Frank Reade, Jr., and his electric prairie schooner; or, Fighting the Mexican horse thieves

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Frank Reade, Jr., and his electric prairie schooner; or, Fighting the Mexican horse thieves

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Frank Reade, Jr., and his electric prairie schooner; or, Fighting the Mexican horse thieves
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Frank Reade library.
Senarens, Luis, 1863-1939
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New York
Frank Tousey
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1 online resource (15 p.) 29 cm. : ;


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Inventors -- Fiction ( lcsh )
Science fiction ( lcsh )
Dime novels ( lcsh )
serial ( sobekcm )

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University of South Florida Library
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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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R17-00048 ( USFLDC DOI )
r17.48 ( USFLDC Handle )
024852245 ( Aleph )
63788611 ( OCLC )

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N ona:rne's" Latest and Best Stories are Published in This Library. Entered as Second Class Matter at the New York, N. Y., Post Office, October 5, 1892. No. 70. {coMPLETE.} FRANK TousEY. PunLtsRER, & 36 NoR'l'H MoonE STREE!J.NEw YoaK. {5JcRJNCTEg.} Vol. III New York, January 20, 1894.. ISSUED WEEKLY. ., c Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1894., by FRANK TOUSEY, in the o.f!lce of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C. Frank Reade, Jr., And His Electric Prairie Schooner; or, FIGHTING THE MEXICAN HORSE THIEVES. By "NONAME."


--. 2 FRANK READE, JR., AND HIS ELEC'l.'RIC PRAIRIE SCH OONEH.. The subscription Price of the FRANK READE LIBRARY by the year is $2.50: $1.25 per six months, postpaid. Address FRANK TOUSEY, PUBLISHER, 34 and 36 North Moore Street. Box 2730. Frank Reade, Jr., and His Electric Prairie Schooner; OR, FIGHTING THE MEXICAN HORSE THIEVES. By "NONAME," Author of "Frank Reade, Jr., With His Air Ship in Asia," "Frank Reade, Jr., in the Far West,'' etc., etc. CHAPTER I. CATCHING A SPY. THE job is worth filly thousand dollars.'' "Quite an Inducement." "Do you care to earn it!'' 'rhe sum is very trilling to me.'' "Trilling! Why, good heavens, it's a fortune.'' "It he to a poor man, Mr. Goodwin." I beseech you not to refuse my oll'er. I know you are a very rich young man, Frank Reade, Jr., but the fact is the ranchmen whom I represent c annot atl 'ord to pay anv more for the work they are anx ious to ha v e you perform for them." "Oh, it isn't the of the reward that troubles me. I am really in doubt as to whether it would pay me in fun nod adventure to take my new electric prairie schooner all the way from here in Readestown down to the Texan border to tight the Mexican horse thillves who have been robbing your ranches." The two men who were speaking sat in the large, handsome lil.Jrary of a mansioo in the little city of Rea.destown. One or them, called Mr. Goodwin, was a. middle-aged ma.n, clad in a neat suit or clothes, his aogula.r covered by a gray beard. He was the owner or a Texan cattle ranch. The other was the proprietor of the mansion ih which the dialogue ensued, and was a celebrated inventor of electric overland engines, tlyiog machines and submarine boats. Frank Reade, Jr. was a finely huilt, handsome young man with strong nerves, powerful muscles, an inordioate love of daogerous ad venture, and a most dariog dispositioo. He had recently perfected the coostroction or a peculiar device re sembling one of the old time prairie schooners to run upon laud by electro motive force. It was builL lor the purpose or testing its utility as a means of aggression or defense upon land in time or war or rebellioo. The press representaLives or the country having witnessed its in itial trip had giYen great publicity to the matter, whereupon the young inventor received this call from Mr. Goodwin who had made Frank a proposition to use the engine to suppress a gang of horse thieves. The gentleman from Texas smiled broadly at Frank's remark: "If you are in quest or fun and adventure," said be, "1 can safely assure you tllat you will have more tb n n you expect, if you will undertake to do this work lor us." Will you kindly give me a detailed explanation or your case," politely asked the famous young inventor. "Certainly. There are, as you must know all along the Texas border, on the Rio Grande, uumerous cattle ranches. '\'he owners, or which I am one, have been a:so raising maoy valuable horses. Down in Mexico a most dangerous gang of thieves was organized by a bandit namec l Domingo, the Demon. He is a cruel, crafty and savage di s positlooed outlaw, and his band of tifty vaqueros are all vagal.Jond ruffians equally as bad and reckless as he. Discovering our horses, they have been repeatedly crossing the border, and raiding the ranges. The cattle are driven over the Rio Grande and sold. Despite our own ell'orts, assisted by our cowboys, Zhe aid lent us by tbe reservation troops and the bands or vigilantes, we have never l.Jeen able to catch the villains. A syndicate of ranch owners was formed, consisting or those who lost by tbe depredationa or tbe thieves. We made a pool or $50,1)00 as a reward for the extermination or i.he gang under Domingo, tbe Demon. Having rend an account or the formidable engine you IDVented, I was detailed to call oo you as a represeotalive of the syndicate. My mission was to offer you this reward as an inducement to you to employ your new invention in the extermination of the horse thieves.'' "So that's the trouble, ell!" asked Frank, thougbtfully. "And quite sufficient, for by these raids we annually lose horses to the value or twice that sum. .!.(ow what is your answer, Mr. Reads will you undertake the task?" "You are hazarding a good deal or money on an uncertainty,. ain't you?'' asked Frank. "How do you know that the prairie schooner is capable of performiog the work you want done!" Ob, I was in Readestown yesterday when you gave an exhibition of tt,e machine to the Government experts who came here on your in vitatioo to witness the performance or the en11:ioe. I therefore had a!l opportunity or witnessing the operation of-the invention, and was very favorably impressed with the terrilic power or the two hydraulic guns she carried." "Ah, I see! I did not know that you had seen her. Now the fact is, that although I bave offered rr:y patent for sale LO tile United States, it will be a long time before anything can be done about the Jlurchase. Congress will have to make suitable appropriation lor the transaction. There will b" co end <>f legal proceeding. ln the meantime the Fury, as I named the machine, must lie idle. I may as well make use of her." "Then you consent!" eagerly asked Mr. Goodwin wilh a smile. "No; not yet,'' replied Franl;, shaking his head. Wby not!" was the disappointed query as t!le man's face fell. "Because I willlirst have to consult with two old friends who invariably accompany me on tbe trips I maktt with my inventions.'' "You mean the negro and tbe Irishman?" "Baroey O'Shea and Pomp," acquiesced the inventor, nodding. "They are a pair of brave fellows, always playing practical j o kes upoo each other, ready for luo or a fight at any time, and are very much devoted to me.'' As Fraok thuu praised his friends, he happened to glance up at. one or the windows, when be sudrlenly caught sight of a man's face peer ing around or.e side of the casing. TlJis individual had a dark, swarthy countenance, a long, sharp nose, jet black eyes with an ugly expression, and wore a long black mustacbe on his thin, cadaverous fac e He had a slouched hat upon his long black hair, aud o. most sinister expression upoo Ins bony countenanle. As the window half open to admit the pleasant June breeze, it was very evident to Frank that t.he lurkiog stranger had been listening to the alorego!ng conversation There was nothing of a pnrticulo.rly private nature in what had been said, but 1t angered the young inVP.ntor very much to see the darkfaced stranger eavesdropping there. He did not say a word to Mr. Good win about it, !Jot rose to his feet untl with one bon nd he spraog through the window, carrying the shades and curtains with him. Landing on r he ground, he heard a hoarse voice cry beside him: "Pe1 D i os! I'm caught!" A quick glance showed Frank the man who had been looking in. He caught the fellow by the collar, shook him angrily, and demanded: What you sneaking around here for?" "l'ou l6ta me go!" hissed the big, burly fellow, struggling to get away. "Not unt!l you give an account of yourself, sir!" Gompad1 e I make you!" hoarse ly cried the stranger. Do you want me to put you in jail?" A savage expletive in Spanish e3caped the mlJ.n, and he pulled a long knife from his breast pocket and drew it back to plunge the blade ioto Fro.nk's body. There was a demoniacal expression upon the Mexicao's face and a dark scowl upon his brow, while in his snaky black eyes gleamed a lurid file that uetrayed a ferocious disposition. Before he could stab Frank, the inventor's list shot out like a gun allot and caught him between the eyes. It was a sledgehammer blow, and it knocked the Mexican sprawling upon the ground flat on his back. He uttered a yell or pain and rage as he went down, and Mr. Goodwin now in the window. As soon as his glunce fell upon the man, he cried, excitedly: By heavens, it's Domingo the Demon!'' "This man?" naked Frank, in astonishment. "Yes; be is the Mexican horse thief I told you of.'' '


I F'RA.NK READE, JR., AND HIS ELECTRIC PHAIRIE SCHOONER. 3 But what is be doing here!" "I tella you dat!" hissed the rascal, as be got upon his feet and brandished his dagger at Frank. I hear dem rnnclleros say dnt dey wee! come here to get your engine, au' I follow beem from Texas to kee l you, so you not can work for dem. An' po1 el demonio I keepa mv oath!" Maddened by the hlow Frank bad l'iven him, the outlaw sprung nt the young to avenge himself. The next moment they met. Frank grasped the man s wrist, holding back the kuife so be could not use it, and a desperate struggle ensued. In the midst or it a red-headed freckle-faced Irishman came rush ing toward them from the direction or the immense shops in whicb Fran!!: constructed his inventions. He was Burney O Shea, the young inventor's friend, and a yell pealed from his lips and he tlourished a blackthorn shillaleh he carded as he saw Frank fall with the Mexican on too of him. Whoop! he howled. A ruction, hejnbers!' Bang blazes out av ther sooker, Masther Frank. Howly tloy-de's down, an' ther baste atop a v him Lave him be, ye shpulpeen, or I'll bate ther head av yel" U p to the combatants rushed the Celt, and before the Mexican cou l d murder the inver1tor, Barney rattled n tattoo all over Domin go's head and shoulders, and diRarmell him. The Mexican was wild. H e sprang to bis feet, shook his fl8 t at Barney, and roared: ''I avenge dese blows denrly-denrly !" "Come ou !"roared Barney. "I'm ready, ye blackguard!" But to his disgust the Mexican stnr4jd to run away. He did not proceed far bowev er, when he run into a small darky, with n big bend, and a comical face. It was Pomp, nod he had seen all that transpired. Clar de track, greaser!" he yelled. De brack cyclone nm comiu' J 'J'hen he charged on the Mexican h ead first, butted him in the stom ach, and knocked him over again doubled up like n jack knife and gasping for breath. CHAPTER II. LASSO CHARLEY. CRACK, crack, crack! pistol shots rang out in quick succession, coming Crnm toe street. Witil a whistling sound the bullets flew around Pomp's woolly head and glancing up, the coon caught sight of three Mexican friends of Domingo, the Demon armed with revolvers. They had come from Mexico with the bandit, and bad been keeping watch outside the house while be bad followed Mr. Goodwin, and gone around to the library window to listeu to what was said inside. Pomp was not a r med. He realized that it was much as his life was worth to remain there, and consequently took to his heels. As Roon as they put him to flight, the Mexicans dashed into the yard, picked up their leader, and carried him out. Domingo quickly recovered. There were four saddle honea tethereJ close by. Seeing tbat it was now impossible to do anything to prevent Mr. Goodwin from cnrryicg out his plans they dashed away and were neYer again seen in the vicinity of Readealown. Pomp joined Frank and the Irishman. "Fo' de Lnwd sake5, whn' de trubble yare?" he asked, breathlesoly. The young inventor explained the cause of Mr. Goodwin's call and all that subs e quently transpired. Barney and Pomp listened with great interest. "It seems then, from what the Mexican said, that he was anxious to klll mew I could not proce e d against him," said Frank, in con clu s ion. "But he will tlnd after lus brutality here that I'll wipe him and his gang out, anyway." "Faith, it's goin' ter Texas yez bea then ? asked Barney, eagerly. "Yes, if [can't have him nrrest11_d sooner! Wi!l you go?" "Golly, yes!" assented Pomp, who wna delighted at the prospect. "Be he11vens," added Burney, With n. grin, "it's loike a roosty nail I'm gittin' intoirely fer ther want nv n scrimmage. Did yer moind ther way I broke his bend wid me shtick ? "Then that settles it. Pomp, go tell the police to look for them." The diminutive coon basteneu away, and Frank nod the Celt went into the library, where Barney wna introduced to Mr. Goodwin. "I that Domingo escaped," said the ranchmnu, regretfully. "Yea, but I've sent Pomp to put the police on his track." S hould they apprehend hlm, I will not bave to trouble you to go to Mexico and break up his gang then," said Mr. Goodwin, in pleased tones. Without Domingo to lend them, scheme for them and work for them, the gang would be very badly crippled." If he escapes the police I will undertake the work for you," said Frank. "Both or mv friends have consented to go." "Thank Heaven for that assurance!" cried the ranch owner, grate fully. I will remain in Rendestown until you know what to do.'' Now tell me where the bandits have thetr rendezvous, how they operate to steal your horses, where they dispose of the animals, and any other useful information you possess." Mr. Goodwin complied. He then took his departure for an hotel. Pomp returned from the pollee station, nod apprising Frank that be had given the authorities information about the horse thieves he went down to the kitchen to prepare supper. He, was a good cook, nod as Frank's family and servants had gone to Chicago to remain n week, the coon had taken charge of the culiu nrv department. Barney picked up n ball of cord when the darky was out of the way, and quietly making his way out in the hall he tied one end or the twine t.o the wire of the door bell near the ceiling. The other end IrA curried over the door frames buck into the dining room, near his charr. In a short time Pomp bud the meal ready, Frank was called nod they all sat down to the table. Just as the coon was about to take a mouthful or food, the mis chievous Irishman who sat next to the hall door, with his back to the wall, gave the a Jerk and the bell rung. It was Pomp's custom to the bell, and he therefore laid down his knife nod fork, arose, nod hastened out to the door. Flinging it open, be peered out, and was surprised to see nobody there, whereupon n perplexed took crossed his face, and be muttered: "Gosh amigbty! Dat am queer. Who dun rung dat bllll?" Waiting a few moments, and no one materializing, he returned to the dining-room, ant down, grasped his and fork, nod said: Dey wasn't nobuddy dar.'' How odd!" remarked FranK. "Ther nngur's dhrunk!" said Barney. An angry retort leaped to Pomp's fat lips. Before he could give utterance to il, however, Burney jerked the string. Clang! went the !Jell, and up jumped Pomp again, muttering: "S'pec's de one wot runged befo' mus' agwine away an' now come buck." He rushed to the door again, and opened it with a bang. Of course there was no one outside, and the look or astonishment on the coon's. face deepened into one of great suspicion. He saw several boys running along the street, and began to think they had rung the bell for mischief. "Say, yo' or' nary lillie raakils!" he yelled, shaking his finger nt them threateningly. De nex' time yo' do dat l pull de libber outen yo' gosh blame hides! Yo' heah me? Hum?" Tbe boys paused, looked at him in injured surprise, and then to resent his unjust suspicion of them, they shot at him with their bean shooters and run away. Pomp recoiled into the hall. De r.ex' time dey pull dnt bell I'se gwine ter soak 'em!" he mut tered. Then he stole down in the CPIIar, got n barrel stnve, and returning to the door, he stood crouching b .. side it ready to pounce on his imaginary tormentors. What's matter out theref' shouted Frank. "Sh-h-h!" hissed Pomp, gliding in. "Dey's a crowd ob bad boys dingin' de bell, no' I'se gwine ter cotch 'em, aab.'' Barney could hardly suppress his mirth. He was just about to jerk tbe string again. when someone ACtually rang the nell, and Pomp went down the hull with a rush. Howly mackerel!'' roared Burney, bursting into a wild langh. "Oh, what n picnic! Watch ther circus, Masther Frank, watch it!" Frank was amazed and peered out in the ball. Open Hew tt1e door, up went Pcmp's stove, nod bung it went down on the bead of n man he saw out on the piazza. "Ouch!" yelled the stranger. His bat was telescopetl and jammed down over his eyes. Fool me, will yu' ? yelled Porn wildly. Take dati" Biff-bang-thump! wenL the stave again. The stranger graypled the coon and they fell down Roar after roar of laughter pealed merrily from Barney's lips and h e and Frank rushed out to see who the unlucky fellow was. 'l'hey round him sitting on Pomp's stomach, pulling the coon's nose nod the darkv howled every time his nasal orgas got a twi!t. "Let up there!" cried Frank. Whn: the deuce does this mean!" "It means," replied the stranger, that I am going to wallop this heathen for trying to cave in tbe roof or my head." He was attired very much like a cowboy, only that hlB hat was a derby, and be had n pleasant tnce, adorned by a bt own mustache nod goatee. His features were ruther raw-honed, but besides the honest look in his keen blue eyes, his square jaw nod thin lips denoted a nature that was not to be triHed with. : It am a mistake!" yelled Pomp. 'Fo' de Lawd it am, chile!" "That's different," sud the man, getting up. "I thought you did it oa purpose. I obJect to being pounded into a jolly." '' He thought you were some mischievous boys who have been ringing the door bell to tantalize him," explained Frank. Ab, yes-I see.'' Did you cull to see me!" Are you Frank Reade, Jr. f' That's my name.'' "I nm called Lasso Charley, nod I've come to introduce myself." Indeed? I cant say I ever beard of you before." Didn't Mr. Goodwin mention my name to you!" "No, sir," answered Frank. Well, I'm his superintendent." Did you come up from Texas with him?" I did, and if you undertake the work of tackling the Mexican horse thiees, he wants me to go with you on the electric engine."


r FRANK READE, JR., AND HIS ELECTRIC PRAIRIE SCHOONER "You dou't say so. What for?"' "As I am well acquainted with thAlooks or the outlaws, know their haunts, understand their plans, and so on, Goodwin thought I would be a good helper for you." "You certainly would," asseoted Fran!{. Come in and I'll talk to you about the matter, sir." 'rhlly passed Inside, and Barney and Pomp followed. 'fhe string by which the Irishman operated the bell had fallen to the Jloor, and Pomp now caught sight of it. Instantly he comprehended how he bad been fooled. "Brees de Lamb!" he gasped. "It wuz yo' wot ding the bell.'' Arrah, it's a George Washintin I am entoirely-1 cannot tell a loy!" said Barney, grinning from ear to ear. "See de trubble yo' got me in. By gosh, I'm goin' ter kill yo'!" He seized the stave and made a rush for Barney, but that practical joker discreetly Jled, and the coon chase c l him. Frank had entered the parlor, and in a brief conversation with Las so Charley, found he was a very nice fellow. He gave the inventor lots of useful information, and in conclusion he added, confidentially: Now I've got a tremendous secret to impart to you "Ami what may that be?" asked Frank. 1 know the location of four boxes Jllled with golden nuggets. They are in the horse thieves' territory. If we can get this treasure our fortunes are made. What d.:> you think of Splendid!" said Frank, enthusiastically. Tell me about the treasure." "Very well, sir; listen." CHAPTER III. DOWN INTO TEX AS. 'THE ranch superintendent settled himself hack comfortably in his chair, and ht a pipe, for be was an inveterate smoker, and said: About a year ago a party or three men met me in Galveston, and enga g ed me to guide them on an exploring expedition Into the heart or Chihuahua. There was the ruins there of an ancient Aztec city, which they desired to explore in search of antiquities. After a long journey, we reaebed the place on the borders of Lake Del Chicuas. Here, while exploring the ruins, the ground opened under my feet, and I fell into a large, buried room. The lumber forming its roof bad rotted from the moisture in the dirt and weeds that bad accumulated over it, and the weight of my body had broken it through. When I became nccnstomed to the gloom, I observed by the faint light com ing in through the hole in the roof, that I was in a room wllich had once been used as a place of worship. It contained a golden image of the patron god of the Aztecs, called Huilzilopochtli, which must have weighed r.early a ton. Now, as 3 6 8 5 pounds of gold Is worth about one million dollars, you can imagine what valuable piece of statuary I bad round." "It was magnificent!" sai1 Frank. "Go on.'' "Well, sir, my comoanions hauled me out, heard the news, and de lighted over the discovery we proceeded to br e ak the statue to pieces and haul it out of the subterranean vault. Improvising shafts of small traPS, with rude boxes fastened to them, we abandoned the hunt for antiquities, hitched the four horses we bad ridden to the drags, and distributed the gold among tllem. Then we started for the Rio Grande as fast as possible, driving the horses and anxious to get our treasure over the border into Texas on United States territory. Unfortunately a band of Mexican outlaws, under command of Domingo the Demon, came riding after us. A spy of hiS band bad discovered what we bad and he designed to wrest it from us. Night bad fallen, and we reach ed the river near San Carlos and drove the horses in. Cutting the drags free of the btasts, they sunk to the bottom at a spot ;vhich we noted, burying the gold, and we swam the river. The outlaws shot at us, and killed my three companions. I was wounded, but escapod on my horse. Tbe bandits failed to tlnd the gold as they did not see what we did, with it, but suspectwg it must be somewhere in the vicinity where they last saw us they have since then haunted that vicinage hunting for it." "But bow do you know they haven't got it!" Simply because I made several secret trips to the place and have found evil!ence of its being there yet.'' Then you wish to get It if I go on this trip!" By all means, as we can do so with the protection of such a for midable battery as your electric prairie schooner carries H we suc ceed in this design, and there are four of us in the party, I will share the gold equally with all hands." Here's another inducement for me 'to go," laughed Frank. If there's balf a m11lion dollars worth of gold there, each,one of us would ,!Cain $125,000. That's a magnificent sum. Do you think you could find the resting place of the gold again!'' Most decidedly. All we uoed a diving suit to get it up as it is broken into nuggets small enough for a man to handle." "I have such dtving suits as would be required." Then I need say no more.'' They continued the conversation at some length fnrther and Lasso Charley then took his leave. A week passed by uneventfully. At the expiration of that time the chief of the Readestown pollee called upon Frank, and met him In the reception room. "I've got bad tidings for you, Mr. Reade," said he. What Is it?" questioned Frank, uneasily. The villain of a Mexican who caused you so much annoyance was tracked by a detective down to Matamoras, in his own country, anu there got away with his three companions." "So the office r failed to apprehend them, eh!" Yes, sir. I'm sorry, but we did the best we could.'' Don't mention regret, chief. I'm going after lum myself now.'' Is it possible?" Yes, in my new electric prairie schooner.'' The chief went away, and Frank went to see Mr. Goodwin and Lasso Charley at the hotel they were stopping. He then told them the pollee news, and signified his readiness to proceed at once lor Mexico to exterminate the horse thieves. Delighted at this news, and sorry to bear that Domingo had made his escape, Mr. G0odwin induced Frank to sign a contract to do the work, and then deposited $50,000 with a local bank, to be paid to Frank upon order from Goodwin. The payment was to be made upon the evldence of Lasso Char ley that tile inventor had taken Domingo the Demon, uead or alive, and broken up his gang. Handing Frank two arrest warrants, one from Texas and the other for Mexican aulhorities to legalize his attacks upon the outlaws, Mr. Goodwin took his departure for home. Lasso CI.;arley was left behind to accompany Frank. Preparations were made for the jcurney at once. The prairie schooner was stocked with food and water, she wae equipped with arms, ammunition and necessary articles of various kinds, and Frank sent word to his family of his intention. When everything was in readtness, our four friends went to Frank's big shop to board the Fury. The electric prairie sc!Jooner stood in a huge room. It was an engine fifty feet In length by ten feet in width, mounted on four broad, cogged wheels, ami made mostly of aluminum and steel so that its weight was proJ,>ortionately very slight. The rear part was built in the form of an old style prairie schooner, pierced by bnll's-eyes, and surrounded by a platform upon which two aide doors opened. On each side of it were steps for mounting, beneath was secured some of the mechanism winch revolved the dr1ving wheel'S by a gear wheel, and a cowcatcher like a locomotive hung in front. Forward of the body stood ;. metal pilot-house furnished with plate glass, over which metal shutters could be drawn. 'l'be barrels of two hydraulic guns prOJeCted from the front O( the turret which were operated by a n.achine inside, the top was furnished with a Hag pole and a powerful electric h e adlight. A wheel inside was used to steer by turning the front wheels. Her interior was arranged in the following manner: The end room contained the provisions, suppli e s and small arms. tne next room was used for cooking at an electrically-heated stove, and eating, and the room back of the contained a number of bunks for sleeping. The mechanism was operated by a large numoer of electric batteries which were charged with chemicals, and kept in a shallow place under the tloor. Each room had an incandesct>nt lamp, and the headlight with these lamps derived their current from a series of the batteries. The doors of the shop bad been opened. Frank and Lasso Charley entered the through the bedroom. There were several switches controlling the mechanism in tbe room, and as Fra&k turned one it put the engine in motion. The Fury rolled noiselessly on her Jlexible springs and left the shop with Bnrney and Pomp sitting on the front platform, the Iriabman playing a Iiddle and the coon thumping a banjo. In this manner they reached tllll street. Everyllne rushed out to see the departure of the engine, u.nd the avenue which the Fury proceeded was soon lined with bun dreds of men, women and They cheered the electric prairie schooner, waved their hats and handkerchiefs, and gave the adventurers a grand send off. Frank pulled the switch over further on the board. Speed was thus added to the wheels, and the machine rushed along furiously, dashed Into the country, anj sped away at the rate of thirty miles an hour on the smooth, hard road. She kept on and on for over a week without meeting with any acci dent, and operating far better than her designer imagined she would, until she was far down in Texas. It was on a clear, moonlit night when she left Sdnora behind, m Sutton County, and went !lying over the prairie In the directien of Devil s river which Frank intended following to the Rio Grande. The young inventor was at the wheel, and his companions were back in the dlning-roo:n at supper Frank observed that he was following a well-defined trail, and cast ing his glance casually along the route his attention was suddenly arrester! by the sight of several horsemen ahead. They were so far away tliat he could not see them distinctly, and be picked up a telescope and squinted through. The powerful glass showed him that the men he had been looking at were a band of live cowboys, mounted on mustangs aod riding for ward at the top of the animals' speed. Further in advance was a drove of horses. 'l'hey were being furiously driven by a dozen men clad in the garb of Mexicans, and as soon as Frank saw them and observed what they wera doing, he cried: "By thunder, there are some of the horse thieves now!" His companions heard his startling cry anll rushed into the pilot house excite:lly, demanding eagerly: l 1


... l FRANK READE, JR., AND HIS ELECTRIC PRAIRIE SCHOONER. Where, where, where!'' "Look abeud there with tb1s glass," said Frank. They complied, one after another, and witnessed the scene. By George!'' exclaimed Lasso Charley. They are some or Domingo the Demon's gang! I recoguize them by their attire. The fellows in buck are the cowboys or one or the ranches they have been raiding and are pursuing them to get the animals back." Rurrool" roared Barney. Put on shteam an' beheavens we'll run thim down an' lambaste ther shtuffin's out av tilim!"' "Git yo' guns, chillen!" cried Pomp. "Git yo' guns!" Away dashed the three into the store-room, and Frank put .full speed:on the prairie schooner and sent her rushing on like a thunderhoi t in purauit of the horse thieves. Faster and faster !lew the engine, and passing the terrified cowboys sl!e drew up in back of tbe Mexican robbers. CHAPTER IV. FIUHTING THE MEXICAN HORSE THIEVES. "HALT, or you are dead men!" Thus shouted Frank out of the window. The picturesquely clua Mexicuns glanced aronnd. A dazzling glare was gushing from the big headlight, and half blinded them as it shot in to their eyes. Uttering a shout of alarm at sight or such a singular looking en gine pursuing tl!em, they desisted chasing tile horses. Swerving to the right and left, tbey dug the rowels or their long spurs into the Hanks of t!:eir steeds, and drew tbeir pistols. Aiming the Hying prairie scbooner, they fired &bot after shot at her, the leaden pellets crashing against her metal plates. None of the bullets penetrated the Fury, for Frank bad drawn the metal blinds the glass plates of the turret. Seeing that the Mexican horse thieves did not mean to surrender, Frank shouted to his friends: Drop their Lorses from under them!'' The weapons wielded by the crew or the Fury were pneumatic re peating riUes, the projectiles from which were conical bullets, filled with a powerful explosive powder. These deadly missiles burst like torpedoes when they struck the ob jects aimed nt, giving forth loud detonations. Soon the air echoed with the explosions, for while Baruey and Pomp manned the left hand side or the prairie schooner and !ired or. the whole borde who went to the west, Frank and Lasso Charley were sbooting out the bulls'-eyes on the rigbt band side. CracK, crack, crack! roared the bursting bulle.ts. Bang, bang, bang! came the MAxicans' answering shots. The Fury bad not been idle. She aped along, lirst nfler one half the gacg, then after the other. Shot after shot was given and returned. The llorse thieves fired at random. Bu\ not n wild shot came from our friends. They made every one tell Each time they discharged a weapon a Mexican horse fell and flung its half frantic rider to the prairte grass. Wit. hin a I.Jrief space or time the whole gang was dismounted, and the cowboys carne dashing up on their mustangs. Seeing several of the Mexicans ruuning, Frank drove the Fury after them at a t errific rate of speed. Halt!"' he screamed. "Never!" yelled one of the tbieYes. '' Then l'll run you down!'' And bang! went the cowcatcher against his legs. A shriek pealed from thA Mexican as he was hurled into the atr. 1'he inventor hauled the steering wheel around, and away tore the Fury in pursuit of another man. In the meantime the cowboys were charging the rest of the gang, exchanging pistol shot!! with them. Along swept the Fury. Bang! went her cowcatcher again. The Aecond thief was tlung skyward. He fell with a broken leg. Seeing the others running in the opposite direction, the Celt, the coon and the superintendent shot at them. There goes the leader or the gang!'' cried the ranch man. Which one!" demanded Frank from the ptlot house. "The fellow with the white sombrero." I'll follow him up.'' Do you want to see me corral him!'' "How do you mean!" "l'rn the most expert lassoer in Texas-you'll Pee." He bad gained the soubriquet be bore in consequence of his dex terity with the noosed line, and now, proud of Ilia skill picked up a lasso, and went out on the front platform. The eng-ine was flying after a burly Mexican. Lasso Charley arranged his !inA, and when tl!ey arrived near eno ugh to the horse thief, be whirled the coils around in the air over his head and let them fly. Out shot the lasso, uncoiling as it tlew through tbe air, the big noose spread itself in a above the Mexicun's head, and then it fell over his shoulders and A llnckward jerk of Lasso Cl!arley's arm tightened the noose around the man's legs and he pitched over on the ground. As the engine rushel ahead and passed the Mexican, he was drag:I gel! along with it over thl' ground, screaming with pain and swearil;g with rage. Stop her and I'll secure him, Reade!'' All right!" Frank answered, reversing the switch. He put on the brake when the current was cut out of the induction coils, and tile Fury came to a prompt pause. Down to tbe ground jumped Lusso Cl!arley. He rushed up to the fallen Mextcun, anti with wonderful dexterity rolled the man up in tbe lasso, pinioning his arms at bis side and ren dering him utterly help1ess. Baruf!y and Pomp cbeered his skillful work. Frank glanced back t and saw that all tba thieves had now surren dered to the cowboys, and as they were being bound, the lassoer put his prisoners aboard the Fury, the two who were struck by the cow catcher were picked up, and they ran to the berdera. "Got all or them now!" shouted Fratk, opening the window. "Yes. But what the d_euce is that thing, stranger!" one or the cowboys replied, pointing at the PJ'airie schooner. "An electric wagon," Frank replied. "Hello, there, Lasso Cuarley, where in tl.mnder did you come from!" "l'm one of the crew or this vehicle, boys. I see you've had a raid on your rnitcb. But they're all nipped. Thts machine is the one chartered by the combine. Let me introduce you to Frank Reade, Jr." The rough but kind-hearted herders cheered Frank with a will as he appeared, and one of them eaid: "We've chased these varmints over an hour. Yer see they swooped down on ther runge an' jist rode away tiler bull corral fer fair. Glad ye come, or we'd alost tber pesky l!reasers." "Row about your nags!" asked Frank. Tbar goes ther hull kit an' caboodle o' them." "Wait here and we'll round them up and return them." And so saying, Frank sent the electric prairie schooner streaking after the stolen animals at. the top of her speed. She swiftly gained on the herd. Then she made a detour, got around in front of the bunched ani mals, and gradually turned their heads the other way. As soon as they were started buck for their own range, Frank sent tbe engine !lying after tbe beasts to keep tbem moving. 'l'wo or the cowboys then resumed tbe chase on horseback, and as they were now bound to get back home in good order, Frank returned to where the prisoners were. By tho! .bokey !'' cried one or the herders, "you've started in early to be of service to us, Mr. Reade. If you hadn't come up just now with that macbine, we'd a-lost the animals sure guns.'' Well, since your employer is in the syndicate," said Frank, "the best thing you can do with these fellows will be to drive them afoot to the ranch, and put them in your bosses' hands." "Psllaw! We don't want to do that." "Why not, I'd like to know." Because it isn't customary." Then what would you do?" "Holt! a lynching bee, of course." "Oh, no! You must not strmg them up." Horse thieves are always hung tn this Slate, sir." "Granted, if tl'ue, t.ut in this case you mu8t do as I say." They're your prisoners, but our meat, Mr. Reade.'' "By bringing them to tfte ranch, you will let your boss see that we've started in to put the gang out of the way, and then you can do as you see lit." That's so. We may as well hang 'em there as anywhere else. We'll do as you suggest, sir." Is tb is all of the gang?" "I don't know; you'd better quiz the greasers." Frank alighted and approached tile big, sullen-looking leader. Sizing the rascal up a few moments, he finally asked him. "Where's the of your crowd!'' "There are no replied the Mexicun in good English. "011, yes there are. You know who I am, for Domingo the Demon bas told you. I bnve saved you from immediate death. Now if you admit the truth I shall see that you are not hung at all.'' A gleam of hope sprang to the bearded raucnl's dark eyes. He shot a covert glance at his shivering companions: It was clear enough to him that unless he won Frank's favor, his doom was inevitably sealed, so he said, hesitatingly: Will you keep faith with me ill tell you!" "I swear it," replied Frank. "You have an honest look. I will tllUst you." "Well-speak outconfess.'' "In the, at Beaver Lake." How many men?" ''Thirty-eight and Domingo.'' Hal The whole gang!" "Every one of them." Wbat were they doing there!" Waiting for us to come down with those horses. We were then going over the river into Mextco to sell them.'' "See here," said Frank to the cowboys; "you beard my prom ise to this man. Will you spare his life for thus aiding me? His information may lead to the arrest of the whole gang.'' "or course we will," said one or the cowboys. "Good! Then take your ;>risonPrs nwa)". We are going for Beaver Lnke and rout the thieves ouL ot 1he cuve.''


6 FRANK READE, JR.: AND HIS ELECTRIC PRAIRIE SCHOONER. And so saying Frank returned aboard of the prairie schooner. She was started oil for the south, followegnition, they lay lifeless on the opposite shore of the river. Frank loaded the other gun. lt was aimed up at t .he rocks on the side they occupied The horse thieves had vanished from view, but Frank quickly fired the shot, and it roared and seut another mass of debris flying in all directions. 1'hat mnkes fifteen out o! Domingo's gang, which leaves thirty live!" cried Frank, pomting at the three corpses. "H we're afther keepin' an ht this rate," grinned Barney, "faith in three days there'll be no more av t bim left than there wor av ther Kilkenny cats." Let us get c;mt of this ravine," suggested the ranch man "once those greasers reach the prairie they'll bolt, and we may have a hard t1me to catch them again.'' "Just the plan?" assented Frank. He sent the prairie schooner aheal! some distance further when she came out on the border of the lake. From here she was driven across the prairie, and our friends soon caught sight of some of their enemies. The Mexicans were riding swiftly toward the south, and were then at least two leagues in advance of the Fury and rieling fast. dey am! Dar dey am!" cried Pomp, powting out. ''It is only part of the gang." said Frank, critically. Ther rest av thim probably knows where ter meet 'em,'' said Barney. What's the matter with the Fnry?" asked Lasso Charley, suddenly. Heaveus!" gasped Frank. She is sluckeuing speed!" "Have yez tiler switch all ther way over?" asked Barney. "Yes-to the last notch." "Golly, dar goes de lights out!" muttered Pomp. A troubled expression crossed Frauk's face and he cast a rapid glance at the electrometer hauging on the wall. It showed a very low voltage. Then the truth tlushell across his mind and he said: "Why, the chemicals in the butteries are exbaosted!" "Bad cess to thim!" cried Barney. "It'll take an hour or more fer thim ter dissolve enough t .er give us full force!" "Am dem yere yellow niggabs gwine fo' ter 'scape us den!" the coon cried resentfully. What yo' gwine Ler do!" "Recharge them at once to lose as little time as possible," Frank repliecl energetically. By tbis time the speed of the Fury had slackened down to a pace that a man could have beaten afoot. It kept gradually diminishing all the time. Finally it stopped. The crew of the l<'ury kept watching the receding Mexicans un til they finally vanished from view in the distance Fraok went into the rear compartment, and procuring some chem icals, he lifted a trap door in the tloor. A shallow compartment was revealed, filled with innumerable but teries joined together by io@ulated wires. He put a certam amount of the chemicals in each jar and then, opening traps in the floors of the other 10oms, he recharged the rest of the butteries. They were cells of exceedingly great strength which Frank invent ed. Had they been of the ordinary type, enour;h strength of current coulll r.ot have been derived from tbem to prope! the prairie scboou er Unfortunately it required so much time to develop the requisite amount of current by dissolving the compound put in them that the fugitive horse thieves had a chance to escape. Having prepared the batteries so they would operate for several days, Frank jnined his companions. Looking out the window, he saw that the Mexicans were then out or sight in the distance. "Gone, eh!'' he nRked, laconically. "Beyant bein' !(etched," solemnly said Barney. Wha' dis happen now fo'?" Pomp groaned. "They've left a trail we can follow anyhow," consolicgly said LasS() Charley. Watching the electrometer to see the current gain enough force t() operate the engine, Barney took out his old Iiddle and Pomp got his banjo, when an Impromptu concert was struck up. It helped &o vary the monotony. Finally our friends saw that tbe batteries were strong enough t() mov'l the Fury, and the electric lights began to glow again. With their hopes revived Frank turced on the current. Lasso Charley manned the wheel. He was an expert trailer, aud as the prairie schooner ran on he !!'Ot her into the tracks of the Mexicans horses' hoofs. There he kept her. 'l'he current gradually increased in strength. Consequently the Fury proceeded w1th more speed. Presently she was tlying over the prairie at her customary high rate of speed, and the spirits of our friends arose. It was clear that they were gaining on tbe anmials in advance, and every one examined his weapons. The trail was met by other tracks, showing that the other flank of r the band had joined the one Frank was pursuing. The trail ran along a great diatance. But suddenly an unexpected disaster occurred that called forth ex pressions of dismay from all. CHAPTER VI. LURED IN'CO A TRAP, STRETCHING away for hundreds of miles before the }ury were the rippling wa.ters of the great Rio Grande. l


-------------------------r= FRANK READE, JR., AND HIS ELEC'l'RIU PRAIRIE SCHOONER. 7 I t Tlle mighty river cut off the advance of tlle prairie schooner so that J she could no longer follow the Mexicans. It was very evident that they bad driven their horses into the big stream and caused them to swim across to the Mexican shore, thus gaining a place of safety. A cry or vexation pealed from Frank's lips, and pointing down at \he mighty water course, be said: "We have had our race for nothing.'' "Bedad, it's bilked we are, entoirely!" gronned Barney. "Nor can we get over near here," added Lasso Charley. Whar urn dey a bndge?" askeJ the coon of the ranch man. "None nearer than at Painted Cave, on the other side of the San Antonio railroud," the ranchman r .. plied. Then we'll head that way and get down into Mexico," said Frank. '' Which way shall I steer!" South-west,'' replied Lasso Charley. "It's fifty miles from here." It's a lucky thing we have you with us, so you can give us all the information we require,'' said Frank. The engine rolled along, and Lasso Charley said: In order to get at the sunken gdld I told you about we woult.l have to get O!! the '>ther side of the Rio anyway." They finally reachAd the hridge and crossed over. Returning to a point opposite where the trail of the horse thieves had been lost at the nverside, they hegan to searcll for tlle tracks of their enemies. It was late on the following afternoon before they were found, and then the tracks went toward a llistant copse of woodland. The Fury followed the trail again. Luck was against our frienlls, however, for when night fell a ter rific storm burst as they ran into the woods &nd obliterated the faint tracks they had been followmg. Barney brought the engine to a pause. It was or no use going any further. The wind was 1>lowwg sucb a gale that bad the Fury been out on the open prairie 11he would bave been toppled over. It was a wild night. The trees, rocks and shrubs protected them. Yet all the wllile the storm raged it tore off branches, uprooted trees and sent them flying through tile air. The Fury was bombarded all over. Despite th6 peril of their position it was safer to be where they were than in. an place. Ain't you going on!" asked Frank. "Wbat's ther use!" asked Barney, in disgust. l'm afraid we'll lose the horsfl thieves now." Upon me sow! I agree w1d yer.'' The night wore slowly away, the storm raging with unabated fury until the dawn of (lay. It then gradually cleared away. Pomp cooked aod served an excellent breakfast, and nt its end they started the Fury ahead slowly along the way they were going. ln tbia manner Frank expected to get through the woods. The sun finally burst fror.n hehind the clouds. Frank then relieved Barney of the wheel, and glancing out the win dow, he caught sight of a man on horseback. The Fury wns tben traversing an arcade through the woods, the trees on each aide being too close together to admit of the of the prairie schooner among them. "Fo' de lao' sakes, who am datt'' asked Pomp, who also saw the rider. "Looks like a Mexican," commented Frank. The mustang bestrode by the man was going along at an easy lope, and the rider now glanced back at the Fury with a curious expression upon his features. A ray of sunlight piercing the foliage overhead slanted down his dark features, distinctly revealing them. "It's Domingo, the Demon!" cried Frank, he he recognized him. "Golly! So It am!" Hello!" Frank yelled at him. Wellf" replied the bandit coolly. "Stand!" "Oh, no!'' We'll lire!" "Bani I defy you!'' Pomp, arm yourself!" "Yus sah!" The coon produced a rille. But Domingo the Demon dashed away. Plunging the trees he vanished. A cry or disappointment escaped the coon. Done gonAI" he exclaimed. Fire in the dtrection he went!" said Frank. Bang! Bang! Bang! Three reports rang out. No cry, only the echo came back. "Mus' a miss him," said Pomp. "How unfortunate!" "Go like de deuce, Marse Frankl" What for!" "Git froo de woods quicker'n him.'' That's so-ba!" Wha' de mattuh!'' "There be is on the road again.'' "Praised'! Lawd! So be nm!" "Something must have turned him out of the woods." "Chase him, honey! Go fo' him, chile!" I'll run him down now." Frank put fulli!J>eed on the engine. Away she tore like wild lire. A defiant yell burst from Domingo the Demon. He wavell his band back at his pursuers. Digging spurs into b1s mustang be duelled ahead. After bim tlew the prairie scbooner furiously. The ground ahead was littered with the broken branches of th& trees which must have heeu toru off by tlle Vifllent storm They crackled and snapped loudly the. engine's wheels crusheJ and broke them. Suddenly, though, when she was in the midst of a larger collection of the twigs and branches than she encountered before, they gave away beneath er, and she plunged into a deep pit. Down slle went with a terrible crash and the jingling or broken glass, throwing her occupants 11tunned to the tloor. Tbe Fury lauded on the bottom half huried in a mass of debris and there she laid over on her side, utterly helpless. It was a natural pit, but the walls had been squarer!, and the and twigs had been laid across the top in orller to form a. trap into which Domingo had lured ller. As soon us Frank recovered it llashed across his mind that the cnp tain of the Mexican rutnans bad prepared this pitfall to destroy the prairie schooner. Circumstances bad assisted him in his evil design. "He made that detour among the trees on his horse to avoid the trap!'' be muttered. "Now I understand his scheme.'' Expecting that IJe had not seen the lost of his enemies, F ank first secured the lloors and windows so no one conld get m. He tben examined his companions. Tbey all were senseless. Frank hatl a hard job to revive them. While he was so employed he heard voices outside. 'l'he speakers used the Mexican language, but as Frank was COilversant witb Spanish he understood them. The horse thieves, 1 suppose!" be muttered. Then be heard one say : Tbe plan worked well, Domingo.'' "Finely, Ped!o, for there slle lies!" "Isn't she ruined?'' t:lile certainly looks so." And her inmatest" Probahly killed." How sball we discover?" "By going down in the pit." "Look outl 'l'hey may be shamming." "Trust me for caution. We will wan." For what, Domingo?'' To see if there is any sign or life in her.'' ,"Very well, senor. Let the men surround the pit.'' These people shall never molest us again." "No, no! They must not alive from here.'' I shall see that they dou't. They are in my power, if alive!'' Foreseeing no further trouble for the present, Frank continued his work at reviving his companions and succeeded. As oooo as ttey leurufd what bappentd and how the situation was, they held a consultation to devise a means of defense. It was manifest that they were in a llaogerous position. Arm yourselves,'' said Frank. "The momect any of the Mexi cans come down in the pit we will be ready for them. As soon as all hands are down open lire on them." The rest uodlled assent. Maintaining the utmost silence, they watched out the bull'seyes and saw that the pit was at least twelve feet deep. 'l'he Mexicans were surrounding the top. Finally, however, us they did not see any sign of Frank or the others, they hegan to let down tree trunks. When several of them rested against tlle side of the pit a dozen of the horse thieves climbed down. Among them wns Domingo the Demon, and all were armed and on the alert for a fight with our friends. CHAPTER VH. THE MEN IN THE RIVER, "Now, boys, give it to them!" Four shots followe

8 FRANK READE, JR., AND HIS ELECTRIC PRAIRIE SCHOONER. Tbey were aimed at the wall of the pit ahead and fired. A tremendous mass of the dirL was away. "Barney, yon work one gun, and I'll operate the other!" cried Frank. "Is it ter pieces ye wnd blow ther wallf' questioned the Irishman. "Yes. We must batter it,down to get the Fury out." Let htlr go, me b:;e!" And two more shots flew out. More of the dirt was sent fiying. These reports drove the borse thieves away. Several more shots were discharged. By this time a wide opening was made. It rau up to the level ground at a slant. Seeing that tbe !Jrairie schooner could run up tte Incline and reach the upper grilund, Frau k now said: All of you put on your metal suits, and we will go outside and throw the logs out of the way of the wheels.'' This order was carried out. The suits in q uestiou were made of thick steel scales that were per fectly bullet prouf, and fit their bodies snugly. Reaching the outside, Frank made a quicl;: examination of the elec tric machine. Nothing but the glasses were broken, and he saw that she was in fit condition to make the etrort to drag herself" out pf the trap. The strong, flexible springs ball saved her from demolishment when she fell down into the pit. Working like beavers, Barney, Pomp ar.d Lasso Charley cleared a way to the breach they had made in the wall. Frank then strode over toward the bandits they hit. He found them all alive. They were groaning and swearing furiously. As soon as they saw him they drew their ptstols. A volley of shots struck the young inventor on all sides. '!'he suit protected his body from wjury, and seeing that the wounded rascals could do him consiuerable injury if left to do as they pleased, be began tv t>md them with stnps torn from the l'ed sashes they wore round their waists. Some of reslated the roots are a substitute for soap, while in ancient dhys the thorns terminating the gigantic leaves were used for pins, needles and nails. Here and there tbe coarse stubble of the plnins was broken by huge thick and prickly leaved cactus bushes of a dull pea green color

FRANK READE, JR., AND HIS ELECTRIC PRAIRIE SCHOONER. 9 "Dismount!" ordered the inventor, as the horses came ashore. The Mexicans did not obey. On the contrary they released the animals they were leading, dug spurs in the tlanks of their mounts tmd sped away. Fire upon their horss!'' cried Frank. His companions carried ouL this wise piau, and in a few moments the animals were all down. Lasso Charley, secure the beasts in the river." The ra!Ulllmau sprang to the ground to comply, and Frank turned the engine around and sent her up to the fallen men. "Hands up, I t1>lu you!'' he slJOuteassed the viii al!e and headed for the stronghold of the Demon. The place was soon reached. An entrance to the rocky cavern was made through a gulch at the bead or which the opening in the rocks wus to he found. Frank had both hydraulic guns in readiness and his three friends armed when he boldly sent the Fury into the Gulch. It was a rough, stony place. As little noise was made as possible. Half way up the pass there sounded the crack or a ri He. The ball whistlt;d up to the Fury and struck her heactlight. It smashed the putting out the light, and the gulch at once becam., wrapped in a dense gloom. 'fbat increased the difficulty of their task. We are seen by a sentry!" cried !<'rank. F'o' de lull ob Hebbin tloan' yo' turn buck!" cried Pomp. "I don't intend to,'' answered the inventor. "Tbere goes the greaser foil'ed!'' exclaimed Barney. He pointed up the gulch at the of a man who was dimly seen running along in advance of the Fury. A moment afterward a babel of excitl'd voices was beard. Then a crowd or Mexicans were seen swarming over the ledges on stde of the gulcn. As the prairie schooner dashed up to them, instead of using rifles or pistols to repel her, the Mexicans let drive a number of dy. uamite bombs with whicll they had provided themselves. They burst around the Ful'y with thunderous reports. CHAPTER IX. UNDER THE RIVER. FRANK and his companions were very much startled to find that the horse thieves had provided themselves wlth such dangerous m1ssiles, for while ordinary weapons were harmless to the Fury, the terrii.Jle bombs threatened to blow her to pieces. They burst with loud detonations nll around the machine. Rocks were split to fragments, and one of the bombs that struck a front wheel smashed it i .. to a thousand pteces and tore the cowcatch er off. Disabled the front or the engine toppled over. 8he came to a pause and Frank stopped the machinery. "Crippled! We can go no further!" he cried. "My Lawdl" groaned Pomp. "Dis am drefful!" "Here comes more of the bombs!'' shouted Lasso Charier. It seemed aa if the machine would be torn to pi!lces, for one or the explosives burst on the platform outside, ripped it into fragments and broke a hole in the side. Another one sent a shower of broken stonE's Hying against the prairie schooner, like a bombardment of rifle bullets. Unless this destructive lire were instantly stopped, Frank knew that their doom was sealed. He sprang to the hydraulic guns. Aiming one at a crowd on the ledge upon the right band side, be fired, and the projectile burst nmoog them. Many or the thieves were seriouijJy wounded by tile appalling shot, and the ones acress the gulch took fright and started to run away, when the other gun was fired at It created frightful havoc in their miclst. The discharge of bombs was stopped at once.


-----------------10 FRANK READE,. JR., .AND HIS ELECTRIC PRAIRIE SCHOONER. Those of the gang who managed to get away were followed by a volley of rille shots from Barney, Pomp und Lasso Charley. Frank reloaded the hydranhc guns. He conhl not move tile prairie schooner now. She was utterly IJelpless. They waited for a secona attack. Nearly an hour passed by, when from up on top of the nrec1p1ces of the gulcb, towering above the l!'ury, there sounded the sharp ful cracks of a number of rille shots. A rain or lmllets came down on the roof, and as great force was added to the cartridges by the enormous height they came from, sev eral pierced the metal covering. They were tin and iron balls. Had they heen lead, tl!ey would have flattened against the metal plates. Fortunately none of the inmates of tbe Fury were struck, but ihey were aroused to a sense of new danger. "Bowly beunsl" Barney roared. "D'yer moind that!" "Tbey may drap us yet! ' fLuttered Laaso Charley. "Put on de suits ob armor!'' Pomp suggested. "Watt!" admonished Frank. "I will fix them!" He elevated the muzzles of the guns. First one was firea, and then the other. Several cries of woe came back from above. It showed them thnL the shots were not wasted. "I don't believe they have any bombs left,'' said Frank, as be re loaded the guns. If they bad they would have used them." Several hours passed quietly by. Toward dayllreak some more shots came down, but the guns were instantly tired ut the location they came from, and that put an end to the long, weary siege our friends ba(l been With the dawn of morning, the inmateil of the Fury partook of a hasty breakfast and then left the engine. An examination showed thAm tile extent of the damage. By the greatest good luck the axle of the broken wheel was found to be intact, and Frank said: "I have two odd wheels in sections on board, and I will have her In running order in \wo hours." "How lucky!" cried Lasso Charley, in delighted tones. Yo' specs dem fleves gwine ter come baclct" asked Pomp. "I doubt if they will," replied Frank. "Let's get to work." 'l'be sectional wheel was taken out and adjusted. Within a short time the prairie schooner was in running order, and a new plate was riveted over the hole in the side. It was impossible to fix the hroken platform. Frank then started the Fury. \ She bad not gone far up the gulch wl!en the voices of several men yelling to them in Spanish were beard. Frank glanced out. He saw lour dead men them were three others alive. Tiley were the victims of the hydraulic gun, who bad been on t!Je le

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