Jesse James in Wyoming; or, The den in the Black Hills

Jesse James in Wyoming; or, The den in the Black Hills

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Jesse James in Wyoming; or, The den in the Black Hills
Series Title:
Jesse James Stories
Lawson, W. B.
Place of Publication:
New York
Street & Smith
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
32 p. ; 26 cm.


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

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
028809686 ( ALEPH )
17905817 ( OCLC )
J14-00006 ( USF DOI )
j14.6 ( USF Handle )

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I issued Weekly. By Subscription liz-soper year. J:::ntered as .:>econd t..1ass Matter at New York Post Office by & :,liTH, J8 Wtfli a m S t ., i v Y. No. 6. Price, Fil r e Cents. THE GREAT O UTLAW, JESSE JAMES, RODE BOLDLY FORWARD. A REVOLVER IN EAC H HAND. HI8 BROTHER FRANK WAS CLOSE BESIDE HIM.


AMES fORtES JAMeS BOYS : By S ubscription $2-5 0 per as Second Class Matter at the N. Y. Post Of!iu, by STREET & SMITH, 2,18 Wt71iam St. N. Y. Entered according to "Act of Congress in the year Iqoi, in tlte Office of tlte Librarian of Congress, Wa.rlen. in 1:he :Black IIllls. By W. B. LAWSON. CHAPT E R I. I N THE BLACK HILLS. It was m idnight i n the Black Hills. The spurs of the Divide t owe red in the distance. The moon hung low in the heavens, hke a ball of si l ver. It whitened the rugged hill s and mad e the black canons even blacker. All was silence. The very rocks took o n ghostly shapes, and the ravines filled with unholy echoes. Suddenly a solitary horseman could be seen outlined t the sky His magnificent horse stood like a mar statue upon the very crest of a bluff Horse and rider looked like a part of the vast panorama f nature. .And so they were, for they were Jesse James, the noted perado, and his won:dedul horse, Fleetwind. The two together completed the picture. Horse and were an in v incible pair. They had raced with death over and over again, an d thus far the grim e n e m y seeme'd in n o 'danger o f o vertaking them. As the daring outlaw sat silently upon his nob l e horse, he scanned with his eagle eye the b l ack stretc h of the canon. This cut between the r ocks wound like a spiral thread. At some points it yawned like an open grave. At othet:s it see med to be hemmed in by overhanging bowlders As the noted highwayman gazed, he be came satisfie d that all was welL The dark deed that he was about to perpetrate could be accomplished with ease if only the moon would hide its face at the right moment. He gazed at the heavens as though he w o uld command the orb of night, and the m oonlight, falling u p o n his face, showed the black mask ove r his features. A m o ment later he emitted a shrill whist le. Like a flash, another rider upon the scene. It was the next most notori ous outlaw 111 the world.


2 THE JESSE JAMES STORIES. It was Frank James, Jesse's brother. Both were magnificent specimens of physical Alanhood. The two stood still a momeht and looked upon the scene. Their mount:; ;:tcknowledged each other's presence with neighs of ure. Then Jess e James gave vent to a low curse. It rolled from his l i ps like the muttering of thunder. "The worst possibie night for our deal," he growled, savagely. "The m oo n balks us! It _is making the canon as clear as daylight .. "It may go in 2.fter a while. See. there are clouds in the west, and ther;; i s s till an hour before the cavalcade c o mes up the m ountain," answered his brother. "The m o on is one enemy that the James boys will never he able t o c o nquer. Bnt, remember, Jess, that same old rncon has serv ed ns many a good turn. 'vVhere would you be now if it bd not been for the moon last night? You would never have seen that cursed detective's revolver." "Ko. anfi then my body would be lying at the bottom of Dloocly Gnlch instead of his,'' laughed the outlaw. "'0/ho was he?" "One of Pinkerton's men, of course. Do you know, Frank, I have a curiosity to know how many of those fel lows we have sent to eternity." "\Vell, I have I'm satisfied to know that we are s till here. But. hark! Was not that a step? Some one is coming!" The two desperadoes listened There was not a sound. Jess e James slid from his saddle and put his ear to the ground. A moment later he \Yas at his brother's side, speaking in low. f!Uick tones. "Indians are approaching! l know the stealthy noises! Now. \vho can they be? Apaches or Utes? There are a few of each hiding in these passes." "'v\ hy should they follow us? We are friendly with hot h. Jesse James has never stolen a penny's worth from them." 'Principally because they have never had anything for him to s teal laughed t11e outlaw coarsely. Then once more he mounted his horse. ''What shall we do?'' asked Frank, without, however, showing a trace of fear. "Nothing! Let them come!" At the same time the great highwayman put one hand on the butt of one of his revolvers. T11e two men waited. They were listening intently. Soft cracklings now and then in the bushes proved that some one was approaching. Suddenly a mournful cry issued from a thicket a few rods away. It was like the yelp of a wolf tliat had been wounded. In an instant the James boys raised their bowed heads. A laugh burst from Jesse's lips. He had recognized the sig-nal. "Black Wolf, our faithful hepchman," he muttered, in his deep-toned voice. "What means the fellow? I did not expect him !" Then, as accurately as possible, he imitated the signal. At once two Indians crept rom the shadows on the bluff. They glided like phantoms through the moonlight and came close to the two riders. "Is it you, Black Wolf? \Nell, what is your news?" Jesse James leaned eagerly from the saddle toward one of the strange figures. A few guttural wor.ds in the Indian dialect followed. Then the out}aw nodded his head. I The other Indian finished the report. He spoke in the usual Rocky Mountain lingo. "Ther cavalcade is now roundin' Red Ash Bluff. A; dozen riders in all. One a woman. "Ah! Then we have timed them correctly." "Ay! To the minute. Colonel Hart lef,t his ranch at six o'clock last evening." "And he has the gold?" "Yes. His saddle bags are lined with ther stuff. Arrangements have been made at Oreville for shippin' it ter Cheyenne. Ther colonel has in his possession some twenty thousand dollars' worth of dust and nuggets." "\i\Thich will be transferred to our possession within hour, if our plans do not fail," said Jesse James, with grim smile. ''But it is high time to be getting our Tnr-rP,_ together." As he spoke he straightened himself in the saddle. His hawklike glance was once more sweeping th stretch of the canon. Black Wolf, the Indian, was acting strangely. He moved here and there among the bushes. He was on the warpath after some thing or some one. His companion allowed the blanket to slip from head as he gazed around. It disclosed the features of Bill Nixon, a noted d perado. There was not so much as a trace of Indian blood him. Frank James muttered a word of caution, low quickly covered his head. As he did so, the moonlight glinted upon somethi that was stuck in his belt. There was a flash of light. The fellow drew h i s blanket over and covered the ject completely. It was a


THE JESSE JAMES STORIES. 3 It w as flanked on either s ide b y pist o ls. S u ddenly an echo s m o te t h eir ears. The ro c ks i m m ediately b e h i nd th e m w e re r eve rb r ati n g w ith t h e s o und o f h o of bea t s I nstan t l y th e t wo bl an k ete d fig ur e s shrunk back i n t o t he sh a do ws At a word frop 1 their ri ders, th e two hors es dashed d ow n th e hill jus t far e:1ou g h to b e out o f s i ght of any on e c omi n g t 1 p th e m o unta i n side. T hen t hey once m o r e T he desp e r 2coes bega n tal king togeth e r s o ftl y 'Are Dal e a nd Pac ke r guarding the \ V hite Birch P a ss ? "Yes, a n d :\pac h e Ji m a nd Bi n k the Terrier are in the re:J.r. Dol e and P :1cker \ r ill fall in afte r th e ca va lca d e h a s turned t h e p ass Then i t i s f o r us to h ea d the m off. T he r es t \\ill b e e asy .. "It o u ght t o be \\'e will be six to twelve Thos e are b e t t er odds than Jes s e JamC"s us u:dl y w o rks un d e r." Frank l a u ghed a s he s p o ke. ''\Ve shall n ee d all o nr m e n to-ni g ht. You and I w ill hoid up the whi l e P ac k e r and Dale capture the gold .-\pac h e Jim :!nd Bink wil11hav e t heir ha nd s full w i th the girl and th e h o rses." "You m e an t o sh oot d o w n t he r ide rs?" "It is th e ea s i e st w ay D e ad m e n tell n o tales Of c m ; r sc no harm mu s t c o me to the co l onel. ':-\ o h e is the g oos e with t h e gold e n egg. T hat vei n o n hi s ranch i s worth a t l east a mi llion." \ V e'11 g e t a d e ed to that before he gets hi s libe r ty Or, at l eas t b e f ore his d a ug:1t e r g e t s h er's T he colo n e l s a stubo rn f ellcw, but h e l o v e s hi s dan ghter." "Hark! W hat' s that?" "The I ndia n s a r e com ing! Now, w h y t he d e uce ou l d n 't th e y keep s till for a minute?" "Black Wolf scents danger o r h e wotild no t h av e f o l o wed us. 111ar k m y wo r ds, Jess; h e i s a b o ut to g ive us \varnin g ." T h e c r ackli n g i n the bushes g r e w l o u der ev e r y minute. S o, al so, did the ec h oes o f the ho{)fb ea t s of the horses. "They're o n the ston e trail now \ V e 'll lose 'em as oon as t hey strike the r ed cl ay stre t c h ," mutte r e d J es se, s h e lis t e ned to t h e ec h oes. "That w ill s e rve t o guide u s then. W e will start as oo n as we l ose th e ec h o e s "How ma n y p isto l s h ave you?" "Four. Two in m y bel t and one in ea c h boo t leg." "He re c o mes N ixon and the Wolf." The Indians had sto len down the hill to their master. B l ack wolf, a genuin e U te crept clo s e to Jesse, and uttered so mething "Impo ssible! Jes s e Jame s nearly sprang from his s addle as he u ttered the w o rd A curse fell f rom h i s lips as an acc om panim ent. W I t J ? 1 1 a t 1 s 1 es s . Frank h ad reine d up close to hi s brot her. J esse J a m es l o wered hi s v o i ce. "The W olf h e re say s that we are b eing shadowed He claim s that h e c an s c et1t the presence of Pin kerton dete c tives." "I t old y ou s o Jess Still, how can it b e p o ssible? "Th e W olf se ldom e rrs The two hi ghway m e n l oo k ed unea sily . The Ind i a n g lided a w a y to a thicket near b y I a m su r e h e is ri g h t H e a l ways acts that w ay whe n a n enemy i s n ea r ," whi s p e r e d B ill N ixon from b e twe e n t h e f o l d s of hi s blanket. T h e n I leave yo u an d him to dea l with the m, sai d J esse J ames, griml y "The colonel, with hi s t we n ty tho u sand in go ld dust is l ess t han a m ile F:rank a n d I h a ve o nl y time t o g e t to t h e R oc king B ow l d e r. "Do y o u attack t hem t he: e ? "Yes. S o y o u an d the vVolf can p m lect u s If we are l e av ing en e m i e s be hi nd, it is f o r y o u to k e ep b et\Yee n them u s "And give ou r lives for y ours I s uppose," growl ed B ill N i xo n s av a g ely "9ertainl y i f nece ssar y Are yo u n o t rny slave ? Y our life f o r m i n e Yes, a tho u s and t im es ove r !" H e p u t spurs to his h orse a n d da s h e d clo w n th e mou n ta i n. F r ank Jame s followed at his heels Dill N i xon l o oked a ft e r them. He was wh it e w i t h fury S u dde nl y a h owl f rom B l ack \Vol f awo k e t he distant ec h oes. T h e n t h e s harp cr ack! c r ack o f a r evo lver f ollowed. The I ndian had f alle n li ke a log in h i s t rack s Bill N i xo n waite d long e n o u g h to s ee t wo for m s dro p softly f r om a neigh b o ring t r ee. They ha d "reach e d the t r e e jus t t oo l ate t o c atch James boys. N i xo n t oo k t o his heel s an d fled d ow n t h e m ounta in s ide. A p e rfe c t volley o f bull ets followe d hi m. "My life for hi s Not if I k n o w it!" h e mutte red as he mad e a sharp turn a s lig htl y as a feath e r and dro pped into a ravine. He was now out o f the way of the w hizzin g Thirty fe e t above him two athletic y oun g li!en leaned ov e r t h e yawning "If h e has gone d ow n there h e ha s gon e t o h is death,'' said one of them


THE JESSZ JI\MES STORiES. "\Vhat a pity that it was not the King of Desperadoes himself! Still, Jesse ] ames must be taken alive if the thing is possible!" "I do not believe it is! He swears he will never be cap turned! Just think of the brave men who have lost their lives in the effort." "Detectives, you mean?" "Y cs, and county sheriffs. Why, every man holding a sheriff's job in the South and West has at some time a posse and chased those two robbers." "Well, it is our turn now." "Yes, and he is leading us a chase, all right! It's a pity we only succeeded in killing an Indian." "Oh, I guess this white-livered son of a gun is done for, too! That makes a pair of them out of the way. I wish we could dispense with all of the James boys' hench men as easily "I wi s'h we could; but, hark, vvthat was that!" Crack crack The echo rame .from the rocks above them. Crack! crack crack "Pistol shots, by Jove! The highwaymen are at it! Come on, Miller! We may be able to take a hand in the melee." The two tore down t11e mountain side as they spoke. As they reached a winding trail, they made even better headway. Behind them loomed the interminable spurs and shadows of the Rockies. Before them was the narrow defile that led from Golden Cit y to Oreville, a mining settlement. To go back meant to face the horrors of a wilderness filled with ravening beasts. To forward was to plunge into the very arms of human brutes, who would shoot them down in cold blood and then gloat over their bodies. It was a poor choice at best, but the brave fellows did not hesitate. Another volley of revolver shots showed them that human lives were in danger. The next moment they had rounded an immense ledge, known as the Rocking Bowlder. A weird scene, lighted mildly by the pale moon, awaited their anxious glances. CHAPTER II. THE HOLD-UP. It w as a sight tha1t would have blanched the reddest cheek, yet it fascinated the gaze by its very horror. The vast mountain ranges formed the background of the picture. The little party of hor s emen riding along the narro w trail were taken completely by surprise, as a masked hign wayman appeared before them. But they were men of pluck and courage. Even when the second highwayman's revolver gleamed before their eyes, they were detennined not to give up the treasure they were carrying. The voice of Jesse James smote upon their ears. It was a cold, heartless order to surrender their treasure. Then the great outlaw rode forth boldly into the moonlight, with -a revolver in both hancLs. His brother was close beside him. And behind him were a number of his men. The crack of a dozen weapons followed his order. There was not a coward in the little company that had been chosen to escort the colonel and his daughter upon their lonely journey. The horses, startled at the suddenness of it all, and plunged, and their snorts of fear mingled with sharp cries and cur:es. A woman shric1 l faintly as men began falling their horses, and the terrified beasts dashed into thicket which bordered the trail. Jesse James look ed like a demon as he sat etect the back of his horse. The horse jumped here and there at each of his master, but, though the brid,Je hung loosely upon neck, it s howed no signs of terror. Master and horse were alike in this, for, with the lets singing about his ears, the notorious outlaw as calm a'S eve:-. His weapon cracked merrily as he directed slaught. When orie was en1pty he dr ew another from his and emptied it. The little band fought hravely, and they were by the detectives. But, in spite of their valor, steed af steed went down, often on top of its wounded rider. It was all over in a few minutes, and the high had conquered "Throw up your hands!" he roared, in a voice of thu der, while Frank James bawled at the terrifi ed horses. Of the eleven horsemen only six weTe left. The seventh rider was a beautiful girl of eighteen. Her eyes were distended and her cheeks were w with terror. "Throw up your hands!" roared Then a cuTSe fell from his lips had obeyed him. He leveled his revolver at this obstinate man's A .calm, manly voice rang out defiantly. "Sl 10ot 1 1e. if you wish. Jesse 1 T1nt tell me "i ........ h ) <}!l \Yith n1y


THE: JESSE Jl\MES STORiES. Tbe daring outlaw smiled. His men had closed in around the cavalcade now, so be lowered his weapon as he answered the question : "Your daughter will not be harmed, Colonel Hart. vVe do not war upon women. We merely wish to relieve you ofthe .gold that you carry in your saddle-bag-s." "I might JJave known the folly of attempting to transport it this way," said the officer calmly; "but I had heard that you robbers were at your nefarious work in another section of the country !" "Uttfortunately for you, we are here, said Jesse:, griwJy. "So cease your talk and hand over the gold!" Frank James rode forward as he spoke. Colonel Hart lost no time in slipping from his saddle. "Father !" Tne young girl had found her voice, and the words e<>...caped her lips like the no t es of a bugle. "Father, I beg of y o u n o t to give those ruffians our gokl Let t hem kill us, if they will, but do not yield to the..-n !" "Nonsen s e l That is fo ol ish daughter!" "It s not f oolish It is brave! Oh, I shall die of sha.-'11e i.f you allo w t he m t o rob us!" The gi rl's voice tre mbl e d b u t s he urged h e r steed forv ;ard a s she spoke Jes se noticed that h e r h2.n ds w e r e sti ll upon the bri dl e. S h e had n o t obeyed his o rd e r "Attend to the colonel and the gold, Frank," he said, sternl y T he next minute F l eet wind was r e in e d cl o s e to the: young girl' s mount. "I admire y our spiri t; miss, but your father is right, the outlaw -said, polite ly. "We will s hoot him down l i k e .... a dog i f he d o es not g ive up the g old willin g ly, bu t you shall live! Do you sti ll advise him to defy us?" "Oh, no! N o If I am n o t to di e also. my father must live I But oh, yo u brute! You inhuman monster! Is there no power in heaven or earth that can overcome you?" A figure stole out of the bushes as she It was followed hy ano ther. Two lrightene d horses ha

6 l'HE JESSE JAMES STORIES. TJ1ere was r oom inside for he-r to rest in comfort. Leading the horses behind the ledge o f rock he t et hered them securely. Then he patted rheir sleek sides. He would need them lat er. Not a so und of the hold-up came to them where they were, and, leaving the young girl alone, idiller went out to reconnoitre. The detective crept back on the trail, keeping close to the hedges. As he neared the spot, he heard the whinnying of the hor ses It was dan gero us business. He cared not for himself but who would save the poor girl if he sho uld be st ru ck with a bullet. Still h e must know something of what was going on. He feared Miss Hart would go mad if she did not learn the fate of her fath er. He drcppecl upon his hands and knees and crept into the thicket that bordered the trail. Moving like a tortoise, he crept nearer and nearer. At last he came to the turn in the trail. A moment later the voice of Frank James came to his ears distinctly. "He isn't much hurt, boys! only a flesh wound. A swig of whisky will sE.t him on his feet. Now, who i s to take charge of the colonel's nuggets?" It was the great desperado himself who answered the question. He was standing l>y his horse, groaning and cursing. "Let's see. Dale is dead, and Parker is injured. You l ook after the stuff, Frank, while I attend to the colonel." "That suits me," said hi-s brot her. "Now, what 111 thunder wil1 we do with this whelp of a detective?" "Is he dead?" "No, he's dyin'. Shall we leave him as he is!" "No we'll be more merciful! Hit him a crack with your revolver !" Miller ground his teeth, but he was powerless to save his friend It was more than he could do, perhaps, to save him self and the colonel's daughter. The s-harp crack of a revolver butt against a human head made his blood run cold. He muttered an oath of vengeance from his hiding place in the th:cket. "Frank James, your doom is seal(\d if ever I get a bead on you again," he whispered to himself. The next moment he strained his ears to hear the rest of the conversation. "Now,' Bink, you take charge of the horses-we ma y need them," we111t on Jesse. "We'll take the colone-l to our den in the Black Pit Ravine and leave some one to guard him. B y that time, I expect Apache Jim will be there wirh the woman." Miller's heart almost stopped beating. He had not thoug

THE JESSE JAMES STORiESo ::!nd, when the riders rounded the turn, Miller stole out and looked at them. ln his anxiety for Miss Hart h e could not forget his companion. The tears sprang to his eyes as he saw the dead detect Ive. He was as brave a f e llow as ever lived, and Mill e r knew that he left behind him a ,yife and little children. "l\Ionster, Jesse James!" he muttered, between his teeth. "To think that he, t o o. has a wife. and they say that 'he loves her. yet hi s victims are numbered by hundreds, while he goes on his way a death-defying demon!'' He shook his fis t after. t he d e !liirting ca valcade in impotent fury, but he was hy no means the first who had threatened _ks se James with vengeance. Would he ever 'be abie to execEte it? The effort seemed u seless n o w. as the odds were again s t him. He \\'as arn,e d hut unmounted, while the robbers rode p1agni.ficent animr.!s. Bending over hi s comrade, :'dille r a p:1per pinned to his fri end's shoulder. On the paper were scra\Ylcd in pencil these brutal words: ''So p e ri s h the pursuers of Jesse Jame s! Detccti,cs beware!'' A ho\YI of rage fell from the Pinkerton man's l ips He -tltrned .the paper ove r and wrote upon the other s ide of it: 'I swear to av enge my murdered by J esse James :mel his brother. Tou MrtLER, Pinkerton Dctecti, e. Tihen h e crept back into the t hicket and crawled along rapid ly. The cavakade \Vas some di st;J.!1Ce ahead. There was no danger of their h i m. As he neared the cave his excitement was int ense. The outlaws had passed the spot without so much as a h alt. \\'ould he find the beautiful young girl safe and un-molested? I CHAPTER III. TRE.\CHERY. lie ru::hecl the bnshes aside with an anxious hand. As he crept softly betwee n the rock s he was listening in ten tl,y. _The fate of this young girl had become a part of hi s life. There was s otPrthing in her face and voice that had drawn affecti o n f:om him. As neared the enhance to the cave he called softly to the horses, hoping it1 this way not to alarm her. There was no response. Even the beasts were silent. Had they been within hearing distance they cer-tainly have w hinnied. He entered the cave. f' It was entirely empty. The young girl had vanish ed. Miller ground his teeth at hi s own stupidity. He should not have dreamed of leaving her for a minute. X o doubt they had been f ollowed the moment they clashed away from that fearful sce ne. The young girl was now in the clutches of Apache Jim.' She might as wei! have been in the gentle care of the d e vil. The young man's frame trembled with rage as he thought of it. He called h e r name gentl y, but it was only answered by echoes He put his ea r to the ground. Even the sound of the riders had passed away. There was nothing to be heard but the howl of some w ild bea st prowling in the hushes s ome distance away. He ran arounc\ behind the rocks. There \\ as not a sign of the h orses, but all around the spot where they had been tethered we1:e soft prints made by an Indian moccasin. The brave d etect ive groaned, f

p 8 THE JESSE J J\M E S S TORIES. :\fille; had only been on the track of Jesse Jame s about hn> ;;!"f ks. con seq uently he was not as familiar with the Hills as he might be. Hi., chum. j ccc iy;J, had known the locality better. Jn fa(t, h e \Y,c:s bo;-n withil1 the shadow of the Rockies. Millfr pa!'E<:'d the bodie s of the d ead men \ vith an agon-i zed groan but the sight o( the m r e freshen e d his desire f o r vengeance. As he htr!icd on he k ept one 1 and on his weaP.on, for :drcady the \Yild b easts of regi o n were scenting the de?.rl He ground his teeth in impotent rage as he thought of his frjend being food for catamounts and panthers. ''] t the fate that sl:o11ld befall that human mon ster J esse jan1es !"he sa id aloud. A seco ncl later som.e one behind him seconded his scn timc nts "::\] \' o pe e n y tm kerjackly. stranger, but you air ern ufi' tc1 say i t an' I ain't!" '.'\Lille r tu:ned like lightning, with his revolver aimed at the st r;;.nger's heart. The stranger w'as standing less than a rod away, apparently unarmed. He had j us t era w led from the hedge, and was l)rushing the dirt from his leath e: trousers. "\Vho are you, and where did you come from?" asked Miller, quickly vvith his hand still on the trigger. "Say stranger, if yer c!Dn't mind, ye r mought pint that gun the other way. It might go off.'' The detective, reassure d by the man' s manner, lm\er ed his weapon, but s tili kept it in his hand, ready for instant use The newcomer moved r:carer Mill e r and drew his s louch hat down a little closer. "\Vall, I reckon now as how yer wouldn't know me if I clid t el l my name, but as ye've axed me ther question I ain't afeard ter give it ter yer, stranger. I'm Hank B l udsoe, at yer sarvice, 'tho' them as knows me best don't bother erbout ther Hank nor ther They just call me plain 'Bind.' It's easier ter remember! ''Gee! I should say so And it is appropri<,lte to this section, wht:re throat-cutting i s so common," said Miller, still wary; 'b:.:t h 0 \'1 comes i t that you are so far from home. I I-hnk Bludsoc lived in N u gget City." Hank H!L!dsoc at the detect ive from under his hat h 2 answered. "No,,, lww'd ycr kno w wher<' I live d, b'gosh? Ain't yer one ,:;f 1:he:11 r c;1derfoot mine r s from Golden Cit y ?" "Every!xJcly has heard of Hank Bludsoe, I guess,'' \v-ent on l\iii ler. to igno r e the other question. "You are tile big .gest man i n ugget City I've been told! Ain't y o u the mayor?'' The fe!lmY chuckle(! again but he \\ as still peering sharp ly at )..Iiller. He cou l d see that his companion was accepting his story. "l recko n now I am! 'Mayor Blucl they call me! And I'ts an / hi s gang fer on twenty year, and nary so much as a squint l:cv I h:::cl of their actooal doin's." \ Veil. yo u w o uld n ot want m ore than a s quint, for a \':orse lot of cutthroats neverexisled! Go back t11e trail a piece if you lilter, "and I had just started for Golden City to sec if I could not stir up the sheriff a little.'' "Yew cn't do it! The sheri ff of Golden is


THE JESSE JAMES STORIES. 9 afcard of his own shadder. Ther mention of Jesse James name would send him inter hystrikes! \i'\That's the matter with yew an' me lookin' inter thet thar ravine?'' The detective gave him a sharp look and did some rapid thinking. It was taking a big risk to trust the fellow but he was a match for him when it came to pulling a trigger. He could at least locate th e den and then back out if he still felt suspicious of the obliging "mayor." "Will you do it?" he asked. "Yew bet! Thar's nothin' I'd like better!" "But do you know the way?" "Every ct!ssed i1:ch of it." "And do you think you and I art a match for that gang?'' "That thar depencls o n how much grit you've got, stranger! Ef yew air er tenderfoot miner, as I guessed, I reck'n I'm risk in er good 'eal ter make er side pardner of ye, bnt--'' "But suppose l'm not a tenderfoot miner !" "Thet's diff'rent! Now, what ther deuce beyer?" Miller played a bold game. He unbuttoned his coat and disclosed a s mall silver badge. "I'm a Piukerton detective, an I'm after Jesse James! Now you are not afraid to trus t me, are you, mayor? A gleam of pleasure shot from the "mayor's" eyes, but his hat brim was so low that the detective could not see it. ;Great snakes! You don't say yer is a Pinkerton man!'' he said, huskily. Miller smil e d grimly. "I don't blame you for beingmayor. There are not many Pinkerton men o n the track of Jesse James at present." 'You mean that they air mostly killed off?" "Yes, and their ghosts alone are on the warpath after the rascal! \'/hat a reckoning day he will have when he faces them all, mayor:'' "You don't believe in nothin lik e thet thar, do you?" They had been walking slowly back on the trail as they talked, and the pile of corpses in th e road had come in view before Miller answered. "Look!" be said, sharply. He oointecl to a dark mass just A huge panther was backing away frorn the pile, dragging a limp body after it. The beast was snarling and snapping ove r its inanimate victim. "Do you think a man can mow clown his fellow-men and leav-e them to a fate lik e that without at some time, and in some place. being punished for it?" "Blast it, no! Thet thar is an awful sight, I swar !" said the man. 'But tain't the first heap er dead men Jesse James has piled up as a monyment ter his rascality!" I swear it will be the last if I can prevent. it," muttered the cletecti ve. Then he droppe d upon one knee and took delibe rate aim at the panther. Bang! The panrhe:r rolled over almost without a sound . but a hideous cry from an adjoining tree showed that its mate was waiting. 'Now we're in fer i t all right! Thet thar other critter will foller us till ther kingdom come!" s aid the mayor, uneasily. They both qui<;kened their steps and passed the pile o [ bodies. Miller kept !pokin g b e hind him, but he saw no more of the panther. She bad evidently changed her mind and decided not to follow them. "'How far is it to the Black Pit Ravine?" asked Miller, after a while. "A good mile and a half from this Rockin' Bowlder thet we jest passed. We'll git tbar in time fer ther midnight supper.'" "\-\'bat do you me<>.n by that?" The detective looked at him sharply. The fello w stumbled and then let out a curst>. \Vben be recovered himself ht> answered promptly: "It's ernother thing I've heard ab out them James boys he said. "They hev a banquet lik e after all ther vict'ries, an', of course, ef they corral ed ther colonel's dust, it was quite er vict'ry." "They got it, all right! Now, what d9 you suppose they will do with the col one l ?'' "Keep him till be gives em a claim on thcr mine his ranch.'' "And then will he be set at liberty?'' T!1e "mayor" roared. Ec wonderfully well-posted on the outl:nv's meth o ds "Naw, n ot by cr jugfull! Ther colonel will g1t 1t 111 ther neck \vhen be's done all be kin fer ther boys They'll bleed him ter the last r\r op, an' then, ten ter one, they'll keep his darter er prisoner." vVbat for?" "So ther county \vill offerer ranso:n, of cour$e! You'd orter know thet thar if yew'rc a gcnooine detective." Once more he glanced sharply at from under his hat brim. Suddenly the dete ctive stopped and exclaimed: Hold on! where in thunder arc you going?" The mayor had moved out of the beaten tr<>.!l and was scaling a low, fiat rock. when he had reached the top, he turned and answered the question. "This hyar rock marks entrance to thcr r::tvme.


1 0 THE JESSE JAMES STORIES Ther black pit is ov er on ther 'tot her side Y er got ter come up afore ye r kin go any further!" M ill er crawled up o n the ro ck. He had an uneasy feel in g. Soti1e way, in tile last minute, he had becomt suspic iou s of the fellow. However, it was no time to hesitate, so he followed his leader across the enormo u s surface of the rock. As they reached the opposite side, Miller went as near the brink as possible. The next second hi;; companion laid a heavy hand on his shoulde r. 'Be keerful thar, stranger; it's er long ways ter ther bott o m. Thar's er flight of nat"ral steps on ther other end. I reckon n ow I'm ther only man otitsidt: iv t h er James gang thet knows on 'em!" 'You certainly have a wonderful knowledge of the country," said Miller. A low chuckle answered him. I ain't never done much but tramp these hills fer forty year till ther folks at :t\ugget City put me in mayor." He began to desccn'd as he spoke, and, just at this point of the journey, the detective was forced to do some r apid thinking. Should he follow or not? It seemed' lik e a foolhardy venture, but a reckless spirit had taken possession of him; beside s he was eager for a glimpse of the' retreat. The mayor looked over his shoulder while he was hesitating. "You ain't go in' ter back out; be yer, young feller? Durned ef l ain't curus te r see ther hole, ennyhow; be sides, I ain't objectin' ter arnin' thet thar ten thousand dollars." Miller decided instantly to go on, at all hazards. He could pump the fellow full of lead and bol t at the first sign of treachery. "I'm coming, mayor! L ead on!'' he said, promptly; then, as the fellow's head disappeared, the detective made ready to f o llow him The ravine was fully fifty feet below the lowest ridge of' hills, and nearly a hundred feet belo\\ the surface of the rock upon which he \vas seated. The only way clown that h e could see was by the flight of natural steps in the rock which were very narrow and almost perpendicular. The rugged banks of the ravine formed a SQrt of ter race, risin g th:ee tiers deep, and fringe d with stunted cedars. At one end of the ravine the m o a t h of the black pit opened. It was a tremc1clou3 nndc iJy a;1 ca:thq;nke. At tl;e oti t:r end of r!1e ra;ine Lc coc!ld :ct::n the glim-mer of light. lt was probably the entrance to the den where the outl aws were in hidin g. He slid clown the rock as swiftl y as he could, landing nearly on top of the athl e tic mayor. Now, then, step easy! Ther's bloodhounds somers erbo ut ," he was warned. They crept carefully clown the ravine toward the light. As they neared it, Miller saw that i t was a lantern se t on a s lab of rock The ravin e beyond it was i11 perfect darkness except where, in spots, the moonlight descended to it. Twenty feet beyond the light, they came suddenly to \Yhat appeared like a solid wall. Then, to Miller's utt er surprise, the man whom he sup posed to be an e nemy to Jes se James l e t out three shrill whi stles, which were evidently a sigt:al. Miller clapped his hand on his revolver and. wheeled upon the fello\\. "Curse you! I believe you are a traitor, after all!" He raised his revolver and was about to shoot, when a h oarse laugh greeted him from behind. Then a fo o tstep sounded just behind him. He turned and confronted Jess e James ancl l his brother. At the same time rt:he mayor of Nugget City stepped up and put his hand on his shonlder. "Here, Jesse! I have brought yew a prize! He's st raight from Pinkerton's Now, what do I get for him?' Jesse James burst into a jovial laugh. ''Well clone, Bill Nixon! You are as shrewd as ever! C ome into the den ancl tell me where you found him." He grabbed Miller by the shou ld e rs as he spoke at1d wheeled him around, while Frank James, at the same time, deftly r e lieved the' detective of his revolver Billl\ixon g rinned He had played his trnmp card to win his master's favo r It remained to be seen how he wou ld be rewarded. CHAPTER IV IN THE DEN. The detectiYe's first thought was of the colonel and h i s daughter. At least he was in good company He expected no mercy. J esse .I ames knew nothing of merciful instincts, for he had never felt them. As he was leading hi s captor through a narrow, threadlik e pa th, which wound between the rocks, listening to the story of the detective 's capture, he kept burstingoforth 0 \ mtr> l:lt:[.;l1ler. Frank .lames and Bill Xixon j oined him at intervals. Ti: c lal.te r t old how h e had met the det e ctive ami made hi m th:tl h e was tl:c mayor of Xugget City. -


THE JESSE JAMES STORIES. "Them Pinker"to n men are a pack o f fools roared Jesse, lustily. ''The whole of them together haven't an o u nce of brain s The idea of setting s uch idiots to track ing bandits !" As h e spoke Miller heard a fearful sound. It was th e hoarse snarl of a bloodhound somewhere ahead o f him Jesse c o ntinued hi s tira d e against the detec tiv es : "The wh o l e l o t of them are not as good at tracking a man a s m y T error th e r e Shut up Terror! H o ld your noi se D o n t yo u k n ow your mas t er?" The la s t part o f th e r emark wa s addresse d to the dog, wh ose s avage growl s w e r e b eco min g l o ud e r. ' D o yo u think T error will l e t him pa s s? He s m e lls fres h m eat!" l aughe d Frank J a m es Mill e r held his breath, to h ear the answer. "It do e sn t matter much if he don t, I reckon The beast i s hungry, and a detective makes g ood eating!" A lau g h from all three f o llo we d The k ing of sudd enly s t o pped pushing the det ec ti v e V-llhirling h im around, s o that he was b e tween him and his brother, h e t ook a ste p forward into wha t l ooked like a narrow arch betwe e n tw b immen s e bow l ders. Miller was just in time to see a pair of g leaming ey e balls guarding the arch, wh e n once more the l usty vo i ce of the outl a w e c hoe d through the ravin e Down T error! Dow n y ou fiend Do y ou wa n t to eat me up? Jus t h o ld o a bit and y ou sh all dine off of a choice morsel! Ha ha I hope yo u will relish a live Pinkerton d e t e c t ive '!'' The dog re l apse d int o 1 sile nc e and slunk back as he spoke A s hungry and vicio u s as he was, he recogniz e d and o be yed t h e voice of his ma s ter. E ve n the bl oo dh oun d s a n d w o lfd o gs st o od in fear of this man It meant t o r ture in eve r y s hape if one of th e m dared to sna rl a t him. "Come on, yo u s n eak! Yon s p y C o me and have a l o ok at your g rav e l a n g h e d J esse, as h e sto o d in the sto ne a r c h and r eac h ed b a ck for Mille r. Frank pus h e d the cletE: ctive forward. "No w, Terror, guard t he path!" cried Jesse, as the y all passed in. "The n ext wretch who com e s this way, tear hiru hom limb to lim b, unless h e g i ves us the signal." With a yelp, the d o g sprang t o his po st. "vV o e b e unto any one w ho atte mpts t o pa s s him now !" laughed Frank, as he looked back over his shoulder. ln s i de of the arch i t was a little lighter but, as Miller h i s h e marve led at it. .., They we r e i n a room w hich seemed cut out of solid stone T h e impenetrabl e walls ros e a foot high e r than thei r h e ad s a nd above th e m was a roof o f r o u g h-h e wn ders. Some one had tunn e l ed the rock s r v hi c h fille d on e e nd of the ravine. It might have b e en J esse James him s elf, or i t might have b e en the bandits and briga n ds wh o preceded him in the Rocki es. Howeve r this plac e \Vas p erfec tl y s uit e d to their ne e ds, Anoth e r arch was reach e d after a minute. A s wa s th e ca s e of the oth e r an e normous animal g uard e d it. -... This a nima l was a wolf, which J esse had tratned' h i m self. It was a gaunt, hungr ylo ok ing creature w h ose e y e balls shot fo r t h flames of fire as i t scented a stranger. G e t ba c k, Torment!" roa r ed Jesse, striding up to the beast. "Don't be in such a hurry, my pretty pet Yo u and T erro r s hall squabble over the tidbi t later!" The d e tectiv e's blood was on fire Was it po ssible that the outlaw was i n earnest? Suc h h o rrible w o rds were not meant as j ests. The w o lf grow l e d ominously as the t ri o passed. The n she, t o o s lunk back into her place a s guardian o f the p o rtal. A mom e n t l a ter there was a blaze of l ight. They had emerg ed, into a room which was lighted by two lan te rns hanging f r om the ceiling. In the c e n te r o f the floor a fire was burning, the smoke from whic h asc e nd e d in spiral wreaths to a j agge d ho l e jus t ab o v e it, w hi c h seemed to be on a _level wit h t he bank' of th e ra v ine Arou nd thi s fire, which was u f sma ll twigs, and .wh i ch cra c kl e d m e rril y, were thrown bea r and lion skins. At o ne e nd of the place were stacked a o f fire a r m s But Mille r hardly glanced about as he entered. His gaze rest e d upon two people who were s eated u po n t h e ru gs, and, jus t f o r a m o m ent1 he almost b l essed the f a t e t h a t had bro u ght him t o share thei r mise r y. These t wo p e ople were Colonel Hart and his b eaut i ful dau g ht er. Nea r th em were the saddle-bags of gol den nuggets. The colone l s arms were s t ill bou n d at h is side, and one ankl e was fastened firmly to a stake d riven into t h e floor o f the cave. H i s daughter knelt on a rug at a little distance Her arms were stretched out loving l y toward him. Apache J im was lying flat u pon the stone floo r, wit h hi s pistol at his side. The sligl,1test attempt upon t he young girl's pa r t t o


) THEJESSE JJ\MES creep nearer to her father would meet with the disapproval of the h3.lf-breed. Packer, the injured tobber, lay up011 another rug of fur. One glaBCe into his white face showed that he was dying. 'Bink, tlte Terrier, Slit at hh side. He had a rifle across his knees, and was also watching the prisoners. The light cast a weird glow over the uncanny scene. As the group entered M-iss Hart turned her gaze anxibusly upon them. As her glance fell upon Miller, she gave a cry of horror. Slae had recognized him instantly as the brave fellow who had tried to save her. "Oh, fatJher! bther! They have captu red him I" she cried. "They are bringing that noble fellow to this awful place! Oh, it is infamous Can we do nothing. father I" he colonel 9hook his head as he glanced at Miller, sadly. "Hush, Dora," he said, sternly. "Calm yourself, my child. You will make a bad matter worse by giving vent to your emotions." The-youag .girl covered her face >With her hattds She was brave at heart, but this new proof of her captC"s' villainy had completely unrtetved her. The te:trs down her cheebl. JeSBe Ja.mes paid no attention to,ber. He motiooed"t!ole-detective to a wg w-ifh a -show of hos pi-tality. Then he dropped upon a bearskin "by his side and be gan.cucsing at tbe pain which was gripping his shoulder. In spite of his bravery and cruelty, he was not able to bear suffering. Bink roseto his feet, and mtl'ttered a word to his-master. Thoen he &trode of the ploce. Packer had breathed his last while his master was lying there. l'\-a:nk ]filMs threw a ru,g over the dead man's face, after first ridding him of his belt and a brace of fine re volvers. "A good man gone. We mttst fiP-d some one to take his place, Jess," he said, "There'll be nothing for any one to do until my shoulder is .. ve!l," growled Jesse. "How about the stagecoach from Cheyenne to-morrow night? Do you mean that we are to overlook that job? It means a cool ten thousand." -"You and Bink can do it! I'm out of it," snarled the outlaw. "I'll rest on my oars, and let you fellows work a little." "There will be nine men on that coach, not counting \he driver." ''Well, snr>:>Ose a"' I" "Bink is very uncertain.'' .. --"Give him a little discipline before he starts; that will fix him, Frank!" . I As he spoke he broke out agam mto curses. He had felt another twinge in the injured shoulder. "I wish I had that man) I am sorry you killed him, F-rank! I mean the one that put that bullet in my shoul der!" "Yes, he got off too lUcky," growled Frank, "hut tlhe doctor wit!l be here soon, and then your shoulder will feel better." Colonel Hart his head and 'looked squarely at the outl

THE JESSE JAMES STO'RIES . Miller gave a scornful laugth, but di d not move a mu sc!e. ''\V ell, \Yhat have you got to say?" asked Jesse, finger in g his weap on. ''I mer e ly wish to ask a question." "Fire away!" "How can Colone l Hart mak e over a claim to you? Do you the Gov ernors of i .Vhsssouri, Kentucky, or any of the Southern and western States would let you work it? \\" a uld you not be putting your head int o a no o se the minut e you attempted it?" 'Tel tak e chances o n that! What business is it of yours any way?" "It is not my business. I asked it out of curiosity." "\Vel!, 'curiosity" don't go h e re! Sit down! con1r. manclecl the out! a w. 1 The detective fell back upon his b e a rsk in. Then; a s light smile upon h is lips. As the king had bee n speak ing l1e ha.d discovered something. Colon e l Hart had s uc ceeded in l oosen ing the bands ab out his arms. The c ords still remained, but he could rid himself of them at any minute. Moreover, Apache J\m h ad fal'len asleep. After hours of trampin-g over the mountains, the fire had proved too much for him. J esse James : had n ot discover e d this. He trusted the half-bre ed.implici tly. He coul d have sworn that the l east movement on the part of hi s ri c h pri so ner would have b e en greeted with the click of the half-bre ed s weapon. I :Miller glanced around the place, and to m e asure the chances of J esse J ames could s h oot with one hand as well as the other, and F rank and' Dill N i xo n were both able-bodied murde rers. He loo ked around for Nixon. 1 The fe'llow was right behind him. H e gave vent a l o ud laugh of derision as he saw the d etective's ac ti on. "Ha! ha! Lookin' for ther mayor, be you?" he r oared. ''Well, he's righ t h ere, yo u sleuth-hound, an' I h e's got hi s two eye s o n ye r !" Miller did not reply. He felt murderous toward the wretch. If he liv ed to get out o f the place he m eant .to hav e a shot at that fellow. Once more his glance wandere d the place The stack of fir e arms in th e corner would arm them sufficiently', if th ey only reach them. Still, even then i t would be two against and no knowing how many more outlaws mi,ght appea r at a signal. His thoughts were distracted by the entrance o f two men. They were Buck, the Terrier, and a man he called the doctor Miller gave a sharp glance at the newcomer's face, then he caught his breath with a gas p of astonishment .The f e llow was dressed like a cowboy, in leather breeches and 1eggings and a broad-brimm ed hat. But, in spite of these clothes and a full braid of brist ling, reddish hair, he was able to recogni ze him at once. He was ano-tJher detective from the P inkerton .agency. CHAPTER V. A FRIGHTFUL SCEc -"Ther pi.Jl slin

14 THE JESSE JAMES STORIES. 'At the same time he gave the detective a cautious glance. The fire was dying out, but no one thought to r e plenish it. The outlaws were all too oc cupi e d watching the p robing for the bullet The d e t e ctive who was actin g in the capacit y of a phy sician kept up a stead y flo w of t a lk. He used the t y pical v e rna cular of the Rocky M o un tains. Frank Jame s joined in the talk but Jesse said nothing. He was gritting his teeth hard to endure the suffering. "Now then, somethin' in the shape of a bandage men! said the d oc tor. Frank James glanced around. There wa s n othing hand y He strod e out of the d en. \ BiJ.l Nixo n pulled a bandana from his pocket and handed it to the doctor. A : s he did so, he purposely s tepped on Miller's ankle. It was t h e detective's He open e d the s urgi c al case in a second In the c o ver of the ca se h e f o und a loaded rev o lver. Both C o l o n e l H art and h i s daughter saw him secure the weal)o-n. The n"ext se cond a s i g n a l wa s exchange d bet w e e n them. The last s mokl eri11g flam e fro m the fire vanished at that minu te If !!he d o c to r had be e n waiting for this to happen it could n o t hav e g iven him more pleasure. J ess e James noticed i t, and roared out one of his pr-ofanest orders It was f o r B ink to immediately replenish the fuel. "The T errie r s to l e d u t Tliis l e f t o nl y Bill Nixon and th e Indian. The ph ys i cia n glanced over his s h o uld er, as if im patient f o r m o re b a ndages. As he did so he saw that w it hout rising M iller was c o vering B ill Xixon iYith th e p i stol. A sec o n d l ate r t he despe r ado hi mse lf n o ticed it. Like a flas h of lightning he dr e w h is o wn w e a po n and at th e same i nst a n t he gave vent to a long s h r ill whistl e Mill e r 's r evo lv e r c racl<'ed at long range. T he p i sto l i n Bill N ixon 's Hanel fell w ith a thud to the floor a nd, g iving a y ell of ra ge, th e outla w m ade a l e ap f orward and th e n san k do wn in a h ea p be s id e hi s weapon. At that instan t Miss Hart sp r a n g like a d ee r towa rd th e st ack of fi: earms G r as p the l o ade d r ifles in h e r a rms she hurried ba c k to h e r fath e r J e .sse J am e s attem pted t o ri se. He w a s h e l d clown by a g rip o f ir o n His ph ys i cian's h a nd s wer e around his thro at. The h a l f-breed a wok e at th e v e r y first shot, but a bul let from Mille r s r evolve r pa sse d thro u g h both of the fellow's hand s l e a v in g him practically helpless. Just as Frank Jame s and Bink appeared in the door way Mill e r smash e d the two la.ruterns with one stamp of his foot. The place was in darkness. Colonel Hart and his daughter had! their weapons aimed s-traight at the doorway. Cra-ck! Crack! Crack! w ent the ir rifles. A perfe ct v o lley fro m the outl aws an swe r e d them. _, The "doctor" found it t oo wa rm f o r him a t the s i de of Jesse Jame s s o h e spran g t o w h e r e his comrades w e re s ta ndin g. T he o u t law s at eac h othe r and then darted e r and th it h e!'. M ill e r an d t h e dE'tect!ve s h o ut e d to M i s s H a r t, c h angin g th e ir ow n l ocatio n s in th e d arkness as th ey did so. A m o m e nt late r Mille r ca u ght Mi ss Har t around the waist a nd ra i sed h e r h i g h i n air. The bogus doctor sprang on to his s h o uld e rs like a cub, an d pas s ed her up thro u g h th e hole that served as a chim ne y. A pair of strong anns were there to receive her. Whos e the y w e r e was a mys tery to the girl at that mom e nt. It w as hot w ork f o r th e d e tectives, but it was done in a second Then b od1 stood ready to join in the fra y about them. Shots were b eing fired m o re clo s ely now It lo o k e d as th ough one outlaw only was left. C o l o nel Hart's rifle awoke the ech o es so it was not difficult to mi s ta k e it. The bogus ph y sici a n moved s oftl y towards the brave man who was still chaine d to the s take. The next second he f ell t o the ground with a bullet in his heart. It had come from a chamber of Frank James revolver M iller call e d t o Co l o nel H a rt. H e was a ns we r e d pro m p tly. The g e ntleman h ad b ee n firing as rapi dly as possible A s s oo n a s o ne rifle was empoty he had picked up an-other. Mi-lle r b la z ed a way a nd empti e d his The n a st ing i n g p a in in his forearm mad e him drop the w eapo n It was the la s t sho t fire d in the t e rribl e e ncounte r. S o m e o n e had en tere d th e place, carrying three lanterns in one h2 nd The othe r h a n d clu tc h e d a Colt 's rev olver. By t h e feeble light t he c o l one l and. Miller vi ewe d the scene. The}' we r e all lyi n g almost s id e b y sid e The ma n w ith t'he l ante rn s was th e o n l y man st anding. Frank J a m es fou nd h is voice He had been shot thrl:ugh th e leg Disann t h ose d ev i ls a n d th e n do som e thin g f o r J ess h e r oared "Th ro w some wa t e r in his f a c e and give him some whisky!" T-he fellow cast dow n th e lanterns and t h e n stro de across t he r oo m The w eapo n s we r e all u s e l e ss. Every c hamb e r was e m p t y. The n h e d evo t e d h imse lf r e storing his master to con sci o u s n ess. Mill e r forgot hi s own wounds as he watched his ef fort s "Curse him! He still liv es!" he muttered, und'er his breath, as Jes s e g ave vent to a g r o an, .and -then began to gasp and snort like a st eam engine "Who was he-the doctor ?" whi spered the c o l o n e l as he attempted to stanch the blood that was flowing from a bullet hole in his hand. Miller bent nearer


THE JESSE JAM ES STOR I ES. 15 "His name is Lee. He is one Pinkerton's best m en. I expected him mee t me to-morrow in Golden City ." 1 'So my daughter is safe?" ''I think so, sir." ''Thank God!" Frank James had staggered to his f eet and was limping toward them. curse Break away, th e r e !" he roared. "You'll liv e to regret this night's work! You'll suffe r the agonies of the damned for your impudence!" ''Is it impudence for a man to try to protect himself against cutthroats?" ask ed the colonel, coolly. -. He had stanched the flow of blood from his wound b y bandaging it tightly. M i 'ller had a handkerchief 1 bo:und tightly over his wound. He felt a little faint, but he was as fearless as ever. "Little do we care what you do to us, so long as the young lad y is safe," he said, scornfully. 'The girl would not have been harmed. Yott knew that.'' roar, ed the outlaw. "But now; by the devil's pow(OTS, you two shall have no mercy!" J "We have not expected any from the first ," retorted Miller. ''V.Ve know the James boys too well to expect any mercy.'' Jesse James was breathing regularly now but Bink the Terrier was c r ying lik e a baby and Nixon was groaning. T'he half-breed had not moved after his first : wild gra for his weapon. A bullet from some direction had s topped hi s heart forever. Frank James seemed beside himself while his brother's fate hung in the bal c nee He limp e d about and shouted orders to every one, even th e dead men, whom he could not seem to understand could not obey him. The man with the enormous Colt's revolver kept look' in g at Miller. The detectiv e could not move without finding his eye upon him. There was no hope of escape. Their opportui1ity had vanished. As soon as Jesse re vived, they would no doubt be tortured, and their miseries would be prol onged until death should end them. It was a horrible outlo ok, but neither bh'e co l one l nor the detective ftinche:d from their fate. It was a comfort to them b o th to know that Dora WQuld not be obliged to witness it. At last Jesse James spoke. His :first words were a curse, as usual. "What has happene d, Frank?" "The doctor was a Pinkerton detective. He fooled us all. but it seems his friend here knew him." "Did you do hilll1 ?" "Yes l He lies yonder! I Dttt a bullet an inch below the spot that his di::t ective's badge covers!" "Good! And where are our prisoners?" "The men are here. The g irl has escaped us." "How could she escape from you and Nixon and the Indian! My curses upoi 1 you for a pack of traitors!" "Not so fast, Jess I got a bullet in my le g just as hey passed her up through the chimney. Another struck 1y weapon! For a tpinute I was helpless "And the g-irl has g-one!" '.'Yes. They lifted her to the roof. No doubt this ras cally doctor had a confederate up there." "And is no one o n their track?'' is no one to go. Not o ne of our but what is dead or injured, excepting Lightning Foot. He is at present guarding our two prisoners.'' "Then l oose the bloodhound L e t him after them at once For the first time in his career Jesse James will make war. on a woman! Curse the girl, I say! She is in league with our enemeis ' Yo u talk lik e a m adman, J ess The girl wa-s help les s If I had someth in g that belonged to that fellmv who pulled her up I could gamble tthe prisoners Mi ler gas'Ped with horror, but the colonel was calm. He could bear-anything now that he knew the dog was not t o be turned o n hi s daughte r. Jesse James did not Intend to let the bloodhounds kill the prisoners, bnt all the evi l in his nature had been aroused and he had determined to put his prisoners through a terrible ordeal before finally making way with them. Frank James for the doo-r.. 'Ha! ha A good idea Jess Bult: I hate to lose the circus!" "Oh, I'll tell you the details when you come back," answered Jesse, grimly, "but see to it before1you go that every weapon is empty. Here, Lightning Foot, let me have that plaything of yours for a companion! It may ht that the brutes will decide to turn upon thei r master. Frank left the room and Lightning Foot did as he was ordered. After scowling at Miller again' he ha11d ed h i s we a pan to hi s master. Jesse James put his back against the wall i n the farthes-t corner. 111e three lanterns were placed so that he co-uld see his prisoners clearly. \!\Then the two brutes came in, he did not miss a detai l of the scene. T h e two brave men looked at each otheL Each tried to read the other 's thoughts, but, in the confusion of their own, the thing was impossible. A moment later Buck, th e Terrier. rai se d his head. "Get us out afore rhe beasts come in, Jess,'' he begged. The outlaw laughed at him. "Shut up, you idiot!" he r oa r ed "Do yo suppose I can't manage 'em? You and Kixon mus ke your chances for not guarding me b etter .. , "The Terrier" began to whimper again. Crawling on h i s hands and knees, he managed to get. out of the den and hide himself somewhere. Nixon still lay where he had fallen. He was badly iniured. Lightnin g Foot strode across the roo m and examin<"d every w ea pon. Then he removed them to one cm ne r as far from the prisoners as possihle As he was leaving the den the great outlaw called to hi m : "Hold! The light is dim! The lanterns are flicker -


/ 16 THE JESSE JAMES STOR n ES. i n g Rel'lenis!i the fire! TI1ere are tongs outsid e Hurry you whelp, or I'll brain youl" The f6!11> w sprang to obey hi s orde r s J es s e J am e s w as in a bad m o od. I t would not d o to trifle with him Foot ca m e ba ck i n a minu te with a bundl e o f fagot s ., The y wer e light a n d dry. They wot.tld blaz e w it h g r eat brig h t n e ss. ''Ah! That i s bette r! N o w .the theatre w ili be well lighted!" r o a re d the o utl aw, "and I s hall b e able to see eve ry featur e o f my cleve r acto rs!" O n ce more the two.doome d m e n s t a re d at e a ch oth e r All o f t he horrib l e ta l e s w hich t he y had h eard o f J e s se James seemed to pale in to ins i g n ificance be fore thi s actua l ex p e ri ence. T h e y k new h e was a bold robb e r and a merci l ess man, b ut tha t he wou l d go to th e extr e m e s they f eare d, had hardl y o ccurre d t o t h em Just once it flas h ed i nto the detect i ve's min d that the o u tlaw was only sca ring the m T hat thi s hid eous joke wa s i ntended. merely as a warning. This i d e a was d i spelled ins tantl y by a: vici o u s growl. TI1e b loodho u nd had been loose d It wa s a p proac h ing sw i f tl y. A series o f sho r t ye1ps a nd! barks s h owe d t hat' th e wolf, t oo h a d bee n turne d loose upon them. It w as a n aw ful m o m ent. As the shado w of th e huge bloodhound f e ll upon the thresho ld b oth me n turned involuntarily and looked at their captor The grea t o utla w' s hand was upon his revol v er, but there w as a s mile of upon his face. Miller sa w the look and it inspired him w ith oourage. The ravenous beasts might tear him to pieces but he would n o t make so much as a moan to pleas e hi s tormento r He glanced at the colonel. The brave man's arms were folded. His eyes were fixed calmly upon the frightful beast, whose blood-shot eyeballs were now .glaring at him. CHAPTER V1I. A FRIEND IN NEED. The g a u nt-lim bed animal had pause d, and wa:s view / ing th e s cene. Comin g from t h e da rknes s outside the fi. reJight both e r e d hi s vis ion. J esse J a..s lift e d h i s v oic e in a final order: "Now afte r the g irl Fra nk! I will attend to t h i s m a t t er. B rin g h e r back in a n hour, and the cursed de t ect iv e with h e r! His b r othe r 's v oice a n s we.r ed him, but his words were d r owned i n t h e ye lp ing o f the w olf. H e w a s ho l din g the fie r c e brute b ack for the blo o d h o u n d to advanc e i n order that t he t wo s h o uld not fall upon each other a n d so prolong the period of s afety for th e pri s on e r s A t his broth er's words, Frank James l e t go o f the creature. Miil e r coul d h ea r the tramp of his footsteps dying out as the ye lp s s t o pped for a minute. T h e bl o od h o u n d sn iff e d t he air It s melled both bloo d and po-.vder A s it a dv anced int o the room, it ma d e s traigh t for Bill 1\ixon. A cry of terror fr o m the wo unded ou t law re n t the smo ke in t.h e cav er n For Go d' s sake Jess, turn the brut e h e baw l ed. "Ope n your mouth, i11an D o yo u wlwt him t e r t ear your f ri e n ds ter pi e c es?" "Fr i e nds! Bah!" exclaimed th e outlaw "You a r e a t r eache ro u s f r i e nd, Bi ll! .I'v e been s u s pici o u s o f y o u for s o me ti me. You m ust sa v e you rself from Terror!" Nixon gnas h e d his teeth. Bu t I f et cb P d the w h e lp of er dete ctive hya r H ev ye f o rgotten thet thar, J e ss?" "And how did yo u protect m e fr o m the r asca l s, I'd l ik e t o know? Let them strangle m e nigh to d eath w h e n I wa s unar m e d yo u t rait o r " I didn't mean te r chattere d N i xo n. The brute w a s a lm os t upon him. He was too weak to s tand a n d his clo t h in g was sat urated wit h blood. I t w as this t h a t h ad b rought the b loodh ound towa r d h im. Miller's eyes we r e rivet e d upon th e brute. A s h e saw the hide o us fa n gs and l i s t e m 1 d to the vic i ous' growls, he i nsti n ctiv e l y ra i s e d h i s eyes A s that s e c o n d the g l eam of a rifle barrel caught his gaze It was bein g a im e d sla n t in g l y thro u g h the jagge d hole in the cei lin g . Fortunately f o r J es s e J ames, h e was out of range of lflhe w ea po n, a bow lder inter vening bet w e e n him and the hole in the ceilin g. The next second a r e p ort shook th e v ery founda-tions of the cave. With a fiendish h ow l the bloodh ound l eaped high in the air, then dropped tO the stone floor and rolled over and ove r. Miller sprang to his feet. I t was time to act. As the wolf leaped into t he den he sprang hastily toward the fireplace. A bullet from Jesse ]an1es r evol ve r whistled his It did not 9,eter him for a single instant. Seizing a burning brand from the fire, he made a l't15h for the wolf. He waved the brand a s he ran forward, y elling like a de,mon. The creature snarled and retreated. Crack! crack! went Jesse' s revolver, but hi'S aim was His left hand and the flick ering lights vrere baffling his purpose. Miller drove the wolf before him out into the first cavern. As he liurled the bl azing fagot a fter the creatur e he stumbled over something. A s they both das h e d out int o the rav in e, h e h e a.rd the hoofbeat s of h orses in the di s tance. He stopped amllooked around. He was in a curious inclosUTe. IJt was not the way he had come in, ,for there no arcltwaye e.nd no 1a.ntems.


THE JESSE J/\MES STORIES. 17 "It se ems towardly to lea v e the colon e l to his fat e e mutt e r e d t t: I, "but I cannot save him by stay-'ng unl ess I k ill that m a n. He mo ved a b out the i n clo sure. The r e w a s n o t a sound f ro m the w olf, but he c ould ell the r e wer e h orse s n ear him. The a ir had the unmistake abl e odo r of a stable It w as all a s d a r k as in k, a nd t he w olf might spring up o n h im from any c orn(;r; s till, t he re was nothing else to do-he mus t m ount o n e of the h o rses. When h e w as on the animal's b a c k he woul d trust all to th e cre ature's in s tinct. If there was a wa y out of the cavern th e h o r s e would know it G uided by the $tamping of th e ani mals, he reac h e d th e ir s i des Ther e w<:s no time for choosing. He unti ed the first one and was mounted in a jiffy. The anim a l was alr e ady bridl e d, and as he felt the man upo n hi s back, h e turned lik e lightnin g and fai rly bounded fro m the stable In le s s t ha n a m in u te Miller c o uld see the sky. The hors e h a d darte d through a narrow opening in the rocks and l e ft the. outlaw s d en behind him. That tfley w e re still in the rav in e wa s ver y ev i de nt, for the r o a d se e m e d little more tha n the dry bed o f a stream, and upon e it h e r side rose walls of massive bowlders. Which way he was headed the detective did n o t know. He left all to the horse, which seemed to know 1ts :way perfectly. After five minutes of desperate riding tl!e beast sud denly halt e d Then, with a snort, it plunged forward up the veTy bank of the ravine. Miller held on for his life. It wa.s a r e ckless bit of climbing. The horse had chosen the only spot in the rav in e where there was anything. like a trail or where t h e foundations were soft enough for him to get a f oot hold A minute lat e r he had reached a moderate l y smooth pach which followed the ravine back in the di re ction of the outlaws' den, but which would allow him to look upon the very roofs of the enormous cavern. Miller patted the brave animal' s neck. It was a magnificent creature. In' a second it occurred to him that this was the bandit king' s own horse, known all over th e co u ntry as the invincible Fleetwind. "furies! How he will rave wh e n h e misses it," he muttered, "but hqw lucky I was to stumble upon the -He w a s n earing the cavern r o of n o w and h i s fingers closed ti ghtly over a weap on that he had found in the saddle-bags No doubt Frank James and Lightning Foot were but Ia short di s tance ahead of him. As he peered about h im he tried tp locate the chimney in the ca vern. There w a s n o smoke to be seen. N o o n e \\' O uld have dre amed that t h e rocks b e low !l'l'ere other t han solid bowlders He r.ode on cautiously, expecting to be sho t at any minute. A s he advanced, the country grew wilder and wild er. At' a turrn in the narr ow trail the horse seemed to falt e r. It looked bac k knowingly at it s rider, then snorted and tren1bled . "There's danger ahead, thought M ill e r. Just then a low whi s tl e fr o m the bushes see m e d to ansvver h i s questions. I t w as a signal of some s ort, but he c o uld not un-der s t and it. The horse had p r ick e d up his e ars at th e s ound. Then it began r ear and p ull v i o l e n t l y a t its bridle. I t is not a fr i end of th e outlav-1s, e v i de n t l y," thought Mill e r. The n h e too k chances once more b y an swering the whistle. ln an ins tant t w o forms sto le out from among a growth o f stu n t ed t r e es. M iller was o v erjoy ed. They wer e M iss Hart a nd h e r strange d e liver e r. Fleetwind wa s sno.rting v ic io u s l y n ow. "Whoa, y ou bru t e! S t and sti ll, c an't yo u ?" called Miller, a s the t wo came up to him. H e bro u ght the anim a l d own to hi s feet w it h a j er k and then faste ned h i m s ecure l y t o a tree. H e llo Mi ller o l d man! I'm th an kfu l you a r e s afe! Where i s m y pal, Tom Lee? I h ope those ruffians have n t k illed him." "That is exactly what the y have d o ne, Hggi ns." The y oung man groa n e d It w as a s a d b l o w t o his hopes He a n d Lee bad la id m a ny p la n ogethe r t o capture Jess e Jam e s "And m y father? Does he l i v e?" whi sper e d Miss H art, eage rl y H er fac e w as as pale as deat h b u t h e r eye s w e re shi n i n g. M iller bowed h i s h ead H e coul d not bear to look at her. He wa s afr a id she would see i n h i s f ac e th e f at e he feared had b ee n h e r f a th e r 's. \ "I a m sure the outlaws w-ill not kill him His life i s too valuable to t he m broke in Higgi ns, q u ickly It w a s only an a ttempt to calm the fears of th e young girl. Miller accepted his cue and endeavored to strengt he n it. "The re is no one left in t h e de n t o h:um him now bu t Jesse J a m es :himself and he is wou n d ed. If we go ba ck at onc e we may b e able t o r escue hi m.'' "The n let us Do n o t d e la y a mi n u te !" cried Miss Hart. Higgins dropped upon one knee and his ear to the ground. "We gave th o se tw o ruffians the slip who w e re after us," he sa id chuckling. M y h o r se remain e d quiet in the bus h es but there' s no kno w i n g h ow so o n they'll di s c ove r tha t t h ey have lost the trail and c o me back here looking for us "You m ea n Frank James and Lightn ing F o o t! They were just ahead of me. If the y had not left the den just as they did I would not b e h e re to tell the tale this minu te ." "You mean you overpowered Jesse James!" "No, I The bad light in the place prevented


18 THE JESSE JAMES STORIES. his hitting me He had just had those two brutes brought i n t o tea r m e to piece s i\ow, who th e d e u ce was it that put that luc ky s hot down th e c himn ey?'' He s tar ed at ,H.iggins, but th e young man o nl y stared back i n amazement. Millet hurriedly expl ained the occurrence. Miss H 'art gasped for breath bu t she bore up brav ely. 'It must hav e b een the man we passe d on the brink of the ravine, she cried. "The one t hat terrified me so! The mysterious creature who glided by us so swiftly in the darkness! "That was never a man! I'll swear it!" cri e d the de tective, grimly. "You should have seen i t, l\ 1iller. He flitted by u s lik e a s hadow. I trie d to stop him, but he went like blazes!" "Well, whoeve!' he was, I'd like to me e t him," said Miller. ''He saved my life all right by killing the hound. "Hark! It was Higgi ns who sp o ke. He had drop ped to the ground again and was listening intentl y "They are coming back! Quick! This way, Miller! You must leav e that horse! He will not obey you!" They dashed into the bushes, l eaving Fleetwind b es ide the trail. They bad attempted t o send the animal careering down th e trail, but the horse bad s cent ed t he others, and had bounde d off in their direction. "There's a lot of low brus b just a littl e farther back! We can put up a...,?tiff fight from behind it, if the villains force us!" Ill They made their way to the spot as swiftly as possible. Miss Hart had a revolver in her hand, which the de t ect ive had given her. Higgins had another in his grasp. Miller still held tenaciously to the one he had so fortunately f o und. As they all cro u c hed b e hind a thick clump of underbrus h the y heard plainly the sound of horses' feet coming rapidly toward them. CHAPTER VII. A CURIOUS STRANGER. A surprise d shout broke from the lip s o Frank James as he suddenly rounded a tu:rn in the trail and caugli.t sight of his brother' s horse. "By thunder, Lightning Fo'Ot! Jess has had to run for it . Now, what in all Hades do you suppose has happened?" "Ther dog must er turned on hifn." "Nonsense! He could shoot the dog!" "Then ther wolf took er notion ter chaw him up!" "I don' t believe a word of it. I 'll bet that detective h;id friends lurking around the den. As like as not, they went in as soon as we rod e away. Jess probably had to ride for his lif e Now, where the d e uce i s he?" Lightning Foot l]itd dismounted while the outlaw was talking, and was c"!'osely examining the tracks on the ground. Further on something in the trail caught his attention. "Them thar tracks warn't made by J ess," he said, after a minute. "Thar's three on 'em, Frank. an' one is er woman's." T he three p eo ple behind the bu s hes groaned heard these words. T hey had hoped that t heir presence in the would not be discovered. Frank James sprang to th e ground, and examined tracks. The tl\'o o u tla 1rs wer e just o ut of range of th e m hiding in the thicket. "Thet thar is ther oddest thing in all creation.'' sai Lightning Fool again. ''I wouldn't er beli eve d Flectwincl would let any one but Jess drive him out ther stable "He 11ouldn't unl ess th e wolf scared him. He's mighty afraid of that b east torment. \V e il, we'ye to inves tigate and see what's behind these bushes." "Go easy, Frank! Ef thar's any one thar, tf1ey've ef bead on us most lik ely "Vv'e've got to cha11ce that. Tie the horses to tha sap ling yonder, and c ome on!" He strode into the bushes as he spoke. A second later a bullet sped by his head. He bolted behind a tree and yelled at his comrade. "There th ey are, just beyond the clump yonder! around that big rock and cover them." Lightnin g Foot finished fastening the horses and t did as h e was directed. The brush behind which Miss Hart and the two t ectives w e r e hidd e n was thus well cov e red. Mille1 had his eye upon the tree bel?ind wh i ch th outlaw wa,s crouching. His friend .turned instantly so as direction. Miss Hart still grasped her weapon, but she was kneeling in a cramped position. It was doubtful ii she would be able to aim with any accuracy. "Now, then! Give it to them! Pepper the bushes!" shouted frank James Crack! Crack! The r eports sounded almost together. The bullets sped over the heads of the trio in the brush. They had been aimed too .high to do any damage. ''Ho l d your fire! They'll expose themse lv es if they think they have finished us ," whispered Miller. There was not a sound made in the bushes. Frank James list ened a minute and then shouted other order. "We've got to flush 'em, Tobe! Move up a little more to the right and aim l o w next time. Empty your rifle, if it is nec essary, to riddle the bushes!" M i ss Hart gasped with horror as she heard the order, but not a sound escaped her lips She was a true daughter of h e r father. ''Now! Both togeth e r! yelled Frank again, as his h ead protruded from the of the tree trunk. There was a sharp crack of a rifle. A dozen sh"Jts f.ollowed. to from all dire<:'tjons. 1 hen a vo1ce that sounded ah1Tost mhuman seemed to echo through the rav ine, and a man who had been walking along the trail fired three shots from hi s rifle in quick sucoe.ssion.


THE JESSE JJ\i'ViES STORIES 19 Lightning Foot fell to the ground. Frank James looked over his shoulder and gave a ell of dismay. The next second he cut the halter which bound Fleet and, leaping on his back, was off like a shot. The stranger fired a shot at him as he dashed aw a y The outlaw returned the fire by rising in his stirrups ncl firing over his s h oulde r. Miller and his friend sprang from the bushes. They were confronted calmly b y the extraordinary tranger. "You have saved our lives! How shall we thank ou ?" began Higgins, quickly. The man stood still, and gazed at them without peaking. Miller glanced a.t. Lightning Foot as he passed them. The fellow was Cl'ead. He strode into the beaten trail and held out his hand o the stranger. "You are a friend iri need, see! Might I ask your arne? You came just in time to save this l ady." Miss Hart was creeping from the bushes as he spoke. As hesaw the young girl, a change came over the tranger's features. ''\Vhat's them devils u:p ter now?" he asked, in his owerful voice "Snakes and furies! It's e r pity I idn't kill t'other ins tid o' thio. one!" Miller explained to the !Jl:.ln that Miss Hart's father ad been taken prisoner by the James boys. "I reckon I was just in time ter save him, then," said he man, grimly. ''I put er shot through the chimney of is den erbout an hour ago on purpose ter scare Jess." "And you saved my life by doing it," said Miller, q uickly. "You killed the bloodhound and gave me my chance to make a break for safety." The fellow laughed. It was like a clap of thunder. Such an enormous voice never before issued from the throat of any human being. Then he tu rned to Miss Hart and touched his broadbrimmed hat politely. "Ef ye'll accept of the Echor's hospertalerty, yer air welcome ter it, miss! I've got er cabin a mile erway, where ther devil himself can't find it!" "That's the p l ace ,.;,e're lookin g for," said Higgins, quickly. "Jt is i mperati ve that we find a safe place for ,. this k;tdy. \Ve must rescue her father befor,e we go on to "Yes, itJ.deed! I will not go a step farth e r without first knowihg the fate of my fath er," cried Dora Hart, tearfully; '!but I shall be, oh, so thankful for a place of safety!" ''Then yer kin come with thcr 'Echo of ther Ravine Thet .thar is what they call me, miss! 'Ta:in't much of er name, but it serves my purpose." He chuckled as he spoke, and the two detectives looked at each other. They were wondering whether it was safe to trust him. Miss Hart d e on the Echo's a "I'll go with trust him and, save my father "But when Miller, anxiously. I feel sure that I can to go back and trY. to we meet again?" asked His eyes were bent upon Dora's face w:th an unmistakable glance of affection. \T11e Echo answered his question. "Do yer know t'her route of ther stagecoach from Lead City t er Oreville ?" he asked. I-Iiggins nodded his head. "I can find it. Why do you ask?" ''Cause ther James boys air a-goin' ter hold up thet thar stag-e at ther Quicksaucis ter-monow night 'twixt ten an' eleven. I'll be thar t e r see ther fun an' ye r kin report ter me th e n erbout yer with Jesse an' ther gal's father." / The two detectives exchanged gl r ances. T11ey could not understand the fellow. "Oh, g entl emen! Pray go back and try to save For some reason she don't mind me! Do please in the stranger. The two horses that had ridden were still moment I-Iiggins hap animal. The poor beast was still A bullet from some weapon "Now the question is, how said I-Lggins, soberly. eaded Dora, again. implicit confidence d Lightning Foot by, and at that of his own faithful in the underbrush. him instantly we divide the beasts," Another loud l augh from the stranger followed. "Tain't ther likes of the Echo what has any use f!!r them tha r bea sts," he said, jovially. "Ther ain't no beast th et kin faller to my cabin. Y er kin take ther dit ters an' I'll take ther ladv." He picked Miss Hart i:tp as though she was a featheT. The next second she was comfortably seated upon his brawny shoulder. "Now don't worry about me, please! I am sure this man will protect me!" called out Miss Hart. "And there is no alt ernative I must go with him! It is the only way possible for you t o save my father." Miller b owed his he ad as the Echo strode away, carrying his precious burden. As t'hey turned the bend in the trail, Higgins b ega n talkin g to the horses as though he intend ed to mount one of them ''\Vait a minute, l\f iller! Keep up the b l uff old man," he whisp e r e d, after another yell at the hors es, "we'll get after h : m just as quick as it is s afe to do so Now, where in thunder do you suppose he is going to take her find out or die," muttered Miller, putting his ear ground. He could hear the rustling of the under as the strange man tramped through them. f we only knew whether he was a friend or a foe, we ld know what to do," went on Higgins. "The gitil would be !ight in our way if we back after her father, and she would not go ot'l him." "No; her dev otio n is come!" said Miller, softly, as he sprang "Cut the horses lo0se That will we have ridden away! It will never do that we are foll owing him." "No. He scented willing enough Miss Hart, but he had no notion of inviting us to inspect his shanty." "We'll do so witnout his invitatioo. But how about LightningFoot? Shall we let h:im lie 'here?"


20 THE JESSE Jf\MES STO R!ES .. ''Yes, t h e whelp! I a m so r ry that he should lie in tbe same resti n g -p lace wi th your faithf ul s t eed, :Mill e r .'' "So am I, but i t ca n't be h elped Come on H iggin s I have a lmost lost th e so und of hi s ste p s I t will never d o to l e t him get s o f a r ah e ad o f u s !'' The t w o detectiv e s slunk into the brus h a s th ey spoke, and, moving as swiftly as they could, hurr i e d afte r t h e strange fellow. They followed the trail for s o me minute s, and t h en Miller paused. He had fo und where th e E c h o had left the trail, and made hi s way int o wh a t l ooked l ike a n im passable forest. The two d'etectiv es cons u l t e d a minute, th e n th ey s t r u c k out bo ldly in the san1e direc tion Daylight bad d awne d but i t w a s soon l e f t b e h in d t hem and they were ob liged to stop e v e r y l ittle w hil e and see k the trail by means of bro k e n twigs and branc h es Suddenly the sou n d of a w a t e rfall reaclred t heir ears. They parted the last t:Jhick growth of underbrush a nd found a clear s pac e 6efore t he m. To the right was a magnificent stre am pouring clown the m ountain s i de. T o the lef t wound a gorge that looked 'like the dried b ed of anoth e r mo un t ain s tream1 and which seemed to l eap u p the side of th e dark moun tain. They plunge d into this reckle ssly. Their cloth ing was torn in shreds. 'Dhen came a half h our of fearful and exhausted climbing. "By Jove! I've found it!" crie d Mill e r, at la st. H e had discovered a flicker of light a little distance ahead of him. \ "It's a log cabin built in b e tween two bowl de r s and with th e m ountain at its back !" ''Why, t h e man cou 1 ld d 'efy th e world from that place," Higgins. The t wo s t ood p e rfectl y still f o r a mQITJent and gaz e d a round. They w e re wonde rin g if they h ad f o llo we d the E ch o afte r all o r had s tumbl e d u po n so me bandits' home in the l o n e l y m o untain Mill e r f e lt for h i s weap o n. It w a s in his b e lt but ev e r y chambe r was empty. Higgin s w a s in the sam e pli g ht. They w e re as good as helpl ess "Nev erthtles s w e must see what h e ha s don e with Miss Hart," whi s p ered Mill e r, d e cidedly. "When I know that s h e is safe, I s hall b e willing t o try and save her father." "We must fin d s ome way to lo o k in that window. M ov e s oftly, M iller! "The re are nothing but r oc ks. It will b e impo ssi bl e n o t t o make a n o i se. I bel ieve th ey have been put here f o r bhat very purpose A s Mio!ler spoke hi s foo t came in contact with a lar loo s e s to ne. It starting rolling at once and dashed down the mountain sid e bumpin g f.rom roc k to r oc k "Now y o u'v e done it! whi s p e r e d Higgins, as he droppe d flat upon his face. Mill e r foll o wed his example. 'Dhe next second the two det e ctives thought that the world was almo s t c oming to an end. Such a din as aros e around their ears they had n ever before heard. t\. doz.en d ogs se e med to begin barking at once. Then there came a sound as if a hundred feet were moving the mountain. A pist o l sh o t rang out, and hundreds followed it. O n e could have believed that a t roo p of caval r y was approachi ng. The din In-ted for seve r al m i n u tes and t he d etective s expec t e d momenta i ri l y to be surrounded by bandits, o r perhaps to rn to pieces by v i c ious wolf dogs But t h e va riou s no i ses s u bside d w ithou t a single crea ture appea rin g. Then :\'filler raise d hi mses lf up ou one sho ulder and l ooked at,.his compani o ns. .:\ow w hat i n thuncler is the m ea ning of all that?'' he ll'' hispe r e d c:llltious l y "Darned if I d i d n't thin k the wh ole popu lati on of t h e R ockies was coming." "So did I. but I g u ess we 've bee n t a ke n in, o l d ma n sai d Higgin s, soft ly. ''I'll bet the w h ole tarnal r acke t was made by one man, one c!Qg a n d o n e shot f r om a rifle." :\1ille r scramb l e d to his feet. He ml't!le r stood a t once Yo u mean it' s t h e ec ho--" h e b e g a n. ''That's exacth wha t i t it-. \ Ve 've f ound t h a t f e l lo w's c abin all right.-That's exact l y w h y t h e nativ es have g iven him th e name o f t h e Echo.' T h e two det ect i ves stoo d s icle by s ide. Their courage w a s co m ing-back The lig-h t fr om th e cabi n w indow was a b o u t o n e hundr ed vards ahead ofit. ' O nce more, and easi e r t hi s time, Higgins, s oftly. T hey each took one s t e p f orward, and the11 s tood perf ec tly still. A hundred voice s s e e m e d t o ca ll out to t-hem at once. "Halt! v V ho comes there! Not another step at your peril !" CHAPTER VIII. THE CAV E Not a sound escape d th e l ip ' eit h e r d e t ective. They had c r o u c h e d in s tantl y behind th e bowlders that borde r e d the p ath to the c abin. In s pi te o f t he echo th ey w e re able to recognize the v o ic e o f the man who had spoke n It was the strange r who had Mi s s Hart in his ch a rge. Onc e more the thunde r o us vo i c e called upon them to answe.r, and the rocks and canons gave back a hundre d echoes. Then the cabin d oor slamme d, and all w as still. Mill e r move d cautiously to the s ide of hi s n e w friend and lis t e ned After a few moments he s aid : W e must find some way of looking into that cabin window "The re s a dog there all right." "Yes. The old fellow i s s af e ly guarded. It' s no wond e r h e s aid the d e vil c ouldn' t find him." "Once l e t me kno w that Mis s Hart is s af e, and I w ill g o back t o that den and d e f y the King of Bandits!" "Ye s. The colonel mus t b e save d for his daughter's sake Jesse James will murde r him if he qnnot get that de e d in any other way " Y e t how Could he w ork the claim?" "Easy .enough! He could have the papers made out in some othe r name, assume the name himself, and p ose in Golden City as that p,erson. " A daring thing to do. "Yet J esse James. has d o n e many things more dar-


THf: Jf:SSE JAMES STORIES. 21 He can disguise so that his own wife will t know hitn. "So I have heard. The fellow is a wonder. I should e to be the one to rid the country of him!" "And get the ten thousand dollars reward!" "Hush! There's some one coming! Or is it the ho? I'tn s1.t-re I heard a sound behind us!" '"It is a step! I'm sure of it! We've been followed our tunl! Hide yourself Miller!' Higgins crouched behind a rock as he spoke. Miller followed his example. A m oment later they heard a series of suspicious unds. The lightest possible footfalls followed each other. It was not 'the Echo' this time. The sounds were like the moving of small stones, ac patvied with a light grating. The side of the mountain was gray in the morning ht, and soon those who were stealing up the gorge uld be seen by those in hiding. It took but a glance to recognize the form of Frank mes. Jesse James, the king of robbers, was behind other. He had left his prisoner to follow the detective Then two more figu-res crept up the rocky path. All f our had not made as much noise as would have n made by a wildcat. As their hea:ds first came in view, the detectives could ave picked them off easily, but the weapons in their ckets were empty of bullets. Should the outla:ws discover them they could soon ake "crow's meat" of them, btrt both were conscious { the Iact that it was they who had shown the rascals bt way to the cabin. If aarm came to Miss Hart, they would be respon-ible. The four desperadoes stopped directly in front of the ock behind which the detectives were crouching. They put their heads close together; and held a con ultation in whispers. Jesse James cu:rsed as usual. With a n oath, he exclaimed: "It's the fellow they 11 'The E ch o.' It ain't the fir s t time he s tricked us we 'll riddle his old shanty!" h e said, viciously "Who the deuc e would er dre amed of thet thar cabin ein' h y ar, was the an swer of one of the men "Thet bar 'Echo' has lived in ther ravine fer nigh on two ear, an' thar ain't no o ne erbout hya r as could locat e is quarters kerzackly. "Well, we v e located it, thanks to those whelps the etectiv e s! They mus t have chummed in with the fcl ow to get h im to bring them here. Let' s see, that makes four altogethe r inside the cabin.'' "Th ree men a n th e r gal an' two wo lf dogs, said the other, in the same cautious whisp er. "'Ther gal don't ount, tho'--" "I ain't so sure! b roke in Jess e James. "If sh e' s ke her fath e r she' s grit cl ear thro' I left him guardin' gun-trap, and n o t lettin' out a whimper." The two d e t e ctives looke d a t e ach o th er as they heard is news. They knew exactly what a gun-trap was. Jesse James had fastened a string to th e hammer o f kl&ded gun and then tied it to th e colonel. If lle moved so mue

22 THE JESSE JA ME S STOR iES. He s e ized the creah. tre b y the throat and tore it loose. Then with a mighty twist he flung it over the nearest bowlder and down into the cavern. The creature's death-cry came back from a hundred directions. It s ounded as though the corner was full of hounds. The other creature had sprung at the throat -of one of his men but Jesse Jame s passed the two without so mu c h as a lo o k at t heir struggles. A second later he and his brother di sap peared i n the cabin. The third m:an, who was a dwarflike creature with a hump o n o n e shoulder, paus ed a moment t o see the fini s h of the unnatural battle. As his comrade at l as t put a bullet into the clog 's heart, he grinned with satisfact i on. Then the two followed their master into the rude log c abin. They had gone on a searc h for Dora Hart. What would be the result when they found her? Miller's face was as white as death a s he thought of it. He could not stay where he was a minute longer. Miller was doing some rapid thinking. The echoes had subsided and both were listening !h tently. "There has been no struggle in s ide th e re yet. What does it mean?" asked Higgins. "Perhaps the Echo has a secret passage! Thank God if it has If we only hac!J six shots apiece for our ;weapons!" "We could follow them in and take them by surprise. 'As it is, to go in there would be worse than useless. The detective ground his teeth. They were in; a desperate position. They felt that they were utterly helpless when, p e r haps, they were most needed. The moments passed and: the suspense became un bearable. The light still flickered in the window, .but there was not : a sound in the cabin. "I can' t endure this a minute longer! I must go in!" said Miller, savagely. "Come on, then!" wa.s his friend's low nswe r. They stepped out from behind the roc ks. They were not over forty feet from the doot of the s hanty. 'The wolf dog lay stiff in death acmss the sill. Miller stepped over her c autiously and peered into the cabin. What he saw was a low room with a 'huge fir e place at one end. The logs were blazing as though they h ad ju st been lighted, but there was not a sign of smoke visible above the cabin. There was no time to look into this matter now. The detectives scanned the place with anxious f aces. Skins of panthers, leopards, wildcats and bears were spread upon the fl.oor. This explained at once why all footsteps w e re deadened. Miller moved softly ahead. He had discover ed an otJher door, and wi thout hesitation he opened it softly. It led dir ec tly to an enormous cave that seemed to ex tend into the very heart of the mountain. "This is where they have gone," he muttered, as he peered before 'him. Miller glanced around the room as he spoke. There was a rude bench in -one corner, over this a moos<::'s head, and two muskets were laid m assive antlers. 1 n a second he had the m down. They w e re b o th l oa ded. H e g lanced about in the hope o f finding more am nition. At that instant a dull seemed to come the very bowels of the mountain. It rumbled like thunder of distant artillery. "Quick! They have found him! We will be lat e cri ed Higgins. He g rabb e d one o f the mu ske t s as he s p oke. Then the two da s hed forward into the inkyd arkness. They were doing a deed which required the bra darin g. They were in a cave scarcely higher than the ir and in d anger of b eing shot down. at any moment. Yet the y did not flinch. It was what they were there for. They hoped to rid the country and the world of notorious James boys. Miller hoped also to save the girl, whom l ea rn ed to l o ve. For her sake he would :have braved a worse dangers. CHAPTER IX. THE MOUNTAIN CAVER N They advanced through tl e dark cave at as rapid a as possibie The ground was r easona bl y h ard, but were deep pools of water at inte rvals. They were o to feel each ste p of th e way to keep from splashin g these dirt y puddles, and so betray;ng their presence th ose ahead of them. I t was nothing more or l ess than an ink-'bla c k rncmn1 tain cavern. The air grew fouler as ad'Vanced, and over their heads began t o drip with mo isture. Suddenly ::.\Iiller stopped and waited f o r his panion. "We should h ave ove r taken them by this time! far does this cave go, I would like to kn ow "Th ere seems to be n o end to i t. Shall we go o n, fellow?' "Yes T h e r e is n o alternative. The Echo must gone this way, and the n:ffians are ahead of us. mu st not turn back! I shall go until rocks or water me !" "For ward, then! We are losing time!" ' H'ttsh! Wasn't that a vo!ce ?" Miller whispered the question. A curious noise could be heard in th e cave. After a minute th e s trange sounds s hap ed int o words. They seemed t o be s h o uted across a considerable ta nce. "Listen! It is that d;.-arf I know his voice," w pered Higgins. .,. The two deJtective s bent their heads and listened tently. A moment later th e y could hear footsteps d.istinctly.


THE JESSE JAMES STORIES 23 w o member s of t h e gang o f ruffian s had d ec i ded to back. h ey w o u ld r e c e iv e a "' ann we lcom e w h e n th ey had need :1 f ew yard s furthe r 1st out o f r a nge o f t h e detecti ves' fir e they se em e d to e t o a s udden h a l t. s h ort co nv e r sa ti o n followed, w hi c h w a s intersp e r se d curses. ess hci got t h e r gal! Tbe r 's n o u s e our g ain' on! r devil take t h e r h o l e enny way! I m ez wet e z er m ded pic k 'rell" hat tlla r E cho put up e r rurty stiff fight, d idn't he, ? But hi s goose is coo k ed T h c r w on't non e o n u s ther l iver skee r e d oute n us w i t h h is roarin' d o wn t h e r ine in futur'! He's n igli drew me te r pl nngin' over ditch a hundted t i mes w i t h hi s o n airthly w h oo pin He heel i t i n fer tiler Jam es gan g a ll right t oo in't onct nor twice thd h e s Jcso; oute r hi s 'eS! \ Vall, t h e r ca p n llcz s q u n re d t her d eal! He's t h im clO\m o n hi s own d igg-in 's. The r R a v i n e iz u s ther s p ir it of its edt6." \ Vho ther deuce wuz he, ennyway T her ain't no o ne knc1\\' S ke rzackl v Ther's t h e m t h e t he wuz robbed hy ther James boys o n ce t a n a in' t er f e rgot it. The y e r dozen bosse s o r so, an' ned him out kt;mplete ly." I dunno ez I blame h im fer h,1tin' 'em b u t tai n t dun much good Ther l.w: a rL: w onde r s. Ther Nick h i mself can' t k ill 'em.' Where'd J ess .tak e ther g al ' B'ack to t h e r den. I s'pose! Thet thar openin' ahead 1gs out o n thcr Red Ash L c ,cl. l t's e r s traight trail rher de n bu t i t s too \ \ e!l travele-d .ter b e k e r zackl y asant. Ther cap'n k in go 1het thar way e f h e w ants 1 p refer the f a ther." rhere was a splash in to a p o o l a n d th e con ve r s ati o n sed for a minu te. The t w o r u ffia n s employed all thei 'r ath i n v igorou s curs i ng. moment later a great puffing and s n o rtin g s h o w e d t th e two rascals , e r e o n ce mor e o n so lid ground. h e n the conversat ion was r es u med. 'Blast ther h i d es o f th e m d e t e c tives vVh ere' d ye osc: t hey w e n t. ennv 1 ho\\", Pete?'' sa id o n e I rec k o n th ey b o l te d t h r o1 the r ope n i n b e y ond an' left r gal t c r h e r fate! E f they'd hev staid by w e'd er r d 'e m a fore thi s I rec ko n." 'The n ther co urse i s clear f e r u s ter s kin o ut a s w e n e 111. \Ve'll take e r look over th e r fello w's cabin a s g o 'Pear s t e r m e I s eed c r thin g e r two th e t wuz th t h e r nippin '. ' '\1\l h e r c d o \\'e go from h yar, p a rd ?" 'To thcr L e a d C i ty trail. J ess h ez e r job on f e r t e r h t. ''Yo n mean th e r s tage co a ch?" "'Yes T her' s te n t h ousand in c as h in the r deal, he 'Thct t har d o n t mean thet y o u an m e wi l l g i t it.'' T het's so, pa r d. But we'll g i t our share J ess i s 1 a r e on ther eli v vy w h e n h e s not sore o n t h e r gang!'' 'An' when h e i s !'' '.Vhen he"s outer sorts ther ain't but o n e th in g t e r do, t e. Thet thar is ter pump yurself full o lead 'for e s ther ch a nce t e r do it fur Yer !'' r rec:k 'n yer right! A n other splash f ollowed. They were n ear th e detectives now. A b end i n tr1e cave permitted them t o talk in safety l'l'lill er's fing e r s w e r e on the trigger o f his musket, and he was gazing ahead into the inky dar kness. H e did not mea n that either ruffian should escape h i m. Suddenl y a shrill c r y pierced the depth s of rhe cave. T h e n ca m e the sound o f some huge animal clawing and spi t tin g among the bowlde r s that f ormed the side of the cav ern. It was between the d e t e cti ves and the robber s. There w a s n o mistaking t h e sound. Even :t::he dete()t i ves k n ew that it w a s some f e r oc i o u s cre a ture w'hich had c r ept fro m i ts l a ir o n th e hunt f o r vic t im s l 'j 1 ey l1a u o nl y t im c to lo cate the spot, when, with a fea rf u l ye ll, the c reature cro u c h e d f o r springing. Whic h way would i t turn? W h o wo uld be it s victim? 1V1 iller caug lt t h e g leam of its fiery eyeballs turned h is w ay fo r a seco nd ; t-hen, with an other c r y, it 'leaped toward the turn in th e cavern. T h e r e p ort o f two r e volv e rs rang out instantly. T h e deteotives could hear .rh e bullets fla tten against the r ocks T hey had d o n e n o d amage . T h e n a shri e k f ro m t wo huma,n throats bl ende d with a SIJa rl f ro m th e m o n s ter. It now w h o we r e to b e th e victims Come!" c ri e d Higgin s 'Let's g e t out of rhis, Miller! T h e l?eas-t will pay our debts! They'll nev e r in t'he world b e abl e t o h i t it. A fie ndi s h yell from the dwarf seem e d to verify his w o rds. The beast was upo n the r obbers It wou, ld be a h and-ro-hand c o ntest. T h e t wo de t ecti v es improved their opportuni. t y to retrace t h eir s t e p s G roan s, yd I s a n d s n a rl s see m e d t o follow t h e m whe n t hey finall y reached th e l o g cabin they c l os ed the heav y doo r be hi nd th em, then jus t fo r a rn inu te, they stare d at eac h They were bcc g ri me d wi t h mud. M ill e r w as the .fi' r s t t o thin k w hat w as next to b e done. Ile r a n s a c k e d t j 1 e c abin and f o un d two pairs o f l eathe r t wo r emnants of shirts and some bu c k skin leg ging-s. T h e n t he two h L 1rried down t h e g orge to the bed of t h e mountain torre nt. A ft e r a bath in its c oo l waters they d onned their s tolen garnwnts Nothing h a d be e n see n of the two wre tches in the cavern, so th e detec t ives decided that .the awful fight had b een f o u g ht t o a fini s h. N"o d oubt bea s t and m e n had peri s h e d in the encounter. It w as a fitting end f o r the r o bb e r s The d etec tive s m o v e d softly, so as n o t to awaken the e c h oes T hey fe l t d ee p reg r e t f o r t 'he s tronoman who called hi mse l f the Echo, for they kne w that he h a d died fighting bra v e l y A n h our l a t e r th ey were bac k a t the ravine preparing t o try o n ce m o r e t o s av e the col o n e l and hi s daughter. T h e clay was advan c ing. As they r eac hed t h e b r ink of the r av in e they paused for a c l ose inspect i o n o f _ilt s bowl de r s. ''Daylight and darkn ess a r e alike to J esse James," said Higgin s. ''so we have n othing to gain by waiting until evening.''


2 4 THE JESSE JAMES STOR I ES. "No. And to-night he has other work cut out. The Lead City coach is to be held up at a pl a ce called the Quic ksands." "The wo r st spot for miles around! I know it well! Jees couldn't have chosen a better place Why, even the q u ic k sands themselves w i ll help him! A false step of the l e a d e r a n d over they will go! Coach, passengers and all w i11 be buried alive in ten minutes!" "I've heard of 'vhe spot, but I didn't know i t was so bad as that! T'hank God, Miss Hart is not in that danger I c an t h ink of I'wthing but her safety, Higgins. He ground his teeth as he spoke, and then his bron z ed f ac e paled a litt le. I t had occurr e d to him that, so far, Jes s e James had ou t witted him at every turn: Turning to Miller, Higgins said: "There is no one in the den now but Jess and Frank and Bink, the Terrier, and we know he is wounded." "A dozen rec n iits may h ave appeared by this time! For instance, the two we left in the cave. Vvhere did they come from ?" M iller shook his head. As they talked the two detectives secrete d themselves behind the rocks. They could scan the ravine almost from one end to the other. The y wer e about half way up the rugged bank. 'Abov e them was the crest of a range of t-hickly-wooded hills. Below them was the bottom of the gorge, one end of which opened into the black pit. The end that they l ooked down upon was choked with enormous bowlders, whic h they knew to b e h ollow in spite of their solid aspect. Yet not a line of smoke was visible. The rocks seemed h e aped with a careless hand bowlder upon bowlder. Yet Higgins knew this appearance was all a sham. There was a sccTet passage under the upper layer of rocks. It wound, by a circuitous path, through almost shelllik e bowlders. He. had foJlmyed Lee and Lightning Foot through the htdden entrance to this path after his friend had succeeded in impersonating the doctor. P:s they stc.oc! together now eagerly scanning the ravme be told Mi:Jer the de tails oi that clever ex perience. They h ad found the so-called doctor in his cabin and made the deal. When Lightning Foot came for the "pill slinrrers'" services, it was Lee who answered the Higgins followed at a di!l.tance and learned the passage to the roof. He had been in time to pull Miss Hart up through the chimney. The question now was how to find the secret passage It was for this that he was scanning every chasm and b owlder. The distant peaks that h em med them in were O'listen in the sunlight, yet the ravine re sted, 1ts whole length, in g loomy shadow. No dm:bt whoever was in the den w o uld remain there until n i ght. If this was t h e CAse, there was no use in delaying. Suddenly a t hought flashed through Miller's mind. causing him to turn to his friend with a cou tenance. ''It is possibl e they have not returned! You know is a round-about way across the Red Ash L eve l!" In that case we would be h e re first. The questi is, how, then, woul d they enter the ravine? Not by t l trail. surely." Miller glanced across the bridge of rocks to the opp site bank. As he did so, he uttered a warning cry crouch l owe r behind a bowlder. His friend followed suit and then waited for explan tton s ''There they are! On the .opposite bank! There's path half-way up, the same as there is on this side!" Higgins peered out cautiously. He saw the two horsemen indistinctly. The first was Jesse James. He had a woman betore him on the saddle. i\ later the riders disappeared. They seemed to pause behind an immense body rock. M iller stared at the spot. They did not emerge from it. "Come. Miller!'' Higgins spoke with a ring of cxt1ltation in his voic Once more he was on the \Yay to the secret passag He slid down the bank to the mass of r ocks, and, he crept over them rapidly his companion followed. They were traversing the very roof of the outlaw' den, but Higgins hard l y to .oJ.: his eyes from the bowlde on the opposite bank behind vvhich Jesse James an his brother had vanished. They scrambled up the bank until they reached to trail. The hoofprints of the horses were plainly discern i ble. As they neared the bowlder, Miller gave a low cry. There were fresh indentatioQ.s in the gmund whic puzzled him exceedingly. Higgins s aid nothing, but led him around the rock. A stout hidw ry log pro jected from unde:-ne ath it. The icg acted as a levtr. Thr owing their weight agai n s t it, the stone move easily. It disclosed a jagged hole in the ground, leaditw dow at a sharp incline. "' \\T hen the stone was in positi o n, it covered the hoi completely. As -it stood now, a horse might easily slide dow into it provided it had been tra>ined to do so. H.iggins squ:1tted clown instantiv and began to sl ide It was the 1ray he had entered when he f ollowe Lightning Foot and t he doctor: Miiler was right behind him. Ten feet from the surfact: they left daylight behind th em. The inc!iae l ed them direc tly t o a passageway un de r the rocks. As they .were s lidin g a l o n g Higgins stiddenlv grabbed his fr i end by the shoitlder. -'K ow, then! Stop, old man! Dig your heels in hard. Here's the r o of of the den! If we keep on slidino we'll land in the stable." "'


THE J ESSE JAMES STORIES. 25 They both came to a bait at a narrow crevice undet; rock. By crawling on their hands and knee s they left t h e e for a level. There were rocks above and below. Those above were uneven, and there w e re frequent' air es between them. The two detectives crept close together. They realized that theirs was a perilous undertaking. A whiff of smoke suddenly greeted their nostrils. It tumed in a sort of current jus t a little dis t::nc e them. An occasi onal beam of light stole between the s t o ne s beyond this the space between the two roofs was in iding the smoky current, the two detectives on. were determined to persevere until they reached chnnnev. The of air acted well. It carried the smoke on and on through the gutter stones, only letting out a thin puff here and there intervals. In this way it had entirely escaped observation. "The robbers had fixed the place cleverly," whispered 1ggins, as he crept on. Miller did not reply. He had eluded the line of smoke, and was creeping y forward. Not twenty feet before him rose the l ow, jagged stones the chimney. CHAPTER X. DESPERATE CHANCES. By lying flat upon the rocks the detectives could hear s beneath them. The smoke was still too thick for them to peer down low chimnev. The odor of roast venison came up to them at intervals. It showed them that the outlaws were cooking their They waited patiently fer an hour. There \ras nothelse to be done. They knew only too well that all entrances to the den would be guarded. It was a mystery to lviiller why the outlaw had not some one to guard the chimney. The only reason he could think of for h : s not doing so was that he short of men. K o doubt he needed all he had left to as a bodyguard for him. The thought was a pleasant one and inspired the de. with hope. B u t it was doomed to a sudden death. In less than ten minutes after he had located the chim hc heard some one creeping along the roof of the behind him. sentinel!" whi spered Higgins. "Lie low, Miller, 't breathe!'' smoke was between them and it was gro\Ying and thicker. man who \Yas spy:ng started c .oughing and then a tartar. ang ther smoke! Jess kin do his own snoopin' ef afeeared, ., said a lo\y voice. ''Ther man is crazy ter } think every sneakin' d etective could find thet tha-r chim nev !'' ;'Perticklarly when ther stu n is in place." said another voice. ''How ther deuce does he reck'n every one i s gain' ter git in hyar les' he kin climb like er catermount?'' ''Jess hez got ther devi l in him crbont now! He's of thet thar gold mine er slippin thro' his fingers. "As cf he could make ther colonel give np! Why, the t thar old sinner would roast erlive an' ne ver show th e r white feather! An' ther gal hez got his gd! Ther cap'n him s e'f is er gittin' stuck on her!'' "Much goccl'Jl it do him! But we' d better be er g e ttin back! I'm as hungry as cr b 'ar a:1' thet thar venison s mells hunky!" .. thcr devil do you s'pose an' ther humpback air all this time?" "Ther devil only knows! They may be er !yin' low in ther woods fer some reason or another." ''It makes two less fer grub. Thet thar's a ll I'm er thinkin'." A hoarse laugh fallowed. The n the footsteps retreated. The outlaw's spies had been too hungry to do their fu,ll .duty. Higgi ns put his lips close to Miller's ear. "You see it is just a s I told yon. They spring up like mushroom.:;. Kill off s : x at night and there'll be a dozen in the morning." "It certainly looks so. Those two wer e new. I thought at first that one was Bink, (he Terrier." "The colone l is still alive, i t seems. "Yes. Thank God foT that! I only hope he'll hold out and that we 'll be able to save him." ..;The case looks hopeless now. We have only these old muskets." "\Ve've got to save him! There must be some way to do it! But look, Higgins, don't you think the smoke is thinning a little?" "Yes. The fire is dying out. They are evidently eat ing their dinner." The detectives listened. The smoke wreaths, as they rose from the chimney, growing lighter and lighter. A hoarse shout of laughter came up to them after a time. There were a few weak puffs of smoke, then it ceased altogether. Miller rose to. his knees and crept to the chimney. He took one quick glance. Nothing rewarded his ef fort. He could see only a portion of the stone floor and the dying embers. Higgins crept to the other side. The light from the lanterns down below were in his favor. He saw a form stretched out upon one of the ski n s He knew at once that it was not an outlaw. Miller creot around looked d o wn once more. Then he iround his teeth with rage. He understood the bandit's manner. He had not forgotten the shot down the chimney, and, for fear that it might be repeated, he had moved the colonel nearer to the fireplace. His body \YaS t he only target presented to a persom who attempte d to make another shot from that location.


26 TH E JESSE JAMES STORIES. The detective scanned tlie face of the brave man eagerly. As the from the lantern shone on it, he could see that it Yi' as still calm and composed, bu.t the color was ghastly. .No douht they had' tortured him, to make him sign the deed to his property. Jesse James might have known better. He would never secure it by those methods. As the dt;tectlves listened, the laughter below grew louder and loud e r. The ruffians were evidently washing d'own t11ir meal with copious draug hts of liquor. "That will be about all that is needed to--'' A sudden noise below cut short his sentence. There was a shuffling of many feet .on the rocky floor. T 'hen the v oic e of Jesse James came up through the cavern. "That'll do, Bink! You've had' rum enough," he roared. "Do you warn to get inflammation in your wound, and be laid up for us to doctor!'' "Let him alone, Jess. He's all rigtht! You don't need him tO-t1'ight, anyway! Better let him stay with the Torment, and guard the prisoners," answered his brother. "I don't want any dr.unken g-uards! Besides, I ain't sure I can spare him! Just lo o k at the men I have lost in t h e last two days! Curse those whelps, the detectives! They've crippled me like thunder!'' "Still, there's enough of us for the job to-night! It don't take an army to hold up a stagecoach." "It will take six, and there are on ly five of us all told, unless Pete and the humpback return. what in blazes is keeping them?" Jo. ''I'll gamble I know! The detectives have pounced on 'em! I told you we'd better go back the way we went in! We most lik ely passed those two coyotes some\\'here in the caver!1 !" "Then why didn't th ey shoot us if that is th e case? I don't believe we pass ed 'em! I think they were ahead of us "Funny we didn't see their tracks then, Jess, when we came out of the cavern." A growl was the only answer. "That means that the colone l and his daughter are to be J.eft here to-night, whi l e the s tag-e coac h is being held whispere d I -Iiggins to J\IIilleT. }.filler nodded his with Bink and the wolf to guard them. We'll make short work of that couple. T 'he thing for us to do is to lie low and wait. I -liggins." "I suppose it is." They lai d down flat upo n the roof again for another hour. By that time the smoke had died out compl etely. It was still as clark a s e\er. but the air was bette r. ''Suppose they di scover that the stone is not in place," whispered Higgins finally. "It will mean that they will get suspicious and come back to look for us. 'vVe should have gone bef o re and tried to close the thing._old f e llow." ''It will not be easy to climb out of this hole." "No, that's so! Come to think of it, I don't believe we can do it." '' I think it is only used to come in by. There isn't a horse in the world that could even shin up that inclin e .. "I guess you are right, still the stone will betray us if they happen to discover i t. Xow, how do you they fix the thing, anyway?'' ''T11ere must be some device." "But how will we find it?" "Heaven only knows! I'll go and inve;:.tigate." "Be careful, M iller. :\noise will be fatal.' 'I won't make a sound.'' T11 e detective crept a way softly. Higgins put his eye to the chimney. All was quiet below, He was only by another glimpse colonel. The brave man was still chained to a stake. He was not moving a muscle. Apparently the re. t the outlaws were sleeping. 'Blessed if l don't thiuk the man is a fool I'd s over the property and get my liberty," muttered the tective. A soft scratching on the roof just behind him start him. He laid down flat noon his face. The scratching con-tinued. Then the sound hoarse voices began ri ing thro the chimneY. He could hear the outla\YS belqw, shouting other. The scratching ceased. A moment la ter he heard soft footfalls. A wild beast of some kind was coming toward l over the bowlcll'rs. At the same tim e h e heard the Y oice of Jesse ]a distinctly. He \\'a s calling to his brother: "Look for Torment, Frank! The beast i s loose! a lead on ,the brute before :.he sca r es the ,,it s out the horses!'' Higgins held h is breath. J Ie kne\\ now what was approaching. lie wheeled around slowly without 'rising, could face the creature. Then he felt in his belt for a knife. He had forgotten that he had none. His only \\ eapon of defense was the clumsy musl The report of a gun would betray hi s presence the outlaws, yet he co uld already see the dim outli of the creature. He turned th e heavy gun in his hands. grasping t muzzle tightly. As the hideous beast crept nearer, he rose on knee and wailed. There \ \'as not a sign of ).Iiller. He must fight his battle unaided. A l o w groan from the brute s ho,,ed spied him. Higgins waited a second l onger. Then the rifle butt descended. It took the brute squarely between the eyes aj straightened her out in a jiff y At that sound. Miller came creeping back from t our of inspecti o n. "It's no usc, Riggins! I can't find the thing he began. Higgins crept to meet him, and explained what h1 happened.


THE JESSE JAMES STORIES. 27 "Tha t mea n s that a search' will be started for the te, and we will be discovered," Miller said, quickly "We had better hide ourselves, Higgins! There's no staying near the carcass." They slunk into the crevices between the rocks and ited. Hour after hour passed in tiresome suspense. There was not a sound of any one coming. Miller crept back to the chimney and listened. He was in time to hear Jesse James deliver an order. "Let the beast go, boys! She'll come back when she ts ready. There's no better picking in the mountains an she gets right here. Just see to it, you rascals, at she don't get at the heels of the horses." "She won't do that, Jess! The ):'errrier is gnarding e stable," was Frank's answer. "T hen I'm off for a ride T'll meet you at the Quick nels at ten-thiPty," said the ontlaw "You can tie the "rl ro a stake if sthe makes any bother." "I'll take care of her, never fear," was the answer. Then all was silent below. There was no one left in the room beneath them cept the old colonel, who still sat likea statue. The two de-tectives were nonplused. If they could have scrutinized the room below, they o uld have laid their plans better. Who was in the den besides the o l d colonel? "vVas his daughter there and were the two of them arded? These were questions that they mus t answer b efo r e ey coul d act, but how to answer them was in itself question. The detectives knew instinctively that-darkness had lien. I t would soon be time for the robbers to leave the a vine and start on their long ride to the spot called e Quicksands. They took turns in placing their ears at the chimney. At last Miller felt certain that he could hear departn g hoof-b ea ts. They consulted again. All must be risked, and at once. It would be about a tw enty-minute job to hold up e stagecoach. That w o uld mean that the robbers would be back it h their booty by one o'clock. The detectives hoped to have the colonel and his daughter safely hidden by that time. Their plans were all laid when they again went to the chimney. Miller listened intently. Strange sounds were coming up to him. First came a bar of some wild song, then a burst of udlin laughter. He understood in a minute. Bink the Terrier, was getting drunk. Jesse James had neglected to take his flask away from 1 Wilat would be the result? Miller grew radiant with hope as he listened. Five m i nutes Jat et' be vaulted over the low chimney d dropped into the room below. He landed o n the hot stones within three feet of the ctl on el. A word of warning escaped his l i p s, but it was not needed. The colonel had fallen as l eep from sheer exhaustion. His daughter lay l ike one dead, on a bearskm ten feet away from h i m . Miller gl anced a r ound. : Bink was s-tagger ing toward him. His finger was on. t h e trigger of his revo l ver. The detective raised his musket. A thunderous report rang through the cavern. Bink dropped like a log. Miss Hart sprang to her f eet and shrieked with terror. Colonel Hart opened his eyes. He recognized Miller in an ; nstant. The next moment he was doing what he co u ld to h elp the brave fellow loosen his shackles. "Now, then, for the mountains!" crie d Miller, as Hig-, gins dropped clow n behide th e m and q u ick l y a ppropri -ated Bunk's revolver. They crept slowly through the den, picking up a few stray art:cles of clothing as they went. There were four horses left in the rude stab l e Three of them were the colone l's ow n and they greeted him with neighs of pleasure. 1 As Higgins still had his musket, he handed the co l onel the rev olyer. Miiler l ed the way through the rocky defjle on a spirited animal. It had been ridden by the outlaws, and knew the wa y out of t:he ravine, but it remained to be seen wheth e r th e other anin:als could follow it up the pre cip ito us bank. He trembl ed for the safety of the girl he loved; yet he knew her to be a fcariess rider. The moon came out gioriously as they reached the ascent. It aided them ail in their perilous undertaking. \ N'hen they were safely in the trail, Miller reined close to Miss Hart's side. l-Ie was too happy to speak, but he could see that the young girl unders tood him Five minutes lat e r they were headed toward Golden Citv. :;\tiille r was still in the lead, but the girl he loved was close behind him and bearing up bravely. It was desperate chanc es, indeed, that the young man had taken, but he felt that it would take more than Jesse James and his whole band to capture him now. CHAPTER XI. J ,fSSE JAMES IN DISGUISE. "Stop! We are losing the trail!" It was Colonel Hart w h o spoke. Miller checked his horse at once and turned 111 his saddle. "There should be a clump of stunted b i rches to t

28 THE JESSE JAMES STORI:5. "There-'s Roaring Water Pike: in the he be gan, thoughtfully. The sound of a horse 's hoofs behind them ended the conversation. Higgins raised his musket to his shoulder. The h oofbeat s grew louder "Halt! Who comes there?" Miller called lustily. A crack of a pist ol answered him. As the bullet 1 whistled by his ear he ye-lled again : "Hold your fire you sinne r hll yo u find out whether : we are friends or foes! \Vhat the devil do yo u mean by I popping1 at strangers?" The horseman had halted behind a convenient thicket. As rt:he detective spoke he answered promptly: "Who be ye, anyway? I'm er poor lone man thet ain't got nothin fer no one. 'Tain't no use holdin' me up, ef I you bt er pack uv cutthroats." "Which we don't happen to be, stranger," responded I Higgins. "We are four travelers on our way to Golden L:ity ." The horseman came o u t from behind the thicket. He was a curious-looking fellow. His face \Yas cov ered by a beard that wou ld have done credit to a patri arch. As he rode he bent forward till his nose almost touched the pommel of his saddle. "On ther way ter Golden City, be yer ?" he repeated, in a cracked voice. "Waal, yer must be strangers hyar a bouts ter think yer On thet thar t rail Y er've missed yer bear in's som'ers an' air makin' straight fer ther Quicksands." "Jerusalem You don t mean it!" exclaimed Higgins, anxiously. "That's exact l y w hat I thought! I don't see how we did it," spoke up the colonel. :viiller said nothing He was staring at the stranger's horse. T he b east was as as tar instead of a roan, yet every curve of its body was the exact counterpart of F'leetwind. ''Can you put us on the right t rail friend?" a:sked Higgins, politely. "If you can, we will pay you well for it when we reach Golden City," went on t h e colonel. "I am Colonel Hart, and I 'have just escaped fro m Jesse James and his gang of cutthroats." "Ther devil, yer say! Wall, thet thar is interestin'," said the fellow at the time j erking his horse clown to the path with a v i gorous movement Higgins rode forward a few paces and in an instant, the coal-black horse reared and snorted violently. "Whoa! Down, ye r bnrte !" yelled the old fellow, ex citedly. His voice seemed lo st upon the but lie still s to the saddle Miller rtined J1is mount a little nearer. There was a neigh of pleasure. It was plain as t:hat the two horses recognized each other. closer to the stranger, fingering his musket as he went When he was exactly abreast he bent forward looked sharply at the fellow. "What the deuce are you doing with that horse?" asked, sharply. ''Own up, you greaser! You stole creatu re! A curions chuckle came from the bearded lips t t>hc fellow pulled his hat lo" ver over hi s eyes and pee back at the detective. "Strikes me yer mighty familiar with ther ban king's mount, friend," he said, shrewdly. "1 thought said yer was honest men on ther way >t:er Golden City." ... "That does not mean that we don't know that hors retorted Miller. "Why, Fleetwind is almost is well kno\ as his master! You ean't fool any one who ever saw t beast by putting a coat of paint on him!" 'f\he fe!Jow chnckled again. He had plety of nerve f o r the occasion. Knowing that every o ne despised Jesse James, not scruple to tell his secret. "Ther truth is, friends, I stole ther beast,'' he with another chuckle. "I wuz trampin' across ther mot! tins when I come ercross him tied ter a saplin'. 'Twar natur ter trudge on an' leave er good piece er hoss fl behind me. so I jest t o ok him erlong. T her devil o knows that his master wuz er doin' when I stole him." The detectives stared at each other. The man's story w&s plausible. There were plenty of horse-thieves in the mountains. The question was, how did Jesse James come to stupid as to allow his horse to be stolen exactly when needed him. While the stranger talked, I -Iiggins still fingered musket. He had see n no sign ot weapons about the fellow, he had not forgotten that pistol shot. "Yer don't blame me fer takin ther beast, do ye r went on the fellow. "Hang ther critter! I'd part wi her cheap! I can't stick ter !her much longer!" As he spoke the horse reared and then made a t:!a ahead. It l ooked as if his rider would be thrown any sec "Whoa, there whoa Stand sl:!ill !" shrieked the f low Fleetwind paid n attention. He was growin&_ wilder and wilder. "The man will be killed !" cried Miss Hart. The colonel dashed ahead.


THE JESSE JAMES STORIES 29 did so Fleetwind reared again. The next inmade a leap forward, complete"ly clearing the were out of sight of the group in a I As they listened eagerly a mocking laugh came back them. "Great Scott! It was Jesse James himself! After him, iller!" shouted f:liggins excitedly. A pistol shot warned him. Looking up the bluff they saw horse and rider. He had put a hundred rods between them in t!he space fa minute. The outlaw was out of range. He was waving his hat gayly. As ihe stood outlined against the sky he seemed more a dtmon than mortal. The detectives ground their teeth. It was a biter distappointment. 1 The outlaw had been within the range of two loaded muskets, yet he had deceived them by his clever acting. "Now, what will he do?" asked Miss Hart, nervously. "Of course, he will entrap us some way before we reach Golden City." "If we could only find the trail," began the co1onet Miller had ridden back a few rods on the lookout for danger. He was afraid other horsemen might he hiding behind the thicket. :Vve must either find the trail or lose ourselves com ple t ely said Higgins, de c idedl y 'No doubt, Jess will set his spi e s after us as soon as he is able." "Which means that we will all be shot down like dogs," said Colonel H a rt, savagely, "for, of courst, Jess only waited to make sure of our identity before laying his plans to' recapture us "Yes. He will never allow us to reac'h Golden City now ' said Miller. ''\Ve know too much about his dtn in the Black Pit Ravine. I have heard that no one ever visited that spot as a p riso n e r and liv ed to de sc ribe it." "Oh, Mr. Miller! How horrible! I cannot believe it !" cried Dora. Miller h a s t ened to her sid e '' ;::: H e had fo rgotten her for a m o m e nt. '\\e sha l l b e t h e exccptio11s," he murnmrcd. so ftly. "T S"\\ear it, D o r a You s hall n o t b e har m e d b y t-hat ru f fia n !'' Dora Hart leaned o y e r in he r satlcll e ami gave him a thr illing glan ce i n the moonlight . \ r the same tim e there came a \Yarning cry from liigg1 :1s. The detec tiYe been riding here and the r e a mong t-he b u shes on the lookout f o r ene11liL .;. Suddenly, after standing a minute, he discovered that his horse's feet were sinking in a claylike substance. "Quick! We must get out of this! We are nearing the Quicksands!" he cried, sharply. "Go straight ahead, Miller. I.t is our only course! Jesse James is behind and the Quicksands are at the left. By keeping straight ahead we may strike the road to Lead City and get out of this forsaken locality." "I doubt ;, but, as you say, is no choice," said Colonel Har. t, urging his horse forward. "Look There he is now !" cried Miss Hart, as she g-lanced back over her saddle. The otht:rs turned. T he horse and rider were once more outlined clearly upon the bluff. With \ his right ai-m Jesse James seemed to be pointing out their direction to three companions whose figures suddenly appeared beside him. "It is a race wi th deat'h, daughter, but we will face it bravely," said the colonel, quietly. Miss Hart grasped her bridle reins firmly in her hands. Her eyes rested upon Miller. "It must be eleven o'clock," said the detective, glancing at the moon, "and that is the time they expect the stage from Lead City to reCKh the Quicksands. If they do that job first, it will give us a start. Now, then, for a search for tha.t road!" They dashed off together. At the s ame time, the three horsemen vanished fro m the bluff. They had spi e d a bla c k s p o t on the mo o nlit hills, and knew it was the stagecoach The lurnb ering old vehicle was mov ing like a sn ail. They kntw exactly where to meet it. Jess e James roared out his ord e rs as they left the crest of the bill. "Keep to t'he left, bo y s, until we. meet t he stage. It will take ten minutes to do that job, then we can come h a ck by the lower trail and make it hot for the detect ives." "Yo u s a y the y are strande d, Jess!" ''r es They 've l ost t he i r bearings com p letely. We c a n ILLe t the m in the gull y \\' hen we are clone at the Q uic k sands .' ' T h a t is. i f \Ye don't h ave more thouble than we're lo'Okin. J ess !'' "Vv e \\'ill have no troubl e Keep your '..Vits about you!" \\'as th e outlaw's answe r. Over hu s h es and r oc k s bo u nde d the gallan t s t ee ds. J esse James had d i s oarcled his l o n g \Yhis k e rs now and s a t e r e c t i n h i s sa d d l e X rarer and nearer th ey came to the t r e a c h ero u s spot of sand \Yhich had o n c e b ee n the b e d o f a mi g hty river.


30 THE JESSE Jl\MES STORIES. The road to L ead City wound close by this dried stream, but the engulfing sands did not encroach npon its oorritary It stretched to the right in spots, and was dangerous in wet seasons. The river bed itself was like a fawning monst er. # It stretched out a velvety surface that sucked 111 even huge bowlders greedily. When Jesse James reached the edge of the road, he called his men together. There were only four but they completely blocked the narrow space. The st age would be forced to stop. It could not pass them T he only alternative would be a mad attempt to drive through the Quicksand "Now, then, our prisoners are beihind us once more," said the king of bandits. "With those horses o the c olonel's they will be easily overhauled. Put on your masks, men, and obey my orders. When we have done our work we will take our pleasure !" "Ay! That we will! And you all know what that means!" roared Frank James. "It means that if J ess makes a lucky haul on the coaoh, he will givt you a whack at the detectives A hqwl of laughter greeted this jest. Then the two leader s of the stagecoac h appeared over the crest of the hill. They snorted and plunged w hen sa-. the horsemen. The driver rose from his seat and urged them forward with voice and whip. Then, at a r oa r from Jesse James, he drew his pistol. It was s hot out of his hands. _"\t the same time the leaders fell dead in their traces. A volley of s hots rc.11t the air. The passengers inside of the stage began shrieking and cursing. Crack! Crack! Cra:ck! went their weapo ns. The bandits waited until they were tmpty, contenting themselves with shooting down the horses. As the brave driver reeled from his seat, Jesse James mde up to the door of the coach. His voice rang out like a bugle, "Hand over your valuables!" Not one dared rduse. Money and jewelry were passed over to him. Wi b h the gold coin the stage was carrying, he secured over ten thousand dollars. It had taktn but ten minutes, ex>actly, as he reckoned. Then, leaving the frig;htened passengers with a polite "good-night," he dashed after his escaping prisoners, his three companions having 'hard work to keep up with thc.'ir irnper ious leader. CHAPTER XII. BAFFLED T11ey bad turned from the trail and had taken a cut ove r the wil des t p ossibk country. In one spot they were obliged to dash over ground in order t o follow the commands of the of robbers. "They cz,n't haVE: passed th e fork of the trail!" roa the bandit king. "On, faster, boys! We'll head off rascals! F!eetwind bounded over the rock s and bushes as as a feather. She seemed posstssecl by the same power as her Frank James was scanning the distant hills with eagle vision. Every bluff and ridge was outlined clearly in the light. a yell of delight issued from his lips. lie rose in his stirrups and swung his hat excitedly ''The re they are, Jess! Just across the hills tO right of that big bowlder! Five minutes more and we be a head of them!" \ Ve 'll divide our forcts. then!" cried J esse J without even l ooking behind him. "You and Powd Horn cross the gully to the right and come u p beh 'em By that means we can either capture them or f them in to the Quicksand!" ''A good idea! Once get that pig-headed old du stuck tight in the mud and he'll give us a prom ise "Which he'd never li ve to fulfill!" laughed J James, as tht::y parted. "Once g-et into that b la ck ma and your doom is sealed!" He spurred Fleetwind over a suspicious-looking as he spoke, and then look ed behind to see if his man following him. Frank James had dashed off at right angles with half-breed called "Powder Horn" close beside him. Two more villainous mortals could not have been ined, except their counterparts, Jesse James and his e eyed companion. Keeping the four riders in sight, rhey fairly flew the mountain. Their victims were descending a low hill on the site side of a thickly-wooded gully. If they were cut off from advancing or retreating, would be forced to the middle course. They must for the treacherous groun_ d, which was yawning to ceivc them. Of course, it >vas possible tpat they might know country. In this case they would stand their ground. That would mean that the detectives would


THE JESSE JJ\MES STORIES. 81 n like dogs, and the colonel and his daughter \Vi)Uld recaptured. sse James smiled with pleasure as h e thought of the e was determined that the colonel's claim sho uld n o t through his fingers. uddenly he stopped short in his wild ridt down the ntain side. 'he four riders had disappeared in th e spa1=e of a nd. n oath burst from th e outlaw's lips. e raised himself in his saddle. Where did thty go to, Hawk?" he asked of his com Jon. he fellow beside him pulled up his steed. -Ie had eyes that could almost pierce the mountain dders. "The y've seen us, cap'n, an' they're layin' low jus.t er t11e ridge,'' he said, promptly. "Frank '11 flush in er minute! He an' Powder Horn hev crossed ther lly !" 'That will force them ahead! Come on!" cried Jesse, he urged his horse forward. hey dashed down the hill and were soon crossing the lly The horses waded ankle dee:p in treacherous clay d threaded their way between rank bus hes. t last 'they gained the other side and dashed lik<:. wild atures up the gentle slope of the rugged hills. "He's scared 'em They're ridin' fer ther lives!" !led Hawk, who was gazing upward. The crack of two revolvers echoed over the hills at words. They were followed by reports from two htavy musts Then the of frightened horses could be heard. J esse James fired his revolver straight up the mountain e to add to the clamor and show them that t;hey were mmed in upon every side. 1ihe crashing in the bushts increased The riders were coming at a break-neck speed. Down, down rus11ed the horse? toward the und erbrush t he guliy. James waited until h e was sure of the dire ct ion their flight, then, wheeling his fearless horse, he made 1ase after th e riders. Five minutes later thty appeared upon the opposite outlaw's plan had worked satisfactori ly. Frank James and Powder Horn joined the other two audits ... They rode leisurely after their fleeing victims. "Now, we've got 'e m! The Quicksands arc just ahead! et e m go, Frank! They' re ridin g straight to their own est ru cti on As Jesse J ames spoke he pull ed his horse in a little He was exulting n ow There sc:emed to be no es cap e for his victims "They're cussed fools to run, perticldarly when they' re am1ed.'" l aughe d Powder Horn. "Ther's er chance fer 'em in fightin', but ther"s none in the Quicksand!" "'vVe must keep the colonel out of it, if we can," said J esse James, sternl y "Let the detective whelps sink if the:y want to! I've got other plans for the colonel and his daughter." "They'll die together! It' s just like em!" answered Frank James. "Mark my words, Jess they'll welcome that grave in the sand rather than get back int,o your clutches." "Then they .can have it!" growled the outlaw. "And a of millions will slip through your fingers!" A curse was Jesse James' only comment He took a sharp look at the four fleeing riders, who were S't:ill visible at intervals, and then turned to his brcthc, angrilv. ;'I'll not lost> it, by thunder! I'll make out the papers myself and transfer the claim! I know the colonel's handwriting and can imitate it! Once let me see him tkad, and is to dispute me!" "Who will be your witnesses?" Jesse James t-hought a minute. A shout from Hawk interrupted his reflections. ''Look! They're in ther mire, cap'n Ther leader ain't moved fer er minute! He's flounderin' like er goor! feller, but he's jest er sinkin deeper!" "The n we'd better hurry and see the fun!" laughed Jesse James. With a word to Fleetwind he was soon in the lead of his partner. Before him stretched a fairly level tract which sank with a gradual slope to the treacherous bed of the vanished river. It was only a mile or two from where the "hold-up" had tak e n pla ce, and but for a fringe of birches the coach might have bem plain to their vision. B e fore them, in plain sight, were the four brave r iders. They "ere staking their last hope on crossing the Quicksands. Once on the Lead City rod they might have a chance w1th th e ir pursuers o r at least, give them a race that would be a final effort. Jesse James shouted at th e m derisively as he saw the four horses floundering in the mud. Then he called his own party to a halt at a safe dis tance from the Quicksands. The four ridns were attempting to pass the river bed in single file. Colonel Hart was ahead. He was followed closely by hi-s daughter.


32 THE JESS E J A MES S T OR!ES. The outlaws s mi l ed grimly as they watched the' hero i c efforts of the horses. The: noble steeds pulled their feet from the sucking s-oil and stepped as lightly as feathers. Su-ddenly a hoarse cry emanated from the lips of Jesse James. He gave a shout of and st arted forward. "Quick! Around the trail, Hawk! The wretche:s are escapi ng!" he yelled "There s one spot in those sands 1!hat a horse ca n and hang me if the old colonel doesn't know it!" I.t was something that had es.caped his mind until that At the same moment two lJL11let!' from his revolver wen t speeding after the flying det ectiv es. Hawk put spurs to his horse, and Frank James fol lowed suit. J esse 1 vas purple with rage at his own stupidity. He had completely forgotten the narrow bridge across the Quicks?.nds which had been made years before by daring ho: se thieves. It was covered with the slimy soil now, b u t t he depth w a s only a fe\1 inches If a horse picked its ll'ay, it could fee l t he firm tree trunks that formed the path over the mire. A swerve of the body or a misstep would throw it over into a living grave. As he thought of this, Jesse urged incl nearer and emptied his revolver at the fugitives. At the bst s hot the rear horse in the little proc ess ion shivered and feli. Higgins leaped lightly from his saddle to the back of t he horse before him. Another volley of shots w as poured in their direction. They whistled by tJheir ca rs. Powder Horn's wt::::tpon had spit them. A moment later t:1e b r ave horses cleared the narrow bridge. The colonel had guided safely. They leaped forward likE.' deer, and \':ere out of the range of more ht:llcts "Now run for i t colonel!'' called out Miller. sharply. "T:wo of the fello\YS out of the race altogether, a11d we have fivE.' minutes' sta r t of the other two. If we can a overtake the stagecoach, v\ e may find some one to help us I-Iiggins looked back over his shoulder. His horse had r-olled over in the mire. Already the treach@'rous sands were engulfing its body. Fearing :t'hat it was not dead, he raised his musket and fired. He c ou l d not bear to think of such a death for the faithful creature. The last glimpse that the detect-ives had of the great outla.v. showed him gmsl1ing his teeth in fur_v. He depmded upon the Quicksands to wreak. his vengea. but they only stood between him wd his i ntendecl victi He dared not now test the

JESSE JAMES STORIES WE were the first pub-lishers iu the world to print the famous sto ries of the James Boys, written by that remarkable man, W. B. Lawson, whose name is a watch word with our boys. We have had many imitators, and in order that no one Jesse James. be deceived in ac-ceptmg the spuriops for the real we shall issue the best stories of the James Boys, by Mr. Lawson, in Library entitled "The Jesse James Sto ir n r \ one of our big five-cent libraries, anrl winner with the boys. The fi .. are : "Jesse James, thP r rative of the JamP" .... .. Jame's' Legacy; or, ".] essecJames' Dare. -'" LTance; or, B t trayed QV One oTh.em" -'ro Qt", The W\1a' Raid at B 11un STREET & SMITH, Publishers, NewYor}c BUffALO B .ILL The only publication authorized by the Hon. Wm. F. Cody (Buffalo Bill.) WE were the' publ! _'",'P ers e written of the fam' ous and Buffalo Bill, the great hero whose life has been one succession of excit-Buffalo Bill. it,tg and thrilling incidents combined with great successes and accomplishments, all of which will be told in a series of grand stories whic"'h we shall now place before the American boys. The first of these stories entitled "Buffalo Bill, the Border King," appears in No. I of our new five=ce n t library entitled The Buffalo Bill Stories." STREET & SMITH, Publishers, NewYork. THE bes t kn wn deted tive in th world is Nick Carter. Stories by this noted sleuth are is sued regularly in Carter W eek1y" (pried five cents), and ail work is written for us. It may in erest the patrons and r ader of the Nick Carter Series of Stories to know that these famous stories \vi11 soon be produced upon the .stage --lusually elaborate circumstances. have just been complete the publishers and Manager. F: C. Whitney, to present the entire s t of Nick Carter stories iu dramatic forp b play of the SP,.;P., r .. .. ---STREET & Publispers, New Y Diam o n d Dick. 1 .l:i.c ce!eoratea mo only be found in Di thond Dick, Jr.,The Boy Best Weekly. Diamon Dick and his son Berti are the most unique and fascinating heroe l)f Western romance. The scenes, and man) of the incidents, in these exciting stori e s ar taken from real life. Diamond Dick storle are to be the best stories of theW esti and are all copprighted by us. The libra!) is the same size and price as this publi c a ti o with handsome illuminated cover. P ric five cents STREET & SMITH, Publishers, NEw York:


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