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Frank Merriwell's tigers or, Wiping out the railroad wolves

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Title:
Frank Merriwell's tigers or, Wiping out the railroad wolves
Series Title:
Tip Top Weekly
Creator:
Standish, Burt L. 1866-1945
Place of Publication:
New York
Publisher:
Street & Smith
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
1 online resource (32 p.) 28 cm.: ;

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

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
031335561 ( ALEPH )
13250072 ( OCLC )
T27-00004 ( USFLDC DOI )
t27.4 ( USFLDC Handle )

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Dime Novel Collection
Tip Top Library

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Serial

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CAUTION! All readers of the renowned Tip Top stories should beware of base i m itations, placed upon the market under catch names very similar to Frank Merriwell, and intended to deceive. Issued We ekly By subsc r iption $2.Jo per year. Entered as Second-class Matter at the N. Y. P ost Office by STREE T & SMITH, 7q-8Q Sevmtlz Ave. N. Y. No. 506 . ... ofl_ IYIP!Nfi () ,IJ THC PAI"'' NEW YORK, DECEMBER 23, 1905. Price, Five Cents Frank rushed to the steps and sprang off before the train had stoppe d. He was in time to see "The Wolf" disappearing into a strip of chaparral, a short distance from the railroad

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Iuwd Wullly. By SlllJscriptio,, t2.50 per ;year. &twd as Seco,,d-cltUs Maltw ot tlie N. Y. Post Office, by STll.EET & SlllTR, 7q-l!q Seve,.11' Jfve11w. N. Y. &twed auordi,,r to .A.ct of Co"J!'T"' ill tlce year 1005, '" I# Office of tlce LibrlU-ia11 of Cmterus, Wt1s1'i11gto,., D. C. No. 506. NEW YORK, December 23, 1905. Price Five Cents. FRANK MERRIWELL'S TIGERS OR, Wiping Out the Railroad Wolves. By BURT L. STANDISH. CHAPTER I. THE INQUISITIVE STRANGER. Frank Merriwell sat in the window of the rocking car and gazed out at the barren landscape which stretched away, dreary and desolate, to the low-line range of blue mountains a hundred miles distant. A cloud of dust rose from the unsettled road-bed and came in at the open windows of the car, covering everything with a grayish-brown coating that was suggestive of alkali. The copper sun seemed half burned out with its ovvn heat, which had baked the whole world. The car was crowded with passengers, and, in spite of the open windows, the atmosphere was almost foul. A motley l ooking crowd it was, made up mostly of chattering Italians, greasy negroes, and bnwny Irish laborers. They were workmen on their way to take part in the construction of the new railroad which was pushing eastward through Central Sonon. These men were smoking rank pipes, tobacco, expector:iting in the aisles, swearing, laughing, singing, and jabbering ceaselessly. The dust made little difference in Merriwell's ap pearance, for he was dressed in brown khaki, wore a cotton shirt, had a silk handkerchief loosely tied about his neck, and his head was crowned by a peaked Mex ican hat. He looked like one who had prepared to rough it in that country. Becoming wearied of the monotonous landscape, Merry drew a leather case from his pocket and opened it. From the case he took a paper, on which a map was neatly drawn. This map he studied for a few mo ments. It was no easy matter, for the rough road-bed caused the car to bounce and reel in a way that wo uld have been distressing to a person of delicate nerves. Suddenly Frank turned, and looked at his He had become aware that the rrian was also scrut1111-zing that map. Up to this time no words had pas s ed between them since the slender blue-eyed man dropped into the seat

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TIP OP WEEKLY. at Frank' s side. He was a quiet-lo o king per s on, s i m ply dressed in light-weight clothing and seemingly accustomed and callous to the discomfortures of such a journey. He had long, slender hands, with ast o n i s hingly well-manicured nails. His flaxen mustache drooped a bit over the corners of his tightly closed, thin-lipped mouth. Those lips parted a trifle as Frank gave him that look, betraying some regular, well-polished teeth, which were rather fine and a trifle pointed. "I beg your pardon, sir," he said, in a quite tone. "I couldn't help noticing such a fine piece of drawing. It's clever work. D1d you do it?" Merriwell refolded the map and slipped it into the leather case "Yes, sir," he answered. "It looked to me like a certain portion of Eastern Son o ra. I take it that y o u're a surveyor. You're e m ployed by the company, aren't y ou?" "I'm not a surveyor," an s wered Frank, not qu it e pleased by the stranger's curiosity. "Not locating engineer?" t'No." "That's peculiar. I had an idea that every man traveling over the road at present was in some manner interested in it." Now Frank Merri well was keenly interested in that road, but he did not tell the inquisitive stranger so. Instead of that, he began asking a few questions himself. "Then, of course, you're interested in the road, sir?" he said. "In a way, yes." "In what sort of a way?" "Financially." "Are you a capitalist or a prospective stockholder?"' "I haven't purchased any stock yet, answered the man, who seemed quite as cautious as Merriwell. "But you intend to do so?" "I may have thought of such a thing, but just now I have my doubts of the wisdom of it." "'Why so?" "Of course you know about the troubles the company is having?"' "I've heard something about it." "Yes; this road has encountered no end of difficul ties. There's a question in my mind if it will ever be completed. Already it has cost more than twice the sum estimated for the building of t he entire line, and it's not yet half done. I've decided to investigate on my own account, that I may know the actual situa tion. A man has to be careful in these days of graft and sucker-catching." "Aren't the men back of this project responsible and finally able to put it through?" questioned Frank. "I believe Watson Scott and hi;; associates are re garded as thorou g hly responsible," was the answer. "Still it's doubtful if the y un d ersto o d the difficulties they were going up against when they started to lay the rails of thi s ro aJ." "Watson Scott?'' said Frank questioningly. "Is he the man known in Wall Street as Old Gripper?" "The same man." "I understand he's never made a failure." "Up to date he has not. I'm not saying he won't be successful in this piece of business. He's pretty old, though, and he expected his lieutenants to put the road through. They have proved incapable, and I understand that Scott himself is out here somewhere." "What are some of the difficulties you speak of?" "I have only a vague idea. I can't give you the par ticulars." A man in the seat ahead of them now turned and dipped into the conversation. He was an Irishman, and looked like a person of some intelligence. "My name is Casey," he said, by way of introduc tion. "I happen to know something about this matter you're sp'aking av. I'm a grading boss on the road. It's true, as ye mentioned, that we've had the divvil's own time av it. These greasers are a worthless lot to dale wid. True it is from the head of the gover'rnint of this State down to the meanest peon in the country. Sure I'd rather have one Irishman under me than fifty av these mongrels. It's a shlick crew we're taking through this time. We had to discharge about sivin hundred of the greasers, and it was Barney Mulloy, the cleverest contractor on the road who sint his partner north into the States, and me wid him, to pick up this gang." "Barney Mulloy?" exclaimed Frank. "Barney Mul loy? Is he a contractor on this road?" "Sure and he is. An' the best one of them all he is, too. Do you know him, sor ?" "I think I do," smiled Frank, who had been thrilled through at the mention of his old comrade's name. CHAPTER II. EPHRAIM GALLUP. Casey seemed glad of a chance to talk. "No man knows what the Mexican Gover' mint will do," he said. "One day they smile on ye, and next day they give ye a kick. They grant ye privileges, and thin they take them away from ye. But it's not the gover'mint thot's been afther givin' us all our trouble. We know that the Sonora Railroad, which already runs from Nogales to Guymas, has its shlick little designs on this bit of road. At first, I've been told, the Sonora people were afther encouraging the promoters av this road; but now they're acting like they meant to ruin the skame and thin put the whole outfit in their pock ets. "But, aven wid the Sonora toad agin' us, and the gover'mint jumpin' and dodgin' like a frisky ilea, we'd pushed the thing through only for two of the divvil's own servants. One of those is a bad nut, and he's known from Mexico City to Manitobia as The Wolf. He's a gambler by profession, and he's been making

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TIP TOP WEEKLY. a shlick thing out av the bhoys. It's not often any one has iver set eyes on this man himself, whose real name is Tom Stockton, for he runs his business with a greaser at the head. The greaser is known as Mad Mendez, and he's a shnake if there iver was one. "Mendez and about twenty card-sharps and gun fighters have kipt a.t the head of con s truction iver since twenty miles of rail were laid. In tbe fursht place, they started out modest enough in a little tint, wid a faro layout and a roulette wheel. It wasn't long before their joint made trouble. They were ordered off, but nivver a bit did they go. Then Mulloy, he gathered a dozen good men one night and raided the place. Three av his men were shot some, but not fatally. One of the gamblers were pianted next day. They smashed the faro layout and the roulette wheel. It were thought then it would end the trouble, but two days later Men dez had a bigger tint and a bitter layout. He pitched his tint off by his lonesome, and he had his whole bunch armed to the teeth to guard it. Our next move were to warn the bhoys to kape away. Whin it comes to gambling, these greasers are the biggest fools that iver breathed. You couldn't kape 'em away. The only thing that would do that would be a dozen gatling guns, and the sojers to work 'em. So Mendez went on reaping in the coin, and the case grew worse and worse. "It might not av been so bad only the gamblers ladled out the mescal to the greasers and kipt them drunk most av the time. When a man gambles all night and drinks his fill av mescal, he's nivver a bit of good to handle a shovel in the morning. The whole gang were de moralized. On an average the min didn't do tin cints' worth of work a day. Something had t o be done to shtop it. Thot's how the sicond trouble with Mendez came round. A hundred min, armed wid Winchesters, marched down to put him out av business. Thot time The Wolf were there. They didn t put the gamblers out av business, but next day the surgeon were busy wid a lot of our min. Afther that you couldn t get any one to tackle the gamblers, and they kipt right on wid their business. "But the worst thing happened two wakes ago, whin the pay train were held up and robbed. Av course min couldn t be paid off, and the whole outfit just threw down their shovels and quit. I say the whole outfit, but perhaps there were fifty or a hundred min who kipt at work. You can't build a railroad wid a crew like that---
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4 TIP TOP WEEKLY. stole Teresa avvay from ye. Oh, she was plumb gone on you, no question 'bout that." Merry laughed heartily. "That was all your imagination, Ephraim," he said. "Teresa was gone on you all the time, but you were so everlasting slow that she had to make you jealous some how. What do you mean by saying that you've been jealous only once since then? When was it?" "When she insisted on naming the baby, Frank. \Vhat do you suppose we give that kid for a handle, hey? Well, sir, by ginger! we called him Frank Mer ri well Gallup. How's that for a name?" Ephraim beamed at Frank, again clasping his old friend's hand. "I want to see that boy. Why didn't you let me know about this before? I might have brought him somet hing." "Been too gol-derned busy for the last six months to h unt up your address, Frank. You was skippin' round to beat the band. Never could tell where to locate ye. Thutteration won't Tere sa be tickled to see yeou !" At this moment Gallup's eyes fell on Frank's seat mate. He stopped short, and stared at the man. Merry noticed his friend's behavior, and he was cer tain Gallup recognized the blond stranger. In this he was not mistaken. Swiftly a look of anger banished the genial expression from Ephraim's c o untenance. "Look here, Merry," he said harshly "do you know who this critter is you've been settin' with?" "I haven't the honor of knowing his name," ad mitted Frank. "Waal, I'll tell you who he is dad him his measl y hide! This critter right here is the one who's made most of the trouble for this railroad. I see him once, and I don't never forgit nobody's face. He is Tom Stockton, the gambler, The Wolf!'' CHAPTER III. THE ESCAPE OF THE WOLF. The accused man smiled in the most unruffled mannN. Merry had stepped out into the aisle, so that Stoc k ton was now between him and the window. The gam bler seemed fairly trapped, yet this did not appear to disturb him. "Well, what are you going to do about it?" he coolly asked, once more showing the tips of those pointed. wolfish teeth. "So this is the man, is it?'' said Merry, as he s c veyed Stockton curiously. "It explains his interest in my affairs." "Yes, gol-dern him!" palpitated Gallup. "He's the varmint. They ain't no proof of it, but I'll bet a Hubbard squash that he had something to do with the rob bery of the pay train." "Hold o n," came icily from the gambler's lips. o slow, man You may ca11 me a gambler, a wo lf a gun-fightel, anything you like, but don't call me a rob ber. I won't stand for that." "What ye goin' ter do about it?" shrilly demanded Gallup. Stockton had his hands in the side pockets of his coat. "I'll have to close your mouth with a lead plug," he said. Merry knew the man's hands grasped the butts of loaded weapons. He knew this mild-appearing des perado was ready to fight for his life against any man in that car, if necessary. "Hold on, Gallup," 'said Frank quietly. "I wish to have a few words with the gentleman." "Gc;ntleman ?" rasped Ephraim. "I hope yeou don't call a critter like him a gentleman." Stockton was returning Merry's compliment by scrutinizing him closely. He smiled with something like pity in his expression. "So you're the young fellow they sent for to come down here and straighten things out?" he murmured, "It's quite remarkable. I hardly think you understand the sort of job you're going up against." "According to the statement of Mr. Casey," admitted Frank, "'it's quite a stiff proposition." "Mr. Casey has not overstated the case," bowed the gambler. "Boy, what do you think you can do? You won't last three days in this country." "Possibly you're right," acknowledged Frank. "But, if you have an idea that I'm unfamiliar with thi s country, you're wholly mistaken. I've been here before." Stockton shrugged his shoulders. "Oh, yes, I suppose you have. I understand you have a mine over in the mountains, but it's doubtful if you were ever called on to go up against real men down here. These Mexicans are a bad proposition. Then there are the Chiricahua Apaches. The Indians are not pleased with this railroad, which is going to cut their territory in two. They've been restless for some time, and it's a fact that they are arming and pre paring to go on the war-path. Almost any time they may attack the graders, and you'll find war on your hands." "Vle'll leave the Indians out of the question," said Merry. "In the first place we ha ve t o deal with white men, so called. You're entirely mistaken in thinking I've never had any trouble down this way. Did you ever hear of Black Jerez?" "Oh, yes; he was a Mexican bandit. He's dead, I believe." "The last I knew of him he was very much alive." "And he is now, by Jim!" muttered Gallup, who had every reason to know, as Teresa was the daughter of Black Jerez. "Well, what about him?'' questioned Stockton smi Jingly. "It's possible you know that Jerez and his followers claimed much of the territory to the westward as their particular preserve. They managed to get along well

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TIP TOP WEEKLY. 5 enough with the Indians, and the Mexican Government was not strong enough or forceful enough to send troops up here and wipe out the bandits. When I at tempted to move ore from my San Pablo Mine, Jerez had a way of dropping down on my pack-train and col lecting toll. I couldn't stand that, and the result was war between us I'm still running that mine, whi;e you hear no more of Black Jerez." Stockton laughed. I don't know how you got the best of the man," he a dmitted; "but don't fancy you'll be as lucky in this case. In the States you might get plenty of backing. D own here gambling is not regarded as such a crime. E very one gambles I have a right to conduct my busi ness. Mr. Merriwell, I want to inform you now that I have a permit which gives me the right. Legally you can't interfere with me. When you or any one else attempts to raid my place and destroy my outfit, you're l awbreakers and can be punished as such "The fact that the Mexican Government permits g a mbling does not make the business any less repre h ensible You know that, Stockton, if you have any sense of justice. You know you are robbing the poor l aborers of their hardearned money." "Oh, they get a square dea l with me "Do they?" "I said so." "I presume by that you mean you're not running an y crooked games "Exactly. In two-thirds of the gambling-houses in th i s country the games are not on the level. I deal on the level, young man." "Let's see if you do," said Frank. "One of your gambling devices is a roulette table. On that roulette t able there are thirty-six numbers, besides the single o and the double o. That makes thirty-eight chances. You pay thirty-five for one. If you paid thirty-eight for one, the player would have an even show, in case the wheel was square. As it is, there is a heavy per cent. in favor of the house. The man who plays rou l ette in your house is sure to lose in the long run." "\Vell, that's his business. If he knows it, and per s i sts in playing, he has only to blame." "How many of these ignorant Mexicans and half bloods are there who understand this? You know there is not one in a hundred. You're robbing them right along, Stockton. On the faro table, if that game is fair, the 'splits' go in favor of the house At that game you're robbing them. They're poor enough, anyhow. Day wages on this railroad for an ordinary Mexican laborer amounts to about twenty-one cents and grub. If these men gamble, they get practically nothing more than what they eat. No, Stockton, no government on earth can make gambling just. More than this, you sell mescal to those men. You ruin them as laborers. You're a menace to this railroad, and you'll have to pick up and get out of the country The \Volf laughed behind his blond mustache. "It's really amusing to hear a youngster like you talk in such a fashion," he said. "The idea of telling me that I'll have to do anything." "By jinks I guess you'll find out that you'll have to do it when Frank says so,?' chip1:ied in Gallup. "There is no question but you'll go," again asserted Merriwell. "You're imperiling my interests as well as the interests of this railroad. I've come down here to look after my own rights. I warn you now, Stock ton, to pick up your outfit and go away without delay. Otherwise you'll have to suffer the consequences." "And I warn you in return," said the gambler, "that you're making a bid for a nice, comfortable hole in the ground. I think your funeral will take place within a short time." "Gol-ding his cheek!" palpitated Ephraim. "He stands right up to y ,e, don't he? Waal, I guess we'll show him, by thutteration Here he is alone in the car with this crowd, and it's a dinged good time to jump on him." "Better not try it," said The Wolf, shaking his head. "If you do, some one will get hurt." .Of course every one in the immediate vicinity had heard the talk between these men, and there was no small excitement. The laborers were crowding for ward, peering over one another's shoulders and jab bering "Yeou're ketched !" shouted Gallup. "Yeou can't git away! If yeou shoot anybody, by gmger, we'll take yeou out and hang ye to a pole!" Then he turned to the men. "Come on," he cried, "grab this critter!" Stockton was not anxious to begin shooting, for he knew such an action might arouse some of those men, even though it cowed others. For an instant his eyes wavered, and then he glanced toward the open win dow. He noted that, on account of a particularly rough road-bed, the train was rwming slowly Suddenly, without the least warning, The Wolf gathered himself and made a headlong dive through the window. Frank sprang at him and barely touched his heels "Stop the train!" cried Merry. Then he looked out to see what had happened. He was in time to behold Stockton, who had rolled to the foot of the grade, gathering himself up and molly brushing some of the dirt from his clothes. Gallup seized the bell-cord and gave it a jerk. A moment later the train began to slow down. Frank, Eph0raim, Casey and many others rushed to the steps and sprang off before the train had stopped. They were in time to see Tom Stockton disappear into a strip of chaparral a short distance from the railroad. Led by Frank, two-thirds of the men rushed toward the thicket. They found it practically trackless and almost like a tangled tropical jungle. In vain they searched for the missing gambler. After a full hour spent in this manner, Merry reluc tantly confessed that it looked as if Stockton had made g ood his escape

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6 TIP TOP WEEKLY. CHAPTER IV. FRANK MEETS OLD GRIPPER. An hour later the train drew into the town of Mes quite, which consisted of the little railroad station and half-a-dozen adobe houses. The place seemed literally swarming with men. They were mainly Mexicans and half-blood Indians. Swarthy, fierce-looking fellows were these Mexicans, strutting about in their serapes and smoking cigarettes. In the main the half-bloods looked peaceful and un washed. Great groups of these men were gathered here and there, listening to the excited talkers, who jabbered among themselves in the patois of their coun try. "Who are these men, Gallup?'' .questioned Frank. "By gum, I cal'late they're the strikers. They're the men that quit because they didn't get their pay promptly on the nail. Them's the poor fellers The Wolf's been fleecing." "What are they doing here?'' "I dunno Let's try to find out." When questioned, the station agent, who seemed in terror of his life, informed them that the angry strikers had cornered Watson Scott in Mesquite, and proposed to hold him until they obtained the money which they demanded. "So Mr. Scott is here?" said Frank. "Can you tell me where I can find him?" "See that 'do be yonder?" said the station agent, pointing toward a low brown building that was literally surrounded by a swarm of the strikers. "Yes." "Well, he's in there with two or three others. They can't get out. I've been expecting the crowd to tear the 'clobe down any minute." "Gallup," said Frank, turning to Ephraim, "tell the engineer to hold this train here. Keep your new men together at the station. Don't let them wander away, and warn them to keep out of trouble with these fel lows." Ephraim turned to Casey. "Yeou're the man to look out for that, Mike," he said. "Will yeou see to it?" "Shure an' I will, sor," answered Casey. "Come on, Ephraim," said Frank. "Whar be ye gain' ?" asked the tall Vermonter, as he strode along at Merriwell's side. "I'm going to see Watson Scott." "How do yeou expect to git in thar ?" "I'll find a way Leave that to me." As they passed, the strikers regarded them sullenly, some muttering, and some venturing to profanely demand the money clue them. Not a word came from Frank. He cautioned Gal lup against making any retort. In a short time reached the edge of the mob packed round the '
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TIP TOP WEEKLY. 7 came down on me bhoys and sthopt thim. Frankie, it's a rid-hot time we're afther havin'. Av ye enjoy tr'uble as ye did oncet, you'll git your fill av it here. Outside are fifteen hundrid dago mongrels jist a-lickin' their chops and waitin' to ate us up. It looked as if we were as good as dead min two hours ago, but still I hope to l ive till I die, if I don't git kilt." "VVhere is Mr. Scott?" "Roight this way. Say, Frankie, the old mon is the coolest birrud Oi iver capped me papers on. So help me, Saint Patrick, he's been slaping, wid thot mob hO\vlin' outside." There were two rooms in the '
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8 TIP TOP WEEKLY. "He was my seatmate on the train." Then they sat down, and Merriwell related the par ticulars of the affair on the train. CHAPTER V. THE HORSEMAN. Across one end of the table lilly two Winchester rifles. These weapons belonged to Jackson and Per kins, each of whom was armed with a brace of long-barreled Colt revolvers. Barney Mulloy was like wise armed with a brace of heavy pistols, the butts protruding handily from the holsters. Watson Scott carried no visible weapon. From Mr. Scott's lips Merry learned the exact con dition of affairs, and Old Gripper emphasized the declaration that the building of the railroad could not go on unless Tom Stockton should be disposed of in some manner. "By actually stopping construction," said Merriwell, "I should think the man would be cutting off his own nose. As long as the work continues, and the men are paid, he might expect to secure the bulk of their wages in his usual crooked manner. I don't see why he should wish to make trouble enough to stop work on the road." "I've figured it all out," nodded Watson Scott grimly. "He's been playing the leech as long as pos sible before putting into operation a plan he's had in view from the first. Certain other interests do not wish this road completed. Some one is behind Stock ton. Some one has offered him a large sum to ruin our project. He'll make more money that way than he could carrying on his gambling business." "I see," nodded Frank; "but it's remarkable that he has so much inflLience over the laborers." "His influence comes mainly through his partner, Mendez. Mendez is a Mexican, and he knows how to work on the feelings of his countrymen." "Then Mendez is even more dangerous than Stock ton." "In a way. Stockton is the brains of the combina tion. Still I don't believe he could carry the thing through without the aid of that crazy greaser. The pair of them make a perfect machine of deviltry. If I had two or three hundred good men from the States, properly armed, we'd soon put an end to the trouble." Gallup had been lis tening. Now he spoke up. "I have purty nigh three hundred laborers right here in Mezquite, by gum!" he exclaimec;l. "Just brung them in on the train." "What sort of men are they?" "Waal," drawled Ephraim, "they're mainly dagos and negroes, though there be about twenty good Irish men in the lot." "Hooroo !" cried Barney Mulloy. "Give me the Oirish !" "The dagos are out of the question," said Scott, "and the negroes can't be relied on. If your Irishmen were properly armed, they might amount to something. Have you weapons on the train?'" "I guess, by ginger! the most of them dagos is carry ing knives," answered the Vermonter. "Thej always do that. You ken forbid it as much as yeou please, but they'll do it jest the same." "That doesn't improve matters any. Your Irish men are not armed ?" "Nope. Didn't think it a good plan to furnish them with weapons." Old Gripper shook his head. "You can'L expect anything from them," he declared. "Have you any suggestions to make, Merri well?" "Not yet," confessed Frank. "I must have time to consider the matter." "Vv ell," said Scott, "if that yapping pack outside will let us alone, and I can get something to eat, I'm willing you should take all the time you want." "Be gorry, sor," put in Mulloy, "I've told yez there's no great danger from the gr'asers as long as they know we're armed and deta:mined to defind ourselves . They'll crawl around outside, but nivver a wan will be afther breaking in here, knowing it's a hundred chances to wan that he'll be filled full av lead before he kin stip insoide the door." "If you had the money to pay those men off, it would be an easy matter to quiet them down, wouldn't it?" asked Merry. "Certainly," nodded Scott. "I've tried to pay them with due-bills, but nothing except the cold coin will satisfy them. They look on paper with suspicion. I don't know as I blame them much, for lots of rascally concerns have cheated them with paper promises." More than an hour passed while they talked over the situation. Finally Frank arose, saying: "I think I'll go and get you something to eat, Mr. Scott." "What's that?" cried Old Gripper eagerly. "Going to get me something to eat?" "Sure." "How are you going to do it?" "Why, I'm just going to walk out by the front door, find something that will satisfy your hunger somewhere in town, and bring it back here." "Do you think you can? You're liable to be torn to pieces by that snarling pack." ''I don't think so," said Merriwell. "Anyhow, I'll chance it." "I'm going along wid ye, by hemlock!" declared Gallup. "Casey and the men must be gittin' purty gol derned impatient by this time. I got to tell them what the raow is about." "All right," said Merry, "only keep your weapons out of sight. Don't make a move to pull a weapon unless I give you the word. No matter how much the crowd howls, and snarls, and threatens, act as if you were perfectly at your ease, and not at all dis turbed. I think I'll have a few words to say to them."

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TIP TOP WEEKLY. 9 Mulloy was eager to accompany Frank and Ephraim, but Merriwell counseled against it. "Better stay here with Perkins and Jackson to keep the crowd away from Mr. Scott," he said. "You can't afford to weaken the defense of this place." Three minutes later the door opened, and Merriwell stepped out before the crowd, with Ephraim following closely: Barney promptly closed the door behind them. There was a hush as Frank appeared. Beady eyes rega1:ded him curiously, threateningly. He stood there, calmly surveying the wild-looking throng of strikers. "\tVhere is our money?" suddenly cried a man. And in a twinkling the pack began to yap and snarl like so many wolves. Fists were flourished in the air, and some of the more savage and determined ones tried to press forward. Merriwell lifted a hand in a gesture that called for silence. "Men," he said, in a clear voice, "by your folly you are simply def eating yourselves and delaying the pay ment of what is your just due. You'll receive every cent due you; but it is impossible to pay you now, the pay train having been held up and robbed. Already another pay car is on its way here." "Lies! lies!" snarled one of the strikers. "The pay train was not robbed. No more money is coming." Frank singled the striker out, and suddenly pointed a finger straight at him. "There is the man who lies," he declared calmly. "He is your worst enemy, men. If you listen to him, you simply hurt yourselves. By making all this trouble, you're delaying the work of the very men who will hasten to bring you what is your just due." "The company's bankrupt!" snarled the fellow ac cused by Merri well. "You know it!" "Another falsehood," said Frank. "This company is backed by some of the wealthiest financiers in the States. For certain reasons, another railroad doesn't wish this line completed. The agents of that road will spread the report that this company is bankrupt. If you will cease this rioting, and go back to work, inside of five days every man here will receive his pay." Mc>.ny of the strikers could not understand, and they set up a great jabbering, questioning one another con cerning wh"lt the young man was saying. To his in dignation, Merry heard some of these questioning ones informed that the speaker had threatened never to pay them a cent unless they instantly dispersed. "Yeou're wasting your breath on them, Frank!" muttered Gallup. "Yeou can't reason with a lot of critters like these." In spite of Gallup's words, Merry once more made a gesture for silence, and, when he could be heard, he quickly and concisely stated the actual condition of affairs. To the surprise of not a few in the crowd, a part of this speech was made in Spanish, so that those who had not previously understood him were able to comprehend \Yhat he was saying. He saw a change come over the throng. They began to look at each other and mutter that the gringo might be telling the truth. Merry warned them to pay no attention to the ones who were inciting then1 to riot. Having thus sown seeds, which he hoped would spring up and bear good fruit, he again pushed through the crowd, with Eph raim following, and strode away toward the little rail road station. "You've got 'em guessin', Frank," chuckled the Vermonter. "They dunno jest what ter think about it naow. Still, I'm afeared it won't do much good. Stockton's got some of his agents in that bunch, and they'll keep at the critters." "Well, at least it gave us a chance to pass through that trouble," said Merry. "Now, where are we going to find grub for Watson Scott?" "I guess, by gum we can find it on the train. We've got a car-load of canned stuff." "\!Veil, that's all right. It's my opinion that canned food will taste like a Sherry dinner to Old Gripper." They found the laborers gathered about the station platform, many of the negroes sprawling on the ground, where they cooked comfortably in the heat of the sun, with their hats pulled over their eyes. Some of the Italians were playing cards. On the platform two Irishmen were dancing a jig, while a third whistled a lively tune, and half-a-dozen kept time with clapping hands. Casey hurried to meet them. "Where the divvil have you been so long?" he asked. "It's nervous I were gittin' over yez." Gallup made a curt explanation, while Merry turned away and sought the engineer, whom he found oiling his locomotive. "\!Vhat's your name?" asked Merry. "Higgins, sir." "Well, Higgins, I presume you know \tVatson Scott?" "I've seen him, sir. He's the main guy behind this road, isn't he?" "Yes. Do you see that gang of strikers round the '
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IO TIP TOP WEEKLY. panied by Gallup, both being well loaded clown with canned stuff. They had not proceeded half the distance from the station to the '
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TIP TOP WEEKLY. II the gambler. "You wiII find paper and stationery on the table yonder. You might wish to make a will, or something of that sort." "Very thoughtful of you," bowed Merry. "Evi dently you fancy I'll be seized with a sudden fatal ill ness ." "Exactly," bowed Stockton, in return. "I am quite sure of it, and, unfortunately, there is no competent physician present." "Derned if he don't mean ter butcher us!" whispered Ephraim. "Waal, by hemlock, I s u ttinly do wisht I was hum on the farm now !" "Is this your usual method of dealing with your enemies, Stockton?" asked Frank. "Are you a cut throat as well as a gambler? During my life I've met a few men of your profession, and among them all'I've found that the very worst usually boasted that he gave his victims a show I've known Bob Silver, Santa Fe Bill, and Kid Curry. They were all gun-fighters and man-killers, but every one of them insisted that he'd never kill an enemy in cold blood." "Apparently you've met some interesting characters in your day," retorted Stockton. "Curry was my side partner in Texas before they cleaned up El Paso and drove us across the river. I was with him the night he was shot. He was a gun-fighter, but, as you say, he gave every man a show." "I had a little talk with you on the train to-day," came from Merriwell. "You boasted that you also gave every man a square deal. Evidently you were not teJJing the truth." In spite of his nerve, the gambler flushed a bit. "So demand a show, do you?" he said grimly. "vVell, you shall have it. I give every man a show at my own gar,ne. Mendez, will you please have cards brought." The Mexican smiled, and stepped quickly to the door. "H ala, Conchita," he called into the darkness out side. "Bring cards, Conchita." A few moments later there was a rustle outside, and in the doorway appeared a vision that gave both the young Americans a start. It was a girl not over eighteen years of
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12 TIP TOP WEEKLY. She was surpri s ed to hear him a d dress her thus in her own language, and, with a flashing smile, she retorted: "Bese usted les manos, senor." -My hands for your kisses, sir. In a moment Frank had her fingers clasped in his, and pressed his lips to her hands. Something like a strange thrill of hope shot over him as he felt those small, soft fingers give him a quick warm pressure. It was a signal of sympathy-a signal full of hopeful promise. He did not examine the cards thus brought him, but dropped them on the table. As he turned from Conchita, he spoke to Stockton : "We will play with these. What shall the game be?" "I will give you the privilege of naming it," said Stockton with an air of confident g e nerosity. "Perhap;; you would be sati sfied to settle the matter with a p oker hand? That is our great American game for high stakes, and surely the stakes in this game are high enough to satisfy you. What do you say?" "I'm willing," said Frank. "Then it is settled. We'll cut the cards for the deal high card to give the choice. The dealer will throw out two hands. We'll discard and draw. Then we 'll show down. If I hold the high hand, your fate is s ettl e d and y o u 'il be given time t o make your will, writ e letters, if you wi s h, or say a prayer. Mendez will attend to y our disposal. If y o u hold the hi g h hand, I s h all find it necessary to keep you in my care until you can give me no further trouble, after which you will be set at liberty somewhere in the desert, and be permitted to escape with your life, if you can." Conchita was listening intently. Her eyes were fastened on the face of the young American as if searching there for some expression of fear. If this was true, she saw nothing of the sort, for Merriwell's features were as calm as those of one who sits down to play whist in the security of his own home. Although Frank was not nervous, such could not be said of Ephraim Gallup, who quivered in every limb. The Vermonter's face was pale and drawn, and he could not refrain from casting a quick beseeching glance at Conchita. In return, she frowned on him, and shook her head Stockton shuffled the cards, and passed them to Merry for him to do the same. In a moment they were placed once more on the center of the table. "You first, sir," b o wed the gambler. Frank cut and held up a knave-the knave of spades, dark and ominous. The gambler deliberately extended his hand, and lifted a part of the pack, displaying to view the queen of diamonds. "Ah!" he said, with a smile, "the ladies always favor me. It is my choice, and I will deal the cards Then they sat down for that deal of death CHAPTER VIL THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL. A terrible struggle was taking place within Ephraim Gallup's soul. His face was ashen, and in his eyes a deep dread flickered and gleamed. His hands were clenched, while beads of perspiration began to stand out on his forehead. "They mean to kill Frank, sure as fate!" he thought. "There ain't no chance for him. This monkey-busi ness abaout the keerds won't do him no good. Stock ton will trick him. He's the same as done for." It was a fearful thing to see one's dearest friend thus calmly face his fate at the ha11ds of cutthroats. Gallup knew what sort of men those Mexican brigands were. They valued a human life scarcely more dearly than the whiff of a cigarette. To them nothing was sacred and dear save their own worthless lives. As long as they could do so with an assurance of safety and protection, they pillaged and killed without re morse. Fear of punishment was the only thing that restrained them from any crime. At one time a great part of that State of Sonora had been terrorized by the s e bandits, who held ruthless sway in defiance of law and the Mexican Government. In vain troops were sent out to punish them or destroy them. They fled to the fastnesses of the mountains, and, when the troops were gone, they came forth again to their raiding and plundering. Not until President Diaz took the reins of govern ment in his hands were these marauders checked. Diaz realized that the military power of his country was not sufficient to suppress them. Therefore he issued proclamations granting pardon to all outlaws who should come in and lay down their arms. Those who first accepted these terms were not only pardoned, but were practically pensioned for !if e, as the president ap pointed them to permanent paying po s iti o ns under the government. Their comrades held aloof for a time, and looked on in doubt and uncertainty, remembering the usual readiness of the government to forget prom-

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TIP TOP WEEKLY. ises and d ea l out punishment when once it had placed hands on any of their kind. Finally, however, the bandits began to believe that the government was sincere. They noted that their comrades who had surrendered were not only pardoned, but had been given sinecures for life, by they might live in comfort, with no fear of poverty m old age Gradually others followed the example of the first few who surrendered. Still none were punished, and the system of reward continued. After a time the brigands began to make a grand rush to They came in so fast that it was no longer possible to appoint them to the positions like those given the first ones who surrendered. The president had a prob lem on his hands. He could not pension all those out laws off in idleness, as it would make a heavy burden for the country. He solved the problem by organizing the reformed rascals into a sort of military police, every man being well paid and of his pay as lonoas he should serve the country. This military Diaz soon sent out against the brigands who still remained obdurate. The reformed scoundrels were well suited to the task of hunting clown their former comrades in crime. They knew all the haunts of the marauders, and they went at the task with a clash and vigor that was both satisfying and pleasing to the government. Having lived wild lives of peril, they were not such men as could readily settle clown to a quiet, monotonous exist ence, and, therefore, the service they were called upon to perform exactly suited their tastes and inclinations. Many furious battles took place between the new guard of the country and their old outlaw comrades. In these battles great numbers were killed on both s ides On more than one occasion the military suf fered disastrous defeat. This, however, produced no feeling of panic among the officials in the City of Mexico. \tVhen a hundred of the robber military were slain, the officials smiled secretly, for that meant a hun dred less pensioners under the government. At the same time, the bandits were being thinned out. This thing continued until brigandage, as it once flourished in Mexico, was practically a thing of the past. Nevertheless, a few of the most daring and crafty outlaws, who had refused to surrender and become soldiers, succeeded in escaping destruction, and continued their unlawful careers. Of the leaders of these, Mad Mendez was one. About him he gathered, one by one, a following of the most ruthless and determined cutthroats. When hard pressed by the sol diers, he fled with his band into the wildest reaches of the mountains, where time after time he baffled pursuit. All Sonora knew his reputation and feared him. While the military force was present and active, he remained in hiding. When it was withdrawn, he came forth and pillaged again. Strangely enough, when the new railroad began pushing eastward across Sonora, the soldiers departed fr m that region. Mad Mendez and his band came fo r th and boldly mingled with the people, who held em i n dread. But now there was another leader, wh seemed even more powerful than Mendez, and from whom Mendez took orders. It was the Amer ican, Tom Stockton, who was known far and wide as The Wolf. I nstead of raiding, after their usual fashion, Mendez and his men seemed to act as a sort of body-guard for Stockton. That they were well paid, there c o uld be no doubt. Otherwise, they would not be contented to lead such quiet lives. Thos e who meditated wisely on the situation di vined a motive in the apparent peacefulness of the b andits As long as they refrained from raiding and plundering, no complaint could be made to the govern ment and therefore the authorities could claim there was no real necessity of sending troops into Sonora. At last, however, they had struck. A pay train had been held up and robbed. This seemed to indicate that the crisis had arrived, and the time for the great struggle that should decide the fate of the Central Sonora was at hand. Knowing the bloodthirsty inclinations of these men into whose hands they had fallen, it is not strange th a t Gallup should be overcome with apprehension for the life of his old-time comrade. Ephraim thought of Frank's many brave and noble acts. He recalled the old days at Fardale, when they were school-chums together. He recalled their ad ventures in many lands since that time, and he remem bered that more than once he had been defended or rescued from the most deadly peril by this same Mer n" .J who now so calmly faced Tom Stockton, The \ ult. Never for an instant had Merriwell hesitated aho11t r sking his own life in defense of a friend. .. o wonder Ephraim, like many others, had come to regard Frank Merriwell with affection of indescri bable depth. To him, Merry was the finest example of manhood in the world. "They mean to kill him right away," thought the V e rmonter. "If they'd give him a little time, perhaps

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14 TIP TOP WEEKLY. he'd find a way to escape-perhaps Conchita might save him. She would do her best, if I could appea l to her. His life is wuth a gol-derned sight more than mine. He's baound to accomplish great things in the world, while I guess I'll never amaount to a great deal, nohow. Why didn't they pick me aout? I oughter be the one. It's my place to step right for'ard and say so." Then he thought of Teresa and little Frank, and his heart failed him. "I can't do it, by gum!" he hoarsely whispered to himself. "It ain't no use. I'm a gol-dinged coward!" Another thought followed. Frank was married, and somewhere Inza, his wife, was waiting and year n ing for him to return to her. Gallup remembered Inza. Her face seemed to rise before him. and her eyes were fastened beseechingly and reproachfully upon him. He fancied her lips moved, and she murmured: "Is thi s your loyalty to your old comrade?" Stockt on's long, slim fingers were gathering up the cards. He was smiling with confidence as he surveyed the calm, handsome young man seated at the opposite side of the table. To The Wolf, this was entertain*' ment and diversion of a most amusing kind. He had nothing in the balance yet he was playing with a human life. Apparently he was satisfied that the re sult would mean death to Merriwell. With the deftness of one long familiar in handling cards, Stockton divided the pack into two equal por tions, placed the corners together and rippled them, giving them a iittle nudge and a push as he thrust them together. It was the movement of a practised faro dealer. "Frank has no chance against his skill," thought Gallup again. "He knows where every card in the pack lays. If he shuffles a dozen times, and Merry cuts 'em, still he'll deal hisself the keerds he wants." Cold as ice, he watched the graceful, mechanical movements of the gambler. The cards were thor oughly shuffled, and Stockton placed them before Merry, who put out his hand to cut. At this juncture Gallup suddenly moved. With a forward spring, he cried: "Hold on, there, by gum! Jest you wait a minute!" CHAPTER VIII. LOY AL HEARTS. Merriwell looked up in surprise, his hand poised. With an oath, Stockton turned his head and stared at the Vermonter. "\Vhat's the matter with you?" he demanded. "This is not your game. Why do you chip in?'' "I'm interested in this game, gol-dern my punkins if I ain't!" spluttered Gallup. "As long as yeou're baound to massacree one of us, why don't yeou take me?" Stockton's look of surprise was followed by a deri sive, scornful smile. "You?" he said sneeringly. "Yes, me, by thutteration !" palpitated Gallup. "I'm the one to play that game. You git right up Frank, and let me set daown thar. Naow, don't you say no, for I'm goin' to do it, by the everlastin' jingoes !" He reached Merry's side, and literally tried to pull him out of the chair. "Stand back. you crazy idiot!" cried The \Volf, with a snarl. "\tVhat's the matter with you? Are you so anxious for death? If you are, you can have itnow !" Like a flash of lightning, he produced a pistol and leveled it straight at Gallup's heart. Up rose Merriwell, planting himself squarely m front of Ephraim. "Put down that gun, Stockton," he said quietly. "I hardly expected a man like you to pull a shooting iron under such conditions. \Ve're disarmed and help less in your hands. Your cutthroats are outside, where you can call them any moment." The gambler lowered his hand until it rested on the table, still grasping the butt of that deadly weapon. "You're right about that, Merriwell," he admitted; "but I'm not a man who allows any one to interfere with my business. That fool attempted to chip in, and he came within a hair's breadth of getting a bullet in his teeth. Tell him to stand back and keep quiet." Merry turned to Ephraim, grasping one of his hands with a firm pressure of affection. Looking into Gal lup's face, he saw there tokens of the intense anguish the faithful fellow had endured. "It's no use, Ephraim, old chum," he said quietly. "You can't do anything for me. I must play the game to the finish, let that be what it may." "But it ain't fair!" groaned Gallup. "It's a gol derned, murderous shame They oughter picked me aout, anyhow." "My boy, you have much to live for Think of Teresa and the baby." "Think?" muttered Ephraim huskily. "I have thought. I've got them, that's true; but you've got Inza. It'll kill her, Frank! Besides that, it'll be a loss to the whole gol-dinged world. And I don't

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TIP TOP \ EEKLY. 15 guess there'll be nobody besides Teresa and two or three others that'll miss me much." In spite of Merry's nerve, a mist came to his eyes. Such noble self-sacrifice, such untold affection, moved him to the very core. "It's useless, Gallup, old comrade," he said, holding his voice steady with an eff o rt. "You would be an easy victim for this card-sharp. I shall not be so easy. I'm going to play him, Ephraim, and I'm going to beat him." "Y eou can't clew it !" "You shall see. Something tells me I can. It may give me a short respite. Of course they can butcher us b oth any time they ch oos e but, if I win against Stockton, I fancy he ll delay matters somewhat. He boasts of his squareness." ''And yeou know he's crooked all the way through." "If I'm killed," whispered Merry, "you may escape somehow. Tell Inza--" Gallup's chin quivered, but he suddenly brought his teeth together and stiffened up with an effort to steel his nerves "Dael-bing these cutthroats !" he grated. "If I dew live, I'll make 'em suffer for it!" Breathlessly Conchita had watched every movement and listened to every word. when Frank started up before Stockton's pistol, the girl's hand disappeared i nto her bosom, and her eyes seemed to blaze. She crouched slightly, as if on the point of leaping at the gambler's back. Although Stockton did not know it, he was close to death at that moment, for Conchita 's hand grasped the hilt of a stiletto, and her passionate impulse would have led her to bury it into the man's back, had he pulled the trigger. The girl saw Merriwell gently push Gallup away and again sit down at the table. "Madre de Dias!" she breathed. "How brafe he ees How brafe he ees !" "Put up the pistol, Stockton," said Frank. "You don't need it. We'll begin the game." The gambler's weapon disappeared from view, and he smiled once more. "I compliment you on your nerve, Merriwell," he said. "As for the other fellow, I think he's too big a fool to know what he was doing." Mendez stood with folded arms, a most picturesque figure, as he coolly watched all these movements. Seemingly, he was totally indifferent to what hap pened, yet he knew he was the one chosen to act as executioner, should the life of Merri well be forfeited bx that game. The cards lay as Stockton had placed them. Reaching out again, Frank quietly cut them, and once more displayed to view the knave of spades. "It's an omen, Mr. Merriwell," said Stockton. "Twice that dark gentleman has faced you, and spades shall dig your grave. But you've forgotten; you're not cutting for deal now. You should not have ex posed the card. I'll have to shuffle again." Once more he handled the cards in that slippery, skilful manner, and placed them before Frank, who made the cut, after which the gambler joined the two portions of the pack and deliberately began to deal. In the silence of that room, the slipping sound of the cards and the slight noise they made as they fell one on another in two lots was distinctly heard. Merriwell did nGt touch his cards until five lay be fore him. Then he picked them up. Stockton did the s ame, but, instead of looking at hi s hand, he glanced over it with eyes that keenly searched the face of the youth at the opposite side of the table. It was the gambler's trick of seeking to read the strength of an opponent's hand by the expression of his countenance But Frank Merriwell's countenance vvas as immov able and unreadable as that of the Sphinx. It be trayed neither elation nor disappointment. When he surveyed his own cards, Stockton found three queens in his hand. In this he was not disap pointed, for he had expected they would be there. At first glance, Merriwell beheld two aces, one of hearts and one of s p ades On further examination of the hand, he found that it contained a four-straight flush, broken in the middle. He had an ace, deuce, four and five spot of hearts. He took his time to meditate on the hand, sitting there with that same immovable, unreadaole counte nance. A pair of aces seemed good If he drew to them, there was a possibility that he might better them. Perhaps he mi ght secure another ace. What did Stockton hold? Frank asked hi'mself the question, and, for the first time s hi fted his g l a nce the least bit, so that his eyes surveyed the countenance of the gambler. The wolf was still sm ilin g. It was a smile of confi dence, for he believed that the result was at his com mand. "If by any chance," thought Frank, "these cards have been marked sin c e coming from the manufacturer, it is probable that the highest ones are indicated. It's hardly probable that they have been marked below the ten spots."

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I6 TIP TOP WEEKLY. He knew it was the habit of gamblers to mark the high cards of a pack when playing with them. They seldom marked the low cards. Therefore, if this pack was marked Stockton probably knew that, Merry held a pair of aces. But it was doubtful if he knew more about the remaining three cards than that they were small ones. Again surveyed his hand, and for the mo ment he could see nothing but the ace of spades, which seemed to stand before him with such prominence that it overshadowed the others. "Stockton said that spades would dig my grave," he thought. "If I keep that ace, it will do it." "How many cards will you take, sir?" politely in quired the gambler. Deliberately Frank drew the ace of spades from amid the others and placed it on the table. "You may give me one," he said. His eyes were again fastened on Stockton's counte .iance, and he fancied that the gambler betrayed the least touch of surprise. "That man knew I h eld those aces," Merriwell de cided. "He's bothered now, for he doesn't know what I'm trying to do. It's likely he reck ons I'm trying to fill a small straight or an ordinary flush. If I get the three spot of hearts, my hand wins." "Only one card?" said Stockton, lifting his eye brows a bit. "Well, I'm going to draw to the strength of my hand. I'll take two." Merriwell placed his four cards face downward on the table. Stockton to ssed another on top of them, and then took two for himself. Picking up his own hand, the gambler found that he had another queen, which made him four. He laughed a little as he surveyed the quiet youth, who still permitted those cards to lay there, without even glancing at them. "I'm sorry for you, Merriwell," he said. "I see you don't dare look at your hand. I don't blame you." "Oh, you're mistaken," retorted Frank. "I'm not at all afraid to look at it." Behind Merry's chair, Gallup was shaking like one with the ague. Conchita leaned forward, her lips parted, scarcely seeming to breathe. Mendez still stood, calm and immovable, with folded arms. "Perhaps it's not worth while for you to show your cards at all," said the triumphant gambler. "I have you beaten." "If so, you must have a good hand," said Merry. "I have, nodded The Wolf. "The ladies always favor me, as I previously remarked. I have four of them here." He spread them out, face upward, on the table. Frank leaned forward a bit and looked at the hand. "That's pretty good," he confessed. "Pretty good," echoed The \i\Tolf; "I should say it was! Of course it's not worth while for you to show your hand, but still, I'd like to know what you drew to and what you hold ." "I drew to hearts," said Merriwell. "You boast that you've ever been favored by the ladies. I, in turn, have always had the favor of loyal hearts. All through my life hearts have been true to me. And," he added, lifting his voice a little, "t!1ey are true to me now, for I hold a straight flush of hearts." One by one he picked up and exposed the four cards he had held before the draw. He showed the ace, deuce, four and five spot, and then paused. "Ha! ha!" laughed Stockton. "You were foolish to draw to such a hand. You have not one chance in five thousand of filling it with the three spot of hearts." "But I took that chance," said Merry; "and here is the three spot." He turned the card over. It was the three spot of hearts! CHAPTER IX. CONCHITA'S PROMISE. In spite of herself, Conchita uttered a low, short cry. Fortunately, her exclamation was unheard by Stock ton or Mendez, for at the same moment the gambler gave vent to an oath. Ephraim Gallup staggered to a chair, on which he fell, as limp and nerveless as a wet rag. "Well, of all luck!" cried The Wolf, in exasperation. "How did you know that card was the one you wanted?" "My guardian genius whispered would draw it," answered Frank. after that." in my ear that I "I never doubted Mendez had been robbed of the immediate pleasure of cutting a throat, and he betrayed disappointment. As soon as he realized that Merriwell had actually won, Stockton snapped his fingers and rose from the table, at the same time catching up the cards and giving them a flirt that scattered them over the floor,

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TIP TOP WEEKLY. 17 "That's the first time they ever turned against me," he said. "But it's not likely to be the last time luck will run against you," retorted Merry. "I think the tide has turned, Stockton. From this time on, you may find yourself up against it." The Wolf shrugged his shoulders and showed his pointed teeth in a grim smile. "I'll not worry about that," he said. "As far as you're concerned, I'll keep my word, and spare you for the present. You'll be held a prisoner here while I c on tinue operations. To tell you the truth, since our little game, I'd really hate to do you any bodily harm. I admire your nerve, young man." "No thanks," flung back Merry. "Your admiration does not Batter me in the least. As for you, Stockton, your career is pretty sure to come to a violent end. There is only one method by which you can avert such a calamity to yourself. If you fancy you can get the best of the powers behind the Central Sonora by the methods you are pursuing, you're doomed to disap pointment." "Vv e'll not discuss that," the gambler sharply cut in. "I know my business, and a stripling like you can't give me points and advice. As for you and your friend, you'll be held captives here as long as it's safe to keep you at this old ranch. When it becomes dangerous, you'll either be moved-or snuffed out. While you're prisoners, I'll see that you're made fairly comfortable. Mendez, Conchita, remove these can dles. Leave two; that will be enough for them." The candles were gathered up, and Stockton paused at the door to again survey Merriwell from his head to his feet. "With a side partner of your nerve," he said, "I could govern the whole of northern Mexico." The door closed behind him, and they heard a heavy bolt pushed into its socket. Gallup seized Frank's hand and shook it; following which, he embraced Merry and gave him a bearlike hug. "Waal, dern my potetters !" he cried. "I never spected to see yeou git out of that. By ginger, it was wonderful !" "It was wonderful," admitted Merry soberly. "I don't know why I had such confidence that I wou ld draw that trey of hearts. Something seemed to tell me I could not fail." "Waal, we're still alive and kickin'," laughed the Vermonter. "We're kicking, but the boundaries of our kicks will be limited to this room, unless something new velops." "Thar's Ephraim. gal?" a chance for us now, Frank," whispered "Did yeou notice anything abaout that "Conchita?" "Yes." "Gallup, she knows you." "I should say she did, by hemlock! Why, Frank, she was daown at old Don Juan's ranch when the babby was born. Gol-ding it all! she's Teresa's cousin." "Her cousin?" exclaimed Merry, in astonishment. "Sure as potetter-bugs is a pest." "Her cousin? Is that possible?" "Waal, it does seem dinged queer. But yeou see, the old don was one of these bandits before he reformed and settled daown. I never see Conchita till she came to visit us. Did11't know nothin' abaout her. Teresa never told me much, though one day she did kinder hint that Conchita's brother was a lawless rascal. .He must be one of these gal-dinged wolves." "I think that's the explanation of it, Gallup," nodded Frank. "There seems no other good reason for the presence of such a girl in this place. Conchita cer tainly had good sense when she kept still and concealed the fact that she knew you." "That's right, by jingoes I come pretty nigh givin' it away, but she jest clapped a finger onto her purty mouth, and frowned at me and shook her head." "Ephraim, we have a friend at court." "Hey? What do you mean?" "Conchita may assist us somehow." "That's right, by juniper! I'm thinking she'll try to dew it." "We'll have to depend on her, for doubtless we'll be closely guarded, and any attempt on our part to es cape from this room will be the signal for our slaugh ter." "Guess that's so. starve us to death. gry myself." Anyhaow, I hope they don't I'm gittin' purty thunderin' hun"I could eat something, too," admitted Merry. An hour had not passed when they heard the bolt of the door move, and the door it se lf swung open. Conchita appeared, bearing a wooden tray, on which there was fruit, food and drink. As s he entered, they caught a glimpse of tvvo fierce-looking Mexicans be hind her, but she closed the door firmly in the faces of the guards. Frank hastened to take the tray from her hands.

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TIP TOP WEEKLY. Ephraim grabbed her, literally beaming with de light. "Gol-ding it all, Conchita, I'm tickled to death to see ye!" he spluttered. "Hush! hush! she whispered. "Have the caution. The men outside will hear." "Yes, just lower that voice of yours a little, Gallup," warned Frank, in a low tone. "Don't get so exu berant." "But yeou ain't told me how it is that yeou're here, Conchita," said the Vermonter. "Last time I see yeou was when you bid us adios at the old don's ranch." "Eet. ees not able I am to explain all," hastily whis pered the girl. "My brother, he ees paid to help Sefior Stockton. He ees here. Leesen You here zose men singing?" They stood quite still, and faintly, from some distant part of the old hacienda, came the sound of many voices in song. "He ees zere," said the girl. "Zey are dreenking. Oh, eef zey will all geet the intoxication!" "So they're whoopin' it up, be they?" said Gallup. "Waal, it might be a purty good thing if they all gut corned." "Ze_y are dreenking t he mescal. But eet ees not Sefior Stockton nor Senor Mendez who weel dreenk eet. Mendez, he watch me all the time. I cannot geet away from him. Eet seems he have the suspi cion of me." "That's bad," said Merry. "Eet ees vary, vary bad. Steel, mebbe I fool him. Hush! I know somezeeng about zis room zat nobody else know. One time zis hacienda belong to the vary reech man, who was the poleetical offender. He lif here in the great seclusion. But sometim e he ex pect the officers to come for him. He have it feexed so when they come he git away---
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TIP TOP WEEKLY. 19 who smoke are chumps, for it certain does dull their brains; and cigarettes, same as some fellers used to sm oke at school, has upset lots of 'em. But when a feller gits to be a man grown, and he plants a square meal under his vest, a good clay pipe jest tops it off in fine fashion. So here goes, by thutteration It was not a clay pipe Ephraim produced, but it was a cornc ob, and, when it was lighted, the Vermonter began to roll forth clouds of smoke. "I presume you can see the difference between your style of smoking and that of the natives down this way," said Frank. "They smoke cigarettes, it is true; but they don't smoke the way Americans do. A few puff s seems to satisfy them. They pick it up and smoke a bit now and then. The women down here are inclined to sm oke." "Inclined?" grinned Ephraim. "Why, gol-ding it! abaout all of them take a whiff." "Yes; but neither the women nor men sit down to smoke, after the American fashion, and literally raise a thunder-cloud. Now, look at the smoke you're kicking up, Gallup. You're puffing away as if your life depended on it. A Mexican seems to smoke for pleas ure, but an American smokes as if he meant to burn up as much tobacco as possible in a short tim e." "Guess that's right," admitted the Vermonter. "But I've got the American habit, and it gives me satisfaction." 1 Finally Ephraim's pipe went out, his jaw dropped, permitting the corncob to fall to the floor, and a mo ment later he began to snore. Also making himself as comfortable as possible, Frank extinguished one of the two remaining candles, and soon slept. More than an hour had passed, when Merry awoke with a start, to find Conchita standing before him, one hand lifted in a warning gesture. "Make not the sound!" she whispered. "Come, eet ees the time to try for the escape." CHAPTER X. THROUGH THE SECRET PASSAGE. Frank was wide-awake in an instant. Gallup continued to snore lustily, but Merry quickly rose and shook the Vermonter, pressing a smothering hand over his mouth as Ephraim awoke "Be still, Gallup," Frank whispered in his ear. "Con chita is here." As he saw a look of comprehension come into the Vermonter's eyes, he stepped back. "Derned if I wasn't dreaming I was hoeing potet ters on the old farm!" muttered the Yankee. "It was dratted hard work, too. My back was aching, and I had forty-one more long rows to hoe. That's the way it used to be when I was a boy. Thutteration didn't I hate to hoe potetters !" "We're going to try a little hoeing of a different sort now," said Frank, in that guarded manner of his. "We're gG.ing to see if we can't get out of the clutches of these vVolves." Gallup rubbed his back as he slowly straightened up. "Guess I got a cramp on that old chair," he mum bled. "Howdy, Conchita. We're mighty glad to see ye, yeou bet yer !" "Eet may be we haf trouble before away we can geet," whispered the girl, who seemed literally athrob with excitement. "I haf breeng you these weapon." She thrust a heavy revolver into Frank's hand and gave Gallup another. "Are they loaded?" asked Merry. "Si, sefior, they both haf the load. Ees eet how with them you know to shoot?" "You leave that to us, by gum!" chuckled Gallup "You oughter see Merry shoot! I bet a good Hubbard squash he can pick the buttons off Mendez's jacket at thirty paces!" "Eet ees well," murmured the girl. "Eef you haf to shoot, do so; but I hope eet will not for maybe my brother might be the one you heet." "Then your brother is with these men?" questioned Merry. "vVe thought it might be that way." "He ees here, and Pedro." "Who is Pedro?" "He ees the friend to me. He knows; he wee! help. I tell heem everytheeng. He weel haf the four good horses ready." "Are you sure you can trust. Pedro?" "Trust Pedro?" repeated Conchita. "He w;uld geef his life for me." Then Frank understood that Pedro was Conchita's lover. "Well, that's good," said Merry. "Now, how do we get out of this trap?" The girl caught up the candle, which had burned low and was flickering in its greasy socket. Holding it above her head with a graceful movement, she pointed toward the wall and there the two young saw a dark, rectangular opening, like a low doorway.

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20 TIP TOP WEEKLY. "Eet ees the way to the secret passage," explained the senorita. "By the passage we can geet down to the door that wee! open into the patio. There we wee! find Pedro and the horses." "How are the men? '' questioned Frank. "Has the mescal put them t o sleep?" "Almost the all of them," she answered. "My brother he sleep with the rest, so I theenk perhap there ees no danger to heem. But The Wolf, the Senor Stockton, he dreenk not at all." "Well, lead on, Conchita. If we ever reach those horses, it will take more than a regiment of drunken men to stop us. Even as the girl took the first step toward that open door in the wall, a sound reached their ears that caused their nerves to tighten like electrified wires. Some one was at the door! The bolt moved in its sockets! "Queek queek !" panted Conchita. "They come! The guard !" Gallup made a leap and plunged into the darkness of that secret doorway. Conchita lingered for Frank to precede her, but he grasped her with his strong arms and pushed her ahead of him. As he did so, he glanced backward, and saw the door of the room flung wide open to admit Stockton him self, followed by two Mex icans, one of whom carried a flaring light. Evidently The \N olf insta ntly understood what was happening, for a snarl came from his lips, his hand flew up, and there was a flash of fire and the dull, jarring report of a pistol Merriwell felt the wind of the bullet as it passed his ear. At the same instant Conchita blew out the candle with a puff of her breath. In the darkness of the passage, Frank whirled and fired once. He aimed at the hand of the Mexican who was holding the flaring light aloft. There was a cry of pain, and the light fell to the floor, being extinguished, and plunging the room into darkness. Then Merrivvell was seized by the quivering hands of the Mexican girl, who pulled him along, cho kingly crying: "Madre de Dios! You weel be keeled! Hurry, s enor, hurry!" "Bad luck!" muttered Merriwell. "Somehow that sneaking wretch suspected what was happening, and he appeared just in time to kick up this racket and arouse the re st of the Wolves." "Eef he catches me, he weel keel me!" breathed the excited girl. "He'll not do that until after he has finished us," promised Frank. "We'll stand by you, Conchita, as long as we have strength to fight. "Eet ees so brafe you are," she returned, as they pressed onward through the narrow passage. Ahead of them there was a sudden racket and thumping, which ended with a thud and a spluttered volley of exclamations from the Vermonter. "The stairs!" exclaimed Conchita. "He has found the stairs!" "I should say so!" muttered Merry. "And he didn't stop long in descending them. Evidently he fell clean from the top to the bottom." "Here they are. Careful, senor!" Down the dark, mysterious staircase they hastened. At the foot they found Gallup, who had gathered him self up and was still spluttering. "Hope you didn't break any bones, Ephraim." "Gol-ding it! No, I guess not; but, by ginger! I bet I lost more'n two yards of good Yankee skin. Didn't know the dinged o ld stairs was thar, and I jest stepped right off inter space. Then I went scootin' down on the bridge of my nose." "There are steel more stairs," warned the girl. "Keep close, and I wee! tell you when we reach them." Now they heard voices behind them in the passage. Stockton was shouting to his Mexican comrades, and, looking backward and upward Merry saw him appear in the glare of light, which told that the torch had again been ignited. The light was behind The Wolf, and he was clearly outlined as he hesitated on the top most stair. Frank turned, with his pistol lifted and his finger on the trigger. "I can end the difficulties of the Central S onora in one second," be thought. He was cert ain that he would not miss that dark figure if he fired. In fancy he saw him self shoot, saw Stockton fling up his arms and come thudding down the stairs, to land a lifeless heap at the bottom. Who shall say Merriwell would not have been justi fied in shooting? The act would have been one of self-preser vation, which is nature's first 1aw. Still, Fra nk hesitated to stain his hands with human blood unless absolutely forced to do so. Once more Conchita seized his elbow and tried to pu11 him along, at the same time wildly urging him to hast en He obeyed, and Stockto n was spared. The second flight of stairs was descended in safety,

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TIP TOP WEEKLY. 2Il and soon they came to the door at the end of the pas sage, which was so narrow that Conchita could not pass Gallup, who was ahead of her. "Let me find the secret fastening!" she fluttered. "I know where eet ees. Stoop low, Senor Gallup, that I may reach ofer you ." He complied, while once more Frank Merriwell faced about to watch for their pursuers. The light grew stronger in the passage, and again it silhouetted a human form. "Halt where you are, Stockton!" rang out Merri well's voice. "Another step, and I shall fire!" Behind Frank, Conchita was panting: "Oh, I cannot find eet, ze fastemng Where ees eet ?" With an oath, the gambler stood in his tracks, appar ently seeking to peer into the gloom ahead of him, "vVhat are you trying to do, Merri well, you fool?" he shouted "You can't escape me!" Frank fancied the man meant to shoot by calcula tion when he again heard the voice of one of the fugi tives. Still Merry ventured to fling back a warning: "Lift that pistol, and I'll drill you!" he threatened. "I can see you plainly in the light. You can't see me. The advantage is mine." Evidently that was enough to cause The Wolf to hesitate. The man realized that Merriwell spoke the truth. Conchita uttered a low cry of joy. "I haf eet !" she exclaimed. "The door ees open! Come, come !" They sprang out into the darkness of a flagged arch way. The girl slammed the door behind them just as there was a muffled shot in the passage. Evidently Stockton had fired, but his bullet was wasted. Out from beneath the archway they fled into the courtyard, now made bright with the light of the moon. In a far corner of the yard were shadows and deep gloom and there something seemed to move. "Pedro! my Pedro!" called the girl. "H ala, Conchita!" came back the glad answer. Pedro was there, and with him were four saddled and bridled horses. Within the building there was now no small uproar. Voices called loudly and hoarsely. Even as the fugitives mounted the ready horses, two men rushed into the courtya1_.d and sped across in the moonli ght toward the wide-open gate / "They are going t o clo s e the gate!" hissed Merry. "Charge, everybody!" The flagstones of the courtyard gave out a mad clatter of hoofs that was echoed from the walls around as they shot forward toward the gate. Frank had made no mistake, for the two Mexicans were seeking to close the last avenue of escape. Be fore they could accomplish the task, however, the fugi tives were right upon them, and they leaped for their lives to get from beneath the hoofs of those galloping horses. Merry uttered a shout of triumph as out into the open world they shot, with freedom ahead of them and the baffled Wolves behind. CHAPTER XL AT DON JUAN'S "HACIENDA." It was high noon. Dressed in spotless white duck and taking his ease as he smoked a cigarette in the shade of the hacienda wall, lounged old Don Juan Espinazo. A wild and adventurous life had this old man lived. In the fiery days of his youth, he had been a "patriot" officer in ranks of the revolutionists. when the cause for which he fought met def eat and he was de clared an outlaw, with a band of his followers he re tired to the wilds of Sonora, where for years he fol lowed the career of a Mexican bandit. But now age had cooled his hot blood, and, having been pardoned by the government, the old man was content to pass his declining days in peace on the broad acres of his ranch. To-day he had caused his big canvas chair to be placed there in the shadow of the wall, where he might sit, and smoke, and gaze away down the far-stretching valley where grazed his herds. In spite of his years, the old don's eyes were keen as ever. Suddenly he stirred a bit and languidly lifted himself, with a slight show of interest. After a long look into the distance, he murmured: "Some one approaches. Horsemen are coming yon der. Evidently I am to be honored with visitors." In the days when his hair was untouched by the frosting fingers of time the appearance of strangers in the distance would have instantly placed him on guard. Now, however, he had no premonition of dan ger, and he waited with something like pleasant antici pation for the unknown riders to approach As they came nearer, he s aw there were four of them, and a few moments later he made certain that one was a female. "They have ridden far and hard," murmured Don

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22 TIP TOP WEEKLY. Juan. "Their beasts are fagged and faltering. They will be hungry, thirsty, and tired." Then he lifted his voice in a musical call, which soon brought a peon to his side. "Hondo, have men ready to care for the horses of my visitors and give directions that refreshments are spread for them," said the don. "Si, senor," murmured the peon, and hastened away. As the weary rider s approached, the old don rose from his chair and stood waiting in a dignified manner to greet them One of them waved a hat in the air, and the old don smiled. "It is Ephraim, my beloved son," he said. "He brings friends with him. Ah! Teresa will be happy again to see the light of her life." But it was not Ephraim at whom the o ld don gazed with keenest interest as the four approached. His eyes were fastened on the tanned face of another young American, who sat in the saddle as if a part of the horse he bestrode. As this young man drew rein and sprang to the ground, the old don hastened forward, with hand outstretchl.!rl, his face wreathed in a wel come smile. "Senor Merriwell," he cried softly, "it is the great est pleasure of my old age to again behold you! Wel come to my home!" Seeing them then, no one could have dreamed that these two men, the youth and the aged don, had once been most deadly enemies. But the noble treatment accorded Espinazo by the young American, who had conquered and defeated him, had been sufficient to turn bitter hatred into eternal friendship. "I certainly am glad to see you again D o n Juan," said Merry, as he heartily shook the old man's hand. "Welcome to you and your friends, brought thither by my beloved son,'' said Espinazo. "My home is yours, and all it contains." Then came several peons, who took charge of the tired horses and led them away. The visitors followed the master of the hacienda into the coo lness of the courtyard, where suddenly a graceful, dark-eyed woman came running to meet them and was folded in Gallup's strong arms. "Here she is, Frank, by hemlock!" cried the proud Vermonter. "Here's Teresa! Jest take a look at her. She used to be a purty tarnal good-looker, but she gets handsomer and handsomer every day." Blushing and murmuring, Teresa greeted Frank. "It's the truth you speak,'' smiled Merry, regarding his friend's wife with frank admiration. "I agree with you in every particular." They were escorted into the house, Teresa clinging to her husband and murmuring something in his ear. "Sure, sure,'' chuckled Ephraim. "We'll jest take him right up and show him our offshoot." Soon Merry found himself standing beside a gen uine American baby crib, in which lay a sleeping child. "There he is, bi thutteration !" said Gallup, throwing out his chest. "That's the boy, Frank. Ain't he a ripper? Wake up thar, buster! Your paw is here, you rascal !" He touched the baby's cheeks, and, with a smile, it opened its dark eyes and gazed wonderingly at them. "Zoozy little wunky-chunky ?" cried Gallup, as he lifted the infant from the crib and held it up. "Looker them eyes, Frank; jest like his maw's. This is the fust time I ever beat you at anything in my life, Merry; but you ain't in it." Then Ephraim danced awkwardly about with the child, who laughed, and smacked him on the cheek with one open chubby hand. Teresa looked on with unspeakable pride, while the old don stood near, beaming at them all. "Let me take him,'' urged Frank. "Waal," said Gallup doubtfully, "I don't know's he'll go to you. He's jest a little shy of strangers. Don't like nobody to handle him but his maw and paw." A moment later he was expressing his surprise, for the baby had shown no fear when transferred to Merry's arms. Instead of that, it cooed and jumped its little body with a movement indicating delight and desire to be playful. "Waal, dern my punkins !" muttered Gallup. "The little reprobate certainly knows his friends. Never see him act that way before, did you, Teresa? Say, Frank, you l ook purty fine and fatherly yourself. Haw! haw! haw!" To the surprise of all, having once been transferred to Frank, the child immediately set up a protest when they sought to take him away. "Look out, Gallup, or you'll lose him,'' laughed Frank. "I shall be tempted to steal him. Let me keep him awhile. I'll just sit down here with him and talk it over. V./ e 'll have a sociable little time to gether." "Say, you oughter see the cute things he does some time s," said Gallup. "\i\[hy, once when I called him Jim Jeffries, he up and punched me right plumb in the eye. And dinged if I don't believe he can talk some. You oughter hear him. Why, he says 'goo-goo' jest as plain as can be."

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TIP TOP WEEKLY. 23 "Goo-goo," said the baby. "Thar, didn't I tell ye!" whooped Gallup. "Did you ever hear one talk as young as that?" "Never," confessed Frank laughingly. MelTy sat down with the baby cuddled in his arms in such a manner that the little fellow could reach his face and explore it with curious fingers. Teresa whispered something to her husband. "All right," said Ephraim; "go ahead. I guess Frank can take keer of the child. Git the fodder to gether, for we're jest abaout as empty as a drum, the whole of us." Pedro and Conchita were escorted away by Teresa, who had been delightea to see her cousin in this unex pected manner. The old don followed them to tlie door and finally excused himself, leaving Frank with the baby. Fifteen or twenty. minutes later Ephraim and Teresa returned to that room to call Merry. Outside the door they paused, listening to the cradle song Frank was singing. They looked at each other, and the light that lay deep in their eyes was that fairest glow ever beheld by man on land or sea. Their hands met, and like children they tiptoed closer to the door and peered Ill. There was Frank, with the child's head pillowed on his shoulder, its cheek against his and its eyes closed in the sweet repose that had been wooed by the cradle song. CHAPTER XII. MEN OF TIGERISH MOLD. Refreshments were followed by a brief siesta, during which Merriwell slept and recuperated. The old don was waiting for him when he awoke. "I have heard much of the story from my most respected and honored son," said Espinazo. "I know not this man they call The Wolf, but Mendez I know well. He is a sneak. It is marvelous you were not murdered." "We should be thankful that we escaped with our lives," admitted Frank. "It is so, senor; but while you slept other visitors have appeared. Step to this balcony, where we can look into the patio." From a balcony they looked down into the court yard, and there, to his surprise, Merry saw nearly half a-hundred brigandish-appearing men, all fully armed :ind seeming ready for some desperate enterprise. "\Vho are they?" he exclaimed, in astonishment. "Yonder slender man you see," said the don, point ing toward one of the band beneath, who seemed to have an air of command about him, "was once Men dez's trusted comrade. His name is Maro. Mendez was jealous of him, and a:t one time they quarreled over a senorita. Although the quarrel was settled without bloodshed, Mendez nourished in his heart deep est hatred for Maro. He was treacherous, and there fore he paanned to betray Maro into the hands of the military. His dastardly plot worked perfectly, and Maro was captured, while Mendez escaped. Of course Maro was sentenced to death. He has told me how it was he escaped, a most marvelous story. He did not die beneath the guns of the executioners, and he is here, although for months he has been in hiding and lived the life of a clog. When he escaped, he swore vengeance on Mendez. At last the time has come; and he has gathered up this band of' men, all of whom are my old followers. They all know me by reputa tion. Maro trusts me. That's why he is here. I have told Maro that you know where it is possible Mendez. may be found. Do you think you could lead those men to the place ?P Frank hesitated a moment before replying. "On one condition," he said. "And that is what, senor?" "That I have absolute command of those tigers, for tigers they certainly appear to be. They must obey me in every particular. I must be the leader, Maro my lieutenant." The old don shrugged his shoulders. "I.t is possible he will not agree to such terms," he said. "Still I am not certain I will tell him what I know of you. But why do you ask it?" "I am willing that Maro should settle his trouble with Mendez, should he choose, if I bring them to gether, but Stockton I claim as my own prey." "You will kill that man?" "Oh, no, Don Espinazo, I shall not kill him unless forced to do so. I have had my opportunity. I might have shot him as we fled through the secret passage of the old ranch. A pistol was in my hand, and its muzzle was turned upon him I did not fire." Don Juan regarded the young American in a singular manner. "E.ven yet I do not you, a m.igo ," he confessed. "You might have destroyed me long ago when we were enemies, yet you refrained, and now we are friends. It is a strange manner in which you deal with your enemies. Still you conquer them. How it comes about I cannot say."

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24 TIP TOP WEEKLY. "It's not my place to take the execution of the law into my hands," said Merry. "Are you aware, Sefior Merriwell, that the law of this country may not punish Senor Stockton? My respected and honored son tells me he believe the government would willingly see this gambling Ameri can ruin the railroad you are building and bring all its work to naught." "Without doubt Ephraim is correct. But I believe Tom Stockton is wanted in the States for crimes com mitted there. I shall endeavor to take him out of Mexico, a captive, and let the law of my own country deal with him." "Ah! I see," murmured the old man. "You will make yourself much trouble, however-much unneces sary trouble-. If you were to give the command, those men you call tigers would dispose of the gambling American, should he be caught." "I have stated the c ondi tions on which I will lead them against Stockton and Mendez," said Frank. "Shall I not accompany you and speak with Maro?" "If you choose, senor." They descended and mingled with those ferocious looking men, who eyed Frank curiously. The old don introduced Merriwell and Maro. The bandit bowed with grace and ease as he acknowledged the presen tation. "It is the honor of my life, senor," he murmured. "The don has spoken to me of you. He tells me that only the night past you escaped from the hands of the enemy I seek. When I find this man, sefior, my steel shall drink his blood, and he'll bother you no more." Beneath the cool, smooth manner in which Maro spoke there was a certain chilling deadliness that plainly bespoke his intense and bitter hatred for the treacher ous wretch who had betrayed him. "The don will tell you on what conditions I'll lead you and your men against Mendez," said Frank. Maro listened as Espinazo spoke. For one moment he surveyed Frank from head to feet as if in doubt. The aged host noted the look and hastened to remind Maro that this youthful American was the one who had mastered and conquered Black Jerez himself. At this, Maro bowed again. "From your lips I know it is true, Don Juan," he said. "He must be a brave man and a great fighter, else you would not say so. What do you advise me to do?" "It is my advice that you. accept him for your com mander for the time being. I am certain you can trust him." "Then it shall be so," said Maro. "I am pledged to you, and I pledge you each and all of my men, whom you see about you. When will you be ready to start?" "Inside of thirty minutes," answered Frank. "I can start in a third of that time, if you wish." "It is well." Then Maro lifted his voice and made a signal which brought those fierce-looking ruffians flocking to the spot, where they gathered and listened when he ad dressed them. "My comrades," he said, "you have sworn to obey me in all things. Is it not true?" "It is true, captain," they answered. "Then, comrades you are to make ready again to ride, and ride hard and far. Don Espinazo has graciously given me the use of the best horses from his stables. Our mounts will be fresh. If the saints favor us, ere the moon pales and wanes to-night we'll meet the traitor Mendez, and I will settle with him." They murmured their satisfaction in fierce, low voices. "But from this time until I tell you differently, you are to implicitly obey the command of this American, my friend, Sefior Merriwell. He is now your leader, and I am his lieutenant." Although some of those fierce rascals betrayed sur prise in their looks, by no word did they express it. As Merry looked them over, he recalled the time when he had commanded thirty desperadoes in defense of his mine in Arizona. But not even his "Terrible Thirty" had composed such a band of picturesque and unscrupulous-appearing men. These bravos of Mexico were the very limit. Frank hastened from the courtyard and entered the house to make ready for the start. Just within the door he came face to face with Conchita. She stood there, half blocking the passage. "Oh, sefior," she murmured, "I know what eet ees you mean to do. I know you are going back there to encounter those bad men. Your life wee! be in the great danger. Perhap you may be keeled!" "Don't worry about me, Conchita," said Merry, with a queer feeling. "I shall try to take care of myself for the sake of my wife." She started as if shot, and her face turned very pale. "Your wife?" she whispered. "You are marreed ?'' "Yes." "I deed not know. Eet ees right that you should have the caution for her sake. I will pray to the saints for your safety, sefior. Adios !"

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TIP TOP WEEKLY. 25 But, when he had passed on, she stood there, press ing her hands to her throbbing heart. "Marreed," she whispered, "and I deed not know! Oh, well, perhap eet ees better, for, if Pedro knew the truth, he would keel me." CHAPTER XIII. THE WOLF MEETS HIS MASTER. Of course Merriwell was aware that the game might be flown. Still he hoped such would not prove the case. It seemed scarcely probable that Mendez and The Wolf would take alarm over his escape, for they would reckon that he could do little in the next few days to disturb them. Besides that, it would require some time for the Mexicans who had caroused by drinking mescal to recover from the effects of the debauch. It seemed likely that those men would not think of moving until the followin g day. In such a case, Frank Merriweil and the tigerish band who aided him would find the prey unaware and unprepared. "Gol-ding it if thar ain't liable to be a hot time before mornin' !" muttered Gallup, as he rode by Merry's side. "Teresa didn't want me to come. She was skeert that I'd git punctured with a bullet or carved up by a toad-sticker. Say, Frank, it does give me a mighty queer feeling up and daown my spiral column jest to look araound at this gang. If the old don hadn't said they was all right, I'd never trusted my hide with 'em." "It's sometimes a good plan to fight fire with fire," said Merry. "You remember the old sayinO' about set-. tmg a thief to catch a thief." The moon came up at last and soared high in the cloudless sky. On and on rode that strange band across the plains, along the valleys, and through the hills. The morning star was paling a bit when the dark out lines of the hacienda they sought loomed before them. Slackening speed, they approached it slowly .and cau tiously. Not a light gleamed. The place seemed deserted. "Ding my potetters if I don't believe the whole bunch has skedaddled!" said Gallup regretfully. "We'll soon know if they have," came from Frank. The gate was open, and at a low command from Merry the whole band went clattering into the court yard, sending up a wild shout. Suddenly the place awoke. There were sounds within the hacienda. Lights flashed. Men were there. The Wolves were trapped! Frank led a body of those desperadoes, and they battered down a door and went tramping and cursing into the building. The voice of Maro was lifted in chal lenge. "Mendez, thou cowardly dog," he shouted, "come and face me! Come and die at my hand Hide not, thou craven wretch, for I will find thee!" Suddenly there were shots and the sharp clash of bat tle, for the arouseq wretches stood on the defensive. In a brief space of time half-a-dozen miniature battles were being waged within the rooms of that old build ing. Men met, and grappled, and fought furiously. Amid all the turmoil and carnage, Frank Merri well hurried from room to room, searching for The Wolf. He found Stockton at last, standing alone by an open door, a pist o l in his hand. "Surrender!" cried Frank, leveling his own weapon at the gambler. "To blazes with you!" snarled Stockton, as he fired and fled. Merry leaped aside, as he saw the man's hand rise, and the act saved his life, for the bullet clipped a piece from his sleeve. Stockton had disappeared into the darkness. Merri well caught up a heavy candlestick, in which a candle was burning and fearlessly rushed in pursuit. He came to a flight of stairs, which led upward and these quickly brought him out upon the flat roof of the building. A sudden breath, that seemed to come from the lips of the awaking morning, extinguished the candle. Not fifteen feet away, Stockton was standing wi.th his pistol ready. "You fool!" he said harshly. "You've come to your death! I can shoot y o u before you can lift your gun!" They stood thus, staring at each other, while the eastern sky took on a faint pearly tint. From the house beneath them still rose sounds of deadly conflict. In the courtyard men were shouting, and a pistol shot was fired. "You trapped me, Merriwell, admitted the gambler. "I didn't expect it. I don't understand how you did it in such a lively fashion. It's plain your men have the best of mine, for we were taken by surprise. Old Gripper was right in thinl
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26 TIP TOP WEEKLY.
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TIP TOP WEEKLY. 27 NEW YORK, December 23, 1905. TERMS TO TIP TOP WEEKLY MAIL SUBSCRIBERS. (Postage Free.) Slazle Coples or Back Numbers, Sc. Each. 3 months....................... 65c. I One Y!Jar ........................ $2.50 4 months....................... 85c. 2 copies one year .............. 4.00 6 months ....................... $1.25 1 copy two years .............. 4.00 How to Send Money-By post-office or express money order, registered letter, bank check or draft, at our risk. At your own risk I! sent by currency, coin, or postage stamps in orrlinary letter. Recei'(>ts-Receipt of your remittance Is acknowledged by proper change or number on your lallel. If not correct you have not been properly credited, and should let us know at once. .STREET & SMITH'S TIP TOP WEEKLY, 79-89 Seventh Avenue, New York City, TIP TOP ROLL OF HONOR.. Following the suggestion of Mr. Burt L Standish, that appeared in his letter to Tip Top readers in No. 480, the following loyal Tip Toppers have won for themselves a place on our Honor Roll for their efforts to increase the circulation of the King of Weeklies. Get in line boys and girls and strive to have your name at the head of the list William Alkire, 295 Laurel St., Bridgeton, N. J. z. T. Layfield, Jr., Montgomery, Ala. J. G. Byrum, Chattanoga, Tenn. Wm. Schwartz, New York City. Edw. W. Pritner, Curelsville, Pa. H. D. Morgan, Indianapolis, Ind. \Vm. A. Cottrell, Honolulu, H. I. J. (Pop) H., Birmingham, Ala. Roy R. Ball, 902 Olive Street, Texarkana. Fred F. Blake, 1512 E. 10 St., Kansas City, Mo. The names of other enthusiastic Tip Toppers will be added from time to time. Send in the result of your efforts to push the circula tion of your favorite weekly and win a place on the Roll of Honor. APPLAUSE. Owing to the number of letters received, the editors of Tip Top cannot undertake to secure their publication under six weeks. Those who contribute to this department must not expect to see them before that time. When I first laid my eyes on a TIP ToP, I thought it all trash and nonsense, but I was mistaken when I read my first one. I have read all classes of fiction, and as good as they are, none can compare with TIP ToP. It is a pity that the stories are not a few chapters longer. I have not read about Frank Merriwell, and do not know what he is like. I can't see how Dick could have mercy on such fellows as Skeene and that Mexican Tulia, for instance, in "Dick Merriwell Shadowed," when he and Buckhart were on the cliff and when the Mexican and his two vil lains fired a treacherous volley at them. If I had been in Dick's place I would have given them a dose of their own medicine. But tumbling the rocks on them was the best of all. I'll war rant there will be great lamenting when Burt L Standish leaves us. Giving my best regards to Street & Smith, yours truly, Sault Ste. Marie, :tvlich. A. G. It was too bad that you missed reading the wonderful stories about Frank Merriwell; he was so clever and so manly. But you have another young idol of the American boy, Dick Merri well. Isn't he just the kind of a young man you would like to have for a friend? So you would like to have some of the chapters longer? Think of some readers who like the stories so well that they have asked us to publish the TIP Top WEEKLY every day, just like a newspaper I take pleasure in this being my first letter to your Applause. Bulwer said: "The pen is mightier than the sword." I have read many numbers of the TIP ToP As for the best character, I take Frank Merriwell. For the best girl I will pick out June. I sent a letter to you to become a member of the TIP ToP base ball league for IgOO. Chester Arlington is a contemptible fool. I give a hearty congratulation to Burt L for being the author of the greatest weekly on the fr.ce of the globe. I remain, your constant admirer, BENJAMIN CASHMAKER. Pueblo, Colo. Frank Merriwell you like better than many others in the stories, but remember that Dick also has as fine qualities as his brother. If you follow him carefully through the various num bers you will soon observe this. I guess I will have to write a few lines about the TIP Top WEEKLY and its characters. Dick and June are the two best characters in the stories, I think. I will close, by writing a short poem and wishing a long life to Burt L Standish and Street & Smith, hoping to see this in print instead of the waste basket. HURRAH FOR DICK. To write a little poem I 'll take a little time, Although, if I am any judge, it is a bad old rhyme Of all the boys in this great land, Dick Merri well is the best; Of all his many enemies, Chet Arlington is a pest. Buckhart is both stanch and true; Tubbs and Darrell are others, too. Others who would fight for him, on the run, Are Smart, Flint and Bob Singleton. Other boys, who, though no smarter, Are Bradley, Jolliby and Gardner. Dick has friends in every little place, But to write of them would take too much space. Now 'tis time to change my tune And write about girls, especially June. She, unlike her brother, who makes me sick, Will make a very good mate for Dick. Doris and Felicia are friendly to him, But Zona Desmond can't make his head swim. So here's to TIP ToP, which is certainly the rage. I hope to see this on the Applause page. I. M. DUNN, one of the Jolly Rovers Minneapolis, Minn. Here we have one of the "Jolly Rovers" singing away with all his might. I have just finished reading No. 492 of your famous weekly, and having read TIP ToP ever since it was published, I think I am capable of expressing my high esteem of this excellent weekly. I have read all of the other weeklies, but the TIP Top knocks them all sky high. LEON S. SMITH. Hobart, N. Y. A reader who has taken the TIP ToP year after year for the last nine years certainly deserves to have his name put on the Roll of Honor. May you read the TIP ToP WEEKLY for another nine years! I have been a faithful reader of TIP ToP for at least four years and have encouraged the sale of TIP ToP all I can; and also formed a TrP ToP club two years ago, of which I am the secre tary. We started with five members, but there are only three

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I 28 TIP TOP WEEKLY. at present, but when this year's subscription runs out we will start with five members again. In my estimation there is noth ing better than TIP TOP. The Tip Top Club wishes "a long and happy life to ''Frank and 1nza." I am glad Dick and Brad are going back to Fardale. Please don't wasteba s ket this but put it in Applau se column Long life to Burt L. Standish and Street & Smith, Enw. W. PRITNER. Curllsville, Pa. You have done such good work for TIP ToP that the only thing left to do is to put your name on the Roll of Honor I have just finished reading No. 492 of the king of weeklies, T1P ToP. Frank has married lnza, and I hope when Dick gets older he will marry June. Brad is 0 K. I wish Burt L. would write one copy of TIP ToP, just to see how Chet is running things in Fardale. V.'hy couldn't you put in a character from California, "the Golden West?" Am I helping TIP Top? Well, I guess yes. I have convinced several boys of its merits, who have hereto read other books, and now they would not go without it. As this letter is getting too long, I will close, with three cheers for Burt L., Dick, Brad, Frank and his wife, and the r est of the bunch, WM. BozBACK. Sacramento, Cal. Your suggestion is a good one. Perhaps Mr. Standish will introduce a "native son of the Golden West" in a future number. Having read T1P ToP for about six years, I wish to express my opinion about it. I am a student from Wentworth Military Academy. I to read TIP TOP where Dick is at Fardale, as it reminds me of school; in fact, I like to read all of them I can hardly wait until Friday comes around to get my old friend, TIP ToP, as it i s the best friend anyone can have. Of the characters, I like Dick the best; then comes old Brad, the Texan. I would like you to send me a catalogue, as I want to get some of the back numbers. With best wishes to Street & Smith and Burt L. Standish, I am, a true Tip Topper, Box 974, Kansas City, Mo. JOHN A. MERONEY. Mr. Standish's pictures of life in boarding school are so vivid that many a young man has persuaded his father to allow him to go away from home to prepare for college. School days are the happy days, and those who have been forhmate enough to have been sent away to boarding school always look back to that period as the pleasantest in their lives. Having read yout TIP ToPs, I thought I would put in my word of praise. If boys would follow the example of the Merriwell boys and their friends, I think there would be a better class of boys in the world to-day. If anyone would like to correspond with a girl from central Illinois, and would let me know through the TIP ToP, I would be glad to do so. I don't like signing my name, for I think it is the boy's place to do so, and I sign myself, A GIRL FROM CENTRAL ILLINOIS. Canton, Ill. What you say about young men following in the footsteps of Frank Merriwell is very true. So many boys have already been benefited by Frank's good example that their cases prove the truth of your remark. The chivalry, the honesty, square dealing and manliness of this noble young man has had a wonderful inffo ence on the character of thousands of American boys. With the approach of autumn we again take up our pen to advise you of our progress in starting a football team. Last year we h ad a most successful team and were not de feated. Our lineup this year will be very strong, and is composed of the best players to be found hereabouts. Among our most prom ising players are J ohn Cann Ehretsman, who enters Mercers burg, and William Zegi Casey, who contemplates entering Les teroline Manual Training School. These men, with the assistance of Francis Plankinton Hefferman and William Heybeck Feinberg, comprise our men behind the line. They are all speedy men and will be heard from in some big college soon. On the accompanying page is our present lineup and the players' weights. Lineup of the "Greengard" Athletic Club: Sam Runter Martin, center, weight, I87 pounds; Edw. Bone Driscoll, right guard, I75 pounds; Robt. Miller Hempstead, right tackle, 168 pounds; Harold Porto Vortigern, right end, I52 pounds; Nelson Nolan, left guard, I8g pounds; Emory Mains, left tackle, I78 pounds; Benj. Yokust, left end, I47 pounds; Wm. Zegi Casey, left half back, I&!. pounds; Wm. Heybeck Feinberg, right half-back, I81 pounds; John Cann Ehretsman, full-back, I93 pounds; Francis Plankinton Hefferman, quarter-back, I23 pounds. Substitutes, John Putz and Orvie Morgan Goodrich. Thanking you in advance, I am, yours truly, Binghamton, N. Y. WILLIAM SMITH, Mgr. TIP ToP expects to hear great things from your te a m this fall. It is made up of good "husky" players, and should give your opponents a hard tussle. May the "Greengard Athletic Club" be ever victorious. Having read TIP ToP more or Jess-mostly more, for after reading one copy, I generally read it some more while waiting for the next one-for two hundred and forty-six weeks; that is to say, about half the entire numbers, I think TIP Top and all connected with it are 0 K The characters are all good, but some are better than others This is the third time I have written. If I don't see this, I will think the Applause is all fiction. Respectfully yours, Springfield, Ill. MACK CARTER. Your other letters probably appeared some weeks that you did not get the weekly. Sometimes a person will skip this way, and it is just their luck to have their letters appear just at that time. But here is your third one, and it will be nobody's fault but yours if you don't see it in print. I have been reading the Applause, and as I haven't seen any l ette rs from this part of Washington, have ventured to write the following TIP ToP How dear that name has become to the young Americans. How much we owe to Burt L. Standish c a n never be known, as he has filled a long-felt want in literature for the ris ing American. Four years ago my brother was taken sick. I began getting him a lot of weeklies to read. Among them was a TIP ToP. After reading it we decided to drop all others and read the TIP ToP as long as it was published. That was four years ago, and we have never missed a number since. Anxiously we watch for Friday, TIP ToP day. In Frank's crowd, Bruce Browning and Bart Hodge are my favorites. If Elsie does not secure Bart soon she wants to look out for me I like Doris and Brad the best of Dick's friends. I must not forget old Joe Crowfoot, even if he does get bloodthirsty once in a while. Dear littl e Doris is worth a dozen Junes. Let June have Dick if she wants to; Doris and Brad a re as good. I love baseb all, and wish I could see Dick and Brad. Bellingham, Wash. BLUE-EYED WASHINGTON GIRL. There are no cloth-bound volumes of TIP ToP. You probably can find a bookbinder in your town who will bind all your old TIP ToPS in an inexpensive binding. You and your brother have had four years of the best reading obtainable, and we are glad to hear that you both intend to read the library so long as it is published. I have been a reader of TIP ToP for three years, and think it is "the best ever." All the characters are fine, but I think I like Frank, Bart, Jack Diamond, Dick and Bra d the best. Jack and Brad are ideal Southerners, and Frank has no better friend tha n Jack. I wish "Rex V." would give me his address, as I would like to meet him. I hope some of the stories will soon be about Frank, as I like those the best. Boys, have you any old numbers of TrP ToP from I to 300 that you want to sell? If so, please write me, stating numbers. I hope Dick will go to Yale

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TIP TOP WEEKLY. 2Q soon and take his Fardale chums with him. What has become of Duke D er rin ge r, who was one of the pitchers on Merry's Ma plewood ball te am? Will he eve r appear in the stories aga in? Three cheers and a tiger for Burt L. Standish, Street & Smith and the Merr iwells. Hoping to see this in the Applau se column, I am, very truly yours, WILL J. PARRISH. Richmond, Va. The early numb ers of TIP ToP are out of print. You will have to leave it to Mr. Standi s h whether Duke Derringer makes his appearance aga in. Any of the ch a racters who seem to dis appear are apt to pop up when you least expect to see them. L ast week I obtaine d a f ew numb e rs of TIP ToP Before reading them I was presented with about ten very o ld TIP ToPs. The covers were off, but the sto ry was there, and I read and read until I finished them. Then I started on the others and have almo s t finished them. I feel like kicking myself for not having read every one of them from I to present number. I am foreve r reading novels, but never hav e I run against stories that I liked as much. I now think I will close, wishing you all luck and success, OSCAR GIRARD. II4 Bushwick Avenue, Brooklyn, N. Y. It is surprisfog how many people say the same thing about TIP ToP. They h ave neglected to read the early numbers and now are trying to make up for lost time. As I have written you several times, and have never seen any of my l ette r s in p rint, I will write my last time, asking you to put this in print. I will be glad when I see this in' the Applause column of th e famous TIP ToP, and I am sure you will do so, as I have been a constant reader of TIP TOP for the last three years. I would like very much to correspond with my other brother readers, and I am sure they will have a reply by return mail. I like Frank, Dick and Cap'n Wiley best of all; then, Brad and Stretche r Hoping this will miss the wastebasket and be in print in next issue, I will close with three cheers to Burt L. Standish, the famous writer, and kind regard s to Street & Smith. I remain, yours very truly, C. G. PFEIFFER. I23 West Government Street, Pensacola, Fla. It i s strange how your other letter ; missed us. But we will m ake sure that this one goes in the Applause column. So you have joined that large army of readers who have taken the weekly constantly for the last three years? You are welcome to its ranks! I have been a silent reader of your most interesting paper for the past three years, and I now think it a bout time to decl a re mys elf Anybody who does not think TIP ToP is on top, and does not admire the characters in it the way Mr. Standish shows us, should be banished from this fair land of ours. I will not attempt to give my views in regard to the way in which the girl cha rac te rs shall fall to the boys, l eav ing that serious problem to i\fr. Standish, for I think he can arrange it a whole lot easier than I could. I admire Dick and Brad and their crowd, but am still a member of the ol d guard in saying I like Frank Merriwell and his flock the best. In No. 484 I see a letter signed "Miss Brown Eyes," which says that the writer is willing to correspond with any other reader. A l ette r sent to the a ddress below will be promptly attended to, or a letter from any other r eade r will a l so have prompt attention. Hoping to see this in print, as it is my first attempt of giving my opinion on your valu able paper, I will close. With best wishes to the publishers and readers and to Burt L. Standi sh, I remain WALTU D. "CHICK. 531 Westmoreland Street, Philadelphia, Pa. While you like the old flock in TIP ToP, there are a large number who think that the n ew flock is all right. After you have a few more of the stories, perhaps we shall add you, too, to this swelling list of admiring readers. Please publish the following in TrP ToP: I wish to collect souvenir post cards from all the States and Territories, or from foreign countries, and would be glad to exchange one for one with any of the readers I close, hoping success to Street & Smith and Burt L. Standish. I remain, a constant reader. GEORGE S. THOMPSON. 35 South Sycamore Street Petersburg, Va. No doubt a number of readers who are al : ) collecting picture postal cards would be glad to exchange with you. I am a loyal Tip Topper and have secured twelve new readers during the last wee k and expect to get more by forming the Boys' Tip Top !i-ssoc iation of the Bronx. I am president, and one of our laws 1s that every member who can read English' must read TIP ToP. As the dues are ten cents per week, five cents of each member's dues buys him a TIP ToP. We have had a de bate, in which it was resolved that Dick Merriwell is greater than his brother We could not decide the winner. As I think I'm writing too much, I close, with three cheers for TIP ToP. WM. SCHWARTZ, President B T. T. A. of the Bronx. New York City. Your efforts to increase the number of readers in your vicinity are very commendable, a11d we appreciate your good will. We feel that you deserve to have your name placed on the TIP ToP Roll of Honor. Just a little daubing of the black to give you the exact idea of one of the profession. I've be en doing time for seve ral years on the American stage, and pride myself as being a full-fledged actor. From 'Fri sco to New Yark I've wended my way un rnenaced by cabbages, nor again bouquets in the shape of' can celed contracts. 'Twas to relate my experience as a r ea der of your most excellent weekly paper, the TIP TOP. Do I smoke? Nix. Do I drink? Never. Allow m e to s top h e re. If I finish that sente nce I may encroach on the sacred grou nds of truth. I settled myself to relate what the TIP TOP mean s to actors on the American or foreign stage. Watch a victim of the profess ion. By th ose words I me an a per so n who is following up this bu siness Watch him. When he is not playing his part, writing for engagements, eating or sleeping-what is h e doing? An easy question to answer. He i s re ad ing and foremost among his Clipper, Billboard Mirror, or other prominent paper in our line of busine ss, you will see the TIP ToP WEEKLY. See the machinist, electrician, lawyer, etc., even to the office and messenger boy-all of them read TIP ToP. They can't help it; that's flat. They know the story under the covers of this five cent novel. They know half their life is beneath the sod and the dew if they let the luxury of reading TIP ToP go by them. "All the world's a stage; and all the people on it are its actors." 'Tis true, but no one can act the part of a TIP Top read er if he has never read this valuable paper. When a traveling company leaves any town, any one of my readers may go through th e stage door-if he is not molested by the doorman-and into any dressing-room occupied by an actor, and I'll guarantee he may be able to find one or more copies of Burt L. Standish 's works. I know seve ral stock company men who literally fed on TIP TOPS. This happened when the coin was not forthcomingwhen the ange l held his wings low. In the theatrical world any amount of act r esses lik ewise e nj oy this ideal story-book. How can they help it? The sto ry relates the adventures of two upright, A No. r Yankee lads. The elder of the two was a victim of the stage. He struck the stock, stepped to the front of a show, wrote a play, and when one stock went to the wall he picked t h e stranded lot up and gave them engagements in his own play. Did ever an actor go upward like Frank Merriwell? I never did I'm now in Pittsburg; in another week it's me to good old New York, the home of TIP ToP. May this valuable literature prosper as of old. May it double its subscription and become the crowning paper of the universe, as it is of the sister novels now in circulation. I am one of the millions who are weekly entertained with TIP ToP, and I will ever remain as such. Pros perity to Street & Smith, Burt L. Standish, TIP ToP and all of its readers. I am, your most humble servant, Anywhere, U. S. A. AN ACTOR. Our actor-friend is in a facetious mood and writes entertain ingly of the ups and downs of his profession. He shows such buoyant spirits that we feel that misfortune never has any real terrors for him. He goes his way with a cheerful !f&art and a bundle of TIP ToPs in his trunk, feeling that he haS:.-the two esser.tials for happiness and can stand the hard knocks of the world without having them sour his disposition.

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PROF. FouRMEN: Having read your king of weeklies for nearly four years, I hope you will grant me the privilege to ask you a few questions: Age, I9 years; height, 5 feet 4)1, inches; ches t 35)/, inches; expanded, 37)/, inches; biceps, right, II)/, inch es; expanded, I3)/, inches; left, I I inches; expanded, I3 inches ; thighs, right, I9 inches; left I9)/, inches;. weight, I36 pounds; calves, right, I3 inches; left, I2 )/, in ches; wrists, right, 6)1, inches; left, 6% inches. Is taking a cold plunge in open salt water in the middle of November harmful? Should you go in while heated? Does hard work stunt a person? What are my weak points? I remain, yours for success, Greenport, L. I. G. A. WIGGINS. Your mea surements are good. You certainly have a consti tution like iron to withstand the shock of a November plunge in open watet. All I can say is that, if you want to put your foot into an early grave, continue that sort of bathing. I am cornoelled to admire your hardihood in this matter more than your di scretion. Very hard and exhausting work, indulged in to any grea t extent during the period of boyhood, may stunt a person"s growth. PROF. FouRMEN: I have read the TIP Top WEEKLY for quite a while, and thought I would send my measurements and find out my weak points and the cure for them. Age, I4 years; height, 5 feet I inch; stripped, weight, 90 pounds; neck, I2)/, inches; chest, normal, 28 )/, inches; expanded, 3I inches; waist, 25 inches; bicep s natural, 8 inches; contracted, 9 inches; forearm. 9 inches; wrists, 5)1, inches; thigh, I5 inches; calves, I2 in c he s ; ankles, 9 inches; shoulder, I3)/, inches across. I. How are my measurements? 2. What are my weak points? Good ones if any? 3. How can I improve? 4. What am I built for best? Hoping to see this in print, I remain, yours, R. D. R. II3 High Street, Newton, N. J. You should take a course of gymnastics to round out your whole physique. What you need principally is larger chest development and an increase of weight. After you have reached your full growth and spent a few years in gymnasium work, you will be better able to determine what particular form of athletic exercise you are best fitted for. PROF. FouRMEN: Would you please tell me how my measurements are? I am 5 feet 4 inches in height; weight, I24 pounds; chest, normal, 3I)/, inches; expanded, 34 inches; right calf, I2)/, inches; left, I2)/, inches; waist, 26)/, inches; right bicep, IO inches; expanded, I I inches; left, IO inches ; expanded, I I inches; right wrist, 7 inches; left, 7 inches ; right ankle, 9 inches; left, 8% inches; neck, 12)/, inches; across shoulders, I6 inches. An old reader of your famous weekly, TIP ToP. Give my best regards to B. L. Standish, P. S. Your measurements are good for a person of your height. PROF. FouRMEN: Have been a constant reader of TIP ToP WEEKLY for some time. Would be greatly obliged if you would answer a few questions. I am 17 years old and weigh I45 pounds. Height. 5 fe e t 7 inches. I am a telegraph operator and work nights, and don't take much exercise. Not because I can not, but I do not really know what would be best for me in my condition. My heart troubles me a great deal; that is, when I indulge in any severe exercises. Could you tell me how I could remedy this? What hours during the day would you suggest as the best for my sleeping hours? Could you suggest some light exen;ise? My appetite is good. What should I eat? Can get out in the open air most any time I wish. Hoping to see this soon in print, I am, A TIP ToP ADMIRER. Marion, Ind. If your heart is weak, avoid all heavy exercises. Brisk walks in the early morning air are beneficial. If you are a cigarette smoker you will find that the heart action will improve if you cease using tobacco in that form. Take some of the light exercises used in the United States army. They are simple and do not require any apparatus. Begin gradually and let your advancement in the work be governed by the manner in which they affect your heart. If it troubles you a great deal, consult a physician before indulging in these exercises. Eat only plain, wholesome food, but be sure it is well cooked. A generous supply of potatoes, beef, mutton, milk, vegetables, fruit and brown bread should largely make up your menu. Avoid pastry of all kinds, and do not drink strong tea or coffee. PROF. FouRMEN: I have always longed to ask you these few questions, and at last I have scraped together enough courage to write and ask you these few questions. I. What will make my right arm strong, so that I may become a guod pitcher and have lots of speed? 2. After I run about one or two squares my heart beats and my sides beat as if I was going .to die. What will cure me and make me become a good runner? Thanking you in advance, and I will also write again, sending you my measurements. I will be satisfied to see this in print. I am, H. McCLUNE. Philadelphia, Pa. I. To become a good pitcher it is necessary to constantly practice. But be careful of your right arm. A great many aspirants fail because they overdo their training. 2. If you find that running effects your heart, do not indulge in it. PROF. FouRMEN: Being a constant reader of TIP ToP, I take the liberty of asking you a few questions. My measurements are: Chest, normal, :28 inches; contracted, 27 inches; expanded, 30 inches ; waist, 25 inches ; neck, I I Y, inches; right arm, normal, 8)1, inches; flexed, 9)1, inches; left arm, normal, 8 inches; flexed, inches; right forearm, 9 inches; left, 9 inches; wrist, 6 inches; thigh, I6 inches; right calf, II Y, inches; left, inches; height, 5 feet 5y,( inches; weight, IOI pounds; age, I8 years. I. How is my chest? How can I improve it? 2. I chin the bar ten times. How are my arms? I do not use any tobacco. 3. I ride a bicycle without getting winded, but get winded if I run much. How can I improve my wind? 4. Am I below the average, and how can I help myself? 5. I go to the local Y. M. C. A. gym, and there take a shower bath and a

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TIP TOP WEEKLY. plunge in the pool. Do you think this beneficial? 6. I have bronchial troubles. How can I get rid of them? Thanking you in advance, I remain, yours truly, F. 0. P. Mobile, Ala. You lack several pounds in weight, and consequently you are below the normal measurements of a boy your size. Continue your gymnasium work, but do -not stay too long in the swim ming pool after exercising. One plunge followed by a brisk rub down with a course Turkish towel, is sufficient. Otherwise the body will get chilled. The effect of such a course is to counteract the good results of the exei:cise in the gymnasium just previous to taking the bath. If you are severely troubled with bronchial affection, do not delay in seeking the advice of a physician. PROF. FouRMEN: Being a constant reader of the TIP ToP, I would like you to ans wee these questions. Age, I2 years; weight, 85 pounds; height, 4 feet 9 inches; chest, 26Y, inches; expanded, 29 inches; waist, 28 inches; neck, 12 inches; wrist, 6 inches; ankles, 8 inches. I. How are my measurements? 2. Where are my weak points, and how can I strengthen them? 3. I pitch in my baseball team and play quarter in my football team. Are these good positions for exercise? 4. What can I do to be an all-around player in both these positions? 5. I play a cornet. Is this good to develop your lungs? Please put this in print. The boys call me Dick and a chum of mine Brad, because we fan them out with curves. Yours truly, R. D. H. Andover, N. Y. You ue very well developed. I cannot discover any particu larly weak points. Football and baseball are excellent as means of exercising all parts of the body. Practice every day if you want to become proficient in the positions you mention. Playing on any wind instrument is good to develop lung power. PROF. FouRMEN : I have read the TIP ToP ever since I could re ad, and I take the liberty to ask you a few questions. I am 14 years old; height, 5 feet s.l4 inches; weight, stripped, 109 pounds; neck, 13 inches; chest, normal, 30Yz inches; expanded, 33:y,( inches; thighs, 18Y, inches; calves, 12:y,( inches; forearm, 8Y, inches; waist, 2878 inches; shoulder to shoulder, 18 inches. I have won three medals: First, saving a girl from drowning ; seco nd, for swimming long distances and received another medal for trick acrobatic work. I don't belong to any gym and never did. I play baseball, catch on the Hustlers, of New London Conn I have been a sailor for eight months, and 3ti1J keep in training. I don't smoke. 1. Have I got a swelled head? 2. How is my weight? 3. How can I be a better 3wimmer? Yours very truly, New London Conn. J. T. F You should weigh a few pounds more. No, you haven t a swelled head, only a just pride in the knowledge that you have done and can do something tha t a great many people could not do if they tried. You are such a good swimmer that perhaps you do not need '!ny particular ; nstruction. However, I would advise you to continue your gymnastic work in some good gym nasium; you will have the use of apparatus not obtainable elsewhi'!re. PROF. FouRMEN: Over a year ago-the time your articles ap peared in the back of TIP ToP on how to increase weight and build-I wrote you a letter. At that time I weighed 108 pounds and my height was 5 feet 5 in ches. The following are my measurements, taken a month ago by a noted German professor in g:'mnastics in our college: Age, r6 years 6 months; height, 5 feet 7 inches; che.;t, natural, 33 inches; :ontracted, 31Y, inches; expanded, 37 inches; biceps, natural-arm extended-n.l4 inches; cor:tracted, 12Y, inches ; wrist, 6Y, inches; neck, 14 inches; 9.l4 inches; shoulders-arms and upper chest-around, 43)1, inches; reach-finger tip to tip-70 inches; thighs, r8:y,( inches; calves, I4 inches; ankles, 8Y, inches; waist, 28 inches; hips, 33 inches. I. How can I increase the size of my thighs? I have a good spring. At school, in the gym, I've cleared fifty eight inches, running high jump. 2. What is your opinion of me? My friends doubt my weight unless I convince them by getting weighed. 3. I play baseball, sometimes pitching and sometimes covering first. Though I'm next to smallest on our last team I've had the longest drives, but the least number. I hold the bat at the very end. Can you offer a few suggestions? 4 I also play football on Saturdays and basket ball twice a week, playing left end and forward, respectively 5. Swimming is my greatest hobby. I use the side overhand stroke, lying on my right side. This way I can beat any fellow in our neigh borhood four years my senior, but I can only keep it up about one hundred yards. Two months ago I attempted to swim to Delaware at the new bridge-the furthest so uth on the riverbut I had to cut it short by swimming with the tide to Petty's -Paddy's-Island. Can you tell me how to strengthen the mus cles used in that stroke? 6 I do not smoke, chew or drinktea and coffee included-stopping when convinced by you I was doing wrong. What little I have gained I will unhesitatingly say was made by your instructions. I will express no more of my opinion of you, for I think you would be too modest to print it. With best wishes to you, Burt L. and Street & Smith, I am, your most ardent champion, Enw. McCLELLAN. Philadelphia, Pa. Y 0r letter makes very interesting reading. I am pleased to know that you followed the instructions faithfully which have been laid down from time to time for the guidance of all young men who realize the necessity of health culture as a-means of increasing the joy of living. By following my advice and keep ing steadily at the work, you have put your body in such fine condition that you feel a hundred per cent. more a man than you possibly could a year ago. The work has been slow, but the re s ult s justify your persevering efforts Having given up inj uri b us habits and led a regular life in KCordance with common sense ruks, you feel brighter, more cheerful and more active, physically and mentally, than you imagined poss ible one year ago. The play has certainly been worth the candle, and you show by your letter that you realize the applicati9n of the proverb to your case. Now that you have developed a good physique, don't ne g lect it. It is like a complicated machine and must be con stantly attended to if expected to be kept running in good order. So do not negJect you r training. Bicycle work will increase the s ize of your thighs. For the development of your arms, to increase the power of your swim ming stroke, use pulley weights ten minutes in the morning and exercise with them the same period in the evening. PROF. FouRMEN: As I am a constant reader of the TIP ToP, take the liberty to ask you a few questions. My age i s r3 years; weight, 107 pounds; height, 4 feet 11 inches; waist, 32 inches; chest, normal, 30 inches; 31Y, inches. I. How are my measurements? 2. What are my strong points, if I have any? 3. Weak ones? 4. How can I reduce my weight? 5. How can I grow taller? I can pitch for innin gs, then I give 0ut. 15. How can I be hie to pitch a full game? Thank-ing you in advance, I remain, W. V. 0. M. Brooklyn, N. Y. You are a very "chunky" lad, and have an unusually large chest for one of your height. I can discover no weak points in your build. As for growing taller, remember that you are o nly thirteen years old, and have till your twenty-first year be fore you get your full growth Perhaps you have strained your arm in pitching and weakened the muscles. A long rest this winter will probably pt you in shape again next c;pring "GOLDEN HOURS." Boys, have you any old numbers of Golden Hours? If so, see what numbers are among them and write me, stating price. I will pay liberally to complete my files. Address WILLIAMS, Station "0," Box 24 New York City.

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I TIP TOP WEEKL y CAUTIGN! All readers of the Renowned Tip Top stories should beware of base Imitations, placed upon the market under catch names very similar to Frank Merrlwell, and Intended to deceive. 463-Frank Merriwell Blizzard Bound; or, After Big Game in the Rockies. 464-Frank Merri well Captu red; or, Trouble in the Black Timbers. 465-Dick Merri well in Damascus; or, The Sword of the Sheik. 466-Dick Merri well on the Desert; or, Cap ti ves of the Bedou i ns. 467-Dick Merri well in Egypt; or, The En counter on the Nile. 468-Frank Merriwell's Fingers; or, The Man Who Came Back. 469---Frank Merriwell's Retaliation; or, The Clash in California. 470-Frank Merriwell in 'Frisco; or, The "Go" at the Golden Gate. 471-Frank Merriwell's "Dope Ball"; or, The Wizard Tw.rler of Leland Stanford. 472-Frank Merriwell's Handicap; or, Hastings, The Hurdler from Humboldt 473-Frank Merriwell s Red Challengers; or, The Hot Game with the Nebraska Indians. 474-Frank Merriwell's Fencing; or, For Sport or For Blood. 475-Frank Merriwell's Backer; or, Playing Baseball for a Fortune. 476-Frank Merriwell's Endurance; or, The Cross Country Champions o f America 477-Frank Merriwell in Form; or, W olfers, the Wonder from Wisconsin. 478-Frank Merriwell 's Method; or, The Secret of Becoming a Champion. 479--Frank Merriwell's LeveI Best; or, Cutting the Corners with a New Curve. 48o-Frank Merriwell's I acrosse Team; or, '!he Great Hustle with Johns Hopkins. 481-Frank Merriwell's Great Day; or, The Crowning Triumph of His Career. 482-Dick Merri well in Japan; or, Judo Art Against JiuJitsu. 483-Dick Merri well on the Rubber; or, Playing Baseball in the Flowery Kingdom. 484-Dick Merriwell's Cleverness; or, Showing the J aps the American Game. 485-Dick Merri well in Manila; or, Papinta, the Pride of the Philippines. 486-.Dick Merriwell Marooned; or, The Queen of Fire Island. 487-Dick Merriwell's Comrade; or, The Treas ure of the Island. 488-Dick Merriwell, Gap-Stopper; or, A Sur prise for the Surprisers. 489--Dick Merriwell's Sacrifice Hit; or, Win ning by a Hair's Breadth. 490-Dick Merriwell's Support; or, Backed Up When Getting His Bumps. 491-Dick Merriwell's Stroke; or, Swimming for His Life. 492-Dick Merriwell Shadowed; or, The Search for the Lost Professor. 493-Dick Merriwell's Drive; or, Evening Up with His Enemy. 494-Dick Merriwell's Return; or, The Reap pea rance at Fardale. 495-Dick Merriwell's or, Whipping the Team into Shape. 496-Dick Merriwell's Value; or, The Success of Square Sport. 497-Dick Merriwell's "Dukes"; or, His Fight with Himself. 498-Dick Merriwell's Drop-Kick; or, Chester Arlington's Team of Tigers. 499--Dick Me rriw ell's Defeat; or, How Arling ton Won the Secon
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THE FA VO RITE LIST OF FIVE CENT LIBRARIES T I P TOP WEEKLY Frank and Dick M e rriw ell are two brothers whose adve n tures in college and on the a thletic field are of intense intere s t to the American boy of to day. The y prove that ::i. b oy does not have to be a rowdy to have excitin g sport. Buffalo Bill Stories Buff a l o Bill is the h ero of a thousand e xcitin g ad ve n tu r es among the R e dskins. These are given to our boys only in th e Buffalo Bill Stories. They a re bound t o interest and please you. All-Sports Library All sports tha t b oys are interested in, are c arefully de a lt with in the All-S ports Library. The stories deal with the advent ures of plucky lad s w hil e indulging in h ea lthy pastimes Brave and Bold Every boy who prefers variety in his reading matter, ought to b e a reader of Brave and B o ld All these w ere written by authors who are past m asters in the art of telling boys' stories. Every t a l e is complete in it se l f Diamond Dick Weekly The demand for stirring s t ories of Western adventure is admirably filled by th is Ii brary. Every up-to-date boy ought to read just how law and order are estab l ish e d and maintained on ou r W es tern plains by Diamond Dick, Bertie, and Handsome H arry Nick Carter W e ekl y W e know, boys, th a t there i s no n eed of introducin g to you Nich o b s Carter, the g r eatest s leuth th a t ever lived. Ev ery number containing the ad ven tures o f Nick C arter has a peculiar, but d elig htful, power of fascina t ion. Paul Jones Weekly Do not think for a second, boys, th a t th ese stories are a lot of musty histery, just sugar co ated. They a re all new tales of excitin g adventure on land and s ea, in all of which boys of your own age took pa.rt. Rough Rider Weekly llJI SIRU.V6 KIA'6 %. ll.D lfEST .,11/Millt tlfOlfll /J}'lli/lt .__ ____ __, T ed Strong was appoin ted dep uty mars hal by accident, bu t he reso l ves to u se his authority and rid his r a nch of some v e ry tough bull ies. He does it in such a slick way that everyo ne calls him "King of the Wild We t and he certainly d ese rves h is titl e Bowery Boy Library The adventures of a poo r waif whose onl y name is "Bowery Billy." Billy i s the true product of the stree t s o f New Y o rk. N o b oy can r ead the tales o f his trials without imbibi n g some of that re source and cou r age that makes I 'the c h aracter o f this hom e l ess b oy stand o ut so prominently.