Citation

## Material Information

Title:
Jesse James' oath; or, Tracked to death
Series Title:
Jesse James Stories
Creator:
Lawson, W. B.
Place of Publication:
New York
Publisher:
Street & Smith
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
32 p. ; 26 cm.

## Subjects

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

## Record Information

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:
028809655 ( ALEPH )
07355654 ( OCLC )
J14-00005 ( USF DOI )
j14.5 ( USF Handle )

## USFLDC Membership

Aggregations:
Dime Novel Collection
The Jesse James Stories

## Postcard Information

Format:
serial

Full Text

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Issued Weekly. By Subscription $2.so per year. Entered as Second Class Matter at New York Post Office by STREET & SMITH, 218 William St., N. Y. No. 5. . ; Price, Five Cents. WHIPPING OUT A REVOLVER, JESSE JAMES MAKES A BREAK FOR THE WINDOW, SWEEPING A PATH THROUGH THE TERROR-STRICKE:S-MEXICANS. PAGE 2 OF THE ./Ssued iveekly. By Subscription$2.so per year. Entered as Second Class Matter at the N. Y. Post Office, hy STREET & SMITH, 238 Willia m St., N Y. Entered accordin.lf to Act of Congress in the year IQOI, in tlze Office of tlie Librarian of Congress, Washington, D. C. No. 5. N E W YORK, June 8, 1901. Price Five Cents. Jesse Ja01es' Oath; OR TR1\
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THE J E S SE JAME S STORIES. 9 Hence, he eagerly scmtinizes every one with whom the Spanish gypsy holds converse. Once or twice he t'hinks he has made a discovery, but on each occasion confesses that is very uncertain. Finally he gives it up. As far as he can j udge, Cortina has not yet put in an. appearance. The second bull-fight comes off. As before, old taro has a good time ait first, but his a dve rsari es are too numerous for him, and the end in ev itable-he dies. 'Dhis ends that part of the show. There are other amusements to deligh t the audienceraces with horse s, feats of horsemanship, such as pi cking up coins at full speed, and finally an exhibition of shoot ing. Each time the gypsy comes around, he keeps nagging the Mexican officer, toward whom he seems to have taken such a dislike. The shooting has begun. A turkey is fastened in such a way that only his head and ne c k are in sight. Stationed art: a certain distance, the marksman is ex pected to fire at this constantaly moving object, with the hope of decapita ting tlhe bird. As a general rule, the Mexicans ar e poor shots, although in these days they possess many elegant weapons made in our country. Hence the turkey's head remains on its shoulders-if one can use such a term-even though a dozen braggarts try their best to cause a divor<.:e between the parts. The management makes a stirring appeal. Is there no one prese111t who can shoot? He begs some o ne, for the honor of San Blas to de capitate that royal bird; or will they have to wring its neck before that assemblage? To say that the hand of Jesse James itches to have a try, would be putting it mildly. His wonderful marksmanship has gained him much repown in the past, and saved his life on more than one occasion. Whv not h a v e a little sport? Cortina is not present, and his other business is of a nature that ca n keep. Reck l ess devil that he is, the man makes up his mind that if Pedro dares him once m o re he will accept his off er. There is danger in it. Should the fact b e publicly proclaimed that the man who broke up the fandango o n the previous night, and washed the floor with the blood of their friends, is present, this vast assemblage would be like a pack of howling wolves, clamoring for his blood. Hunte d wretch that Jesse James was, he had never been called a coward, and he proves this now by bis ac tions. Pedro co m es His glittering black eyes are on his victim, and with a suave smile, he addresses him. Et Capita11, it.en golden onzas to one that you cannot accomplish that feat. \Vhat say you; will you make a t ry?" He does not expect an answer, anhe audi e nce smile. They imagine Pedro has the game in hand.

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16 THE JESSE JAMES STORIES. A friendly free will answer. In vain he looks for a limb overhanging the house; the trees are further off. Can he jump? The distance is not so terribie, and in the daytime a man of his daring would not hesitate c; minute about attempting this, but all is dark below; he cannot see what may iJe there, and nothing is more terrifying than a le ap int o unknown space. It i s not th is alone that holds him. He knows that should he make the leap and have his leg broken, he is a doomed man. Only as a last resort, then, will he make this mad jump into black space. He looks further. What is that object? He believes it to be the limb of a tree only a few feet away. Can he spring upon it, and hold fast? There is no time for debating the question. Action must be speedy. He resolves to trust to his eyesight. If it has deceived him, he must go down. Climbing over the parapet, he finds a lodgment for his rfeet upon a ledge below. At this moment a tremendous crash announces that the door has given way. His hated pursuers are in the house. Stretching out his hand, he endeavors to reach the supposed limb, but fails. However, he has become more than ever convinced that there is no fallacy about it. Holding his breath, and preparing for a shock, he throws himself forward. # He must speedily know whether it is a limb or not; his extended arms close about it, the support yields, he is lowered several feet, but does not give way. His feet touch a stouter limb below, one he can fully put his trust in, so he suddenly releases his hold above, and drops quickly, in order to prevent himself from fall ing. All is well. His daring venture has proved a success. To reach the ground is the work of a minute. As he gains terra firma he realizes that his enemies are upon the roof. They cannot see him; that is one comfort. A few minutes b efore he was furious at the darkness b ec ause it kept hini from discovering the position of the friendly limb; now he blesses it, for the reason that he h imself is concealed from his foes. To make his way out of this garden is the next thing that engages his attention. He gropes along, hoping to strike the wall. Plants of tropical luxuriance surround him and impede his progress. He pushes on, trying to keep in a straight line, but failing lamentably. About the house the mob rages. Such is their fury, that they threaten to tear the adobe structure down unless some satisfaction is given for the mysterious disappearance of the hated American seen to entC'He does not believe in hiding his light under a bushel and accordingly vents it. "The Search the garden!" J esse James hears the shout. He has not yet found the wall. Who would have be lieved such an unpretentious building would have such a great garden? They will soon be after him now, like wolves in 1.he chase; he can stand at bay, if the worst comes, and with the thought he grasps his revolvers more tightly in his bleeding hand. Wha t is this? Two wolfish eyes glare at him in front, and a deep growl sounds; it is enough to send a cold shudcleT 1.he bravest heart, and even this bold recoils Then it flashes upon him that this is a dog of some sort, no doubt used to guard the garden against tres pas sers in the night. He does not hesitate an instant. It is life or death. Besides, since discovery must shortly come, what dif ference does it make? The weapon that has hung in his cut hand since reaching the base of the tree_ is brought to a level; he cannot take aim, but to a master of the weapon this is not needed. A sudden report, one savage yelp, and the glaring eyes no longer fascinate him; his path is not blocked by the dog demon. Without further delay he presses on. His enemies are no dolts; they have heard the shot, and know what it means. He must soon have them hot after him. Fortune thus far has favored the fugitive; it may continue to do so. One cannot help feeling some interest in his desperate effort to escape. True, he is an outlaw, a man unscrupulous as to the means he employs to gai n his end, more than once a murderer, since he has shot down men in cold blood; but those who hunt him are little b etter in their way, and the general sympathy is with the minority. All at once he bangs up against some obstacle to his progress, and realizes that it is the wall at last which he has found. To climb it causes him a little trouble, for his cuts hurt, but he is still strong and agile. To his surprise, when he lands on the other side he finds himself in the small incl osure of the cobbler-there is the shed on one side. His heart almost comes into his throat. Have they found his horse? The fact that his prese nce in the gaming den was known causes him to fear lest this may have become known also. N in all his life has the man known the fear that comes upon him now. Beset by savage foes on every hand, wounded and sorely pressed, if he is deprived of his horse the game is certainly up. Ah! a wh i nny. It brings him good news; he knows the faithful steed 1 i s s till under the shed. I

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THE 1:.JESSE JAMES STORIES. 17 Eagerly rushes forward. Another moment and his arms are around the neck of his steed; he is human enough to love the animal in spite of his crimes. To unfasten the ho rse and jump into the saddle is bnt the work of a minute. He hears loi1d cr;es along the wall; the enemy have reached that line. Their cries seem to arouse others to a sense of their 'duty; men spring up as he opens the gate; the presence of the horse was known and these men have been left here to watch for him. There is an exchange of shots, a lively rattle which is speedily over. Several of the guards have been laid out, for the re volver of Jesse Jam es seldom speaks without terrible results. As for that unconquered desperado, he is galloping
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THE JESSE JAMES STORIES. 23 siness on his hands to make more trouble than he can lp. "She must be saved, too. Do you awaken her," he ys, in the Texan s ea;. \Valter is stiff and sore, but he knows there is no time r foo lishne ss. so he takes the blade thrust into his hand, d immediately bends over the beloved form near by. Only :violly's hand s are tied. They know she will ver think of leaving him, even were the guards less vignt than they are. Bending down, \Valter presses a kiss upon her lips. e beautiful eyes open with a start. "Be silent, dear Molly; we have a chance to escape. iends are here to aid us, but all depends upon ourselves. not speak, I beg." He knows she understands, for as he shows her the ife she raises her bound hands, which in a moment e free from their cruel cords. As yet they are not noticed. The two men who act as guards for t'he bags of silver e not far away, but their backs are turned to this arter. Jesse James again whispers to the cowboy. "You will find Frank and his friends at the clump of squites just beyond that big bowlder up the cafion. He ks for you." A pressure of the hand-it is enough. W or ds are not necessary under circumstances like these tell the feeling of the heart-a look and the pressure of gers speak more eloquently. Jesse James has done at least one good deed in his life; has need of many such to help balance his crimes bere the bar of heaven. v.ralter and Molly creep away. The outlaw waits until they are gone before he makes single move. Does he aim for the treasure? 1 Not S<>---'he hardly deigns to glance that way, save t@ ake sure that the guards are not observing 'him-time ough for that. If his plans carry out the treas.r e will fall into their nds before six hours have passed away. Just now he is thinking of his oath. He creeps toward the tent. So silently does he advance that the sleepy eyes of the ntinels do not heed them. 1 If '
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I 24 THE JESSE JJ\MES STORIES. The bandits '.in camp are partially demoralized. They will be even more so if Cortina has really been slain by the knife. Perhaps an attack might pay. Jesse Jam es decides not. T i hose men are ought to know, for he has been irnong th.cm-and will s'11ed their last hlood ere giv ing up the tr e ?sure secured through such difficulty. He has a better plan. Sometimes it pays to be a dipiomat. During his checkered career this man has more than once given evidence that he possesses a mind of no mean calibre. Had it been trained in the proper channel, Jesse James had not lived as a border ruffian. The camp has once more become quiet. None of the bandits can be seen. Sleep is to visit t:liieir eyes no more this night. Since they have learned of the presence of their e'ne mies near by, every man is ready and anxious to d(l guard duty. It may mean life or death. :Again Jesse James leaves the rest. :It is nearly morning. Already the first streaks of dawn have appeared over the tops of the distant mountains in the east. Walter Dodd and his wife are with the rest, having found no difficulty in discovering the mesquite bushes. They look upon the outlaw as a friend; he has saved them fr o m a terrible fate, and whatever his past may have been, to them he is close indeed. vVho can blame them for feeling thus toward the man who risked much to rescue them? Jesse Jam es s teals through the undergrowth that fills the gorge, until he is close to the camp. Then he sits down in a hiding-place to watch. He is close enough to hear some of the men convers ing. One is taunting another about being afraid; the other retor ts by daring the first to leave t:he camp with a bucket and flll it at the spring. This the man swears to do. Picking up a bucket he passes within five feet of the !hidden bushwhacker who, leaving his place of conceal ment, follows him. Does he mean murder? No; other thoughts are in the heart of Jesse James. He seeks the spring from which the camp gets its I supply of sparkling water. It is soon found. There the Mexican, in the faint light of early morning, is seen dipping some of the pellucid liquid up with the bucket. Although he has taken up the gauntlet thrown down by his companion, it is evident tliat he is not fully at in his mind. \Vhile he labors to fon;e the bucket beneath the s of the )ittle pool, he glances suspiciously ar.ound, a sc 'look upon his face, as if in every bush he sees an e ready to pounce upon him. Jes.se James remains hidden The Mexican, having half filled toward the camp. He follows the path. This brings him so close to the hidden man latter could put out his hand and touch him, did h desire. He makes no such move; the man passes on in saf and, did he but know how close he has been to the t ble American, he would bless his lucky stars that hour did not see him a corpse. When the man has qt{ite pas sed out of sight, J James issues from his place of hiding. He stands upon the border of the spring. This seems to be a pool lying in the rock. It is about three feet in diameter by half that in d So far as one can see, it does not appear to have any i or outlet, and yet the water is clear and cold. As the desperado looks down upon the pool, a dia cal smile appears on his face. It will answer his purpose well. Quickly he takes from his pocket a small packa done up in stout paper. He has carried this a long time, but its hour has c tainly come at last. Tearing off a corner, he scatters the powder it conta over the water. Then catching up a stick, he stirs the pool with it un every ve s tige of the powder is gone. As if not fully satisfied, the man bends down and Ii some of the water to his month, using his hand as a c Then he shakes his bead, ejects the water from mouth, and grins again. "I defy them to tell anything is wrong with that," mutters. What has he done? Poisoned the pool? The near future vvill tell; but, villain though he is, hardly seems possible Jes s e James would sink to su whol es ale rn u rder. He once more hides in a spot where he can observe t camp. The Mexicans are waking to the fact that it is time t get breakfast. One man, in stepping ba c k, clumsily upsets the buck of water. }esse James chuckles at the catastrophe. H

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2 8 THE JESS E JA MES STORIES. A fire is made and supper cooked. After this, Jesse James explains his plan to the others; and it receives their approval. If this night passes quietly they can make the ford by noon the next day All depends then upon the hours of darkness With this idea in view they plan. Molly signifies her willingness to remain at the lower camp where the riding horses are. Walter has secured a revolver for her while in the bandit's and she has no fear. Under the circumstances, all agree that this is the best thing to do. Walter sees her comfortable. Then, acting under the orders of Jesse James, he returns again to the upper camp Against such foes as Cortina and his followers, the Texan is willing to fight shoulder to shoul der with the James boys and their crowd. It is a question of life and death; yes, even more than that should they fall into the power of these cruel follow ers of the contrabaudista. vVhen he once more reaches the camp, he finds that all the others have not been idle. By the light of the fire they have partially disrobed, wl'apping ea c h a blanket around their persons in place of outer garments. Then the cast-off clothes are filled with dead grass, and made to look as though they contained human forms. vValter looks on in amazement. At first he thinks his comrades must have lost their minds. Then the trulh breaks upon him. He sees in this thing a charming plan to hoodwink their enemies. "Do likewise, Yellow Top, ii sings 'out Frank James. The Texan is not slow to follow. It does not take him long to fill his outer garments with the withered grass that grows in bunches around the camp. These mock figures are placed in position. One lies on his side: A second being on his back, has his sombrero pulled over his face, apparently. Taken aN in all, l the whole six look wonderfully nat ural in the bright firelight, and, when the blaze goes clown, this deceptive appearance will increase. Jesse James steps back to view them critically. "Splendid, boys. If those greasers ain't fooled to a man, I'll eat my hat!" he cries T h e others agree with him. They have nothing more to do but arrange the fire so that it will burn steadily, but not too brightly, and t retire to the hiding-place near by, which Jesse James already selected for them. The trap is set. CHAPTER XV. THE PHANTOM HORSEMEN. The time passes slowly. As there is no necessity for all to keep awake, s sleep while others watch. It seems as though hours bave gone since night set and yet there have been no signs seen or heard of ti enemies. Walter, in a sitting position, sleeps with his back r ing against a tree. Once he has seen Jesse J arnes go into the camp. The latter seems to be arranging something in the t above the fire. \Vhen he comes back, He 1has a string in his ha which he secures. \Valter Dodd is dreaming of some far-away la when he feels a hand ciutch his arm. He awakens. ''Look!" comes in a chuckle from his side. He sees the arm of Jesse James raised, and. followi the range of the pointed finger, finds himself gazing t ward at the hill. Over the bare top of this runs the trail which they h passed along not many hours before. There, outlined against the bright sky beyond, he s the figure of a man on It is impossible to tell whether he may be Mexic Yankee, or Apache; all that they can see is that it i horse and rider. There is no reason for doubt. This must be the foremost of their pursuers-the b dits whom Jesse James drugged. Both men gaze eagerly at the dark figure. Neither says a worci. They see the man turn in his saddle, as though he w passing the word along. Then he moves forward and vanishes below the er of the incline. His place is immediately taken by a second, and t same manreuvre gone through with. The fire is seen; they know they have discovered t camp of those they seek, and farther down the side the hill they will leave their animals, and creep up their prey. After this man comes a third. Jesse Jam es counts. He reaches twenty-four, and then the plianfom proce sion comes to a stop.

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