Hal on the outpost, or, With the army above doomed Santiago


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Hal on the outpost, or, With the army above doomed Santiago

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Title:
Hal on the outpost, or, With the army above doomed Santiago
Series Title:
Starry flag weekly Thrilling stories of our victorious army
Creator:
Wells, Douglas
Place of Publication:
New York
Publisher:
Street & Smith
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English
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1 online resource (32 p.) 26 cm.: ;

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Dime novels. ( lcsh )
Spanish-American War, 1898 -- Fiction ( 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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025647835 ( ALEPH )
71304302 ( OCLC )
S52-00015 ( USFLDC DOI )
s52.15 ( USFLDC Handle )

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No. l7 NEW YORK, NOVEMBER l, 1898 5 CENTS r--

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CE ,..,..K "!" r- "" "T.,, .. 11,,n r.-. r-.-i:.:_j,-.i-_-, rr, I k ll IJ v.: t \. ': I ) b ,.. ; tt t :.i.. ,., ... Oi r 7 2CO{J !Jeu) & q u Buoln _., Lib ariu lfJ Stock, 8et, I.\ 1 j ashinE;ton S ,s, 45 S. HALSTE.D ST'., Ill. STARRY FLAG .lnud Monthly.-By Subcrlptlon, Fifty cent& pt!' ytm. Entmed cu Second Ctau Mattei at tlte N. Y .Pot O.lllce, STREl
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2 STARRY FLAG. "It's a woman's," Juan cried. "It is, indeed," his friend answered, "and what is mo:e, you see by the heel that she wore some kind of an even ing slipper." "And she's lost one of them!" the Cuban added, eagerly. "See, here is the print of a stocking foot!" That was a decidedly strange discovery under such circumstances, and it was not to be wondered that the two young men est in the owner of those small slippers; but it was plain to be seen that Juan was quite as much interested as his friend. The two had not the least difficulty in pursning their investigations, for the woman, whoever she was, had kept steadily to the path. "She must have passed here this morn ing, since the rain," said Hal. "What in the world do you suppose cau be the matter?" had their curiosity aroused. "Probably some refugee," suggested In fact bey almost forgot their com-Jnan. mand and the dangers of their situation. But half a minute later they were re minded of that in very startling way. A bullet whistled through Hal Maynard's cap. He looked about him then with a laughing exclamation, and tHe two sprang back into the shelter of a .thicket. But Hal's interest in his discovery was not in the least abated by that interrup tion. "I'm going to try to find out what that means," he muttered. "You'd better wait till those Spanish sharpshooters take another run," laughed his friend. "Otherwise you' 11 come to grief before you get very far.'' Hal called out tu his men to halt there and wait for the main body to draw near. After a few minutes more of skirmishing with the Spaniards the firing ceased and Hal ventured out upon the trail once more. This time he was not molested, though it was don btful .if he would have stopped even had he been fired on. Juan Ramirez "But why does she wear a high-heeled slipper?" demanded the other. "And why does she leave one behind her?" "I'm sure I don't. know," the Cuban responded, with a smile. "I'm not as familiar with the habits of the sex as yon. Perhaps if we keep following the trail the wrong way we may have a chance to ask her." Hal was about to make some response to those bantering observations. But just then they ..happened upon a discovery which drove the intention out of his mind. His questions were answered in a most unexpected way. From Juan's remark it may be inferred that the two had been following the trail toward the city, and so in a direction op posite to that taken by the owner of the mysterious slipper. And suddenly when they had reached a point about a hundred yards distant they happened upon a startling object. "The other slipper!" they cried iu one breath. was disposed to rally him upon his inter-They spraug forward toward the obA Cubaa's Sufferings Appeal to Vic's 6enerous Heart.

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STARRY FLAG. 3 ject. Sure enough, they fou11d that it But the theory served them for the what they sought. "And it's a11 eveniug J.1st as I said!" cried Hal. "It's stuck in the mud." But that was by far the least important part of the disc-0very the two were Jes tined to make, as they found an instant later. "Look at the tracks about here l" cried Juan. "See, the ground is all torn up." "And by her footsteps and tl1ose of some men," added the other, excitedly. "It's plain w1iat that means." It mea11t that there had been a struggle; the theory was verified more aud more by every moment's investigation. Of course it put an end to the "tefugee" idea; it set a fine mystery before the two officers. They found that the footsteps co11-tinued onward. And so it was plain that sowe men J,iad been dragging the woman her will out of the city. "But why in the world should Span iards be doing that?'' cried Hal; in great surprise. "Why?" "Spaniards didn't do it," muttered Jtuw; "at least that won't be my guess." "Then who could have?" Hal de manded. "You do11't think--" He hesitated, for lie did not like to say what was in his mind for fear of wou11d iag his friend. But Juan had no such scruples. "Yes," he t:xclaimed, "I do think just that. It's some rascals belonging to the Cuban army." As it subsequently proved, the two were mistaken in their hasty supposition. present, and led them to a quick decisiou. It was that that mystery ought to be looked into without an instant's delay. "It hasn't been two hours since the rain," said Juan, "and that party could be overtaken in short order.'' Hal would have undertaken the duty then and there, for it just suited his gal lant and adventurous nature. But unfor tunately he had orders to obey. And so he merely put the slipper in his pocket and accompanied his friend back to the halting place of the men. They said nothing to any one about their discovery; they waited impatiently for about half an hour, when they were apprised by a tramping sound them that the advance guard of Lawton's division was arriving. Hal immediately arose and prepared to go to the rear and report. He and Juan liad said nothing, but the latter under stood what his friend was going to do. And so he not in the least sur prised when the young lieutenant, upon returning, remarked: "I fixed it." "We 're going, then?" inquired the Cuban. "Yes," answered Hal, "I manage
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STARRY FLAG. CHAPTER II. TRAPPED BY THE ENEMY. The two officers were destined to meet ..... with some rather startling adventures during the next few hours. But as they set out upon their journey they ielt equal to anything that might come. And they set their hor es at a bl'isk gallop. For they knew that those they sought could not be a good' way distant. They had not the least difficulty in fol lowing the trail, for the footprints of the party could be plainly seen. By a rough calculation Hal made out that it con sisted of about a dozen men. For perhaps five miles the two rode on without incident of any kind. Then the trail was interrupted in an unxpected way. The party had evidently had horses hidden in the thicket. The place could be seen where the animals had been tied. And where the men had mounted and ridden on down the path. The footprints of the slipper could then of course be seen no longer; but it was easy to follow th horses, and so the two delayed not a moment. "We must travel all the faster now," muttered Hal. After that there was another long gal lop, lasting over an hour; it carried the two to the end of the path. The party in front had turned off to the right and gone through the dense thicket. After that the pursuers were compelled to go more slowly; they could not gallop at full speed, and they soon had cam;e to be glad of it. For they had more chance to gaze about t11e111 and at the trail they were following. And it was not long be(ore the Ctban's sharp eyes noticed an im portant fact He chanced to glance at a footprint of one of the horses, deep in some soft mud. He stopped and poiuted with a startled exclamatio11. Hal understood at once. ''They can't be a hundred yards in front!" he cried. There was a little pool of water close to the footprint, and water was slowly trickling into the latter. It was then not half filled. And so it was plain that a horse had trod there a very few minutes before. Juan Ramirez wasted no time in hesitating over that importan t discovery. He slid down from his horse and after signaling to Hal to remain there in silence, he darted on ahead. Hal let him go alone, not because he was not anxious to share in the danger, but because he knew that the young Cuban was twice as good a woodsman as he, and could steal through the thicket as silently as an Indian. -And so the lieutenant merely drew his horse to one side and got his revolver ready in case of danger. He did not think that he would be kept waiting long. And in this he was not mistaken. Scarcely five minutes passed before Jua11 came running back. Hal could see that his eyes were danc ing with exciteme11t. "What is it?" Hal cried, "I saw them," panted Juan. Clif C-Omplies With a Dying Man's Request, Though Dangerous.

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STARRY FLAG. 5 "You did!" "Yes. And, thank Heavens, we were wrong after all. 1 "Wrong?" "Yes. I mean they're not Cubans." "What! Who are they ?'1 "Spaniards!" Hal gave an exclamation of incredulity. "But it's true," insisted Juan. They're guerillas! 1'111 sure of it." "And how about the girl?" "She's there," was the breathless an swer. "She's a young girl-a beauty, too--'' "But what in the world are those men--" "They must have kidnaped her. I counted fourteen of them, and as tough looking scoundrels as you could wish for. They're still riding on fast, so they must be taking her to some sort of a hiding place. '' That was indeed interesting news which Juan had brought. The two found it of sufficient importance to justify them in dismounting and holding a council of war. "We must make up our minds quickly," said Hal. "It was unwise of us to undertake this alone, I fear. But now shall we ride back for help or shall "If we delay that long they will escape us," was the impetuous Cuban's prompt rejoinder. "It's our duty to follow them at once!" What their duty was rather was uncer tain. Bnt there was n doubt in the world as to what their pleasure was. And the latter consideration carried the day Juan's suggestion was adopted. "We'll try it,'' said Hal, "though Heaven only knows what we two can do when we do catch up with them." "Heaven knows, and Heaven will no doubt let us know," was Juan's abrnpt response. Without another word the two tethereq their horses in a dense spot of the thicket. And then they set out on a dead run 011 the trail of the party. Hal let his friend take the lead, for Juan would know exactly how far ahead to look for the men they were following. It was not very long before he slowed down into a dog trot and t11en into a walk. He began stealing along with the utmost caution, stopping at every turn and peering cautiously ahead. It was not long before he got some sign of the Spaniards. He suddenly held up his hand for silence, and Hal, listening intently, could hear the tramping of horses. Once more the stealthy advance began. The two could not fail to realize that it was a perilous task they were undertaking, and their hearts thumped as thev crept on. It was well for them that they went in silence. As it was they were with in an ace of being discovered, and only the density of the thicht saved them. For the party had stopped; and their two pursuers, hearing nothing, came on until they were almost upon them. Juan's quick ear suddenly caught the sound of a voice. He dropped instantly into the underbrush. The two by creep-A Powder Train Set Afire Exposes Clif to His Foes.

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6 STARRY FLAG. ing on m silence for a few yards more could plainly see the whole p<:irty. T11ey were standing in a group con versing in whispers. Two of them were near by mounting guard over their un fortunate captive. Hal found that Juan's description of the whqle party was very accurate. T11e Spanish guerillas, for such they a:;:ipeared .to be, were mor.t villai1'ous-1ooking cus tomers. And the girl would have been noticed among a thousand for her beauty. It shone all the more in the strange situation in which t11e two young officers found her. And her costume was an extraordinary one for such a p1ace, a white evening dress that had evidently been handsome, though it was now torn and stained with mud. Upon this interesting scene Hal and Juan had at least ve minutes to gaze. They were not a hundred feet from the group of men, who apparently had no suspicions. But the two were keenly alive to the danger none the less. An. d it was 11ot without a sigh of relief that they saw the party ma1te a move once more. But when they moved they, did not mount their horses again. Hal, who was watching like a cat, did not fail to note that important circumstance. He nl,ldged Juan. "Their hiding-place 1s pretty near now," he whispered. the others, disappeared 111 the thicket in a different direction. Meanwhile the girl aud the main body of her captors had taken their horses by the bridles and gone 011. In a few seconds Hal and Juan were once more alone. The situation of the two just then was such that they had to act instantly. They held a whispered consultation last ing about ten seconds, and the result of it was that once more Juan Ramirez glided out to fol low the party to their hiding-place. "I'll allow Hal, calmly. low." you five minutes," said "Then I 'II set on t to fol-And so Jnan disappeared. The lieu tenant took out his watch a11d waited. Every second :seemed almost a minute, so anxious was 1 he. And :yet he had strength of wm enough to restrain hill;} self until the time limit had expired. Juan did not return, and so his friencl got up, and gripping his revolver, set 0ut through the th4cket. He
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STARRY FLAG. 7 standing over him and gazing down at /him with a triumphant laugh. i'or a moment Hal was paralyzed, for he thought that Juan was dead. But thet he saw that the Cuban was merely bonnd hand and foot. The Spaniard was one of the six guerillas they had seeu separate from tlle rest. Hal prehe11ding the situati6n at once, knew that the man 111ust l1ave taken Juan by surprise and "l1eld him "I think it'll be a t.hance to turn the tables," chuckled Hal. Fortunat@ly the Spaniard had not heard the American's stealthy approach. He was in a fine situation to be taken by surprise, especially since he had left his revolver lying on the ground while he tied up his prisoner. Hal hesitated not one secon-:i; he sprang out of the bushes and leveled bis owu weapon at the man's head. "My prisoner, senor!" he laughed triumphantly. "Up with your hands!" The officer whirled about in horror. He saw Hal running toward him. "I'm sorry to trouble you," the young lieuteuant chuckled. "But I'll have to free that prisoner again." Tlle officer, who was apparently of the rank of 111ajor, was so completely tal{en aback that his hands went up mechanically. He staggered l:ackward with an exclamation. Hal stepped up to hitn and took hold of Spania1ds near bad not onee occurred to Hal. He had been compelled to act hastily and without calculating the chances. Ttlerefore he was completely taken aback. About fifty yards distant the busheswere parted and fom Spaniards burst their way through. Hal saw with dismay that he was gazing into the mnzzles of four rifles. The maJor gave a shout of deligl1t when he saw them. "My prisoner!" cried he, overjoyed. He thought that he was safe. But he did not know with what a desperate and daring fighter he bad to deal. His joy uow faded. For Hal, quick as a panther in action, seized liim about the neck with his arm and swung him aro1111ci in front, using him as a s!1ield against the other Spaniards. At the same moment Hal aimed his revolver at the men. "The first one of you moves is a dead man!" he roared: "Look out!" That was indeed an extraordinary situation. It scarcely seemed possible to Hal himself. But his nerve and boldness hacl taken his enemies completely by sur prise, and not one of them could think of a thing to do. If there had been a nervy marksman among them Ile might, of course, have put a bullet througlJ the American's head. But no one of them dared do any-his sword to remove it. :But at that same thing for fear of hitting the uufortunatft instant came a startling developmeut, one major, who wriggled and kicked in vait 0 that complicated the situation not a little. endeavor to free himself. The possibility of there being other But Hal, who was fortunately 11Jch a A Terrible Tumble in a Hollow Log. Did It Mean Death?

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8 STARRY FLAG. the stronger of the two, gripped him like a vise and choked him into submission. The lieutenant meanwhile never once took his eyes off of the four soldiers, who stood glaring at him like hungry bull dogs. They whispered with each other, and one of them then started to draw back into the woods. Hal, who knew that that would min his chances, soon stopped that. "Another step and I fire!" he yelled. And he yelled it as if he meant it, too. The puzzled Spaniards halted irreso lutely. They evidently wanted a leader; but the major was even more frightened than they, and breathless besides, and so he could give no orders. For fully a whole minute that strange group remained per fectly motionless. Hal was racking his brains trying to think how the affair might end. He could think of 110 way of escaping, and yet he could not keep this struggling man held under his arm forever. There was one way out of the situa tion, a decidt!dly unpleasant one for poor Hal. Unfortunately be had no way of foreseeiug .it. There had been six men in that party. Only five were visible. But the sixth soon made his whereabouts known. He had crept through the bushes in the rear in order to try a shot. Hal was exposed to him there, but the man that did him no good, for the modern llt!t is capable of going through the for when he saw the man he yelled frantically: "Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" Ano so the man did n?t shoot; he set about ending the matter in another way. There was a tall branching oak tree not ten feet from where Hal and the major were struggling. It was an enor mous tree, and the man crept up behind it unseen by any one. He climbed into a notch above the heads of the two. And the first warning that Hal had of what the fellow hoped to do, was when he tried it successfully. To the Ameri can's unutterable consternation, he felt a slip noose dropped over his head and pulled tight! CHAPTER III. A DESPERATE STROKI:. Hal glanced up, and he saw in one moment that all was lost. There was no chance of shooting at the wily Spaniard, as he was well out of sight behind the tree. In fact he was hanging on to the rope at the other side. Hal was almost jerked off his feet. It is needless to say that he was beaten by that clever dodge. It was no use for 11im to pull and struggle, for the noose tightened until he grew black in the face. He raised his revolver and fired At the rope, hoping to sever it. But he was half blinded and dazed, and he missed it. The Spaniards gave a wild cheer of de light. They rushe
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.,TARRY FLAG. 9 Hal's game struggle was at an end. What happened to him immediately after that happened as if in a dream. Hal did not lose consciousness, but his head was swimming and he was half dazed. The irate Spaniards were most of them for going on with the hanging operation then and there. But fortunately for Hal, they civilized enough to that that would be going tco far. 'Nor were they altogether without ad miration for what was certainly a daring enough action. Hal could see that even tl1e ruffled major was staring at him as if wondering if he were a man or a devil. The terrible noose was loosened and Hal staggered back against the tree. His captors gathered about him. They were laughing in as much glee and triumph as if they had captured a whole regiment. They set to work to tie Hal up with the very rope that had choked him into submission. They fastened him securely, hand and foot. After that they tumbled him un ceremoniously into the bushes beside Juan and turned to whisper to each other. They were evidently consulting what to do! A minute later one of them put his fingers to his lips and blew a shrill whistle. "That'll fetch 'em down," he mut tered "I suppose they'll carry them up to the cave." Naturally those words were not lost guerilla band had some sort of l a hidingplace near. There was 110 doubt that it was there they had taken the girl. Hal and Juan had been looking for that "cave," but they had uo desire to visit the place in their present condition; ana tbey were watching every move of their six enemies anxiously. The whistle they had given was an swered by another one some distance away. As soon as they heard it all but one of the men turned away. It was evident that the whole six had been sentries watching the approach to their place of concealment. They now resumed their watch of the trail, for they had no means of telling whether or not Hal and Juan had com-pan ions. The third man remained to guard the prisoners. He stood leaning against a tree near by, eying them curiously. But inasmuch as they were tied and helpless, he saw little need to guard them. The man waited for a minute or two listening for the arrival of his comrades; then, as they did not come he stepped over to an open spot in the thicket where, he apparently expected to catch sight of them. The prisoners had had little hope of escaping from unpleasant situatiou in which they found themselves. But a possibility flashed over them both at that moment. The man's back was turned! It might upon the two captives, who were anx-be for only a few mo111euts-but then it iously Jisteuing to find out what die men could do no harm to make an effort to meant to do with them. get free. They knew from the above that the Hal and Juan had escaped from such a The foes Were Three to One, But Not When the Fight Was Ended.

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10 STAltRY FLAG situation' as this before, and they knew just what to do. Juan rolled over silently, and a moment later his teeth were at the rnpe tha t bound his friend rs hands. It touk bim lint one second to bite it. Hal was free again! It was a matter of life and death after that, and it' was no wonder that the two were trembling. The ma11 's back was still to them, but he might turn at any moment and discover what they were doi11g. Hal had a penknife in his pocket. He groped for it and openeci the blade; never in his life had that operation seemed to take him so long, though he worked with feverish haste. His only salvation was that no possibility of there being any danger had occurred to the Spaniard. He stood peering through the woods shadh1g his eyes with his hands. What the men had done with the captured revolvers Hal did not know; but he still had his sword, and he was count ing on using that. He cut his feet loose with a single slash; then with the swiftness and stealth of a panther he glided to his feet . He did not stop to free ] uan. At a crisis like this one man could do as much as two. And a second 's delay might min man was not over frfty feet away, but that distance seemed an etemity for it had to be gotten over before Hal could do anything. As he moved, however, he had his muscles ready for a spring, and he meant that the man should have to fight for it. He slipped his sword out of the scabbard as he crept on. Juan lay on the ground meanwhile watching him with intense anxiety, and feeling as if his brain would burst if the suspense was kept up very long. J!tan feared not for himself, but for his friend, whose peril was indeed great. And yet no Tn.dian could have stolen over the grot111d more stealthily than the lieutenant; there was not even the sound of a stirring leaf. And as he crept on he raised his sword for the stroke. He covered half the space without the Spaniard's having the faintest suspicion. But then suddenly Hal came to an unfortunate barrier-a stretch of high grass between him' and the man. He knew that he could not creep through that without making a nois e and for a moment he hesitate d. Then he started to walk on again ; but just as he. expechd, the grass crackled. And 1ike a flash the man wheeled abont. But Hal, who had been watchful as a all. cat, saw the move the instant it began. For the man had his revolver in his He leaped forward at the same instant, hand. If he should chance to g1ance beand was at the man's side a moment later. hind him and see what was going on, The Spaniard with a ct} of 11orror had there no doubt that be woulcl open swung up 11is revolver. B11t before he fire the same instant. could pu11 the trigger Hal's sword de-And so Hal's very heart seemed to stop scended with the force 01 a sledge beating as he took his fi.rst step. The hammer. A Very lmpbrtant Stowaway Was Found oa tile Uncas.

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FLAG. 11 And the man sank to the gronnd withbnt a sound, bis head split almost in two by the terrific stroke. His revolver was exploded by the convulsive twitching of his hand, and the bullet passed withiia a foot of Hal's head. Ent he had no time to think of his narrow escape. He knew that the shot would bring the other men to the spot 011 a run; and Hal lost not an instant. He stopped beside the man jnst long enough to snatch his revolver out of his hand, and then hti whided, ab()ut and spra.ug toward his friend. I Hal's knife lay on Hie ground where he had left it. He seized it and in a 1110-me11t more had cut tl1e Cuba11's bonds. Jnau staggered to his feet. At the same instant the1e "as a crashing SQttnd in the bushes nea1 them, and two ()f. the guerillas st into view. Hal sw1111g 11p his revolver and fired. One of the men pitched forward upon his face. The other, with ar\ oath of ragt>, replied at the same moment. He was not a hnndred feet away, ancl to Hal it seemed as if tl1e flash of the weapon was almost in his face. He felt notl1ing, but he heard Juan just behind him give a cry of pa.in. The Spaniard did not have time to fire a secon.d shot. Hal wounded him, and he turned and ran, shouting alond as he did so. The American turned instantly toward liis friend. His heartalmost stood still from anxiety as he looked, for he did 11ot know And the brave fellow never thought of He heard the shout of the rest of the Spaniards a short distance away, and so he caught Ha.l by the an,n and turned to run. The two knew that they would h .ave a hard chase of it, for the guerillas had horses, and would no doubt use them when they discovered what had happened to their companions. And so they l"an their very lives, tearing their way through the dense jungle at a surprising rate of speed. Their ears were 01r the a.lert, and soon caught sounds that told them the guerillas had arrived upon. the scene of tl1eir escape; that made them hurry on, if pos ... sible, even faster tl1an before. It was a terrible experience after the first few minutes. No more difficult to rnn thJough been fom1d, and they were sopn breathless and exhausted. Thorns and cacti tore tlwh clothiug, and they stumbled over prostrate logs and tangled vines. But stiil they kept 011. For the shouts be11i11d them did not recede in the least.. On tl1e contrary, they soon began to draw near; and the traq1pli11g Of horses was added to them. The fugitives glai1ced over their shoulders apprehensively at every step. For they knew that the moment one of the men caught sight of them, their last hope would be gone. TJ1ey might stand and fight, btlt the end could be but in what might have happened. But fortu-their death. nately, Juan's wo1111d was only in the And so as the sounds of pursuit came arm. nearer the two grew desperaie. They There Was a Traitor Among the Crew. What Became of Him P

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12 STARRY FLAG. were so exhausted they could scarcely move. And consequently when a few moments ater they caught sight of a dense cane brake off to the left they were glad to the chance of hiding. They turned and forced their way in toward the centre. They were so tired that they could only sink down upon the ground aud gasp for breath. The Spaniards might come, but the two could do no ,nore. 11he Spaniards we1e soon heard tearing through the thicket, beating up the bushes and yelling to each other. Hal and Juan crouched lo w in their hiding place, their hearts leaping wildly with excitement. But fortunately for them they were not discovered. It was perhaps five minutes before their danger was really over. But over it finally was, to the fugitives' great relief. The men went on without having discovered thtrn. They could not breathe freely even yet, until they had made their escape certain. When they knew by the sounds that their enemies were some distance away, they got up and crept silently off to one side for two or three hundred yards. Then they hid once more, this time in security. Hal bound up his friend's arm, after which they lay waiting for an hour or two, until they felt that their pursuers must surely have given up. CHAPTER IV. purpose of solving that mystery. When they were once more safe and free they were in exactly the same position as they had been before, and so there was no reason for their not going on. Therefore when it came time to discuss the next move, neither even suggested turning back. "The next thing, of course,,, whis pered Hal, "is to find that cave, as the fellow called it." "That's it," Juan assented. "And ob vions enough, too. But I fancy the doing of it won't prove quite so easy." "The Spaniards will certainly be on the watch now," said the other, "but I guess we can fool them. There's only one thing to do. I'll set out to begin a hunt and you wait here meanwhile." However "obviotts" the brave Cuban may have thought his friend's first re mark, he certainly did not think that of the last one. He protested vehemently. Bnt Hal soon brought him to a realiz tion of what was best. He was wounded, and he had no weapon. It was better for one to be captured than two. And so it happened that when Hal set ont a few minutes later to begin his in vestigation, Juan merely crawled into a denser spot in the cane and hid to wait for his return. As for the American, he did not hesi tate a moment. He had a ge11eral idea where the guerillas' hiding-place must be, and he had the deep grass and tangled undergrowth to hide him from his enemies. HAL'S BOLD VENTURE. As he stole on he bad his revolver One would have supposed that that ready, and he was watchful as a cat. He perilous experience would have cured the soon found that he had plenty of need two, at least for a time, of any desire to to be. continue their efforts. But as a matter of It is foreign to the main purpose of our fact thei r eagerness for excitement came story to describe his perilous venture. back almost as quickly as their breath. Suffice it to say that he retraced his steps They had set out that morning for the to the very spot where he and Juan had Clif Found That a 6irl o f Spirit Will Alw ays Defend Der Lover.

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STARRY FLAG. 13 been in such danger. He there caught sight of at least a dozen of the Spaniards, who were apparently discussing the day's ever.ts. Hal smiled himself as he thought of .what they wonld have done had they known their worst enemy was so There is no use denying that his heart was thumping excitedly, for his situation was perilous in the extreme,. and this kind of Indian scout work was new to him. But nevertheless he set out to follow the tracks of their horses, not don btiug that they would lead him to the "cave." Hal's advance was necessarily slow, for he dared not walk boldly. A bullet from the woods about him f1e knew might end his career at any moment. The country i n which he found )lim self was extremely mountainous and cov ered with what might very appropriately called a jungle. Hal could scarcely see n yards ahead of him. He stole on so silently that it is doubtful if a serpent could have made less noise. It was that alone which accounts for what afterward seemed to him an almost miraculolls accident. To put the matter briefly, the cave to which the Spaniards had referred was in the side of a tall bushy cliff, and it was entered by a narrow pass between two canyon-like walls. The whole place was so covere
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14 STARRY FLAG. perate acts, had sense ef)ough to make 110 resistance. Hal really meant to fire and run for it, H he had. "Drop your rifle!" The man acted as if he were in a dream-obeying mechanically and staring in amazement. He was held up on his own doorstep! _It was indeed a bold thing Hal was doing. But th ere was nothing else he c011ld have done, and so there was no use in hesitation. Only the utmost daring and calmness might have hoped to carry the day. How many more guerirlas mie)1t be in that cave Hal did not know; but it was a chance he had to take. He stepped boldly out into the cleared space beside the man, and removed his revolver from his belt. "Now march!" he hissed. And he emphasized it by pressing a cold muzzle against the man's forehead. It brought prompt obedience. The two forced their way into the underbrush once more. "Now I mean to tie you up," said Hal. "Lie down. If you move, I shall fire." He J1ad 110 rope, but he cnt long strips of vine; in two minutes he had that fel low securely gagged and bound so that he WclS utterly helpless. And then once more Hal rose to his feet. After that desperate little pieceof work he felt confidence enough to defy a universe full of Spaniards. He was in one of those daring moods in which a man is ready to attempt anything and succeed in all he attempts. Perhaps it was foolliardy and certainly it was imprudent, bnt be that as it may, no sooner did Hal find himself peering through the vine at that bole in t11e rock again thanhe made up his mind to one desperate venture-he was going to enter that cave! "No cha11ce like this may ever come again," he muttered. ''It's ten to one they're all outside looking for me." And with that rather risky probability, Hal contented himself. Be gripped his revolver, stepped out of the bushes and marched boldly into the cave. His heart was beating like a sledge hammer. He saw only black darkness before him, aud silence. But for all he knew he might be walking into the midst of a dozen Spaniards. speaki11g, he did almost walk into the midst of one. At the end of the narrow entrance was a broad apartment black as night. A man lay sleeping 011 the floor, and Hal stepped upon him as he glided swiftly in. The man sat up, gazed about him and muttered an oath of rage. That he did not see Hal was due to no cleverness of the latter's. For the American was utterly bewil dered by that last accident. All he could think of to do was to rnsh on in the dark-ness; and so the man saw only a shadowy figure when he raised up. Naturally he thought it was one of his friends. He swore some, and then, being half drunk anyway, 11e rolled over and went to sleep again. And so the nervy young officer was left standing at the centre of the cavern unseen and unsuspected, quite breathless and aghast at the thought of his own daring. He stumbled over into the dark shadows at the side, and there vrnited. It may readily be believed that as h\s eyes grew sccustomed to darkness Hal darted glances of intense interest about him. He wanted to know a number of important things-how many were really in tI1e place, and what sort of a place it was, and where he might hide in it-to say nothing of the whereabouts Only a Coward Would Commit Crimes Under Another's Name.

PAGE 16

srARRY FLAG. 15 of the beautifnl young girl whom these ruffians had kidnapecl. Hal got answers to all his questions. What he saw he was soon able to see quite clearly) was as follows: The cave was simply a bare hollow in the rocks, damp and uncomfortable enough. 'The horses were all inside, crowded to gether in a narrow passageway at the right. Of men there were only three, all sleeping near the door with the one Hal had stumbled over. As to hiding places he could see none. The end of the cavern vias blocked up with piles of boxes and kegs, stores of_ some sort. The rest of the place was ab solutely bare. There were the remains of a small fire up and lurched to the entrance, when: he stood gazing out. That cut off the chance for the mo ment, and Hal gazed about 11i111 com pletely at a loss what to do. His thoughts were called to the fair captive near him. She had heard his step, and gazed up with a look of wild terror upon her face. But she must have recognized Hal's uniform, or else have seen something in his fine features different fro"m the ruffianly Spaniards. For she seemed to comprehend his errand completely. She grasped him by the arm convulsively. ':You have come to help me!" she gasped. smouldering in the centre of the apart ment. By its light Hal saw one thing "Yes," whispered Hal. "Ssh! We that made !1im g1ad he had not done may have_a chance in a moment." much walking about. It was a ronnd The girl sank back with a moan; and black hole in the gronnd, apparently a Hal continued watching with feverish well, for it had a rude windlass and a impatience until the guerilla !ihould lie above it. down again or else go out. So much for the cave; there was one But minute after minute of intense thing else to interest Hal, a figure which anxiety passed, and still the man did he saw lying stretched ont on the ground neither. The girl still retained her grip in one corner-the girl! She was lying upon Hal's arm, and he could feel her with her head buried in her arms, and hand shaking like a leaf. Hal was startled to hear her moaning It was a queer place to listen to a story aloud. in. But as time passed and still there was Spanish guerillas and a11 other perils nothing to be done, the young lieutenant were completely forgotten by Hal in an turned toward the unfortunate prisoner insta11t; and without hesitation he stole and asked her to tell him how she had swiftly over to the girl's side. come to be in this situation. There was not a moment to be lost, he "Speak low," he whispered. "No one thought to himself. Hal had come to save will hear us." this girl, and there could be no better Rita Velasquez (as the girl gave her time to escape than now. name) was al 11ost too weak to speak. But as if to mock that wild hope at But she managed to convey to Hal in a that very instant one of the Spaniards few words the solution of the mystery he began mfittering to himself and then sat had been seeking. up and gazed about him. She was a danghter of General Velas-He did not see anything suspicious, for quez, one of the officers of Santiago. Hal crouched low. But the fellow got She had been forcibly abducted from her In Enemy's Country be Careful What Advice You Act On. See True Blue No. 26 ..

PAGE 17

16 STARRY FLAG. father's house
PAGE 18

. STARIW&.,FLAG. 17 CHAPTER VI. A DESPERATE SITUATION. A more perilous position than Hal's it would have been hard to imagine. His mind was in a perfect whirl. For a moment he thought of opening fire aud driving them back. Then he recollected that he had only two or three shots left in his revolver. And so he shot a swift glance about him in search of a hiding-place. Never did a hope seem more desperate, for the cave had not a nook or a cra11ny. And so there was no chance of escape that way. Hal had leaped to his feet at the first alarm, but he did not move. He glaring about him like a tiger at bay. To be captured alive was not in his thoughts; better to kill the girl and himself, he muttered. Meanwhile the guerillas marched bold ly in. They were evidently excited about ._-s.rnething, talking very loud and cursiug somewhat. Of course coming from the light they could see uothing in the deep night of the cave; they did not see Hal. But Hal knew it was only a question of seconds. He gripped his revolver savage ly, aiJd crouched, waiting. It was at that desperate moment that he heard a voice behind him. It made him leap as if he had been shot. "The well! The well!" 411 It was the girl whispering to him hoarsely. "'.lhe well !'1 Hal glanced at it. And as was his habit, he made up his mind in one instant and acted in the next. Crouching low in the shadows, he glided down the cave until he came to the deep black hole. It was a terrible prospect, bnt a second's hesitation might mean Hal seized the bucket and swung loose. It seemed then as if all the world were flashing past him. Nei,;er in his life did Hal have a mor e terrific experience. The well must have been fifty feet deep, and Hal went dow11 like a shot. The clatter of the windlass above was deafening, but Hal hardly heard it. For in a moment more he had struck the water a.1d was plunging through it. He thought that he would never stop; and when he stopped he thought that he would never rise. He struggled upward with afl his might. He choked and gasped; his head rang; and he must have been almost blue in the face wheu finally he reached the surface. There he foupd new excitement. Naturally enough the amazing behavior of that bucket had alarmed the Spauiards. To a man they were gazing over the edge. "Por dios !" Hal heard one of them shout. "It must have been the devil!" One of them Ii t some kiud of a torch to light the place. But Hal found a fissure in which he could hide under the wall of the well, and so he was quite satisfied to let the search go on. Many indeed and original were the theories the puzzled Spaniards offered. They guessed everything except the truth. They must needs haul up the bucket to see if it was all right; and then seeing that it was, they let it fall to see if it would go down as fast. Being full of water, it did, and that seemed to satisfy all. Hal breathed freely as he heard them turn away and resume the discussion of what had interested them. Hal could hear everything, and he soon learned most inkresting news indeed. Briefly it was as follows. General Velasquez had been interviewed by a messenger from the kidnapers. It had THE KNIFE AIMED FOR CLIF'S UEART FOUND ANOTHER MARK.

PAGE 19

18 S'J ARRY FLAG. ended in the stern old officer's throwing The whole thing was suggested to him the man into prison and ordering !1is by hearing two men who were standing execution for treason. by the month of the well an/1 talking. It was small wonder that the men were "I want a caink," one of them chanced infuriated. Their oaths were terrible to say. And Hal shuddered as he heard the fate Aud he began turning the windlass to that was reserved for the general's beanh'aul up the bucket. It was then that the tiful daughter. plan occurred to Hal, and was adopted It was a comfort to the brave young and carried out in the same instant. officer to know that he still had his re-Hal snatched from his pocket the vial volver, and that his bath had not hurt it. t11e girl had given him and emptied its He could climb that rope at any time he contents into the bucket of water as it chose. went up. And tben, too, he thoughf of Juan, "Now,,, be muttered, "we'll see!" who would certainly bring help in the His snspense may be imagined. Tbe end. It was a vague hope, but Hal com-man might taste the water and then pour forted himself a trifle with it. the whole thing out on the ground. But That hope, however, he was destiued then 011 the other hand he might drink, to be deprived of in a most uuexpec.ted and all the rest might dtink, and for all_ .., way. There was a sudden burst of excite-Hal knew every man of them might fall ment above and the American suddenly dead. heard a voice, that of his former ac-His trick may notseem a very fair one, quaintance, the major, shouting; for poisoni11g is a cowardly way of fight"Por dios he's got one of the ing. But Hal was no coward, Yankees !" k11ow. He felt justified in taking a11y "How did you catch him?" roared an-advantage of these bloodthirsty outlaws other voice above the excited hum of in order to save the girl from tbeir conversation. clutches. Hal knew orriy too well what that meant. Jua11, helpless and unarmed, had been found and made prisoner! It was only one more reason for being brave and resolute. Hal gritted his teeth and clinched his fists in a way that boded ill for the guerillas. He had no definite plans, but he was ready for anything. And he had his wits about him and was watching everything. He soon had occasion to be glad of his vigilance. A wildly desperate plan flashed over him, one that made him almost shout in triumph. It was only a hope, a chance. But it might be snccessfn!. And in the brief second or two that he had to decide he made up his mind to try it. And so he waited in the intensest anxiety to learn what would be the effect of his trick. He heard the man take a dri11k from t.he b jcket; straining his ears, he thought he could make ont that his companion did likewise. Then suddenly to Hal's intense delight, he heard the first man call out: "Here's some water, if anybody wants some." "From the ha1111ted well," laughed a voice. "Give me some of it." After that Hal had no means of telling how many of the men drank. He listened intently, but all he could catch was an occasional remark. But he knew that no one had tasted TWICE IN THREE DAIS A MYSTERIOUS lfAND SOUfiHT CLIF'S LIFE.

PAGE 20

S l'ARRY FLAG. 19 anything wrong in the water, and that 110 suspicions had been awakened. "Perhaps there's too much water,'' Hal thought. "It may not effect them in the least. That only time could show. And the young 1ieute11ant waited anxiously, never once ceasing to strain his ears to learn what was going on. This last mentioned fact was a most fortm1ate one. Perhaps five minutes passed by ahd then suddenly Hal's ear caught some terrible words, words that struck him like a thunderbolt. It was the chief of the band who spoke; what he said was this: "Give some water to the girl." The lieutenant shuddered in horror as he comprehended. He turned pale and sank back with a groan as he realized how helpless he was. There was no rope for him to climb, nothing for him to do! Yes, there was 011e thing. A terrible thing, but it had to be done. Only a coward would have hesitated. That girl must not be allowed to taste of the poison. Instantly Hal drew a deep breath and a moment later his yoice rang out: "Rita Velasquez!" he yelled. "Don't drink that water!" CHAPTER VII. A SWIM FOR LIFE. The effect of Hal's shout was naturally to strike the Spaniards dumb with amazement. There was a dead silence in the cave, lasting perhaps half a minute. It was succeeded by a perfect babel of sounds; everybody seemed to begin yelling at once. Above it all Hal recognized the voice of the major. "Por dios it's t11at Yankee!" "So they know me," thought Hal, grimly. "Perhaps that'll make them shy of attacking me." He had examined his revolver (which it will be remembered he had captured from one of the Spaniards) and found that he had only three cartridges left But he resolved that should 'mean three men, provided Spanish cartridges were only made as water-tight as American ones. Very likely the first attempt of the. en raged men wouJrl be throwing heavy ob jects down at him; so Hal groped about him anxiously, and succeeded in finding a way of protecting himself. We have spoken of a niche in the wa11 of the well. The lieutenant made the startling discovery that beyond this there was a Jong underground passageway, filled with water, and with enough air above to enable him to swim along. It was intensely dark, and of course Hal did not know how far the passage went. But he swam under a short ways to hide. "This will be a place to make a fight," he mused, as he lay still and waited. The excitement above had meanwhile increased with every moment. Apparently the whole guerilla band had rushed to the edge .of the well and were peering down; a moment later came a great splash, and Hal knew that they had dropped a box of ammunition or something down in order to hit him. The sl1outs and furious oaths continued meanwhile. Everybody was yelling at once, and a thousand plans were sug gested. Boxes and huge rocks fairly rained down into the well. Hal was listening, above all this con fusion, for one sound he hoped to catch. Perhaps a minute after he had given his warning he heard one of the men shout out: THE CRIMINALS FOUND CLIF IN THE WAY. HE WAS FEARED AS A WITNESS.

PAGE 21

0 20 STARRY FLAG. 11 Santa Maria! that fiend must have put poison in the water!" "So you begin to feel it," mnttered Hal, grimly. "That is more promising. I expect a crisis now." It was well that he was prepared, for a crisis came for a fact. That terrible cry frighte1Jed the Spaniards into silence for a moment. When the sounds broke out again they were yells of fury and ven geance. And then Hal heard the creaking sound of the windlass turning. He steadied himself by the side of the wall and drew out his revolver. For he knew that the sonnd meant that some one was coming down. There was a light, too, an
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