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TIP ToP WEEKLY. Is sttlld 1Veekly-By Sttbsetiptwn $2.50 per yem .Enle1ed as Second aa&s j1.'atteT at theN. Y. Post Office. srREE: &.SMTTH, 29 Ro:se St., N. 1-Entmea .AceoTding to Act of Vong1ess, in the Yem 1897, in the Ojfice of the L ib1mian of Oonmesg, II ash1.ngton, .D. C. J une 26, 1 897 vol. I. No. 63. Price Five Cents. Contents of This Number. P age. FRANK MERRIWELL ON THE Df.SERT; or, The Mystery of the Skeleton L ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEW CONTEST TALKS 'VITH TIP TOP READERS :BINGO -THE STORY OF A DOG PUNISHING AN ELEPHANT SPORTS AND PASTIMES (BlCyc l e Training) A WONDERFUL BICYCLE PALACE APPLAUSE (Department) (Sketch) (Department) 29. 29 80. 30. 81. 81. 32. FRANK MERRIWELL ON THE DESERT OR, The Mystery of the Skeleton. By the Author of "FRANK MERRIWELL. CHAPTER I PILGRIMS IN THE DESERT. "Lawd save us!" hoarsely gasped the darky. "Dem dar mount'ns had been jes' as nigh fo' de las' two houah, Marser "Land ob watermillions! mah froat am Frank. We don' git a bit nearer 'emdone parched so I ain't gwan teh be able no, sar! Dem mount'ns am a recepshun teh whisper if we don' find some warte_ r an' a delusum. We ain't nebber gwan po'erful soon, chilluns! Nebber struck teh git out ob dis desert-nebber! H eah 's nuffin' lek dis in all mab bawn days no, where we's gwan teh lay ouah bones, sar !" Marser Frank!" "You're not the only one," groaned "You are to blame for this, M erri-Bruce Browning. ''What wouldn't I give well," came reproachfully from Diamond. for one little swallow of water!" "You were the one who suggested that "We must strike water soon, or we are we should attempt to cross the Greal done for," put in Jack Diamond. American Desert. We could have gone Toots, the coloreo boy, who had round to the north, and--" spoken first, began to sway in his saddle "Say, Diamond!" cried Harry Rattleand Frank Merriwell spurte d to his side, ton; "riv u s a guest-! mean give us a grasping him by the arm, as he sharply r est! You were as eage r as any of us to said: try to cro ss the desert, for you thought "J3race up! You mustn't give out we'd have it to boast about when werenow The mountains are right ahead, turned to Yale." and--" "But we'll never return."
ll FRANK J.\IIERRIWEL ON THE DESERT. "Perhaps not; still I don't like to hear "This is a nice time to joke!" he you piling all the blame onto Merry." grated, fiercely. "He suggested it." "The matter with you," said Rattle" And you seconded the suggestion. ton, "is that you've not got over think We started out with asupplyofwater that ing of Lona Ayer, the Mormon's daugh-we thought would last--" ter whom you were mashed on. You've "We should have known better!" b e en grouchy ever since you and Merry "Perhaps so, but that is the fault of came back from your wild expedition in all of us, not any one person. You are to the forbidden valley of Bethsada. It's getting to be a regular kicker of late." too ba<'l, Jack--" Jack shot Harry a savage look. "Shut up, will you! I've heard enough "Be careful!" he said. "I don't feel about that!" l.k a h' I th "Drop 1t, Harry," commanded Frank, 1 e stan mg too muc am ra er ugly just now." warningly. "You've worn it out. Forl!et it. "That's right, and you have been the only one who has shown anything like "Great Scott!" grunted Bro _wning. "I ugli'ness at any time during the trip. You believe my bicycle is heavier than the seem to want to put the blame of any dealer represented it to be." mistake onto Merry, while it is all of "Think so?" asked Rattleton. us--" .'Sure." "Then give it a weigh." "Say, drop it!" commanded Frank, Browning's wheel gave a sudden wob sharply. "This is no time to quarrel. ble that nearly threw him off. Those mountains are close at hand, I am "Don't!" he gasped. "It's not origisure, and a last grim pull will take us to nal. You swiped it from the very same them. We will find wa -ter there, for you know we were told about water holes paper that had my Adam's apple joke in it. in the Desert Range.'' "Well, it was simply a case of retalia "Those water holes will not be easy to tion. '' find." "I'd rather have a case of beer. Oh, "I have full directions for finding say a case of beer! I wouldn't do a them. After we get a square drink, we'll thing to a case of beer-not a thing! feel better, and there'll be no inclination Oh, just to think of sitting in the old t o quarrel." room at Traeger's or Morey's and drink"Oh, water! water!" murmured Brown-ing a11 the beer or ale a fellow could pour ing; "how l'd like to let about a quart down his neck! It makes me faint!" gurgle down past my Adam's apple!" ''You should not permit yours elf to "Urn, urn!" muttered Rattleton, lift-think of such a thing as beer," said ing one hand to his throat. "Why do Frank, jokingly. "You know beer will you suppose a fellow's larynx is called his make you fat." Adam'sapple?" "Don'tcare;I'd drink i t if it made "Nothing could be more appropriate," me so fat I couldn't walk I'd train declared Bruce, soberly, "for when Adam clown, you know. Dumb bells, punching ate the apple he got it in the neck.'' bag, and so forth." Something like a cackling laugh came "Speaking of the punching bag," said from Harry's parched lips Frank, "makes me tnink of a good thing Dian10nd gave an exclamation of dison Reggy Stevens. You know SteYens. gust. He's near-sigbteo. Goes in for athletics,
.FRANK MERRIWELL ON THE DESERT. 3 and takes great delight in the fancy manner in which he can hammer the bag. Well, he went down into the country to see his cousin last spring. Sometime during the winter his c o usin had found a Lig hornets' nest in the woods, and had cut it down and taken it home. He hung it up in the garret. First day Stevens was there he wandered up into the garret and saw the hornets' nest hanging in the dim light. 'Ho !'said R e g gy. 'Didn' t know cou s in had a punching bag. Glad I found it. I'll toy with it a little; Then he threw off his coat and made a rush at that innocent-looking ball. With his first blow he drove his fist clean through the nest. 'Holy smoke!' gasped Reggy; 'what have I struck?' Then the hornets came pouring out, for the nest was not a deserted one. They saw Reggy-and went him several better. Say, fellows, they Clidn't do a thing to poor Reggy! About five hundred made for him, and it seemed to Reggy that at least four hundred and ninety-nine of them got him. His howls started shingles off the roof of that old house and knocked several bricks out of the chimney. He fell down the stairs, and went plunging through the house, with a string of hornets trailing a fter him, like a c omet's tail. The h o rn e ts did not confin e themselves strictly to Reggy; some of them sifted off and got in their work on Reggy's cousin, aunt, uncle, the kitchen g irl, the hired ma. n, ano one of the m mad e for the d o g The dog thought that hornet w a s a fly, and snappe d a t it. One s e c o nd later that d o g joine d in the general riot, and the w ay he swore and yelled fire in dog lang ua g e was something fri ghtful to h e ar. R e g g y didn't sto p till he got o utside and plunge d hi s heafl into the ol
4 FRANK MERRIWELT" ON THE DESERT. inducing them to attempt to cross the barren waste-he forgot everything save that a _comrade was in danger. No, he did not forget everything. He knew what that race meant. It might exhaust them both and render them unable to ride their wheels over the few remaining miles of barren desert between them and the mountain range. When Diamond learned the dreadful, heartsickening truth about that beautiful lake of water it might rob his heart of courage and hope so that he would drop in despair and give himself up to death in the desert. Fnmk would save him-he must save him! He felt a personal responsibility for the lives of every one of the party, and he had resolved that all should return to New Haven in safety. "Stop, Jack!" he shouted again. But the sight of that beautiful lake had made Diamond mad with longing to plunge into the water, to splash in it, to drink his fill till not another swallow could he force down his throat. Madly he sent his wheel flying over the sandy plain, panting, gasping, furious to reach the lake. How beautiful the water looked! How cool and inviting was the shade of the trees on the other shore! Oh, he would go round there and rest beneath those particles of sand whipped up and stung his flesh. But he minded nothing save that he was racing to save the life of his friend and comrade. His teeth were set, and there was a look of undying determination on his dustclouded face Gaining-yes he was gaining at last! But slowly-far too slowly! "Faster! faster!" he panted once mqre, speaking to his wheel, as if it were a thing of life and could understand. "On, my silent steed! We must stop him soon!" He heard a strange laugh-a wild laugh. "Heaven pity him!" thought Frank, knowing tlu,t laugh came from Jack's lips. The sight of that ghostly lake has nearly turned his brain with joy. I fear he will go mad, indeed, when he knows the truth!" On sped pursued and pursuer, and tl1e latter was still gaining. Frank Merriwell had engaged in many contests of skill and endurance, but never in one where more was at stake. His success in overtaking his friend meant the saving of a human life-perhaps two liYes. Now he was gaining swiftly, and some thing like a prayer of thankfulness came from his lips. Once more he cried out to the lad in adtrees. vance, but it seemed that Diamond's ears Frank bent forward over the handle were dumb, for he made no sound that bars, muttering: told he heard "Ride now as you never rode before!" One last spurt-Frank felt that it must The wheel seemed to leap -away like a bring him to Diamonrl 's side. He gaththing of life-it flew as if it possessed ered himself, his feet clinging to the fly-W111gs. ing pedals as if fastened there. But Frank did not gain as swiftly as he A slip, a fall, a miscalculation might desired, for Diamond, also, was usin g all mean utter failure, and failure might his energy to send his bicycle along. mean death for Diamond. "Faster! faster!" panted Frank. Now Frank was close behind his friend. Faster and faster he flew along. The He could hear the whirring sound of the hot breath of the desert beat on his face spokes of Diamonct 's wheel cutting lli1e as if it came rushing from mouth of air, and he could hear the hoarse, panta furnace. It seemed to scorch him. Fine J ing breathing of his friend.
FRANK MERRIWELL ON THE DESERT. 5 A steady hand guided Merriwell 's the earth was hot and baked and the sun wheel alongside that of his friend; a beat down with a fierce parching heat. steady and a strong hand fell on the Diamond was the first to stir, and he shoulder of t!Je lad who had been crazed tried to scramble up, his one thought be by the alluring vision of the lake in the ing to mount his wheel again and rid e desert. onward toward that shimmering lure. "Stop, Jack!" Frank seemed to realize this, for he Diamond turned toward his friend a caught at his friend, grasped him, and face from which a pair of glaring eyes held him fast. looked out. His lips curled back from With a mad exclamation, the hot-his white teeth, and he snarled: blooded Southerner turned and struck "Hands off! Don't try to hold me Merriwell in the face with his clinched back! Can't you see it, you fool! The fist. lake-the lake!" It was a feeble blow, for the shock of "There is no lake!" the fall had deprived Diamond of no little "Yes, there is! You are blind! See strength, but it stung, and it aroused it!" Frank in a marvellous manner. "Stop, Jack I tell you there is no Then there was a furious struggle lake!" there on the desert, Diamond making a Frank tried to check his friend, but mad effort to break away, but .being held Diamond made a swinging blow at him, by Frank, who would not let him go. which Merriwell managed to stop. The eyes of both lads glared and their "W "t 1 t t 1,, t t ..J teeth were set. Frank tried to force Diaat -1s en a momen en rea eu Frank. mond down and hold him, but Jack had the strength of an insane person, and, But the belief that a lake of water lay time after time, he flung his would-be a short distance away had completely benefactor off. dnven anything like reason from Dia-The eyes of the young Virginian were mond 's head. red and bloodshot, while his lips were ''Hands off!" he shouted. "If you try k d d bl ..]" crac e an eeumg. H1s cap was gone, to stop me, you'll be sorry!" and his straight dark hair fell 111 a Frank saw he must resort to desperate tousled mass oyer his forehead. measures. He secured a firm grip on the Occasionally muttered words came shoulder of the young Virginian, and, a from Diamond's lips, but the other was moment later, gave a surge that caused silent, seeming to realize that he mu s t them both to fall from their wheels. conquer the mad fellow by sheer strength They were whirling along at such alone. speed that it was no light thing to take a So they fought on, their efforts grow fall, but rlown they went toget'1er, and, ing weaker and weaker, ga s pin g for by a good stroke of fortune, they hap-breath. Seeing that fierce stru g gle, no peneci to fall clear of the wheels. one could have imagined they were any-As Frank had pulled Diamond toward thing hut the most deadly enemies, him, he fell beneah, and the shock when battling for their very lives. he struck the ground drove the breath At last, after some minutes, Diamond's from his body It also robbed him of fictitious strength suddenly gave out, and strength for a moment. then Frank handled and held him with Over and over they rolled, and then ease. Merriwell pinned Jack down and lay in a limp heap on the desert, where held him there, while both remained mo-
6 FRA.N.I}. MERRIWELL ON 'l'HE DESERT. tionless, gasping for breath and seeking to recover from their frightful exertions. "You fool!" whispered the Virginian, bitterly. "What are you trying to do?" "Trying to save your life, but you have given me a merry hustle for it," answered Frank. ''Save my life! Bah Why have you stopped me when we were so near that lake?'' "There is no lake." "Are you blind? All of us could see the lake ( It is near_:_very near!" "I tell you, Jack, there is no lake." "Yon lie!" "You have been crazed by what you fancied was water. Some time you will ask my pardon for your words." "You will ask my pardon for stopping me in this manner, Frank Merriwelll You did it because I was the first to discover the Jake! You were jealous! You did not wish me to reach it first! I know you! You want to be the leader in every thing." "If you were not half crazy now, you would not utter such words, Jack." "Oh, I know you-I know!" Then Diamond's tone and manner suddenly changed, and he began to beg: ''Please let me up, Merry-please do! Oh, merciful heaven I am perishing for a swallow of wate1! And it is so near! There is water enough for ten thousand men! And such beautiful trees, where the shadows are so cool-where this accursed sun can't pour down on one's bead! Please let me up, Frank! I'll do anything for you if you'll only let me go to that lake!" "Jack, dear old fellow, I am telling yon the truth when I say there is no lake. There could be no Jake here in this burning dest'rt. It is an impossibility If there were such a lake, the ones I asked about the water-holes would have told me." "They did not know. I have seen it, and I know it is there. '' Frank allowed his friend to sit up. "Look, Jack," he said; "where is your lake?'' Jack looked away to the south, the east, the north, and then toward the west, where lay the mountains There was no lake in sight! CHAPTER I'll. ON TO THE MOUNTAINS. "Where-where has it gone?" slowly and painfully asked Diamond. I am sure I saw it-sure! T .he lake, the trees-all gone!" ''I told you there was no lake.'' "Then-then it must have been a mirage!" "That is exactly what it was." With a deep groan of despair Diamond fell back limply.on the sand, as if the last bit of strength and hope had gone from him. "This ends it!" he gasped. "What's the use of struggling any more! We may as well give up right here and die!" "Not much!" cried Merriwell, with attempted cheerfulness. "That is why I run you down and dragged you from your wheel." "What do you mean?" "I knew the mirage might lure y.:>u oti and on into the desert, seeming to flee be fore you, till at last it would vanish in a mocking manner, and you, utterly exhausted and spirit-broken, would lie down and die without another effort." Jack was silent a few moments. "And you did all this for me?" he finally asked. "You pursued and pulled me from my wheel to-to save me?" "Yes." Another brief silence: "Frank." "Well, Jack?" "I-I think I struck you."
FRANK MERRIWELL ON THE DESERT. 7 "Yes," said Merriwell, cheerfu1ly; "but you were too exhausted to hurt me. It didn't amount to anything." ''But I struck you, just the same.'' ''Sure.'' "I was mad." "You looked it." "My thirst-the sight of what I took to be water-the shadows of the trees! Ah, yes, I was mad, Frank!" "Well, it's all over now." "Yes, it is all over. The jig's up!" "Nonsense! Get a brace on, old man. We must get to the mountains. It is our only chance, Jack." mountains! I never shall reach the mountains, Frank. I am done forplayed out!" "That'R all rot, olil fellow! You are no more played out than I am. We are both pretty well used up, but we'll pull through to the mountains and get a drink of water." "You never give up." "Well, I try never to give up." "Frank, I want you to forgive me for what I said before we saw the mirage. You know I was making a kick." "0, never mind that! It's all right, Jack." "I want you to you forgive me." "That's dead easy. Of course I for give you. Think I'm a stiff to hold a grudge over a little matter like that?" Diamond looked his admiration from his bloodshot eyes. "You're all right, Merry," he hoarsely declared. "You always were all right. I knew it all along. Sometimes I get nasty, for I have a jealous nature,' although I try to hold it in check. I never did try to hold myself in check in any way till I knew you and saw how you controlled your tastes and passions: That was a revelation to me, Merry. You know I hated you at first, but I came to admire you, despite myself. I have admired you ever since. Sometimes the worst side of my nature will cl'op out, but I always know I am wrong. Forgive me for striking yo11." "There, there, old chap! Why are you thinking of such silly things? You are talking as if you had done me a dead ly wrong, ancl this was your last chance to square yourself." "It is my last chance-l am sure of that. I am played out, and I can't drive that wheel further. It's no use-! throw up the sponge right here." A look of determination came to Frank's face. "You shall not do anything of the kind!" be cried. "I won't have it, Jack!" Diamond did not reply, but lay limp on the ground. put a firm band on his shoulder, saylllg: "Come, Jack, make a bluff at it." "No use!" "I tell you it is! Come on. We can reach the mountains within an hour." "The mountains!" came huskily from Diamond's lips. "G9d knows if there are any mountains! They, too, may be a mirage!" "No, no!" "Think-think how long we have been riding toward them and still they seemed to remain as far away as they hours ago.'' ''That is one of the peculiar effects of the air out here.'' "I do not believe any of us will reach the mountains. And if we should, we might not find water. Those mountains look baked and barren." "Remember I was told how to find water there." But this did not give the disheartened boy courage. "I know you were told, but the man who told you said tl;at at times that water failed. It's no use, Frank; the game is not worth the candle." Then it was that Merriwell began to grow angry. "I am ashamed of you, Diamond!" he harshly cried. "I did think you were built of better stuff! Where is your backbone! Come, man, you must make another try!" "Must?" came rather defiantly from Jack. "I'll not be forced to do it!" "Yes vou will!" The Virginian looked at Frank in astonishment. "What do you ?" he asked. "I mean that you will brace up and make an attempt to reach the mountains with the rest of us, or I'll give you the blamedest licking you ever had-and i
8 FltANK MERRIWELL ON 'l'HE DESEH'l'. there won't be any apologies afterward, the dark-faced lad, speaking encouraging either!" words into his ear, mging him on. That aroused Jack somewhat. And thus they rode toward the "You-you wouldn't do that-now?" looking Desert Range, where they mu:st he faltered. find water or death. "Wouldn't I!" cried Frank, seemmg to make preparations to carry out his threat. "Well, you'll see!" "But-but--'' "There are no buts about it! Either you get up and make one mure struggle, or I'll have the satisfaction of knowing you are not in condition to make a struggle when I leave you. That is business and it's straight from the shoulder!" Dia moud remonstrated weak! Yi bn t Frank seemed in sober earnest. "I believe it would do you good," he declared. "It would beat a little sense into you. It's what you want, anyway." A sense of shame came over Jack. "If you've got enough energy to give me a licking, I ought to have enough to make another try for life," he huskily said. "Of conrse you had." "Well, I'll do it. It isn't because I fear the licking, for that wouldn't make anv difference now, but I can make an try for it, if you can Frank dragged the other boy to his feet, and then picked up their fallen wheels. Jack was so weak that he could scarcely stand, seem1ng to have been quite exhausted by his last furious struggle with the boy who had raced across the desert sanqs to save his life. Twice Frank caught him and kept him from falling. "What's the use "?" Diamond hoarsely whispered. "I tell you I can't keep in the sadclle !" "And I tell yon that yon must! There are the other fellows, coming this way. I will signal them to ricle toward the mountains, and we will join them." Frank made the signal, and the others unclerstood, for they soon turned toward the monntains again. Then Merriwell aided Jack in mount ing and started, monnting himself after that, and hurrying after the Virgin ian, whose wheel was making a very crooked track l:lcross the sand. \iVhen it was necessary Frank supported Jack with a hand on the arm of CHAPTER IV. AT THE WATER HOLE. They came to the mountains at last, when the burning sun was hanging a ball of fire in the western sky. From a distance Merriwell had singled out Split Peak, which had served as his g uide. At the foot of Split Peak were two waterholes,'' one on the east and one on the south. First Frank sought for the eastern water-hole, and he found it. But it was dry! Dry, save for the slightest indication of moisture in the sand at the bottom of the hole. "I told you!" gasped Diamond, as he fell to the ground in hopeless exhaustion. "There is no water here!" "Wait," said Frank, hoarselx. "We'll see if we can't find some. Come, boys; we must scoop out th e sand down there in the hole-we must dig for our lives!" "By golly!" said Toots; "dis nigger's reddy teh dug a well fo'ty foot deep, if he can fine abont fo' swallers ob wattah !" "A well!" muttered Rattleton. "\iVe'll sink a shaft here!" "Well, I don't know!" murmured Browning. So they went to work, two of them dioaina at a time, and, with their hands, ('.:)<"': b they scooped out the sand down 111 the water-hole. As they worked a little dirty water began to trickle into the hole. "Yum! yum !" muttered Toots, Ins eyes shining. "Nebber saw muddy wattah look so good befo'! 1 done fink I can drink 'bout n banel ob dat stuff!" They worked till quite exhausted, and then waited impatiently for the water to rnn into the hole. It rose with disheartening slowness, but rise it did. When he could do so, Frank dipped up some of the water witi1 his drinking cup, and gave it to Jack first of all. Diamond's hands shook so with eagerness that he nea,rly spilled the water, and
FRANK MERRIWELL ON 'l'BE DESEHT. 9 he greedily turned it throat at a gulp. down his parched Rattleton. "Let him have his own way! "Merciful goodness! how sweet!" he gasped. "More, Frank-more!" "Wait a bit, my boy. You have had the first drink from this hole. The otb ers must take their turn now. When it comes round to you again, you shall have more. "But there may not be enough to go rou.nd !" Jack almost snarled. "What good do you think a little like that can doa fellow who is dying of thirst? I mu::;t have more-now!" "Well, you can't ha\'e another drop till the others have taken their turn-not He's got a bug in his head; that's what ails him." "Let him alone, Bruce," said Frank, quietly. "I want to talk to him." "He struck at you behind your back." "Never mind; he won't do so again." "Oh, you don't knuw !" muttered Dia montl. "Yes I do," declared Frank, with confidence. "Never mind us, fellovv:s. I want a little quiet talk with :Jack.'' They understood him, and the two lads were left alone. Frank began talking to Diamond in a smobth, pleasant way, appealing to his a taste!" sense of justice. At first Jack turned When Frank Merriwell spoke like that away, as if he din not care to listen, but. he meant what he said, and Jack knew he heard every word, and he "'as affected. it. But the little water he had received "You are not yourself, old fellow," had maddened Diamond allnost as much f'aid Jack, :softly, placing his hand gently as l1ad the mirage. As Frank turnen to-on Diamond's shoulder. "If you were ward the water-hole, Jack started to yourself, you would not be like this. It spring upon him, crying: is the burning desert, the blazing sun, "We'll see!" the frightful thirst-these have you "Hold on!" said Bro,vning, as one of so unlike vourself. I don't mind anyhis hands went out and grasped Diamond. tllino you l;ave said about me Jack for d I "' "I wouldn't clo that. Yon are exci.!e I know you are my friend, and you would reckon I'll have to sit on you, wh11e you. not think of saying such things under orcool off." dinary circumstances. A little while ago, Then the big fellow took Jack down, away out on the desert, you told me as and actually sat on him, while the Virmuch. It was then that reason came back ginian raved like a maniac. to you for a little time. Knowing how "Poor fellow!" said Frank, pityingly. you have suffered, I gave you the first "He has almost loft his reason by what drink from this water-hole. The water he has passed through." ran in slowly, and I did not know that One by one the others received some of : there would be enough to go round twice. the water, and then it came Jack's turn! You were not the only one who had suffonce more. By this time he was silent, ered from thirst, but the others made no but the1e was a sullen light in his eyes. objection to yom having the first drinkWhen Frank passed him the water in the they wanted you to have it. But it was chinking cup he shook his head, and re-necessary that they should have some of fused to take it. the water, so that all of us would be in '_'No_!" he muttered. .'I wont have it!jcondition to search for the other water Dnnk 1t all up! You don't care anyhole. Surely, old fellow, yon see the thing about me! Let me die!" common sense in this. And now, Jack, "Well, hang a snorted Brown-look-the water has cleared, and more is ing, in great disgust. running into the hole. It will quench jes' yo' pass dat wattah heah, yonr thirst, and you 'Yill be yourself Marser Frank, an' sf'e if dis cuon'll re-again. You my fnend, and I am fuse teh let it percolate down his froat !'' yoms. We stand ready to fight for "Yes, give it to Toots!" grated Diaother at any time. If one my enemies mond. "You more "think of him than were to try to get at me behmd my back, vou do of me, anyway! Give it to him!" why, you would--" "Don't chool with that fump-I mean "Strangle the infernal cur!" shouted don't fool with that chump!" snapped Diamond. "Give uie that water, Frank I
10 FRANK MERRIWELL ON THE DESERT. You are all right, and I'm all wrong! Just let ?Je have a chance to fight for you, and see tf I don't fight as long as there is a drop of blood in my body!" Merriwell. had conquered, but he shp lynching if they had to hang every durned lyncher they could catch. 11 "Boys, 11 laughed Merriwell "we are right. yYhen you chaps get 'to spring tng those thmgs, I feel there is no further danger. We'll pull out all right. n ''Suttinly, sar," grinned Toots. "I's gwan teh bet mah money on dis crowd ebry time, chilluns. We's hot stuff an' d 't ffi I I .ar atn nu n gwan teh stop us dis stde ob San Frandisco-no sar '" CHAPTER V. THE MYSTERIOUS SKELETON. Finally, refreshed and filled with new hope, the boys mo).mted their wheels and started to seek for the second water-hole. Frank led the way, and they turned to the south, riding alona the base of some barren cliffs. o "Are you sure we'll be able to find our way back to the water-hole we have left if we fail to discover the other one?'' asked Rattleton. ((T t k" f .Lam a tng note o everything, and I do not thtnk there will be any difficulty, 11 answered Frank. They had proceeded in this manner for about two miles when they saw before them a place where the barren cliffs opened into a pass that seemed to lead into the mountains. "There is our road!" cried Merriwell cheerfully. should lead us straight the second water-hole.'' "Yah! yah!" laughed Toots. "Cayarn't fool dat boy, chilluns! He knows his business, yo' bet! Won't s'prise me a bit if he teks us stret to a resyvoyer-no, sar! '' They made for the pass, and, in a burst of energy, the colored boy spurted to the front, taking the lead. a sudden, as they approached a potnt where the bluffs narrowed till they were c_lose together, the negro gave a sudden wtld howl of terror, tried to turn his wheel about, and went plunging headlong to the ground. '' Scrate Gott! '' gasped Rattleton. ''What's struck him ?11 "Something is the matter with him, sure as fate," said Frank. Toots was seen t.o sit up and stare toward the wall of stone, while it was plain that he was shaking as if struck by an attack of ague. Then he tried to scramble up, but fell on his knees, with his hands an? uplifted in a supplicating at titude, wlule he wildly cried: "Go 'way, dar, good Mr. Debbil! I ain't done nuffin' teh yo'! Please don' touch me! I's nuffin' but a po' good fo'-nuffin' nigger, an' I ain't wuff bodderin' wif-no, sail Dar am some white boys wif me, an' I guess yo'll lek them a heap sight better. Jes' yo' tek one of them, good Mr. Debbil !"
FRANK MERRIWELL ON THE DESERT. 11 "Has gone daffy, to?" muttered Frank, in astonishment. Then the boys came whirling up and sprang from the1r wheels, at which Touts made a scramble for Frank, caught hold of his knees, and chatteringly cried : ''Don' yeh let him kerry me off, Marser Frank! I knows yo' ain't afeared of nuffin', so I wants yeh ter protect po' Toots from de debbil wif de fiery eyes!" But Frank was so astonished that be scarcely heard a word the colored boy uttered. Seated on a block of stone in a niche of the wall was a human skeleton. It was sitting bolt upright and seemed to be staring at the boys with eyes that flashed a hundred shades of light. "Poly hoker-no, holy poker!" pal pitate<'l Harry, leaning hard on his wheel. ''What have we struck?'' For a time the others were speechless. Wonderfully and fantastically was the skeleton decorated. On its head was a rude crown that seemed to be of glittering gold, while gold bracelets adorned its arms. About the fleshless neck was a chain of gold, to which a large locket was attacb ed, and across the ribs was strung a gold watch chain, while there were other fantastic and costly ornaments dangling over those bones of a human being. The eyes of the skeleton, flashing so many different lights, seemed to be twci huge diamonds of enormous value. No wonder the young cyclists stared in astonishment at the marvellously be jeweled skeleton "Well," drawled Browning, with his usual nonchalance, "the gentleman seems to have dressed up in his best to receive us. Someone must have sent him word we were corning." Toots, seeing the otl1ers oid not seem frightened, had got on his feet and picked up his bicycle. "Goodness!" muttered Diamond. "If all those decorations are solid gold, there is a small fortune in sight!'' "What is the meaning of this, Frank?" asked Rattleton. "How do you suppose this skeleton happens to be here?" 1 Ask me something easy," said Merri well, shaking his head. "The skeleton must have been decor-ated in that manner by some iiving person,'' asserted Rattleton. "But where is that person?" "Not here, that is sure." "It may be a warning," said Jack, gloomily. "Warning, nothing!" exclaimed Frank. "It is plain the thing has been left there by some person, and we are the discoverers. It must be that the skeleton is that of some poor devil who perished here for 'want of water.'' "And it may be that the one who placed it there perished also," said Rattieton. "Very likely." "In which case," came eagerly from .Tack's lips, "all that treasure belongs to us! Boys, it is a wonderful stroke of fortune! We have made enough to take the whole of us through Yale, and--" ''If we ever get back to Yale, old fel! low! This unfortunate fellow perished here, and our fate may be similar." "Boo!" shivered Browning. "That's pleasant to think.about!" "More than that," Frank went on, "the treasure does not belong to us if we can find the real owner or his heirs.'' The excitement and interest of the boys was great. They were eager to examine the decorations of the mysterious skeleton. "We111 stack our wheels, and then one of us can climb up and make an inspection," said Frank. So they proceeded to stack their wheels, Toots observing: ''Yo' can fool wif dat skillerton if yo' wants to, chilluns, but d is nigger's gwan teh keep right away from it. Bet fo' dol lars it will jes' reach out dem arms an' grab de firs' one dat gits near it. Wo-oh! Land ob warter;nillions! it meks me have de fevah an' chillins jes' to fink ob it "We'll draw lots to see who goes up," said Frank, winking at the others. "You wj]J have to go if it falls to you, Toots.'' "Oh, rnah goodness!" gasped the frightened darky. "I ain't gwan teh draw no lots, Marser Frank-no, sar! I 's got a po'erful bad case ob heart-trouble, an' mah doctah hab reckerrnended datI don't fool roun' no skillertons. He said
12 FRANK MERIUWELL ON 'l'HE DESERT. it mig1Jt result distrus H I boddered wif skillertons. '' "What's that?" cried Frank, sternly. "Would you drink your share of water when water is so precious and not take even chances with the rest of us in any danger?" "Now, Marser Fl'ank!'' cried the darky, appealingly; "don' go fo' to be too hard on a po' nigger! De trubble wif me is dat I'm jes' a nacheral bo'n coward, an' I can't git over hit nohow. Dat's what meks mah heart turn flip-flops ebry time dar's any dangar, sar. '' "But think of the treasure up there that we have fotmd. If it should fall to you to and you were to bring down that treasure, of course you would receive your share, the same as the rest of us." Lawd bress yeh, honey! I don' want no treasure if I've gotter go an' fotch hit down. I'd a heap sight rudder nebber hab no treasure dan git wifin reach in' distance of dat skillerton-yes, sar !" "Don'tfool.with him, Merry,'' said Diamond, impatiently. "Of course you don't expect to send him up, and you won't thmk of giving him any part of the treasure." Frank flashed a look at the Virginian, and saw that Jack was in earnest. "You are mistaken, old man," he said. "I do not expect Toots to go up there, but, if there is a real treasure and it is divided, you may be sure he will re ceive his share." "Oh, well!" cried Jack, somewhat taken aback; "of course I don'tcare what you do about that, but I thought you were in earnest about what you were saying.'' "The trouble with you," muttered Rattleton, speaking so low that Jack could not hear him, "is that you never see through a joke." "Come," spoke Browning, "lf we've got to take chances to see who goes up and makes the examination, come on. I hope to get out of it myself, but H I m nst, I must." "We need not take chances," said Frank, promptly. "I will go." "It will not be difficult, for it is no climb at all," said Jack. "Two of us can swing ourselves up there in a moment, and I will go with you, Merry." Then it was that Rattleton suddenly gave a great cry of stupefied amazement. "What's the matter?" asked Merriwell. "Look! look!" gasped Harry, pointing toward the niche in the rocks. "The skeleton-it has disappeared!" They looked, and, dumb for the time with amazement and dismay they saw Rattleton spoke the truth. The mysterious skeleton bad vanished! CHAPTER VI. ''INDIANS!'' "Gone!" cried Jack. "Sure!" nodded Frank. "Lordy massy sakes teh goose-grease!" gasped Toots, again shivering with terror. "Didn't I done tole yeh, chilluns! If yo' know when yo' am well off, yen '11 git erway from heah jes' as quick as yeh can trabbel! Oh, mah goodness!" Shaking in every limb, the colored boy tried to get his bicycle out from the others, lost his balance, fell over, and sent the entire stack of wheels crashing to the ground. "Well, this seems to be a regular sleight-of-hand performance," coolly commented Browning. "Now you see it, and now you don't; guess where it's gone. It drives me to a cigarette." But he discovered that his cigarettes were gone, which seemed to concern him far more than the vanishing of the skele ton. He declared he had lost a whole package, and seemed to feel quite as bad about it as if they were solid gold. Rattleton wa s excited. "What sort of pocus-hocus-no, hocus pocus is this, anyway?" he spluttered. "Where's it gone? Who wayed the old thing a took-I mean who took the old thing away?" "It couldn't have gone away of its own accord," said Frank, "so some one must have removed it." "Don' yeh fool yo'se'f dat way, Marser Frank!" cried Toots, sitting up amid the fallen wheels. "Dat skillerton am de berry ol' s cratch hisse'f! De next thing some ob dis crowd will be disumpearin' dat way. Gwan teh git kerried off, chilluns, i f yo' don' git out ob dis in a hurry."
FRANK MERIUWELL ON THE DESERT, 13 "Oh, shut up!" snapped Diamond. "You make me tired with your chatter!" "Mist'ah Dimund," said the colored boy, with attempted dignity, "if yo'll let dat debbil kerry yo' off yo'll nebber be missed-no, sar. '' Jack pretended he did not hear those words. "Here goes to see what has become of the thing!" cried Frank, as he scrambled up to the niche where the skeleton had sat. "I am with you!" cried Diamond, as he followed Frank closely. Reaching the nook in the face of the cliff, they looked about for some sign of the skeleton that had been there a short time before, but not a sign of it could they see. The ghastly thing was gone, and the glittering ornaments had vanished with it. The block of stone on which the object had sat was still there. "Well, fat do you whind-I mean what do you find?" cried Rattleton, impatiently. "Not a thing,, was the disgusted re ply. "It has gone, sure as fate!" "So have my cigarettes!" groaned Browning. "The treasure-is any of that there?': asked Harry, eagerly. "Not a bit of it." "Well, that's what I call an unfair deal,, murmured Bruce. "It is a blow below the belt. If the old skeleton had desired to go away, none of us would have objected, but it might have left the trimmings with which it was adorned., Frank was puzzled, and the more he investigated the greater grew his wonder. He knew they had seen the skeleton, yet it had vanished like fog before a blazing sun. Jack shrugged his shoulders and shivered, saying: "There's something uncanny about it, old man. I believe it is a warning.'' "Nonsense!" cried Frank. "What sort of a warning?" ''A warning of the fate that aw'lits all of us., "You are not we11, Jack." "Oh, it is not that! First we see a lake of water, and that disappears; then we see this skeleton, and now that has van-ished. You must confess that there is something remarkable in it all.., "The yanishing of the mirage came about in a natural manner, but--" "But you must confess there was some thing decidedly unnatural about the vanishing of the skeleton." "It was removed by human hands-! will wager anything on tllat. '' "Then where is the human being who remove it?" "I don't know." Unable to remain below, Rattleton came climbing up to the niche. "l'ye got to satisfy myself," he said, as he felt about with his hands, as if he expected to discover the vanisbeo skeleton in that manner. "I can't see how the blamed old thing could get away!" ''"Well, you can see quite as well as we can,, acknowledged Frank. "It is gone, and that is all we can tell about it. The boys satisfied themselves that the thing had really disappeared, and they could not begin to solve the mystery. After a time they returned to the ground. "It am de debbil's work!" asserted Toots. "Don' yeh mek no misteks 'bout dat, chill uns., They held a "council of war," and it was resolYed that they should go on through the pass and try to find the second water-hole before darkness fell. Already night was close at hand, and they must needs lose no time. "We can come back here in the morning and see if we're able to solve the mystery,'' said Merriwell. "I, for one, do not feel like going away without making another attempt at it.'' "Nor I,, nodded Rattleton. "It is fo1ly,, declared Jack, gloomily. "I say we have been warned, and the best thing we can do is get away as soon as possible.'' "By golly! dat am de firs' sensibul fing I've heard yo' say info' days!" cried Toots, approvingly. They picked up their wheels, and soon were ready to mqunt. "Here's good-by to the vanishing skeleton tor to-night,'' cried Frank. He was answered by a wild peal of mocking laughter that seemed to run
14 FR;\.NK MERRIWELL ON THE DESERT. along the face of the cliff in a most remarkable manner. "Ha!ha! hal" it sounded, hoarsely, and "ha! ha! ha !" came down from the rocks, like a mystic echo. "0-oh, Lordy !" Toots made a jump for the saddle of his bicycle, but jumped too far and went clean over the wheel, striking his knee and turning in the air, to fall with a thump on the back' of his neck. "Mah goodness!" he gurgled, as he lay on the ground, dazed by the shock of the fall. "De ol' debbil done gib meh a boost then fo' snah !" The other lads looked at each other in perplexity. "Well, wh-wh-what do you think of that?" stammered Rattleton. "He ought to file his voice, whoever he is," coolly observed Browning. "It's a little rough along the edges.'' "It strikes me that somebody is having fun with us," said Merriwell, a look of displeasure on his face. "What are we going to do about it?" asked Harry. :'\Ve don't seem able to do much of anything now. Come on." Toots scrambled up, and they mounted their wheels. As they started to / ride away, a ho1Iow-sounding voice cried: "Stop!" "Oh, riv us a guest-! mean give us a rest!". flung back Rattleton. "Stop!" repeated the mysterious voice. ''Do not try the pass. There is danger beyond. Turn back." "I told you it was a warning!" cried Jack. "What do you think of it now?" "I think somebody is trying to have a lot of sport with us!" exclaimed Frank. "Well, what arc you going to do?" "Not a thing. I don't propose to pay any attention to it. Come on, feliows. We must have more water, and there's none too much time to find it before dark." Diamond was tempted to declare he would not go any further, but he knew the others would stand by Frank, and so he pedaled along. As they drew away from the spot where they had seen the skeleton, they beard the mysterious voice ca11ing ta them agam, commanding them to stop and turn back. Thus it continued had ridden on so that it could no longer. till they be heard Despite himself Frank ...had been impressed by what he had seen and heard, and a feeling of awe was on him. Ahead the shadows were thick where the dark cliffs seemed to come together, and there was something grim and overpowering about the bare and towering mountains that sullenly frowned down upon the little party. The boys were silent, for they had no words to speak. Each was busy with his thoughts, and those thoughts were not of the most pleasant character. A feeling of heartsickening loneliness settled down upon them and made them long for the homes that were so far away. What satisfaction was there, after. ail, in this great ride across the continent? They had encountered innumerable perils, and now it seemed that they were over shadowed by the greatest peril of all. How still it was! The mountains seemed like crouching monsters of the great desert, waiting there to spring upon and crush them out of existence. There was something fearsome and frightful in their grim air of waiting. The whirring of the wheels was a warning whisper, or the deadly hiss of a ser pent. As they passed between the frowning bluffs, which rose on either hand, the whirring sound seemed to become louder and louder till it was absolutdy awesome. Frank looked back, and of all the party Bruce Browning was the only one whose face remained stolid and impassive. It did not seem that he had been affected in the least by what had hap;ened. "He has wonderful nerve!" thought Merriwell. Diamond's dark face seemed pale, and there was an anxious look on the face of Rattleton. Toots betrayed his excitement and fear most distinctly. Frank feared they would not get through the pass 'in time to find the sec ond water-hole, and he increased his speed. The ground was favorable for swift riding. At that time Merriwe11 thought it fortunate, but, later, he changed his mind. Of a sudden the pass between the
FlUNK MERlUWELL ON THE DESERT. 15 bluffs ended, and they shot out into a valley or basin. A cry of astonishment and alarm came from Frank's lips, and he used all his energy to check and turn his flying wheel. Before them blazed a fire, and around that fire were gathered-"Indians !" palpitated Harry Rattleton. CHAPTER VII. BLUE WOLF TRIES THE BICYCLE. "Indians!" echoed Jack Diamond. ''Indians?'' grupted Bruce Browning, astonished. "0-oh, Lordy !" gasped Toots. "Dis am whar a nigger boy I know is gwan teh lose his scalp fo' suah !" "Turn!" commanded Frank-"turn to the left, and we'll make a run to get back through the pass.'' But they were seen, and the redskins about the fire sprang to their feet with loud whoops. At the first whoop Toots gave a howl and threw up both hands. "Don' yo' shoot, good Mistar Injunses !" he shouted. "I's jes' a common brack nigger, an' I ain't no 'count no how. Mah scalp wouldn' be no good teh yo' arter--" Then he took a header off his wobbling machine and fell directly before Jack, whose bicycle struck his body, and Diamond was hurled to the ground. ''Stop, fellows!'' cried Merriwell. "We mustn't run away and leave them! Come back here!" From his wheel he leaped to the ground in a moment, running to Diamond's side. Grasping Jack by the arm he exclaimed: "Up, old fellow-up and onto your wheel! We may be able to get away now! We'll.make a bluff for it." But it was useless, for Jack was so stunned that he could not get on his feet, though he tried to do so. Toots was stretched at full length on the ground, praying and begging the "good lnjunses" not to bother with his scalp, saying the hair was so crooked that it was "no good nohow." Up came the redskins on a run and surrounded the boys, Bruce and Harry having turned back. Browning assumed a defensive attitude, muttering: "Well, if we're in for a scrap, I'll try to get a crack at one or two of these homely mugs before I'm polished off." There were seven of the Indians, and nearly all of them carried weapons in their hands. Although they were not in war paint, they were a decidedly ugly looking gang, and their savage little eyes denoted"' anything but friendliness. "Ugh!" grunted the tallest Indian of the party, an old fellow with a scarred and wrinkled face. "Ugh! ugh! ugh!" grunted the others. Then they stared at the boys and their bicycles, the latter seeming a great curi osity to them. "Well, this is a scrolly old jape-I mean a jolly old scrape!" fluttered Rat tieton. "We're in for it!" Toots looked up, saw the Indians, uttered another wild howl, and tried to bury his head in the sa nd, like an ostrich. Frank singled out the tall Indian and spoke to him. ''How do you do,"' he said. "How," returned the Indian, with dignity. "Unfortunately we did not know you were here, or we should not have called,'' explained Merriwell. The savage nodded, the single black feather in his hair fluttering like a pennant as he did so. "Urn know," he said. "Urn see white boy heap much surprised." "] ee! he can talk United States!" muttered Rattleton. "Talk it!" said Bruce, in disgust. "He can chew it, that's all." "I trust we have not disturbed yon," said Frank, calmly; "and we will leave you in your glory as soon as my friend, who fell from his wheel, is able to mount and ride.'' "No, no!" quickly declared the tall Indian; "white boy no go 'way. Injun like urn heap much." Browning lifted his cap and felt for his scalp. "It may be my last opportunity to examine it,'' he murmured. "But we are in a hurry, and we can't
16 FR.\.NK MERRIWELL ON 'l'HE DESERT. stop with you., however much we may de sire to do so," declared Frank, glibly. "You see we are on urgen. t business." "Yes, ve1y urgent," agreed Rattleton. "Smoly hoke-no, holy smoke! don't I wish I were back to New Haven, New York, any old place!" ''White boys must stop," said the big savage. ''Black Feather say so, that settle urn.'' "I am afraid it does," confessed Browning. Diamond got upon his feet, assisted by Frank. "Well," he said, somewhat bitterly, "this is what we have come to by failing to heed the warniug we received!" "Don't go to croaking!" snapped Rat tieton. "These Indians are peaceable. They are not on the war path." "Bnt they are off the reservation," said Frank, in a low tone; "and that is bad. They have us foul, and there is no telling what they may take' a notion to do." "It's pretty snre they'll take a notion to do us,'' sighed Harry. The tall Inilian, who had given his name as Black Feather, professed great friendliness, and, when the bo y s told him had be e n looking for the water-hole, he said: "Um water.hole dare by fire. Good water, heap much of it. Come, have all water nm want." "Well, that is an inducement," con fessed Browning. "We may be able to get a square drink before we are scalped." It was with no small difculty that Toots was forced to get up, and, after he was on his feet, he would look at first one Indian and then dodge, and look at another, each time gurgling: "0-oh, Lord!" And so, surrounded by the Indians, the boys moved over to the fire, which was near the water-hole, as Black Feather had declared. "Well, we'll all drink," said Frank, as he produced his pocket cup and proceeded to fill it. "Here, fellows, take turns. While they were cloing so the Indians were examining their b : cycles with great curiosity. It was plain the savages had neYer before seen anything of the kino, and they were filled with astonishment and mystification. They grunted and jabbered, and then one of them decided to get on and try one of the wheels. It happened that this one was the smallest, shortest-leg ged redskin of the lot, and he selected the machine with the highest frame. "Ugh!" he grunted. "White boy ride two-wheel boss, Injun him ride twowheel boss heap same. Watch Blue Wolt." "Yes," said Browning, softly, nudging Merriwell in the ribs with his elbow, "watch Blue Wolf, and you will see him smash my bicycle. I sincerely hope he will break his confounded head at the same time!" "White bOy show Ijun how urn git on," ordered Blue Wolf. "Go aheacl, Bruce," directed Frank. "Oh, thunder!" groaned the big fel low. "I'm s.o tired!" But he was forcecl to show the Indians how he mounted the wheel, which he did, being dragged off almost as soon as he got astride the sacldle. "Ugh!" grunted Blue Wolf, with great satisfaction. "Umheap much easy. Watch Blue Wolf." "Yes, watch Blue Wolf!" repeated Browning. "It will be good as a circus! Oh, my poor bicycle!" With no small difficulty the little Indian steadied the wheel, reaching for ward to grasp the handle bars while standing behind it. The first time he lifted his foot to place it on the step he lost his balance and fell over with the machine. The other Indians grunted, and Blue Wolf got up, saying something in his own language that seemecl to make the atmosphere warmer than it was before. The bicycle was lifted and held for the little Indian to make m-oother trial. He looked as if he longed kick it into a thousand pieces, but braced up, placed his foot on the step and made a wild leap for the saddle. He missed the saddle, strnck astride the frame just back of the handle bars, uttered a wild howl of dis may, and went down in hopeless entanglement with the unfortunate machine.
FHANK MERRIWELL ON THE DESERT. 17 CHAPTER VIIi. FRANK DOES SOME TRICK RIDING. "Wow!" howled Blue Wolf. "Oh, my poor bicycle!" groaned Browning, once more. The fallen red man kicked the bicycle into the air, but it promptly came down astride his neck and drove his nose into the dirt. "Ugh!" grunted thewatching Indians, solt::mnly. "W .. oop !" roared Blue Wolf, spitting out a mouthful of dirt. Then he made another frantic attempt to cast the machine off, but it persisted in sticking to him in a wonderful manner. Or.e of his arms was thrust through the spokes of the forward wheel to the sbolll der, ann as he tried to yank it out, the rear wheel spun round and one of the pedals gave him a terrific thump on the top of the head. "Yah!" snarled the unlucky Inciian. "Two wheel boss kick a heap,'' observed Black Feather. Blue Wolf trieo to struggle to his feet, but he was so entangled with the bicycle that it seemed to fling h1m down with astonishing violence. Then as the noble red man kicked and squirmed and struggled, the bicycle danced and pranced upon his prostrate like a thing of life. "0-o-oh !" wailed Blue Wolf, in pain and Toots suddenly forgot his fears,
18 FRANK MERltiWE.LL ON THE DESERT. They made room for Frank to mount and ride. Standing beside the wheel Frank sprung into the saddle without using the caught the pedals and started. The savages gave utterance to a grunt of wonder and admiration. Frank had practiced trick riding, and he now propo s ed to exhibit his skill, feeling that it might be a good soheme to astonish the savages. He started the bicycle into a circle, round which he rode with the greatest ease, and then of a sudden he passed one leg over the frame, and stood up one one of the pedals, \vhich he kept in motion at the same time. The Indians nodded and looked pleased. Then Frank b egan to step crosslegged from pedal to pedal, passing his over the cross bar of the frame and keeping the wheel in motion all the time. A moment later he whirled about, and with his face toward the rear, continued to pedal the bicycle ahead the same as if he had been seated in the usual manner on the saddle. ''Heap good!'' observed Black Feather. Then, like a cat Merriwell wheeled about, lifted his feet over the handlebars to which he clung, slipped down till he hung over the forward wheel, placed his feet on tl1e pedals, and rode in that manner. This made it look as though he were dragging the bicycle along behind him. There was a stir among the Indians, and they looked at other. Without stopping the bicycle, Frank swung back over the handle bars to the saddle. Having reached this position, he stopped suddenly, turning the forward wheel at an angle, sitting there and grace fully balancing on the stationary machine. "Heap much good!" declared Black Feather, growing entnusiastic. "Oh, those little things are dead easy," assured Frank, with a laugh. "Do you really desire to see me do something that is worth doing?" "What more white boy can do?" "Several things, but I'll have to make a larger circle.'' Jt was growing dark swiftly now, the sun being down and the shadows of the mountains lying dark and gloomy in the valleys. "Go 'head," directed Black Feather. Frank started the bicycle in motion, and then, with it going at good speed, he swung down on one side and slowly but neatly crept through the frame, coming up on the other side and regaining the saddle without stopping. "Pale face boy great medicine!" said Black Feather. "Ugh!" grunted all the Indians but Blue Wolf. The little savage was looking on in a sullen, wondering W'iiY, astonished and angered to think the white boy could do all those things, while he had be .en unable to mount the two wheeled horse. "How do you like that, Black Feather?" asked Frank,' cheerfully. "Much big!" confessed the chief. "Do some more." "All ri ght. Catch onto this." Then away Frank sped, lifting the forward whee l from the ground and letting it hand suspended in the air, while he rode along on the rear wheel. "Merry is working hard enough," said Rattleton. "I never knew he could do so many tricks." "There are lost of things about that fellow that none of us know an ything about," asserted Browning, who was no less surprised, although he did not show it. "He is a fool to work so hard t<1 please wretched savages!'' muttered Diamond. "Now, don't you take Fronk Merriwell for a fool in anything!" came swiftly from Harry. "I never knew him to make a fool of himself in all my life, and I have seen a good deal of him.'' "Well, why is he cutting up all those monkey tricks? What will it amount to when it is all over?" "Wait and see." "The Indians will treat us just the same as if he had not done those things.'' "Perhaps so." "Of course they wi11 "Now, Black Feather, old jiblets," cried Frank, in his merriest manner, "I am going to do something else Get onto this." Sending the bicycle along at high
FRANK ON THE DESEH'f. 19 speed Frank lay over the llandlebars and swung his feet into the air till be held himself suspended in that manner, head down and feet up. The Indians were more pleased and as tonished than ever. "Oh, it's all in knowing how!" l::lughed Frank, as he gracefully and lightly dropped back to the saddle. Again the Indians grunted. "Now, Black Feather, old chappie,'' said Frank, "I am going to do the great est trick of all. I'll have to get a big start and have lots of room. Watch me close." A way he went, bending over the handlebars and sending the bicycle flying over the ground. He acted as if he in tended to make a big circle, but suddenly turned and rode straight toward the pass by which they had entered the basin. Before the Indians could realize his in tention, he was ahnost out of sight in the darkness of the young night. CHAPTER IX. wool! It am feel in' po'erful loose a}. ready!" Browning was on the point of launch ing out with his heavy fists and making as good battle of it as he could when he heard Blad: Feather say: "No hurt white boys. Make um keep still, so nm not run 'way off like odder white boy. That am all." "I '11 take chances on it," muttered Bruce, giving up quietly The four lads were forced to sit on the ground, and some of the savages sqnatted near. The fire was replenished, and the Indians seemed to bold a council. "Deciding how they will kill us," said Diamond, gloomily. "Nothing of the sort," declared Rattle ton. "See them making motions toward the bicycles. They aretalking about the wonderful two-wheeled horses." "Gracious!" gasped Toots; "dat meks rna h hair feel easier-!" Browning held a band on his stomach in a pathetic manner. "Ob, my!" he murmured. "How vacant and lonely my interior departBROWNING'S RUSE. ment seems to be! Metbinks I could dine Sudden howls of rage and dismay broke from the Indians. They shouted after the "The hard-bread and jerked beef,, boy, but be kept right on, quickly disapwhispered Jack. "It ,i,s in the carriers pearing from view. attached to the wheels. "There "siohed Brownino with satis"Yes, and we had better let it remain ,., "'' t] faction "I told you he was not doing all Jere. that for nothing, fellows." "Why?" "He's done gone an' lef' ns !" wailed "These look hungry, too." Toots. "You th1nk--" "That's what he has!" grated Dia"I do. They will take it away from mond -"left us to the mercy of these us and eat it if we bring it out. That miserable redskins! That's a fine trick!" would leave us in a bad fix." "Oh will you ever get over it!" rasped "But they can get it out of the '' Rattleton. "Why shouldn't he? He had earners. his chance and he'd been a fool not to "They can, but they won't." "Wh t?" skm out!" Y no "I thought he would stand by us m "!hey are afrai? of those bicycles-so such a scrape as this afra1d that they Will not go near them. "What you doesn't cut any !herefore our hard-bread _and ice. He'll come back., IS safe as long as we let It remam where "After we are murdered." it is." Rattleton would have said somethinoHarry agreed with Bruce, and they demare, but the Indians who had cided not to touch the food in the car holding an excited suddenly riers; but all were thirsty again, and they grasped the four remaining lads in a expressed a desire to have another drink threaten1ng manner. from the water hole. "Oh, mah goodness!" palpitated Toots. To this the Indians did not object, and "Heah is whar I's gwan teh lose mah they took turns at although the
20 FitANK MERitiWELL ON 'rHE DESERT. water did not taste nearly as sweet as it had the first time. Having satisfied themselves in this manner they sat down on the ground once more, being compelled to do so by the red skins, who were watching them closely. "They have us in a bad position in case they take a notion to crack us over the head," said Harry. "We wouldn't get a show." "Mah gracious!" gurgled Toots, holding fast to his sca.lp with both hands. "We's gwan teh git it fo' suah, chilluns! De fus' fing we know -we won't no nnffin' !" "We must get out of this somehow,'' muttered Bruce. "That's right," nodded Jack. "Merri well has taken care of himself, and left us to take care of ourselves." He spoke in a manner that showed he felt that Frank bad don e them a great wrong. "It's a good thing he got away as he did," asserted Harry. "Now we know we have a friend who is not a captive 1 ke onrselves, and we know he knows the fix we are in._ You may be sure he will do what he can for us." "He'll do what he can for himself. How can he do anything for us?" "He'll find a way." "I doubt it." "You have become a great doubter and kicker of late, Diamond. It is certain the loss of that Mormon girl who married the other fellow has sonred you, for you were not this way before. Why don't yon try to forge t her?" "I wish you might forget her! You make me sick talking about her so much! I don 't.like it at all "If you don't like it lump it." Jack and Harry glared at each other as if they were on the point of coming to blows, and this gave Browning an idea. He saw the Indians had noticed there was a disagreement between the boys, and he leaned forward, saying in a low tone: "Keep at it, fellows-keep at it! I have a scheme. Pretend you are fighting, and they will let you get on your feet. When I cry ready we'll all make a jump for our wheels, catch them up, place them in the form of a square, and stand within the square. The redskins are afraid of the wheels-think the m 'bad medicine.' They won't dare touch us." Browning haci made his idea cl ea r with surprising swiftness, and the other boys were astonished, for they had come to believe that the lJig fellow never had an original idea in his head. Both Jack and H arry were taken by the scheme, and Diamond quickly said: "It's a go Keep on with the quarrel, Rattleton. '' Harry did so, and in a very few seconds they were at it in a mapner that seemed intensely in earnest. Their voices rose higher and higher, and they scowled fiercely, flourishing their clinched hands in the air and shaking them under each other's nose. Browning got into the game by making a bluff at stopping the quarrel, which seemed to be quite ineffectual. He seemed to try to force himself between them, but Rattleton hit him a hard crack on the jaw with his fist, with which he was threatening Diamond. "Scissors!" gurgled Bruce, as he keeled over on his back, holding both hands to his jaw. "What do you take me for-a punching bag?" "You have received what peacemakers usually get," said Harry, as he continued to threaten Diamond. The Indians looked on complacently, their appearance seeming to indicate that they were mildly interested, bnt did not care a continental if the two white boys hammered each other. Jack scrambled to his feet and dared ;Harr y to get up. Har_ ry declared he would not take a dare, and he got up. Then Bruce and Toots lost no time in doing likewise, and, just when it seemed that the apparently angry lads were going to begin hammering each other Browning cried: "Ready!" Immediately the boys made a leap for the bicycles, caught them up, formed a square with them, and stood behind the machines, like soldiers within a fort. The Indians u tered shouts of astonishment, and the four boys founci themselves looking into the muzzles of the guns in the hands of the savages. "What white boys mean to do?"
FRANK MERRIWELL ON THE DESEltT. 21 harshly demanded Black Feather. can run away." "No the east. The Indians heard the sound, and they tumed also. "Heap shoot urn!" howled Blue Wolf, who seemed eager toslaughter the cap tives. "Then no can run away." "Hold on!" ordered Browning, with a calm wave of his hand. "We want to parley.'' "Want to pow-wow?" asked Black Feather. "That's it." "No pow-wow with white boys. White boy s Injuns' prisoners. No pow-wow with prisoners.'' "No!" shouted Blue Wolf. "Shoot urn! shoot urn!'' "Land ob massy!" gurgled Toots. "Dey am gwan teh shoot!" ''Black Feather,'' said -Browning, with assumed assurance and dignity, ''it will not be a healthy thing for your men to shoot us.'' "How? how?" "Do you see that wf! are protected by the 'bad medicine' machines? If you were to do us harm now, these machines would utterly destroy you and every one of your party. The moment you fired at us these machines would be like so many demons let loose, and as they are not made of flesh and blood, they could not be harmed. Not one of your party could escape them." The light of the fire showed that the Indians looked at each other with mingled incredulity and fear. "Scrate Gott !" muttered Rattleton. "Is this Browning I hear! How did you happen to think of such a bl nff ?" "Have to think in a case like this," returned the big fellow, guardedly. "I think only when it is absolutely neces sary. This is one of those occasions." The Indians got together and held a consultation. "Can't we make a run for it now"?'' asked Di amond, eagerly. "We can," nodded Bruce, "but we won't run far. They'd be able to drop us before we could get out of the light of the fire." ""What can we do?" "'Vhy, we'll have to--" Browning was interrupted by a clatter of hoofs, which caused him to turn toward Then wild yells of terror rent the air. CHAPTER X. ESCAPE. Coming through the darkness at a mad gallop was what seemed to be the g leam ing skeleton of a horse. The ribs the bones of the neck, legs and head, all showed plainly, glowing with a white light. And on the back of the horse, which had sheered to the north and was passing the fire, sat what seemed to be the skele ton of a human being, the bones gleam ing the same as those of the horse. It was almost astonishing and awe inspiring spectacle, and it frightened the Indians greatly. '' Howngh-owugh-owugh !'' wailed Blaok Feather, dismally. Then the savages dropped on their faces, covering their. eyes, so they could not see the skeleton horseman. Almost at the same moment as the horseman was passing the spot the ghastly-appearing thing seemed to give a sudden swing about and completely disappear. "Poly hoker!" gasped Rattleton. "It's gone!'' "That's right!" palpitated Diamond "vanished in a moment!" "Oh, mah soul-mah soul!" wailed Toots. "Dat sholy am de ol' debbil hisse'f, chilluns! When we see it next it's gwan teh hab one ob us fo sho !" "Hark!" commanded Browning. The beat of the horse's feet could be distinctly heard, but the creature had turned about and was going back toward the pass through the bluffs. Chucker-chucker-chuck! chucker-chucker-chuck! chucker-chucker-chuck! came the ghostly sounds of the galloping horse. "It's turned about!" gasped Harry, in astonishment. "It's going!" fluttered Jack. "And we'd better be going, too!" put in Browning. Then with a familiar whirring sound something came flying toward them through the darkness, causing Toots to utter a wild shriek of terror.
. 22 FHA.NK IvlEltRlWELL 'ON 'f.HE DESERT [nto the light of the camp fire flashed a boy who was mounterl on a bicycle, ahd they saw it was Frank Merriwell. "Away!" he hissed, as he flew past them. "Make:: straight for the pass by which we entered this pocket. I will jom you." Then he was gone. Browning gave Toots a sharp shake, fiercely whispering: "Mount your wheel and keep with us if you want to save your scalp! If you don't you will be left behind." Then the boys leaped upon their bicy cles and were away in a moment, before the prostrate Indians 'had recovered from the shock of terror given them by the ap pearance of the skeleton horse and rider. For the time Bruce Bmwning took the lead, and the others followed him. Toots had heeded the big fellow's warning words, and he was not left behind. Barely had they passed beyond the range of the firelight and disappeared in the darkness when wild yells of anger came from behind them, and they knew the Indians had discovered they were gone. low! bend low!" hissed Dia moncL ''They may take a fancy to shoot after us! Stoop, fe1lows !" Stoop they did, bending low over the handle bars of their bicycles." Bang! bang! bang! The Indians fired several shots, and they hearo some of the bullets whistle past, but they were not hit. "Well, thaCs what I cahluck !" muttered the young Virginian. "What do you ca11 luck ?n asked Rattieton. "The appearance of that skeleton horse and rider in time to scare the Indians and give us a chance to get away." "Oh !" said Harry, sarcastically, "I didnlt know but tt was Merry's return. I told you he would not desert us.'' "I wonder how he happened to come back just then?'' "He .came back because he was watching for an opportunity to help us, and he saw we had a splendid chance to get away while the redskins were scared by pearance of the horse and rider. You ought to know him well enough to know he not thJe fellow to desert his in a scrape like this." Djamond was silent. "1 wonder where Franlr is?" said Browning. "He said he would join us, and he "Right here, old man," said a cheerful voice, as a flying bicycie brought Merriwell out of the darkness to Brown ing's side. "This way, fel1ows! We'll hit the pass and get out of here as soon as we can." "Lawd bress yeh, Marser Frank!" cried Toots, joyfully. "I didn't know's I'd see yeh no mo', boy!" "I hope you didn't think I had left you for good?'' "No, sar !" declared the colored boy. "I done knows yeh better dan dat, sar! I knowed yeh 'd come back, but I was a feared yeh 'd come back too late, sar. Dem Injunses was gittin' po'erful anxious fo' dis yar wool ob mine-yes, sa.r !" "Well, I am glad to know you thought I would not desert you. I don't want any of my friends to think I would go back on them in the hour of need." D-iamond was silent. The pass was fonnd without difficulty, and they went sp.eeding through it. "How did you happen to turn up just then, Frank?" asked Harry. "I was waiting for a chance to come to you, and I saw the chance when that horse and rider frightened the Indians." "The horse and rider-where are they?'' asked Browning. "Gone through 'the pass ahead of us." gracious1'' exclaimed the colored boy. "What if dat ol' debbil teks a nos hun teh wait fu' us?" ''What sort of ghost business was it, anyway?" questioned Rattleton. "It seemed to be a skeleton horse and a skeleton r1der, and it d 'isappeiued in a twinkling. I will admit this skeleton business is beginning to work on my nerves.'' "It is rather creepish," laughed Frank; "but I do not think it is very dangerous." "All the same, you do not attempt to exph-.in the mystery." "Not now." "Not now? Can you later?" "Perhaps so." "It is plain he knows no more about it
FRANK MERRIWF..LL ON '!'HE DESERT. 23 than the rest of us,'' said Diamond. ''As for me, I am getting sick of seeing vanishing lakes and vanishing skeletons. If I get out of this part of the country alive, you'll never catch me here again." "Meh, too!" exclaimed Toots. "Well, I don't know as any of us will care to revisit it," laughed Frank. "Anyway, we have been very lucky in escaping from those Indians. That you can't deny.'' "You fooled them easily," said Rattleton. "Yes, and they did not even take a shot at me, which was a surprise. I expected they would pop away a few times." "What are we going to do after we get out on the open desert again?" asked Jack. "It seems to me we'll be as bad off as ever.'' "vVe'll have to go round the range to the south, or wait for the Indians to get away from that water hole, so we can go throug h the mountains as we originally intended." "The Indians may not go away." "I rathe r think they have been scared so they'll not hang round there long. I don't fancy they'll be anywhere in the vicinity by morning.'' "If they are gone--" "We'll be all right, providing we can make our hard-bread and dried beef bold out till we can reach one of the small railroad towns. "How far away is the railroad?" "Not much over fiftv miles." "Thaf is easy!" d-eclared Rattleton. "We can make it on a spurt!" As they reached the eastern opening of the pass, their attention was attracted by a bright light that seemed to shine out from the very niche where they bad found the jewel-decorated skeleton. CHAPTER XI. GONE! "What does that mean?" exclaimed Jack, in astonishment. "Land ob wartermillions !" gasped Toots. "It am de debbil's light fo' suab, chilluns! Don' yeh go near it!" "By Jove!" cried Frank. "That is worth investigating! Come on, feliows!'' He headed straight toward the light, and as they came near the niche they saw the bejewelled skeleton was aga in seated as they bad seen it in the first place, and a bright flood of light was shining upon it from some mysterious place. "It's back!" exclaimed Harry, in astonishment. "Sure enough!" said Frank. "It is on deck again.'' "I tells yeh to keep away from dat skillerton !" shouted Toots. "Hit am gwan teb grab yo' this time if yo' gits near hit!" "We '11 take chances on that," declared Frank. "This time we won't give it time to get away, but we'll go right up and examine it." "That's what we will!" agreed Harry. But even as he spoke, the light disap peared, and this made it impossible for them to see anything up there in that dark nook. "Ha! ha! ha !" Again they heard the mocking laughter, smothered, hollow and ghostly in sound. "Somebody is having lots of fun with us," said Frank, as he leaped from his wheel. "It may be a good joke, but I fail to see where the 'ba, ha, comes in." "Is the skeleton gone?" "I don't know, but I'll mighty soon find out.'' Without hesitation he swung himself up to the niche in the rocks, and Rattleton followed, determined that Frank should not go alone into danger. Harry afterward confessed that he was shivering all over when he climbed up there in the darkness, but his fear did not keep him from sticking to Merry. A cry broke from Frank's lips. "What is it?" called Browning, hom below. "By the eternal skies, it's gone again!" "Didn't I tole yeh cried Toqts, from a distance. "Come erway from dar, Marser Frank! If yo' don', yo' 's gwan teh be grabbed!" "It is gone!" agreed Rattleton. "This beats the Old Nick!" Again they heard that mocking laugh, which seemed to come down from some point above their heads. "Wooh !" shivered Harry. "That sounds pleasant!"
24 FRANK MERRIWELL ON THE DESERT. "Hang it all!" exclaimed Frank, in a voice that indicated chagrin. "I don't like to be made fun of this way! If we don't solve this mystery befor.e we go away I shall always regret it." ''Beware!'' It was the same voice that had uttered the warning when they were riding into the pass, and now, in the darkness of night, it sonnded even more dismal and uncanny than before "Come out and show yourself," called Frank. To this there was no answer. For some time the bo ys remained there, but they were forced to abandon the task of solving the mystery that ni g ht. Frank descended to the ground with no small reluctance, and Harry kept close to him. They monnteci their wheels and rode away once more, fully expecting to hear the mocking laughter, or the ghostly voice calling after them. In this however, they were disappointed, as nothing of the kind happened. After had ridden some distance, Frank proposed that they halt for the night. "We are in for an openai r camp tonight," he said. "It is something we did n o t expect, bnt it can't be h e lp ed, and as the night is not cold I think we can get along all right. We need rest, too." "That's right," agreed Bruce. "I feel as if I need about a week of steady rest ing, but I don't care to take it here." "How about the Indians?" asked Jack. "Vve are not very far from them, and they might find us." ''I scarcely think there is any danger of that.'' "Why not?" "Those redskins were so badly fright ened that they'll not go hunting after white boys to-night. It is more likely they will skin out and make for the Shoshone Reservation, on which they must belong." "But what if they should happen to follow us?" Jack persisted. "We niust take turns at standing guard to-night, and the guard should be able to give us warning of danger in time for us to mount our wheels and get away." It was plain that Diamond was not in favor of stopping there, but he said no mr>re. Fortunately the night was warm, so they snffered no discomfort by sleeping thus. No dew fell out there on the desert. It was arranged that Diamond shonld stand guard first, while Frank came second, with Toots for the last guard toward morning. They ate some of the hard bread and jerked beef and then threw the m se lv es down, with their bicycles near at hand, so they could spring up and mount in a hurry if necessary. Browning was the first to stretch him self on the ground, and he was snori1ig almost immediately. TIIe others soon fell asleep. The rim of a round red moon was showing away to the eastward when Jack awoke Frank. "How is it?" Merriwell asked. "Have you heard or seen anything suspicions?" "NLJt a thing," was the reply. "All is still as death out here-far too stilL I don't like it." "Well, it is not real joily," confessed Frank, with a light laugh; "but I don't think we need to be worried about visitors, and that is one good tl1ing." Jack was fast asleep in a short Morning came, ann Toots w as the first to awaken. Dawn w as breaking in the east as l1e sat up, rubbing his and muttering: "Goon land! dat am de hardes' spring mattrus dis coon ebber snoozed on-ves, sar! Nebbe r struck nuffin' lek dat befo'." Then he looked around in some sur pnse. "Gracious sakes!" he continued. "Whar am de hotel ? It done moved away in de night an' lef' us." It was some time bef01e he realized that they had not put up at a hotel the ni ght before. "Reckum dis is whar we stopped las' night," l1e finally said. "I 'membah 'bont dat now. We was ter tek turns watchin'. I ain't took no turn at all, an' it's mawnin'. He! he! he! Guess cie chap dat waster wake me fell asleep his self an' clean ergot it. Dat meks meh 'bout so much sleep ahaid ob de game." He was feeling good over this when he noticed that three forms were stretched
MERRIWELL ON 'fHE DESERT. 25 declared on the ground near four. at hand, instead of "But nobody roused me,'' "Whar am de odder one ?11 he muttered. "One ob dem boys am gone fo' sua h. Land ob wartermillions! What do hit mean? Dar am Dimun, an' dar am Rattletum, an' dar am Brownin'; but whar-whar am Marser Frank ?11 In a moment he was filled with alarm, and he lost no time in grasping Harry's shoulder a!ld giving it a shake, while he cried: "Wek up heah, yo' sleepy haid-wek up, I tells yeh! Dar's suffiu' wrong heah, ur I 's a fool nigger!'; "Muts the whatter?11 mumbled Rattleton, sleepily. "Can't you let a fellow sleep a minute? It isn't my turn yet." "Yoah turn !11 shouted Toots. "\Vek up, yo' fool! It's done come mawnin,' an' dar's suffin' happened. 11 "Eh ?11 grunted Harry, starting up and rubbing his eyes. "W11y the moon is just rising.'' ".:\1oon !11 snorted the colored boy. "Dat's de sun comin' up! An' I don't beliebe yo' took yoah turn keepin' watch.'' Browning grunted and rolled over, flinging ant one arm anrl giving Toots a crack on the neck that keeled him ov.er on the ground. "Landy goodness !11 squealed the darkey, grasping his neck with both hands. "What yo' tryin' ter <'lo, boy? Want ter kill a po' coon? Nebber seen such car'less pusson as yo' am, !11 "Oh, shut up your racket!" growled the big college lad. "I'm not lul]f rested yet. Call me when brPakfast is ready. 11 "Vo' '11 done git yeh own breakfas' dis mawnin', sar; bnt befo' oar's breakfas' we's gwan ter know what has become ob Marser Frank. He's gone." "Gone?" cried Bruce, sitting up with remarkable quickness. "Gone ?11 ejacttlated Harry, popping up as if he were worked by springs. "Gone where ?11 asked Diamond, also sitting up and staring aroun<'l. '' Dat's jes' what I ter know, chillnns," declared Toots. "Dat boy ain't heah, an' I's po'erful de old sktllerton <'lebbil has cotched him." "Why-why," said "I woke him and he took my place." Rattleton. "Nor me," asserted Browning. "Git up, chilluns-git up !11 sqttealed Toots, excitedly. "We's gotter find dat boy in a hurry! 'Spect he's in a berry bad scrape!'' CHAPTER XII. THE MYSTERY EXPLAINED. By this time the boys were fully aroused. An investigation showed Merriwell's wheel was gone. "Didn't I tole yeh old debbil skillerton would done catch some ob us !11 cried Toots, in great distress. "I har<'lly understand what the skeleton could have wanted -with Merry's wheel," observed Browning. "G'way dar, boy! Didn' de skillerton ride a hawse!" "And you think it is an up-to-date skeleton that has decided to ri<'le a bicycle hereafter. In that case, I congratulate Mr. Skeleton on his good sense.'' "1t must be that Frank has gone on a ride witlJOut saying anything to us,'' said Jack. "I do not see any other way of explaining it." "But why should he do such a thing?" asked Rattleton. "That is where you stick me." Browning slowly shook his head. "lt is remarkable that he should do such a thing without saying anything to us, declared the big fellow. "And he must have taken that ride in the night," said Jack. "While ],e should have been on gua1d," added Harry. The boys stnod looking at each other in sober dismay. "It isn't p-ossible that Merry could haYe gone ilaffy, 11 muttered Rattleton. "He is too well balanced for that." ''I don't knoV>, '' came gloomily from Diamond. "This dismal, burning desert is enough to turn the brain of any fP.llow." "Yah!" cried Toots. "Don' yeh git no noshnn dat boy ebber had his brain turnecl! It am de weak brains dat git turned dat way. His brain was all right, bnt I jes' know fo' suah dat he hab een cotched. ''
26 FRANK MERRIWELL ON THE DESERT. "And I suppose you want to riun away as soon as possible before you are 'cotched ?' Then the colored boy surprised them all by saying: "No, sar, 1 don' want teh go 'way till we knows what hab become ob Marser Frank. Dat boy alwus stick by his frien 's, an' dis coon am reddy teh stick by him, even if he do git cotched. '' ''Good stuff, Toots!'' cried Rattleton, approvingly. "Yon are all right! If anything has happened to Frank we'll know what it is or leave our bones here.'' The boys were worried. They hurriec1Jy talked over the remarkable disappearance, to arrive at an understanding of its mean1ng. At length it was agreed that Frank might have gone back to try to solve the mystery of the skeleton, and then they decided that two of the party should remain where they had made their night bivouac, while the other two proceeded to search for Merriwell. Diamond insisted on being one of the searchers, and Rattleton was determined to be the other, so Browning and Toots were left behind. The bovs mounted their wheels and rode back-toward the pass through the bl n ffs. Diamond was downcast again. "Everything is going against us," he declared. "There is fate in it. I am afraid we'll not get out of this wretched desert." "Oh, yon'r. e unwell, that's what's the matter with you!" declared Harry, scornfully. "I'll be glad when you are yourself again.'' "That's all right," muttered Diamond. "You ar-e too thoughtless, that's what's the matter with you." They approached the spot where the mysterious skeleton had been seen, and both were watching for the niche in the rocks. Snc1denly they were startled by hearing a wild cry from far above their beans and looking upward they saw Frank Merriwell running along the very brink of the cliff, but limping badly, as if he were lame. But what and startled them the most was to see a strange-looking, bare-headed man, who was in close pur suit of Frank. Above his head the man wildly flourished a gleaming long-bladed knife, while he uttered loud cries of rage. "Smooly hoke!" cried Harry. "Will you look at that!" Diamond suddenly grew intensely excited. "What can we do ?-what can we do?" he Frank is hurt! That creature is running him down! He will murder him!" ''If Merry had a pistol he would be all right." "But he hasn't! We must do some-thing, Harry-we must!'' "Neither of us has a gun." "No, but--" "We can't get up there." "But we must do something!" "We can't!" Jack grew more and more frantic. He leaped from his wheel and seemed to be looking for some place to try to scale the face of the bluff. "Oh, if I could get up there!" he groaned. "I'd shQW Frank that I was ready to stand by him! I'd fight that man bare handed!" And Rattleton did not doubt it, for he well knew how hot-blooded Diamond was, and the young Virginian had never failed to fight when the occasion arose. He would not shirk any kind of an encounter. Merriwell saw them and shouted something to them, but they could not understand what he <;aid. "Turn! turn!" screamed Jack. "You must fight that man, or he will stab you in the back! He is goi11g to strike yon!" Frank seemed to hear and comprehend, for he sudc1enly wheeled abont and made a stand. In a moment the man with the knife had rushed upon him and struck with that gleaming blac1e. A groan escaped Jack's lips as he saw that blow, but it turned to a gasp of rdief when Frank stopped it by catching the man's wrist. "Give it to him! Give it to him!" shrieked Diamonc1, dancing around in a wild frenzy of anxiety anc1 fear. Then the boy15 helow witnessed a terrific struggle on the heights above them.
FRANK MERRIWELL ON THE The man seemed mad with a desire to plunge the knife jnto Frank, and it was plain that Merriwell did not wish to harm the unknown, bnt was tryjng to disarm him. Too late! With a wild scream of strange man toppled over downward to his death. clespanr, the and whirled "What folly! what folly!" panted "It's all up with him, poor fellow," Diamond. "He'll get his hand free and said Frank Merriwell, as he stood near stab Merry sure! Beat him down, Frank the body of the unknown man, looking -beat him down!" down at the face that was white and calm Once Frank slipped and fell to his and peaceful in death. knees. A fierce yell of triumph broke from the man, ano jt seemed that he Frank had disappeared from tl1e top of would succeed in using the knife at last. tbe bluff while Jack and Harry were With a groan of anguish, Diamond bending over the fallen and had recovered his eyes that he might not witnearly twenty .by ness the death of the friend he loved. swlngmg from the mche ln winch For Jack Diamond did love Frank Merri-1 the mystenous skeleton had been seen. well for all that he had complained j "Who is he?" asked Harry. him of late. 1 "What is he?" asked Jack ., A cry of relief from Rattleton caused "I am afraid those questions cannot be Jack to look again, and he saw Fral'lk answered Frank. "That he had reaained his feet and was. continuing was a ravmg mamac I am sure, and he the battle. lived in a remarkable cave close at band; And now the man fought with a fury but who he is or bow he came to be there that was nerve thrilling to witness. riis in that cave I do not know." movements were swift and savage, and he "Well, how you came to be up there tried again and again to draw the knife with him runnjng you down to stick a across Frank's throat. knife in you is what I want to know," Jack and Harry scarcely breathed until, said Harry. with a display of strength and skill, "That's riglot," Jack nodded. "ExFrank disarmed his assailant by giving plain it, old man." his arm a wrench, causing the knife to fly Then Frank told them how, after the tbrongh the air and fall over the edge of moon rose the night before, he had taken the cliff. his wheel with the intention of riding Down to the ground below rattled the around the camp, feeling he could keep knife, and then Diamond said: watch as well that way as any. After the "Now Frank wlll be able to handle the moon was well up, he saw .there was no feHow !" one anywhere about, and a desite to re-But flinging his arms about the boy, visit the spot where they had seen the the man made a mad effort to spring over skeleton seized upon him. He rode to the the brink. For some seconds, locked spot, but there was DO skeleton in the thus in each other's arms, man and boy niche among the rocks. Leaving his tottered on the very verge, and then they bicycle, he climbed up there to examine swayed back. once more, and to his astonishment, Frank broke the hold of the man, fonnd that what seemed to be a solid, striking him a heavy blow a second later. immovable stone had turned in some 'The man reeled and dropped on the edge manner, disclosing an opening of the precipice. He scrambled up hastily, Then, with reckless curiosity, Frank but a great slice of rock cleaved off beresolved to investigate fnrther, and he deneath his feet and went plunging down-scended into the opening, found some ward. stone steps, and was soon in a cavern. Then the watching boys $aW the un-The first thing he discovered was the known tottering on the brink, wildly skeleton, still decorated as the boys had waving his anns in an endeavor to regain it in the first place, and he remaiued his balance. Frank sprang forward to aid there till he found how it could be placed him. in view on the block of stonee and then
28 FRANK MERlUWELL ON THE DESERT. removed in a twinkling. He also found a l amp with a strong r eflecto1, which had thrown its light on the skeleton from a hole in lhe roeks. There was another op ening near that, where a person in the c a ve could look out on the desert, and Frank knew the ghostly voice they had heard must have come from that place. M e rri w ell continued his investigations, hav in g lighted the lamp, b y the light of which he wandered through the cave. Sucld e nly he came face to face with an old m a n, who surprised, but spoke quietly to him. The old man declared he was "Pro f essor Morris Fillmore," but did not say what he was professor of, and he volunteere d to e x plain everything to the boy. This bedid, telling how he worked the ske l e ton to fri ghten away those who mi ght molest him in his solitude, as he wish e d to be alone. There was another entrance to the cave, and in a large, airy chambe r a horse was kept. The horse w a s c oal bl a ck, but on one side of him was drawn the outlines of the skeleton frame of a horse, and the strange old man expla ined that be had a suit of on 10ne side of which he had traced the sk e l e t o n of a human being. This had b ee n done with phosphorus, and it glowed with a white light in the darkness. The old hermit had entered the pocket and ridden near the camp of the Indians. When he turned about the skeleton trac ing s in phosphorns could not be s e en, and so the ghos tly horse and rider seemed to di::;a ppe a r in a most marvelous m anner. Frank questjoned him concerning the treas ure, and the man seemed to grow e x cit e d and suspicious. He said something abo11t the treasure being the properfy of some one who had fled fro11) the Destroying Angels of the Mormons in the cave the strange man told him he could not do so. He informed Frank that he could never go out again, and then it was that the b o y became sure Fillmore was crazy. As the man was armed, Frank decided to use strateg y. First he sought to lull the man's s uspicions, a nil after being watched closely for hours he found a chance to slip away. Almost immediately the man discovered what had happe\1ed, and pursued. By chance Frank fled out through a that led upward till the top of the bluff was reached, but he fell and sprained his ankle, so he was unahle to get The hermit followed, and the mad battle for life took place. "Well, this is amazing!" g asped Jack. "What are you going to do with that treasure?'' "Take it to some place for safe deposit and advertise for the legal heirs of Professor Millard Fillmore." "And if no heirs appear--" "The treasure will belong to us." Frank's plan was carrieil out. All the treasure was removed from the cavern, in which the mysterious old hermit was buried. The hermit's horse was set free, and the boys carried the treasure to Ullin, Nevada where it was shipped to Carson ancl deposited in a bank there. "If it is not claimed in a year's timf', boys," said Frank, "we will go about the work of having it evenl y divided among us. In that case we w ill have made a gooil thing out of this trip across the continent." "Hooray fo; us!" shouted Toots. [THE. END.] old da y s, but had perished in the ilesert. The next number (64) of the Tip Top. Frank was led to believe that the skeleton \Veekly will contain "Frank Merriwell's. w as that of the original owner of the Unilergr011nd Search; or, Saving the treasure. 1 Buried Heiress," by the author of" Frank But when the boy would have left the Merriwell."
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30 'fiP TOP WEKKLY. BIN GO. Bingo was a dog. Bingo was exceeding1y Hack. Eyes, skin, hair, everyT h e Sad fate of a Fireman's Dog. thing about Biugo, except his disposition, was of the most somhre hue. .He had the most charming qualities as an offset to his funereal coloring. He was iutelli geut, he was kind, he was unselfish, he w a s faithful, a11d l.te was devoted to his vocation. Both his parents were French, so, according to the !a w of cnuiue genealogy, Bingo was a French poodle Biugo came iuto tbe posses.iou of a fireman when he was a very young and utterly ignorant little poodle. The pU.J.IPY was trained with the greatest care, and Bingo became a fire-dog, A fire -dog is one which lives in a fire-station and tak
TIP TOP WEEKLY. 3 1 Sports and Bicy cl e Training. ''It is advisable before commencing to train,'' sAys Zimmerman, "to consult a physician and to be care fully exa111iued to see that you Hints from are thoroughly sound: if you Three Experts. are not, it wc.uld be folly for you to begin. Be careful as to diet, retire early and austaiu from Sinoldng anrl alcoholicdiolks. S1110king rlepresses the heart a nrl shorteus the wind, while drinkingstraillS the blood I ba\'e beatPn many a mau who would ha>e ball a far better chance, and perhaps beaten rue, if be could have let liquor a lone. "I do uot traiu or ride duringr the winter, but take a complete rest. Iu my opiniuu tllis is a better course for the Ameri<-an rider to pursue than to attempt to keep in condition all the winter. ROAD TRAINING. ''A littl e faster work may now be indulged 111, and hal f a mil e can be reeled off at about a one-minute c li p (paced), to show the CO])(litiou of the man i n regard to endurance. If be is found wanting be must re tur n to plugging; but if he bas the required endur ance, he may start to sprint a slwrt rlistance. "It is at ti.Jis point that the trainer should get in his fine work, turning tl1e superfluous flesh into muscle. After each work-out the mau should bn ve a tborougb drying with coarse towels, followed by a most thorough massage, every muscle being worked and mauipulated." ---o---f\ Wonderful Bicycle Palace. One of the most striking features of the Paris exhibition of 1900 is going to be, so it is said, a most r emark able "biCycle palace," to he designed and l.nilt especially to do bouor to the wheel. It will be used for the display of the cycle in all its forms, from the first crude two-wheeled walking machine to the delicate "Most men should commence training on the road at of the preseut day. least a mouth before tlle first raco, Lut I take a much The exact dimensions of tlle structure have not yet longer time to get fit. My consolatiou is that I keep in been decided upon; but the plans provide acco111n 1odafornJ tllnn usual, generally right tbrongh the tion for sever. tbousand persons on tile ground floor. season. lhis preliminary road l'idiug, like everything The grmmd sunoundiug it will be circular, with COllllected with traiuiug, mnst he doue in a systematic paths like spokes leading to the con1111011 centre. All manner. Tlle morniug exerl'ise sb<>uld be taken from the wi11dows are likewise to be circular, with spoke one. and. a to two hours after breakfast. I do not franJes aud with a Sill all round colored pane in the mid belu:ve 111 takmg auy b':lore breakfast, as som_ e dle to iudicate the hub. ad\'lse. I ba".e. It, It was)JOt snceess; It The main entrance will be entirely of marble, cut in seemed to me ti)lllg Iuu tbout the form of inmellse bicycle forks, while O\'erhead will and a 01 two bou s aftet b1eakfast nde ftom rest a huge handle bar of burnished steel. A number to ten the road,. of rooms will lead of!' from the main floor, sep-lralli for the )on I aratel 01.11y by festoo11Hl curtains made enti1ely of such find,. the best to your netting as is usually employed on lAdies' bicycles. ha e the po e1 to .stay long at a .11ode1.ate At either eud of the main floor 11 ill be a monster pace, but .cauunt spnnt at all, wlule others can do JUSt wheel, with illuminated tires. These wheels 11 ill rethe oppos1te. A very few can do both. vol >e from the opening to the closing tf the exhibition. WON IN THE LAST QUARTER. Apart from the light prodocerl in this manneY, the "When you have found out the distanC'e which suits only illumination ,,;)l he large bicyele lamps. E,ewy you best, try it about once a week. Let some o n e bold a seat i n the building will be marie of parts of bicycles, watch on you, aud time each quarter of a mile. At though n1auy of tlielll will he so arranger] as to be f a r eaclJ uccee
32 IIP 'IOP WEEKLY, Jlpplaust. (Letters from TIP ToP WEEKLY readers are always acceptable. VIews and suggestions will be w elcomed.) Otsego, Mich., May 29, 1897. Dear Sirs: I am happy to eon gratulate you Oil a c count of the Tip Top W eekly. Its nan1e fits it only too well. I have r ead all of the numbers fro m No. 1 to the time. Yours espectfully Hile y Kirnan. De11r Sirs: I am 11lso h ere to c ongratulate you. The Tip Top is the hest book I l1ave ev e r r ead, and I hope you will coJJtinue on with tlle suecess you a r e making. Yours truly, Ralph and Matt M erry. Marion, Iowa, May 29, 1897. Dear Sirs: I am a reade r of the Tip 'l'op W eekly I thougllt I would l e t y o u kno w what I think of it. I think they 11re the b e st. papers published, and hope you will have great success. Yours truly, Joe Mullalley. Chicago, Ill., May 29, 1897. Gentlemen: We take the greatest )?,Ieasure in letting yon know wh11t we think of the Tip l'op W eekly It is a very interesting P1111er and we h a ve been r eading them since No. 1 w a s published. We hope you will continue its circulation as long as we live. We remain Yours truly, Miles Novy, Emanue l As cher, Maurice W olpe. Green"'ic h Conn., May 2!'>, 1897. Dear Sirs: I have r ead your Tip T o p Weekly from beginuing t o pre s ent date and 1 waJJt to m a ke a move that you publish them twice a "eek, because 1 cannot wait sometimes for Saturday to come. Respectfully, R. P eck. Norfolk, Va., May 31, 1897. Dear Sirs : I write you a few lines to let you know what we tllink of your n e w Tip Top We eldy. We tnke it every week in our club, and think it contains the hest storie s of any five -cent library w e ever r ead. Hoping your stories will coJJtinua as good as they have beeJJ, 1 remain, Yours truly, A. Ayers, President. Wm. E. Sadler, Secretary. J. W. Grimstead. Treasurer. Troy, N. Y., May 28, 1897 Dear Sirs: I nave rearl Tip T o p Library f ro111 N o. 12 up to No 5!l, and tlli.nk they are ti.Je b est b ooks out. Loug live Tip Top. Fred. M Coi.Jen AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHY. .M any people imagine t h a t a pho t ograph er's c a m e r a i s a d ifficult mac h me t Q hmu.ll e a11d tha t tlJe w ork aJH.l disagreeable A 11 this is n. mistak e. Photography Is a c l ean. light, u n d ph'a:<-ant a c complis hment, within the r each o f ell. The c u m ern "ill pro v e a frietld., r e p o rter and hel p e r \\. itll a very ineJt"pe llsive came r a any b o y or g-ir l ( all I \OW Jean1 Jtotonl y t o t a k e good pi ctures, h n t p ictures tha t the r e I s ever y where a demand f q r a t remune rnti\e p r ices. A c omple t e gui< l e t o this f asclnntillg a rt, entitle d AMi\TEt'R OF P HOTO GRAP H Y, will he Rent Oil receipt of t e n cents. MANUAL LIBRARY, 2/; R ose street, N e w York. I-I OW TO DO BUSINESS. This book Is a guide to success in life embracing Principles o t Bus iness, (; h o ic e o f Pursuit, Buying and :Selling-, General Managem ent, 1\[ pc hanicnl Trade s Bookkeeping, of S n cces.'i a n d F ailure, l\laxi m s nnd Forms. etc. J t a l so contai n:; nn appen
Til? T01?. WEEKLY Illuminated Cover-Price, Five Cents-Thirty=two Pages. Complete List of Stories By the author of 11F rank Merriwell." Tales of School, Fun, College, Travel and Adventure. All back numbers are constantly on hand, and will be mailed to any address on receipt of price, Five Cents each. 1-Frank Merriwell; or, First Days at F'ardale. 2-Frank Merriwell's Foe; or, "Plebe" Life in Barracks. 3-Frank Merriwell's Medal; or, "Plebe" Life in Camp. 4 -Frank Merriwell's Rival; or, By Fair Play or Foul. 5-Frank Merriwell's Fault; or, False Steps and Foul Snares 6-Frank Merriwell's Frolics; or, Fun and Rivalry at Fardale. 7-Frank Merriwell's Mysterious Ring; or, The Man in Black. 8 -Frank Merriwell's Fag; or, Fighting For the Weak. 9-Frank Merriwell's Furlough; or, The Mystery of the Old Mansion. 10-Frank Merriwell on His Mettle; or, Field Day at Fardale. 11 Frank Merriwell's Fate; or, The Old Sailor's Legacy 12-Frank Merriwell's Motto; or, The Young Life Savers. 13-Frank Merriwell in New York; or, Fighting an Unknown Foe. 14-Frank Merriwell in Chicago; or, Meshed by Mysteries. 15-Frank Merriwell in Colorado; or, Trapping the Train Wreckers. 16 -Frank Merriwell in Arizona; or, The Mysteries of the Mine 17-Frank M e rriwell in Mexico; or, The Search for the Silver Palace 18-Frank Merriwell in N ew Orleans; or, The Queen of Flowers. !9-Frank Merriwell's Mercy; or, The Phantom of the Everglades. 20-Frank Merriwell's Friend; or, Muriel the Moonshiner. 21-Frank Merriwell's Double; or, Fighting for Life and Honor. 22-Frank Merriwell M eshed; or, The Last of the Danites. 23 -Frank Merriwell's Fairy; or, Thtl Hermit of Yellowstone Park. 24-Frank Merriwell's Money; or, The Queen of the "Queer' Makers. 25-Frank Merriwell's Mission; or, The Mystic Valley of the Andes. 26-Frank Merriwell's Mysterious Foe; or, Wild Life on the Pampas. 27-Frank Merriwell a Monarch; or, The King of Phantom I s land. 28-Frank Merriwell in Gorilla Land; or, The Search for the Missing Link. 29-Frank Merriwell's Magic 30-Frank Merriwell in France; or, The Mystery of the Masked Unknown. 31-Frank Merriwell's Feat; or, The Queen of the Bull 32-Frank Merriwell in London; or, The Grip of Doom. 33-Frank Merriwell's Venture; or, Drive n from Armenia. 34-Frank Merriwell in India; or, Hunting Human 35-Frank Merri well's Vow; or, After Big Game in Ceylon. 36-Frank Merriweli in Japan; or, The Sign of the Avenger 37-Frank Merriwell's Death Shot; or, Roughing it in Australia. 38-Frank Merriwell in the South Sea; or, The Cas t for Life. 39-Frank Merriwell Home Again; or, The Mystery of Ethel Driscoll. 40 -Frank Merriwell at Yale; or Freshman Against F1es hman. 41-Frank Merriwell's Mateh; or, The King of the Sophmores. 42-Frank Merriwell's Victory; or, The Winning Oar. 43-Frank Merriwell's Finish; or, Blue Against Crimson. 44-Frank Merriwell's Gam e; or, Snaring the Sharper. 45-Frank Merriwell's Great Run; or, Trouncing the 46-Frank Merriwell's Even Up; or, Squaring the Score. 47-Frank Merriwell's Queen; or, Blow for Blow. 48-Frank Merriwell's Find; or, The Waif of the Train. 49 _:_Frank Merriwell's Racer; or, Birds of a Feather. 50-Fr .. nk Merriwell's Nerve; or, Game to the End. 51-Frank Merriwell's Bhadow; or, The Mysterious 52-Frank Merriwell's Dash; o r Yale Against the Field. 53-Frank Merriwell's Bicycle Boys; or, The Start Across the Continent. 54-Frank Merriwell's Ride for Life; or, Foiling the Train Destroyers. 55-Frank Merriwell's Great Capture; or, Bicscle Against Horse. 56-Frank Merriwell to the Rescue; or, Through-:.. and Water. 57-Frank Merriwell's Close Call; or, The Tramp's Token 58-Frank Merriwell's Unknown Friend; or, Old Friends in New Places. 59 Frank M erriwell Among the RuFtlers; or, The Cattle King's Daughter. 60-Frank Merriwell's Desperate Drop; or, Wild Adventures in the Rockies. 61-Frank Merriwell in the Mines; or, The Blind Singer of Silver Bluff. 62-Frank Merriwell Among the Mormons; or, The Lost Tribe of Israel. 63-Frnnk Merriwell on the Desert; or, The Myst.ery of the Skeleton 61 -Fmnk Merriwell's Underground Search; or, S6ving the Buried H eiress. STREET & SMITH, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK. For Sale by all Newsdealers. Every Saturday.