The lawyer detective, or, The mystery at Three Oaks Ranch


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The lawyer detective, or, The mystery at Three Oaks Ranch

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Title:
The lawyer detective, or, The mystery at Three Oaks Ranch
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Old cap. Collier library
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Winch, Will
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New York
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Munro's Publishing House
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English
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Dime novels. (lcsh)
Detective and mystery stories. (lcsh)
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serial ( sobekcm )

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University of South Florida
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University of South Florida
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The University of South Florida Libraries believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries.
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o14.1 ( USFLDC Handle )
031789594 ( ALEPH )
07670771 ( OCLC )

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GREAT DETECTIVE STORIES IN BOOK FORM. EACH NUMBER COMPLETE No. 379. MUNRO'S PUBLISHING HOUSE. 24 & 26 VANDSWJ.TKR STREET, N&w You.-AuooBT 4, 1890 15Gcents OLD C.l.P. COLLIER LIBRARY IS ISSUED S&KIMONTBLY. -BY SUBSCRIPTION $2.00 PER ANNUM. Sntered Q008'NJ(ng eo 4loC o/ Congrua. '" &fat,#, of Congrua, al W a &Mnqton, D C. THE LAWYER DETECTIVE: O R The Mystery at Three Oaks B.anch. BY WILL WINCH. OOLO)).'EL RJIDHA R T Lill'TBD THE Q UILT, REVEALING A SKELETON, DARK AND REPULSIVE "THAT'S ALL THA T S LKrl" OF TIDI: POOR GA L, HK S AID GRWLY.

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Old Cap. Collier ;Library. The cheapest and best detective library published In the world. Twice as much reading mat ter as contained In any other 5cent library. Every book In this catalogue la completi;>. Order by numbers. Price FIVE ce,nts each. DIME NOVEL CLUB 1525 W. 12th St., :Brooklyn ,N.Y. Xo. 1 Old Cap Collier, the Detective 2 Youog D ill on, t h e De tectiv e S Dion, the Dashing Detective 4 Hel1er's Pupil . Pruoz. 5 5 5 b No. 110 Tracked by the Dead 111 The Duchess or G otham 112 'l'he Cornwall Tragedy 113 The Parisian Detective 114 The E gyptia.n Dt-1. .. ctive 115 The Clique of Crime Yarc1: 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 The Seaside Detective . e The lrJsb Detective's Evil Genius 7 Dare, the Detective 8 A Grear Detective's Trail . 9 Teddy 0'3hawn, the Irish Detective lO Lotta, the Young Lady Detective 11 Bill Daue, the Detective 12 Sharpe, the De tee ti ve 13 IJghtuing Grip . . 14 Vidocq, the French Detective 15 The Secret Detective . 16 Hnwkeyt\, the London Detective 17 Scott, Elliott & Co .. 18 Old Cao. Collier & Co. 19 Old Thunderbolt . . 20 Mast o n e ll, the l\Iy!iterious Detective . . 23 The Branch Detective 24 Ironclad, Keen Detective 25 The Valpison Mystery . 26 GreRtest Detective io France . 27 Old Tabaret, tbeSelfMadeDetective 28 Phil Peterson, the Detective 29 The Brooklyn Bridge SO Dart, the Seit-Made Detective 81 Jottrat, the Secret Agent 82 Detective Dawson 33 The Crimson Clew S4 Vibert, tlle Detective 85 On His Own Hook . 36 Scotland Yard Detective i>eteCtive 39 Playing the Detective 40 Tho Overland Detective 41 Flash & Co., Detectives 42 Secret Con ressioos . 43 The Edinburgh Detective '4 His Own D etective . 46 Tbe Great Diamond Robbery 46 Larry Murtagh, the Derective 41 Brought to Bay . 48 Trials or a City Detective 49 The Little Glaot Detective W Captain John Howard, 53 The{\restern Union Detective 54 R e d Leary . so, The Reporter Detective 5(1 Old Gripe . 61 Tom Dale, the Lawyer Detective 62 Serj?eant Detectiv e Sparrow 63 Old Dvoamite . 64 The Wolves or Gotht.m 65 Gideon Gu.ult 66 The Diamonci King 67 Blue Ridge . . 68 Carl Ruhl, Phenomeual DetectivE' 69 'fhe Frontit!r D t!te ctiv e . 70 Druscovich, tbe Russian Detective 71 Mll llons at Stake . 74 Doc. Kedge, Alchemist A';ISassiu . . 77 Sparkle&: Co . th"' Great Detec tives 78 Black Douglas 70 The Great Barry Case 80 Dominick Squeek 81 Lucky Lee 82 Jack Sharp 88 Dariug Desmond 84 Count Esmeraduro . Stonewall, the Athlete Detective 86 The Railroad Detective . Min.er Detecitve 89 Durgon the Detective 90 Old Hawkeye's Greatest Trail 91 Clitheroe & Clump . . 92 Old Broadbrirn, Quaker Detective : 95 Tom Turuer, Detective . 96 The Teo-Spo t or Diamonds . 07 Old Sledll't>, Blacksmitb Detective 98 The Saratoga Detective 99 A House of 100 Paul Prince, Detective 101 Police Inspector Hawk 102 Tracked bv I.Jghtaing 108 The Gold Guieb Mystery 104 Old Man Manin 105 Overland Joe 106 Hickory Dick . 10? Old 16; or, Ducats and Diamonds 1(18 Star, the Erpert Detective . lOQ Moonshiner Jack . 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 116 Old Roulette . . 117' Brace. the American Detective 118 Gotham Detectives in New Odeans 119 HerC'ules, the Prairie Detective 120 A Millionaire's Crime 5 121 Dead at MidniKht 5 122 A Crimson Crime 5 123 The New York Detective . 6 124 Dick Despard. Missouri Detective 5 125 Old S11htle. . . 5 1.26 The Diamond Detective 5 127 Tracked to Doom 5 12a Frank James Alarme1 5 129 'l'be Pig and 'Vbistle 6 130 The Doctor 5 131 The Headless Body 5 132 Skillful Charlie 5 133 Nt-rve Kidder r, 134 Young \VeMel 5 135 Jn Crime 5 136 Yankee Vidocq's Discovery 5 137 Bill Poole . 5 138 Cmoked Cole 5 139 Carl Baker 5 140 Ben Logan 5 141 H : 1rley .Mayne . 5 142 The. Missinj! Prima Dpnnw 5 143 Df\veuport Blake b 144 The Crt!scent Scar 5 145 The King or Scamps 5 146 The Jro n Ring b 147 Old '> 148 Rugj?'s Fate . 5 1 49 The Prince o{ Darkness. 5 150 O ld Never!all 5 151 Old Deceiver 5 152 Sam Stark . 5 153 Abo Buzzard's Surrender 5 151 Tli .. Rink Detective 5 15.'l Jack Sharp on Hand 5 1 56 Ralph R ene l 5 157 Duplex Brothers. 5 1 58 Jockey Joe , 159 rtie River Detective . 160 Tracking the Red Diamond 6\d 's 163 O ld Shady; :Moousbiner'a Shadow 164 The M ercantile Detective . 5 5 167 Old Sledge Unmasked 5 168 The R..'\ttliog Derective 5 169 Allan Cotton, Detective 5 170 Bill Bowie, or Gotbam 5 171 The Double Mystery . 5 17'? Bill Brayton, the BoJd Detective 5 173 Tom Baker. the Detective 5 174 Detective F o x in London 5 175 John Merry, the Alert DetecUve O 176 Ralph Renel's Rival 5 177 Long John Rilt'y, Texas Detective 6 178 Mark and Neil. Telegraph Detectives b 179 Zeb Taylor, the Puritan Dt!tectiv e 5 180 Tom Throttle, Engineer Detective 5 181 The DetectivE' 5 182 The Daniel Brothers b 183 The Creole D etective 5 184 T11e Severed Arm . . 5 185 Dick Rand, 'Vashington Detectil'e 5 166 Old Broadbrim's Double Game 6 187 O ld Parse, the Tramp Detectivo 5 188 Jack D6aahue . 5 189 From "11\Tall Street to Sing Sing 5 190 Tracke d at Midnight 5 191 The Factory Detective 5 192 The Ic'ilth A venue Tragedy 5 193 T o m Canal Detective 5 194 The Theater Detective . i: 5 197 Old Saddle 5 198 The Llbrators 5 199 'fhe Amazon Detective 5 200 Sombrero Sam 5 201 Cremated Alive 5 20-2 Tbe Eagle-Eyed Detective 5 203 The Baltimore Detective 5 004 Hunted Dowo in Gotham 5 20t 1'he Blind Detective 5 \!06 Old Spicer and His Riva.I 5 ;/ffi Old Revenue 5 208 The Greek Detective 5 209 Old llystagogne . 5 210 Dett>ctive Jack Anderson 5 211 Old Rafferty . 5 212 Two Cases at One Time g . 5 215 Bert Adams, the Fire-man Detective 5 216 Old 1ta1Terty on His Own Hook 5 217 The Tourist Detective b 218 Old Ratforty'o Oath 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5. 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 b 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 b 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 No. Pru'li<. No. Pait<. 219 Dick Drama, the Actor Detective 328 Old Hawk, the He.n With Nine Lives 220 Bob Denv ille, Fall River Detective 32Q Mnrdered at 221 Old Rafferty's Wager 830 Bigfoot. the Detec,ive Gulde 2'l2 Found in the River . 831 La l\lafla. the New Orleaua IU.Uan 223 Mordaunt, the Miner Detective Fiends' Oath 2'24 Old Rafferty's Luck . 332 Captain Kidd's Treasures 225 Gypsy Jack, Vagabond Detective 333 The Whitechapel Murder& 226 Old Spicer on Hand . 334 Pat Nolan and the Elders 227 Old Rafierty1s Last Case 335 The Blood.Stained Glove 228 Muns o n, the Detroit Detecti ve 336 Raina.bars Treasures = 211 Jack Sharp in Florida 3:39 A Syndicate or Crime 232 The Doctor Detectle. 340 The White Cap Fiend 238 to the La.st 841 Detective Rex of Baltimore 5 284 \Vayne Straoee's Mascot . 5 342 Tbe Bald-Knobber's Fate 5 235 J oh u Rugby, Ferryboat Detective 5 34.'l The Eye of Jobu" 5 236 Clint Clt'aver, Grand Street Detective 5 344 The Oklahoma Boomera :, 237 The Carthage Affair 5 345 Dave Heath . 5 238 .Montf>'-Cristo in New York 5 346 Dan Demdike, Detective 5 289 oid Swirt . . 5 347 Saul Haen . . 5 240 'File Great Trunk My8tery . 5 348 An Oath Bound Brotherhood 5 241 Kit Clinch. Best or Detectives 5 349 Wno Murdered Dr. Cronin? 5 242 l\l.v G reatest Case 5 350 Seth Mason. 5 243 Detectiv e Dare-deatb 5 351 Oklahoma Bill . 5 netective or Hen Gate. . g 246 Traps and Snar".-8 or New Y ork 5 354 The Hudson River Tun.ne t Detective 5 247 Dick Dashe, the Drummer Detective 5 855 Vidal. tbe Sileut Detective 5 248 The Rahway Murder Mystery 5 356 Old Bull's-Eye 5 249 A Yankee Detective in France1 5 The Jewele d Dagger o the .Dete.ctiv6 g :g 252 Mort Shurpin . . 5 360 The Golden Anklet ?'.. 'l53 Broadbrim' s Tangled Case 5 361 Dashing Hal . . 254 Run to Earth, Electric Detective 5 362 Harlan Court House Tragedy 5 255 s_..rn Smart, Postal-Route Detective 5 363 McGinty, the Detective . 6 g 5 Wily Wade . 5 W o rld with Neille Bly 5 259 A Dt>spt!rat. e . 6 366 Marvyn KynK, the Detective 5 g . g 262 The Spruce Street Trag-edy . 6 369 America's Best Detective 5 3iO The Buckhorn Button . ti Johuson the Yankee Man bunt.er 5 266 Cougar Cal e the hline Detective . 5 373 Calvert Cole or California 6 267 Tbe l\lasked Detectiv e . 6 374 The World1s Fair Detective 5 268 Keen Fox, the City Hall Detective 5 375 Calvert Cole s Cruise 5 269 The California Detective 5 376 Daniel Druce, Detective 5 270 A Blind Trail . 5 377 Harvey Fenton . G 2"71 The Cali!oruia Detective . 5 378 The Thugs or Chicago 5 272 Tom Sawyer. Keatucky Detective 5 379 The Lawyer Detective . 5 273 The Redmond H o use Tragedy 5 880 The Parisian Detective in New York 5 274 Sam Strong, Cowboy Detective 5 381 Garry. the Jersey Hawksbaw 5 275 The Crime o f the Ca.bin 5 38'2 Dave Ducey. the Bank Detective 5 276 Detective Dt>au . 6 3&'l All 'Round Kate. . 5 igT1 g = and HtS Sb&dow' 279 Dick Decoy, the Hunter Detective 5 386 The Three O'Clock TragPdy . 280 Tracking the Kidoaper . 5 387 Garry and the Thugs ot Gloucester Old All Rquud, Garden City 6 388 Rube Burrows, the Outlaw 2&l OoeEve, 'the Cat . . 51389 Detective Kate's Lone Hand 283 'Kit Dillon . 5 390 The Sandy Hook Detective 284 Kt!t'nan, the Ke.-n One . 5 391 Death or Sitting Bull . 285 Old L:vnx, the Mormon Detective 5 !392 Karbo, the King or Sate-Blowers 286 Jack Sharp's 'l'rap . 5 393 Elevated Railroad Tragedy 289 Steele Link, oraDetecti,.e Abroad 6 300 Sitting Bull's White \Vard 290 Revea led b."r a Skeleton . 5 397 Kicking Bear's La.st Shot 291 Dick Dead Eye, the Swamp AnJ!'eJ 5 398 Sherman's March to the Sea 292 Now Then, the Fleetest or the Fleet 5 399 Old Falcon, the Ferret 293 The Grayso n Tragedy 5 400 NightShade. Terrible A.Yenger 294 Tom Glass, Detective 5 401 An American Eyraud . = . . g !: Chiets 297 Daring Dan, Uetective ti 404 Old Falcon's Big Case 298 D t-tec tive ''Spot 11 Hooker . 5 405 Buck Lacy, Detective 299 Old u Get-there" Detective 5 406 Under the Ele-ctric LiJZ"ht 300 Tnscott and "Tbe Other, . 5 407 Gold -Star, Whirlwind Detective 301 Thtt Border Long Cbase 5 400 Calvert Cole's C olleagues 30'"2 Sam Cotton. th e Chicago Ferret 5 409 Derringet\ Police Terrier 300 Tbe Blacksmith Detective 5 410 Old J ... ynx, or St Louis 304 Old Man Bruce. Richmond Detective 5 411 Scarred Arm . = . g :rn 007 Nervy Nat, New Haven Detective 5 414 Old Ratitell, tbeFerret 308 Wolverrntt Wa1r1 5 4HS Vampire, the Bravo &o9 Escaped from Sing Sing . 5 416 TrackOO to America $10 l\tarkoe, the Relentless Detective. 5 417 Old Ciuch 311 Tne Detective . 5 418 Chris Wren . . ::512 Hunter, the Montreal Detective 5 419 Hugh Re.tan, Pedagogue Detective 313 The Golden Reel's Reveugn 5 420 Dynamiter and llillionaire . 314 Bradshaw . . ti 421 Peter Price. Magic Change Detect. 315 Gildan, the Man Hunter . 5 422 Chili's Crime . . 316 Keeo Trump, 1.JttleJoker Detective 6 423 The Reliance Detective 317 Pat Nolan, Castle Garden Detective 5 424 Across the Continent . 318 Dt.'tective Cotton &: Co. . 5 425 Dave DotRon's Greatest Case 319 Burrel, the New York ShaJow 5 Olrl Cap. Collier in Salt Lake Olty 320 Overiand Orve, Mountain Detective b 427 Silas Sharp . 321 Pat N olan and the Padrones 6 4:!8 'l'be Marine Detective 822 Pat N olan and h lntt-rnationals" 5 4 .'9 Old Ll1otbtning . 328 Tracked Across the Ocean 5. 400 Detective Dt>land's Strategy. 824 The Niagara Falls Detective 5 481 The Detec1 ive's Double 6fd DeteCtlve :: in 827 Mantell, Pinkerton's Detective ti 43' Old Search, the Sbado-wer .; 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 b 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 & 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 6 6 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 OLD CAP. COLLIER LIBRARY Is for sale by all newsdealers at 5 cents per copy. Each num ber contains twice the amount of reading matter of any other 5cent library. Address :M:UNR0:7S PUELISE::ING Boz 3843. DIME NOVEL CLUB 1525 vi. 12th St., Brooklyn 4,N.Y. HOUSE;, 24 and 28 Vandewater Street, New York.

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GREAT DETECTIVE STORIES IN BOOK FORM. EACH NUMBER COMPLETE. No. 379. MUNRO'S PUBLISHING HOUSE. 24 & 26 VANDICWATER 8TREKT, Nxw YoRK.-A.UGUST 4, 1890. 5 Cents OLD CAP. CoLL1ER LIBRA.RY IS lssmm SEllI MONTBLY. -BY SUBSCRIPTION $2.00 PltR ANNUM .htered aooorcltng to Act a/ Congreu, i" b1f:J?:.t11td:cf,-#, of C'ongrua, at WaahlngtOll, D. C. THE LA WYER DETECTIVE: OR, The M'J'ster' at Three Oaks Ranch. CHAPl'ER L AN ECCllNTRIC FRIJl:ND WHILE Hilton Ragsdale sat at his'desk in hie uncle's law office in Denver, a messenger boy entered and handed him a telegram. Hastily opening it, the young man read: "RAGSDALE,-Olive has been found. Ter rible mystery. Come at once. ''FLASH." A perpleJ<..d not to say startled look, over spread the face of the lawyer's clerk. The dispatch was dated at a station on the Union Pacific in Wyoming. Olive," muttered the young man. "Can it be that this refers to Olive Chester, my cousin, who disappeared so mysteriously more than a year ago? It would seem so. But who is Flash? I don't think I have any friends-of that name. I'll telegrapll for particulars." Putting on his hat, the young man left the office and hurried to the telegraph station. He at once sent a dispatch in answer to the one he had received. He waited in vain f
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4 THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. black hair, his dress being of coarse nrnterial. I don't wonder that you, being a r elation of the girl, feel worked up about it. I imagine I'd do the same under such circumstance11, Where do you J.ive ?" . '"At Deuver." "Ah, I am l'eally' glad to meet you, sir, really glad. I am from that city myself, and I'm proud of it. Denver is the smartest town in the West, sir, the very smartes t. " I won't deny that." My name is Tribune Tripp. I'm in busi n ess west of Cheyenne at present, and may be able to h eir you, if so be you need any help in this matter. I have means, and should really like to see that upstart hanged," "Upstart?" "I r efe r 'to Evard Demming. " Did you know him?" "Yes. " What sort of person is h e ?" "Young and uppish." Did h e bear a good reputation?" "Would so nice a young woman as Olive Chester smile on him otherwise?" u Perhaps not. "Not, of course. Miss Chester was a lady, sir, a lady to the core. B eing your cousin, sir, how could she be otherwise?" and Mr. Tripp leered a t the Denver man in a way that was not wholly pleasing. The fellow was very presuming on short acquaintance, and Ragsdale at once decided that this marl and himself could not be friends. .At Cheyenne City, lost sight of his car acquaintance for a time. Th e r e was no train west till almost mid night, so the young Denverite had ample op pol'tunity to look about the metropolis of Wy oming Like many other citiea of the border, Chey enne was the abode of rough characters, and during his wanderings about the place Rags d ale saw many hard countenances. "That's him now." Hilto n Ragsdale heard a whispered voice. He was standing in the shadow of I\ build-ing, not far from a fl.owing stream. Instantly he turned. A club, aimed at his head, fell, and missing the intende d mark came down witl1 a tremen dous crash on the shoulder of the man from Denver. The hand of Hilton Ragsdale f ell to the butt of a revolver-no, not that, for the weapon was gone! Before the young man could r ecove r from his surprise, a pair of digits were at his throat, and the next moment two men rolled down the bank of the stream to the water's edge Mm de r .!" cried Ragsdale. It was not n loud cry, yet it was heard by a passing pedestrian, who ran to the edge of the bank and peered over. He seemed to take in the situation at a glance, With the boun into one branch of the Big Horn. It was a log structure of considerable di mensions. A veranda ran the length of the front, and on this sat the colonel himself, smoking a short black pipe, on the day of Ragsdale's ar rival. Hilton had never met the colonel, so an in troduction was necessary, which was grace fully performed by Flash, who then left them, and drove away to the stables in the rear of the house "Sit down, Mr. Ragsdale;" said the ranch owner, who .was a tall, raw-bone d man with yellow complexion and a decided Southern to his speech. A little later the young man learned that Colonel Redhart was from Missouri, and that he had been a soldier in the "late unpleasant ness. ' "I was most afeard :ypu wouldn't come," proceeded the colonel, after Ragsdale had seated himself on the chair his host had placed for him. "Of course you r emember what a time there was when Miss Chester rid out to meet her lover and neve r returned. They do say 'at her mother had fits and sich like, and she couldn' t never be reconciled with the man 'at owned Three Oaks after that, and I neve r felt 'at I could blame her. 'Twas an awful .thing to lose an only gal like that, Mr. Ragsdale." "It was, indeed." "And to think of the dread uncertainty all them. long months, not a-knowin' what had become of the gal." "Were you in this country then, Colonel R edhart?" Not right in these parts, hut I heard all about it. I bought this place of the gal's beau; m ebbe you hadn't heard of that ?" "Yes. I saw an in the paper, too, giving an account of the finding of the body of my poor cousin, buried on this ranch. Is this true?" True as preachin', yonng feller." "You have buried the body?" "Not yet. I wanted you to look at it-and a detective." "Have you sent for the latter?'' "No." You should have done that at once." Mebbe so," grunted the colonel, pufilng at his pipe I don't know any detectives, and I reckoned you'd know about what to do, Mr. Ragsdale." 'Let us go over to the cabin at once, colonel." ''Yes, indeed." Colonel Redhart sprung up and waddled into the house. When he returned to the veranda, his wife, a woman of forty, accompanied him, and was duly introduced to the gentleman from Denver. "Have dinner on the table for us when we get back, Nancy," ordered the colonel, and then the two men set out in company to visit the spot where the body of the murdered girl had been unearthed Two men guarded the tumble-down hunt er's cabin, and se,eral plainsmen were stand ing near, conversing in low tones The shanty was half a mile from the ranch house, and hidde n from it by a bit of risin@.' ground along the bank of a considerable stream, said rise being covered with a consid erable growth of timber. On entering the abin almost the first ob ject that met the view was a big, checkered quilt, the light falling on it from a paneless window. Colonel Redhati; lifted the quilt, revealing a skeleton, dark and repulsive. "That's all that's left of the poor gal," said the colonel, grimly. The young Denverite gazed at the skeleton and shuddered. "Right there'M where the bullet went 'at took her life," proceeded the colonel, pointing to a ragged hole in the front of the skull. "She never knew what hurt her, I reckon. It was a measly, mean trick, though, and I'd like to see the murde.r<'r swing, so I would." I suppose it is well understood who killed her, Colonel Redhartf"

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I THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. "I don't know how that can be." "I think the newspape r intimated that the girl's lover, the owner of the ranch on which you are now Jiving, shot the girl." The newspaper lied!'' The words came out. blunt as a stone, from the colonel. P erhaps you know the murderer, Colonel Red hart?' No I don't; but one thing I do know, and that is 'at Mr. Demming did not hev a hand in the gal's takin' off. I'd sw'ar to that on a stack of almanacs as high as thl moon, so I would. Ragsdale was surprised at the rancher's earnestness. Wasn't it you who furnished the news to the reporter, Colonel Redbart ?" I reckon 'twas." Why did you intimate that Demming was the murderer?" So't the real one wouldn't take the alarm and flee,'' returned the colonel, coolly. There might be something in this method of reasoning, yet Hilton Ragsdale was not satisfied. He was shown the clothing that the girl's mother bad identified as well as others. The ring was at the house, where Ragsdale could examine it on bis return. I found the body right there, in the cen ter of this room, where the coyotes had lifted it outer a shallow grave," said the rancher. lt is terrible!" declared Ragsdale. "I reckon you're about right, mister." After a little the young man examined the ekeletoo closely. He was determined to make no mistake at the outset: This was surely a human skeleton, and of small size. The young Denverite resolved to make sure of its identity first, then, if it was the skeleton of bis cousin who had disappeare d so many months before, be would leave no stone un turned to find the murderer. Leaving the old cabin, the two men walked slowly back to the colonel's house. Both men were too bus y with their own thoughts to speak often. "The first move will be to bold an inquest," said Ragsdale, on reaching the house. I s'pose so. We've all been a-waiting' fur you," declared the colonel. "Well, I am here now, and you' d best 6ee the proper persons and set the ball in motion, colonel. " Yes, I'll do so at once." Dinner waited for the colonel and bis guest when the two returned to the house. After it, Hilton walked over to the adjoiniog ranch to see aunt, while Colonel Redhart promised to see that an inquest was or dt:red at once, to be held not later than the following day. It was, perhaps, a mile between the houses of the two ranches. The road led along the creek most of the distance. Hilton reached the house of bis aunt in good s eason. The woman seemed pleased to meet her relative, and gave him an auntly bug and kiss. The young man _noticed at once bow great ly changed was Mrs : Chester since be last looked upon her. She was a matronly, rosy-cheeked woman of Jess than forty when he last looked upon her. Now she seemed at least ten years older, and her face was pale and shrunken. What bad wrought the change? The tragic fate of her daughter ? Undoubtedly. "My daughter, Mr. RagsdalA,'' said the woman, introducing a slender, dark-haired girl who just entered the room. Bilton stared. He was too well-bred, however, to exhibit aurprise. He bowed, and as the girl put out her band -a delicate bit of anatomy-he took it, and f elt thrilled at the touch. She was quite pretty, with dark, luminous eyes and a mouth that was like a rosebud. Her skin was dark, however, and her hair of midnight blackness. Mrs. Chester was a blonde, as was Olive who had met with such a sad fate. Hilton sat and conversed with bis 1>unt on various topics, not speaking of the ate terrible find on the Redbart ranch. Eaoh eeemed loath to brilli up the name ol the uDfortunate pl. While they sat talking, the clatter of hoofs fell on the air without. Mrs. Chester sprung up and trembled. 'He bas come," she said in a low voice. The door stood open, and before it a horse man halted. He flung himself from the' saddle and strode to the door. "Mr. Tripp,!" exclaimed Ragsdale. Exactly,' said the man, entering the room. Then the elder woman turned to Ragsdale and said: 'Hilton, this is Mr. Tripp, my husband." "Your husband!" Ragsdale recoiled as if shot. CHAPTER Ill. RAGSD ALE'S l!'ALL. THE introduction of Tribune Tripp as her husband was the first intimation Hilton Rags dale had of his aunt's second marriage. '.('he young Denverite was quite benumbed at the news. For once be quite lost his self-possession. [ told you we'd meet again, Mr. Rags dale,'' chuckled TriP.P "A J eetle sooner than you expected, like enough." Had he followed out the promptings of his soul, Hilton would have dealt the man a blow in the face. Such feelings were not creditable to him, be realized, and be smothered them with an effort. "It is a little sooner than I expected," ad mitted Hilton. ' l bad no idea that Aunt Julia bad married again." "She was sensible enough to do that-at the first good opportunity,'' chuckled Mr. Tripp. Quite disgusted, Ragsdale turned on bis heel and left the room. He paced up and down in the shade of a tree not far from the house. His feelings were varied and bitter. .He almoet bated this man who had marbis aunt. And yet why should be? The fellow bad seemed pleasant enough as a traveling companion. A step interrupted his musings. He turned about to see Rena Tripp, the pretty daughter of his new uncle. Toward her be felt no enmity. I could sae that you were offended, Mr. Ragsdale,'' she said, in a low voice. "I aw so sorry!" "Does it concern you, Miss Tripp?" be an swered. "I'm sure it was something of a shock to my feelings to learn that my aunt bad married again." Yet was it not natural enough? Papa and your relative have been good friends for a year; they were married two months ago, and I was quite angry at the outset." "You have become reconciled." "How could l help it when I came to know dear Julia?" I am glad that you like my aunt." "She is now a mother to me." There was a luminous light in the large dark eyes of Rena that thrilled the soul of her comranion. am sure, then, the marriage was not a mistake. Will you sit down yonder, and ex plain some things that as yet are quite mys terious to me ?'' He pointed to a i:ustic bench between two large trees not far away. For answer, she walked forward and sat down. He did likewise. "Now, Miss Tripp, I'll come to the point at once. I am out here for the purpoi!e of look ing into the death of my coushi,Olive." '' I am glad somebody is to in estigate," she returned. There can be no doubt but what murder was done, and the guilty man ought to be punished." Suspicions point to some one?" Ob, yes; to Olive's lover." "His name?" "Evard Demming." Did you know him?" "I have met him. He owned Three Oaks, where Colonel Redhart now lives. I believe the colonel bought the ranch of Mr. Demming." So I have been informed. Do you remem ber the time when Olive Chester went forth on that Jut tide?" I remem.her It qlllM dlltl1'0'17 li wae a warm night in June. Soon after Oiive's de parture a storm arose and swept this region with uncorumon fury. That storm served to give the murderer his chance, and be im proved it." "Tell me all about it, Mis Tripp." I can do that in a few words. Olive re ceived the visits of Evard Qemming contrary to her mother' s wishes. I know at the -time the young rancher was paying attention to Olive, most people thought it was a splendid match. J know my father declared that Olh e would do well if she married Demming. I did not agree with him, from the fact thi.t Demming had once been a gambler, and one of general bad character. I think it was for this reason Mr s. Chester refuse d her consent to the union. " Which would seem to be reason enough," said Ragsdale. "I know Aunt Julia always bad a sound head." "True. She is an dmirable woman. 01i ve loved her mother, but it seems she loved this Demming more, and met him clandestine ly. At any rate, so 'tis said." "Exactly." On the night in question, I think Olive quarreled with her mother. I know that is' tbe general impressio n although mamma will not say, preferring to let the past lie buried." "The subject must be very disagreeable to her poor woman." It is indee d. The murder was cleverly planned, it seems, since all these monthe poor mamma has believed that her daughter eloped with the ex-gambler. I think the belief bas darkened and soured her life." No doubt." A few days since, when the body was found on the Three Oaks ranch, Julia was stunned to Jeam the truth. She's been not quite herself since, so you must excuse any eccentricities you find in her, Mr. Ragsdale." "Certainly. Poor woman! Poor Aunt Julia!" "I don't know that there's much more to tell, Mr. Ragsdale." "What, about Demming?" He hasn' t been seen a ince he sold his ranch." "No one hereabouts knows where the exgamble r bas gone?'' "No one, unless it be Colonel Redhart." "I'll speak to the colonel about it. "I'm afraid it will be of little use, sir." "How is that?" "Colonel Redbart bas all along defended the man from whom he purchasej Three Oaks." "He doesn' t beliwe Demming guilty?" "He not to, but I would advise you not to trust the colonel 1too far," said R ena, wit.h a queer little elevation of her brows. Of course nobody knows anything against the present owner of Three Oaks, but bis determined defen&e of a murderer isn't a favorable omen. Father distrusts the colonel, as well as that sleek young man be baa in bis employ." Do you refer to Benay Flash?'' "Yes." I was not prepossessed in that-man's favor my8elf." One cannot be too careful when dealing with such men,'' said Rena. Miss Tripp rose to her feet. Are you going ?" To the stable. Perhaps you have some curiosity to look at the horse Olive Chester rode to her doom ?'' "Indeed I have." He followed her to the Jog-stable, some ten rods in the rear of the house. There were several horses here, but only one had attraction for the young lawyer at the present tifne. . This was a sorrel mare, small and slender limbed, with an open countenance and pleas ant eye. Thie was Olive's horse-her very own, Mr. Ragsdale," said Rena. A beautiful animal,'' returned the young man. So it seems, the horse ridden by Olive on that night returned home? I did not know this before." "Yes, it was found at the stable door the next morning." "I should have thought this would have excited tu1picion." .. It did In IOIM mllldl; but u .. faltlllul

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6 THE LA WYER DETECTIVE. dearch revealed nothing of Olive, and as Evard Demming was absent, the elopement story was readily believed." How long did Demming remain away?'' About ten days." "And then?" He returned, accompanied by Colonel Redhart. who purchased the ranch, immedi ately after which Demming disappeared for good." "Is it known if Mr. Demming was at home on the night Olive went out for a ride?" "He was seen at home just at dusk on that evening." And was gone the next morning?'' "I bAlieve so, sir." "The case against him is pretty strong," mused the Denver lawyer. From the stable the two strolled back to the house. Mr. and Mrs. Tripp were not visible. "I suppose you will make our house your home during your stay in Wyoming, Mr. Ragsdale?" said the girl. I am not sure about that. I shall employ a detective to hunt down this Demming, and it may b e that I shall not prolong my stay on the Big Horn." "Your aunt would be '?leased, I am sure,. to have you remain here.' ''No doubt." With a polite bow, the young lawyer left her, and turned his fa.ce once more toward Three Oaks. He had entered the woods, and was passing near the bluff overlooking the creek, when a faint murmur of voices reached his ear. He paused. The sound Reemed to proceed from the creek. Ragsdale at once walked to the brow of the bluff and look ed over. He saw two p erso ns standing near the water's edge some ten feet below his \)Osi tion. They were Tribune Tripp and his aunt Julia. "You must obey me, Julia, else I'll make life too hot for your comfort, remember that." The words of the plainsman sent an indig nant ftash to the eye of the listener above. How dared this man threaten his aunt? Hilton lea.ned out a little further, anxious not to miss a word of this interesting con versation. "You have made life a burden to me already," declared Mrs Tripp. "The property I own shall never go to any one but my own relatives. " What do you suppos e I married you for?" growled he, hotly. "I know, now, it was for my property. You will not get it. Olive is dead, and John's relatives are not in need. When I am done with the ranch aud the cattle, my nephew shall have them." Your nephew T' Hilton Ragsdale." "Insufferable!" hissed Tripp The n ext moment he seized the woman fiercely by the arm. The listener above could stand no more. He started to move aside, when a limb broke,and he was precipitated downward with the velocity of lightning, striking Tribune Tripp square in the bacg:, sending that worthy headlong into the water. CHAPTER IV. THE MURDERER COMES. A BCREill from Mrs. Tripp rang outas she saw her husband thus summarily dealt with. She reeled, and came near falling, while her nephew fell prostrate, with his limbs dan gling very close to the water in which Tri bune Tripp was now floundering. Ragsdale sprung to his feet. He shook himself, and passed a hand over bis limbs to see if any bones were broken. He seemed satisfied with the investigation and turning to his aunt, said coolly: "Don't alarm yourself Aunt Julia, I did not etrike you, and as for me, I am not hurt." "But Tribune? He will drown." The pe:son mentioned was struggling des p erately m the water, and really seemed in Ragsdale held only a feeling of contempt in Wei boeom for a man w liv could threaten a woman. yet he cou ld not forget that this person once s..ved his life. It was this remembrance that caused the young lawyer to put out a helping hand to the man in the water. With considerable difficulty Ragsdale suc ceeded in drawing Tripp to the shore. Shak ing himself, and wringing the water from his garments, Tripp presented a woe-begone sight. How did it happen ?" aueried Ragsdale. How'd what hapoen ?'' "Your falling--'' "Death and furies, man! what a question to ask, when you jumped, on to me like a catamount." Ragsdale saw that Tripp was inclined tb be ugly, and he at once resolved to clip his wings. "It was an accident so far as l am con cerned, Mr. Tripp," assured the young Den verite. "I was walking along the path up yonder, wl)en I heard a cry of pain from a woman. I at once sprung to the edge of the bank and gazed over. What I saw me, I'll admit that-a bii;; man clutchmg a woman's arm and threatenmg her! I lost my footing and fell. You know the rest." Ragsdale fixed a keen gaze on the fa.ce of the ranchman. The fellow frowned and remained silent. After a moment, however, he turned on the Denver man and said, sternly: I thought you'n I were friends, Mr. Ragsdale, but I reckon, afte r what's taken place to-day, we're the opposite. I'm chilled through and must go to the house. Come on, Jule." He seized h e r arm and the twain walked away together, leaving the Denverite stand ing alone on the bank of the creek. The situation was not pleasant. Hilton Ragsdale had learned enough about the character of his car acquaintance to tell him that he was not a good man. The fellow had married his aunt Julia, in order that he might secure to himself and his heirs the property which :Mts. Chester owned, and which must be very valuable. Did Rena know of the mercenary motives actuating her father? Ragsdale was not ready to believe so ill of one so gentle and beautiful as Rena Tripp. Leaving the bank of the cre ek, the Denver ite ,soon made his way to the road l.iading along the bluff. He had riot gone far when he met a man riding a mustang. It was Benay Flash. The man on the mustang drew rein. I come for you, Mr. Ragsdale." ''Indeed." "Yes; you;re sent for." "Sent for?" "My employer wants you." "The colonel ?" "Yes.-" '' I only came from there a short time ago," said 11agsdale. Colonel Redhart must have conceived a sudden desire for my company." "That's not it," said thf1 half-breed, smiling till his even white teeth gleamed like a row of pearls The colonel was fearful lest you should leave the country without you're see ing him again. " He knows better than that. I promised to be at the inquest. I shall not leave the country until this affair regarding my poor cousin is settled. The man who murdered her must hang." l'm with you there, Mr. Ragsdal e." I think you so assured me before." Benay Flash slipped from the saddle and mGl>ioned for the young lawytir to mount. "I prefer tolli walk, Mr. Flash, although I thank you for me offer of your horse." "Say, Mr. Ragsdale." The dark man bent close to the face of Ragsdale. "Well?" "You don't want to trust some folks in this region too far." Sir! What do you mean?'' I don't like to call name6." Then I may misunderstand you." "Well, of course it seems to be understood that Evard Demming murdered Miss Chester, and I don't say he did not. On the contrary I think he is one of them." The half-breed looked mysterious. The lawi_er di_d not like his actions In fact, Kagsdale's first dislike tor the fac-totum flf Three Oaks was growing upon him hourly. "I don't think I even yet comprehend," said the lawyer. Well, to speak more plainly then, I say that Demming may have been one ot the murderers of your cousin." Was there more than one ?'' "Yes." "You seem positive." "I am positive." Flash glanced keenly about him, a cunning gleam in his black orbs. A vehicle was approaching from the dis tance, which seemed to annoy him. "Not here and now, Mr. Ragsdale," said the half-bteed, at length. "I have revelation for your private ear some time, tftat may aid you in this hunt for the assassins of Olive Chester." He turned away then. Hilton Ragsdale made no attempt to detain him. The fellow vaulted into the saddle and con tinued his ride toward the Chester ranch. Evidently he had not ridden out for the sole purpose of finding and communicating with the Denver lawyer. ... I don't like this fellow," confessed Rags dale, in a low tone. There's a treacherous look in his black eyes, and a something in his actions that convinces me that he is not to be trusted." ';Yes, I told Benay thathemight tell ye 'at I wished ye to return soon," said the lean pro prietor of Three' Oaks, when Ragsdale met him on the porch of his dwelling a short time later. I was afeared you might conclude to stop with the Tripps till mornin', and I didn't like to hev their influence exerted on ye till you'd made a .complete investigation." "I don't think the influence of such a man as Tripp would amount to much," Ragsdale returned; '"I don't like the man." "Nuther do I." The colonel puffed at his pipe, and tilted hack in his chair, assuming a position that seemed to him comfortable. "He could have no influence over me," avowed the Denverite. ' P'raps not." Then why your anxiety ?" "See here, young man," grunted the col one l, removing his pipe, "hain't thar mor'n one pusson at ther Chester ranch." Certainly." "A pair of bright eyes thar 'at ud make a man's mouth water. I know all about 'em, Ragsdale, all about 'em," Again the. black pipe was conveyed to the stained lips of Colonel R edhart. "And do you know any ill of Rena Tripp?" The young lawyer felt ready to resent any reflections on the lady in question. "Nothin' ag'in her, youngster, nothin'." Then what do you mean ?" It's jest here, and this wise, Mr Ragsdale," returned the colonel, removing his pipe, and laying a hand on the knee of his visitor. Thar's a strange ii:Vluence at work tryin' to make sentiment agin one of the finest young men in ther nation. I refe r to Evard Dem ming. You, as a relative of Miss Chester which was murdered, will nat'rally feel like huntin' down the villainous critter 'at did the gal to death. I say this is only nat'ral, and I don't blame ye for it. What else did I send fur ye fur? Yer aunt told me whar to send the telegram, though she 'lowed I hadn't better send it coz she argued it couldn't do no good." My aunt argued against sending for me?" "That's a fact, youngster." This hardly seems possible." Mebbe you doubt my word?" An angry gleam shot into the eyes of the colonel. and he clutched the tuft of beard on his chin as though he would tear it out by the roots. I muet believe you, of course, \Jolonel Redhart. You sent for me, but I thought my aunt had desired it. I am surprised that she did not. Olive was the apple of her eye, and--" "Jes' so, jes' so," the colonel interrupted; but she's been inflooenced." Influenced?" ''Sartin." "By whom?'' "By the man she.married." "Exactly. I understand it now, Thill

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THE LA WYER DETECTIVE. 7 Tribune Tripp didn't want thia murder investigated." You have it now, jest &11 I meant to tell it," declared the colonel. "Tripp's a mean cuM, and he's got that there woruan of hizzen under his thumb sleek enough. He, Trib, is bound that one man alone shall suffer. or else there sha'n't be no investigation. Under etand ?'' "Not full ." "Wal, rfi try and make it plain. Ef Evard Demming hain't hung fur the murder, they don't mean "at anybody else shall besee ?" "Doubtless they think him guilty." Don't you believe that." "It &eems that you think the man from whom you purchased Three Oaks is inno cent.'" "I do, for a fact." "Yet the evidence seems to be strong against Demming." I don't see it in that light." ''Don't you? "No." I thought it was almost a plain case against Demming." "It may seem so to you, but I jest know 'at Evard Demming is too good a man to murder anybody, much less the pretty gal as he was sparkin'. I tell ye, Mr. Ragsdale, there's a lot to this 'ere affair 'at the public knows nuthin' about." "Likely." "And ef you're in d ead 'arnest to find the murderer, you'll innstigate before you jump to conclusions n "That's just what I mean to do, Colonel Redhart," assured the lawyer. "Then give us yer hand." The two clasped bands. "Now, arter the inquest to-morrow, we'll get down to business, Hilton." "Yes; that is my desire." On the morrow the inquest on the remains of the unfortunate Olive Chester was held. Many witnesses were examined. The iden tification of the body was complete. The bullet-hole in the head evidenced the fact that the girl had been murdered. The inquest lasted nearly all day. The sun was sinking in the west when the verdict announced: Olive Chester came to her death at the hands of Evard Demming, who shot her on the night of June 16th, last." Such was the verdict, and as :twas Colonel Redhart glanced acr088 the praine and uttered a low ejaculation. "Thar comes Demming now," he aaid. CHAPTER V. KORE COWARDS THAN ONE. "THE murderer comes!" exclaimed Tribune Tripp, springing to an upright position, and drawing a revolver. Two score pair of eyes followed the gaze of Colonel Red hart and Tribune Tripp. Across the plain galloped a swgle horse man. Ragsdale regarded the coming man keenly. It seemed almost providential that the murderer should return to the scene of his crime at the very moment when that crime was laid bare to the world. The crowd of people attracted to the scene of the inquest was in a furious mood, and the appearance of Demming was, so far as he was concerned. most unfortunate. Many of those present were armed, and Ragsdale realized that trouble might ensue_,_ Colonel Redhart seemed to entertain the same thoughts as did the young Denverite. The Colonel at ouce sprung to the front, and said, hurriedly: "Men of the Big Horn, don't go for to make fools of yourselves now. Yonder comes the man the jury hez said killed Olive Ches ter, but you must remember that thar's allus two sides to every story. Let us hear Evard's afore we condemn him." "I agree with the colonel," said Hilton Ragsdale. No man should be condemned without a hearing. Let Demming have his say before you make any demonstration." "And are we to go back on a jury of our fellow-citizens who say this man murdere
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8 THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. "And do ye believe it?" I am not prepared to say at the present moment," the Denverite returned. "Then you thmk Evard guilty? .. I tell you I can't give an opinion just now," Ragsdale persisted. "I confe .... s, how ever. that appearances are against Mr. Demming. Considering the verdict of the coroner's jury, it seems to me that the one accused will have to stand trial." "I am willing to do that," said Demming. I am an innocent man, and consequently have nothing to fear when this affair is sifted in the courts. I fear only the mob, and such fellows as this mad, Tribune Tipp." "Mob-law must not defeat justice in this case," declared the young lawyer. "I think I can persuade these men to depart in peace, but of course we must put you in custody, Mr. I am willmg to agree to that, but I don't care to be turned over to a gang of lynchers." Ragsdale turned toward the door, only to be met by a crowd of men more bloodthirsty than ever, their spirits having been fired by the intemperate talk of Tribune Tripp and the passing of a black bottle. "Bring out the murderer!" This cry greeted Ragsdale as he stepped to the door, and he at once saw a terrible danger ahead. CHAPTER VI. UNEXPECTED ENEMIES. "STA.ND back, gentlemen," commanded the young Denverite. "You must not enter here." "Wal, I reckon no white-haired tender foot's goin' to tell us what we shall do, and what we sha'n't," growled one of the men, at the same time whipping out a six-shooter. Luckily the young lawyer had provided himself with a similar weapon, and he at once brought it into service. "Threats won't frighten me, gentlemen," Ragsdale declared. I am as well prepared to defend the right as you are to commit a crime." "Hear 'im." "Acallin' us criminals.'' "Confound hiS picterl" Not all of the plainsmen were armed, but such as had weapons, displayed them at this moment, and an attempt was certainly made to intimidate the man from Denver. Ragsdale had once faced a mob in his own city, and he knew from experience that such gatherings are usually cowardly. Gentlemen, it is of no use," he protested, "you cannot enter this house save over my dead body. I mean what I say, and my death means others among you as well. You'd bet ter think well of this before you proceed to extremities." The speaker toyed with his weapon. as though it would be a pleasure to him to use it on the crowd. There was still hesitancy among tl'le plains men. Make up your minds, gentlemen," said Ragsdale. "If we are t o have a battle, the sooner it begins the sooner it will be over. I am not the only one you will have to meet. There are two armed men inside who won't permit mob violence to rule in this country." "Hear him," growled Tribune Tripp. "I don't believe he dare shoot, boys. Let's make one grand rush and down the Denver coyote." The face of Ragsdale paled a little as he no ticed a. gathering for a general rush but he meant to stand his ground and force with force. He knew if the mob hanged Demming whether innocent or guilty, that would end the whole case, and in such a manner as to leave a doubt in his mind as to who murdered his cousin Olive. Click-click! "Come on, men of the Big Hom, I am ready." The hand of the man from Denver shot for ward, and held a cocked weapon leveled at the head of Tribune Tripp. "I shall make sure of you, Mr. Tripp, at the first fire." Good Lord! man, don't point that at me; li'e miitbty oarelees of you. The confounded thing might go off!" roared Tripp, recoiling in dre ad. "Then call off these men or I'll shot any how! declared Ragsdale, sternly. I reckon it's best, boys. The sun's gone down. and it'll soon be dark, and then we can fix the murderer. We'll just lay seige to the shanty." At Tribune's suggestion, the plainsmen re tired some rods away and held :iconsultation. The men who had constitutedAhe coroner's jury were seen riding across the prairie some half a mile distant. Having performed their duty, they concluded not to re.main and see murder committed. Now was the time for the prigoner to make a move to eecape. Ragsdale turned and re-entered the old house. He sta}ed in astonishment. The room was empty! Where were Demming and Colonel Red-hart? Quickly the young lawyer sprung across the floor and glanced through the little window at the back of the old cabin. No one was to be seen. Gloomy shadows hung over the trees with out, and a distant moan swept through the leafy branches. The young inan glanced back into the room. There on the ground was the checkered quilt, covering an awful object beneath. Out through the open door, some rods away, were groups of men talking and gesticulating violently. The colonel has outwitted the men of the Big Horn," mused Ragsdale. It is well. I am glad. Demming must live to be brought to trial, and then the truth may come out. I'll not remain here longer, but repair at once to Three Oaks and see the colonel. It's not likely the mob will dare venture to make an assault on the ranch itself." Lifting the shackley door into place, the man from Denver cast one parting glance to ward Tribune Tripp and his followers, then crossed the floor and made his exit through the opening the rear of the cabin. Shadows were gathering swiftly. Without once again looking back, the Denverite walked on through the trees into the open plain, from which point he Cullld see Three Oaks in the dim distance. Scarcely had the young lawyer appeared in the opening than a form darted from the edge of the timber and confronted him. It was Benay Flash. There's been some hot times, Mr. Ragedale," said the half-breed in his low, ating tones, so displeasing to the ear of the man from Denver. "Where were you during the time?" "Not far away." Why did you not show yourself?" "I did not think it necessary. I meant to cover the retreat of Demming if the worst came." "Indeed?" "You seem to feel sarcastic just now, Hil ton Ragsdale. I think I am entitled to some consideration." I hope so, Flash." You didn't want Demming hung by a mob any more than I and the colonel?" "No. " The man may be innocent, you know, Hilton." "Possibly." "Yet_ you do not so believe?" "I am expressing no opinion." The two walked on in company toward Three Oaks. How did Demming and the colonel get away without being seen?" finally questioned the Denverite. Easy enough. The trees screened them, and they didn't let grass grow under their feet after they left the old cabin." Where are they now?" "I haven't seen them since they made tracks toward Three Oaks." Then Demming must be in hiding at Col onel Redhart's ranch." "Yes, I suppose so, and the more shame that it is so," said Flash. "Peopl11 have become excited over the find ing of the body of the murdered girl. It i9 impossible to blame them a great deal. It looks very black for Demming, and--" "Blaok for DemDllng, did you aay?'' Ffosh interrupted, showing his white teeth. "Be careful how you jump at conclusions, Hilton. I beg of yon make no mistake when you do secure the arrest of the criminal." There was such intense earnestness in the voice of the speaker, Ragsdale could not but regard him in surprise. Why did the half-breed exhibit so much feeling on the subject? The fellow was not to be trusted. At any rate, so the man from Denver had decided at the outset, and Ragsdale.had made up his mind to keep an eye on the young fac totum continually. I don't ex_pect to make a mistake," said the self-constituted detective. "I mean to sift this wicked crime to the bottom, and the one guilty must suffer for his crime." I am glad to hear you say that, Mr. Rags dale,'' returned Flash. "It gives IDE' hop-.. Once I thought this man Demming guilty, and it may be that I so informed you on one occasion, but truth to tell, I have made some discoveries of late that have turned mv thoughts in an altogether different direction." "Have you really made discoveries, or has the colonel talked you out of your former belief?" The lawyer detective regarded his young companion keenly. "Pooh!" retorted Flash lightly. "I have a mind of my own, Hilton, and no influence that is contrary to my convictions could have the least power over me." '' You are more than ordinarily strong-mind ed." "I have a will of my own at any rate," de clared the half-breed. By the way;I suppose you have fixed the murder on some one, Mr. Flash." "I have." "His name?" I would rather not tell at i;>resent." "You seem to me over cautious." "I don't mean to make any mistakes. It may be that a reward will yet be offered for the discovery of the murderer of Olive Ches ter. I am biding my time, Hilton, biding my time.u And the half. breed laughed in a way that chilled the blood of his listener. The more Ragsdale saw of Benay Flash the more he distrusted him. And yet, if asked to tell why he had so con ceived a dislike for the colonel's factotum, the young lawyer could not have told. When they reached Three Oaks Ranch, Colonel Redhart sat on the long porch smoking in the dim light. "Hello!" 'The colonel removed his pipe, and laughed immoderately. "\Vhy he was pleasoo was a puzzle to Rags dale. The explanation vras soon forthcoming when Colonel Redbart grasped his guest by the hand and shook it warmly, all the time laughing from head to foot. Talk about tenderfeet,'' he finally articulated. Hal ha! ha! Good gracious, my lad, you out-cowed the cowboys that time. You've got the sand, Mr. Ragsdale, and that's what I admire in a man." "I had no idea that you and Demming would run away,'' said the lawyer. "I suppOSfld you would stand by me if the worst came. I'm afraid I can t return the compli ment as regards sand." '.L'here was a smile on Ragsdale's face, how ever, that in a measure disarmed his criti cism, and saved the Missourian's good humor. "Ho! ho! it was delightful how neatly we outwitted the sneaks,'' declared the colonel. ''I want to express the gratitude of Dem ming for your act at the old house. Hilton. He thinks you saved his life. and, by thunder, I'm not fur from that opinion myself." "Don't you think you had as much to do with the saving of his life as I had, Mr. Redhart? I'm sure I would have done as much for the veriest criminal on earth. What I object to is lynch law. No man should be hung without judge or jury. I'm a lawyer myself, and have a great respect for my calling." "So I was tellin' Evard. He allowed meb be you mout be prevailed on ter undertake his case ef it should ever come inter court. Itold him I'd mention it to you incidentally, thouih I reckon Evaid Demming won't never

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THE LA WYER DETECTIVE. face a jury in court; 'taint necessary for an innocent man to do it." "l think it becomes neceS1W.ry in this case," returned Ragsdale. "Oh, yer do?" chuckled the colonel. "I 11e0 what yer up to. youngster. Cute, cute, by gracious! but don't let yer anxiety for a job at hi. w get the better o' yer jedgment, boy, don't do it on no account. Ragsdale's face flushed crimson at the in sinuation of the colonel. "You need not borrow trouble on my account," the man fr'.lm Denver said testily. I'm not now acting in the capacity of an attorney. In any event, I should not think of taking up for the assassin of my poor cousin." "Wal, I didn't mean nothin',"returned the ranch owner. "Ef you don' t want ter be on friendly tarms 'long of Evard Demming, yer needn't. I can tell ye one thing, jest the same, howsever, and that is that there don't no better men run in Wyoming than this man 'at is 'cused of murder. He mustn't be strung up like er sardeen, to please sich carrion as Trib. Trif p. Make a note o' that, Mr. dale, wil ye-make a note out, I say, coz it's ther solemn, dod-blastetl truth?" Where is Demming ?" Ragsdale asked the question, anxious to change the course of conversation a little. You want ter see him?" ''Yea." "Wal, yer can't: "Can't see him? Why not, pray?" "'Tain't necessary An angry feeling entered the heart of the Denverite. He had no thought that the proprietor of Three Oaks Ranch would turn against him in this manner. For some minutes Ragsdale did not trust himself to speak. It seemed to him that all those who ought to be his friends were turning against him, in a manner most unexpectw. Were all these men in league to defend the murderer? At length Ragsdale ventured to speak. I am surprised, Colonel Redhart, that you put an obstacle in the way of justice. I had your solemn assurance, on my arrival, that I should have your influence in fa.vorof finding and punishing the assassin of Olive Chester. You ha. .-e broken that promise, and now I must go a.bout the hunt for the criminal with out your aid. So let it be, but be careful that when the day of reckoning comes youa.renot caught between the upper and !nether millstones!" Then Ragsdale, hot and indignant, turned and rushed away in the darkness. He heard the derisive laughter of the colonel following him, and for the first ft ve minutes he pa.id no heed to his course. The cool air of night soon quieted his per turbed feelings, and then he shaped his course toward the home of his aunt. The trail led him into the woods near the bank of the creek, of which mention has been before made. Scarcely had he entered the timber, when a dozen dark forms gathered about him. His arms were seized, and noose fell about his neck, while a loud voice cried: "We have the murderer now! Up with him!" CHAPTER Vll. THE LOCKET. "M.uolA, what a hlindsome young man yom nephew is." Do you think so, Rena?" Indeed I do, and he must be as good as he is handsome." How do you judge? Surely you have met Hilton but the once." True, but hasn't he come all the way from Denver to look up the murderer of his cousin? I tell you there's not many men who would do it, mamma. He leaves a good busineSB, and riskshislifetoperformaduty. I call that true heroism." The speaker's dark eyes sparkled, an'd her cheeks glowed with an enthusiasm that was not acting. The Denver lawyer had made a most favor able impression on Rena Tripp. No doubt he would ha'
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I / 10 THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. I'm out here looking into the strange crime at Three Oaks Ranch." What crime's that?" "Haven't you heard about the murder that was done there?'' "Not lately. You don't mean the.gal, Miss Chester?" Yes that's the one--" Good gracious! did you come out here looking for the chap that l;:illed Olive Chester?" "That's my business in Wyoming." For some minutes the boy sat in a thought ful attitude. At length he sprung up and walked across the room. Soon he returned to the side of his visitor and placed something in his hand-a small diamond-studded locket. Pressing a spring the cover opened, and as Ragsdale gaze.d, he uttered a low exclamation. CHAPTER VIII. THE LAWYER STARTLED. t DID you ever see that face afore?" queried tbe boy. "'Yes, it is my cousin's," answered Ragsdale. "The man?'' The man from Denver had scarcely no ticed that opposite the girl's face was that of a man. He now glanced keenly at the features. Surely they were not Demming's. "The girl is Olive my unfortunate cousin," said Ragsdale. al'ter a moment's silP.nce. ''And the man?" u I can't place him." It ain' t the mau that folks think killed the girl?" 11 Demming?" "Yes/' "Certainly not him." "I didn' t think it looked much like him," said the boy, who gave his name as Sid Gid ley. "l'rn heard all about the finding of the body of Miss Chester, and I have felt kind of streaked since, bein' here all alone, you know. Sometimes, too I've thought that maybe this locket might tell a story that the public ought to know. Don't yo think so, Mr. Ragsdale?" "That thought has just entered my mind," returned Ragsdale. "Where did you get this locket, Sid?" "Found it." ''Where?" "About a mile this side o' the kunnel' s ranch." ''When?" Nigh a year ago." And you have had it all this time ?" so, sir; but I didn't know who owned it, and so I didn't say anything." "You kneW'Olive Chester?" "I've seen Then yo u must have known that this locket belonged to her." "No, I didn' t. Anyhow, Miss Chester wasn't at home, and I might as well keep it till she put in an appearance. Now dead, I s'pose it ought to go to her mother." "Yes; but at present I "'ish you would let me have the locket." "Couldn't do it nohow, sir." "But-" See here, Mr. Ragsdale, I'm no tender foot, nor you mayn't be one. Anyhow, I sha'n't give up the locket to no live man. Ef anybody gets it, 'twill be Mrs. Tripp what was Mrs. Chester, or else the feller whose picter's into it." And then Sid put out his hand to reclaim the locket, a look of concern on his freckled face. "One moment," urged the lawyer, still hold ing fast to the prize. As you said a moment ago, this may be the means of unearthing the criminal who shot poor Olive. I am at present investigating that crime, and this very locket will, if you let me use it, aid me materially. Of cour@e you are anxious to see the murderer punished?" "All fine talk, sir," said Sid; "but I ain' t to be bamboozled, if I am considered the blockhead of the Gidley family. I can't sha'n't, uor won't give up the locket fiat, so just hand it over, and make more talk. l:tagsdale could see that the lad was cun, ning, as well as distmstful of him. and so, with not a little r eluctance, he returned the locket to Sid, saying: I am sorry you dare not trust me, my boy." ''I don't know ye. "No nor I you but--" here, I know but what you're the very man that shot the girl?" the boy interrupted with a griu. "Of course you do not. I wish there was some way of convincing you of my honesty," returned the man from Denver. But let that drop for now, and you tell me all you know about Olive Chester, her beau-Evard Demming-and the circumstances connected with her murder." "Wal, I can't tell you much, I reckon, that you don't know already, if you've been over to the kunnel's, as you tell me," returned the boy, thrusting the locket into his pocket, and throwing himself at full length on the floor in front of the stove. I've seen the two ridin' out mor'n once, and I thought they was a right smart couple, and we all allowed 'at they'd gone off an' got married till the oor girl was found t':ither day in' an old shanty on the Thre11 Oaks ranch. Folks is mad enough now, at Demming, to hang or shoot him on sight, and I recken, toe best thing he kin do is ter keep out o' this country for a time." Ragsdale was fully aware of the feeling that was abroad against the young ranchowner, but he made no comment, waiting patiently for the young plainsman to pro ceed. I allow there's good reason to think he murdered her. They say he was in an awful hurry to sell out after Miss Chester disappeared." He did sell out, it seems, and to good ad vantage I am told." You bet he did. He knew all the time 'at the girl waR dead, a-lyin' buried in the old huntin' cabin Oh, I tell you, sir, that man must have a heart in him harder' n Pharo's to murder that girl." So you believe with the rest that Evard Demming the assassin?" "Yes, I do." Why do you think so ?" "Why shouldn't I think so, sir?" Sid looked up as if surprised at the ques tion. "Well, for one thing, it doesn't seem natural that a man who was in love with a girl would murder her." "That's jest why I think he did it, ;Mr. Ragsdale." "Well?" "Demming was jealous." "Of whom?" The face of the man in the locket." Ragsdale started. There was much in this reasoning surely. Who was the man whose picture the girl had worn next her heart? To find him might lead to something tangible: 1'Sid." "Well sir?" "Do you know who that man iij in the locket?" "No, sir." Did you never see him?" "Never. "):sn't this somewhat strange?" "I reckon 'tis, sir, but I can't help it. I don't reckon the man in the locket was a sweetheart of Miss Olive a great while. Ef he had been, some on us would have seen him." "It would seem so," admitted the lawyer. "There's a deef mystery to unravel, and I mean to do all can to ,penetrate it. And, Sid." "Well, sir." I want your aid." ''I dl,\llno.'' "You haven't much on your hands just now, have "Not a blamed sight." "Then why can't you aid rue?" Mebbe I can." Do you still fear to trust me ?" "Some'at." "You must get over that feeling immedi ately, else we cannot work together." Wal, I reckon I'll trust yer a little," said Sid, _grinning. Far enough to let me take the locket?" No, not so fur as that yer." Ve1{ well. We'll come to that after a time. like your frankness, and believe we can get on together much better than any otherg in the neighborhood. W e must make it a point to find this man whose face we have eeen in the locket. Once he is discovered, we may be sure of soon putting our finger on the murderer." I dunno," said the boy, dubioqsly, seratch his head._ .. I kind of opine 'at Deruming is the man we want, no matter who the feller in the picter may be." "Just the same, the man in the locket is an important witness, and we must find him." "Jest as you say, sir Then a short silence fell upon the two. At length the man from Denver said: Sid, can I stay here to-night?" "Certain." Then I had better put out my horse. I believe the poor animal is tired, since I rode the ten miles rather faster than most people travel, even on the plains." "You'd ought ter thought to put the horse out before," said the boy springing to his feet. Did yer hitch '1m? Ef yer didn't mebbe he' s gone afore now." ' I hitched the animal to a tree. said Ragsdale Sid Gidley did not go out immediately, but stood with his head bent, as if listening. "What is it, boy i"' Did you hear that ?" "I heard nothing only the whinny of a horse." "Listen!" Both did so. Only the moan of the wind greeted their ears. The silence, eave for this, was oppressive. Ragsdale now started to hie feet and essayed to cross the floor. At the same moment he raised his 11yes and toward the narrow window. Then he paused, rooted to the floor. A face was glued against the glass-the face of the man in the locke t! CHAPTER A STRANGE TRANSACTION. FOR full a minute the man from Denver stood without voice or motion, glaring at the face glued against the window-pane. The eyes seemed to glow like balls of fire. The whole expression of the countenance was repulsive. It was plainly the face of the man in the locket yet with a more fierce expression. Suddenly the face disappeared. Quickly the young lawyer sprung to the door and it open. It was starlight outside, and almost the first thing the lawyer saw was a man hurrying to ward a horse that stood near at hand. Hello, there!" called Ragsdale. No answer. "Halt or I fire!" The man from Denver brought his revolver ta the front, but even now the unknown refused to heed his summons. The dark form vaulted into the saddle, something gleamed in the starlight, and then the stranger was off at a rapid gallop. Angered at this indifference to his repeat ed calls, Ragsdale fired after the retreating man. A mocking laugh wa.s wafted to the ears of boy and man. "Confound him!" growled the lawyer. And then he made a new and most annoy-ing discovery. The stranger had taken his sorrel mare. And he had now made good his escape. ''Who was it?" This from Sid. I can't tell you, only that he's the man we want," returned the Denver man in rage. Where is your horse ?" "That fellow took him." Then he's a thief." "Yes, a horse thief." "We hang such in Wyoming," declared the boy, with emphasis. "'Twon' t do to let this villain escape. I'll take his trail and set the vigilantes after him in the morning." Then Sid passed Ragsdale at a hound, and hurried away to the barn, some rods distant from the house.

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' THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. 11 In less than three minutes the young home-steader was bac k again. My horse is sick or dead! he explained, as he entered the house and procured a Ian tern. The two now hurried to the sta ble to find the worst feal'1! of Sid Gidley realized. His hol'1le, the only one on the homestead, lay dead on the floor of the stable, froth and blood oozing from his mouth. B ending down, the boy examined the horse cl ose ly. When at length he rose to his feet, his freckled features were distorted with rage. It' s as I thought!" exclaimed the homesteader, the horse has been poisoned! Poiaoned!" exclaimed Ragsdale. "Why should any one wish to destroy the stock of a widow?" "Dogoned ef I know, but I'll bet a farm 'at old Jack has bee n duped." Going outside with his lantern, Sid exam ined the ground closely. He was not long in finding footprints in the soil near the barn. These he examined closely, and bending down, measured with a small rule he took from his pocket. "You see," said the boy "there' s been a man here besides oul'1!elves, and he's left his mark behind him. "It seems so returned Ragsdale, noting with surprise the keenness .of the boy. "Do you have the least suspicion of who it could be, Sid? "No, I hain't; but I'll make it a p'int to find out who the sneakin' ape is, then let him look to himself," cried the lad, springing to his feet. He at onc e made his way back to the front of the house, where the tracks of the maraud er were plainly marked. He seemed not to try to conceal his move ments in the least. What can you do now f" queried Rags dale. "Nothint." The boy returned to the house, followed by the man from Denve r. The calamity that had befallen each, made them Jess communicative than formerly. Ragsdale was puzzled and chagrined at the way he had been robbed. How could he account for the Joss of the sorrel mare to Rena Tripp? It would not be pleasant to face the beauti-ful girl after what had happened. And yet was he in the least blameworthy ? It did not seem so to the young man. Meantime Sid rattled about the house in a mood bordering on distraction. I'll tell you what I'm going to do, Mr. Ragsdale, said the boy at length, standing before his visitor. "I'm going to take the trail to-night." Take the trail ?'' "Yes.,. What do you mean?'' "Why, the trail of the skunk 'at murdered old Jack and stole your horse, sir. I reckon you'll be willin' to keep house till I come back?'' "Surely you do not mean this!" cried the lawyer. "You have no horse. It would be simply nonsense to think of trailing a. mount ed man on foot; at any rate it seems so to me. " I can get a horse a mile down the Dead water, and ihen there'll be no trouble." "But you don't know which way the thief went." "Leave that to me. Thar's a gang of 'em, and it's high time sumthin' was done. All I've got to do is to rou.ee the settlers. You won't be afeared to stay here till I return ?" "No, but--" "You may look for me in the mornin'." Taking a Winchester rifle from the wall, the young homesteader walked to the door. Ragsdale could see that the boy"Wa.s deeply worked up over the death of his horse. The lawyer, however. belie it the height of folly to look for a trail in the night. and again so expressed himself. "Wal, you may be right. mister," agreed the boy; "but I can't rest till I let the people know what's been did. I'll only go over to Catamount Ranch and let the fellows .know. I'll come back inside of two hours." And without waiting to argue the pomt furthe:r, the lad hurried out into the nig.ht. Ragsdale was thus left alone. He had ample opportunity to meditate on the situatio n whi c h he began t o realize was a peculi a r ou e Why had the sorrel mare been taken, and who was the m a n who had peered into the wind o w ? I would give half my prospects in life to mee t this strange man and l earn all that he knows regarding the taking off o f poor Olive." In the meantime Sid Gidley hurrie d as fast as his legs would carry .him down the Dead water. He had no fear, since he carried in his hands a weapon that he knew as well how to use as any man in Wyoming. The night was not dark, so that he had no trouble in following the trail, which led along a high bluff most of the distance to Catamount Ranch. The proprietor of the ranch so weirldly name d was seated at a table engaged in a game of cards with two young cowboys when Sid burst in upon them. "Hello, Sid, me boy, what's in the wind now?" Jack Stoneset dropped his cards and stared at the new arrival in a manner that was as surance that the lad was an unexpected vis itor. Horse thieves!" Hoss thieves?" The three inmates of the ranch sprung to their feet simultaneously. A dozen questions were hurled at the lad in less than half as many minutes. Go a little slow and I'll try and answer some of them questions," said the young home steader. "My ho1'1!e, old Jack, was poisoned by some one not an h onr ago, and the hol'1!e of a gent who had come to stop with md for the night was stole right from in front of the door. Now, what do you fellows think of that?" "Outrageous!" exclaimed the rancher. Git yer gun, Bill and let's go back 'long of the boy an' investigate," said one of the cowboys turmng to his companion. "I reckon the gang' s at work agin'. "You came down a-foo t, Sid? queried Stoneset. "I couldn' t come no other way, considerin'," returned the boy, trying to laugh. "I s'pos e not. Wal, you jest ride one o' my hosses, boy ; I sha'n' t need him till you git back." The two cowboys had mustangs picketed outside, and soon they we1e riding back to ward the Deadwater in company with young Gidley. On reaching the house, Sid alone dismount ed, and went in to get his lantern. The light was burning brightly, but Mr. Ragsdale did not seem to be present. However, this seemed of no consequence at the time, and after obtaining his lantern, the boy hurried outside and led the way to the barn. One of the cowboys examined the dead horse closely. He pronounced the manner of death poison, then went with Sid to look at the footprints made by the marauder. "Ha! here' s somethin'!" exclaimed the young cowboy. What now Ellis? " I've seen this track afore." "Who owns ther boots?" One o' the gang." "Then, by thunder! we'll rouse the lads, and make a raid. This thing's gone about fur enough, pard." So I say." The cowboys seemed deeply excited. '' You know the man that stole the gentle man' s horse, and poisoned mine, Ellie ? ques tioned Sid eagerly. "I do." "Who is it?" "I darsen't whisper his name just now, lad," said the cowboy; "but you kin jest rest easy, we'll make the kentry too hot to hold these scoundrels afore another day passes." After a little further conversation on the part of the three, the cowboys departed, agree ing to return in the morning and take the trail of the thieves A little later the boy found himself alone in his home. He had returned the borrowed horse, by the two cowboys to Catamount Ranch. Wal, I wonder where Ragsdale is gone. H e hain't shown his head since I got back." The boy finally called the name of the D enver lawyer. He received no answer. G o od grac ious, I wonder if somethin' s happened to him, too ?" At this moment the lad chanced to glance toward the table on which stood the lamp. A bit of folded paper caught his eye. Going forward, the lad at once seized the paper, and opened it. Although an indifferent scholar, the lad made out to decipher the few words the paper contained: "Sm,-Don't worry. I have gone back to Three Oaks Ranch. Will see you again soon ''RAGSDALE CHAPTER X. WORK OF THE LARliT. "WELL, now," mused the young home steader, "it seems to me this 'ere 's a mighty sudden move for Ragsdale to make B y jiminyl I've almost a notion to beliern the fellow was a snide, a horse thief, himself, like eno:ugh. The lad was almost convinced that be had hit upon the right solution of the stranger'R visit and sudden departure. The night passed uneventfully, and at early morr..ing Sid Gidley was up and on the lookout for the promised visit of the cow boys. They did not disappoint him. A dozen of them galloped up to the door of Dead water Ranch about the middle of the forenoon. After examining the tracks of the horse thief the whole party hurried away on the trail, Sid remaining behind, since he had no animal to ride. After seeing to his few chores the boy sat down on the door-stone and mused over the situation. By thunder!" he exclaimed, after a short time, "I can' t stand this. I must see that man agin who acte d so awful kind of good last night. I'm going over to Three Oaks." It was a good ten miles to the colonel's ranch, however, not an enviable trip to com pass on foot. After a little debate the lad hurried his steps down the Deadwater, and so o n stood before the froprietor of Catamount Ranch. "Yes, o course you kin take one o' my hosses, an' keep him a w eek or longer ef yon like, Sid, my boy," returned the honest ranch owner, but, mind you, don' t Jet anybody steal or pizen him." The lad made the desired promise, and was soon mounted and speeding across the prairie in the direction of Colonel Redhart's ranch. The fil'1lt man to meet Sid on his entranc e upon the colonel's grounds was the old Mis sourian's factotum, Benay Flash. Well, it seems to me you're a long way from home, youngster," saicl the half-breed in greeting. "l want to see the kunnel." "You can' t see him todaj." "Why not?" ''He's off." "Where to?'' "Don't know. Cheyenne, like enough." The lad's face clouded. "Was it important, Sidney?'' Yes and no. It will do as well ef I can see Mr Ragsdale." Ah, then you know that gentleman?" "Yes." Do you know any good of him?" "That's what I'm trying to find out, said the boy. "Is the gent about?" "I haven't seen him to-day-in fact, not since last night, just after the inquest." Where was he then?" "Over to the shanty wher& the body of Mis Chester was found." "Exactly. You know Mr. Ragsdale, I reckon?" Yes, quite well." Where's he from?'' "Denver." "What's he up this way fer?" "Well, he came because I sent for him." You sent for him?" "Yes. The murdered girl was Ragsdale' cousin and I thought he ought to know that the body had been found. The colonel thought so, too." And so you two got yer beads together and sent clear to Denver fe1 the gent?"

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12 THE LAWYER r5ETECTIVE. "That's it. Silney." "Then this 'ere Ragsdale's an honest chap, after all. You see, Benay, I reckoned webbe the feller was a-lyin' to me, but I guess he told a straight story. He must be. at_ t!ie kunnel's, 'cause he l eft word 'at he was gom' there. "We can soon ascertain." Benay Flash accompanied the boy to the house. Mrs. Redhart was sure the man from D e n ver had not been there sinc e the previous eveninl?. Sid Gidley was disappointed. "We might go over to his aunt's," sug-gested Flash. "Who's that?" "Mrs. Tri po." All right.1 But arrived at Mrs. Tripp s, the searchers were again disappointe d "I'm sure l\fr. Ragsdale hasn't been h ere in the last twenty-four hours," aaid Rena. She then called Sid into the house.and ques tioned him. He told her of Ragsdale's visit, and of his unexpected departure on the previous night. Rena eemed interested, and not a little ex cited. I am afraid something has befallen him," ahe said, tremulous ly. "An attempt was made on his life only last night. There are some bad p eo ple in this community, and I do wish the honest homesteaders would organ ize and punish some of the outlaws." "'Twon't be long," declared the boy "be fore you'll hear music in the air. The cow boys are on the trail, and mean business." "I sincerely h ope so." And I'm on the trail, too!" exclaimed the young homesteader, laying his brown hand on the shoulder of the beautiful Rena. I believe as you do, 'at somethin's happened to Ragsdal e. H e's been murdered, like.enough, hy them as wants the killin' of Miss Chester covered up. I'm bound to find the gent from Denver ef I hev to go to Mexico." Then the lad turned and rushed from the house He met Flash outside, and expressed him-self fa similar terms t o that indi vid ual. "I wouldn't be silly. Sidney." "What do ye mean by that, Benay ?" "It's all n o nsense to suppose any one has harmed Mr. Ragsdale. He will turn up all right in a day or two, neve r fear." "I don t believe it, all the same." "See here my boy. Sid had now vaulted into the saddle, and was anxious to be off. "I can' t stop to argue the p 'int." declared the young homesteader. The r e's goin' to be a big smell stirred up in these parts b efore you're many h ours older, Benay, 90 just keep yer smeller in trim till I see ye ag'in." And then the lad galloped away. "Confound him," grated the half-breed turning on his h ee l and walking fiercely away toward the creek. Re had not gone far when he heard his name pronounced. Turning, h e beheld Rena Tripp coming to ward him. He was al ways read y to li sten to her, so he at once he1d hi ste p s B enay, this is strange n ews I h ear .. What have you heard?" "About Mr. Ragsdale." "Well, what about him?" "You kn0w well enough. He has disap peared, and something must have happened to him. '' Nonsense." ''No, it is not nons ense." "Whab is this white-livered fellow to you, Rena Tripp?" Tbe black eyes of the half-blood fairly anapped as they fixed their gaze on the face of the beautiful girl. "A fri end-my cousin, as you must kno"'," asserted she. u So!': The word was a hiss. "Now Benay, y,u have no call to be angry," she said, soothingly. "You know what happened near the colonel's house last night." "Nothing of consequence that I am aware of, Rena." It might have been or consequence she A.id, sharply. It was not the fault the lynchers that Mr. Ragsdale was not murdered." "I assure yon you speak in ridd l es, Rena." "I am quite sur e you know that a n at tempt \\!as made to murder Ragsdale las t night in the grove near the co lonel' s house. Weren't you one of the lynchers?" She bent a keen glance into his face as she put the question. Certainly not," returned he. I heard some shots fired, but I never once suspected that unlawful work was going on. I a m sure I don' t see why the lynche r s should turn upon the gentleman from Denver. No one suspects him of wrong-doing, that I am aware of. If it had b ee n Demming, now, I should not have wondered. There is a feel ing agains t him since the remains of Olive Chester were found, and he came near being l ynche d a t the shanty just afte r the inquest. Howe ver, h e m&de hi s escapP, assisted' by Ragsdale and Colonel Red hart." Benay Flash spoke rapidly, and with ap parent sincerity. I hope you were n o t with the gang, Benay ?" "Really! Pray, why should you car e, Rena Tripp?" He bent toward h e r, unmistakable admira tion depic ted in his black eyes. She rec oiled from his intense gaze, and seemed confused. He put out his h and caressingly and smiled, while his even, white teeth fairly glittered. "I am glad, Rena, to hear that you do feel a n interes t in me. I will always hold your friendship in high esteem, and hope you may look upon me in a near e r light than that of friend--" "Sir, not another word like that." She brushed aside his band, and turning, spe d back to the hou se, leaving him standing alone in the narrow path. "So! Again that word came as a hiss. Turning on his h ee l Benay Flash strode an grily from the vicinity. * * * We must not lose sight of the most promi nent p ersonage in our story for even a brief space of time. Hilton Ragsdale felt lonely enough after t. h e departure of his young fri end, and for several minutes h e walked up and down the floor in a restless way. He thought of many things during the few minutes of his enforced l onely stay at Dead water Ranch. H e had, perhaP,s, crossed the floor for the doz enth time, when a most unexpected catas trophe took place. His back was toward the door, which stood open, when something dropped as from the ceiling, and fell about the body of the man from Denver. The object proved to be a lariat, and the moment it reached his waist it was drawn taut at one j erk, thus pinioning the lawye r 's arms a t his sides. The whole movement had b ee n so sudden as to give no warning to Ragsdale. Four men crossed the threshold and confronte" the prisoner. Each face wa3 masked, so tha t it was im possible for Ragsdale to recognize one of them. "Not a word!" hissed a voice in the ear of the Den verite. At the same moment a cocked revolver was thrust into his face. The masked villains meant business, sure ly. On e of them went through the pock ets of Ragsdale, securing his revolver and pock et-book. And now the young lawyer-detecti".e was glad t e know that Sid Gidley had not permit ted him to have the locket with its important pictures. "I reckon we' ve found all he's got, boss," said one of the searchers. "All right. Now m o ve out before we are discovered." Three of the men passed into the open air, leading their prisoner, whose hands the} had bound securely behind him with a buckskin cord. The fourth mask remained long enough to pen the note found by Sid; then he joined his companions, who hurried their prisoner away in the darkne'38. CHAPTER XI. STRANGE PROCEEDINGS. Now be quiet, will ye?" Five men, mounted on mustangs, were rid ing swiftly over the prairie. One of them was a prisoRer, and sat io front of the foremost horseman. He had ventured to ease his position by a movement, that brought out the remark made at the opening of this chapter. I am as q,uiet as I can be in this uncom fortable position,'' declared Ragsdale. I can't see the object in keeping my arms bound so closely." "You'll find that out soon enough," pow led the mask. "You ain't wanted in this coun try nohow, and the soonPr you git out the surer you'll be to live to green old age. Understand?" "No." I'll soon make it plain to ye." Ragsdale listened intently to the accents of the voice. He was trying to catch a familiar intona-tion. He was disappointed. This was easily explained. No doubt his captors disguised their lan guage as well as thei r fac e s. Ragsdale was n o t alarmed, since, had thP.se men meant to murder him, the y would not, it seemed to him,.ha'l'e taken the trouble to carry him such a long distance What, then, was the motive for this forcible abduction? It was impossible for the young man to co11jecture at this stage of the procee dings. He mie;ht be able to understand later on. It was a l ong ride before the marauders came to a halt among the hills no doubt the outskirts of the Wind River Mountains. Entering a dense copse the men picketed their horses, and Ragsdale was permitted to dismount, or rathu, he was assisted to do so for with his h ands securely bound, it '-:.as impossible for him to help himself to any ex t e nt. The prisoner was led past a small log house into an open spot, wnere the bare rock glistened in the now morning light. Just beyond his position was a black hole, from the depths of which came the murmur of water. "Here we are," said the leader of the masks. "We may as well proceed to business at once," The sooner the better it will suit me," said the prisoner, "for I am a business man myself, and hate delays." H ear 'iml" exclaimed one of the masks. "A business man, eh? Wal, mebbe we' ve made a mistake, but we 'lowed you was a peeler." I am an hof\est citize n I hope." "Ef you was you wouldn' t come so man;ii: hundred miles ter snoop inter other people & business. " I am not doing so." "Hear 'iml" This is nonsense," declarP.d the first mask. Hilton Ragsdale, w e know your business in Wyoming, and we hain't the g ents to hes i tate when our necks are in danger. Under stand?'' "Not yet." "Wal, 'twon't take me long to make it plain to you, my man. You have friends in Denver?" "Yes, a good many of them, and some in Wyoming, I hope." Not iinough to save your neck if rou re-fuse to do as we tell you, young man.' I am listening." "You must leave I shall be glad to do so." "That is r:ensible, and will save ua much trouble. Y <>u will depart this day and never return-this you must swear to." I could not think of going so soon," said .ttagsdale. I have some business to transact before I go that may require a month's time perhaps longer. I'm not in love with Wyo ming, however, and will get out of it as soon as my business will permit, so I think, with this little exception, we can agree." You are determine
PAGE 13

THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. 13 "Yes." Will you ?" "I don't see how 1 can." It is a matter of life or death.' "To whom?" "To you." The last was uttered sternly. Ra.gsdale realized that he was in a dangerous situation. Evidently these men were desperate fel lows, and yet they might be only attempting to frighten him. "I cannot make the requirP.d promise," finally said the man from Denver. "Then you force a terrible alternative on us. Hilton Ragsdale. The mask drew his rev Iver and cocked it with great deliberation. "You must either leave Wyoming or die. So it has been decided, and I shall not hesi tate one moment." Ragsdale was really alarmed now. "Just hold on a minute. Don't knock a fel low out on such short notice," cried the pris011er. You ought at least to be willing to tell me why you desire my absence from this territory." I cannot enter into explanations," said the mask. "We have decided to spare yotir life if yO'll will leave the territory at once, and swear never to return, or to send any of your friends into this country." "But hold on, sir. You are making the conditions harder and harder!" exclaimed Ragsdale. And you must accept them or die!"' You will offer no explanation of this strange proceeding?" "None." "Strange-" I'll gi .-e you just three minutes to make up your mind,'' the mask interrupted, draw ing out his watch. The young lawyer started. His gaze was fixed on the hand that held the watch. There was something familiar about it, he was sure. The little finger wa.q gone at the first jomtthe little finger of the left hand. "One minute!" said the mask, solemnly. He was too busy regarding the watch to note the prisoner's start of surprise or the direction of his !(lances. A dead silence reigned. ''Two minutes!" Only another minute between him and eternity. And yet the prisoner could not take his fascinated gaze from that mutilated hand. He h&d seen it somewhere;he was sure, but wbere? This question he could not answer. Three niintttes r' The words rung out like a death-knell. A new light seemed to glow in the eyes of the mask who held the revolver, The gentleman from Denver was not ready to die without making a struggl e for life. As the man returned the watch to his pocket, Ragsdale bent his head and darted forward, his head striking the would-be mur derer in the stomach, doubling him up like a jack-knife. Spang-spang! Two sharp reporte rung out, and Ragsdale disappeared into the gulch. When the mask, who had fallen before the onset of the prisoner, had regained his feet, he was trembling with rage. "Where is he?" he demanded in a loud voice. "He shall die now, surely." "He is already dead, pard." "Show me the body.' You will find it at the bottom of Satan's Gulch," and the speaker pointed to the black opening into which Ragsdale had plunged. I heard shots." "Yes, we fired upon him the moment he attempted to escape," said the second mask. "I think it is better so No one will ever be the wiser.n True. His blood be. on his own head, we are not to blame. I can't rest till I know that we are safe, however." "Would you go into the gulch?" "Yee." I move that we partake of breakfast fir t. cap'n,'' said one of the men, who had not yeL spoken. .. It'll take a good hour to go into the gulch by the path, and you know iw well as I 'at no man can tumble sixty feet onto solid rock and come out alive. Besides, this man has two bullets in his body." Plausible reasoning, surely. The leader of the ma.sks consented to first partake of food ere exploring the gulch. The whole party repaired to the log-house in the woods near at hand, where a stock of provisions was disclosed, and soon the masks were enjoying a substantial morning repast. Not a man removed his face covering. Each addressed his neighbor by number in stead of by name. Evidently these men were engaged in un lawful work, and believed they could not be too cautious. Day had fairly dawned when the last man moved from the table. "Now for the gulch!" exclaimed the Jeader of the masks. At this moment, however, a diversion took place, that changed the plans of the outlaws somewhat. A single horseman rode into the copse, and dismounting at the door, called loudly: 'Number Ten!" The leader of the masks at once left the room, and stepped aside with the new-comer, who was masked like the others. The conference lasted half an hour, and was of a most eanest nature on th part of the new arrival. "Boys," said Number Ten, on his return to the house, we must scoot." What's up?" "Danger." A buzz of excitement followed, and a little later the grove ;.bout the log-house was deserted. The last man to go was the one who had been the bearer of important news. "I scattered 'em, he chuckled, as he leaned against a tree and peered about him keenly. The next thing is to find out if a murder has been committed." Removing his mask, the man exposed a rather handsome face for a brief moment, while he wiped the perspiration from his brow. Restoring his mask, the man walked through the timber and stood on the spot where the late tragedy had been enacted. I hope, for the girl' s sake, he isn't dead," muttered the mask. He was soon making his way along a narrow trail that Jed into the gulch by a circuit ous route. The distance was great, and the difficulties of the way rendered the movements of the pedestrian slow and lahorious. At length he arrived at the bottom of the gulch, and turned his steps along its base, toward the spot where the man from Denver had plunged to his apparent death. Presently the searcher came to a halt. He listened intentlv. A groan assailed his ear. "The fellow is alive, surely," muttered the masked searcher. He was not long in finding Ragsdale, who la;r in a clump of alders at the foot of the de clivity. "Insensible," decided the searcher, as he examined the young lawyer, "and likely to die. Now what had I better do? Leave him here, or try and find a shelter and help for the fellow ?" After a few minutes of r eflection, the masked man lifted Ragsdale in his arms and staggered down the gulch. Scarcely ha:l the mask disappeared, when a third man burst through the bushes and glared about him. He wore no ma&k, and we have met the man before. It was Tribune Tripp. His eyes glowed like coals of fire, and his strong hands were clinched in a way that de-noted terrible passion. Suddenly drawing a revolver, he darted swiftly after the masked rescuer. CHAPTER XII. A STARTLING REVELATION. WHEN Hilton Ragsdale again opened his eyes, he was aware that he was experiencing considerable pain. The ceiling above his .:ouch was rough, and one glance about the room assured him that he wac in a frontiel'tllnllD. & ihanty, How came he here? What had happened to bring it all about? He has opened 'lis eyes. See, motherl'' A rather sweet voice fell on the ear of the ear of the injured man, and a moment later a pair of dark eyes looked into his from the face of a brown yet pretty girl. Are you better, Mr. Ragsdale?" She seemed to know his name. Would wonders never cease? At this moment an elderly woman entered the room and bent over Ragsdale. She smiled and drew her daughter aside. "You were badly hurt, sir," said the woman. I suppo8e you know how you came to fall into Satan's Gulch." "Ah, yes, I remember now." said the young man, passing his hand over his brow. "I was fired on. I made a leap for life, &nd went into the gulch, that is all I remember.'' "It is quite enough for the present. You must remain quiet till you feel better.'' "How long have I been here?" Three days." Is it possible?" "You must be quiet now." "No, no, I can't keep quiet till I hear an .explanation. Who brought me here? How ca me you to know my name?" "You were brought here by a man whom we do not know. Our cabin being the nearest to the gulch we took you in.'' You were very kind." Not at all," declared the woman. "In this wild c ountry one is quite apt to get into trouble at any time. We must be ready to aid one another when occasion arises." She then left him to his own reflections. Three more days passed before the young lawyer was able to be on his feet again. He had now been absent from his friends a week Ragsdale was well pleased with the af par ent refinement and gentleness of the gir and her mother. On the seven th day Ragedale said that he must not tarry another hour. "Where do you live, Mr. Ragsdale?" "In Denver when at home, he answered the girl who had put the question, "but I am here lookiug into the murder case at the Three Oaks ranch.'' My brother told me about that," said she. "It seems that the people generally think that the girl's lover murdered her. It was a terrible affair, and after we learned of the finding of the poor victim'.s body, I didn't sleep nights for a long time." "I do not wonder at it.'' Just then a clatter of hoofs announced the approach of a horseman. "It's my brother!"' exclaimed tbe girl. "I'm so glad he has come before you went away. I want you to know each other.'' Ragsdale was glad, too. "My brother, Mr. Ragsdale. The man from Denver started as he found himself looking into the face of the new arrival-Benay Flash! Alt hough the woman bad given their family name. Ragsdale had not thought to connect it with Colonel Redhart's factotum. He was disappointed. Flash was his aversion. And, too, he co uld now account for the deep tint on the cheek of Miss Mindora Flash._ There was Indian blood in her veins. He bated the race, and the feelings that had become suddenly aroused in his bosom fell as suddenly to zero. "So thiS'is where you are keeping yourself, Hilton," cried the half-breed, soruethmg like a sneer curling his lip. "I had no idea you were acquainted with my people. Do you know. you have created as much of a stir by your running away as Miss Olive did a year ago. I shall demand an explanation at once, sir." "Demand away," retorted the Denver man, "I am not obliged to explain to you, Benay Flash.'' Mindora gazed at the two men in evident astonishment. As Ragsdale was turning away, he noticed the girl's blank surprise, and deigned to say: I have met your brother before, Miss Flash; he and I are friends.'' The very best of friends," emphasized Benay, with a low laugh. H" then dismounted and entered the house "We're homesteaders like many others," d1:1,;Iiu d the halfbreed, in a ple&!it voice,

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14 THE LA WYER DETECTIVE. at once disarming Ragsdale. I n ever m e n -Then the two separated. tioned my h o me to you simply becau se you Hilton did I\Ot avoid the woods along the never inquired," cree k although he did not follow the same Explanations follow e d, and Benay was very path that came so near l eading to his death profuse in hi s congratnlations t o the young on a former occ asion. lawyer on his lucky es cape from the clutches Once throug h the woods it was an open of the outlaws. way to Mr s Tripp's home. "I suppose you will get back to the colo-But the young lawyer had not reached the nel's soon, Hilton?" open ground ere he came to a halt. "I am going this day." A murmnr of voices fell on bis ear. "Then we will keep one another com This sound seemed to proceed from a spot pany. some yards to the left. And so it was arranged, although there was Ragsdale at once left the path and crept but one horse between them. toward the sound. "We can ride and tie, aid Flash, showing Soon he could distinguish words, and then his milk-white teeth, as the young lawyer he came to a halt and listened. took the first mount. Benay you cannot frighten -me by your Just as you say, returned Ragsdale. threats." "How far do you call it to Three Oaks The young lawyer started. Ranch ?" The speaker was none other than the beau" Thirty miles." tiful Rena Tripp. "It' s further than J thought." "I am not trying to frighten you, my girl, And then the young man rode on. He did but I am talking business. If you don' t do not know the way to the Big Horn, so it was as I wish I'll blow the whole thing to the. flnallv decided not to "ride and tie. Wyoming winds." The journey to Three Oaks was unaccom"The scoundrel!" muttered the concealed panied by any adventures. listener, through clinched teeth. One of the first to greet the returned law-He was wise enough, ho.,,ever, not to make yer was Rena Tripp, who was at Redhart's on his presence known. the evening of the Denver man' s arrival. Why do you persist in this, Benay? You "It is a glad surprise to us all," declared and I have always been friends, and can be the beautiful girl, as she turned her brill-nothing more--" iant eyes on his face. "We all feared some"See herel'1 interrupted he, fiercely. thing terrible had happened. Your aunt has "Don't I know the whole scheme? You and been well nigh distracted at your prolonged I were more than friends once, till two absence. The boy, Sid, was over and told us thlngs happened. Shall I tell you what the of your disappearance, and the letter you I two things are, Miss Rena Tripp?" left behind telling that you had come to Three I am not particular." Oaks." Your father's marriage, and the coming So they left a letter purporting to come of this white-livered fellow from Colorado. from me ?" If I'd known what a fascinating fellow he was "Yes." I'd never have sent the colonel's dispatch." Rena then explained. "Sir, I beg--" Shealso informed him that a posse was even "Stop. Let me finiAh what I was to say, now out scouring the country in search of he cried louder than he meant. "It was a him. scheme, this marriage of your estimable faSoon after this Rena returned home. ac ther with the widow of Chester. I have rea companied by Benay Flash, while Ragsdale son to know that up to the present time the entertained the colonel with an account of murder of Miss Olive and the marriage of her his adventures. mother hasn' t panned out well to the con" Seems mighty cu'rus," grunted the Misspirators. Now, what a snap it would be if sourian. Dod \5last ther picters, I don't you could only secure :Mr. Ragsdale. He's eee what they wanted to tackle you for, Mr wealth'{, and so handsome. But hear me. Ragsdale. Rena, swear that you shall not win the man "I cannot explain it myself, since I medi-from Denver, that part of your little plot will tate no harm to any one but the murderer of not succeed. As for the murder of Olive my unfortunate cousin. Chester you and he realize that it was a mis" I think I will spend the night at my take." aunt's," said the young lawyer. after he had The man in ambush could scarcely contain discussed the situation with the colonel for himself. some time. He trembled with excess of excitement. He Dod blast it, Hilt, you hadn't better go realized that he was about to hear something through them woods afte r dark ag'in alone.'" of the utmost importance. "Do you imagine the lynchers are still on "You know, my girl. that Ragsdale is here the lookout?" to investigate the murder of the girl whose "I dunno. That there Tribune Tripp shoes you are now filling. When he finds out don't stay to home muc h these days. He"s the truth, what show will you have to win? batchin' some mischief yer kin bet ver Ahl you wince and tremble, as well you may, pile.'' -for I.iiwear that you cast me off at your peril, "I am not armed, either," said Ragsdale. Rena Tripp.'' "Haven' t you an extra pistol in the house, "Ob, Benay, be quiet." colonel?" I'll not be quiet. There is but one alter" A grist on 'em. Come to my room an' native, my girl, but one. take yer pick.'' Oh, Mr. Flash!" The young lawyer accompanied the colonel "You shall be mine, else I turn against you, w a room in the upper part of the old ranch, and will show no mercy to the IIMaasin of which seemed a veritable armory, so filled Olive Chester!" he hissed, in words of horrible was it with guns, pistols, knives and other meaning. weapolll! of war. "I'm allus perpared for an emergency chuckled the Missourian, as he flashed his light over the glittering array on the walls. I should think as much!" cried Rag. dale. "Pick out yer weepon, Hilt, my boy.'' Selecting a good-sized revolver, the young man expressed himself as satisfied. Cartndges were found for it in a box, and once more the man from Denver felt himeelf in a condition to proceed with his investiga tions, which had been cut off by his late.ad ventures. Ragsdale was anxious to meet hisaunt and talk with her more at length about her daughter Olive and about Evard Dem ming. "I will call again in the morning," said the young lawyer. I want to go over the ground near the old shanty where the body was found, and I want you with me, colonel.'' .. All right" CHAPTER XIII. A NIGHT HORROR. HILTON RAGSDALE stood rooted to the spot like ono in a dream, what he heard was of a most startling nature. What did it mean? Was Benay Flash accusing the beautiful Rena of the murder of Olive Chester? It certainly had that appearance, and the concealed lawyer could scarcely restrain him self. With an effort he remained calm enough to catch the next words that fell from the lips of one of the twain. "Hush. Benay," she said. "You are mad now and know not what you say. I must go at once to the house; mamma will be anxious on my account." i\fammal"-with cutting emphasis. "How much you think of the woman your father married to further the whole cmnable plot, Rena Tripp, I will do as I tell you, and blow the whole scheme, if you smile again on this man from Denver. You belong to me, and I will suffer no man to come bstween us. My peo ple saved this man' s life. If he dares to come between us l e t him look to himself.'' Then the con cealed listener heard them walking :on, and their further conversation did not reach his ear. Ragsdale was surprised to learn that the young half-breed was madly jealous of him. The idea that he-Ragsdale-sbould care for Rena Tripp was preposterous. At any rate, now that he had learned her true character, it would be impossible for him to even respect her. There was an awful meaning conveyed in the words of Benay Fkl.sh. Perha.ps they were to prove the entering wedge to evidence that was soon to reveal the secret of an.awful crime. The young lawyer walked on slowly, giv Ing the young couple in advance ample time to reac h the Tripp ranch ahead of him, Benay and Rena sat in the front room when Ragsdale arrived. The half-breed cast a glance at the Den verite that pierced like the sting of a ser pent. Such a look Ragsdale had never seen flash from human eves before. It warned him to be on his Is my aunt still up?" questioned the young lawyer of Rena. I will see." At this moment, however, the woman in question entere d the room. She was overjoyed at the return ef her nephew, whom she bad mourned during the past week as one dead. Explanations followed. "I owe my life first to a stranger, and last ly to the Flashes, said R9.gsdale, in conclu sion. At tbesame time at Benay, who se e med not to notice his words. "It seems that you have enemies in Wyoming as well as I Hilton," said Mrs. Tripp. It seems so returned Ragsdale. Of course, it' s barely possible that a mistake was made, as in the case of my attempted lynching. Again the lawyer glanced at Benay Flash. The half-breed seemed not to notice these remarks, so deeplv was he engaged in conversati"n with Misg Rena. The feelings of Ragsdale were more resent ful toward the colonel's factotum than ever. He realized now that the sleek and oily fellow was his enemy, and likely to make him trouble. Presently he turned to his aunt and said: "You spoke just now as though you have enemies in Wyoming. Is this true?" It is true, Hilton." Who are they ?" The pallidfaced woman glanced uneasily toward the couple across the room. The black orbs of Rena were fixed on her face, and Mrs. Tripp looked aside and trembled. Ragsdale noted all this, and wondered. "I will not call any names, at length mur mured the woman. Ragsdale could see that she was cowed and fearful. Could it be that Rena was the cause? The young Denverite resolved to learn the facts at the first opportunity. His time did not come that evening, how ever. Benay Flash persisted in staying late, and as the man from Denver was not feeling well, he told his aunt that he would retire for the night. "I hope you will remain with us duiring your stay, Hilton," said Mrs. Tripp, as she took up a lamp to ahow him to his room. "By the way,? called Benay Flash sudden ly, if you're feeling badly, Mr. Ragsdale, I'll send you a medicine-man if you don"t ob ject. We've a good one in the neighborhood." "I do object," returned the lawyer. "I shall feel all right in the morning." And then the aunt anci nephew left the room. She showed him to a cozy apartment up-stairs. Before going out of the room, Mrs. Tripp laid a hand on the arm of her nephew, and in tremulous accents said: "WhateYer you Jv, my dear boy, beware of Beoay Flash."

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THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. 18 "Ah! then you know him well?" "I know and fear him, Hilton." Why do you fear him ?" ''Let it pass now. He is not a good man, and he may do you harm, should his mind run that way." The young half-breed's mind did run that way, as Hilton knew, but h e did not make mention of it to his aunt. He could see that she was already deeply troubled, and he did not wish to add to th&t trouble in the least. "Don't alarm yourself, Aunt Julia. I can t.ake care of myself." said the young lawyer, reassuringly. But tell me your troubles, aunt." ,,,, "Do you think I have troubles?" ''That I do. I know are not happy, and I should like to hear all about it. ls Rena undutiful?" "No, no, Hilton, not a word can be said against her. She is one of the best and no blest girls I ever knew. I believe I should ha..-e died before now but for Rena's love and kindness." Can you trust her?" Ragsdale r emembered what he had heard in the grove an hour before, and to say that he distrusted Rena since that would be put-ting rt mildly indeed. I would trust her with my life Hilton, and it is for this reason that I am sorrv to see her with Benay Flash so muc h. "You mightspeak to her about it, suggest ed the young man. # I do not like to seem officious or meddlesome." Then she turned to go. "Won't you tell me about your troubles, aunt?" "Not to-night. I wish to speak with you before you go away, however, Hilton. I have much to tell you." Bidding him good-night, shP went out, clos ing the door gently after her. She seemed kind and gentle now, as he re membered her in the past, and yet he could see that her last marriage 'had been a sad mis take. Poor woman! She trusted her step-daugh ter fully, when, as Ragsdale now believed, that young la:ly might be working in secret against her. Benay Flash had spoken of a plot, a con spiracy in connection with Mrs. Tripp and Olive Chester, and Rena had not reproved him. It needs must be that the beautiful young girl was a party to some unrevealed crime, perhaps to the murder of his unfortu nate cousin. "I shall constitute myself a detective from this time on." decided the young lawyer, and I shall trust no one until I know him to be worthy." It was a late hour before Ragsdale disrobed and fell into repose on the bed under the eaves. The window to his room was up, and a faint breath of night air stirred the curtains and fanned his cheek. With this for a benison. the lawyer-detect ; ve visited the land of nod. How long he had slept the young man did not know, when he was aroused by a strange sound. Rising to a sitting posture, the lawyer snatched his revolver from under his pillow, and g lared toward the window from whence the sound seemed to proceed. Again the sound-an awful, hair-lifting yawl, that seemed to chill the marrow in his bones. Then a body was dashed against the win dow-sill, which fell back to the floor with a dull thud. After this an awful silence "What in the nation i s it?" cried Ragsdale. He waited a few minutes, then sprung up and drew on his clothing. Then he lit the lamp and proceeded to investigate. On the floor under the window lay a large cat, quite dead, with wide-open, staring eyes that sent a shudder all over the young law yer. Mercy!" he exclaimed, I wonder what ailed pussy. She looks as though she h a d suffered awful agony-ah!" Ragsdale rec,piled suddenly. He had discovered t.he cause of all thP trouble-a hideous-looking reptile, that eembled a lizard, yet waij different from any thi:i the youna Dtnverit1 bad berttofor seen. It was of a dirty brown color, slimy and glistening, about six inches in length. This reptile had fastened itself on the f e line's throat, and to the lawyer's horror he saw that the dead body was fast swelling, indicating poison. Ragsdale glared about him. It was not pleasant to occupy the same room with a poisonous reptile. His eyes fell on a stick in one corner of the room. this h e dispatche d the venomous lizard with a well-aimed blow. During all this time no one stirred in the house, although it seemed to Ragsdal e that th e inmates could not have remained asleep during the no I'll not sleep any more to-night," thought he. as he glanced at the dead cat. After a few minutes given to reflection, he lifted the dead animal and flung it out into the night. Consulting his watch, Ragsdale found it al most morning. He had not long to wait ere day dawned in the east. It was soon light enough for him to make a thorough investigation. Under the window lay a large.mouthed empty bottle, which he was sure had not been there when he rE>tired to b ed. This at once suggested a horrible thought to the amateur detective Some one had brought the poisonous rep tile and place d it in his room for a purpose. Naturally enough the young lawyer thought of Benay Flash. There was no knowing what a jealous man might do, and yet Ragsdale could lay his hand on his heart and say honestly that the colonel's factotum had no cause to be jealous of him. However much the man from Denver had been attracted toward Rena Tripp at the out set, he was now deeply, and he believed just ly, prejudiced against the beautiful young girl. Dropping the d eadlizard into the bottle, Ragsdale went below when he heard some one The first person he encountered was Tribune Tripp, who, it seemed, had returned home during the night. "Hello, Hilton! I'm glad to see you," and put out his hand. CHAPTER XIV. what are you waiting for?" demanded Mr. Tripp, bluntly, almost defiantly. "I'm biding my time." ''Bosh!" "You may not think so when the hand of justice falls." Thekeen eyes of the young lawyer-detect ive fixed themselves in a penetrating gaze on the fac e of the bluff plainsman. That worthy became suddenly confused. I have something to show you, Mr. Tripp." Ragsdale held up the wide-m6uthed bottle, in which was the dead reptile. "What do you call that?" The speaker glared at the and the lawyer could see that h e was agitated, a sure indication that he knew something of the in famous work of the night. I want you to tell me what you call that, Mr. Tripp," said Ragsdale, sternlr,. "Well, I'd call it a specimen,' said Tripg. "Some doctor left it, maybe. I'm sure it 8 nothing but a harmless lizard, anyhow." '' Do they grow in plenty around here, Mr. Tripp?" "Plenty of them." And they are not poisonous?" "No." Are you sure?" "Of course I am." Would it be possible for this little reptile to bite anything and cause death?" Didn't I tell ye 'twarn't a poisonous varmint?" growled Tripp, somewhat testilv. Where'd you get it, anyhow? It io be stone dead." "Yes, it's dead enough now," returned the man from Denver, "but it was livel y enough last night. Some one was kind enough to turn the reptile loo se in my bedroom af ter I had r etired. I have an ideit'the one who did it supposed it to be of a poisonous species, Mr. Tripp, and to tell the truth, I ha..-e the proof that it is a venomous thing. If you'll accompany me up-stairs I will prove it to your entire satisfaction, sir." The plainsman, being under suspicion, as he could not but know, went with the lawyer to the room the latte r had occupied durmg the night, and there saw the dead feline where the yotmg man pointed it out through the open wmdow. I flung it out there,'' said Ragsdale, but the work of death was done right here in this room." KindP,r strange." "Yes, it is strange." DETECTIVE SHADE. "I don' t see hO\V it came to be in this RAGSDALE did not take the proffered hand. room. Did you see them whe n you come up "Be you mad at me, Mr. Ragsdale?" to bed?" After your attempt on my life that is a No The bottled reptile was not here superfluous question, Mr. Tripp," returned the then." lawyer, coldly. Do you think 'twas put in by some one "Well, well, I don't understand you now. after you come to bed?" The idea that I should attempt to murder I am sure it was." anybody. You must be crazy, young man, "Then this must be investigated." absolutely demented. I've as good a reputa"I mean it shall be. tion as any man in Wyoming." The two m e n descended to the lower regions "You must have a short memory, Mr. once more. Tripp." "Better not say anythinR to the women "Explain. Confound me if I know what about this, Mr. Ragsdale,' suggested the you're driving at. I do remember that I plainsman, as they went down-stairs. 'Tain't saved your life once in Cheyenne, when we necessary to frighten them." were coming North in company; but that I "I agree with you there." ever attempted to harm you is preposterous, And so Mrs. Tripp and Rena were not in-absolutely preposterous, my boy,' and the formed of the cowardly attempt on the life plainsman slapped Ragsdale's shoulder in a of their guest." really hilarious and friendly manner. While Tripp was at home Ragsdale knew it "Have you forgotten the lynching party?" would be out of the question to seek an inter" No, by gracious! I haven't, and { have view with his aunt, so, immediately after you to thank for permitting the murderer of breakfast, the young man walked over to poor Olive Chester to escape. He's safely out Three Oaks, promising to call again soon. of the country now, and I'm afraid will Ragsdale was sore over the theft of the never be brought to justice," roared Tripp, sorrel mare, and could not h elp thinking it ex his face becoming more rubicund than ever. tremely kind in Rena not to censure him in I am not convinced of Demming's guilt,'' the least for the loss. answered Ragsdale. In fact I have good He had offered to make up the value of the reason to believe that he is innocent, and that mare to his aunt, but she refused to permit the real murderer is still on the Big Horn." it. "What an idea. Colonel Redhart had finished his morning And yet the keen eye of Ragsdale detected meal, and sat in his accustomed place smok something in the face of the man confronting ing his ever-present pipe whe n Ragsdale pui him that told of d ee p uneasiness. in an appearance. "I think I could put my finger on the as Come and set here, lad," said the colonel, sassin, Mr. Tripp." motioning toward a chair at his side "I Eh?" reckoned mebbe you went off mad last night. "Did you not understand:>" and. dum me, ef I'd blame ye much nuther, Don t think I did." fur I reckon I wasn' t in ther perlitest mood The man from Denver repeated hi1 word1 laet night. lt1 yo\llll man1 If 7011 .i
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18 THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. "No? Wal, it's well ye don't. I've got a Shade was rather undersiz e d with an consid'rabl e t o tell y e. abundance of dark hair and beard A pair of "I am all ears col onel." inte n s ely ble eyes were set d ee p under a "It's about the murder of yer cousin." r a th e r narro w brow Truth was, the man "Yes?" fro m D enve r was not pre poss e ssed in favor "You haint made no discoveries I r e ckon, of Mr. Shad e on first acquaintance. bein' as you've been in the hands of the cat What struck him most forcibly. was the tie thieves so long. abundance of hair on the face of the detect" None to speak of, colonel." ive. Usually such men shaved smoothly. "I reckoned not" -removing his pipe; I am glad to me e t you Mr". Ragsdale," "but I hain' t been idle, my boy, not by a said Shad e. The colonel has told me about long shot. I've been vestigating. you and of the mission that brought you "I am glad to hear it." to the Big ltorn country. I shall be happy ''I know'd you would bA, We buried the to cooperate with you in out the dead in the nearest cemetery, my boy, and murder of your unfortunate cousin.' then I set about 'vestigating. I know d 'at "Thank you." Demming wasn' t guilty, so I looke d fur some Shade lit a cigar and leaned against a post, other way to account fur Miss Chester's and talked in a low tone for some time. death." "We should have no secrets from each "It is well enough to look at the c a se in all other, Mr. Ragsdale If you have break ita bearings," returned the young man, as he fasted, suppose we walk over to the scene of seated himself at the si
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THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. 17 "Have you learned enough about me, so that you do not fear to trust me, Sid?'' "Yes, I have," said the boy. "I've found out 'at you ain't no impostor, and I'm goin' to trust you till the cows come home. I've seen Mrs. Tripp, and she says you're all right. I know that woman, sir, and I'd believe anything she might say. She made a mistake when she married old Tripp, though. The Lord only knows what she did it for." "I'm sure I don't understand it, my lad. I am glad I havefound one personinWyoming whom I can depend on. We must figure out this whole thing, Sid, without the aid of any who are at present pretending to hunt down Olive Chester's murderer." "Then you're a-goin' to trust me?" Yes. "Put it thar, fr. Ragsdale." Sid Gidley stretched forth his grimy hand, and Ragsdale clasped it .warmly. 'Can you stay right with me, Sid, or must you go back to the ranc h and look after the cattle and other things?" '' I've hired a feller to stay there and do the chores, for I wanted to be free awhile any how." "Good; then we'll travel in company when it's necessary." "And now, what's the fust thing?" I want to ask you a few questions." Go ahead, Ragsdale. Call me Hilton. I shall call you Sid, as we stand on even ground, you know. I to ask about a new-comer. Perhaps you have met him-a Shade, of Cheyenne?" ''I've seen him." "How long has he been here?" I saw him with Colonel Redhart yesterday for the first. They was both down the D e ad water inquirin' about you." "Of course I couldn't give 'em any information then." '' Of course not.'' I didn't like the fellow from Cheyenne." "Why not?" He's got a bad eye in his head, and he makes me sick with his style." "Exactly." "You've seen him ?" ''Yes." How do you like him?" "About as weUas you do, Sid." "Wonder what he's here for?" "He is a detective from Cheyenne." 'No?" ,An incredulous look swept the face of the young homesteader. So I am told." Who told you, Hilton?'' "The colonel." The kunnel, eh?" ''Yes." The boy looked steadfastly at the ground for some minutes. "I dunno, but it seems to me thar must be some mistake," he finally said. "That man ain't no deteeti ve. He doesn't look like one." "Wal, I never saw but one, and he was a sight likelier feller than this one from Che yenne." "We won't trust this man Shade till we know he is honest, at any rate," decided Rags .dale. "No, that we won't.'" At this moment another horseman rode up from the direction of Three Oaks. It proved to be B enay Flash. You're wanted over at the Chester ranch, Mr. Ragsdale." Who wants me?" Mrs. Tripp." .. ''Very well." "I will go with you," said casting a look at Sid. And I will ride up the creek a ways, and see you later, Hilton." said the boy, giving his horse free rein. Afte they had gone a short distance, the young factotum drew rein and said: "I wanted to be rid of the boy, sir. Your aunt did not send for you, but I have some thing of importance to reveal." CHAPTER XVI. 'IHE HALF-BREED'S STRANGE STORY. R&GSDALE the speaker in surprise. Then you lied to me he said, with blunt franlul-. "That' a harsh name, Mr. Ragsdale," said Flash, "but I won't kick. Let it pass. 1 was sorry to see you with that young scapegrace of a Sid Gidley. Don't you know that he is sup posed to be connected with a gang of thieves? His father had to run tlie country, and his brother, 'tis said, was noosed two years ago." Ragsdale remained silent. "You did not know the boy, I .guess, Mr. Ragsdale?" As well as I know others here. He is my friend, and I shall not go back on him on ac count of what people say." "Indeed." Was it to prejudice me against Sid Gidley that you led me out here?" "No. "Well?" "I have something of importance to tell you.u J am listening." And I want you to believe me when I tell you that which will pain you deeply," saii.l the half-breed, slowly. Is it about Rena Tripp?" "Not exactly. "Go ahead." It's about this murder case, however, Mr. Ragsdale. Let us move along to the shade of yopder tree, where we will be more com fort.ai)le." To this the man from Denver agreed, and once here. Benay Flash dismounted and secured his horse. A rustic bench had been placed under the lone tree, and on this thll two men found a comfortabl e seat. I have been investigating on my own hook, Mr. Ragsdale, and 1 have made some startling discoveries." "Exactly. "I have learned why Olive Chester was murdered." "I thAJik I have known that for some time," returned Ragsdale. Have you?" "Yes; it is all comprised in the one word, 'jealousy.'" "There's where you are mistaken." 1 do not think so. "Of whom could Miss Chester be jealous, or Demming E.1ther? They were a loving couple, and had she lived, no doubt the two would have one day wed." Ragsdale thought of the face in the locket that had once belonged to his cousin. He was wise enough not to mention his thoughts aloud, however, 8ince, as the reader knows, he thor oughly distrusted the half-breed. "What you say may be true. How, then, do you account for the murder? Would a m 'an be apt to shoot the girl h e loved in cold blood without cause?" "No. No man shot Olive Chester." Instantly the lawyer-detective thought of the talk he had overheard between this man and Rena Tripp. Do you imagine a woman committed the mu1der?" "I do." "Have you the proof?" It is at hand." Then Evard Demming had another sweet-heart?" I will not deny it." "Her name?" It does not matter now." "Was it Rena Tripp?" "You are good at guessing, Mr. Ragsdale," and Flash showed his teeth in a smile. "And she was jealous o"f Olive?" "A good guess again, sir." And you mean to tell me that the plains man's daughter fired the fatal shot on the night of the sixteenth of last June?" Ragsdale wae considerably moved now. He remembere<:I how the girl had cowered before this smooth rascal, and he felt that Rena knew something about Olive's death that she hacI not given to the world. On the contrary, I make no such accusation," said Flash, deliberately. What, then, do you mean ?" "If you will bold your temper I will tell you." I promise that." "You remember once of my meeting you when you were returning from the Chester ranch to Three Oaks?" ''I remember." I then you !lbout the people at Chester Ranch. I promised to tell you some news when the right time arrived." "Yes, Go on." Well, tl1ere were reasons for the removal of Olive Chester of which you little dream. It is only of late that I have found out the facts: There's a cool hundred thousand at stake, sir, and the lives of two persons stood between the murderess and the money." is Greek to me." "l SOOD make it plain as the nose 011 Colonel Red hart's face, and that's the plainest thing on the Wyoming plains." "Ge t down to facts. Don't beat about the bush so, Flash," said the lawyer, impatiently. "The facts will startle you. "I am ready to b e startled, then." "Do you know how Mr. Chester died?"' "No." He was found dead in bed one morning, some time before the death of Olive." "Well?" At his side lay a vial lal>eled 'strychnia.' 'Twas said he committea suicide.'' "Indeed! This is news "I thought it would be. I have learned enough since to satisfy me that Chester was murdered." ''Impossible!" "Oh, no, it isn t. I gaid I'd surprise you, and I'm going to do so still further if you still decide to listen." "I am listening." "SC\me time later Olive Cheste1 was mirs ing, and word was sent out that she had fled with her l over. It remained thus for a{ear, when the horrible truth came out, and was at once requested to send for you.'' "By whom?" Colonel Redhart. I told him of you and your uncle in Denver. He seemed not to know what was best to do, and so the upshot of it was the dispatch that callee\ you from your lawyer's duties to Wyoming.'' "Exactly!" "And now it has become known to me that a large fortune was in the hands of the Cheaters, and that Olive was the sole inheritor." "Indeed!" "You had no idea how wealthy your rela tives were ?" "I supposed them poor." "Exactly. You will now see that money, and not jealousy, caused the death of Mis. Chester, as well as that of her father." I am not yet convinced. "You will soon be. howeve r," assured llenay Flash. "I don't know who l eft this money to Olive, only that a hundred thousand was so left, and that it is now the sole property of the. mother. Tribune Tripp learned the truth in some way, and he lnitrried the widow to get it." Has he succeedsd ?" "Not yet." "He never sh&Jl!" exclaimed Ragsdale, half rising to bis feet, his face white with deeply stirred feeling. Sit down, Mr. Ragsdale.'' And the low-voiced Flash plucked at his companion's slee ve. The lawyer-detective sank back to his seat once more. "I am not through with you yet, Mr. Ragsdale," said Flash. "The gist of the thing is yet to come.'' "Goon." It was this money that caused the mur ders that I have been telling you about," pro ceeded Flash. Now, is it not natural to sur mise that the one benefited by the death of Chester and his daughter committed the crime?" Such a surmise would not be unrelliOn able." So I thought.'' Who was the beneficiary?" "Who but Julia Chester?" Ragsdale bounded to his feet, white and trembling. Benay Flash, this is infamous!" Keep cool," urged the half-breed. "Re member your promise not to lose your tem per." After a moment the young lawyer calmed himself, and resumed his seat. I will keep cool, Flash, if only to refute your suspici ons in a quiet way. Let me tell you that what you say regarding Aunt Julia. hae no influence with me whatever,"

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. I 18 THE LA WYER DETECTIVE. I feared it would be so," returned Flash; but I deemed it my duty to t ell you what I had discovered. The evidence is strong against your aunt, while that against Dem-ming i s purely circumstantial." I have se e n or heard of no evidence against Mrs Chester." "Then you doubt what I tell you?" Frankly, yes." "What object do you think I could have in thus maligning a woman?" ''I do not know." "You will be satisfied with proofs?" "You have none." "Dont be too sure of that. The colonel and I have be e n investigating as well as you There's a k ee n detective on the trail, Mr. Ragsd a le and h e will not let even high relationship interfere with his duty." "Do you refer to Nat Shade?" "Yes." "I believe him an impostor.'' Then the colonel must be one as well. He procure d this man-hunter from Cheyenne. am sure of that.'' "Are you?" "I am." "Very well. I shall not borrow trouble over this remarkable discovery of yours. I mean to investigate for myself," declared Rags dale. Exactly what I want you to do," assured Flash. "Go right over to your aunt now and question h e r about this money. It's on deposit in a bank at Cheyenne. You'll find I have told only the facts, Mr. Rag9<:1ale." "Facts are stubborn things sometimes. }Tow, why is it that you and the colonel secrete Demming? I understand he has not left the country." "I have nothing to do with the young man whateve r As for the colonel, he is able to speak for himself.'' 'True W e may as well part now, Mr. }'lash. I will see Aunt Julia on this subject this very day.'' Do so, and when vou find that I have not told the half, come to me. I shall then have a proposition to make." Benay Flash remounted his horse and rode away. Seeing nothing of Sid Ragsdale turned his steps in the direction of Chester Ranch. He was glad enough to find his aunt at home, and a lon e, for the revelations of the half-breed had a depressing effect upon him, and he wished to assure himsE11f that Flash had spoken falsely. "I am so glad you have come, Hilton, dear boy," said Mrs. Tripp "We can have an hour to ourselves now.'' She led the way to a small back room, closed and locked the door, and pointed to a chair. "Sit there, Hilton.'' she said, in a low, tremulous voice. "I have a revelation to make of the utmost importance, and want no listeners aside from yourself." woman, ev\dently determined not to spare herself in the least. "You have heard of people marrying for money, Hilton?" "Yes." But you never heard of one marryin\\' to get some one to take care of her money, did you?" I don't call to mind such an instance." "Nor are you likely to; but when you at me, your foolish aunt, you see one who did that very thing. I had so much money I did not know what to do with it-a hundred thomand dollars, Hilton." The young man started. You are surprised ?" "Yes, indeed, Aunt Julia. I know Uncle Jared always spoke of you as poor." "Of course be did. My brother never quite forgave me for marrying Isaac C hes ter, whom h e dubbed a 'good-for-nothing jack-plane.' Isaac was a carpenter when I married him, but I l oved him, Hilton, and n eve r regretted my choice, even though he was not a man of much energy. But I am prolonging what I wished to tell you, and must hurry, for some one may come. It is about this money that I wish particularly to speak, Hilton. Brother Jared does not know that I am possessed of it, nor would I com municate with him on the subject. I know Jared well enough to know that b e would come to see me at once did h e understand that his sister, who married the despised mechanic. could buv him out twice over.'' Nobcidy unde rstood thie trait in Jared Rags
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THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. 19 Both were on their feet now. "Did you ever see that before?" He showed his aunt the penknife he had found near the scene of Olfre's cruel murder. One glance seemed sufficient. "Why, that was my daughter's knife," said Mrs. Tripp. It was a present from a friend. You will notice the initials W. R. on the plate." "I noticed them." "The first owner's, I presume. Olive did not tell me her friend's name. Where did you find it, Hilton?" He explained. "Ah, it is a part of that awful night's tragedy! Heaven give yqu strength to suc ceed, Hilton! I hear horse-hoofs. Some one comes. We must call this interview at an end for the present. I have much more to tell but must leave it for another occasion Hilton Ragsdal& left the house and turned his steps toward the colonel's ranch. He had been given a room to himself here, and it was to this that the young lawyer repaired. Once alone he sat down and produced the paper his aunt had given into his keeping. Drawing it from the wrapper Ragsdale opened it out on his knee. "Last will and testam ent of Julia Tripp," he read in surprise. As he ran his eye down the page his astonishment increased. My soul!" he exclaimed, she has made me her sole heir!" At this moment a sharp rap fell on his door. CHAPTER XVIII. AN ACCIDENT. BEFORE the young lawyer detective could secrete his precious paper, the door was opened and Benay Flash crossed the thresh old. His keen black eyes rested on the document on the knee of Ragsdale. A queer, uncanny expression shot into those eyes, and for one brief instant the even, white teeth showed themselves, a milky streak between dusky lips "I beg your pardon. Mr. Ragsdale," said the half-breed. I had no idea you were busy." "You seem to think I have nothing to do but play," retorted the man from Denver, ungraciously, as he folded the will and thrust it into its covering. "What have you there?" questioned Flash, not once removing his gaze from the paper in the hand of Ragsdale. "A matter of my own." Which does not concern me, you think ?" It does not." Ragsdale returned the document to his pdcket and glanced frowningly out of the window. He was deeply annoyed at the untimely visit of Benay Flash, and did not attempt to conceal his feelings. "I beg your pardon again for intruding, Mr. Ragsdale," said the half-breed, in his smooth, oily tones. "I you return from your aunt's, and was anxious to learn if you had consulted her on the subject I spoke to you about a short time ago." "You seem to be in a great sweat, Benay Flash." I confess to being in something of a hurry, but it is all on your account I assure you. Mr. R.iigsdale." "Indee:i!,, "You saw Mrs. Tripp?" ''I did." ''What did you learn?" "Some things that surprised me." "I thought as much." "Now what do you want to know?" Ragsdale was on his feet now, looking anx-ious and worried. He did not like the inquisitive methods of the colonel's factotum. The fellow was putting his. nose into Ragsdale's affairs on every possible occasion. "I wish to know if your aunt did not ad-mit of ha 'l'ing a fortune in a Cheyenne bank 'I" Suppose she did?" What of it, eh ?" "Yes wbat of it?" A good deal. How did she come by so much money ?" "Hon.Uy, I U1ure yuu,'' "I am sorry to have to differ with you in this respect, Mr.' Ragsdale." "It is a matte r of indifference to me, sir," retorted the young lawyer. "You may not feel so indifferent when y6u understand the case more fully," said Flash, meaningly. I do not care to listen to threats, Benay Flash. If you have nothing further to offer, you will please consider this interview at an end." "I have a good deal more to offer, sir," re torted the half-breed, again showing bis teeth. "If you value the safety of your aunt you will give me a respectful hearing." ,.., .. I am listening. Speak up at .once, and to the point." I will do so in a few words, Mr Ragsdale. I told you tbat it was suspected that Mr;. Chester poisoned ber husband a long time since?" I believe you did." "Furthermore, it is now believed that it was Mrs. Chester who put Olive out of the world on the night of the 16th of June last year." "Sir!" The young lawyer turned upon his visitor with clinched hands. K ee p cool, my friend," said Flash, in a low voice, a smile opening his lips. "I am only repeating facts." "It is preposte rous! outrageous! malignant slande r of a good woman!" "It may be. yet, unless all signs fail, your good aunt will be brought to the bar of the court to answer for the crime of a double mur d er." Soft as the purr of a cat fell the words of Benay Flash. They entered the soul of the lawyer-detect ive like points of barbed steel. An awful dr.ead r ested like an incubus on the spirit of Ragsdale. I He tried to shake it off. He could not. He gazed out of the window, and stood without uttering a word, when he felt that he ought to throttle his visitor for his base insinuations. "You saw Detective Shade. He has been following some clE!ws that l ead him directly to Mrs Tripp. It seems inevitable that she must face a court and answer certain ques tions. I am afraid she cannot do it. The evi dence is strong, and the more the affairs of the past two years are investigated, the darker does it look for your aunt. I am not to blame for this. I feel as sorry that it is so as any one can. It lies with you to say what. shall be done, Mr. Ragsdale." The young lawyer listened to the low murmured words of the half-breed like one in a dream. When at length he ceased speaking, .Ragsdale seemed to awaken suddenly. "My aunt is innocent!" declared he in an angry voice, There may be a plot to effect her ruin, but it will not succeed. This man Shade hasn't sense enough to. detect anything. He could not follow a clew if he tried." "All very plausible," said Flash; "but do you wish to see your aunt arrested for these murders?" "No." "Then why not do something to prevent it?" "I do not understand you." Must I speak plainer?" ''You must." "Then I will point the way out." "Goon." If you will leave this country, and let the past I think all will be well." The young lawyer glanceq at the speaker in evident surpzise. I don't think I qmte comprehend." "Return to Denver, and report that Olive Chester met her death at the hands of Indi ans-anything that will hush up the affairand your aunt will be saved. Can you understand that, Mr. Ragsdale?" J think I can." And you will go?" ''No." "What?" Benay Flash, you have put your foot in it now!" exclaimed the fawyer-detective, piercing the half-breed with a look that made him quail. Your proposition is the Ame made to me by the ma1ked honethieves. It seems that an investigation of the murder of Olive Chester is the last thing desired by some people on the Big Horn. When you and the co lonel sent fo r me, you imagined that I would merely look over the ground and return home without a thorough investigation. You have found out your mistake, anq now you take this method of closing up the search for the criminal. You cannot turn m e from my purpose, neither you nor your fellow conspirators.'' Benay Flash seemed to quail at first but as the young detective proceeded, his look changed, and at the last his milk-white teeth were disclosed by a smile, "Go dness! exclaimed the half-breed. "The idea that Colone l Redhart is a conspirator against his neighbor. I only mentioned a way to save your aunt from arrest and prosecution. I don't say she is guilty, but I do aver that it'll puzzle her and her friends to keep her out of the pe11itentiary, now that her very dear nephew goes bac k on her. I've said more than I in tended. I shall not lift a finger to save your r elative after to-day." Benay Flash turned to go. One moment, Mr Flash." '!-Well?" "Does Colonel Redhart know of this?'' "Of my proposition to you?" ''Yes." ''He does not." You were by Mr. Shade?" "I will answer no more questions," said Flash. I hope we Bhall be friends in the future,Mr. although you have tried to make an enemy of me. And then the man departed. Closing the door, Ragsdale stood alone in his room. The proposition of the half-breed-suggested a strange chain of thought. Many questions flitted unanswered through the brain of the lawyer. What was the motive that led the halfbreed to make such a proposition to the man who was engaged in ferreting out a most heinous crime? The fellow surely had a motive. Was he alone in this, or was he but the agent of others? Why bad Flash unbosomed himself in this way with regard to Mrs. Tripp? Was there a conspiracy to destroy his aunt, and save the real murderer? The young lawyer-detective could find no satisfactory answers to these questions. Another thought troubled him not a little. Might it be true thaL Julia Chester h a d murdered her relatives to obtain the fortune? The thought was horrible and r e pulsive. By making her nephew h e r heir. the woman had, to Ragsdale, disproved h e r connection with the crime laid to her by Benay Flash. It seemed conclusive now, to the man from Denve r that Evard D emming, however guilty he might be, was not alone in his criminality. There loom e d up a vast conspiracy. that made the unraveling of the mystery at Three Oaks Ranch more diffi cult than Ragsdale had ex pect ed. There was more thari one element of mys tery about the whole affair. I'll see Sid Gidley, and obtain possession of the locket." decided Ragsdale. After that I must find the man whose photograph occupies one side of the locket. He is certainly a factor in the case that must 11ot be ig nored." Full of thtise thoughts, the young lawyer left the room. He met the\colonel below, who informed him that it was the dinner hour. After the meal Colonel Redhart suggested a ride down the creek toward the Big Horn, where he had a large drove of cattle. After a brief hesitancy the young Denver ite accepted the invitation. When they were ready to start. Rags'dale discovered that the detective was w makl' one of the party. This arrangement did please the Jaw. yer, but he had too good sense to let his feel. ings be known. The ride was a much :,mger one than Rags dale expected. It was almost night before the colone l W8" ready to return to Three Oaks. The horse ridden by the lawyer was a ekit, tiah animal, aud hall more tblln ouce abied M

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20 THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. aome object by the roadside, and nearly un seated his rider. "I'd about forgot old Tom's coltishness," declared the colonel, but he made no offer to exchange animals with Ragedale, and the latter was too proud to mention such a thing himself, Darkness had fallen. Colonel Redhart was in advance, while Ragsdale brought up the rear. They were crossing a ridge, through a rather dense cluster of timber. Of a sudden a loud enort was heard; then the cry of a man in alarm, followed by a crashing of brush and twigs. "Hello!" cried Colonel Redhart, drawing rein. "What's up behind there?" I guess an accident," said shade. I see nothing of our friend, Ragsdale. His horse has fallen over the ridge!" Then he's done fur!" exclaimed the colo nel. CHAP1'ER XIX. THE FACE AGAIN. IT was true. Ragsdale had gone over the ridge. Horse and rider had rolled down an em bankment some forty feet, and both seemed to be dead, 9ince neither stirred. Colonel Redhart and his companion dis mounted, and securing their horses proceed ed to investigate. "It war all old doin's," said the col onel, as he descended the steep in advance of Shade, the detective. "I oughtn t to have let thA young feller ride the or'nary critter.'" I hope he is not killed.'' "It'll be er miracle ef he ain't." The two men eoon reached the foot of the declivity, and stood quietly listening. It was too dark here in the woods to see anything. Presently a groan assailed the ears of the twain. "That's him," said the colonel. He isn t dead, then?" "No; I'm glad on't. Hello, Ragsdale! Where are you?" To this call no answer was vouchsafed. However, the two men were not long in finding the spot where man and horse lay. Matches were brought into requisition, and an examination made. The horse was stone dead. His neck had been broken. "Confound ther luck," growled the Mis sourian. What now, colonel ?" "That horse," declared Redhart. "He coot me two hundred, and now he's dead. I'm dumbed sorry.'' "Never mind the horse. How is it with the man?" "He's dead, too, I reckon." Shade bent over the prostrate young law yer, and placed his hand on his heart. In order to ascertain if life remained the detect ive r e mov.od his glove. ''Hold a match this way, colonel.'' Redhart did as requested. He even went further, and ignited a bunch of weeds and twigs, thus making a torch that burned for a considerable time. He held the light so that it lit up the face and form of Ragsdale. Wal said the colonel is the young fellow ?" "No." He may die though?" Time enough. It's a bad accident," agreed Shade. 'You've lost a valuable horse, and the community may have lost a very smart man." There was something like a sarcastic ring in the speaker's voice at the last. It was quite evident that Detective Nat Shade did not think highly of Hilton Rags !lale. "There's no use talkin'," declared Colonel Red hart, "the Denver feller is smart and I hate to have him die in this ere way. We must git him home some way, Nate.'' "We'd best go home and send some one out with a team, It might be the death of him if we tried to carry him on our horses. If be dies it isn't your fault or mine, colonel." "That's true, I admit." Thll light was bur.!Wlg_ low 11ow, and its faint flashes revealed a weird picture-two men, half bending over a prostrate form on the ground, a dead horse near, tall trees loom ing up in shadowy outlines on every side. Slowly the picture faded out, and a solemn darkness covered all. The wind moaning through the trees sound ed like a dirge. One of the men shuddered. Perhaps he was SUJ?erstitious, or perhaps he had a guilty conscience that makes cow ards of men. "Come," said Shade in a low voice, "let us go." "And leave Ragsdale?" "Yes. I'm sure he can't last long. The body can be carted in to-morrow and shiJWed to his friends-that will end it a.11." A heartless remark . It did not seem to affect the Missouri colonel, who signified his willingness to de part. The two.men climbed the hill, remounted their horses, and rode swiftly away. Where's Ragsdale ?" It was buxom Mrs. Redhart who put this question the moment her husband and De tective Shade entered the house on their re turn. "He's hurt," said the colonel. He then explained. "Oh, dear! that's too ba.d," sighed the woman. A gentleman was here, soon after you left, a-lookin' for the Denver man.'' Eh-is that so?" The colonel seemed interested at once. ''It's so. Do you think I would lie about it, colonel?" The woman looked indignant. ''No. Who was he, Nance?" "I dunno." Whar was he from?" "Don' know that nuther.'' "Wal, you're smart. Why didn't yer fiqd out who he was, whar he was from an' what he He didn't give me time. He was in a powerful hurry, and rid off jest as soon's he found you'n Mr. Ragsdale had gone.'' ''Sho!,, A troubled look overspread the face of the colonel, At length he What sort of a lookin' chap was he, Nance?" A likely young feller.'' Can't you describe him ?'' "I might.'' Do so, then." A trim-built young man, witll a smooth face, chestnutty hair, and dark eyes.'' His clo's ?" "Neat as wax." Store cl o's?" "Yes." "By thunder! it wl\S some tenderfoot from Denver, I'll bet a hoss.'' The colonel seemed troubled, however, and went to his smoking-room, whither he called Shade, and the two talked long and earnestly, not separating till almost the morn ing hour. * * * In the meantime what of our Denver friend who had been left to his fate at the foot of the wooded ridge ? He was not dead. Nor was he injured so deeply as Colonel Redhart and his companion supposed. The moment the two men departed there was a movement on the part of Ragsdale. He sat up. II was too dark to see objects, but the young lawyer knew about where he was. His nerves had received a severe shock in more than one particular. He bad made a discovery that tingled to the very tips of his fingers. It will be remembered that Shade, in order to make an examination of Ragsdale's condi tion, had removed his glove. Under the glare of the colonel's torch, the hand of the detect ive was plainly revealed to the prostrate young lawyer. It was the sight of a missing little finger thHt had startled Ragsdale. After that the man from Denver lay quite still. Once this man, then in mask, had at tempted. to take his life. He believed the fel low 1ras llOl1e too ,good to make 1W'e of the job now, did he suspect that Ragsdale would hve. And so the lawyer-detective had played possum" to good advantage on this occasion. He had made a most important discovery. Nat Shade was a villain! He certainly was not what he purported to be. Did his employer, the doughty Missouri colonel, know the true character of Shade? It was th is unanswered question that troubled Ragsdale more than aught else. It Wl\S with some difficulty that the lawyer regained his feet. When he succeeded in doing so he felt weak and faint. So they will send for my body in the morning," mused Ragsdale, with a grim laugh. "I'm thinking they'll not find it this time. I presume it's a steep climb up yonder hill, but it must be made, and then I'll rest under a tree till morning, when I'll pounce down on some people I know and give thew a surprise party.'' The lawyer detective waited till he felt a little stronger, when he began the ascent of the hill. It proved a toilsome climb for one who was yet weak from his tumble down the ridge declivity. When he reached the summit of the ridge he sat down and listeped. Far away on the trail he heard the metallic cbck of iron-shod hoofs. His two late companions were making good time on the return to Three Oaks Ranch. I'll eurprise them in the morning," thought Ragsdale, and in this reflection he seemed to find a good deal of comfort. Presently he started to his feet, and stepped aside from the trail. Why this movement? He had heard a $OUnd that assured him of the approach of a horseman along the trail. This was a surprise to him, since he sup posed his friends, who had so considerately left him to his fate, were far away on the re turn to Three Oaks. A flash of heat lightning lit the night for an instant, and in its glare the concealed man caught a view of the approaching horseman. "Ahl" exclaimed the young lawyer. A moment later the traveler had passed on. "That face!" exclaimed Ragsdale. "There's but one such in the world, and he is an im portant factor in this strange case.'' Even w bile he soliloquized, the sound of horse-hoofs fretted the evening air. Once more a flash of distant lightning lit up the trail, revealing the face and form of a second horseman. Glory I glory!" exclaimed Ragsdale, in an ecstasy of delight. The next instant he sprung into the trail, and uttered a name that brought the horse man to a halt-the name of Sid Gidley, the boy homesteader. "Good land! is that you, Hilton?" "It's me for a fact, Sid, my boy," returned the lawyer, "and I'm very glad to see the face, and hear the voice of a friend once more." "And I'm dreadful glad to find you, Hilton!" returned the lad. I've been looking for you. It's kind o' strange how we git sepa rated so. I don't think we've traveled in company much after all. I found out you'd come to the old kunnel's cattle range, and so pointed, this way myself.'' Did you meet the colonel and his man Friday?" Who'd ye call Friday?" ''Mr. Shade.'' No, I didn't meet 'em.'' "You must have passed them.'' "I didn't follow the regular trail," said the boy, "and must have missed 'em in that way. How'd you come to be separated from 'em, Hilton?" The youn;; lawyer explained. .:__ I told you Shade was no good." "I don't believe he's a detective," declared Ragsdale, and what's more, I'm afraid the colonel isn't sound.'' It looks that way.'' "And, Sid." "Well Hilton?" that face again just now.'' What face?" "The face of Olive's other lover-the face of the man whose photograph ia in the locket you found, Sid.''

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THE: LA WYER DETECTIVE. 2 1 CHAPTER XX. ROBBING A THIEP. BENAY FLASH, accompanied by a cow-boy from one of Co lon e l Redhart's ranges, drove away from Three Oaks on the following morn ing, in the direction of the ridge where it was supposed Hilton Ragsdale had met his fate. They rode in a two-horse wagon, intending to bring the body of the unfortunate lawyer to the ranch. The colonel's countenance wore an uneasy expression during the day. He rode out in company with Detective Shade in the morning, and the twain halted at the lon e cabin where th body of the mur dered girl had been found. The two dismounted and searched the cabin and vicinity thoroughly. They made no important discoveries. "There's not a clew l eft h e r e, Nate," said the colonel. "I've an idea the fellow who shot the g-al \von't never be found." "You don t have much faith in the detect ive yo u ha..-e employed, then, colonel," re turned Shade with a low laugh. Well. you know how it is Nate: the young feller from Denver's gone under, and 1u3 was the m os t interested in findin out ther facts." "Of course, but I sha'n't rest easy till some one hangs for this. "So?" Yes, colonel." A queer expression shot from the eyes of the speaker. "So you're goin' to hunt some one to the gallows, Nate?" "That's the s iz e of it, colonel.'' The i:anch owner said no more on the sub ject then. Remounting his horse he faced toward home. Shade kept him company. You seem troubled, colonel." "I be troubled, Nate." "Why should you be?" "It's about the young feller." Ragsdale?'' ''Yes." "Are you to blame for an accident?" "No, I s pose not; but the feller trusted me lik e I was his fathe r, and 'twan't usin' him right ter gin him that hoss, Nate, I sw'ar 'twasn't. Dum my skin, ef I don' believe his spirit'll ha'nt me allus." The colonel drew his rough sleeve across his eyes. Crying, as I Ii ve!" exclaimed the Che yenne detective, mockingly. "Don't laugh, pard, yer hurt my feelin's, said Colonel Redhart. "The idea. that you should think so much of Hilton Ragsdale. I thought you had more sand, colonel." To this speech the Missourian made no re ply. Half an hour later the colonel was pacing up and down the porch in front of his house. "It's had bizness, mighty bad ," muttered the Missourian. I'll hev to send a telegram to Denver and inform the uncle, I s'pose. Dod blame me, why'd I consent, why did I ? Fust I know the gallus'll be yawning for my carcass, sure's the notion. I never did a bad deed in ole Missoury, and it's er shame 'at I should come ter Wyoming and go into in iquities. That the colonel was in an uneasy state of mind was to be seen at a glance. He entered the house, and procuring his pipe, filled and lit It, returning to the porch, where he sat down and smoked vigorously to drown his troubled conscience. In the meantime Nate Shade retired to his room on the ground floor at the rear of the house. He sat down and dJ'ew an envelope from his pocket. From this he removed a long, document, and proceeded to examme it care fully. "Last will and testament of Mrs Julia Tripp," muttered the man. "An important document, truly. It was lucky I went through bis pockets last night. This may lead to some thing, and I may be able to feather my nest at your expense, Mr. Ragsdale.'! He examined the paper carefully. "So shes made the Denver man her heir," mused Mr. Shade. "I can seC' through this like a mice You're euchred this time, Mr. Tripp sure's the world. You got the widow, but not the money. Ha! ha! ha!" The man from C heyenne laughed till his sides shook, so pleased was he over the situa tion. "Now, if my very dear fri e nd Ragsdale was living, I should not touch this paper. but since he has joined the majority; the r e's no harm in my seeing to it.that his heirs do not profit by this legal document. Let me see who are the witnesses? What!" Shade bent low and glanced a t the paper, his eyes shining like glass beads. "That man's name signed to this! The follow trembled visibly. He was truly deeply moved, and in a way that betokened the most intense anger as well as alarm. "I had no idea that 1u3 was in this country, yet I notice that it was only a few weeks ago that this document was made out. I believe that man, whom I bate above ground induced Mrs. Tripp to make this disposition of h e r property. Should she di e suddenly, the money in Cheyenne Bank would go to the relatives o f Ragsdale -prnviding this will is ever found!" There was a deep meaning in the last words of the pretended detective, and the gleam in bis eyes was something unpleas ant to see. Lighting l\.match, Shade h e ld it under the paper. Of a sudden, however, he threw away the match, a new thought having dawned on his brain. "What a fool!" he exclaimed. This paper may be worth more to me in my possession, than it possibly could be, destroyed. I Llvn't mean to play into the hands of Tribune Tripp and his ilk; I'd much rath e r deal with the heirs of Mr. Ragsdale. I'll keep the paper till such time as it becom es necessary to use it." Refolding the important document, the schemer thrust it bac"k into its envelope and shoved it into his coat-pocket. He then lit a cigar, and sat and smoked for half an hour. The room seemed close and stifling. Shade drew off his coat and threw'it over a chair. He still smoked. He was in deep meditation, when a sound attracted his attention. He rose languidly and went to the window. What he saw caused him to and change color. A score of mounted men were less than half a mile distant, riding toward Three Oaks at a gallop. "Cowboys," muttered Shade. "I wonder what they want with the colonel?" For some moments the man from Cheyenn6 stood watching the coming troop. H e soon satisfied himself that the party meant to halt at the ranch. 'I'll step out and see what's in the wind," muttered Shade. "There' s nothing lik e put ting a bold face on matters of this kind.'' Shade left the room, locking the door after him. His coat still lay on the chair, and that stood near the open window. Scarcely had Shade left the room, when a hand was thrust through the open window, and s e ized the coat. Soon the garment was tossed back, and the hand withdrawn, Immediately thereafter a man cPOssed an open space near the house and glid'ed into the grove near at J,and. All this was but the work of a haff dozen minutes. Meantime the troop of horsemen galloped up to the front of the house and halted. The men were a haray set, all armed to the teeth, and well mounted. Colonel Redhart removed his pipe and stared at the ue w arrivals. The leader of the troop rode right up to the steps, and leaned from the saddle. "Helloa! Jack, is it you?" cried Colonel Redhart, springing up and extending his hand. The man on the horse did not seem to notice the friendly greeting, but said: "Have you a stranger in the house, colonel?" "What d'ye mean, Jack Stoneset ?" "Jest what I say." I don't reckon I hev.'' The stalwart homsteader, whom we met on one occasion at Catamount Ranch, turned to his followers. "Boys, I expect you'll hev to go through the ranch." "Hold on," objected the colonel. "Jest ex plain a le e tle. Do ver 'magine I've got a criminal in my housen ?" That's it to a T, colonel." "Git off yerself, then, Jack, and go through the old trap. Who yer lool
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.. 22 THE LA WYER DETECTIVE. "Yes, that's a fact. I left that at home. Let's hurry and get there soons we can. "I am agreed, and we must be careful not to meet any one on the way." The boy insisted on Ragsdale's riding the horse, and so, without parley, the lawyer mounted, and his boy friend trotted along at his side. It was not far to the Deadwater ranch. Just before reaching it the lad halted. "We mustn' t be seen, or you mustn't, Mr. Ragsdale, so I'd best go on ahead and send Pete Gorman away till we git you fixed up." Who is Pete Gorman?" The man I've hired to run the ranch while I'm helpin' y.ou." The boy rode on in advance, leaving Ragsdale concealed in a clump of trees on the creek bank. In the course of half an hour the lad re turned, announcing that the coast was clear. The two men hurried to the house. "We've got two hours to work in," said Sid. "Before that time we kin have you fixed so yer mother wouldn't know ye." Sid was enthusiastic at the outlook, and his companion soon caught some of his enthusi asrn. The blonde mustache of Ragsdale was sacri ficed, Sid using a razor t o good effect. Next the chestnut hair had to go, close to the head. "Now, then, bring on your false beard," said.. the lawyer. "I haven,t any." "Good heavens! then you've disfigured me without effecting a disguise," exclaimed Ragsdale, in trepidation. Don't fly off ther handle too sudden like, Hilton," returned Sid I'm running this business jest at present. You jest leave it to me." "All right." From a cupboard in the room the young llomesteader produced a mug half filled with a dark paste. A brush stood in this, which Sid began ing freely on the face of his friend. "Be careful what you do, boy. You'll ruin my complexion forever. "No; but fur a short time only," and Sid laughed merrily as he stood back and contemplated his work. There, I reckon you're changed a little, anyhow." T .hen Sid returned the mug of stain, and brought a glass for Ragsdale to contemplate himself in. The change was remarkable. The blonde face of Ragsdal e was now the dark, sallow one of a Mexican or Spaniard. "Well, Hilton, how d'ye like the change?" The boy grinned with delig\lt as he con-templated his work. "Very good, only--" "Wal?" My hair doesn't correspond with my countenance, nor my bands." "I forgot your hands. I'll fix 'em in a min ute." Once more the mug was brought into req uisition; and the fair hands of the lawyer were stained a beautiful brown. Returning the mug to its place, Sid left the room. \Vhen he returned, h e carried a s uit of clothing and a wig of long, straight black na.ir. "Sam used these once," explained the boy, when he went among the redskins. I reckon they'll fix you out in good shape." So you would make an Indian of me? rm afraid I cannot fill the bill, Sid. You have made a mistake." "No, I hain' t. You ain't no Indian, but a Mexican gentleman or a Spanish, up from the South bu yin' cattle-see?" Yes, ind eed!" The boy's idea was a goon one, and the man from Denve r was well pleased. He donned the wig and suit of clothes, and then saw at a glance that his disguise was complete. "It's just the thing!" exclaimed Ragsdale. "I believe you are a magician, boy." ''You must have a name." "True.'' "What shall it be?" "I c a n think of none. I' still trust to you, Sid." "Wa.1 11o w'<.l Don Ran1on Jo?" t."' "Very goo
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.. THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. 23 feller till I know more about him. I've got some cattl e to sell, you understand, and you mustn't insult the.chap while he's my guest." Just ask him to turn out his pockets," urged Mr. Shade. "No-no, that one won't do, Nate. Let me manage it. I reckon you' re mistooken, anyhow." The colon el now advanced and sat down be side Don Ramon. Casting a fierce scowl toward the Mexican, Shade turned on his heel and walked away, entering the grove and disappearing. "The gentleman seems annoyed," said Don Ramon. You heard him say he'd been robbed, of course?'' ''Yes." .. He lost a valuable paper, and feels sore about it, Bat'rally." And does he anybody?" "I reckon so. But let Nat go fer ther pres ent." said the colonel. Come indoors and crack a bottle o wine long o' me, senor." "Certainly, colonel." Tossing aside his cigar, the seeming Mexican followed Colone l Redhart into the house. He was shown to a room where a card tabl e and utensils for gambling seemed the most prominent part of the furniture. "Brought these 'e r e things from ole Missoury with me,". explained the colonel. ''I don' t fetch every coon 'at comes along in here. This is my private sanctorum whar I entertain my friends Sit up and hev a friendly game ef yer like." "Not now, colonel. I want to talk cattle." "All right." A bottle of wine was" cracked," however, and while the colonel seemed to drink deeply, Don Ramon partook very sparingly. Rags dale was somewhat suspicious of the colone l and did not mean to be caught napping. .. I've got rlenty of steers, senor, and am blamed sure can suit yer. "We' ll look them over in a few days, sir." Whv not at once-to-morrow?" "I'm in no hurry," returned the Mexican. I shall remain in this vicinity for some time." You'll make yer home long o me?" "Ff it pleases you, colonel." "Wal, it do please me. I've got the best grade o' steers on ther Big Horn, bet yer life on th et, senor, the prim est lot." Colone l Redhart smacked his lips over a s1:cond glass of wine. It was not cattle that Ragsdale was after, but soincthing of far more importance. He was anxious to learn the true character of the gaunt Missourian to learn if possible whether he 1eally desired the murderer of Olive ChP.ste r captured. Furthermore, this man Shade. who seemed a good friend of the colo nel's, Ragsdale knew to be a villain, the lead er in fact of the masked outlaws who had cowe so near murdering bim on a certain oc casion, as the reader remembers. The man's mutilated hand had given him away to the lawyer detective on the previous night. Now, if Colonel Redhart was an honest man, why had he introduced this villain to Ragsdale as a detective from Cheyenne? Possibly Shade had deceived the colonel. Probably. he had not, however, and as Don 0Ramon, the Mexican, the man from Denver expected to learn much of importance ere he turned his back on Three Oaks Ranch. He was well aware that it was necessary to move with caution. He be careful not to excite thl suspicion of the gaunt colonel. As for Shade, the amateur man-hunter did not care. "Colonel, I once had a friend who lived in the Big Hom basin somewhere," said Rags dale, after a free exchange of opinions on various au bjects. I wonder if you didn't know him!" "Like enough, though I hain't been in these diggin' s more'n a year. What was his name?" "His name is Demming." ''Eh?" ' My friend's name is Demming," repeated the Mexican. "Not Evard .,The same. " Good Lordyl" "Did you know him, colonel." "Did I know him? Wal, I sh'u' d smile Why, dod blast it, senor, I bought this ram:h o' that ar feller, 'bout a year ago now. I
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..... 24 THE LA WYER DETECTIVE. friend of mine, and I was enraged at t.he thought of its being stolen. P erhaps S enor Flash can explain h o w h e co m e to possess the locket, which is of much value. "I don't propose to answer impertinent questions, sneered Flash. Then I shall k ee p the locket. "You do it at your/eril!" Benay Flash showe his teeth. "I will leave it to Colonel Redhart. He shall judge between us," said Don Ramon, de liberately, not willing to re8ign the precious trinket without a struggle. "I make no compromise9, growled the half breed tur.ning on his heel. "We'll meet again, greaser! And then Benay Flash hurried from the vicinity. The young lawyer-detective had s ecured the coveted prize, yet ii : was at a terrible cost. He had made an enemy of the half-breed, and this fact alone was a grave one. Dropping the locket into an inner pocket, Don R&mon said: "Your man has a most violent temper, col onel!" I reckon. I didn' t know he was a thief, though. I kinder guess you'll hev ter prove that afore y e leave ther ranch, senor-prove it or git out!" There was a quee r look in the eyes of the Missourian, that boded no good to the Mexi-can. At one stroke the latter had made the ranchowner and his factotum enemies. Surely this was not making progress in the right direction very rapidly. Do you wish me to prove him a thief, col onel?" If you can ?" "I hope you won't urge it," said Don Ramon. I know the locket was stolen, although Mr. Flash may be an innocent purchaser. I mean to return .the precious relic to its rightful owner some day." "Let me take a squint at it, Senor Ramon." The colonel put out his bony hand. Anxious to keep on the right side of the Missourian, Don Ramon could not well re fuse. He drew out the locket and laid it in the hand of Co l onel Redhart. The latter opened it. "Wal, I'll be blanked!" "What now, colonel?" "Where in nature'd this ere come from, don?" "From down on the Dead water." "Wal, w a l. I'm dod blamed ef I hain' t seen one o' them faces afore. " Which one, colonel?" "The man s." "Who is he?" The Missourian shook his head. "Don't you know him?" "Dunno. Seems like I did, and yet I cayn't Jest place him. Let me take it in and show it to Nan r y, mebbe she'll know the young feller." Don Ramon did not object. He was deeply anxious to learn something about the man who might be the murderer of Olive Chester and so he accompanied the colonel to the house, and to the presence of Mrs. Red hart. ;Why, Lordy, r_al" exclaimed the colonel's wife, "that theres the man 'at was here yes terday." Not the galoot with the store clo's and fine boots, Nancy?" "The very chap." "Wal, I'm blowedl" Colonel Redhart scanned the face closely, wrinkling his brows. He' s the very feller them cowboys 'at Jack Stoneset headed was a-lookin' fur, He must be a ornary cuss. Do ye know the gal's face, Nance?" '' I reckon not." The co l onel banded back the locket, and nothing more came of it at the time. Just after sunset Colonel Redhart came to bis guest, and said: I've !!'Ot news fur yer, Don Ramon." "News!" You bet. senor." I am anxious to hear it." "I've located yer old friend, Evard Dem ming. Yer kin see him ter-nigbt ef yer like.' I shoul d like it ever so much." "All hunkey. We'll go to him arter supper. "Goto him?'' ''Yes, Where is he?" ''No t faraway. "Why not bring him here?" "It mout not be safe. "Senor Demming is, then, in hiding?'' "Yes." Perhaps it would be best not to disturb him, colonel---'' Look-a -here, senor, I've promised to bring yer, and y e r said as bow yer was drefful anxious to see Mr. Demming. No backin' out now-not a bit on't. " Very well. I will go." Immediately after supper two mounted men left Three Oaks Ranch, and rode slowly down the creek. It now began to dawn upon the mind of the lawyer detective that be had made a mis t a ke in claiming D emming as his friend. Of course, when brought face to face with the sus pected murderer, that individual would deny all knowledge of Don Ramon, and then the situation would prove most awkward. Jn fac t it would require all the young Denverite' s tac t to explain. 1Iowever, he felt that he was in for it now, and he might in the end tum the adventure to good account, so he not to borrow trouble This starting off just at night did not exactly please Ragsdale. On c e such a ride bad nearly led to his death. At length he ventured to speak to bis companion on the subject. 'Twouldn't do to go in the daytime, senor." "Why not?" "Wal, one thing, thar's a lot o' cusses on ther lookout. The people imagine that I'm friendly to Demmipg, and Tribune Tripp's watchin me. He thinks Demming killed the gal, and he wants to help lynch 'im." The explanation seeme d satisfactory, and Ragsdale said no more on the subject. Following the creek bank about two miles, the twain entered a ra'tber dense strip of timber. "How much further is it, colonel?" "Jest a little ways." Is Senor Dem;ning alone ?" "I reckon. "He must ha" c an unpleasant time of it hiding away from the people." "Wal, that may be; but what's the poor feller g oin' ter do? He don t like ter die fur a crime 'at some one else did." "Certainly not; and yet it s eems to me he might make his way to the c oun t y s eat, and give himself up to the authorities H e c e rtainly could have nothing to fear by standing trial, providing he is innocent, Don Ramon, d eliberately. " Mebbe you think he ain't innocent? "I know nothing about it, of course." "You' ve beard of the murder?" "Yes, I read of it in the American papera." I reckoned so. Now, mebbe you ain' t here a-purpus to look inter this 'ere affair?" "What do you m ean?" "'Just what J said," and the colonel laughed grimly. "You mout be a detective, yer see; moutn't yer, now?" The Missourian had drawn rein and looked about. Ragsdale could almost fancy be saw his eyes gleaming like living coals. Was the man about to assault him? Had Ragsdale run into a-trap?" Quickly the pseudo Mexican drew a pistol. On the instant several sharp flashes illumined the night. "My God! I'm shot!" It was the colonei's voice, and then Ragsdale beard a heavy fall. Before the lawyer-detective could make a move, a laria t fell about bis waist, and be was jerked from bis horse with violence CHAPTER XXIV. A. MOMENT OF SUSPENSE. !'DON'T shoot him. No blood must be shed, vou know" lay helpless on the ground. He was not badly injured, but be had lost his pistol in the fall, and the lariat pinioned bis arms to his side. When he attempted to free himeelf, several bands were laid upon him, and be was secured. His hands were drawn to the rear, and bound in spite of his struggles. Now look after the colonel," said a voice. He fell from bis boss; mebbe he's killed." "No, no, that must not be,'' returned the other. No blood was to be shed, remem ber." Soon it was ascertained that Colonel Redbart lay bleeding and insensible on the ground. At a .ny rate this was the purport of the con versat10n, and.Ragsdale felt sorry that he had misjudged the Missourian, .''Come," said a voice in the ear of the prisoner, "you must jog along with us." What is thi s outrage for?" demanded the young lawyer, indignantly. "I am a Mexican gentleman. My government shall bear of this." "Bahl" The prisoner was lifted forcibly to his feet. And then he was led away. The outcome of bis visit to Demming was humiliating in the extreme, and Ragsdale was sure now that he had made a mistake in accompanying the colonel. It was too late now to think on these things. Ragsdale soon discovered that they were in a rough region, since he stumbled many times, and came near falling. At length the prisoner found himself pushed into a low cavern in the side of a steep hill. A moment later a fl.ashed on the scene -a dark lantern held m the hand of a masked man. The prisoner glared about him. He counted six men, all in masks. Now, then, my Mexican gentleman. w e intend to make yer show yer colors," said the leading mask, at the 8ame time laying a hand on the arm of Ragsdale. The hand of the maek was plainly revealed in the glow of the lantern. It was the left hand, and the little finger was partly missing. This was the same man who had once be fore attempted the life of Ragsdale, and the man who had posed as Nate Shade, detective. You say you 're a Mexican," said the mask. Do you know what 1 believe?" ''No." "I believe you're an impostor." "You have no reason to think so." "Yes, I have. You claim to know Evard Demming. Now I have seen that gentleman, and he says be knows no Don Ramon; in fact, be is unacquainted with any Mexican, so you see you' ve put your foot in it wonder fully." "It seems that a mistake has been made," returned Ragsdale. "It may be that there are more than one Demming in the world." "That sort of argument won' t go down .. Why have you brought me her;;?" "To keep you where you won' t do any damage to my friends and myself. "So you fear me, then ? ' It' s well enough to be on the safe side," returned the mask, laughing grimly. "Hold yer light a lhtle nearer, pard, and we'll examine this rascal." Of course Ragsdale was helpless. The mask tore off bis bat and flung it down, then be pulled sharply at the wig of black hair. "Hal I thought as much." The wig had come off in the band of the investigator. "By my life! I've seen your face somewhere before," declared the maek, scrutinizing the features of bi9 prisoner closely. By Heaven! it's my old friend, Ragsdale. Not a word said the prisoner. His chagrin was terrible, however. "Sol" ejaculated the mask in a terrible voice, "you did not leave the country as I once ordered you, it seeme. Do you know that you have returned to die?'' "I hope not." "Your hopes are ill-founded. You bad sufficient :warning, and ought to have profited by it. You did not, now you shall never see the spires of Denver again." Do you p ropose to murder me?"

PAGE 25

. ,, THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. 25 "Not 80 harsh a deed as that, but we must be rid of you." "In what way have I harmed you, Sir Mask?" "In more ways than you ima1tiue." "Did you murde Olive Chester?" It was a blunt query, bluntly put. The mask started and clutched at his throat. A significant movement. "Furies man! what a question to put to a man who is above harming any one not his deadly foe I came here on 1?,urpose to--" 'Hunt down the assassin?' The eyes of the prisoner peered sharply into the masked countenance, as though he would read therein some familiar lineament. "You have guessed right," said the mask. I knew it. You are the tool of Colonel Red hart." '"l am his friend." Did he have a hand in this villainy?" The colonel knew nothing about what was to come. He intended to guide you to Dem rniug. but I did not desire to have it so. The r anch-owner is badly hurt, for which I am &orrv." "Perhaps it was your intention to murder the colonel as well as myself?" No, hut the old man was in bad company: "You refer to me?" "Exactly." "You are complimentary.'" "To you, yes. But this confab may as well end." One moment, Sir Mask." "Well?" You are an impostor." uwhat?" I know you, Nat Shade!" "Eh?'' The mask started and trembled. "I know you." repeated Ragsdale. "You robbed me of a precious paper. and left me for dead at the foot of a ridge m the night. Was that fall of mine an accident, or was it an attempt at murder? I know my horse was frightened by some object in the woods. I now belieYe it was a plan to murder me." Nothing of the kind. At any rate I pre sume it wasn't. My name is not Shade, so of courae I can't judge of the intentions of that gentleman." However, Ragsdale could see that cap tor was not easy in mind, and the Denverite was fully assured that be bad made no mis take in hi s man. Before Ragsdale coulci speak further. the masked leader turned to his companions and addressed a few words to them man unknown tongue. It was doubtless one of the numerous Indian dialec ts of the North-west. Ragsdale was seized and hurled to the rocky floor of the cavern. Then strong hands proceeded to bind his legs. After this his body was wound with ropes, until he was as jointless as a stick of timber. Now pnt in tlte gag.'' At this the prisoner demurred. "Let m e retain my power of speech," pleaded Ragsdale. His request was unheeded. A gag was thrust into his mouth and securely fastened. Then b e wa placed on bis back, in a posi tion where he could not move, andonly look straight upward at the low ceiling. "There!" said the masked leader, "I guess that'll do. I've only this to say to you, Hilton Ragsdale: you have brought this fate upon yourself. Your late disguise condemns you as a man to be distrusted. Nobody will ever thit!k of looking in this place for you. The mouth of the cave is completely hidden by vines. and you will have a long time to think over your past life, and of the evil you have done. "You made a sad mistake when you consented to act the spy on better men than yourself. You see how it ends. I am sony for you, but necessity knows no law. At the end of a week I will visit this spot again. If the coyotes have not picked your bones, I'll see that your body is decently buried. Time preaaes, and I must bid you farewe ll. With a mocking bow the m:m in the maak lurned r.-.,, Soon the light faded out, and the sound of footsteps died away. The silence and darkness was terrible to contemplate. The brutal masks had left Ragsdal e to a fate most borrible. They had shot Colonel Redhart, and visited a worse fati on the young lawyer. Strange emotions shot through the mind of the helpless Denverite ae the minutes waned. At every step in his inves tigation of the murder of his cousin h e had encountered op position, and it began to look as though the whole Big Horn basin was anxious to have the investigation squelched. Hark! What sound is that? A step, or rather a stealthy tread, in the darkness. A cold chill shot down the spine of the helpless man. He imagined that one of th e masks was returning to send a knife t.o his h eart. Mayhap Nat Shade himself, who feared to trus t to time and the wild aninJ.als to deal with his prison e r. Nearer and nearer drew the steps, creeping along in a careful manner. Was it an animal coming to make a meal off the h e lpless lawyer? It might be. With a mighty effort the bound man tried to burst his bonds. Not a partic le of effect was made on the knotted cords. Great drops of sweat oozed out on the brow of the bound man. He felt that his doom was sealed. He tried to cry out. The gag only choked him and smothered his voice. Ah! the second of doom has come! Something touches his breastl-a human hand! It feels for his heart! Ragsdale.understands now. The villain, Shade, has returned to make sure of the murder be dare not commit before his companions. "I'll find them somewhere on his person, I'm sure," muttered a voice. After a minute the roving hand pressl!d aside the binding r o pe and entered the pris oner' s breast pocket. "Ha! I hiwe it! exclaimed the searcher. And then he forth a paper. The searching hand continued its work till the locket was also procured. I neglected to get these things soonercome near forgetting it as it was, my dear Ragsdale," chuckled the voice . Of course the bound man could make no reply. Having secured his booty, the mas1' hurried away in the darkness. He had left the cave, and was moving away in the gloom. when something dropped as from the sky upon his shoulders. The next instant the masked outlaw was hurled violently to the ground. CHAPTER XXV. TWO LE'ITERB. "MERCY!" gasped the fallen man, who felt a cold ring of steel press against his temple. "I oughtn't to show you any," growled a voice. "You are a cowardly outlaw, who has deceived the good people of the Big Horn long enough.'' '' Don t shoot me. sir." "What have you been doing?" "Nothing to harm any one." "I know you lie now," retorted the other. "You had a prisoner.'' ''He escaped." ' Truly?" "1\s true as that I live." I do not. believe you." Lnever uttered a truer statement in my my life.'' "Then you will never be convicted of honesty," retorted the man's captor, who pro ceeded to make sure of his :(lrisoner by drawing his wrists together and mclosing them in handcuffs. "Good heavens! do you mean to make me a permanent prisoner, sir?" "Yes," uttered the man's captor. "Not another ,..ord now, but lead the way to the spot where you have concealed Hilton Rags. dale.'' I t e ll you he escaped.'' "I know that to be a lie. Have you mur dered him?" "No." I am inclined to think you have, and so I may as well avenge his death now.'' Again the naked muzzle of a revolver touched the t e mple of the masked villain. The contact of cold steel sent a shudder through his frame. Mercy! Don' t shoot, and I'll teli you where Ragsdale is.'' ''Very well." He's in a cave not far from here.'' "Alive?" "Yes." "You must lead me to him." The speaker arose to his feet, and aseisted his prisoner to rise also. Now Iliove on, and mind, no treachery, or you are a dead man." Again the ring of cold steel touched the face of the masked outlaw. Tremblingly he led the way to the mouth of the cave. He is in there ''Goin." Th e prisoner obeyed. Once in s ide the cavern, the strange man "'ho had captured the leader of masks, turned on the light from a dark-lantern, thus illuminating the whole interior of the room. The bound form of Ragsdale was seen on the floor of the cavern. "'Tis well, muttered the Re main where you are till I release the fellow." Soon the man who had come to the rescue of Ragsdale was bending over him. He had some difficulty in severing the bonds. When he had succeeded in doing so, and re moving the gag from the mouth of Ragsdale, the latter uttered a; cry of joy and amazement. "Who are you, sir?" cried the late pris-oner. "A friend to justice," answered the man. I have seen your face before.'' "Perhaps: Once, at the house of the Gidleys, the night I lost my horse--" Before Ragsdale could finish his remarks the stranger turned and dashed away, leaving Ragsdale alone-in total darkness. The move was sudden and wholly une:>" pected "What had caused it?" Was the man the one who stole the sorrel mare, and had he taken fright at what seemed an accusation from Ragsdale ? This could not be the solution of the strange movements of the man. Ragsdale remembe red that a second person h a d accompanied his resc uer, and doubtless he had discovered that his prisoner had fled, and had gone in pursuit. This was the real explanation of the stranger's sudden departure. For some minutes Ragsdale stood immo-.a ble in the darkness, debating wbat move to make next. At length he began to grope bis way toward the mouth of the cave. Once here he passed out, and stood silently surveying the gloomy surrounrlings. "What had I best do?" mused the young lawyer man-hunter. "Perhaps, if I remain here, my friend (or enemy, which?) will return, and then I can interview him, and learn who and what he is. I am sure he is the man of the locket, and the man who stole the sorrel mare. He befriended me to-night for which I ought to thank him. If he is a bad man, why did he come to my assistance? Perhaps it is a part of the plot Who knows?" Every movement of the stranger was in volved in mystery. Ragsdale did not recognize the person who accompanied his rescuer into the cave. Had he seen the handcuffs on the wrists of Nat Shade, the young lawyer might have formed an opinion nearly correct as to the situation. "My disguise bas been penetrated," mused Ragsdale, "80 there' s no use sailing under false colors longer, at least not as Don Ramon. I'll remain in this vicinity for a time, and -

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28 THE LA WYER DETECTIVE. if my stranger friend does not put in an appearance." In a somewhat confused state of mind, the lawyer found a comfortable seat under a tree, and was soon drowsi ng. Jn a little time he was fast asleep, and did not wake till the sun ,..as rising. Ragsdale finally started up, rubbed hia eyes, and g aze d about him.in a sort of dumb amaze ment. "Well!" he exclaimed," I've slept all night it seems. Of course my friend of last night's adventure has come and gone, and I am now n o wiser than before." Somewhat chagrined at the situation, Rags dale began to look about him, anxious to find his way out of the gulch in which he found himself. Soo n h e decided to follow what seemed a southerly course, between high bluffs. He pushed on slowly, and was glad to note that the bluffs became further apart each mo ment. Soon he would be in the open country. Presently a low whinny fell on his ear. The sound at once stayed the steps of the law yer detective. A horse, by the powers!" exclaimed Rags dale. I need sueh an animal bad-very had just at this time." He proceeded to investigate. In a little thicket he found a horse teth ered. One glance at the animal brought a loud ejaculation from Ragsdale. 'rhe animal was none other than the stolen sorrel mare. It was indeed a lucky find. Th e mare seemed pleased to see Ragsdale, who petted her and rubbed her brown muzzle with his hand. Across the saddle lay a coat. Ragsdale did not wait upon ceremony, but at once released the beautiful animal and vaulted into the saddle, tossing the coat across the p omme l in front of him. In a little time he passed beyond the hills, and was in the open country of the Big Horn b asin . In the distance he could see the faint out lines of a belt of timber, which he judged to b e that along the creek at Three Oaks Ranch. I ll ride directly there," declared the young lawyer "and Mtonish my friends who think me dead. Ragsdale had ridden perhaps half the dis tance, when he bethought him to examine the coat he had found with the mare. He went through the pockets in a hurry. He found but little save a package tied with a blue cord. It seemed to be a package of letters. R:igsdal e undid the string and opened the paper. Letters, indeed Many of them in a feminine hand. As may be supposed, the young lawyer ex amined them with no idle curiosity He was destined to make a most interesting discover y One of the letters in particular attracted the D enverite strongly. He was sure he had seen the chirography before. With unsteady fingers the young lawyer detective slipped off the envelope. He read the brief contents with hated breath and gleaming eyes. "DEA.R woRTH,-I am deeply grieved that you should persist. I admitted my love for you, but I must marry another to save a friend. Duty is my guiding star in this. You must not see me again. When thi, reaches you I shall be on my way from this country with Evard, as his wife "Your grieved friend, ,, OLIVE." This was indeed a discovery. More than one mistake had been made with regard to Olive Chester's love affairs. From the tone of this letter it was quite evident that his pretty cousin was not, as had been intimated, m love with Evard Demming, but that the man to whom thf) letter was addressed (Worthland Rivers) was the favored one. The letter, however, was a sad one, dismiss inir h e r JovPT that she might marry another ill ordl)r w ,perform a Rather a strange condition of affairs the young lawyer thought. From the lips of Mrs. Tripp, Ragsdale had it that she was opposed to the suit of Evard Demming. Who, then, was urging Olive to marry this ranchman against her will? Certainly her first duty was to l&r mother, yet here was she writing to a man she loved professing to still love him, yet saying that her duty compelled her to wed another. Ragsdale was certainly puzzled. However, he began to see light in one direction. 1 What m ore likely than that this rejected lover met Olive on that fatal 16th of June and remonstrated with her against her course; she persevering in her determination, he became enraged at thought of seeing another carry of the prize, and sent a bullet through her brain. This, then, was the secret of the man of the locket. He was the murderer of Olive Chester. It was an astounding discovery that Rags dale had made. It made hia future course more plain, how ever. There were some things that puzzled him still. Especially the several attempts on hia life, which, so far as he could judge, were not in stigated by the murderer. Once more Ragsdale turned his attention to the package of letters. The second one read: "DEAR WoRTBLA.ND,-You are a reitular Don Quixote in your imaginings at feast. Don't become a misanthrope, but come home and see how I can make up your loss by a more devoted love I want you with me all the time, I nm so lonely. Why don't you come? Don't brood so bitterly. Every cloud has its silver lining; yours must have one surely. Come to one who loves you better than all others. "Your dearest friend, ' RENA." Still another important and mystifying let ter. CHAPTER XXVI. A MADMAN'S SHOT. "GREAT goodness! who's that one?" Colone( Redhart removed his pipe and stared at a horseman who was approaching the ranch at a leisurely pace. I reckon he don't know who he is himself," said the lad who sat near the colonel Sid Gidley, who had come to the ranch in quiring after Ragsdale. "He's a queer-lookin chap, anyhow." "By crockee! I've seen that horse afore, kunnel!" exclaimed the bo;ii:, springing to his feet. As I'm a sinner, it s Oll Chester's sor rel mare!" "Ehl is that so?" "He's comin' right up here, kunnel. 'Ve'll soon know who he is. If he's a hoss thief we' ll soon make him he' d never been born." I reckon he ain't no hoss-thief," grunted thP. Missourian. The rider of the sorrel mare proved to be our friend Ragsdale, and he rode directly up to the veranda, and, hending from the saddle, J?!lered keenly at Colonel Redhart. That iwlividual stared in puzzled amaze ment. Sid recognized the lawyer, but hesaid noth ing, only stood and grinned. Dod blamed ef I don't believe I've seen you afore," said the colonel, after a mo ment. I think we have met before, on several occasions, Colonel Redhart," said Ragsdale. I am here n6w to pick a bone with you. "Ho! I know you now It's Hillen Rags dale, or I am a thief!" The colonel seized and wrung the young law yer' s hand till he cried out with pain. There. that'll do, colonel. "Wal, I'm powerful glad to see ye, Hilton. Dod blame me ef I didn't s'pose you was dead. How in nater'd ye git out o' that are gulch ali ye t 'other day ?" You mean last night, don't you ?" Ragsdale eyed the colonel keenly. "Las' ni&ht ?" "You and I were out on a little lark last night, colonel, said the lawyer, grilllly. "I got into a bad scrape, and I thought yau were shot; it seems 'twas all cry and no wool." "Bless my eyes'! what's the man talkin' about?" grunted the colonel. "Don't pretend ignorance," said Ragsdale, sternly. "Wal, I don't partend, 'oos I am ignerent," declared Colonel Redhart, "though I 'low summat has happened t.er make yer look like er scarecrow. You don't look like yerself nohow, though how in nater yer got so trana mogrofied s more'n 1 can guess." The astonishment of the colonel seemed to be genuine. Was it so? Ragsdale could not believe it. The man from Denver did present a llOme what unique appearance, with hill hair cut close, his mustache gone, and hia hands llnd face colored to represent a Mexican. Where is Nat 8hade ?"suddenly questioned the lawyer. He's gone." "Gone?'' "Yes, he went this morning. He uid he reckoned he'd go furder west ter look for the man he wanted." Whom did be want?" Ragsdale eyed the colonel keenly. "Why, that would be tellin' who killed poor Mias Chester," returned Colonel Redbart. "Dod blamed ef I know." "Indeed!" Ragsdale plucked at his denuded upper lip nervously. "No, I dunno that, Hilton." I think you might guees." 11Wal yes, I mout." "Tr it." I aon't wane to hurt your feelings, Mr. Ragsdale." "You cannot do that." "Wal, I'll be dod blamed ef aome folks hain't a. suspicionin' the gal's mother. Yer aunt." Some people are fools!" exclaimed the young lawyer hotly. There! that's jest what I said-you' d git mad ef I told who was suspected," remon strated Colonel Redhart. The young lawyer calmed himself with an effort. This ia something new, I take it," he said. "Wal, not exactly. Nat Shade got onto it the fust day he come here." "Nat Shade ill an impostor." ''Eh?" I say the man calling himself Shade is an impostor, and a villain of the deepest dye. It was he who assaulted us last night, Colonel Redhart, and he meant to murder me, and perhaps you." "You don' t say?" The colonel's jaw dropped. ;You and I may as well be on square-toed terms, colonel, and I don't mind telling you that I personated Don Ramon yesterday. My disguise was penetrated by your friend Shade, and he fixed a trap for me-mayhap for you. Need I continue?" "Yes, yes, go on, Hilton." And then RaltB
PAGE 27

THE LA WYER DETECTIVE. 2.7 "Wal, dod blamed ef I don't want to git even with that sneak who said he was a. de tective." You can go after him if you like, but I propose to look out for number' one hereafter. You've been altogether too kind in the past, colonel." "Don't mention it, youngster; it'8 a way I have." I suppose so. Will you oblige me by telling me who this man calling himself ShtLde is, Colonel Redbart ?" Again the young lawyer pierced the Missourian with a penetrating glance. His distrust of the colonel now amounted t.o belief that he was in league with his RagSdale's-enemies. "Wal, now you've got me, youngster." "Got you?' "Dod blamed ef you bain't. I sent out to Cheyenne fur a detective, and this man Shade ca.me. Ef he's an impostor, as you. think, I didn't know it, I'll sw'ar to that." The colonel spoke with seeming earnest ness. See here. colonel," cried Ragsdale, severe ly. "You induced me to take a ride with you last night, promising to lead me to Evard Demming, the presumed murderer of my cousin, Olive Chester. I went with you, honestly, blindly. You know what happened." ''I do.'' "You fell from your horse, crying out, I am shot!' Now here you are, a.t home and unharmed, only a few hours later. 'What am I to think of such things?" "I see. You're mad cos I left ye in the lurch. Wal, I don't blame ye one bit. Ye see. a bullet jest grazed my cheek, and I dodged and fell. 1'11 sw'ar toyer, youngster, 'at I thought I was shot. Be I to blame ef it didn't turn out a fact? Jest yer show me the men 'at got ur, therrumpus last night, and ef I don't skin em a.live, then call me a dum liar and a traitor!" Colonel Redhart seemed terribly in earnest, and doubt once more held sway in the mind of the self-constituted detective from Denver. "I don't know that we need quarrel," said Ragsdale finally. "I should like right well to know why so many men in this country are anxious to have my life. I was a stranger here till a very short time since. In what ha. ve I offended ? Can you tell me tha't, col onel?" Dumed ef I kin, Hilton." "I can, though," put in Sid Gidley, who, up to this time, had been an interested listener to the confab between bis friend and the Missouri colonel. "Well, Sid?" It's the durn horse-thieves." Horse-thieves?" An' ca.ttle-stealers, too," declared the boy. There's a hull gang on 'em, and when they're bunted to ther holes there'll be some folks 'at will be surprised. Mr. Stoneset won't take a back Peat for no man, Mr. Ragsdale, and he says 'at something's goin' to drop, and that mighty heavy, before many days." "Pooh!" This from the colonel. You needn't pooh; k(mnel," cried the boy angrily. "I know what I'm talking about, and a good many folks thought to be honest will go up to the limb of a tree when the vigilantes strike, as they mean ter do in a few d11.ys." You dum leetle weazen," snarled the colonel, catching Sid by the a.rm and shaking him fiercely. You kerry the idee 'at folks 'at's present may be no better'n horse-thieves. Yer msult Mr. Ragsdale an' me!" "Let me go, kunnel-let me alone," yelled Sid, struggling in the Missourian' s clutch. He could not escape, however, and, bending down over the bony hand that held him, the boy inserted bis white teeth in the yellow thumb. Colonel Red hart uttered a. yell and dropped the boy, who darted down the steps, not halting till he thought himself at a safe distance from the irate colonel, who danced about, wringing his bleeding hand, and howled with rage. The whole scene rather amused the man on the sorrel mare. Confounded little snipe!' Colonel Redhart. Ef I had y e r here I d wring yer neck! "Ha, ha!" laughed the boy. "Got yer "Arrested?" dander up jest 'c os I said some high-toned "Yes." folks was boss-thieves. Wal, mebbe the kun"Fur what?" nel's one of 'em-who knows?" "For murder." Then the boy danced out of sight toward .. Great Jehosephat! yer don't tell me!" ex the rear of the house. claimed the colonel, in a voice of astonish ''I believe I will stop long enough to get ment. some of this stain off my face and hands," "Didn't you know all about it, Colonel Red said Ragsdale, after the colonel had cooled hart ?" down somewhat. "Not a thing." All right. Yer allus welcome, young "Truly?" ster. '' "True's l?Ospel, Trib." Securing his horse, the Denverite dismount"Shake!w ed and entered the house. The two clasped hands. An hour's work failed to fully remove the I'm sorry I'got mad at you, Colonel Red color from Ragsdale's hands and face, yet hart; but as your man, Flash, was along, and the young lawyer looked a little more like the chap that has been staying here with yo u himself when he once more appeared on the for the past week made the arrest, I naturally porch, where the colonel sat smoking. -thought it was you who had put up tbe dirty "Some one's a-comin," said the colonel the job. I'm glad to hear it wasn't." moment the young lawyer appeared. "I never knew a thing about it," answered A horseman was seen approaching. H e the colonel. "So Nat Shade's made an ar was riding at a furious pace, nor did he halt rest. Was it fur the murder of Olive Chester, till he had drawn rein at the foot of the Trib ?" steps, within a few feet of the colonel and .. Yes .,, companion. "Awful!" The new-comer was no less a personage than Tribune Trif.P His face was more ru"My wife a murderess! It makes "\'e mad bicund than usua, and his whole manner in-clear through." dicated a disturbed state of mind. For once I honor you, Tribune Tripp," .. You infernal old villain!" yelled Tripp, said Ragsdale, now stepping forward. "If h f 1 t b t It' d my aunt has been arrested by Nat Shade, a is ace a m os urs mg. 8 your omgs, most villainous crime has been committed. and I'm going to make you smart for it! Do you hear me, you yellow-faced Missouri He had no authority to arrest any one. Have ape? Stand up-stand up and die like a they taken Aunt Julia from home?" man! for I'm going to have your life! "Yes." With the word, Tribune Tripp thrust for" Where will they take her?" ward a revolver and fired full in Colone l Red "To the county seat, I suppose." hart's face. Where's that?" "Forty miles south, on the Sweetwater," CHAPTER XXYII. AN ARREST. CRAoKI crack! crack! Colone l Redhart was on his feet now, exchanging shots with Tribune Tripp, and the deadly leaden pellets were flying too near the head of our friend Ragsdale to prove comfortable. Since the young Denver lawyer was not particularly interested in the duel between these-two Western cattlemen, he concluded to retire till the conllict was o.-er. He therefore glided in to the house. The conflict was all over in a very short minute Mrs. Redhart came rushing to the front of the house, no doubt expecting to find her liege dead or dying. She carried a huge iron poker, with which she thought to take part in the conflict. The sounds of strife suddenly ceased, and an ominous silence reigned. Got enough?" I reckon. Hev you 1'' "Yes.'' "Wal, let's talk this 'ere over. What yer mad about, anyhow ?" Rag!!d.ale now ventured to look forth upon the scene of strife. Both men were there, apparently unharmed. TherE' was something strange about this, thought Ragsdale. "You know what I'm here for, -Colone l Red hart. My wife was the apple of .my eye." Oh, yes, of course," and the Missourian indulged a coarse laugh. Don't you laugh at the misfortunes of a devoted husband, Colonel Redhait, or I'll make you swallow teeth." Wal, git off'n yer hoss and come in and take sumthin'. You' n I hes been friends in the past; I don't reckon I've did anything to change the aspect of affairs." You hev, though." "Explain." "Julia's gone." ''Gone?" "Yes." When did she go?" "Not two hours since." "Dead?" "No, worse than that." How could it be wuss, Tripp?" "Well, it could be. Honor's worth more than life-a woman's honor especially," said Tripp. "You know well enough what I mean. My wife has been taken forcibly from home." Yer don't say ?" "She has been arrested," said Tripp. The name of the town ?'' "Atlantic City." "Have these men already gone with my aunt?" '. "They have." "It was an outrage. Why did you permlt it, Tribune Tripp?" "I wasn't at home at the time. When I he'lrd that Benay Flash was one of the men that made the arrest, I at once set it down that the colonel here was at the bottom of the whole thing. and it ma:ie me mad clear through. If I hadn't been so excited I should have aimed better, and the-colonel would now be a dead man." "No doubt." There was something in the glance that the speaker gave Redhart that set the young law yer to'thinking. It did not seem possible that two such experienced plainsmen could fire at each other half a dozen times, at point blank range, and neither receive a w9und. When he had more time to think the young lawyer was sure all was not on the square. Without waiting to discuss the situation with the two men further, Ragsdale hurried from the house, and mounting the so rrel mare, he galloped rapidly away toward the Tripp ranch. There goes a tenderfoot idiot," sneered Tripp, as he gazed after the Denver lawyer. "Come, Tribby, let's take sumthin' oo the strength o' this last," said Colonel Red hart, thrusting his thumb between his visitor's ehort ribs. The two adjourned to the wineroom, where they had a j olly time for the rest of the day. No one was at home when Ragsdale arrived at his aunt's ranch save Rena Tripp. Her eyes were red from recent weeping, and she seemed in distress. The young lawyer had nE'ver seen her looking more beautiful before. "It's a wicked thing," declared the girl. "Poor ma.mma., it will kill her, I am afraid." "It is true, then, that she hBB been taken away?" Quite true." Arrested for murder ?'' "Yes, Mr. Ragsdale." She did not seem to notice the young lawyer's altered looks, so deeply was she affected by what had w recently occurred. Ragsdale stabled his horse, then returned to the house and sat long in conversation with the beautiful Rena. He realized th&t it would be uselijj!s tit at I

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28 THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. tempt a rescue alone, and so he r esolved to mo,e with calmness and precision. "How did Aunt Julia take it, Miss Tripp?" First she was indignant and ordered the men away, but when the handcuffs were put on she broke down and cried," said Rena, flushing hotly at the recollection. Did you know the men ?" Two of them." "Well?" Benay Fla.sh and Mr. Shade, a detect ive. " The latter had, worked up the case, I suppose." "So he said; and that there was ample proof that my dear mother had committed two murders." What is your opinion ?" '' That it is all a villainous plot to rob mamma." I am glad to see you so strong an advo cate of my aunt's innocence," said Ragsdale, gazing admiringly into the hot, beautiful face of Rena. "Now I want you to give me all the information yo u possess with regard to this matter. That my aunt is innocent there can be no shadow of doubt, but if it is as you say, a plot to ruin her, it may be so well laid as to endanger her life, and we must use every honorable means to defeat the schemers." I am ready to do all I can," said she quick ly, putting both her soft brown palms in his, and looking up confidingly into his face. "Thanks. Now I shall expect you to be frank with me, Miss Tripp, and tell me all you know of this plot against Aunt Julia." u I will do so, sir.". I am listening." For a moment the girl seemed to hesitate. "I hardly know where to begin," she final-ly said. I know rea ll y but very little. Much of it is surmise. I know that ll!r s. Tripp has a large sum of money somewhere, and that more than one has set his avaricious gaze on the pile. I am very much afraid that fa the r i s one of them. I beg you to pardon my willingness to expose his wickedness. You may think it uunatural, but whenyou know the whole truth, I b e lieve you will forgive me." "You are already forgiven." "Thank you, sir. I have learned enough to satisfy me that father married your aunt for mercenary motives. I have seen him in conversation with different people, some of them questionable characters. He and Benay Flash have been much together, and that is not a good sign." "Truly notJ Flash is a villain." I believe so." "I am convinced that he is in the plot to secure a fortune. Do you know, the fellow had the impudence to ask me to marry him." "Indeed!'' "He has kept his distance of late, and I think he has given up all hope of handling a pa1t of mamma's money through wedding her step-daughter." I admire your good sense in this," said Ragsdale, feeling really pleased. I almost hate the man now. It's a feel ing I cannot h e lp although I know it is not a credit to me." Thus far the girl had not given any very tangible proof of the conspiracy that Rags dale believed existed. He questioned her further, but she could only say that her belief was in a plot to secure her step-mother's money, and that h e r father and Benay Flash were among the plotters, and very likely the detective, Shade. "I have one more question to ask you, Miss Tripp," said the lawyer, after a hrief silence. I am read.y to answer if I can, Mr. Ragsdale." I am glad to hear you say that. It is about Worthland Rivers that I would ask." W orthland Rivers?" The girl started and trembled. The lawyer-detective could see that she was deeply excited. "That is the man about whom I seek in formation, Miss Tripp." He fixed a keen, questioning gaze on her face. I-I really can tell you nothing about such a person," she faltered. lier wanner, however, oonvinced him to the contrary, and he was now determined to push his inquiries rigidly. "Remember your promise." My promise ?"' "You agreed to tell me all you knew." About the plot, yes-but--" "Hasn't this man Rivers a hand in the villainy?" He eyed her keenly. She trembled and looked away from his gaze. "Answer truly, Miss Tripp." No, he has not." Be careful." I have told vou the truth." ;, You do know Worthland Rivers then?" "Yes." T ell m e about him. Where is he at this moment?" I do not know." She started to her feet. "Stay, Miss Tripp," cried Ragsdale. ,; Not to talk of him." She would have fl e d had he not sprung up and caught her hand. CHAPTER XX:VIJI. RAGSDALE FINDS HIS MAN. "RELEASE me, sir!"' exclaimed Rena., indig nantly. ;; Not till you tell me about this man, Rivers." I will tell you nothing." "Miss Tripp. what am I to think from this acting ? Do 7ou mean to stand betweeu a criminal and JUStice ?" He regarded her sternly. Her form trembled visibly H e could see that she was deeply ex cited. That she knew much about Olive's other lover was evident, and the lawyer-detective was d e termined to make her divulge, if possi bl e, what she knew. In the intereet of justice I order you to speak, Miss Tripp." "I have nothing to say." "But this man, Rivers-you know him, do you not?" "Yes." He was Olive Chester's lover?': ''I suppose so." He shot her in a fit of jealous rage. I have the proof! My aunt shall be saved, and the trne assaS1>in brought to justice!" "Oh, sir, you are mistaken. My-Mr. Riv ers did not do it. No no, he could not-he could not!" Rena bent low over the hand that held her fast, covering her face and moaning as though her heart would break. Poor girl! How he pitied her! What was this Worthland Rivers to her that she should defend him eo stubbornly ? A sweetheart, perhaps! The thought was not a pleasant one to the young lawyer. "Calm yourself, Miss Tripp. If this man is innocent there can be no harm in his coming forward and proving it. I know he was my cousin's lever, and that they would have mar ried but for one Evard Demming. He came between them. There may h"ve been a quar rel, but I am convinced that Rivers did the shooting." Ragsdale thought of the second letter, the one from Rena to Rivers, and realized that there was another girl in the case, as well two men. Of a sudden he remembered the conversa tion he had overheard between F1ash and Rena, in whic h the half-breed accused the girl of being privy to the murder of Olive Chester. Then came the thought of a. conspiracy, with the beautiful Rena as one of the plotters. It was not a pleasant picture, yet it seemed a truthful one, and Ragsdale believed he must act upo n it if h e would save his aunt. No urging on his part could break Rena's resolution to say nothing about Rivers, and Ragsdale was at length forced to to gi\'e over the attempt to m ake h e r speak. Miss Tripp, this obstinacy on your vart convinces me that you would shield a crimi nal, and it may rebound to plap you in the future," He flung her hand from him and strode to the door. Are you going ?"she a.eked. ''Yea." "Whereto?" "First to Atlantic City, next to hunt down the ip.urderer of my cousin-the immaculate Worthland Rivers!" He spoke with ill-concealed bitterness. He left the house, then, and hurried to the stable. Five minutes later he appeared, mounted on the sorre l mare once owned by hie cousin Olive. Rena stood in the door looking dark and sol emn. He drew rein and glanced toward her. He could see that she had not relented, and so he lifted the rein, and was about to urge the sorrel mare forward, when the girl sud denly left the house and came to hie side. "Mr. Ragsdale," she said softly, "don't go away angry with me. The man you seek is innocent of murder. If it is necessary, to save my step mother, send for. me, and I will do it. Please don't forget now." Something like a sob choked her utterance at the last. She puzzled him. "Haven't you something to tell me, Miss Tripp?" "Yes. Don't go to Atlantic City. Your aunt was taken to Brandon, where she will be imprisoned till the trial comes off." She then turne d and entered the house. Puzzled at the i:;irl's strange acting, Rags-, dale finally gave his animal the rein and gal loped away. He knew the tra il to Brandon, or thought he did, but would have n1issed it, had not Sid Gidley overtaken him and consented to act as guide. It was midnight when the twain entered the county town of Brandon. Nothing could be done till morning. At early dawn Ragsdale was astir, and look ing about the streets. He soon learned that his aunt had been taken to Atlantic City, so that there was yet ten miles to compass before he could see his wronged relative. He was no'v more suspicious of Rena. Tripp than ever. She must have known that the officers had taken her step-mother to Atlantic City, and yet she had sent Ragsdale ten miles out of his way. Arriving at the" City," the young was at once permitted to interview Mrs. Tripp in jail. He found her quite ca.st down. "Heaven knows that I am innocent!" de clared the woman. but there is a plot to ruin me, all on account of that money from the old country. I am glad that it is beyond the reac h of the mercenaries. I made out the will none too soon, Hilton. I do not expect to li\'e beyond this disgrace many days, but I want you to take the news to your uncle iu Denver, and tell him that I die an innocent woman." "Don't talk of dying, Aunt Julia," said the young lawyer drearily. "I shall not permit you to do anything of the kind. I have a clew to the assassin, and you will be honor ably acquitted. Of this I am as certain as that the sun shines at noonday." The lawyer-detective left his aunt in a somewhat calmer mood than he found her Ragsdale had thought to effect the prison er's release on the ground that her arrest had been an illegal one, but he found that the conspirators had not left sucp a loophole open. Shade was not the one who had arrested Mrs Tripp, but a lawfully constituted officer from Atlantic City. Shade and Benay Flash, however, were on hand to assist. "Now to find Worthland Rivers," thought the lawyer-detective. "He is the assassin, as the letters in my possession will prove. Although he did me a good turn on two oc casions, yet it is my duty to send him to the gallows for murder." In the line of duty Ragsdale could be as hard as adamant. If Rena was a sweetheart of Rivers, as now seemed likely, she might have a guilty knowledge of the crime that had sent poor Olive to an untimely grave. Walking along a by-street, Ragsdale ran 1uddenly upon Benn: Flash. ..

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THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. 29 The half-breed smiled on him double murder. What do you kn::about it, -murder the woman I lo vf'J better than my most coolness. Mr. Rivers?" life It is false, I could not do so wicked a 'So w e meet again, Hilton," said t h e fac "All about it." thing. I shall not remain here to be accuse
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30 THE LAWYER DETECTIVE. hair confronted him with an awful look on her face. Mr Ragsdale, listen one moment." "Certainly." "This is an awful accusation you make against my-Worthland. It is possible that Ire, in a moment of surprise, co nfessed to this deed. Don t 1.ook for him. If you do you will not find him; but go back and look after your aunt, and when the day of trial comes trust me the guilty one shall be there, and my poor mamma shall go fre e. Heaven help me, and bless you, Mr. Ragsdale. Till the day of trial, farewell." She turned from him then, and soon .he door closed between them. Ragsdale went out into the night and joine d Sid He was deeply moved by the words and actions of the beautiful Rena. He paid no heed to her words, however, but went on the search for the murderer. Unavailing search. When the plains and hills were scoured for scores of miles around, the young lawyer re turned to Atlantic City, tired and discouraged at his ill-su ccess It was on the eve of the trial.. The town was full of strangers. Colonel Redhart, Benay Flash and Tribune Tripp were there, anxious to be at the trial. A continual smile rested on the face of the half-breed, and Colonel Redhart seemed almost as much elated. Ragsdale was downcast. He had employed an able lawyer to defend his aunt, yet he was apprehensive of the out come. Once he met Jack Stoneset, whom he had come to know well. The homesteader touched the young law-yer's arm and said: Ther'll be more' n OI!e surprise afore this trial's over, my boy. Hold yer bosses and keep still." Further explanation the man refused to give. The fi.rst surprise was, to Ragsdale the most astounding. In the morning, the moment court opened, the prosecuting lawyer rose in his place and said: May it please the court, I think it will be wholly unnecessary to go on with the case of the People versus Mrs. Julia Tripp." He paused., All eyes were fixed on the prosecutor. Even the haggard prisoner deigned to gaze in his direction. "Proceed," said the judge. "It has transpire d ," said the prosecutor, that justice in this case has overtaken the murderer in a most strange manner. His con science has scourged him to make a full con fession." At this moment a man arose, and pushing past the rail stood before the court. "I am here to save the innocent," said he. "I here and now confess that it was my shot that killed Olive Chester on the night of the ltlth of June, one year ago." 'l'he speaker stood pale yet calm, facing the audience. It wasWorthland Rivers! CHAPTER XXX. REVELATION. DIDN'T I tell ye so ?" A hand tapped the arm 4f Ragsdale two hours after the scene in the courtroom. The young lawyer looked into the face of the leader of the vigilantep-J ack Stone set. Ragsdale's aunt was free and Rt the hotel, while Rivers, the self-confessed murderer, was In jail. "".Vhat is that, Mr Stoneset ?" I I told ye rd surprise ye." "Yes. Was it you that brought Rivers to the confeBBional ?" "Not much. A gal did that, I reckon. This 'era's somethin' more important. Come 'long o' me. I want to show you some o yer friends." Ragsdale followed the homesteader to a large building, before which a crowd bad gathered. '!'he -leader of the vigilantes had no trouble in passing gtiard at the door. Within a large inner room, Ragsdale met four m e n face to face, men who had been more or l ess identified with the young law yer's fortunes since he came to Wyoming on a man-hunt weeks before. Each of the four wore handcuffs and shackles; besides, a ll .were fastened together -a chain-gang of rogues truly! Who were they? the reader asks. Benay Flash, Tribune Tripp, Nate Shade and Colonel Redhart. The man from Denver was certainly as tounded. "A nice lot, eh, Mr. Ragsdale?" chuckled Stoneset. "Sol" ejaculated Ragsdale, as light began to dawn upon his brain. Dod blast it! this 'ere's a go, and uo mistake," growled the colonel. "Ye'll stand by me, won't ye, Hilton?" "What have you been doing?" "Nuthin'." "Hoss and cattle stealin', the last one on 'em. Caught 'e m aU in mask once, but let 'em come to the city afore I gobbled em. de clared Stoneset; "and I want to say just here, Mr. Ragsdale, 'at we wouldn't a-got onto the cusses at all, ef' t had not a-been fur the feller 'ot confessed to a murder this mornin'." Do you refer to Rivers ?'' ''Yes." What had he to do with it?" "He spied 'em out by joinin' 'em," returned the captain of the vigilantes. '' He's got ther names all on his list. I t ell ye, you."lgster, 'i.t Worth Rivers is one o' the best detectives west o' Denver. I'm powerful sorry he's got inte r trouble, fur a better man don't live, I belie"<'e." "Rivers is fool. Ragsdale started. The voice was a familiar one, and he glanced toward the man who uttered the words. Did you speak, Shade?" "I said Worthland Rivers was a fool to confess to murdering that girl. Look there" -holding up his hand-" there' s where his bullet went, curse him!" The man' s little finge1 was gone. Turning to Stoneset, the lawyer said: "That man is in disguise. I wish you would take off that false hair and beard. Shade bent a terrible look on Ragsdale, and he rattled his manacles furiously. "Dum fool!" growled the colonel. "You've put yer foot in it now, young feller." Stoneset, who suspected the pretended de tective was in disguise, lost no time in com plying with the request of the visitor. Both hair and beard came off readily enough, revealing a head of close-cropped blonde bair, and a face to match. "I suspepted as much, declared Ragsdale, as he saw in-the bumbled cattle-stealer no less a personage than Evard Demming. The man's remark about how his finger came to be gone caused the lawyerdetective to question Demming closely, but that indi vidnal refused to talk on the subject. He seemed quite broken up over his down-fall. Hilton Ragsdale went from the room in a thoughtful mood. Somehpw in bis heart be felt sorry for the man who lay in jail, a self-confessed murderer. Mechanically he turned his steps toward the lock-up. .. You cannot go in now," said the jailer, in answer to his requset to interview Rivers. "Why not?" He's got a. visitor.,, Who is it?" A woman-his sweetheart, I presume." The lawyer-detective thought of Rena at once. For a moment he stood in a thoughtful at titude; then he turned suddenly upon the keeper, whom he had known in the East. "John, I've an idea." "Well?" Let me go in unbeknown to the prisoner or his visitor. If he makes any revelations regarding the murder it will surely be to his sweetheart." '' True." After a little reflection the jailer agreed to the proposition, and the two entered the corridor of the jail in a noiseless manner. Soon they stood, unseen, near the grated door of Rivers' cell. It was Renas voice that both heard at this moment. In the sight of Heaven you are an inno cent man, Worth. I do not see what tempted you to confess to a crime like this that you did not commit. "But I did commit it, Rena. Why have you come here to tempt me to fight against fate ? I fired the fatal shot, and God knows the knowledge has nearly killed me, for you know I loved that girl, Rena. "Yes, I know, and let me tell you some thing more, Worth," said the girl, in a tense, low voice. "Your argument cannot shake my deter mination, Rena. I was an ingrate to permit that good woman to be arrested. I fled like a coward, and my conscience has tormented me since." "'\'Viii you listen to me, Worth?" I suppose I must." "You and I rode to the Chester ranc h on the night of the 16th of June-that fatal night of blood. " Yes, yes! but why speak of that?" "Because I have something to tell you, something that I saw that you may not know." "And you have kept this from me all this time?" "Yes, I thought it best. I know how an gry you were when you learned that Olive had ridden out to meet Evard Demming. I'm afraid you !oat your sensea in a measure, for Olive had promised to be your wife. You rode from the vicinity in a heat, and I heard something about shooting him on sight." "Yes, it may be. I loved Olive so, and to think he should step in and steal her from me. ' "Be quiet, Worth," urged Rena. Let me tell you what I saw that night just as the storm was rising and the lurid flashes of light ning lit the heavens. I followed you, Worth. and witnessed the fatal meeting near the hunter' s cabin on Three Oaks plantation." "Then you know that I did not fire at Olive," he breathed huskily. "l know liow it all happened. You ar rived on the ground in time to see the two meet. The sight maddened you, and you stepped forward and spoke to Evard Dem ming, calling him a coward and a sneak. l heard the words, and saw what followed. "Ob Renal" Quick as a flash Demming drew a revol ver, pushing Olive aside, and with an oath, said: "'I've been laying for you, Worthland Rivers. Draw and defend rourself.' You drew your own pistol and raised it. At this moment Olive utttlred a scream and rushed between you two. It was a fatal move on her part. Both pistols cracked. Olive fell. The bullet meant for another had slain the girl. A lightning flash revealed it all to mew ho stood near. I saw you toss aside vour weapon stagger, falling upon the body of the poor girl. I thought at first that you, too, had beP.n hit. I soon heard you calling on Olive's name, upbraiding yourself as her mur derer but yoti were not, for it was wholly an accident." I had cooled off some when I reached the ground, Rena/' said the prisoner at this point. I only drew my weapon to defend myself against Demming. I meant to harm no one." I know that," returned she. I fled from the vicinity and have kept my secret for a year. I meant to talk to you about it, but you disappeared, and the body of Olive was not found. I suf pose Demming buried it in the old house. have good reason to believe that Benay Flash saw the affray on that night, as well as myself. I think it will be easy enough to prove it -an accident on your part." A groan alone answered her. You must look on the bright side of this affair, Worth," proceeded the girl. "No murder was committed." But, don' t you see, the secreting of the body makes it all look bad." You did not do that?'' ''No-" Then Demming, who did, is really the guilty man. Further, it is more than likely that his bullet, not yours, struck the girl." I had not thought of that." ''I have."

PAGE 31

THE LAWYER DETECTIVE But it cannot be proved in any event. I think it can." "How? You bid me hope. Ob, Heaven! if I only knew that my bullet was not guilty of slaying poor Olive I should feel like a new man.'' "The proof can be found," said Rena. "I saw the tragedy, and when you two men fl.red, Olive Chester stood between you, with her face turned toward Evard Demming." Yea, yes, that is true." "Well, then, the location of the bullet tells 11ho shot Olive Chester." "My soul, this is true. The body must be exhumed. Oh, Rena, if it should prove that I am gniltleee, I shall feel like one let out of Hades!" At this a strange thrill shot over the listening Ragsdale. Open the door," he said to the jailer. Be quick about it, too, John." The key .grated in the lock, and the next minute the lawyer-detective entered the cell, confronting Rivera. "I have heard all," said Ragsdale. Then you know 1 meant no harm to your poor cousin when I fired in defense of my life?" "I know that, and more." ''More?" Rivers trembled as he gazed eagerly into the face of the speaker. "The bullet that found Olive Cheater's life was buried In her forehead." Just Heaven! I thank thee." The prisoner sunk weak an l trembling to the floor. * A few weeks later, and four men were sent to a western penitentiary for a term of years. I am glad that Wortbland Rivers is free,., said Demming, as he stood ready to leave on the train for his prison-home. Hie words were addressed to Ragsdale. No murder was done that rtight when your cousin was killed. I fired at Rivers, but hit the girl. I knew this all the time. His bullet cut off my little fin ger. When I come out of prison I promise you I shall run off no more cattle and horses. 'Twas the colonel got me into it." R:\gsdale learned that it was the masked league of cattle-stealers who had made so many attempts on bis life, since they feared he would learn their secret if he remained in the Big Horn basin. (THE END.] With the thieves the murder mystery cut but a secondary figure. Of course the mob scene at the hunter' s shanty was all a farce, engineered by Tribune Tripp and the colonel. With the mystery of Olive's dl'ath cleared up, our story is at an end. Mrs Tripp was easily freed from her criminal husband, and went to live in Denver, where she haRa happy home. From her Ragsdale learm>d that Rena was not Tripp's daughter, but a step-child. "Her real name is Rivers. said Mr. Tripp. Rivera!" exclaimed Ragsdale. "Yes. She and Worthland are own brothe r and sister." "The thunder! you say." It was a glad revelation to the young law yer, however. He sought out Rena, and payed devoted court, winning her after a six months' siege. Worthland Rivers is doing business in Denver, and seems to enjoy himself, since a black cloud has been li.fted from his life. Mrs. Chester-she goes by tbat name nowhas altered her will in that a portion of her money she intends to have go to Rena's brother. Ragsdale's detective experience in Wyo ming was hill l118t, The next number of the OLD CA.P. (',OLLIER LIBRA.RY will contain, complete, a splendid detective etory by that Prince of detective writers, GILBERT JEROME. It is entitled "THE PARISIAN DETECTIVE IN NEW YORK; or, Solving the Myatery of a Stolen Corpse." It i& a rattler and will be published 118 No. 380 of the OLD C.a.P. CoLLlER LlBauir. oiMI: l'iOVtLS sol.'Gl-lT & SOLD C\\f\Rl. f S BRAGIN 1-.r1 1 ; w. 12th St. l_, __ M. 'f. r r \)10 4,


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