Claim 33; or, The boys of the mountain

Claim 33; or, The boys of the mountain

Material Information

Claim 33; or, The boys of the mountain
Series Title:
Pluck and luck
Merritt, Jas. C.
Place of Publication:
New York, New York
Frank Tousey
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
29 pages ; 28 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Dime novels ( lcsh )
Adventure stories ( lcsh )
Sea stories ( lcsh )
Treasure troves -- Fiction ( lcsh )
serial ( sobekcm )

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
033078086 ( ALEPH )
126872232 ( OCLC )
P28-00009 ( USFLDC DOI )
p28.9 ( USFLDC Handle )

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-PLUCJ< LUC}<. Complete Stories of Adventure. lBBuea Weekly-By Subscription $2.50 per year. J!Jnterea as Secona Glass Matter at the New York, N. Y., Poet O(ffJ, November 7, 1898. Entered according to Act of Oong rcss, in the y ear 1903, in the otrice of the Librarian Of Oongress, Washington, D. 0., by Frank Tousey, 24 Union Square, New York. No. 275. NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 9, 1903. Price 5 Cents. CLAIM 33; OR, THE BOYS OF THE MOUNTAIN. By JAS. C. rIERRITT. CHAPTER L. FROM DESPAIR TO JOY. "Oh, shet up, youngster, shet up!" said a voice behind them and a tall, raw-boned man of fifty, whose face had bronzed by long exposure, and whose hands were hardened by toil, came up to the two young men seated by the camp fire. "It's all up with us, Bob." "Yes," was the doleful answer. "The last ounce of dust spent, and every foot of in which we stick a pick is worthless." At the first sound of a human voice the young men seized ground their rifles and cocked them, but recognizing the new-comer, "Don't despair, Phil-let's hope for the best." "It's no use, Bob Maxwell. We've been now thirteen months in Anizona, and all that time going from bad to worse. Fate's against us, and I can see no way to end our misery, save by ending our existence, and really I don't care how soon that's done." "Well, Phil, if those Apaches should find us on this moun tain they might end our existence a little sooner than we have calculated on." "I calculate on nothing except starvation. I am so hungry I could eat my boots." The .parties to the above conversation were two young fel lows about eighteen or nineteen years of age. They were seated about a small camp fire on the side of the mountain, over which the shades of night are falling. The story of Bob Maxwell and Phil Shelton was a sad one. They were two young fellows who, for love of adventure and greed of gold, had come to the wilds of Arizona. They left comfortable homes and kind friends and relatives to brave the hardships of a life. Reaching the wilds of the West, they found every sort of obstacle in their way to fortune. They were called tenderfeet they laid them down. The old fellow chuckled at the little alarm his sudden ap pearance had caused, and threw down a pick, shovel and pan. "Yer talkin' so despairingly that one'd think ye wouldn't keer if a greaser ur redskin would come right up an' cut yer throats an' then as soon as ye hear a voice yer grab yer rifles jist ez though ye war expecting a condemned leetle diffikilty." "It's force of habit, Joe--all force of habit, that's all," said Phil. "We've not an ounce of dust;' twenty miles from Greaser Gulch, an' not a bite to eat, nor have we had a bit of grub today." "Waal, it do look like a little dark jist now, boys ," said the individual called Joe, or rather Silver Joe. "My stomach jist now feels ez empty ez my pockets, an' this 'ere fire a snappin' an' a cracklin' here's arful tantalizin'. Makes me think that thar ort t' be b'ar steak a-brilin' on them coals The three men sat down around the fire and gazed hungrily into it. Many times had old Silver Joe been hungry before, and it did not go so hard with him as with the boys. It was but twenty miles to the mining town of Greasers Gulch; the distance, however, was too great for the tired, hungry men to think of tramping it that night, and, besides, not having any money to buy food with, they would stand as good a show of starving in the valley as along the mountain side. seedy and more desperate. Old Silver Joe had filled and lighted his pjpe, and sat gazing into the fire on which his. despairing companions were also "Bob, I've half a mind sometimes to turn road agent," said looking. and subjects easily to swindle. The coarse, rough men of the mining villages and camps made them the butt of ridicule. They failed to "strike pay dirt,'' and day by day grew more Phil, desperately. Suddenly a rustle in the bushes startles the olil miner, and "And rob?" "Yes." laying his hand on his rifle, h,e turned his head in the direc tion whence the sound came, to see a pair of blazing eyes glar"Oli, Phil, would you be a thief?" I ing at them from the darkness. "I would soon be hunted down and hung and that would "Thar's meat, boys ," he whispered and dnently he raised end my existence, which is about what 1 want now." his rifle to his face, took a quick aim, and pulled the trigger.


CLAIM 33. A sound half way between an angry growl and broken roar followed the sharp report of the rifle, and a monster beast of some kind could be heard running crashing through the woods. "What is it-what is it?" cried both the boys, seizing their rifles at their side and leaping to their feet. "It's a b'ar-a b'ar. Look out!" But if old Joe expected the wounded beast to come out openly and attack them he was mistaken. Instead, bruin turned tail to the camp and ran. "Too consarned bad, ain't it, boys?" cried the old man. "Thar's meat, my lads, an' less hev it. I've winged the game, an' we'll foller him." The continued growling and spasmodic plunging of the wild beast was proof positive that he was badly hit, and the old miner and his young companions took hope as they pursued him through the darkness. Silver Joe had seized a burning pine knot, which he carried above his head as a torch, holding his rifle in his right hand. "Foller clus, boys, an' keep yer eyes peeled fur the varmint. He's bad hit an' we'll sleep with full stomachs yet." The trail of the wounded bear was not easy to follow even by daylight, and at.night nothing but the desperation of three starving men could have carried them over it. Through thick ets of mountain oak, along ledges and down slopes they pur sued the wounded beast, sometimes almost on him and some times losing sight and sound of him altogether for two hours. Then they found themselves on a great tableland on the side of the mountain, while the wounded bear had disappeared al together. No sight or sound of it could they discover. "It's too bad, boys-guess I'll hev to take it back an' go to sleep empty arter all." At this moment they heard a heavy groan not a dozen paces away. The three men utterance to short exclamations of joy, and with torch held high above them they advanced, parting the thick bushes with their hands. Ten paces through the thicket and they came upon a sight that was calculated to fill a hungry hunter with joy. There lying on the ground was a large, fat bear in the last throes of death. The bullet of the old hunter had reached a vital spot after all, and the bear was almost dead. To cut its throat and end its struggles was but the work of a moment, and while Bob Maxwell built a fire of dry sticks, of which he found an abundance, Silver Joe and Phil Shelton re moved the skin and cut large broiling steaks from the dead bear. In a few moments the savory odor of the cooking bear's meat filled the air. "Do you know where we are, Joe?" Bob asked. "No; I never war in this part o' the mountain, but I've been about it for ten years." "Have you never prospected here?" "No. Nobody ever had a claim here in this part except an old feller that half the people thought crazy, an' the other half a road agent. They said he had a claim which he called 'Claim Thirty-three,' but no one ever thought he found pay dirt on it." The meal was almost finished when there came on the night air a piercing shriek. The miners started up and stared at each other in amazement. "What is that?" was on the lips of every man at once. "It's a woman's voice," said Bob. "Yer right, Bob; ef that warn't a gal what uttered that .'ar screech, then ye kin say old Silver Joe don't know a nugget from a nigger head!" Bob Maxwell's rifle was In lits hand, and his breath came quick. Both he and Phil were brave, honest young fellows, who were always ready to aid the weak and oppresse d. They could hardly believe their own ears. "No women live on this mountain, do they, Joe?" Bob asked. "Never hearn tell on any." "Help, help, help!" came a shriek from the same direction they had first heard the sound. "It's a woman or girl in trouble," cried Bob, and, snatching a burning brand from the camp-fire, he ran as fast as he could through the scrub oak, stumbling over stones and getting more than one tumble. At last he came upon a scene which was enough to fill the of any brave man with indignation. Two villainous looking ruffians, each holding the hand of a girl, who was not to exceed fifteen years of age, were not over twenty paces away. They were dragging her along the path down the mountain side, and the girl was struggling with might and main to break away. "Let me go! oh, let me go!" "Not mu, ch, beauty, not much, till ye tell us whar it is," cried one of them. "Oh, help! Will no one help me?" "Not much, gal. Thar'S no un who knows anything about this part o' the world except us. We've determined to find out whar yer old father's got that Claim Thirty-three staked off. Nobody'll ever hear ye, so ye kin yelp-" Bob waited to hear no more. He knew that the girl was in the hands of a pair of ruffians who, perhaps, intended to kill her. Quick as thought his rifle came to his shoulder. One of the ruffians had a pine torch in his hand, which lighted up the forest for several rods about them. The young miner was not a bad marksman, and at the first shot the man holding the torch fell, dropping the torch on the ground. Like an avenger Bob bounded througp. the thicket and leaped at the other villain, who released the girl and ran for life. "Thank you, sir! oh; thank you! They have killed my father, and were going to kill me, when you came and saved my life." "Where do you live?" "But a few rods around the spur of the mountain," she answered. "I thought this part of the mountain uninhabited." "We have lived here for four years." "Who?" "Father and I." "And you say they killed him.!' "Oh, I fear so. He is at our cabin, and I know he is dead." "Take me to him at once," said Bob. He did not think of waiting until his companions, who were following after him, had come up, but accompanied the girl to the shanty, which was so snugly hidden behind some rocks and shrubs that one might have searched months for it without finding it. A man about forty-five years of age lay upon the floor of the shanty. He had been wounded by three stabs in the body and was just recovering from a fainting fit, caused by loss of blood. "Oh, he has killed me, he has done his work at last; after years trying to kill me, he has done it." "Who was he?" Bob asked. "Who are you?" the wounded man asked faintly, opening his eyes and gazing in astonishment at the young miner. "Father, he saved me! They were me away to kill me because I would not tell them where Claim Thirty was. He shot him." The wounded man gazed at Bob for a moment and then said: "You look to be honest, and I have a notion to trust you. Are you a miner?" "I am." "Would you like to know where the richest claim in Arizona


CLAIM 33 can be found, and where not only ounces, but (lOUnds of gold may be dug?" "I would." The wounded tnan was very weak and spoke with much difficulty as he resumed: "I want to exaC't from you one promise, and that is that my child," and he laid his hand on his daughter Rose's head, "shall have all the gold in the cache, and one-half of all that's taken out of Claim Thirty-three. Will you promise that?" "I will." "I believe you. She will give you the map of the mine, and you can easily find i.t" Then he fell into a momentary fit of unconsciousness. Bob examined his wounds and dressed them to the very best of his ability. The man revived, and asked: "Did you kill him?" "Who?" "Moses Evans. He who stabbed me." "I do not know. I shot a man, anq: J:i.e fell, but I did not know him." "Go see if he has a scar on his cheek." Bob 'went out with a torch down the path to the spot where he had made the attack, but the fallen man could not be seen. CHAPTER II. TELL OR DIE! "Joe's suggestion was thought to be a good one, ai:id the three mountaineers set out for the cabin. They had almost reached it when a piercing scream rose on the air. "Nuther diffik!lty!" cried Silver Joe, and like racers the three men bounded toward the cabin. "Here they come-cut and run!" cried a voice at the cabin. "Moonshine Mose!" cried Joe, discharging his rifle at the villain just as he disappeared around the cabin. The girl had been seized by two or three of the ruffians but the Boys of the Mountain were so close on them that they were compelled to releas e her and fly for their lives. Moonshine Mose drew a revolver and emptied all six of the chambers at our three min' ers as they charged on the hut, but his aim was too hasty to be accurate. Foiled a second time in their attempt to force the secret from the girl, the villains b eat a hasty retreat. "Thank you sir!" cried the girl, as Bob entered the house. "You have saved my life a second time to-night." "Were those the same men? "Yes, sir, only th.ere were two more, whom I had never seen before "These are my companions, honest miners, miss. I beg pardon, what' s your name?" "Rose,'' she answered "Rose who? "Rose Thorne. "This is Silver Joe, Miss Rose, a brave man and veteran miner, and this i s my c oll e g e chum Phil Shelton ; now that Bob Maxwell was compl e tely amazed. He was sure the man we all know ea c h other, how is your father-still alive? whom he had shot had been seriously wounded and an exam"Yes, sir-he is still alive and tha t is about all," Rose ination of the ground where he had fallen show e d a small pool sobbed "He can't live long of blood. Whethe r the man had gone off alone or been carried They entered the hut to find the h ermit miser too weak to away he could not tell. talk, and much as Bob would hav e liked to have asked him By the aid of his torch he as still examining the ground, some que stion s concerning the feud between him and Moon trying to get upon the right trail, when he heard the trmnp shine Mose, he dared not. Old Silver Joe was a practical sur of feet in t)le thicket and the glimmer of another torch. geon, and set to work at once to dress and poultice the Extinguishing his own light, he kneeled behind a large wounds. stone and c

CLAIM 33. -----L-------------------------tives, t old us of this mine, Claim Thirty-three, "'nich he haa four villainous-looking wretches he emerged fro m the woods discovered, and willed it to us, giving us the map and plot. "Mexican George is right handy with a rope." We came on at once to Arizona, and proceeded to work it. "What does this mean?" the youth asked indignantly. Father determined to live a hermit life, and I have never "Oh, don't get in a tantrum, but take it easy, will you? We been seen by anyone until last week--" don't intend to hang or drown you unless you compel us to. "Well, but Moonshine Mose, or Moses Evans?" interrupted All we want is some information in regard to Claim ThirtyBob. three." "I was going to tell you of By accident he found his The brave youth was silent and defiant. He realized his way through the secret pass, and came on father and I in the woods. We did not see him, it seems, and he told us to-night that he shadowed us to the shanty, where he heard us talking of the richness of Claim Thirty-three, and saw father looking fate almost as soon as captured, and determined to meet it like a man of courage. After waiting a few moments for Bob to say something, Moonshine Mose said: "We want you to tell us, or rather guide us t o Claim T hirty-over some of the bags of gold dust and nuggets. He then went three." to Greaser Gulch and, securing the services of some of his "I will not," was the brave answer. myrmidons, came tonight to force us to tell him where the mine was, and of the place where we had buried our gold. There was a :fight and he stabbed father, and was dragging me away to hang me, because I would not tell where the mine was, when you came up-and you know the rest." Bob was very much interested in the girl's story. She real ly knew but little of Moonshine Mose, for her father had kept the mstery which surrounded the villain and himself a pro found secret. "Look out! Beware!" "Won't you tell?" "No." "Bring him along, boys." He was half carried and half dragged about fifty paces into the dark, deep wood, and there they came to a halt under a large old oak. A rope was fastened about the neck of the prisoner and the other end thrown over a limb of the tree. Moonshine Mose "I will find out something of that villain yet," he said to now came before the youth, and in a voice the meaning of himself, and went to Joe and asked: "Joe, how long have you which could not be misconstrued, said: known Moonshine Mose?" "Youngster, you know where Claim Thirty-three is located, "Dun know, youngster, but it's been a good many yearsand can give us directions so we can find it. Now, you can some eight ur ten more ur less, off an' on." have your choice--tell or die." "Is he in the 'Vest all the time?" "Dun know. Sometimes he's here awhile, and then he's gone awhile--dun know whar. His principal business is gamblin', an' some say stealin'. He's a bad feller, an' is in more condemned leetle diffikilties 'an a honest man orter be." "There is some deep mystery about him, and Mr. Thorne, this miner--" At this moment they were interrupted by the entrance of Phil, who had been on guard just outside the door. Phil said: "There is someone skulking about in the woods not far away, and I think it would be a good idea to keep your hands on your guns." It was evident that Moonshine Mose and his desperadoes had not given up the fight yet. But they had quite enough of the Boys of the Mountain, and, finding them on guard, did not venture another attack that night. Next day Phil was left at the cabin on guard, and Silver Joe, Bob and the girl as guide, set out to find "Claim Number Thir ty-three." She produced the maps and set out to guide them through the mazes of a labyrinth which seemed impossible for one to traverse. But the girl led them to the claim, and Bob at once set to work. Almost the first stroke of his pick brought up a nugget marvelous size. "Look, Joe, look-it's a bonanza," shouted the delighted Bob, holding aloft the nugget. "Waal, now ain't that a beauty!'? cried the old miner. "Why, they're as thick in this claim as 'taters in a hill." They worked the claim on tqe sly, taking great care that they were not watched by Moonshine Mose or any of his gang, for they knew .they were still in the neighborhood. The wounded man was thought to be slowly recovering, though he was still very weak, and there was danger of a relapse at any time. A guard was kept at the cabin all the time. One evening as Bob was returning alone from the hidden claim, a rope was suddenly thrown over his head, and before he could dra;v either a knife or pistol his arms were pinioned tc his side. "Now we've got yer," said Moonshine Mose, as followed by CHAPTER III. WORKING CLAIM THffiTY-THREE-A NEW ENEMY. For a few moments Bob was silent. It required ru> little effort on his part to steel his nerves to meet certain death. He thought of the great wealth in the claim, his friends, the wounded man at the cabin and his beautiful daughter, who would be made penniless by the disclosure, and bravely said: "I will not tell. If it is your intention to hang me, y ou had as well do so, and be done with it." '.'Pull away, boys-we'll his jugular," cried Moo n shine Mose, white with fury at being foiled. At this moment the bushes parted, and a girl of fifteen sum mers, clad in the wild woodland garb. of the mountains, sud denly burst upon the scene. It was Rose. "Hold, villains!" she cried. Her long dark hair was streaming in the night wind and her eyes fl.ashing with fire. "Rose Thorne!" gasped Moonshine Mose, as the rays of light from the burning pine knot fell upon the excited face of the girl. "Villains, release him." "Girl, we came near hanging you for not telling, but you got away. Now clear out o' these diggin's, for we've got a little job here that's unpleasant," said Mose. "I won't go. You shan't hang Bob. He saved my life and you shan't hang him." The brave girl sprang to his side and by a quick, dexterous jerk, tore the noose from his neck. "That is carrying it too far," yelled Mose, seizing the "brave girl and dragging her away. "Let me go," she said. "Leave here." "I won't." "Swing him up, boys, and she shall tell us or suffer the same fate," thundered Moses Evans, who found his strength taxed to its utmost to hold the active, strong mountain girl.


33. The noose was again adjusted about the neck 9f the pris oner. "Heave away!" Bang, bang, came a pair of shots from the wood, and one of the men holding the rope fell dead to the earth, and another ran '-way yelling with rage and pain, a bullet in his shoulder. "Hold up thar, ye tarnil varmints, 'till I percipitate myself into a condemned leetle diffikilty." Silver Joe and Phil Shelton burst on the scene. The man holding the torch dropped it, enveloping all in total darkness, and Moonshine Mose released the girl and ran with the others for dear life. "Waal, Bob, yer had a clus shave, an' no mistake; but I rubbed out one o' them fellers, an' I guess Phil giv anuther a lame shoulder." "Who was it, Bob?" Phil asked. "Those same villains?" "Yes, sir," Rose answered. "It was Moonshine Mose and his pals." "I knowed it,'' said Silver Joe. "That ar' Moonshine Mose is a snake in the grass, an' he'll stretch hemp some o' these days." Bob was still trembling at his narrow escape from certain death. to continue. Claim Thirty-three seemed inexhaustible, and day by day the yellow tr' easures grew greater. They had already buried several pounds of gold and nuggets and each day added more to the cache. Nothing more had been seen of Moonshine Mose, though they knew that th.ey were in constant danger of another visit from him. Perhaps he was waiting for his wound to heal and would then bring with him a sufficient force to overwhelm them. "We'll make hay while the sun shines," said old Joe, "and when we git all the gold we can carry make tracks fur the states an' live at ease." "I was thinking, Joe, we had better not delay another day," said Bob. "After giving Rose one-half, accordin' to promise, we must have a million dollars each. We've got more gold now than we can carry, and I believe you had better start to morrow morning for the Gulch and get pack mules for us." "Will Mr. Thorne be able to go?" Joe asked. "He says so. It's his advice. He will then sell the claim to us or anybody else and divide with us." "That's a good idee, boy, fur I saw smoke on t'other side of the mountain today, an' I kinder half believe it's the pesky Apaches. If they should take it inter their heads to come here we'd hev one o' the wust little diffikilties wot we've ever "Father's alone," Rose said in some alarm. "They may hearn tell on." come and kill him. Oh, let us hasten to the cabin where we can defend hlm. I left him but a moment to see if Bob was coming, and saw the light of Moonshine Mose and came up just as they were going to hang Bob." On reaching the cabin they found the wounded man sleep ing quietly. Evidently Mose and his cut-throats had not been near him. Next morning Joe made preparations for his journey, and Bob and Phil went to the mine a few rods from the gulch. Mr. Thorne was able to sit in the door of the cabin and watch the boys at work, and Rose was usually at his side when not engaged in household duties. Old.Joe had shouldered his gun and left the cabin with a cheerful smile on his face. but as he approachea the boys who were at work he suddenly "I tell ye, boys, we jist got to turn out in the mornin' an' grew grave. hunt down them fellers like they war wolves," said Silver Joe . "We'll either extarminate 'em ur drive 'em from the mountings." The others acquiesced in Joe's plan and, accordingly, next morning Phil and Joe, armed with W i n chesters and revolvers, set out on a man hunt, leaving Bob as a guard at the cabin. They struck the trail of the outlaws about noon, and to their alarm, found it leading directly to the calim. "Phil, they've found it," said Joe. He was correct, for when they came upon Claim Thirty-three they saw five men engaged with picks, shovels and pans. The miners gritted their teeth in rage, and notwithstanding they were five .to two, they opened fire on them. At the first "Boys," he said in an undertone, "I don't want to skeer anybody, but them cussed Apaches ar' on the mounting, Keep yer eyes peeled an' don't make no fires till I come back. Ez I war out watchin' fur a deer this mornin' at daylight, I found a broken arrer. That means suthin'. I'm goin' now, but I'll be back ez soon ez 'I kin." The old man then took his departu_ re, and the boys grew uneasy. They brought their rifles and laid them at their sides to always have them handy. "Bob, we're going to have trouble. of dust we've got." "Don't look on the dark side, Phil." We'll lose every ounce round one of the outlaws fell dead, aand the remaining four re"It's fate-fate is against us," said Phil. treated. Bob always took a more cheerful view of things than his "Foller 'em up-foller 'em up!" yelled old Silver Joe. "Not friend. one on 'em shall git away alive!" Like bloodhounds they pursued them and brought down an other. Moonshine Mose was himself wounded, but with his two companions managed to get away. "I tell ye what it is, boys," said the veteran miner, when they were all assembled in the cabin, "we've got ter take the wounded man an' gal to the mine, an' fix up some kind uv shelter thar. It won't do to leave it an inch any more. Some un 'll come an' jump the claim." The suggestion of Silver Joe was regarded as an excellent one, and a litter was prepared for the wounded man. All the household effects were conveyed to the camp, where a shanty was hastily built, and the wounded man put into it. The provisions and household effects of Mr. Thorne were all transferred to the new cabin, and Rose installed as house keeper. Silver Joe and the boys worked from early morning until late at night. They were rewarded by poun(\s of gold in nug gets and dust. Sometimes they had thoughts of quitting "I wish Joe had stayed; we'll need his rifle," said Phil. "Let up hope he will get back before the Apaches find us,'' Bob answered. "At noon Rose took .Bob aside, so that her wounded father might not be alarmed at her"questions, and asked: "Are we in danger?" "I don't want to frighten you, Rose, but I believe we are." "I know it. When I was on the oluff above us this forenoon I heard the whoop of an Indian not over two miles away." "It may have been further. The wind is from that part of the mountain, and sounds are carried a long distance. But keep a sharp lookout." The boys went back to their digging, though a vague feeling of uneasiness seemed to possess them. Never did the mine yield so much of the yellow treasure before. It seemed to be in every shovelful-in nuggets and dust. The boys of the mountain little dreamed what was in store for them. A shriek of warning suddenly comes from the cabin. "Old Baldy,'' as the mountain was called, for they must by Whiz! comes an arrow, and after piercing the brim of :Sob's this time be millionaires, but the greed of gold caused them hat, sticks in the ground.


6 CLAIM 33. "Redskins!" shouts Phil, and, dropping pick and shovel, seizes his rifle. A tremendous yell rose on he air, and a shower of arrows and bullets fall like rain about him. Bob caught a glimpse of a dark face behind a stone, and sent a bullet between its eyes. Phil's Winchester was speaking in death-ringing notes. Bob turned his eyes toward the cabin, and a sight met his gaze which almost froze the blood in his veins. The flames were bursting from the shanty, in front of which he saw Rose struggling in the grasp of a powerful Indian. Reaching his rifle he ran a few steps up the hill, and lev eled h1s rifle at the Indian just as he, winding the long hair o{ the girl about his fingers, raised his knife to stab her. But ere the youthful miner could pull the trigger he was seized by three or four screeching demons, disarmed, and hurled to the ground with such force as to deprive him of his senses. CHAPTER IV. IN THE CA VERN. But Bob was still weak, and we doubt if he could have suc ceeded unaided in carrying the wounded man away. Silver Joe saw his condition, and sprang to his assistance. "Snakes 'n cattermounts, boy, yer mustn't ixpect to do It all alone," shouted Joe, as he bore the wounded man in his own strong arms from the burning shanty. "Save it-save it!" gasped the wounded man. "What?" asked Bob. "The box," pointing toward the blazing hut. "It is worth more than gold." "Where is it?" asked Bob. "In the big wooden chest. Look under the second lid." Without waiting to hear more, Bob sprang toward the hut, plunged into it, although the smoke was stifli .ng and the heat blistering. Seizing one end of the chest, he dragged it toward the door. Bob had placed the chest there, and he knew where to find it, so it required but little groping about until he got hold of it. The fire was already falling in showers upon him, and his clothing was almost in a blaze, when he got it to the door. "Here, Bob, let me help you!" cried Phil, seizing the heavy chest, and by a tremendous jerk bringing it out just as the roof fell in. The chest was very heavy, and under ordinary circumPhil Shelton was fighting like a hero for his own life and stances would have taxed the strength of both the youthful the lives of his friends, but he was only one against fifty. The miners, but under the excitement Phil handled it as if it had sharp crack, crack, cracking of his rifle was music which the been a paper box. Apaches did not like to face. "Look out for the redskins." roared Silver Joe. "They He saw his companion seized and hurled to the ground just as he was about to slay the savage who had held the girl. hain't giv up by a blamed sight." Bang! went a gun from the burning cabin, and the Indian Joe was right. who was in the act of slaying Rose fell, shot dead by her "Our friends had only time to drag the chest away from the fire when the Indians, discovering that there were only wounded father, who had snatched his r!fie and sent a bullet through his brain. three of the white men, returned "to the fight again. "Look thar, hold on, will yer, till 1 percipitate myself into "Wake, snakes, an' crawl! Gle-ory, boys, jist look out, here this ere condemned leetle diffikilty!" roared a voice which come!" roared the old man, sending three straight shots at the foremost Indians. could be distinctly heard above the confusion and roar of conflict. It was Silver Joe who, having come across the Apaches' trail leading toward the claim, had followed it, and come up just at the moment when our friends seemed almost overpowered. Old Joe was a host in himself. The Apaches seeing the fall of Bob and capture of the girl, supposed victory sure,and had sprung from cover, rushing in a mass toward the burning cabin. Joe's rifle rang out again and again, as rapidly as he could pull trigger and lever, and he poured a shower of leaden hail among the redskins, who, with yells of fear, beat a retreat. "Clar out-git, ye onery mahogany-skinned varmints, ur ye'll be pulverized ez fine ez if ye'd been run through a quartz mill. Look out-crimany-ginger-here we comes a boomin' -scat!" The eccentricity of Joe, added to his courage, made him dreaded by the Apaches and, discovering that they had an old and powerful enemy to contend with, they beat a hasty retreat to cover of trees and stones, keeping a respectable distance from those repeating rifles. ''Father-save him!" cried Rose Thorne, pointing to the cabin which was enveloped in flames. The wounded man's strength had been exhausted by the effort in firing the rifle, and having 'shot the would-be slayer of his daughter, he sank back upon the flood exhausted and helpless, the blood flowing afresh from those unhealed wounds. Loud roared those scorching flames about the cabin almost enwrapping it, and the wounded man was almost suffocated. Bob had regained his feet and partially recovered from the stunning effect of the fall, when the brave girl uttered the cry. He sprang to the cabin and seized the helpless man in his arms. But the Apaches kept well behind cover of rocks and stunted bushes, taking advantage of every available place of conceal ment, and keeping up a steady fire. There was a ravine but a few rods from the shanty, and into this the wounded man was carried and the wooden chest dragged. Rose Thorne had had the forethought to snatch her father's gun and ammunition from the burning shanty. "What are you going to do with if?" Bob asked. I am going to help In the defense,'' she answered. "Nonsense! Go down in the ravine where you will be out of danger." "Suppose one should tell you to go--" "I am a man," the youth answered. "It is my to de fend--" "And I am a woman," the girl answered, "and I sh!tll prove to you that I know how to help brave men defend me." The savages were growing bolder, and Silver Joe's rifle was not alone sufficient to keep them back. Then Bob saw a powerful Apache trying to make it on a log which had fallen across the chasm. Old Joe had been able to keep them back from the log until now, but his gun was empty, and the Indian was too far away to hit with a pistol. "Bob shoot that 'ar redskin!" cried Silver Joe. "Which one?" asked Bob for he saw a score in rifle range. "The one on the log up the gulch. Don't yer let him git over on t'other side ur he'll flank us and shoot us one by one." Bob saw the wisdom of guarding that log, and brought hU:l rifle to his shoulder, but only a dull snap responded to his pull on the trigger. 'Great heavens, my gun is empty," he cried. "I have not a single charge in the magazine."


CLAIM 33. "Then, by hokey, we're dun fur," said old Joe, dolefully. strength he drives it in as far as it can go, and then trails out "He'll be across afore I kin git loaded." a good yard of fuse. Crack! Sharp and keen rang out the report of a rifle a little below the ledge on which Joe and Bob were standing, and the Indian who was crossing the log threw up his hands and plunged headlong into the chasm. "Now, Mr. Bob, never say again that a girl is not able to take part in her own defense," said a silvery voice, and looking down he beheld Rose Thorne holding a smo)dng rifle in her ha!)d. "Bully for the gal!" roared old Silver Joe. "She done him up fust shot." "Rose, Rose, you have saved our lives!" cried Bob. "Had that savage succeeded in getting across the ravine he would no doubt have hid behind the rocks on the other side and picked us off one by one." "Can a girl be of any service in a fight?" asked Rose, with a smile on her pale face. "You are an exception, Rose," he answered. "I am glad I am," she answered. The Apaches evidently regarded the log across the ravine as a strategic point, and detE>rmined to possess it. They con tinued to make effort after effort to cross, but the rifles of the three miners guarded the pass closely, more than one got a mortal hurt in his endeavors to cross the log. "Boys, we kin keep 'em away from it as long as it's day light," said the old miner, "but as soon as it's dark they'll be a-slippi' over it. We orter git rid o' that log." "It can be done," said Bob. "How?" asked both Joe and Phil. "Blow it up with powder." "I don't see how you are going about that," said Phil, who, notwithstanding he was brave as a lion, was inclined to be both incredulous and despondent. "Very easily, Phil. Take a blast of powder up under the bluff on this side of the ravine. and push it as far under the end of the log between it and the stone on which it rests as you can, place a fuse to it and run for your life." There is no time to spare, for the Indians, growing bolder in the darkness, were preparing to make a sortie and cross the log. Lighting the fuse, the youthful miner hurried away up the ledge. His foot 1S"truck a bit of loose stone, which fell with a plunge down into the ravine below. With a yell the Apaches rushed down to the ravine. His friends saw his danger and began firing at the Indians. It took close shooting, for he was on the ledge within four feet of the to1', and their bullets whizzed above his head. Half a dozen furious painted demons rushed on the log to cross over during the temporary excitement. Some were on the log, some getting on, and others standing by, when suddenly there came a tremendous blaze, a dull re port and that end of the log was blown high into the air, car rying three or four with it, and dropping down into the ra vine, thus cutting off all chance of crossing the chasm. Bob reached his friends with a bullet hole through the crown of his hat, and an arrow sticking in the collar of his coat. "Done it; by crimany gracious Bob, yer a brave one!" cried old Silver Joe, seizing the young fellow's hand, and shaking it warmly. "Come with me. I've found a place where we will be safe," said Rose Thorne, who had been down the ravine. "What is it?" Bob asked. "A cave." "A cave, gal, whar?" "Right down the ravine, not a hundred yards away." The miners could hardly believe it. They had been along that ravine half a hundred times, and thought all the country had been carefully explored, but had seen nothing of a cavern. But Rose had found it, and with the wounded man, the chest, their arms, and what few effects they had been able to take from the burning shanty, they were soon ensconced in the cavern. Plutonian darkness them, and the height and depth could only be surmised. "We m.ust hev a light, boys," said old Silver Joe. "There are some pine knots at the mouth of the cavern," said Bob. "I will light one." "The boy's right," said Silver Joe, whose experience in min ing told him the log could be blown off the bluff. "It'll work like a top Little did he dream of the. rich wonders which a lighted "It'll be dangerous to lay that train. Who'll do it?" said torch would reveal. Phil. "I will;" said Bob. "No, I'll do it myself," said Phil. "Hold on, Phil, it's my plan, and I'm going to try it." The honor of planting the blast was given to Bob, and he put a double charge in a tin can with a fuse attached to the lower end of it. It had grown dusk when he started along the ravine, creep ing under the rocks, for it was certain death to show his head above them. Cunning, desperate savages were so near that he could hear their guttural exclamations as they crouched behind their covers with deadly guns and bows in their hands. Nearer and nearer he approaclies to the log until he is al most at it, when he sees another savage making the venture. Bob knows that keen eyes are watching that log, and the ring of a rifle, followed by a yell of pain, as the wounded redskin retreats, were not unexpected. At last he has gained the log and is directly under it. He crawls up the stony embankment until he is almost where the end of the log rests on the bluff on the side of the ravine next the savages. The Apaches are not ten paces away, and he has now to use the utmost caution, for the crumbling and drop ping of a stone large as a bean might betray him. Reaching his hand upward, he pushes the charge between the log and sloping rock on which it rests. With all his CHAPTER V. MOONSHINE MOSE AND THE APACHES. up the torch," cried :i;:'hil, who had become im patient. "It's no easy matter to light a pine knot, Phil," said Bob, who had already wasted two or three matches. "This 'ere may be a b'ars den," Silver Joe whispered to Phil. "You'd better keep Yer rifle ready." The girl was sitting by the side of her wounded father, who had been placed near the entrance to the cavern, and Silver Joe and Phil were just beyond them. "It may be an Apaches' den," Phil answered. "No; if they'd a-knowed o' this place they'd a-been here long before and attacked us in the r'ar," answered Joe. "Haven't you got it lighted, Bob?" the impatient Phil asked. "Yes, I believe it will go this time." "Bring it in and let us see what kind of a place this is, any. way." Bob had at last succeeded in lighting the pine torch and entered the cavern.


8 CLAIM 33. Well might the scene which that lighted torch revealed pro"But let us crawl along the ledge to where we blew the log duce a shout of wonder and delight. The cavern was vast, and off the bluff." the burning torch failed to reveal the farther end of it. Though Bob thought it almost a useless undertaking, to But ten thousand hues were flashed and reflected from the Phil he consented. Slowly and carefully the y crawled blaz .ing torch. The walls, the ceiling and ground were studded along the l e dge having to keep their backs bent low so tliat with precious metals-gold and silver. their h eads might be seen above the bluff while every step "Great grubs!" gasped old Silver Joe. "Ef this doh't take was taken with c are, for a single false step would have pre-the handkerchief off the Christmas tree." cipitated them to the rocks below. "Did ever mortal behold such a sight?" said Bob. "Halt!" "Oh, if we only had this cave back in the states it would It was P)lil who whispered the command. be something," said Phil. Phil was directly in front of Bob, and had taken a peep over Even Rose Thorne forgot her privations and dlfllger, and the bluff at the mine b e yond. clapped her hands in joy and enthusiasm. "What do you see, Phil?" Bob asked. The wounded man raised himself on his elbow, and gazing "The Apaches." about the cabin, said: "Aha-where?''" "It's a part of Claim Thirty-three. Have you brought the He crept forward to his friend's side. box?" "Right down at th.e lower end of the mine, Bob. Look out, "The chest is here, father." be very careful, or you will sliow your head." "And the box in it?" The youthful miner crept cautiously up the side of the "Yes, father." bluff, and peeped over the rocks at the mine below. "Keep it, Rose; take care of it. Don't let it get lost, for the "Yes, there they are, forty at least; all squatted about on contents of that box are of more value to you .than a mountain the ground as if they were engaged in a consultation," said of gold." Bob. "Oh how I wish we had a Gatling gun to turn loose "What is it, father?" upon them." "I cannot tell now. You must not look at it now." "Wllat a villainous crowd." The wounaed man was very weak and lay for hours at a "A precious set cut-throats." time on the bearskin which had been brought for him, not saying a word, but always keeping his eyes fixed on the great wooden chest. Night passed in the wonderful cayern, and when morning dawned they found that the entrance to it was hidden by great masses of veil moss. which extended from the top of the bluff down to the bottom. Had a curtain been "made on pur pose it would not have more effectively concealed the mouth of the cavern. "Waal, I be hanged if natur ain't done a good deal to hide this 'ere hole in t'he ground," said the old miner. as he stood at the narrow entrance and gazed out through the fleeces of moss. "How'n the world that gal found it it's a wonder!" Rose explained that her finding the entrance to the cavern on the day before was an accident. "Equal to Moonshine Mose." "Look, Phil, who is that coming out of the wood?" Bob gasped. "As I live it's Moonshine Mose himself." "Yes, it is." "What is he going to do?" "Isn't he afraid of them? Won't they kill him?" "Well it seems not," said Bob. Moonshine Mose and three or four of his villainous follow; ers were seen to come down to the group of Indians, and the chief rose and grasped his hand. "They are friendly, Bob." "Yes, looks as if they were going to form an al. Hance." "Oh, I wish I was near enough to hear what they say.'' "I am going to get near enough to hear what they say,'' said Bob. "How?" Nothing had been seen or heard of the Indians that night, nor were they to be seen at daylight." "We must know whether they have left the mountain side I am going further up the ravine and crawl out behind that large stone. The wind blows toward it; and from there we or not," said Bob "and I propose to go out and reconnoiter." "You'll get killed if you clo," growled Phil. "It's more than a man's life's worth to venture out of this cave. So you stay and let me go." "I don't see that that would make matters any better, Phil. You would be missed as much as I." "Oh, I might get through all right." "I am going to go," said Bob. "So am I." "Wall, boys, you needn't be quarrelin' aboui:. it,'' interrupted old Silver Joe. "Ye kin both go, an' I'll stay here an' keep guard." can near every word that's said.'' "Great Jupiter, you'll be scalped. A man who tries that will be committing suicide. You'd better go back to the cave, and let me do it.'' "No, I will go and you remain here until I return." "Let's both go together." "Well.'' This part of the programme agreed up9n, the youthful s couts continued along the ledge, which grew narrower and more difficult at every step. Slowly and cautiously on bended knees, which becaine It was arranged that Bob and Phil should both go. bruised and sore through creeping over the stony path, glided Armed with Winchesters and revolvers, they crept from the young scouts toward the desired spot below the mine the moss-covered entrance to the cave, and went up the ravine where the savages were grouped. in the direction of the deserted mine. Bob was before, and found the path more difficult as they The smoldering ruins of the cabin could be distinctly seen advanced. Halting, he whispered: from the edge of the cliff to which they climbed, but no Indian "Phil'." was to be found. "Bob?" "Well, Phil." "Let's go a little farther, where we can have a better look at the claim. They may be on the lower edge of it." "Oh, nonsense. The Apaches never work a mining claim,'' said Bob. "Yes, sir." "We ve got to carry our guns in our teeth." "Why?" "It will take both hands and feet to make the next twenty rods." "Carry 'em in our teeth! By Jingo! my mouth's not big enough!"


CLAIM 33. 9 "Tie a string around the barrel and hold the string in your "Ugh, me big Injun-heap much fight!" and the chief start-teeth; but b e careful that hey a r e not a ccidentally discharged. ed to his feet, his hand on his scalping knife. Bob's plan was adopted. \ "Hold on, Big Deer, don't be making a fool of yourself," It was a ctually necessary, they learned before they had 1 cried Mose, master still of the situation. "Listen to reason. gone far that it took all thei r < neive, strength a n d a ctivi t y to You will never find the white men and girl. They have car make it ov e r som e of the plac es. They succeeded, how e ver, 1 ried away their treasure and rifles, and neither revenge nor and at last reac hed the point .l:or whic h they were making. 1 plunder will fall to you unless you have our aid. You cannot A huge mass o f stone now shie lded the m from the enemy, find them without my help." and with ev ery nerve strained to its utmos t tension, they The chief seem e d disconcerted by this speech for a moment. crawled in the ground until within fifty pa c es of the group At last the truth of the situation seemed to dawn upon him, of Indians who were no doubt in coun c il with the whites. and he said: Here they dropped down behind the huge stone. "White chief, know where to find 'em?" "We can hear what's said from this spot," Bob whispered. "Yes, I do." "Oh, yes-the wind sets this way." "Will you find 'um?" "Here, Phil, you watc h and listen from the left and I from "Yes," answered the villain, with an assurance that startled the r ight side of this stone. If you want me, kick me." the listeners. But when the boys came to try the experiment they found "Does he know our hiding-place?" Bob asked himself. that the y would e a c h have to have legs twenty feet longer in Phil kicked, and the rope jerked Bob's leg.. The youthful order to make the desired reac h. miner answered the signal by another kick, and the two be Bob contrived an ingenious device to cover this defect. In order to have the m eans of signaling eac h other with kicks, he took a b i t o f cord whi c h he had and tied it ab(lut his left ankle and gave the other end to Phil to tie about his foot. It was just long enough to enable them to crawl around the great stone far enough to see on both sides of it. Here the boys lay li stening and watching. Moonshine Mose was addressing the Apaches. He was s aying: "My red brothers, do you want revenge for the braves who have b ee n killed?" There was a g eneral grunting of approval. "You can have it." "How-how?" asked the chief of the band, who son in the fight. had lost a we will aid you in hunting and killing the bad white men." "Good-good-good! grunted the redskins, which with most of them doubtless exhausted their vocabulary. "But there is one thing that I wish to say to my red brothers, one condition of the bargain--" "What, what?" "We want this land, this part of the mountain for ourselves a.!ter they are dead; all papers and writing, and I want the girl who is with them. She must not be harmed by anyone." There was a moment's silence, and then the ugly old chief said: "Why white man want pale face squaw?" "I want her, and will give you all the guns, ammunition and ornaments. All I want is the girl and a small wooden box." Bob and Phil stared at the speaker in wonder. The box again. What wonderful mystery did it contain?" CHAPTER VI. "DON'T STIR OR YOU ARE A DEAD MAN." It was evident !rom the first that the chief of the Apaches did not like the idea of giving up the girl. With a grunt of dissatisfaction h e said: "The pale face squaw live in the wigwam of Big Deer. Make the heart of the chief glad." From where h e lay Bob could see the face of the villain Moonshine Mose flush and pale by turns. At last having to a certain measure regained his composure, he said: "It's impossible, chief, it cannot be." gan crawling to the rear of the great stone. Bob!,, "Phil!" "Did you ever hear of such a villainous proposition in all your life?" "I never did, and I was strongly tempted to send a bullet through his head." "It would serve him right, but it would have been certain death to us. Let us get back to our posts of observation again, and listen to what they say." It was scion discovered that the. chief, Big Deer, would yield to the proposition of the white man. Afte r some more parleying it was agreed that the white men w ere to have the mine, the giri and a wooden box, and the Indians all the remainder. "Um! make big fire; burn 'um at a stake," said the chief, speaking of the white miners who had slain so many of his warriors. "Make one big fire-big s moke-great bravesburn em heap much. The boys listened, hoping to learn when the attack would be made. They discov ered that it was to be delayed until night, as it, was thought they could more successfully assault the stronghold of the whites by njght than by day. Bob and Phil again met behind the stone for consultation. "Do you think he knows our hiding-place, Phil?" Bob asked. "I don't k now-he talks like it." "He must mean .it." "It may only be told to throw the chief off the scent. It may have b een done to bind the chief to his bargain, and with the hope of finding the hiding-place afterward." "I hope he don't already know it." "So do I." After a few moments' silence, Bob asked: "Hadn't we better get back to the cavern?" "Yes." "Then the sooner we reach it the better. They started on their return to the ravine, slowly and cau tiously, creeping inch by inch, so as not to rustle a single leaf or step on a twig that would snap beneath their weight. They reached the ravine and descended to the ledge just as the assembly broke up, and the Indians with whoops and yells began to scatter through the wood above. If the sharp eyes of the Indians should espy them, they would either be made targets for the arrows of the warriors, or traced to the cavern and their hiding-place discovered. "Phil, take your rifle again in your teeth and keep a good look-out for whispered Bob. "I shall." Again they went crawling along the narrow ledge. Bob was in front.


10 CLAIM 33. An angry growl caused him to look down, and to his astonishment and alarm he discovered a huge bear not ten paces below, oii the very path they would have to descen

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