown1haired, with a look of determination and resolution in his face. He was cla.d in a closely fitting suit of brown khaki cloth cut after the military fashion It 'had evidently seen hard service but it was still smart and jaunty, and it fitted the lines of the boy's figure to perfection, s howing a c ompa<;;t, well-knit body a fut pair of shoulders, the general physique o f a well trained athlete. Around the boy's waist WllS a web belt, suppcirtlng a Colt revolver, and containing a row of gleaming c a rtrid ges in its loops. Instelld of b oots the boy wore a pair of brown leather leggins, and on his heels were a pair of sh<>rt eavalry S{rnrs, instead o f the barbarous Mexi<::an spurs that Southern ranch e rs usually wear, On the table beside him lay a brown sombrero and a heavy pair of gautitlet gloves, showing that the boy ha.d been out ridin g a short time ago. The brown tint of his face, through which a healthy flu s h shone was evidence that he spent the greater por tiem of his time in the open air This was Ted Strong, known throughout the West as the young rough rider. After leaving the army, h e had come West to nm a ranch, and had formed an organization of boys, known as the young rough riders. The yo1mg rou g h rider!!, under Ted's lea.dership1 had made a great success of their ranches and mines. Two other members of the orgatiii:ation, also wearing the khaki uniform in which Ted was dressed, were sitting at the table One of them was slight and slim and wiry. A mane of long, yellow hair hung down upon his shoulders. His eyes were a light, sparkling blue, and his face wore an expression of good humor mingled with dcvll may-care reeklessl')ess. This w11s Bud Morgan, a member of the young rough riders and Dne of Ted's closest friends. He' had been a cowboy on the trail and on various ranches, North and South, from the Rio Grande to the Canadian border, before he met the young rough rider and joined organization. He was a t ypica l Westerner, from sombrero to spur. The other khaki-clad fellow was large and broad s h ou ldered, with a short nose and a heavy, resolute chin. This was Ben Tremont. He was a college man, who had won fame for him self as a football player and an all-round athlete b efore he came West to join the young rough riders. He was reputed to be one of the strongest men in America, and his enormous shoulders and great, massive muscles, that showed plainly through his khaki coat, indi cated that he could back up his reputation with deeds, if necessary The other figure at the table was that of a man of an entirely different type. He was a Mexican, about thirty years of a ge to judge from his face, and of a slender, graceful build. He had the dark eyes and dark hair of his race1 and there was something courtly and fascinating in the ex pression of his sallow, oval face. The young rough rider had just entered the room the ranch house with his two friends, and had found this Mexican waiting for them. He had handed his card to the young rou g h rider, and introduced himself as Sei'ipr Miguel Gonzales, of the Las Palomas Ranch. in Mexico. Ted had begged him to be seated, and had sat down at the table himself. This ranch house was one in which the young rough rider held a part interest. It was situated in Dimmitt County, Texas, just a little way from the Rio Grande River, which forms the boundary between that State and Mexieo. It was known as the Las Animas Raneh. The three young rough riders had been staying there for a few weeks, rounding up some of the herds and preparing them for the trip northward to Mon tana, where they were to be marketed. They were preparing to leave the ranch for North that very morning, a.nd h ad just taken a, final nde about the place, tp see that everything was all right before their dep a rture. Now they found a stranger and a Mexican awaiting them on their return. Gonzales was quite at his ease. He had the manners of a man of the world who was used to meetinO' people of all classes and descriptions. b d' He accepted Ted's invitation to be seated, an. 1mme cliately broached the busine ss that had brought h im there. "You will no doubt be surprised, S trnn g,1 he said, "at r ece ivin g a visit never even heard. from one of whom you have "I have heard of you; I havf! heard the rancbrncn along the border speak of you as one of the most up to date and richest rai;cber s a<.:ross the boi:der in Mi::icico." Gonza ltJs wav@d his hands before him, shrugged his shoulders and smiled.

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THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. s "As for my riches," he said, "they are nothing compared to the wealth of you Americans, who handle thou sands as we handle hundreds or tens. As for my being up-to-date I am so far behind the times that I am forced to come up h_ere to ask your advice on a matter which perhaps will seem ridiculous. I have come here to ask your assistance." "My assistance!" "Yes. If you will do me the favor to attend for a moment, I will explain. You know th
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6 THE YOUNG ROUGH .RIDERS WEEKLY. "How do y ou account for th e app e arance and d isa p pearance of th e sp e ct e r in y our ro o m ?" "I do n o t know h o w to a ccount for it. It has l o ng been said that the Las Palomas Ranch was haunted. I never saw a ghost before "Was there no window or door by which it might have entered or left? "The door was locked. I tried it afterward. The window had a mosquito net across it When I arose from my bed I found that the mosquito net was unbroken. It was tacked to the corners of the window so that it could not be pushed to one side." "Did the specter say anything more than what you have told me?" "Yes; it said-I will s e e if I cannot r e member the exact words-it sa id: 'Send no more s h e ep t o graze on the range, or the White Death will haunt y ou and bring destructi o n upon you.' "Did it sa y this in English or in Spanish?" "In both lan g uages .' "How do you mean ? "It repeated it first in English, and then in Spanish." "And then vanished ? "Yes." "Do you know of anyone who wants to prevent you from raising sheep ?" "No; the id e a has never occurred to me.'' "Is it your own land that the sheep graze on?" "No; it is an open ran ge, owned b y the government It is good for nothin t but grazing. No one dwells there. It is quite desert." "In the mountains ?" "It is in the foo thills, rolling land.'' "Well ," said the young r o u g h rider ri s ing to his feet "your, sto ry int e rests m e a g reat d e al. If y ou will stay to dinner with u s h e re w e will ride ba ck with you." "You are g o i n g t o help me th en?" "I don t kn ow whether I can help you or not. I am g oing to lo o k int o thfl> matt e r, at any rate." G o n z al e s leap e d out of his ch a ir sei z ed the hand o f the youn g rou g h rid e r and thanked him effusi vely A little lat e r all four sat down to dinner during whi c h G o nzales t o ld th e m a great deal more about the Whi t e D e ath th e bla nca m o rte, as the Mexicans call e d it, and the various app e arances it had made at the ranch and the haunted hacienda in which he dwelt. CHAPTER III. IN OLD MEXICO. The three young rough riders were down in old Mexico. Ted had be e n th e re before, but the two other b oy s h ad never visited it. The y foun d t h e re a l o t of things th at d elighte d them. T h ey we r e s t ay in g at th e Las Pal o mas Ranc h w i t h Gonzal e s and th e y were v e ry much int e r e sted in n o tin g the diff e rence between the runnin g of that ranch and a ranch in T exas or furth e r n orth in th e United State s In th e first place the v aqu e ros were a v e ry d i ffer ent lot from the cowbo y s that they had been used t o s ee on the ranche s in Texas and Dakota. They were dark, rather good-looking fellows. Most of them were undersized, and all of them were bow legged. The y had flashing dark e yes and g rea sy, bla ck hair. It was in th e ir clothes howe v er that th ey wer e most noticeable. Tight-fittin g breeches of ve lv e t shin y b o ots, with Jong, jinglin g spurs and enorm o u s l y hi g h he els, little v e lvet coats and silk sas he s o f all th e c o l o r s of th e rainbow made th e m figures th a t lo o ked as if th ey had stepped directl y off the stage fr o m s ome c o mic o pera They wor e tall, conical h a ts made out o f straw and d y ed with a variet y of s t a rtling c o l o rs. They swa g gered ab o ut th e ra nch in g reat sty le but when it came to riding they showed themselves off at their very b e st They looked much b ette r o n the back of a horse than off it, and e ve n B ud Morg an a dmitted that the y were prett y good at trick r iding alth o u g h they were n o t as good at handling cattle a s the Ame rican cowbo ys, who did not w ear such g aud y clo thes or s w a g g e r ab o ut so much. Bud and Ben spent a good deal of th eir time sampling strange Mexican dishes th a t they easil y pro cured from the coo k in the big kitchen o f the ranch h o use. The youn g rou g h rid e r himself, howe ver, had other w ork o n h a nd. H e h a d com e t o th e ran c h for th e p urp ose of finding out if h e c ou l d th e sec r e t o f the White De a th and he lost no ti me in getti n g t o w o rk. In th e fir s t p l ace, h e questi o n e d all the people about the ranch w ho had seen o r cla imed to have seen the vis ion The you n g r o u g h ri de r c ou ld sp ea k Sp an i s h with con sid e r a ble fluency, a nd h e h a d no difficult y i n underst a nd in g the p eop l e a b ou t t h e ran c h. Their s tori e s all a g reed th a t was th e s urprising th i n g ab ou t it. Of cour se Ted Stro n g did n o t believe in g hosts o r vi s i o ns but b efo r e h e w as through qu e stion i n g th ese people h e wa s c e rtain th a t th e y had se e n somethin g out of the ordinary. What it w as or h o w it had be e n caus e d wh e re it h ad c o m e fr om, o r w h e r e i f h a d gon e to, h e c ou ld not say. His n ex t work was to exami n e th e roo m i n w hich

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THE YOU N G ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. 7 G o nzales said th a t the White D e ath had appeared to h i m. He entered it w ith the owner of the ranch and found that, as the Me x ican had said the w indo w was covered w i t h a mosquit o net An examinati o n of this net showed that it had b e en nail e d fast there with t a cks a considerable tim e before and that it had not been d i sturbed since it had been put in p l a ce. T he White D eath had n o t entered or left the room th a t way I k n qw n o t h ow t o exp lain it seno r, sai d Gonzal es. "It is a puzzl e t o m e The r e i s the d oor l e a di n g into the hall. It is b e hin d m y bed I h a d it locked. The ke y w a s in my poc ke t." "You tried the lock after the ghost or whatever it "vas had g on e ? " I tried it It was loc k ed I c o nfe s s senor, that I am be g inning to b e lieve in g hosts. There is no other way to explain this ." T e d sat do w n o n th e ed ge o f the bed and looked about him. "This room i s on the g round floor ," he said. "It would b e an eas y thing to enter or leave otherwise than by the door. " But the mosquito net? "There are possibly other ways than the window and the d oo r. "There can b e none." "The re mu s t be so me If the ghost went in and out, and did not use eith e r d oo r o r wind o w the r e must be s ome o th e r m ethod o f g oin g in and out." "How? What is it?" I do n o t know a s y et. I s ther e a c e llar under this portion of the hou se?" "No; this i s the old e r part of the h o u se There is a c ella r und e r t h e o th e r wing, but n o n e unde r this. T e d remained silent for a f e w mom ents, plunged in thou g ht. Y ou. have not slept in this room since t he night on w h i ch y o u saw the vi s ion?" h e a sk e d afte r a brief silence. ''No." N othing out of the way has happen e d about the house?" Gonzales seemed to h e sitate. N othin g worth tell i n g you ab out, he said at length. I'll be the judg e of that, said the young rou g h rider. L e t m e h ear it." "Well-yo u will lau g h at m e for think i n g of s uch a t rifle, a nd for thin k in g of it in c o nnec tion with this g h ost-but sinc e I s a w that White Death m y memory seems to be failing me. It frightens me a little I can not understand it." "Your memory seems to be failing you? In what way? " I seem to lose all recollection of little things. When I lay an article out of m y hands, I straightway forget where it is. Some of the things I cannot find again. O thers I find in plac e s w here I was sure that I did not leave them. It s e ems to me that 1 must be going crazy." "Give m e some instanc es of this. " Well tak e thi s m o rning: I was at my writing desk. I was writin g a letter to m y sister, wh o is in Barc e l o na, in Spain I h a d a l ette r that c a m e fr o m h e r in m y hand, t og eth e r wi th so me other papers-contracts with c a ttle m e n and s o forth. I laid them down on the desk." "Where is your desk ?" "In a room that I call my office." "On this floor?" "On the floor above." And you have not found them yet?" "On th e c ontrary, I h a ve found them. That is the most puzzling thing about it. " Y o u did n o t find the m in the d e sk where you thought yo u l e ft th e m ? "I found them in the very last place where I expected to find th e m You will laugh, senor w h e n I tell y ou." "Tell me. "I found them under the pillow of the bed in this room." The y oun g rou g h rid e r did not laugh. Ins t ea d of that he looke d at the b e d that he w a s sittin g o n and tumbled th e pillows carel e s s l y over w ith his hand "How did you come to lo o k for h e re?" he said without s h ow ing the sli g hte s t surprise I w as n o t l oo king for th e m h e re. I s troll e d into this room w hil e I w a s waitin g for y ou to com e up s t a irs look at it. I g lanced at th e bed and h a pp e n e d to t oss the pill ow o v e r with my h a nd just as yo u ha v e d one. Under it-imag ine my surprise ?-I fou n d th e pa p er s and t he l e tt e r s th a t I h a d bee n l ooking for all m o rn i ng." "Were th e p a p e rs o f an y particular valu e?" No t a t all; th ey we re jus t s o m e m e m o r anda o f o ld sal es th a t I h ad made for my s i s t er." "Nothin g in th e m th a t a nyon e w o uld c a r e t o s t ea l?" "No; I a m n o t afraid o f anyon e stealing th em The thi n g th a t a nn oys m e in th e inci den t i s th a t I ha d n o t t he Jaintest i de a of h av ing c o m e into thi s roo m at all. I tho u ght that it r e mained clo s e d since th e d ay before ." "Co uld n o t s o me on e els e ha v e carried the p ape r s in h e re?" "Who wou l d think of d oing such a thing?" "I don t know. But would it not be possible?"

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8 THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS W E EKLY. "No. There is only one key to this room. It is in my pocket." "None of the servants have a key to it?" "No." "And you had this key in your pocket all the time?" "Yes." "Is there anything else that you have mislaid in this way?" "Yes, a few other things. But this does not seem to have anything to do with the White Death, if you will pardon me for remarking it." "Never mind. What were the things that you mislaid?" "Papers, mostly, out of my desk." "All of them papers?" "Now that I come to think of it-all papers. I seem to have a shorter and a worse memory about papers than about anything else." "Did you find all these papers again?" "Yes; I think I found them all." "Where?" "In various places. Some of them I found lying on the floor in the hallway." "The hallway leading to this room?" "Yes; others I found on the stairway." Ted rose to his feet and cast a glance about the room. "How far is it to the place where your sheep farm is?" "Where my sheep farm was. All, or practically all, of my sheep are gone now. It is about ten miles." The young rough rider looked at his watch. "I can ride over there and back before nightfall," he said. "I will do so. I want to take a look around the place." "I will gi_ve you an escort of vaqueros." "Thank you, but I prefer to go alone." "As you will." "And I have another favor to ask of you." "I will grant it if it is within my power." "I want to sleep in this room to-night "You are a brave man, senor." "And I want you to keep everyone in the house igno rant of the fact that I am to sleep here." "I understand." CHAPTER IV. A RIDE ACROSS THE PRAIRIE. Ted Strong was mounted on the back of a good horse a half hour later. Strapped in one of the saddlebags were two or three sandwiches, which were to serve him as lun ch. With a twenty-mile ride, to the outlying sheep farm and back, he kn e w that he would n o t r eturn th e re until l a te that night. In his pocket he had the key of the haunted room. He had locked it himself after leaving it in the company of Gonzales. When he returned, if he came home late, he could let himself in and go to bed without disturbing anyone in the ranch house, or letting it be known to anyone where he was spending the night. Both Bud and Ben were anxious to accompany Ted, but the young rough rider said that he would prefer to go alone. Gonzales was making a round-up of some cattle that day, and the young rough rider asked his two followers to stay about the ranch and make certain investigations. After bidding farewell to his q>mpanions, and giving them some private instructions the young rough rider gave his horse the rein and went off at a brisk pace. The horse was a spirited animal, and the day was so .fresh and so cool that there was a real pleasure in hard riding. It was not long till the ranch house the buildings of the vaqueros that adjoined it, and the clump of trees that surrounded it were left far behind. Ted Strong had received directions as to how to find the cabin that had been occupied by Estevan and the other unfortunate shepherds who were supposed to have been carried off or killed b y th e White Death. Gonzales had urged again and again that the young rough rider should take an escort, or at least one man, to guide him on this journey to the she e p farm, but Ted had insisted on going alone. He had reasons of his own for doing so. He thought that one man would attract a great deal less notice on the sheep farm than three or four, and he did not want anyone else on the ranch to know of the investigations that he was carrying on. After he left the ranch, he found that the land grew a little more mountainous and rolling where it sloped up to the higher mesas where the sheep had been put out to graze. Here and there there were clumps of timber. The trail which wound across the country was scarcely recogniza ble, but the young rough rider had little diffi culty in following it. He was used to following trails and although some times he was obliged to pull his horse down to a walk and look about him car e fully for a moment or so, in the main he covered the g round at a very good pace. As the sun rose high e r and the da y grew a little hotter, he a llowed his animal to move forward at a walk. It was glad to do so.

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THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. 9 It had been runnin g hard thr o u g h t h e mo rni ng, a n d w as in a goo d dea l of a lath e r. It now moved along, with its head hanging and the r e ins thrown loosely on its neck. The young rough rider lounged backward in the sad dle, and took it easy. He felt the heat as well as did the animal, and he had not had very much slee p for the past t w o o r thre e ni g hts. It w a s whil e saunt e rin g a lon g in thi s fashi o n that the young rou g h rider n o ticed a figure suddenl y appear from a clump o f timb e r d ea d a h e ad of him. It w a s the fig ure of a man, n o t a Mexican, and w a s clad in the garments of a cowboy rather than in the gaudi e r clothes o f a v a qu ero. He was mounted on a g ood horse and h e pull e d this to a standstill right acro s s the trail as thou g h he were waiting for the approach of the young rough rider. Ted sat up in his saddle and looked aqead in an in stant. He had n o t expect e d to s e e an y one in that desolate waste of country, and thi s man did not look altogether the kind of person you would like to meet alone on a dark night. He was a fellow of above th e middle height, broad and thickset. As the youn g rou g h rid e r came nearer h e could see tha t he was h e avily b earded, and th a t such part of his face as d i d s how above th e b eard was burnt to a heavy bro wn as th o ugh the m a n had spent all his life in the open air. He sat his hors e in a wa y that sho w ed that he was a good r i der and from a little distance off the young rou g h rider c o uld s e e that th e re was a big revolver han g ing at his hip T e d knew that it would be a fooli s h thin g to dra w his own revolver and precipitat e a gun fight b e fore he found out whether this individual was friend or foe He cast a glance at his own revolver to see that it was in positi o n within easy reach, poi sing himself in the saddle t o be abl e to l e ap to one side or urge his horse forward a t an in s tant's n o tice. At the same tim e he loo k e d around to see how the country lay on e ith e r h a nd. This strang e b ea rd e d h o r se man had chos e n an admir able spot to bl o ck the p ath o f an y one who chanc e d to come that way. On b oth si de s of him w ere clumps of tree s and rocky eminenc e s so that th e p ath that l e d b e tw ee n th e m w as so narrow th a t he could fill the whole passage with the form o f his h o rse. H e l o ok e d at the youn g rou g h rider as thou g h he w e r e w aiting for him to approach, and began to whistle a tune. T ed saw th a t th e re was no use in turning back. He th o u ght tha t as like a s not, this man might b e som e h o n es t cowboy out on a long ride, and anxious t o speak to one of his own kind or to ask the way in that deserted spot. His first words confirmed this idea. "Hello, pard," he said. "How many miles do yer calkilate it i s t e r th e r La s Palomas Ranch?" Ab o ut t e n said the young rou g h rider. "Just come fr o m ther e y ours elf ? " Yes. "Yer the f e ller who they calls ther young rough rider ain t yer ? " I d o n t know that it is any of your business who I am." "It is a whole l o t o f m y business. Hands up!" With the la s t command the bearded man swung up a big revolver with lightning speed. He was not quite so speedy, however, as the young rough rider. Ted could act quickly in the case of emergencies, and he was on his gtlard this time. As the man s revolver went up, Ted's hand went u p at the same time It was open and held no weapon. It cau ght at the barrel of the revolver when it went up into the air and caught it in a grip that could not be shaken There was a m o ment of tugging and straining, a mo m ent in whic h the stre n g th o f this man s wrist was m a tch e d a g ainst the strength of the wrist of the young rou g h rid e r Then T e d s stren g th proved the greater. There was a cry of pain from the man. The r e volver tumbled to the ground. At th e sam e instant the young rough rid e r dropped his o w n hand to his belt and drew forth his own shooter. He had d e t e rmined that this man was an outlaw, and he me ant to t a ke n o chances with him. As the y oung rou g h rider leveled his weapon, he h ea rd foo tsteps b e hind him 1 Ano th e r rou g h-l ooki n g man dashed out of the shrub b e r y and l e a p in g o n th e horse behind Ted, tried to pull him o ut o f the saddle. The m o unted m a n grasp.ed his wrist and pushed the r e v o lv e r up. A third armed man appeared on foot. It was three t o o ne. The young rough rider felt himself being dragged backward out of. the s a ddle H e c o uld n o t use all his stren gth to fight with either of th e t wo m e n w ho had a ttacked him. They were grappling with him from before and he-

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IO THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. hind at the same time, and the young rough rider felt that the odds against him were too great. 'He held onto his saddle and did his best to get his weapon down so that he could fire at the first outlaw. He d i d not succe e d in doing this. The last man who had appeared dashed forward to his side, and caught hold of him round the waist, join in g his strength to that of the two others. It was too much The young rough rider was thrown heavily to the ground, and at the same time the two men who had ap pear e d on foot piled onto him, holding him down by sitting on his chest and limbs, and starting at once to tie him up with stout rope which they carried. For a moment the young rough rider was stunned with this sudden attack and with the heavy fall that he had h a d from his horse. But it was only for a moment. The outlaws had no chance to tie the young rough rid e r before he recovered his full strength and conscious ness. Then they found that fighting with Ted Strong was a diff e rent matter from what they had expected it to be. \i\fhen he has not been angered or excited in any way, th e young rou g h rid e r is a boy of unusual strength. He has the build of an athlete, and a superb muscular d e vek>pment. He has what a great many athletes have not, a com pl e te control over all his muscles, so that he can do jus t what he wants with them. But when he is angry, or when the odds are going against him the young rough rider seems to redouble his strength. He has that nervous force that counts for so much more than physical muscular power, and upon which he can call in the time of emergency. At the present instant the three outlaws were experi encing a tremendous surprise. The young rough rider had fallen to earth with a thud that seemed to knock all the breath and life out of him. But now when they threw themselves upon him, they found that his fall had seemed to increase his strength, instead of diminish it. For a fraction of a second he lay absolutely passive in their hands. Then he began to move. With a sudden twist that used almost every muscle in his whole body, he ca s t to one side the two outlaws who were holding him down, and sent the m staggering away. He was still lying on the ground himself. Before he could arise, the one who had tackled him first leaped off his h o rse and rushed at him. Ted saw him coming. He did not attempt to get on his feet. He knew that the{ e would be no time for that. As the man dashed for him, he let out a great kick with one foot. It caught the outlaw on the chest, and sent him to the ground in a heap. At the same time the young rough rider sprang to his feet. In his hand wa!l the revolver which he had twisted from the had of the outlaw, and which he had picked up as he Jay on the ground. This had been done so quickly that the two outlaws who had been cast to one side were still crouching on the ground, having not yet had time to get to their feet. One of them strightened up and rushed at Ted. The young rough rider waited for him, and met him with a stunning blow on the forehead. He tossed his hands into the air with a sort of groan, and fell forward on his face. The other fellow, who carried a weapon, saw the fate of his two comrades, and did not come near the young rough rider. He made a dash for one of the horses and leaped into the saddle. At the same instant the revolver in the hands of the young rough rider cracked The outlaw was quick, and just as the weapon flashed, he dropped down behind the shoulder of his horse, Comanche fashion, spurring it forward at the same time. Ted fired at him again But the young rough rider ..had no chance for good shooting. The man who had been kicked on the chest was on his feet again, and had a revolver in his hand. He fired at the young rough rider, and Ted could feel a plucking at his arm as a bullet passed through his sleeve His own shot went wild entirely, the outlaw he had fired on speeding further and further away. He turned his weapon at the man who was firing at him. C-r : a-c-k Both weapons exploded at the same time, as though the two had been fighting a duel, and had fired at a given word. The outlaw had fired a t the h ea d of the young rou g h rider, and would ha ve sh o t him d e ad, so s ure \Vas h i s aim, had n o t the young rough rider m-ade a sh o t tha t was still better.

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THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. II Ted's bullet struck the outlaw on the hand that h eld the revolver. It smashed the l ock of the weapon and some of the bones of th e man's hand. It was just in time to spoil the aim and deflect the muz zle of the r evo lver. A moment later and the young rough rider would have been shot dead. As it was, the outlaw uttered a wild scream of mortal agony. His weapon clattered to the ground. It was useless now. He himself turned and dived madly into the bushes. The young rough rid e r had his blood up. He had bee n attacked suddenly and murderously by three men, and he wanted to know the reason why. As he dived into the clump of bushes the fellow emerged at the other side on horseback. Ted fired with the last chamber of his weapon. But the cartridge was spoiled, and it merely clicked. Before the young rough rider could reload, the outlaw had ridden around a hill and was out of sight. "No use chasing those fellows," said Ted, between set teeth. "But there is a man here on the ground who may be able to tell me something." He darted back through the bushes, and found that he was almost too late to get hold of this man. The fellow had recovered consciousness and was on his feet. He started off on a run for another clump of trees when he saw the young rough rider approaching. Ted followed him. Seeing that he would be caught, the fellow turned and struck him a h eavy blow with his fist. It did not stop the young rough rider for a moment. He was hot with the fury of fighting now, and he rushed in with two crashing blows. They both landed with terrible force on the point of the man 's jaw He fell to earth, knocked senseless once more. CHAPTER V. CROSS-EXAMINATION. When the outlaw who had just felt the power of the young r ough rider's fists came to his senses, he was lying on his back, under the shade of a clump of cottonwood trees, at the side of the trail. He looked about him with dull, wondering eyes. The top of his head ached where the butt of Ted's revolver had landed on it. But his jawbone, where the young rough rider's fists had landf'.d t-aCh<;!d still more. The fists of the young rough rider actually seemed to be harder and have more punishing power than the butt of the heavy revolver. It was late in the afternoon. He must have lain there, unconscious, for some time. A short distance away, staked out in the shade, were the horse that he had ridden, and that he had been running to get when the young rough rider had overtaken him, and the horse that had been ridden by the young rough rider himself. Ted Strong was seated on a little hillock of grass, near by. He had his canteen lying at his side, and was munch ing quietly at a sandwich, as thou g h fighting with three outlaws and making a prisoner of one of them was the thing above all others that gave him a good appetite for lunch. There was not the faintest trace of excitement in his appearance. His face had not a scratch on it and his neatly fitting, khaki clothes looked as clean as though he had never been sent rolling in the dust. Looking at him, the outlaw felt that the events of the morning had been some sort of a bad d'ream. The .boy sitting there so quiet and collected It could not be possible that he had fought all three of them single-handed and so successfully. But there was the pain in his head and in his jaws. That was undeniable. And there were the bonds that bound his hands and feet. The outlaw looked at them. It was new rope cut from a lariat that had been hang ing at the pommel of his own saddle. He strained at the bonds. He had ,been tied so that he was entirely comfortable as he lay on his back-that is, comfortable save for the dizziness and pain that he was still suffering as a result of his recent fight with the young rough rider. His hands were down at his side and tit>d there in a natural position. His ankles were tied together. The outl aw strained at the bonds but he found that the young rough rid e r knew how to tie knots. They did not give in the least. Instead, they seemed to draw tighter. The young rough rider tossed the remains of a sand wich away from him, and glanced in the direction of the outlaw. "No use trying that," he said. "They are too tight The more they pull the tighter they are." The outlaw stopped straining and glared at the young rough rider in mingled astonishment and rage.

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THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS Y. Ted got on hi!i foet and strqlled leisurely over to him, looking down into his face. "Well," he said. have come to yourself a little. That's what I was waiting for. I was just having a little lunch while you were lying there dozing off the effects of those taps that you received on the jaw." "Cure yer," gritted the man, who was rough-looking and bearded like the fellow who had stopped the young rough rider, "let me up." "I'll let you up when I get through talking to you. Maybe then, maybe not." "Let mP. up now." "Couldn't think of it. I want to ha,ve a nke, little talk with you, and you might hurry away if I untied you." "I'll kill yer yet." "I think not. You won't do it while you are strain ing at those cords. Yo will notice that there is a piece of the rope passed across your throat in front and n der the armpits. The har9er you strain, the tighter that will draw across your throat. If you pull hard enough, you may succeed in choking yourself. Try it; it would be an interesting experiment." What the young rough rider said a fact. While the man had been lying unconscious, Ted had plenty of time to tie him up. He had used it to the best advantage, tying the in a way that he learned from the Indians. There was absolutely no escape from it, and the tighter the prisoner pulled, the tighter the c;ord was drawn about his neck. The prisoner soon was aware of this fact An unusually strong effort sent the cord cutting into his throat. He lay there gasping. eyes were bulging out, and he could not get his breath, He might have choked without being able to do a thing to help hims e lf had not the young rough rider leaned forward and loosened the cord at his throat "Perhaps you will lie a little quieter, now," he said. "You see that what I told you was the truth." 1'What doer:; yer want with me?" The outlaw i>eemed in a more reasonable frame of mind now. This boy held the tippe\' lmn d and seemed able to hold it, "What c\o l want with you I wap.t yo\1 to tell me who you are?'' "It won't help y ou non<: ter know who I an:i." "Who are you ?" The young rough rider h o ld of OP(! of the mds and gave it a little pi1ll. / The pris oner begcin to gasp for bre ath. "Perhaps you feel a little more li)
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THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. I IJ sense into your h ead. Yo u will admit, n o w, that you are not an ordinary road agent." "I h eld ye r up on ther road." "But that i s the first job of the kind that you ever did. "I supp os e so." "And you did not hold me up with the intention o f g e ttin g money out of me. "What did I do it fer then?" "That's what I propose to find out. You know who I am." "Ther young rough ride r. "And you h e ld me up with your friends not intend ing t o kill me but to ride me out of the way some pla ce." "Ther boys didn t wanter kill ye r although ther boss sai d ter shoot, if it were n ecessa r y." "'vVho is th e boss?" Ted expected to get Horan t o tell him this without thinking but he shu t up iike a clam "I dont give away on my pals," he said. 1W h o a r e your pals ?" "Your e cute; but I won't talk. T ed moved a little closer to hi s prisoner and looked d own into his face. The man was forced to l ook up int o the boy's eyes. Ordinarily the eyes of th e young rough rid e r are kind o f expression, but at the pres en t moment they had taken o n a look th a t was absolut e ly me rcil ess "Listen," he said in l ow, vibrating t o nes. "I haveyou in my power. A turn o f my hand wo uld e nd you. I want information. If I get it, you go free. If not--" the young rou g h rid e r seized the rope at his throat and gave i t a twist. Hor an was as pale as death, but the re was a steady l ook in hi s eyes. "Yer h as th e r drop, pard," h e said, "I suppose as how it se rves me right. b ack on my pals. "To save you r life ?" in hoarse tones. But I can't go The rope ti g htened so that Horan could sca rc e ly speak. "No." The young rough rid e r leap ed to his feet with a kindlier look on his face. "I r espec t you r s cruples," he said. "You won't die b y my hand, anyway." CHAPTER VI. BACK TO LAS PALOMAS. Bill H o ran fay there trembling and g asping. He had confiden tl y expec t ed that the yo un g rou g h ri der would throttle him to de.ath. There had been n o mercy in his face. I He had felt the cord d rawing ti g hter and ti g hter. The young roug h rid e r h a d g i ve n him the imp: e ss i'-':1 th a t he was either going to make him talk or kill him. Horan. ho we ver, had r eso lutel y held to hi s determ ina tion to die b e{ore he would tell who hi s associates o r who hi s employe r was T h e young rough rider could not help having a c e r tain amount of re spect for a man of this stamp. He had come to the conclusion befo re n ow, th a t Hora n was an America n cowboy and n o t an outlaw, and that he had been hir ed to assist in kidnaping him for s ome special purpose. Now he wa s sure of it. No outlaw would have shown that courage and honor in th e faee of death. I tell you what, Horan," said the young rough ride r loo king down at him, "you are a great deal too good for thi s business." "You ain't gain' ter kill me?" "No; I don't kill people in cold blood. I had you bluffed though. You thought I was." "I did su re I thought yo u had los t yer temp e r. But I couldn't do nothin'. I was ti e d h e re so I couldn t move." "And you couldn t go on your friends." "No." "Well, I 'll tell you something. You are a great deal t oo good for work of this kind and for your fri ends You ought to earn you r living honestly on a ranch." "So I did, till th ese gol-durned sheep raisers come around here an sp iled all ther country about h ere." "I thought that this thing was a case of cattle men a ga in s t s h ee p men. Now, you have dropped a word or two th a t makes me sure of it You are engaged in an attempt to make Gonzales quit th e s heep business." "I don't know n ot hin' about that." "But I do. Gonzales did not tell m e anything about it, bu I guessed that it was a war of this kind. Now, list e n Horan." "I'm list e nin' ." "I ha ve a proposition to make to you ." "Not to split on the people that paid me for this." "No; not that. I know the style of a man you are. But I am convinced that the people who are back of you in this are a good deal worse than you are." "I dunno." "Of course you don t. You are a cowpuncher, and l tell you that ordinarily I am with the cowpuncher and again s t the sheep man every time. Bu t when the cattle men oegin to descend to violence and cruelty, I stop. I'm for law and order all the time. I came down h e re to solve a mystery, and I am going to d o it." "Wh a t do you want me to do?"

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I4 THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. "Nothing th a t yo u can't do with honor and nothing th a t is v e ry hard to perform. "Wha t is it?" I want you to give me your word that you will not engag e any more in this thing, and that you will not sa y any thin g to anyone about havin g met with 11'.e. I wan t you to get on your h o rs e and ride across the Rio into Texas just as fast as it will carry you." "And sta r ve there? None o f th e ranchers will give 1 me a job there. None of them know me." "I'll give you a not e to the secundo at the Las Animas Ranch, in Dimmitt County. The young rou g h rid e rs own half of that ranch. Present it to him, and he will give you a job." "What e lse do you want me t o do?" "Stay ther e and work th e re like an honest man, and not come bac k t o Mexico till this whole bus iness is ov e r." "It's a go, pard. I 'm with yer on that proposition." Give me you r word of h ono r?" "Sure! On my honor!" "That goes with me. I thought that you were an h o nest ranch h a nd who had been roped into this thing." The young rou g h rider lean e d forward and untied one o f the knots, g i v ir:.g the rope a sudden twist. Horan was free at o nce. He climbed to his feet, looking at the rope with wonder in his eyes. "Ge e-rusa l e m !" he said. "Yer a slick hand at tiein' r o pes." "Have to be if yo u rope many cows, said the young rough rider. "And yer pretty good with yer fists. I thort I was a scr ap pe r but yer laid m e o ut in two good wallops." "If you had land ed the same blows on me, you would h a ve knocked me out." "But I didn t. Yer all ri g ht. I've hearn as how ther young rough rider was a pret ty swift proposition, hu t I thort as h ow it was all bluff and stories thet hed been made up about him. Bu t I g u ess they was all straight." T e d was pa y ing n o attention t o the last remarks that had been made by Horan. He h ad drawn a n oteboo k his pocket, and was writing in it with a stump of a pencil that w as attach ed t o it by a stri n g. He tore out the s heet on which he had been writing, folded it up and h a nded it over to Horan. "You k n ow where the Las Animas Ranch is, in Dimmitt Cou nt y?" he said. "Sur e! The best steers m all ther Lone Star State i s rai sed thar." "Well, give that n o te t o th e foreman there. He'll look out for you as l o ng as you behave yourself." Horan took the note and put it in his pocket. "There is your h o rse, continued the young rou g h rider. I think you will find it in good trim. It has been grazing. With steady riding you can be across the Rio and up in Dimmitt County by to-morrow morning." "I've hearn how ther. young rough rider was a pooty good sort, but I never thort as how you was as good as this ." "Never mind all th a t. Get on your h o rse and get away. And r emembe r after this that the proper thing for you t o do is to work like an honest r a nch man and n p t l e t yourse lf be used a too ) by some unscrupulous individual. Horan stood looking at the young rough rid e r for a moment in silence. "Pard," he said, slowly, "yer has certainly used me ri ght all ther way round. Yer b ea t me out when it come ter ther fightin but yer didn't t a ke no unfair ad vantage of me at that. An' th. en yer treated me squar' arterwards. Yer saw as how I couldn t go back on the man as paid me. I wanter tell yer one or two things afore I go." "Go ahead and tell them." "Ther first is, thet you are stackin' up against a big proposition down here. You come down here ter fix things fer Gonzales so's he could raise sheep." "About that." "Yer up agin' a company as has determined that he won t raise sheep. "That's about what I thought." "Then, ther story of ther White Death didn t fool yer none? "Not much." "Well, when this here combine heard as how you was a-comin here they figgered th e t ther ghost wouldn t skeer yer much. I gue ss as how they was right." "And so they determined to make a prisoner of me in -stead?" "That's it." "And they failed?" "Yes; they failed; or, ruther, we failed. But I wanter t ell ye r one thing. That is thet yore best plan is ter quit this h e re business an' l e t it go. I'm ye r friend fr om n ow on, an' I don't wanter see ye r hurt. Yer stackin' up agin' a t o u g h gang, an' the man what's at th e r he ad of i t wouldn't make no bones about sendin' a bullet th ro ugh ye r head." "I do n t doubt it." "An' my advice t e r ye r is ter chuck up ther job an' get back ter U. S. A. as soo n as ever ye r can. "Just what I don t int end t o do." "What does you car e about this here Greaser and his sheep? Why should yo u risk ye r ne ck fer him?"

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THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. "I promised to look into thi s th ing. Besides th a t, I hav e some mining land M my own down and I intend to work it. If the country is in a lawless state, and people are afraid to go anywhere, I can't get labor for the mine. I'm going to clear up this ghost business before I go back ." I kin tell from the cut of yer face thet yer won't g ive up. But I m go! din ged glad I've g iven yer all the warnin' I could without breakin' my word." "Thank you." "An' ye r won't pay no heed ter it?" "I won't l et it scare me out of the place." "Well, I wish yer luck. Yer is too good a man ter be mixed up in this yere thin g." "Just what I said abou! you." Horan h esitated. "I'd like ter s hake hands with yer afore I goes," he said. "I'd like to shake hands with you," said the young rough rider. They shook h a n ds h ea rtily and without another word Horan turned and mounted his horse. T ed watched him as he rode away, watched him until hi s form, with that of the animal he rode disappeared over the t o p of one of the low hills that ran along the fords of the Rio. "Well," h e sa id is one of this gang out of the way. I saw that I could n eve r make him t ell anything by force. I could see from his face th a t he was a dec en t sort of a fellow. I have made a friend of him. and he has told a lot more than I could get out of him by any oth e r method. It is getting late n ow, and I have learned enough for th e present, at any rate. I won't ride out t o the sheep farm. I'll ride straight back." As the young rough rid e r mount e d his animal, the sun was just b eg innin g to dip b e hind the distant hills. In another hour it would be pitch dark. He was a considerable di s tance away from the ranch. One would hav e supposed that the young rou g h rider would h ave been in a hurry Instead of that, he appeared to be in exactly the oppo site frame of mind. He did not urge his animal to go faster. It was feeling lively and skittish after the lon g rest that it had rec eived through the middle of the day, but when it tried to trot fast or break int o ;i. gall op, the young rough rider pull e d it down t o a walk and held it at it. Maki n g this sort of l e isurel y pro g r ess, the youn g rough rider was very lat e in getting back t o the Las Palomas R a nch The sun sank lower and lower behind the lumpish western hills, and finally disappeared altogether in a glow of crimson and gold that h e ld the eyes of the boy. Graduall y the bright c o lors faded. The crimson became duller, the gold turned to pale yellow, then to a faint, rosy tinge. Stars began to twinkle overhead. It was night, and the light had died away in the west. But still the young rough rider moved along at the most leisurely pace He was whistling a tune, as though he had no idea of getting home or to bed that night at all. But with the slowest progress in the world, we will sometimes cover ground faster than we imagine. It was a dark night and the moon had not yet arisen, when the young rough rider came in sight of a cluster of lights that twinkled out of the darkness and marked the position o f the Las Palomas Ranch. The horse scenting a feed of oats and a bed for t he night, threw forward its ears and started ahead. But th e young rough rider 's hand was firm on the r ein He held it down to a walk, and finally brought it t o a standstill although it was very impatient to go on. Ted glanced sharply ahciut him on all sides. Within a stone's throw were the ranch stables. Ted could have turned the h orse over to one of the m en there and gone to bed without any further trouble, but h e had other plans in his mind. He turned his horse about s uddenl y and rode it back for a little in the direction in w hich i t had come. I guess this will do all right ," he muttered, dropping out of the saddle. His actions up to this point had been hard to explain, but what he did now was still m o re puzzling. He thre..,w the bridle loose over the head of the horse, unbuckling it and disarranging it. He tore a few shreds from his khaki coat-from the lining, where it was a little worn and loose. These he fixed into some the crevices and around the pommel of the saddle "Humph!" he muttered, examining it as well as he could in the darknes s I guess that looks reali s tic enough." He stepped back a little from the horse, and snatching a handful of burrs out of a bush beside which he stood, he tossed th e m into the mane and the unclipped hair of the animal s hide The horse did not und erstand treatment. It frisked about and darted a step 6r two away from the young rough rider. Ted did not attempt to stop it. Instead, he hit !t a smart clap with his open hand on the flank and let it go. It needed no further urging.

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16 THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. Tossing its head into the air, it darted away with a wild sno rt. Ted stood and watched it. It was clouding up and growing dark, but the young rough rider's eyes were well trained to the gloom by this time. He could make out the dark shape of the horse ca reening about over the prairie in big circles. It was frightened and puzzled. The young rough rider could hear the muffled thump of its hoofs as it galloped away among the prairie grass. Presently it wheeled and came to a standstill. Then it started straight for the ranch stables at a steady trot. "That's the stuff," muttered the young rough rider. "I was afraid that it was not going to have sense enough to do that." He crept closer to the ranch house after the horse It was quite dark, for the sky had been completely over cast by this time. A tangle of chaparral and mesquite bush ran up very close to the ranch stables. The young rough rider slipped into this, and made his way through it as silently as a wild beast could have done it. Within earshot of the stable he came to a standstill. Two or three Mexicans were hanging about there, and one of them was strumming soft chords on a guitar. This stopped suddenly, and there were two or three ex clamations of surprise in Spanish. The riderless horse had just walked into the stall which it had occupied, and had been discovered by the vaqueros. They were crowding around it, now, looking at the fragments of cloth on the saddle and the burrs that were tangleq up in the long mane. The young: rough rider listened to their remarks with a smile on his face. Then he turned and slipped silently away into the dark ness. CHAPTER VII. GONZALES IS SURPRISED. Senor Miguel Gonzales was sitting in the upper cham ber of the Las Palomas Ranch that he called his office. The night was dark, and the rain hacl. begun to fall outside in a dull patter. There was going to be a storm-a very rare thing in that section of the country, and the night was unusually hot and muggy. Before the senor, hat in hand, stood the secundo of the ranch. The secundo is the man who has authority next to the actual owner. This secundo was a man of some intelligence. He courd speak English without an accent, although his face bore testimony to the fact that his blood was Mexi can He was rather tall for one of his race, with powerful shoulders and without the pronounced bow legs that usually mar the figures of the vaqueros. His eyes were a lig ht color, an indeterminate shade be tween gray and blue, and his complexion was very swarthy. He did not affect the gaudy dress that is usually the mark of the Mexican cattle man. In attire he looked much more like an American rancher. He was a trusted lieutenant of Gonzales. The Mexican liked him for the strict discipline in which he held' his men His men hated him for the cruelty and sternness with which he treated them. He answered to the name of Pablo. No one seemed to know anything about his birth or parentage. He had come to the ranch a month or so before with recommendations from a friend of Gonzales. He had received employment and since then had proved himself such a hard worker and skillful handler of cattle and sheep that Gonzales considered him invaluable. He had just made a report to the ranchero that had sur prised the latter very much. "What!" he said, "the young rough rider's horse come back without a rider! How long ago?" "A moment or so. The v aqueros have but now reported it." "What do you think is the matter." "Perhaps the young man has fallen from the horse." "He is the best rider I ever saw. He would stick on the back of a horse even in his sleep. He simply couldn't fall off." "Perhaps the horse has thrown him." "Bah!, There isn't a horse on this ranch that could throw the young rough rider." "Perhaps he has met with some one." "Met with some one? What do you mean?" "Foul play of some kind.''. "Who would attempt such a thing?" "I don t know. But the horse looked as if it had run hard. The buckle on the rein had been burst open, as though it had bee n pulled by some one who was being dragged from the saddle There were pieces of brown .. cloth on th e saddle, sticking to the edges." Pablo held out a few shreds of khaki cloth. Gonzales started to his feet when he saw them. "Madre di dios I" he cried. "That is from the dothing

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THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. 17 of the young rough rider. Something has happened to him. \Vhat can we do? If, h e disappears there w ill be a sea rc h for him, for he is well known in his own country. The United States Government will demand an explanation I will b e brought into bad repute, because he was my g uest. I want no notice from th e government while my present claim on those lands is being contested. Wha t can we do?" "It is dark. The men are tired. There would be little US!'! to search for him to-night." "vVe cannot wait for morning! We must search for him! Get out your best men!" "We can follow no trail in the dark." "Start them for the sheep ranch. Go in that direction. That is the way that he went." "Si, senor. "Hurry!" Pablo clicked his heels together, bowed, waved his hat and marched out. In the meantime his master was pacing up and down the room, his face and action showing the trouble and nervousness that the disappearance of the young rough rider had caused him The door bang e d a fter the secundo and the ranchero heard his feet as he hurried
()d some of your things and found them in this ro om. They h ad been !ltolen h ere to be taken down through the trapdoor, and then thrown aside when it was discovered that they were worthless." "But the sheep h erde rs who had dis
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' YOUNfi ROU6H RIDERS WEEKLY I-Ted Strong's Rough Riders; or, The Boys of Black Mountain 2-Ted Strong's Friends; or, The Trial of Ben Tremont. 3-Ted Strong's War Path; or, The Secret of the Red Cliffs. 4-Ted Strong's Stratagem; or, Saving a Boy's Honor. 5-Ted Strong's Ride for Life; or, Caught in the Circle. 6-Ted Strong on the Trail; or, The Cattle Men of Salt Licks. 7-Ted Strong in Montana; or, Trouble at the Blackfoot Agency. 8-Ted Strong's Nerve; or, Wild West Sport at Black Mountain. 9-Ted Strong's Rival; or, The Cowboys of Sunset Ranch. IO-Ted Strong's Peril; or, Saved by a Girl. 11-Ted Strong's Gold Mine; or, The Duel at Rocky Ford. I2-Ted Strong's Lawsuit; or1 Right Against Might. i3-Ted Strong's Railway Trip; or, An Unsolved Mystery. 14-Ted Strong's Mission; or, Taming a Tenderfoot. 15-Ted Strong's Might; or, The Cross Against the Sword. t6-Ted Strong's Puzzle; or, The Golden Mesa. 17-Ted Strong in the Chaparral; or, The Hunt at Las Animas. 18-Ted Strong's Forethought; or, King of the Mesa. 19-Ted Strong in the Land of Little Rain; or, Bud Morgan's Vengeance. 20-Ted Strong's Water Sign; or, In Shoshone Land. 21-Ted Strong's Steadiness; or, The Cattle Rustlers of Ceriso. 22-Ted Strong's Land Boom; or, The Rush for a Homestead. 23-Ted Strong's Indian Trap; or, Matching Craft with Craft. 24-Ted Strong's Signal; or, Racing with Death. 25-Ted Strong's Stamp Mill; or, The Woman in Black. 26-Ted Strong's Recruit; or A Hidden Foe. 27-Ted Strong's Discovery; or, The Rival Miners. 28-'Fed Strong's Chase; or, The Youqg Rough Riders on the Trail. 29-Ted Strong's Enemy; or, An Uninvited Guest. 30-Ted Strong's Triumph; or, The End of the Contest. 31-Ted Strong in Nebraska; or, The Trail to Fremont. 32-Ted Strong in Kansas City; or, The Last of the Herd. 33-The Rough Riders in Missouri ; or, In the Hands of His Enemy. 34-The Young Rough Riders in St. Louis; or, The League of the Camorra. 35-The Young Rough Riders in Indiana; or, The Vengeance of the Camorra. 36-The Young Rough Riders in Chicago; or, Bud Morgan's Day Off. 37-The Young Rough Riders in Kansas; or, The Trail of the Outlaw. 38-The Young Rough Riders in the Rockies ; or, Fighting in Mid Air. 39--The Young Rough Rider's Foray; or, The Mad Horse of Raven Hill. 40-The Young Rough Rider's Fight to the Death; or, The Mad Hermit of Bear's Hole. 41-The Young Rough Rider's Indian Trail; or, Okanaga, the Cheyenne. 42-The Young Rough Rider's Double; or, Un masking a Sham. 43-The Young Rough Rider's Vendetta; or, The House of the Sorceress. AT ALL OR S TR.EET SMITH, 238 William Street, NEW YORK.

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NICK CARTER WEEKLY THE BEST DETECT IVE STORIES IN THE WORLD 383 Kidnaped in B r oad Daylight; o r Nick Carter on His Own Trail. 384-The Little Giant's Double; or, The World's Two Strongest Men 385-The Secret Order of Associated Crooks; or, The Confederated Criminal Trust. 386-vVhen Aces Were Trumps; or, A Hard Game t o Play. 387-The Gambler's Las t Hand; o r The Little Giant Wins Out. 388-The Murder at Linden Fells; o r The Mystery of the Cadillac Needle. Danton's Double; o r A Plot for Many Millions. 390-The Millionaire's Nemesis; or, Paul Roger's Oath of Vengeance. 391-A Princess of the Underworld; or, The Myst e rious Burglary at Lakeview. 392 A Queen of Her Kind; or, A Beautifu l V\Toman's Nerve. 393 Isabel Benton's Trump Card; or, Desperate Play to Win. 394 A Princess of Hades; or, The Reappear ance of Dazaar, the Fiend. 395 A Compact with Dazaar; or, The Devil Worshiper's D en. 3-In the Shadow of Dazaar; or, At the Mercy of Vampires. 397-The Crime of a Money-King; or, The Battle of the Magnates. 398-The Terrible Game of Millions; or, Track ing Down the Plotters. Dead Man's Power; or, T h e Mystery of a Telephon e Number. 400---The Secrets of an Old House; or, The Crime of Washington Hei g hts. 401-The House with the Open Door; or, Tl)e Double Crime of Madison A venue. 402-The Society of Assassination; or, The D e tective's Double Disguise. 403 -The Bro t herhood of th e Crossed Swo r d s ; or, The Little Giant's Mighty Task. 404-The Trail of the Vampire; or, The Mys terio\ls Crimes of Prospect Park. 405 -The Demons of the Night; or, The Ter ro r s of the Idol's Cavern. 406-The Captain of the Vampire; or, Smuggl e r s of the Deep Sea. 407 A Bank President's Plo t ; o r, Thre e V il l a i ns of a Stripe. 4o8-Th e Maste r Crimina l ; or, With t he D evi l in His Eye. Carruthers Puzzle; or, Nick Car t e r s Bes t Disguise 410-Inez, the Mysterious; or, The Master Crim inal's Mascot. 4II-The Criminal Queen's Oath; or, The Di f ference Betwee n Two 4 1 2 -The Point ,of a Dagger; or, T h e C r i min a l Queen's Madness. 413-'-Doct o r Q uartz, t he Second; or, The G r ea t Freight Ca r Mystery. 414 Doctor Quartz, the Second, a t Bay; o r A Man of Iron Nerve. 415-The Great Hotel Murders; o r Docto r Quartz 0S Quick rviove. 416-Zanoni, the Woman \i\Tizard; o r The Ward of Doctor Ouartz. 417-The 'Noman \Vizard's Hate; or, A Danger ous Foe. 418-The Prison Demon; or, The Ghos t of D r Quartz. Carte r and the Hangman's Noose; or, Dr. Quartz on Earth A g ain. 420-Dr. Quartz's Last Play; or, A Hand with a Royal Flush. 421-Zanoni, the Transfigured; or, Nick Car ter s Phantom Masco t. 422-By Command of the Czar; or, Nick Ca r ter's Bol dest Defiance ALL O F THE ABOVE NUMB E RS A L W A vs ON H AND. IF YOU C ANNOT mrr THEM FROM YOUR NEWSD EA LER FIV E CE NTS PER COPY WILL BRING THEM TO YOU BY MAIL POSTPAID St t & S th PUBLISHERS, N y k re e 1111 '238 Wi!lia m St., ew or

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BRA VE AND BOLD WEEKLY CONTAINS THE BIGGFST AND BFST STORIF.S OF ALL DESCRIPTIONS. A DIFFERENT COMPLETE STORY EACH WEEK. FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF THE LATF.ST ISSUFS: 61-Backed by an Unknown; or, Dick Darrell's Hustle for a Living. By Cornelius Shea. 62-All Aboard; or, Life on the Lake. By Oliver Optic 63-Phil, the Fiddler; or, The Story of a Young Street Musician. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 64-Dick HaJlatlay's Pranks; or, Fun at Strykerville< Academy. 'By W L. James, Jr. 65-Slow and Sure; or, From the Street to the Shop. By Horatio Alger, Jr. by Little; or, The of the Flyaway. By Oliver Optic. 67-Beyond the Froz en Seas; or, The Land of the Pig mies. By Cornelius Shea. 68-The Yol!ng Acrobat; or, The Great North Ameri can Circus. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 6!r-Saved from the Gallows; or, The Rescue of Charlie Armitagf!. By Matt Royal. 70-Checkmated by a Cadet; or, Conquered by Chance. By Harrie Irving Hancock. 71-Nuggets and Nerve; or, The Two Boy Miners. By Frank Sh e ridan. 72-Mile-a-Minute T om; or, The Young Engineer of Pine Valley. By Corneliu s Shea 73-Seared With Iron; or, The Band of Skeleton Bar. By Cornelius Shea 74-The Deuce and the King of Diamonds; or, Two Soufhern Boys in South Africa By the author of "Among the Malays." 75-Now or Never; or, The Adventures of Bobby Bright. By Oliver Optic. 76-Blue-Blooded Ben; or, Two Princeton Pals. By the author of "Hal Larkin." 77-Checkered Trails; or, Under the Palmettoes. By Marline Manley. 78--Figures and Faith; or, Messenger Clinton's Chance. By the author of "The Hero of Ticonderoga 79-The Trevalyn Bank Puz zle; or, The Face in the Locket. By Matt R o yal. So-The Athlete of Rossville; or, The Isle of Serpents. By Cornelius Shea 81-Try Again; or, The Trials and Triumphs of Harry West. By Oliver Optic. 82-The Mysteries of Asia; or, Among the Komdafs. By Cornelius Shea. 83-The Froze n Head; or, Puzzling the Police. By Paul Rand 84-Dick Dan fort h's Death G:harm; or, Lost in the South Seas By the author of "The Wreck of the Glaucus." 85-Burt Allen's Trial; or, Why the Safe was Robbed. By W A. Parcelle. 86-Prisoners of War, or, Jack Dashaway's Rise from the Ranks. By "Old Tecumseh." 87-A Charmed Life; or, The Boy with the Snake Skin Belt. By the author of "Among the Malays." 88--0nly an Irish Boy; or, Andy Burke's Fortunes. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 8<)-The Key to the Cipher; or, The Boy Actor's Strug gle. By Frank J Earll. 9Q--Through Thick and Thin; or, Foes to the Last. By Walter J. Newton. 91-In Russia's Power; or, How Two Boys Outwitted the Czar. By Matt Royal. 92-Jonah Mudd, the Mascot of Hoodoovi11e; or, Which Was Which? By Fred Thorpe. 93-Fighting the Seminol es; or, Harry Emerson' s Red Friend. By Maj Herbert H Clyde. 94-The Young Outlaw; or, Adrift in the Streets By Horatio Alger, Jr. 95-The Pass of Ghosts; or, A Yankee Boy in the Far West. By Cornelius Shea. 96-The Fortunes of a Foundling; or, Dick, the Out ca st. By Ralph Ranger. 97-The Hunt for the Talisman; or, The Fortunes of the Gold Grab Mine. By J. M. Merrill. 98--Mystic Island. The Tale of a Hidden Treasure. By the author of "The Wreck of the Glaucus." 9<)-Capt. Startlt>; or, The Terror of the Black Range. By Cornelius Shea. 100-Julius, the Street Boy; or, A Waif's Rise from Poverty. By Horatio Alger, Jr. 101-Shanghaied; or, A Wanderer Against His Will. By H C. Emmet. J epson s Treachery ; or, The Dwarfs of the Pacific. By the author of "The Wreck of the Glaucus." 103-Tangled Trails; or, The Mystery of the Manville Fortune. By Clifford Park. 104-J am es, Langley & Co.; or, The Boy Miners of Salt River By the author of "Capt. Startle. 105-Ben Barclay's C ourage; or, The Fortunes of a Store Boy By Horatio Alger, Jr. 106-Fred Desmond's Mi s sion; or, The Cruise of the "Explorer." By Cornelius Shea. 107-Tom Pinkney's Fortune; or, Around the World with Nellie Bly. By Lieut. Clyde. 1o8--Detective Clinket's Investigations; or, The Mys tery of the Severed Hand. By Clifford Park. 109-In the D e pths of the Dark Continent; or, The Vengeance of Van Vincent. By the author of "The Wreck of the 'Glaucus.'" no-Barr, the Detective; or, The Peril of Lucy Graves. By Thomas P Montfort. In-A Bandit of Costa Rica; or, The Story of a Stranded Circus By Cornelius Shea. All of the above numbers always on hand. If you cannot get them trom your newsdealer, live cents per copy will bring them to \ u by mail, postpaid. STREET & SMITH, PUBLISHERS DBB S"tree"t, N"evv "York

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KING OF DETECTIVES--NICK CARTER Read All About Him In NICK CARTER WEEKLY A GRAND, NEW SERIES LATEST ISSUES 412. THE POINT OF A DAGGER; or, The Criminal Queen's Madness 413. DOCTOR QUARTZ, THE SECOND; or, The Great Freight Car Mystery 414. DOCTOR QUARTZ II. AT BAY ; or, A Man of Iron Nerve 415. THE GREAT HOTEL. MURDER; or, Dr. Quartz's Quick Move 416. ZANONI, THE WOMAN WIZARD; or, The Ward of Dr. Quartz 417. THE WOMAN WIZARD'S HATE; or, A Dangerous Foe 418. THE PRISON DEMON; or, The Ghost of Dr. Quartz 419. NICK CARTER AND THE HANGMAN'S NOOSE; or, Dr. Quartz On Earth Again 420. DR. QUARTZ'S LAST PLAY ; or, A Hand With a Royal Flush To be had from all newsdealers, or sent, postpaid, upon receipt of price, FIVE CENTS STREET & SMITH, 238 William Street, New York


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