The young rough rider trapped, or, A villain's desperate play

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The young rough rider trapped, or, A villain's desperate play

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The young rough rider trapped, or, A villain's desperate play
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Young rough riders weekly
Taylor, Edward C.
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New York
Street & Smith
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1 online resource (28 p.) 28 cm.: ;


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Western stories. ( lcsh )
Dime novels. ( lcsh )
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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025569733 ( ALEPH )
17906227 ( OCLC )
R16-00008 ( USFLDC DOI )
r16.8 ( USFLDC Handle )

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Every moment the rushing waters rose higher and higher. The young Rough Rider s eized the crowbar and dealt the wall a succession of smashing


/$sued Weekly. B y Subscription $2.50 per year. Entered a c c ordingto .Act of Cong-res s in the yea1 rqo5, i n t he Offic e of tlu Ltoran'an o f CongNSJ, W ashin g-ton, D C., by STREET & SMIT H :138 W i llia m S t. N. Y Aj>j>/U:ation made a t the New York Pos t Offic e for entry as Second-cla ss Matter. No. 53. NEW YORK, April 22, 1905. Price Five Cents. THE YOUN G ROUGH RIDER TRAPPED; OR, A Villain's Desperate Play. By NED C HAPTER I. MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS. "By Geo r ge, you can side-t r ack me for an empty box ca r and labe l me fo r the repair shop, if this isn't my old pal, Ted Str o n g The speaker was a tall, red-haired, bland-faced, blue eyed young man. He was faultlessly dressed with checked suit, silk, fancy vest, light brown fedora hat and g l ossy patent l eather shoes. On one finge r of the left hand glistened a la rge diamond and in every particular he gave ev i dence o f bei n g pros perous The yo ung man had been sitting in t he office of the best hotel in the mountain town of Owensville, California, when he suddenly sprang to his feet with the exclamation which opens this story upon his lips A momen t before several young men, dressed neatly i n khaki, military-cut garments, ha. d entered the hotel and were gath e r ed a round the des k scri bblin g t h eir nam e s u pon the regis t er. One of the yo ung men had he l d a f ew wo r ds wit h t he clerk of the hote l and had bee n ha n ded a t e l egram He had read the te legr am and written an answe r to it. In summoning the po r te r to carry it to the te l egraph office, t he you n g m a n h ad t u rned toward the visitor i n the h ote l office._ It was t hen that th e we lldressed youth s u dde nl y arose and utt ered the exclama t io n He had r ecog n ized the yo un g ma n w h o h ad jus t sent th e telegram, to be an o l d friend w h om he h ad know n i n t he East and h e sp r a n g forwa r d to g ra sp th e h a n d that was now s t re t ched out to h im "Well, Frank O'Melia, you a r e ce r tain l y t h e l as t m a n I ever expected to find in th is cou n t ry. How are you ? How came you to be here?" It was Ted Strong, the leader of the famous c ompa n y of yo un g ro u g h ri de r s, wh o spoke, a n d Ted's eye s lighted


2 THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. with p l eas ure a s h e s h oo k th e han d o f h i s o ld c olle g e chum, F r ank O'Melia. F r a nk O M e lia was a rollickin g. g oo d n a tured sor t of a boy, always full of fun. He was the onl y son of a rich a n d dotin g fath e r, and in all his life could not remember o f h a vin g had a wish ungratified. Othe rwi s e from what be expected under such c o ndi t i o ns, Frank was n o t wild. H e did n o t drink'to excess and did not gamble. He was a p o pular member of the best society in his native town, and, at his club, was known as the most e x p er t m e mb e r in the u se of up-to-date slan g phrases Non e o f his s l a n g was o f th e vul gar vari e t y ho w e ve r, and many o f the phrases he originated s oo n came to be ad o p te d g e nerally by n a ti o nalit y Irish-Americ a n, Fra nk was naturally quick-witt e d and his whole nature seemed to be s t ee p e d in hum or. In an swe r t o T e d s questi o ns Frank said: "My brain c ase g o t full of cob we bs and the doctor or d e r ed m e t o clea n h o use. It was s o dull i n th e East. that m y s kin c o mm e nced ta turn yell ow, so I th o u ght I'd take t o th e bi g hills toward where the sun gets away. Got h ere y e s t e rd ay ." "Well, h o w d o you lik e th e West s o far?" a s ked Ted. "The strip I've se e n is fine and rosy But y ou sh o uld se e me f eed. I'll bet the rim around a twenty-dollar yel l o w b o y that I h a ve g o t o ut s ide o f m o r e b o d y fue l yes t e rd a y and to-da y than m y diges ti v e o r g an s would have had to wre stle with in six we e ks a t h o me. "You came out her e for your he alth?" "Yes The old pill-ju g gl e r I went to s ee, t o ld me it was a t o s s -up for me-eithe r to pull some dou g h out of the m o n e y barn and hot-foot for C a lifornia, or els e orde r a w oo d e n overcoat I was b e hind with l esso n s on th e harp, and was s ure I couldn t pass an e x am for an an ge l's d eg r ee, so I piked out h e re. But I didn t ex p e ct to pipe you off so s oon, although I intend e d l oo kin g you up befo r e goin g b a ck. I have sat up late a g o od many ni g hts spelling out the wond e rful stories of your career in the magazin es and papers. Are these other fellows memb e rs of your famous rou g h riders?" "They are s o me o f th e bo y s," returne d T e d and th e n he made his old friend acquaint e d with Bud M brga n, Kit Summer s Bob Martin and Ben Tremont, who were standing a short distance away, int e res t edly witnessing the gree ting between Ted and O Melia. Frank's affabl e manner s oo n wo n him a goo d plac e in the esteem of the young rough riders. His wittici s ms w e re refreshing, an d it was not long until they consider e d him one o f their party. In a f e w minute s Ted Strong said: "Frank, we just got a very important telegram, which makes it impo s sible for us to here longer than early to-morrow morning. We are then to start on a trip that may b e fille d with dangers and hardships, such as you are un used to. were it not for that I would ask you to join my band for a while, for I would like to talk over some of the old times with you "That is just what I hit the trail for-to mix into something real warm and liv e ly I want to dance to jig time -have a f e w narrow e scap e s I want to g o home with bull e t wounds all over m y carcass, on e ear s e w ed o n t o m y head bottom side up and court pl a ster all over my bod_x. I want to have some good tall storie s all framed up to tell about the wild and w oolly W es t, wh e n I stri ke the old b oy s again, and the y w o n t b e lieve th e m unle s s I have s o me proo fs You can all shake your hands in g lee, for little Frankie accepts the invitati o n to b e come a rough rider "You will have to get some different kind of an outfit from the clothes you are wearing now, if you go with us," r e marked Ben Tremont. "No w d o n t let your b e lts g e t tang led on that scor e ," returned Frank, "for I've got the whole works ready to butt o n m yself into. I c a me out here prepared for an y thin g and e ve r y thin g, fr o m a circuit o f the g olf links to g e ttin g s c a lp e d by a live Indian. Come up to the room and I 'll s how y o u." A f e w minut e s l a t e r th e young rou g h riders were g a th ered t og eth e r in the sleepin g room of the hotel which Frank O'Melia had engag e d, and they were standin g around o n e o f five big trunks that the wealthy youn g Eas t e rn e r had brou ght with him. F r o m t he trunk Fra nk w a s takin g rifl e s knives revolv e rs, gauntlet s s purs c a v a lr y b o ots and article s of eve r y c o nc e i vable nature that he thou ght he mi ght find use for in th e V v es t. In another trunk he had a khaki suit, similar to the suits worn b y the youn g rough riders. T ed w as surpri se d a t the g ood t as t e Frank h ad u s ed in sele c tin g his outfit and noted that his friend would o nl y need t o pu r chase a good h o rse to be fitt e d a s com p letel y as could be desired to join the young rough riders in their expect e d undertaking. T e d now rem e mb ered that, at coll ege, Frank was con sider e d one of the best h o r se men among the students, and


THE YOL':\G RO U G H RIDERS WEEKLY. 3 h e had littl e doubt th a t. witb a few d ays o f rou g hin g it Fra nk would re a lly be a valuabl e member of the com pany. So it was decided that Frank should accompany Ted and his young rough riders on their trip, which was to begin the next morning. That there should be no delay in the morning, Ted proposed that Frank try and buy a pony somewhere in the town that night. They decided to attend to the mat ter immediately after supper. During the meal Ted told Frank about their proposed mission, and explained about the telegram that called them so suddenly away. Several days previous to the time the telegram was re ceived, Ted and his companions had just finished breaking up a band of outlaws known as the Mojave Terrors. This band was under the leadership of a Frenchman, I whose name was learned to be Frank Casse. Casse's bandits had invaded the tow11 o f Gallego. in California, stolen a large sum of money from the bank of that town, and had kidnaped two girls, daughters of wealthy citi zens. The girls were to be held for ransom. A young man, by the name of Leo Morrissey, had re quested the assistance of the young rough riders to pursue the bandits, and had accompanied Ted and his compan ions on the chase. The stronghold of the bandits, which was situated in a chain of mountains in the great California desert, was finally reached by the young rough riders, and after some startling experiences Ted had succeeded in capturing every member of the band except Frank Casse the leader, and his wife. The wife had helped her husband to escape The details of this pursuit of the Mojave Terrors are familiar to those who read last week's number of THE YouNG RouGH RIDERS WEEKLY. It was No. 52, and the title is ;'The Young Rough Rider's Great Play; or, The Mad Ally of a Villain." The young rough riders had originally s rted on a pleasure trip, on horseback, through California, and, after rounding up the outlaws, the prisoners had been placed in the jail at Gallego and the boys had continued on their trip. Arriving at Owensville, Ted had received a telegram from Leo Morrissey, to the effect that half of the bandits had escaped. Frank Casse, single-hand e d had broken into the jail and released SO}l1e of his followers. In the telegram Morrissey once more asked the as s i s t a ncc o f th e youn g rou g h rid e rs in r c c ap tu rin;; tl1 c bandits and T eel had wir e d back the followin g an swer: "You can rely upon the young rough riders." O Melia was greatly interested in the story of the capture of the Mojave Terrors, and expressed his clelight in the prosp e ct o f considerable excitement in the campai g n ab out to b e commenced. Immediately after supper Ted, Ben Tremont and O Melia left the hotel with the intention of looking about the town in the hope of finding some one who had a horse for sale, that would meet the requirements of the young Easterner. Ted was the first to step out of the hotel door, and he had not taken three steps from the building when he uttered an exclamation, turned quickly, and ran back to ward the door. He alm ost jostled Frank, who had closely followed, off his feet. Putting his hands on the young man s shoulders, Teel turned Frank quickly about and hurried him back into the hotel. "What is the excitement all about, Ted?" asked bi;: Ben Tremont. "Look across the road!" was Ted's exclamatory reply. Through a crack in the door Ben looked over Ted's shoulder and himself uttered an exclamation of surprise. A saloon was directly across the street from the hotel, and, dismounting before it, were thirteen men, who had just ridden up. One of the men our friends recognized as Frank Casse, the erstwhile leader of the Mojave Terrors! CHAPTER II. A NIGmr's PURSUIT. When Ted had first caught sight of the mounted out laws they were just pulling up in front of the opposite, and Ted had hurried out of sight, hoping that the bandits would not see him. Ted had instantly recognized the handsome leader of the outlaws, and lie knew that Casse would not halt at th e saloon if he caught a glimpse of the young rough rider. Should the outlaws become alarmed and put spurs to their horses, Ted knew that they could easily get away, as it would take himself and his companions some time to get their horses from the hotel stable and start in pursuit.


4 THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. But, quick as Ted had been, he was n ot successful in getting out of sight soon enough. One of the bandits had seen him and recognized him. The observing outlaw drew his horse up close to that of the leader and said something in a low tone. Ted saw Casse raise his head quickly, and glance toward the hotel, then give a quick order to his men. Those who had dismounted sprang into their saddles again, and Ted saw they were about to ride away. As the outlaws began {utting their spurs to their horses' flanks, Ted threw the door of the hotel wide open, and sprang out on the hotel porch, a revolver extended in his right hand. As he made this bold move three of the bandits fire d upon our young hero, but their bullets went wild. At the same instant Ted's weapon was fired. The young rough rider was a crack shot, as was proved when his revolver spoke at this particular time. One of the bandits gave a loud cry of pain and fell from his saddle Ted had intended to aim his revolver at Frank Casse, but several of the outlaws had ridden between himself and the outlaw leader, making it impossible to find him with a bullet. Before Ted could fire another shot the bandits had passed beyond range and the sounds of clattering hoofs of their horses disappeared in the darkness. By this time all of Ted's companions were gathered upon the porch, and he told them in a few words what had happened. As Bud Morgan, Bob Martin and Kit Summers started for the hotel stable to get the horses belon g ing to the young rough riders, Ted and Frank started toward the spot where the wounded bandit had fallen. Ben Tremont started off down the road to catch the wounded outlaw's horse . Ted and Frank found that the bandit was not fatally injured, and, with proper care, would probably recover. Just at this moment a gruff voice asked Ted: "What \\as that shooting? Anyone been killed?" I Ted glanced up quickly and saw a rough, grizzledfaced stranger standing near. "May I ask who xou are?" asked Ted. "I'm the sheriff," was the reply. "Good," exclaimed Ted. "You are just the man I wanted to see." that the man had his wound properly cared for. and hold him until Ted should return to the town, or should send word regarding what should be done wit h the prisoner. By this time Ben Tremont had returned with the pris oner's horse. "There is a horse for you," said Ted to Frank. "It looks like a good animal, too. The pri so ner will have no immediate use for it, and you had better borrow it, for a while." While Frank was in his room, hurriedly changing his clothes and donning his khaki suit, Ben Tremont helped th e young Easterner sort out what weapons he would want to take with him. These weapons Ben loaded and filled Frank's cartridge belt. In the meantime, Ted was settling the bills with the hotel clerk, and giving directions for storing such of the company's outfit as could not be taken with them, in their pursuit of the bandits. Just as he Bud Morgan's voice singing out that the horses were all ready a telegraph messenger appeared at the desk with a telegram. The message was for Ted Strong. The young rough rid e r tore it open and found it was from Leo Morrissey, and in answer to the one he had sent Leo early in the evening. The message read as follows: "Am following outlaws. They are headed in your direc tion. Keep an eye open for them. Will arrive in Owens ville to-night." The telegram was dated from a railroad town not over twenty miles from Owensville. Ted's telegram had evi dently been forwarded t o Morrissey from Gallego. At that moment Frank and Ben appeared and stated they were r eady to start. T ed hastily wrote a n o te to inform Morrissey where the rough riders had gone and left it with the hotel clerk to deliver to that young man when he arrived. A few minutes later the young rough riders had mounted their horses and had started at a stiff pace along the road taken, some time before, by Casse and his fol lowers. It was: long night's ride, and a hard one. Every few minutes it was necessary to call a halt, and spend several precious secortds in scratching matches for the purpose of Then Ted told the s heriff of what had happened. The examining the trail to ascertain if the hoof marks, left sheriff agreed to take charge of the wounded outlaw, see by the outlaws' horses, were still to be found


THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. Once they found that they had lost the trail, and it was necessary to go back for a quarter of a mile to find it. Notwithstanding these delays the young rough riders traveled nearly forty miles before morning and, as the first streaks of dayligh! appeared over the eastern moun tain. peaks, they found themselves following a trail lead ing out of the western of the Sierra Nevada range o f mountains. As it grew still lighter they saw before them a wonderful valley. The trail they were following took them down to a wide strip of table-land. Following th e hoof marks of the outlaws' horses they approached t o the very edge of the table-land. They found that th e edge of this high plateau was really the brink of a high precipice. Nearly four thousand feet below could be seen the verdant bottom of the valley. The valley was not over a mile and a half wide at this spot, and our friends could see clear across to the opposite mountain plain very similar to the one they were upon. Far away down the valley, almost out of sight, Ted's eagle eyes discovered a grand sight. Pouring over the precipice that bordered the valley, was a lar ge stream of water, like a silver ribbon making three great leaps -to the foot of the precipice. As Ted noted the sight he gave an exclamation of pleased wonder. "Bqys," he said, "this is the famous Yosemite Valley, one of the wonders of the world." "Sure?" asked Ben Tremont. "Yes, for see that great fall yonder. I have heard too descriptions of the grand spectacle of the Mer ced River falling over the perpendicular rocks into the Yosemite Valley, to be mistaken." "Wonderful !" exclaimed Bob Martin, swinging his horse around. "As my old friend, Shakespeare, would say: 'Man's feeble efforts seem like crude unfinished chunks of Kansas clay when nature butts in with her products.' This was the first opportunity Martin had had for springing a Shakespeare quotation since Frank O'Melia had joined the party, and the young Irish-American looked at Bob in surprise. Ted n ted the fact, and could not help smiling. He wondered what Frank :vould say, for he knew O'Melia was not the boy to allowiranything like Bob's misquotations to pass withoui comment. "Say, my young scholar, said O'Melia, "have you seen a doctor recently? If not, you had better attend to it right away. You have been smoking out of the wron g pipe. Look at your transfer and see if you haven t taken the wrong car.'' "What do you ?" asked Bob. "Why, I mean that you have slipped your trolley.'' "Slipped my-my-trolley?" "Sure. You're adrift. Your steamer has lost its an chor." "Are you referring to iny very apt a d correct quota tion of Shakespeare?" asked Bob, with great dignity. "No, no; not at all," came the answer. "I was referring to the fact that you were trying to make out that Shake speare said something which was so rotten that he would have been hung for it in his day, had he dared to have said it.'' Bob seemed inclined to get mad. His face grew red, but the hearty' laugh from the other rough riders, which followed the Irishman's last sally, unnerved him. He saw that the sympathy of the crowd was with O Melia, and held his peace. A few minutes later he was chatting as blithely as any of the party, and seemed to have forgotten all about the mark that had been made of him by the Irish youth. The party stood upon the brink of the precipice for several minutes, admiring the scenery below them, when Ted remarked : "Well, boys, this isn't following the outlaws. Let us see where their tracks lead to from here." He had hardly finished speaking when there was heard the report of a rifle and a bullet buried itself in the ground, not a yard from where Ted was standing! He looked quickly up and saw a puff of smoke hanging over the top of the small ridge of rocks, about two hun dred yards down the valley. With rifle to his shoulder, the young rough rider stood with eyes glued to the spot for at least two minutes but no human being came into sight and no other shot was fired. CHAPTER III. THE AMBUSH. After waiting some time in hopes that the person who had fired the single shot would again show himself, Ted called to his companions to remount their horses. When all were mounted, he started his horse along the table-land toward the ridge of rocks, from which the shot had come.


6 THE YOUNG ROUGH RID E RS WEEKLY. As they neared the ridge, they saw that there was an opening through which they could ride to the other side, and, as he passed through, Ted noticed that there was a wide stretch of country in view, which sloped clown to a fringe of large fir trees half a mile away. Just as Ted was through the opening in the ridge he gave a shout to his companions to hurry up. Far down the incline, and nearly to the edge of the forest, he saw the mounted outlaws, riding at full speed toward the trees. "Get a move on, oys," said Ted; "we have our men in sight." At breakneck speed the young rough riders urged their horses down the sloping mountain side, but, when they the fringe of trees, the outlaws were out of sight. It was easy to trace them through the forest, however, for the trees and bushes were close and the ground was clothed with a thick growth of rank grass. The feet of the outlaws' horses had tramped down this grass, and numerous broken twigs and small limbs of trees left behind the bandits a trail as plain as if they had taken particular pains to make their route easily fol lowed. The young rough riders had traveled a quarter of a mile into this forest, when Ted suddenly reined in his horse and motioned the rest of the company to stop. "I don't like the looks of this," said he. "What do yer mean?" asked Bud Morgan. "These bandits have taken no pains to disguise their trail," replied Ted. "They even seem to have taken pains to break off these branches of trees and bushes, as if to make the trail plain." "That air is sensible talk, all right," replied Bud; "but I wouldn't hev noticed it if you hadn't spoke of it." "What. do you make of it?" asked Kit Summers. "'Why, it may be that Casse is trying to lead us into an ambush," Ted. "You are right Surrender Every hand up !" The three sentences were spoken in a quick, decisive, authoritative voice, and the person who had spoken arose from a crouching position in the tall grass, directly to the right of the young rough rider. Every eye in the company was directed at once in the direction from which the voice had come. "Frank Casse !" exclaimed Ted. "Yes, I am Frank Casse," returned the outlaw, "and you will find, before you are through with me, Ted Stron g that I can be a demon as well as a lamb. When I had you in my power before, I treated you like a friend like a guest of my hou s ehold. You returned that kindness hy putting me out of business, by jailing all of my men. You would have jailed me, too, had I not escaped. Now I am after revenge. You have not long to live, and your death will not be an easy one." As the leader of the outlaws was delivering this somewhat lengthy speech, Ted noticed that from the other 3ide of the company other men now arose-members of Casse's band. Each man had a leveled rifle in his hand The young rough riders were certainly in a trap. It looked as if they were surely in the power of relent less foes. Besides having the on our friends, the bandits out numbered Ted and his friends nearly two to one. It was a serious predicament that the rough riders found themselves in. As the hands of the young rough riders were raised toward heaven, Ted, in a low voice, managed to remark, unheard by the bandits, to Bud Morgan, who was near him : "Try the old trick with the horses." Bud's eyes glistened as he heard the remark, and his lips twitched, but h e only nodded his head to assure Ted that he had heard. As the boys raised their hands, Frank Casse and two other bandits came from the bushes, the bandit leader starting directly toward Ted Strong. When Casse had nearly reached Ted, and was about to lay his hand upon the bridle of the young rough rider s horse, Ted gave the animal a peculiar poke with the toe of his boot in its ribs. The animal swerved suddenly, as if frightened by the outstretched hand of the bandit leader. "Whoa!" exclaimed Ted, at the same time giving the horse s ribs another and harder poke. This time the animal whirled clear around, and, before the outlaw could move out of the way, Ted's horse had raised both hind heels and planted them both against the outlaw's shoulder. It was a wicked kick, and it sent the outlaw leader to the ground in a heap In the meantime, Bud had been using similar tactics with his horse, and had handled the animal so that one of the other approaching bandits had been kicked in the head and knocked into the deep grass, insensible. At the same moment that the hor s es had kicked, Ted gave a quick command, and every member of the young


. THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS' WEEKLY. 7 rough rider's band suddenly wheeled their horses and started at a fast canter back over the trail they had come. The outlaws who had not been hurt were so surprised at the turn affairs had taken that they forgot to shoot until the boys had started the retreat, and then the thickness of the trees spoiled their aim. 1 The only damage done by their bullets was a scratch upon the arm of Bud Morgan, made by a bullet which just cut through his coat sleeve, and which barely touched his skin. The young rough riders retreated only a few rods, until they came to a group of rocks rising about level with their eyes. There were six of these rocks, arranged in almost a complete circle. Into the center of the group of rocks rode the boys, and then dismounted. Seeing the position taken by the young men, the bandits did not choose to9 pursue at once. They were probably waiting until the extent of their leader's injuries were in vestigated. Casse, however, could not have been hurt as much as might have been expected, for it was soon evident that he was talking with his men, scolding them for allowing the young rough riders to get away, and giving them direc tions for making an attack. Just what the outlaws were about to employ could not be determined at once, but, in a moment, Ted saw that the.y were making a wide circle toward the right, and he cautioned his men to look well to their weapons and see that they were in perfect working condition. CHAPTER IV. THE DESERTED MINE. It soon became evident that the outlaws were intending to make a complete circle of the position in which our friends had ensconced themselves. The rocks, however, made a complete circle around our heroes, and the outlaws soon found that the defense of the young rough riders was equally strong on every side. Then the outlaws gathered in a bunch, as if for consultation. A moment more the bandits began a retreat, and soon passed out of sight. "Hadn't we better foller 'em up?" asked Bud Morgan. "No; wait a minute or two longer," replied Ted. "I have an idea they are making for the top of that ridge." To the right, about two hundred yards from where tl1e young rough riders were stationed, there arose a high ledge of rocks. From the top of the ridge, could they get there, the bandits would be able to look right down upon the rough riders, and pour a rain of bullets into every corner of their position. When he was certain that the outlaws had passed out of sight, Ted gave orders for his men to move. The young rough riders passed out from the center of the circle of rocks, and took a position behind the line of bowlders on the opposite side from the ridge. From between two spiral points of rock, Ted took a position where he could see the whole line of the top of the ridge. Here he watched, rifle in hand for quick work, f o r nearly ten minutes. Then his companions saw him suddenly pull his gun to his shoulder and fire. Ted had seen the head of one of the outlaws appear above the top of the rocky ridge. The outlaws had made a circle of the ridge, and on the opposite side found a place where they could ascend. Immediately following the discharge of Ted's rifle, a shout of pain came from the direction of the ridge, and the young rough riders knew that Ted's shot had taken effect. The moment Ted had fired he sprang toward his horse, giving an order for the others to mount quickly. "Now, after the villains!" he yelled, putting the spurs to his horse. Ted hoped to surprise the outlaws by a sudden attack and put them to rout. In this he was successful, for, as the young rough riders rounded the end of the ridge, the bandits, now only eleven in number, were found to be in full retreat. As Ted caught sight of them, they were riding at top speed into the mouth of the canyon, which started off at right angles from the mountain ridge that bordered the Yosemite Valley. Into this canyon, directly on the heels o:f the outlaws, dashed the young rough rider and his five followers. It was a long and hard chase followed, but the outlaws had the advantage of having horses much fresher tha9 those ridden by the rough riders. All night Ted and his companions bad ridden, while the animals of the bandits had had several hours' rest. In an hour this advantage became noticeable, for the


8 THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. bandits were gradually drawing away from the rough riders. As soon as they were out of sight in the winding canyon, the chances of running down the outlaws were greatly reduced, for there were many branching canyons, leading off in every direction from the main one, and the rough riders found it necessary to stop at each of these to make sure of the direction taken by tpe party under Frank Casse's leadership. At noon Ted called a halt. "There is no use for wearing out our horses in this manner he said "for our chances of running the bandits down are getting slimmer every minute." The halt had b e en made near a grassy bank, bordering a swift-running, little mountain stream. It was an id e al camping place, and Ted propoaed to give the horses a rest, and get a meal, before taking up the trail. "We can follow the trail, all right," he said, "and we have all summer ahead of us. We will go slow and sure from now ori, and keep at it until we have Frank and his men cornered." After a rest of aqout three hours, the rough riders again started on their pursuit, going moderately fast and paying particular attention to the trail left by the bandits. They were now following a gradual de s cent, and by the middle of the afte rnoon they came to a place wher e the canyon opened into a wide tract of sandy plain, which Ted knew was far b e low the level of the Yosemite Valley. This tract of land was not strictly desert land. It was very sandy, but there were occasi o nal tufts of grass. Perhaps the tract was three mile s in width. On the opposite side c o uld be seen bordering range of m o un tains, and it was directl y t o ward th e se di stant peaks th a t the hoof prints of the bandits' horses were headed. The journey acros s thi s sand valley was nec ess arily slo w for th e h o r s es sank above the fetlocks in the fine s a nd at ever y step. It w as n e arl y du s k wh e n the young rough riders at la s t r eache d the shadows of the mountain s on the w e st ern bord e r of th e vall ey, and almo s t the first o bject that a ttract e d attenti o n wa s the o pen shaft in the m o un t a in side, l e a d in g t o what was e vid e ntl y a d e s erte d m i n e The shaft l e d straight int o the mountain and as the young rou g h riders paus e d for a moment and di s mounted, they saw that th e ban di ts' horses had been direct e d di rectly into the shaft. L e aving Frank a nd Bob to g u ard t he ir h o rses, T ed, Bud, Ben and Kit e ntered the shaft; They had not proc ee d e d more than five or six rod s wh e n t he s haft took a s quare turn to the right, and de s cended at a g entle slop e Down this declin e went the young rough riders until they suddenly came to a dead wall The shaft had come t o an end Ih no direction but from the way they had come was there an opening in the rocky wall. With a flaming Ted bent to examine the ground. Tracks of horses' hoofs were plentiful. It looked as if a dozen horses had s tood close together at the extreme end of the pas s age. "Perhaps the y came in here an then went out again," said Bud Morgan. "No; they did n o t go out again! replied Ted, with a note of conviction in his voice. "Then where in sand hill be they?" questioned Bud. "That is for us to find out," replied Ted. CHAPTER V. A SHOT IN THE DARK. It was certainly a knotty problem that the young rough riders had before them to unravel. They had tracked the retreating outlaws into the shaft. of a d e s erte d mine o nl y to find tha t the passage into the mountain w as but a f e w rods in length, and ended in a solid wall. It reall y looked as if the bandits and their hor ses must have melted into thin air. For two h ours T e d and his companions sounded every of th e walls of the old mine shaft from the entrance to th e extreme end of th e passa ge. They were certain that th e r e were no hidden or secret passages. The n the s e arch was g iven up for the night. The young rou g h rid e rs decided to camp in the entrance to the mine shaft and wait until m o rnin g hoping that the coming of an o th e r d ay would 'brin g ideas that would help to solve the my stery. A fire was started outside of the shaft, and the horses we r e stake d ou t wh e re the y c o uld reach the grass, which grew in bun c hes upon th e sandy plain. During the afternoon Kit Summers and Ben Tremont h a d s h o t s ev e ral game birds, and the boy s enjoyed an extra fine s u p p e r. Frank O Melia in particular s ee med to have dev e loped an e n orm o u s appeti t e T he voun g Easte rn e r did n o t ap p e ar to hav e be com e as fatigu e d by the rigo rous riding


THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. 9 and excitement he had been through in the last eighteen hours as might have been expected During the supper Ted asked Frank how he had enjoy ed the trip so far. When Frank had swallowed a huge piece of broiled sage h e n which he was masticating, he an s wer ed: "This is buns and griddle cakes for I wouldn t have missed appearing in this act for all the door admi s sions. Won' t mother stare when her only gets back home? "Mebb e yer won't like it so durn much when y er hev been up against a real tough proposition It's all been kid s play so fer said Bud Morgan. "As Shakespeare would r emark: 'And then too late, he will repent and wish he had hold of papa s hand again ,' put in Bob Martin, without a suspicion of a smile upon his face. Frank dropped a chicken bone into the fire and gazed at Martin in amazement. Then his eyes roamed about the company. Not one of the young rough riders ap peared to have heard what Martin had said. Frank pinched himself. "Wake up, old carcass,'' he muttered, and take an observation Methinks we are in the wrong latitude." The boys could not help bursting out into roars of merriment. Between Bob Martin and Frank O'Melia, the trip promised to be a merry one notwithstanding the serious errand they were upon The boys were seated in a complete circle about the camp fire as they ate and they had hardly ceased laugh ing at the comical remarks of Bob and Frank, when they were suddenly startled by the report of a rifle shot from far above their heads. At the same moment a bullet struck the center of the camp fire; scattering sparks and burning brands in every direction! Of course, the young rough riders jumped quickly back, but not until Ted had glanced quickly upward and had seen the heads of three of the bandits withdraw from the brink of the precipice far above them. The shot had show e d the bo y s where the bandits were located, but they had not yet discovered the way they had taken to gain their position. It was clear that the neighborhood of the camp fire was dangerous. With a f e w well-aimed kicks with th e ir boots, Bud and Ted kicked the burning branches of the fire close to the side of the mountain, and added fresh wood to make it cont'inue burning. It grew dark quickly from then on, and it was proba bly two hours later that Kit Summers suddenly utt e red an exclamation grabbed his rifle, and stood up. Down the sandy plain, walking parallel with the moun tain range, he had seen the dusky form of a human being approaching the camp. Kit raised his rifle and call e d, "Halt!" The shadowy form stopped immediately, and th e n the young rough riders heard a plaintive, almost womanly, voice come from the darkness. "Please, sirs, I am only a boy. I am in trouble, and have been looking for a long time for some human b e in g to help me." CHAPTER VI. AN INGENIOUS TRAP. As T e d heard the plaintive voice in the darkness, his heart always as gentle as a good woman's, went out toward the wretched lad. "Come to the fire, my boy,'' he said. A second more the owner of the pleading voice was standing in the full light of the camp fire. It was a slender figi.tre that the eyes of the young rough riders rested upon, clad in ragged clothes that seemed to be several sizes too large for the wearer. From beneath the tattered, old hat peeped locks of raven-black hair. The e y es were red and swollen, as if from weeping, and the face seemed pinched and thin. The boy seemed to be not over thirteen or fourteen years of age. As the stranger approached the fire, Ted asked, gently: "What is the trouble you spoke about, my lad? Perhaps we can help you." "Oh, if you only would, sir!" "Well, then, tell us the story." The story that the lad told was one to turn a heart of stone, and it was d e livered in such a way that any on e of the young rough rid e rs would have b e en willing to have fought the man who would express a doubt as to the boy s truthfulness. According to the boy, his mother and himself had b e en captured by a band of outlaws some weeks before, and had finall y mana g ed to escape. With no hors es, no weapons a11d no knowled g e of the country, they had wandered about the mountains for over


' IO THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. a week, living upon what berries they had been able to gather. At last, while trying to climb down a ragged slope of rocks, the mother had fallen and broken her arm. With great trouble the lad had assisted his mother to walk about two miles to a deserted cabin in the moun tains, which they had seen that day. Then the lad had left his mother with a small supply of berries and had started to look for help. In that unfrequented part of the mountains he had hardly hoped to find any human beings, had finally followed a sort of cartyon, until he had reached the desert plain. In the darkness he had been attracted by the camp fire of the young rough riders, and had dragged his feet to the place in the hope of at least finding help for his mother. When the lad had finished there were tears in Ted's eyes, and he jumped quickly to his feet. "My boy," he said, "could you lead a couple of us to the cabin in which your mother is staying?" "Yes, sir," was the reply. "Can you travel the distance now?" "Oh, yes-. I wish to get to her as quickly as possible." "Can we ride there?" "Only a little of the way," was the lad's reply. "It would be better to wa1k." "All right," concluded Ted; "lead the way. Come on, Bud, you had better go with me, while the rest of the boys guard the camp and wait here for us to return." V cry soon Ted and Morgan were following the foot steps of the boy back along the plain, following the ir regular line of the steep mountain side. For about two miles they thus followed the mountains, and then their young guide turned into a canyon and lead them toward the heart of the mountain range. Here the way seemed extremely difficult, and they saw that it would have been jmpossible to have proceeded up the gulch on horseback. After going up the gulch for half a mile, the lad turned toward the left wall of the canyon and appeared about to try to scale the almost perpendicular wall. As they drew to the wall, however, the rough riders saw that a very narrow and dangerous ledge of roi::ks started at the foot of the wall and continued clear to the top. Up these rocks the boy was scrambling, and Ted and Bud followed as /,ast as possible. At the top of the wall the men to a small, rocky table-land, at the further side of which, nestled in a niche of the mountain, the walls of which seemed to furnish two walls for the cabin, they espied a little, log and stone house. A dim light was visible in the one window, but no one could be seen stirring within. "There is the cabi\l. There, where the light is. I hope we are not too late to help my mother." The young lad's voice seemed to trembfe with deep emotion as he said these words, but, had it been light enough, and had our friends been looking at the boy's face, they would have seen a fiendish smile lurking about the corners of the youth's mouth and a revengeful gleam in his eyes. Nearing the cabin, Ted rushed ahead and opened the door. Bud was close behind. As the two rough riders stepped over the threshold, there was suddenly a terrible crash Ted glanced behind him, and saw Bud Morgan falling to the floor unconscious, while behind Bud's falling form stood the boy who had guided them there, an uplifted crowbar in his hands. As the men had entered the door, the boy had dropped behind and had picked the crowbar up from the long grass, where it had probably been previously secreted. As Ted involuntarily jumped toward his falling com panion, he heard a quick step in the rear. He started to turn about, but it was too late! Before he could whirl around the stock of a clubbed rifle, in the hands of no other person than Fr. ank cvse, the leader of the bandits, landed upon Ted's head, ren dering him immediately unconscious. It was some minutes before Ted returned to conscious ness, anq then he found himself securely bound, hand and foot. He heard tile voice of Frank Casse talking in another corn& of the room, and did not move immediately. Casse's first words were: "That was fine work that you accomplished, Marnie. You certainly know how to play the part of a young boy to perfection." "Well, I ought to know how to do it by this time, Frank," another voice was heard to say. "I was an actress long before I ever met you." It was the voice of t{le person who had guided the two rough riders to the cabin. Instantly it flashed upon Ted's mind that he and Bud Morgan had walked right into a specially contrived trap.


' I 'THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. I I The person whom he had thought was a boy in was really a woman in disguise-and she had played her part to perfection. Then he knew the identity of the woman a moment later, for he heard Casse say: "Mamie, you are a wife to be proud of." It was but a few minutes later that Casse turned his attention to his prisoners, and he found immediately that Ted Strong had regained consciousness. He approached our hero at once. Ted saw that the leader of the outlaws had changed little in personal appearance since he had first seen him. He still had the same piercing eyes and the handsome mus tache, and he still wore the rich clothes that he had worrt when Ted first fell into his hands. The smile had been forced, had Casse known it, but !t looked natural. "You think that your friends will follow you here m time to save you?" almost shrieked the enraged villain. "I have not said what I thought," replied Ted, quietly. "I demand that you answer my question," shouted Casse. "My friend, I am not deaf," remarked Ted. "Answer my question." "What if I refuse?" "You shall die." At this Ted laughed. It was a natural laugh, too. "But you have said that I am to die, anyway. I refuse to answer any and all questions you may ask me," said Ted. But Casse did not come toward our young hero with Ted had been lying upon the floor during this dialogue, the same bland smile with which he had greeted Ted when and Frank Cass had been standing over him. As Ted the young rough rider first found himself in the hands of the Mojave Terrors. Casse now had a smile upon his lips, but it was a differ ent one. The smile with which he now greeted Ted was a re vengeful, malicious one, and the eyes of the outlaw gleamed with the fires of vengeance. He gloated over the disarmed and securely bound young rough rider for several moments before he spoke, and then his voice was cold an1d hard. "So you would not heed my warning?" he asked, sneer ingly. "You seemed to think that you were smarter than Frank Casse. Orice you succeeded in thwarting my plans, but that can never be again. Once, when you were in my power, I saved your life. I gave you a hope of life. I intended holding you for a ransom. I made a mistake. But I will not make that mistake again. You are again in my power, and I have sworn that you shall die." The outlaw paused for a moment, as if to note what effect his words would have upon the young rough rider. Ted was gazing into the eyes of the band chief without a change of countenance. Not an eyelash trembled. "Ah You seem to think that your usual good luck will stay by you. Because you have had many narrow escapes, and have always succeeded in cheating death, you do not fear my threats. But I will show you. You shall not see the light of another day!" Casse was looking straight at Ted as he made these remarks. and, as he concluded, he was amazed to see a smile spread across the features of the young rough rider. delivered the last sentence, the outlaw advanced and gave our hero a hard kick with his heavy boot. "D--n you!" he hissed. "You shall not have an easy death!" Bud Morgan had returned to consciousness just in time to see the cruel kick delivered by Casse. "Yer air a dirty coward !" shouted Bud. "Shut your mouth or I'll fill it full of boots!" returned Casse. "You can both begin saying your prayers, for, in less than an hour, you will be ready to put on wings." The outlaw then started across the room and said a few words to his wife. The woman, still dressed in her disguise as a boy, has tily left the cabin. She was gone about fifteen minutes and when she re turned she was accompanied by two of Casse's bandits. At a motion from their leader, the men stooped and picked up the helpless leader of the young rough riders. At the same moment, Casse touched a hidden spring in the rocky wall of the cabin toward the mountain side, and a section of the rock opened, disclosing to view a room built in the mountain side beyond. Ted was carried into this room, and he saw at once that it was devoid of furniture. A dingy lantern, hung in the wall, shed a dim light over the room, and at one side Ted saw a large, iron water pipe entering the room through the stone watl. As Ted was laid, not too gently, down upon the rock floor of this room, he noticed that the crowbar with which Frank's wife had felled Bud Morgan ha.d been placed m one corner of the room . -........ --.,..---------------. -


12 TH' E YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. Ted was not long left alone, for very soon Bud Morgan w as brought into the room and laid beside him upon the floor. The bandits then retreated, and a second later the boys h eard a sharp click and knew that the rock connecting their new prison with the cabin had been closed. As the rock clicked shut, Bud Morgan rolled over to ward his friend, and with a great effort cut the bands that held Ted's hands "Where did you get the knife?" asked Ted, in sur prise. "I managed to grab it in my teeth," replied Morgan, "out of one of ther fellers' belts, jest as he laid me down Then I rolled over quick, ter hide it. "Bully for you!" said Ted. His hands now being free, it took but a moment for Ted to free Bud Morgan, and the two ough rider s were soon on their feet and examining their "This ain ; t no chicken house of a place ter get out of," remarked Bud Morgan, as he made an examination of the walls. "No," replied Ted; "it's good and strong, but I have a hope of working through the wall somewhere. The vil lains, probably unintentionally, left a crowbar behind." "By gosh, thet's so," exclaimed Bud, making a bee line for the corner of the room. Bud suddenly halted in the middle of the room, how ever. His ears had caught a great rumbling sound, seemingly coming from the heart of the mountai n "Great lizards!" he exclaimed "Say, Ted, do yer hear thet?" Ted nodded. "What do yer s'pose it is?" asked Bud. Bud required no answer from Ted, for at that moment a large stream of water came pouring into the room through the large, iron pipe in the wall! "Great scorpions !" Bud exclaimed. "I see ther plan of tpet French now. He wants ter drown us like rats in er hole." As the water began flowing into the room, Ted became suddenly active . "Hurry up, Bud!" he called out. "Stop up that pipe, if you can." As Bud sprang toward the pipe, Ted grabbed the crowbar and began poking the walls of the prison. The water was flowing rapidly into the room, and was soon a foot all over the floor. Great beads of sweat starte d out upon the face of Bnd Morgan as he fruitlessly endeavored to stop up the pipe. The water had a tremendous pressure, having come from a reservoir much higher up in the mountain than where the cabin was located. It dropped with such force that Bud could not hold his hand under the pipe, much less force anything into it. Up, up, up, higher and higher, rose the water. It was up to their knees now. Ted, with the crowbar, worked like a demon. Perspiration rolled out of every pore in his body. At last, in very weariness Ted drcpped the crowbar from his hands and leaned for a moment against the wall, all but unconscious. Then with a mighty effort he aroused himself, and saw that his last few strokes with the crowbar had made an impression on the stone wall. He had been working on the side toward the cabin. Every moment the rushing waters were rising higher and higher. Ted again seized the crowbar, and dealt the wall another succession of smashing blows Suddenly, as he gave a stronger poke than usual, his heart leaped with joy, for the iron bar had almost slipped from his hand. It had penetrated the stone wall! A huge flake of rock had become dislodged, and with another hard thrust the piece of rock fell away and the surging water began to flood the cabin in which the two rough riders had been captured. CHAPTER VII. RUNNING THE GANTLET. Ted and Bud Morgan were now in no danger of drown, ing The hole which Ted had made in the stone wall larger than the pipe through which the water was entering the room, and they could see that water in the room was gradually lowering. But they were far from out of danger. They were still prisoners. In front of them was the cabin, and tfiey could hear voices above the roar of the water that told them that their enemies were not far away. They were unarmed, and, were they out of the flooded room in the side of the mountain, they would still be un able to fight the bandits or defend themselves.


/ THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. 13 The hol e in the stone wall, through whic h the water was now findin g outlet to the cabin while large enough to carry off the flood of water, was not large enough to permit the passage of a human body. Still that seemed to be the only passage through which our friends could hope to escape. Turning these facts over in his mind, Ted determined to make the hole larger, c,nd set at once to work again with the crowbar. It was tedious and laborious work, and Bud soon of fered to "spell" his companion. Taking turns .. the two men worked with the crowbar for fully an hour before they finally decided that the hole was large enough to admit the passage of their bodies, one at a time. "Shall we make a rush for it?" asked Ted, "Jest as yer say," answered Bud. "I'll foller wFierever yer leads ther way." "All right; I know you are dead game clear through, Bud; but do you think that is the best move we could make?" "They don't seem to be no other chance, do they, Ted?" asked Morgan. "I guess not," Ted. "Well, here goes!" As he spoke, Ted suddenly threw himself upon the floor, lying at full length in the foot of water that re mained in the room. He lay a moment at full length upon the floor, facing the hole, through which the water pouring from the room. To pass through the hole, the young rough rider would be obliged to immerse his head. Ted took a long, deep breath, and then squirmed toward the opening. Bud was close behind him, and the nex.t minute both rough riders were standi11g up in the cabin. They were alone and in darkness. When the flood of waters rushed into the cabin, Frank Casse, his wife and the two bandits must have beaten a hasty retreat. But the outlaws were not far away, for their voices commenting upon the breaking loose of the waters, could be heard in fr on t of the cabin. The door of the cabin was op e n and the water was rushing over the in a current that would almost take a man off his feet. As Frank stumbled across the room, his hand touched the edge of a table. Feeling over the surface 'the table, he rejoiced at find ing that hi s belt containing his knives and revolvers, as well as cartridges, all intact, had been left lying upon the table by the outlaw chief. Buckling his belt to his waist, he made another survey of the t able and found Bud Morgan's belt and weapons, all but his knife. Bud's knife was missing, but the scout was not without a blade, for he still had the one he had so deftly stolen from the outlaw. The rough riders felt that they had a new lease of life : when their fingers fondly grasped their weapons once more. The prospect for getting away from the outlaws was still slim, but their prospects had grown much brighter than they were before their weapons had been found. Listening for a moment to the sounds of the voices of the outlaws, so as to be posted as to the location of their foes, Ted, followed by Bud, suddenly made a dash through the door, firing their weapons as they passed the threshold! Ted had resolved to run the gantlet! It was a desperate chance, but absolutely the only one open to the rough riders. The darkness was somewhat of a protection, but not much, as it was just beginning to get daylight. The first shots fired by Ted and his companion had been in the air, and were fired more to surprise and rattle the outlaws than to do any mischief. But Ted fired a second shot as he reached tpe open air. This was directly toward one of the bandits, who stood directly in the young rough ri1er's path. As the bullet was sent on its mission, the bandit at whom Ted had aimed fell dead to the ground The bullet had t taken him square between the eyes At the same instant, Bud Morgan's revolver had also spoken a second time, but his aim was poor and the shot went wild. Ted sprang forward again, after his second shot He had not taken five steps when, right before him, out of the darkness, stepped Frank Casse, the bandit chief, each hand stretched out toward the young rough rider. And in each hand was a cocked revolver! "Stop! Stop, or die!" commanded Casse. Frank did not for a second stop his flight. With a great bound he reached Casse, and, as the fingers of the outlaw l eade r pulled the triggers of his revolvers simultaneously, almost in Ted's face, the young rough rider reached out his free hand, his fist tightly clinched.


THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. Ted's closed fist landed right between the Frenchman's eyes, and Frank Casse fell like a log! There was the sound of but one report, for both of Casse's revolvers exploded at once, and two holes were made by the bullets in the rim of Ted's sombrero. Without stopping to note hew seriously he had injured Casse, Ted continued his retreat, closely followed by Bud. On across the rocky plain they ran, and, as they pushed on over the route they had taken to reach the cabin, sev eral hours before, six or seven shots from the remaining bandits flew after them. They were now protected to a greater extent by the darkness, however, and every shot went wild. Teel intended to make directly for the place where he had left his companions, at the edge of the sandy plain and near the entrance to the deserted mine shaft, but something happened before himself and Bud had reached the gulch, that made it necessary for him to change his mind. As they were retreating rapidly down the trail toward the gulch, Ted heard several shouts directly ahead. The shouts came from other members of the bandit company, and they were asking their friends at the cabin what was the cause of the shots. "The prisoners have broken away! They are coming your way-straight toward the gulch Head them off!" These were the answering shouts coming from the lips of Frank Casse, who had apparently quickly recovered from Ted's assault. The rough riders suddenly found themselves between two fires! CHAPTER VIII. THE OLD CRATER. As the rough riders heard the shouts of the bandits and realized that they had foes both in front and behind, they naturally paused for a moment to collect their thoughts and think of some way of eluding their foes. In the darkness they could see no way of escape. The rocky plain was not wide-hardly wider than a good car riage roadway. It was bordered on either side by tall, perpendicular walls of smooth rocks. They were about halfway between the cabin and the gulch when they paused, and they could now hear the footsteps of the outlaws, as the hea;y heels of the men's boots clicked against the rocky floor of the barren plain. Suddenly Bud pulled Ted's sleeve. "There be some big rocks over ter the right, here, pard," he said. It was true. There were several large bowlders rising from the ground and standing out a few yards from the rocky wall. Behind these the two rough riders crept, with an idea of using the bowlders as breastworks in case they were obliged to defend themselves. They hoped, however, that the bandits, coming from the direction of the gulch, would pass by them and con tinue on toward the cabin. In this they were disappointed, for it happened that the two parties of Casse's men met directly opposite the rocks behind which our friends had taken a stand. They could hear the bandits conversing together. "Where could they have gone?" they heard Frank Casse exclaim. "They wa'n't no fellers passed by us," said one of the bandits who had come from toward the gulch. "You are all fools !" the leader finally exclaimed. "But they must be somewhere around here, and we'll get them yet. That Ted Strong must die!" "What's ther matter with their bein' back of them rocks there?" The question came from another of Casse's men. It was fast growing daylight now, and the outlines of the rocks behind which our friends had hidden could be plainly seen by the bandits. "Certainly; of course, that is where they are!" exclaimed Casse. Just as Casse had ordered his men to make an advance toward the big bowlders, Bud Morgan, who had been standing with his back agai111st the mountain wall, gave a grunt of srirprise. His shoulders had been resting against a piece of rock that jutted out from the wall, and he had suddenly pressed back against the rock with considerable force. His grunt of surprise had come when he suddenly found that a huge section of what seemed solid rock J:iad swung inward, disclosing to view a large cavity in the mountain side. Ted glanced around as he heard Bud's low exclamation. "Into the cave, quick!'' the young rough rider ex claimed. With two bounds. Ted followed Morgan into the cave and then helped Bud swing back the large slab of rock, which formed the door to the hidden cave. When the rock swung back into its regular place, the


THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. 15 i rough riders were surprised to find that there was a small crack in the rock through which they could see the large bowlders behind which they had just been hiding. Watching through this crack, Ted saw the bandits come behind the bowlders, and then he heard them report to their leader that the rough riders were nowhere in sight. It was evident that the outlaws had no knowledge of the hidden cave, and Ted could not h e lp giving a sigh of satis faction when he found that their hiding place was not apt to b e discover e d immediately. While Ted had been watching the actions of the out laws through the small crack in the all, Morgan had been doing some exploring in the back of the cave. Now the older man came forward with the surprising information that it was not merel y a cave they were in, but a long wide but natural passage into the mountain that they had discovered. "Have you any idea where the passage leads to?" asked Ted. "No," was the reply. "It's too durn dark ter tell, but I opine it goes right down inter the heart of the mountai1i." "Well, there is no use staying caged up here," replied Ted. "Casse and his men will keep searching for us for an hour or more, anyway. We might as well put in our time exploring this passage ; eh ?" ".You bet," was Bud's reply. "No tellin' what we rbay run across thet will be a help fer us lat e r." "I only wis h we had a pine kn o t or something for a torch," said Ted. "It wil! be rather unsatisfactory knock ing around this rocky passage in the dark, and I haven't any too many matches." "Durn me fer an old fool !" Morgan, sud denly. "Why, what's the matter now?" asked Ted "Why here we be gropin' aroun' in the devil's darkness, an' me with two whole candles in my coat pocket!" "You have two candles?" asked Ted, eagerly. Bud was feeling through his pockets by this time, and finall y announced that he had found the two candl(!S, but th a t one of them wa11 brok e n into two unequal parts while nearl y a third of the other one was smashed too much to be of use. The n came a trial of lighting matches. One after oth e r o f Ted's su p ply was tri e d and throwrt away as use' l ess His dr e nch in the water had spoiled his matches. B u d c a me for wa rd a g ain vvith an e x p e di ent in the shape of a flint and steel which he dug up from an inner pocket. In a few moments the end of one of the candles had been lighted, and, as the rough riders glanr.ed around, they saw that the cave in which they were standing was indeed a roomy one. The cave proper several rods into the face of the mountain, and then to the right they found a wide, high passage leading off diagonally down and into the mountain. The descent was gradual, and the floor of the passage was almost as smooth as a city pavement. Along the floor noticed many plftces where pieces of upshooting rock had been chipped away. The walls and ceiling of this rocky cavern were rough and natural.i but it was evident that the hand of man ha d been instrumental in smoothing the floor. As the passage descended into the mountain, they found it to be winding, and the descent was so gradual that a team of horses could have easily hauled a light wagon up the passage. Down the passage Ted and his companion traveled for more than half an hour, without finding a break in the wall, a widening of the passage or an obstruction in their way. Suddenly Ted gave an exclamation of surprise, for far below them he saw a ray of light slanting into the passage. The two rough riders quickened their pace, and in ten minutes had descended to where the sunlight was flicker ing upon the rocky walls and floor of the cavern. The y fully expected to find themselves in tl1e open air on reaching the spot. As they stepped out of the passage, a grand and won derful sight met thei r eyes They found themselves in a large cavity of the mountain! On every side, stretching high above them for hundteds of feet, were perpendicular walls of rock, almost cone like in shape. while at the top was a circular opening through which they could see the blue sky and the shin ing sun. "An old crater!" exclaimed Ted, gazing about "I reckon that's jest what it be," returned Morgan. CHAPTER IX. BEN TREMONT'S DISCOVERY. After Bud Morgan and Ted Strong :-." d left their com panions to go with the supposed boy to assist his mother Ben Tremont took command of Ted's company and ar-


16 THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. ranged a shift of watches for guarding the camp during the night. Himself and Bob Martin were to remain on guard during the half of the night, and Ben Tremont and Frank O'Melia were then to be awakened to remain on duty until morning. The young rough riders did not know at just what time their young leader and Morgan would be apt to return, and at daylight they were not surprised that they had not got back. "No telling what condition Ted may have found the I woman in," said Ben. "He may have found her too weak to move. We will probably hear from him before noon, and I guess we had better stay right here until we do." So saying, Ben began doing his share of the work toward preparing breakfast. After the meal was finished Ben suddenly took it into his head to once more visit the interior of the old mine shaft. He could not drive from his mind the mystery of where the outlaws had so suddenly disappeared, after riding, or leading, their horses up close to the blank wall. As Ben entered the mine shaft he thought he heard the sound of gurgling water, but the sound was so indistinct th at he soon dismissed it from his mind. As he ared the end of the shaft, he was walking rapidly, but suddenly stopped short with an exclamation that speedily brought his companions to the spot. Ben had halted upon the very brink of a yawning chasm! 1 Another step and he would have plunged, no telling how far, down into the dark and dismal pit! The young rough riders could hardly believe their eyes when before them they saw a yawning chasm, where, the evening before, had been seemingly solid ground. "Will somebody kindly reassemble my parts?" asked O'Melia. "I've seen Kellar make orange trees grow up -out of Japanese tea cups, but I'm willing to wear a barrel to a dance if any of you cow teasers will tell me how a hole like this came to grow here in one night." "As my old friend, once said: ''Tis pass. ing wonderful. Where once mine eyes beheld nothing but solid rock, I now see a big hole in the ground,' slipped in Bob Martin. "I'm glad to note that you really know a hole in the ground when you see one," jested Kit Summers. "It's a wonder he didn't take the hole for an Indian mound, or' a statue, or something,'' said O'Melia. "You are not the only stone in the crusher, and you don't need to think so just because you're cracked!" ex claimed Bob. This created a laugh, for it was an unexpected departure for Bob It was expected that he was corning back at Frank with another alleged quotation from Shakl': speare . O'Melia was just starting to say something as Bob Martin started his "come-back" at him, and now Ben Tremont asked : "What were you starting to say, Frank?" Ben thought that O'Melia was about to make a remark that bore up 1 the discovery of the chasm-a theory, perhaps, to account for the mystery, but he was mistaken. "Just talking to myself," Frank answered, "and held the receiver too close to my ear. But open the lid and let me look in. What's your think on this proposition? Who put the hole in the floor?" "It's a mysterY. too deep for me to solve," replied Ben. "Well, let's throw Shakespeare's press agent into the hole and find out how deep the old well is !" exclaimed O'Melia, suddenly grabbing Bob around the 'Yaist. Bob was one of the strongest members of the young rough rider's company, and like lightning he turned and had wrapped his arm about Frank's neck. O'Melia also struggled, but he soon saw that the young giant whom he had tackled was too much for him to handle. "I'll cash in, Bob," he called out; "you can take the pot!" "Bit off a little more than you could chew that time, eh?" inquired Martin, as he laughingly released the Irish boy. "Perhaps I did," returned Frank, as quick as a flash, "but you didn't find me fool enough to try to swallow it, did you?" "Well, fellows, let's cut out the fooling and try and solve this mystery," said Ben Tremont. "I believe this is an important discovery. It may show us how the bandits way out of here, but it hardly seems possible that they could have taken their horses down into that pit." "But there was no hole there last night?" put in Kit. "Well, have you any theory concerning this mystery?" asked Ben of his companions in general. Nearly all the forenoon the yqung rough riders talked and speculated over the mystery. Finally Ben Tremont "Boys, get all your lariats and tie them together. I am going to let you lower me down into that hole. I will at


THE Y OUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. l eas t perhaps find out how d e e p it i s and what is at the \ b otto m of i t. Be n s dir e ction was quickl y c om pli e d with, and in a few m o m e nts th e yo un g rou g h rid e rs ente r e d the mine shaft and began l o w e rin g B en Tremont into th e hole. Foot afte r foo t of th e s t ro n g, buc ks kin r o p e w a s let out, gntil ab out t wenty yards had pas se d through their hands. T h e n the y h eard a muffled v oice fr o m the inky darkness b e l ow s ay : "All ri ght, bo ys; I have s truck bottom. Ease up o n the rop e and k e e p it hanging unti l I give the w o rd to haul a w a y For half an hour the boys waited to hear from their companion in the hole, and then they heard his voice again. "Are y ou still ther e ?" "Yes, they a nswer e d. I have discovered a pas s age through the rocks and am going to e xplore it D o n t worry if you don't hear fro m me for an h o ur. "All right; we 'll lis t e n for you to get back," was the repl y of Kit Summers. It wa s n eare r an h our and a half than an hour when the y oun g m e n who w ere gathe r e d around the pit h ea rd Tremo n t's vo ice again and th e n th ey heard a command to "Haul away Grad u ally, h a n d ove r hand, they pull e d in the lariat, unti l jus t b e l ow t h e m th ey finally s aw the wide sombrero of th e ir c om p a nion a pp ear in view. In a n o th e r m oment t h e m a n at the end of the lariat scrambl e d ove r th e edge and to the s o lid rock. Stand in g quickl y u p he thrust out his hand to Kit Sum m e r s and inquired : "Well, K it did y ou b e g in to e x pect I was never coming back?" Kit n ea rl y dropped t o th e g r o un d in as t onis hment. T h e vo ice h e h a d h eard w a s n o t t he voi c e of Be n Tre mont. It was n o t Be n wh o m they had h a uled from the hole bu t their yo ung l e ade r T e d Strong "vV h e re in t h e dev--" Ki t s tart ed to say, but w a s int errup t ed b y Ted. "All i n go o d t i me, Ki t. Jus t n ow y ou h ad b ette r send tha t l a ri a t back dow n th e h o le, fo r B u d Mo r ga n a nd Be n Tremont a re b o t h b e l ow a n d are probabl y anxious to get up here with the rest of us." CHAPTER X. A NATUR A L E L E V A TOR. As T e d and B u d 1for ga n p as s ed out of the long d e sc e n J in g passa g e l e adin g throu g h the mountain from th e rock y pl a teau wher e th e cabin was situated, into the b e d o f the old crater, th ey saw that t h e re were several othe r p a ssages, similar t o the o ne they had b e en in, leading off into the sides of the mountain in v arious directi o ns. Passing across the crater bed, T e d discovered that there were ho o f marks in the du s t which had settl e d in the crater. The hoof prints showed that a number of horses had recently pas s ed along the crater, coming from a passage to the left and entering a pa s sage to the right. "Bud," exclaimed Ted, afte r a careful examination of the l]oof prints, "those marks were made by the horses of Frank Casse s band!" A ir yer sure?" asked Bud. "I'm certain about it, replied the young rough rider, "for if you will notice you will see that one of the horses' hoofs left a very irregular mark, as if a piece of the hoof had be e n chipped off in front." "So there be said Bud, after a careful examination of a particular hoof print that Ted had pointed out. Well, continued Ted, "I noticed that circumstance be fo r e w hen we were following the hoof prints of the outla w s." "Then yer must be right, Ted. Shall we oiler these tracks?" I think it will be a wise move to try and ascertain how the bandits got into the mountain first," replied Ted. "By following the tracks in the direction from which they came, we may be able to sol v e the m ys t e ry of h o w the tracks sudd enly dis a pp eare d in the o ld m i n e shaft. After a cur s ory e xaminati o n of th e c av e formed by the extinct volcano T e d and his c o mpani o n ente red the pas sa g e fr o m which th e hors es had ent e red th e crater. They h a d proceeded but a few steps when they found that the passage made a steep decline. Down they followed the passa g e until they found them selve s at l east fifty-five or' sixty feet below the level of th e crater b ed Here the y wer e surprised t o find that the floor of t he pas sa ge w as covered by abou t four inch e s of water. H e re, ho wev er th e passa g e no longer descended, but made a dire ct turn t oward the l e ft and continued at a lev el. As B ud an d T ed splash e d al o n g in the water, they heard a sound from somewhere in front of them. They, and listened.


18 THE YOUNG R OUGH RIDERS W EEKLY. Spla s h splash splash v The floo r seemed c o mpo s ed e n tire l y of solid rock Some one was in the passage coming d irect l y tow ard "What in sand hill--" Bud started to exclaim, but he them. w as interrupted b y Ted. With drawn weapoos, Ted and Bud s t ood still and Bo y s said Ted, "I believe that the mystery is at last awaited the approach of the comin g p er son. The m a n explain e d." they were awaiting soon came in sig ht, and then T e d uttered a quick exclamation and st a rted forward. He had recognized the person who was s plashing al ong toward them to be Ben Tremont I The three rough riders, when they met, compared not e s and then they continued o n along the passa ge B e n Tre \nont turning back with Bud and the young leader of the rough riders. Coming to the place to which Ben had been low e red b y his companions, T e d ti e d the rope around his own w a i s t and then gave Ben an order to instruct the boys above to "Haul away." The boys had discover e d how the outlaws had fo>und a way into the mountain with their horses, but the my s tery of how the horses had been lowered to the passage b e low was yet unsolved. When Ted's party had all beeI,J. gathered to g ether again at the entrance to the shaft of the deserted mine, Ted told his of the trick that had been played upon himself and Bud by the alleged boy, who was really the wife Of Frank Casse. He also informed them of their narrow escape, the find ing of the entrance to the secret passage, the disco v ery of the old crater, and all their experiences up to their meeting with Ben Tremont. Then he proposed that a meal be prepared. Himself and Bud had had nothing to eat .since the previous night, and the other young rough riders had been too busily en gaged to think of getting dinner. It was now nearly dark, and by the time supper had been prepared and eaten it was quite dusk. Ted decided to take one more look at th e end of the mine shaft before turning in for the rest he so much n e eded. He had entered the shaft and had b e en oul of s i ght fro m his compa nions for about t w o minutes, w hen th e y sud denly heard him calling for them to come into the shaft. T h e y soon joined him, and an a s t o nishing si ght m e t the ir gaze I In the place where th e bi g h o l e had been no op e n ing I was no w v isibl e I The mine shaft was the same as it had first appeared to them! "You have arrived at a conclusion?" asked Ben Tre-mont. \ '"Yes; I believe that we have discovered a natural elevator." "A natural elevator?" chorused several voices. "How c o uld that be?" ask e d Kit Summers. Then Ted told them his idea of the matter and, later, it was discovered that in nearly every particular Ted' s solu tion of the mystery was corr e ct. "At the b o tt o m of th e shaft we found several inches of water, and in the passage leading down frotn the crater bed I noticed evidences of water having recently receded, showing th a t the wa t er must have raised and fell back again. I b e lieve that work on this d e serted mine was discontinu e d on acc ount of the wat e r ri s ing and falling so. In sinking the shaft, which is probabl y located just below the rocky floor at the end of this approaching passage, the miners had probably cut deep around the edges, and the rising water had forced the last thin layer of rock .. loose and carried it to the top of the shaft, as you now find it." "But there should be s o me cracks around the edges of that layer of rock, if your th e ory is correct, put in Ben Tremont. "There is a crack .across, th e passa g e !" exclaimed Kit Summers who had b e en minutely examining the floor. "Yes, I di scov ered that when I first formed m y theory," said Te.1. "That crack must form the inn e r edge of the flat rock which composes the floor of the natural elevator. The other edges tnust lap und e r the w alls of the passage "But how do yer account f e r the ri se and fall o f ther water?" asked Bud M o r g an. "I can n o w think o f but one wa y to account for that," replied T e d "It i s p oss ibl e that th e re m ay b e s o me un der g round c o nn e ction b e tw ee n the wa.ter un d e r t his moun tain an d the P a c ific O c e an ." "I'm wise!" suddenl y ex claimed O'Melia "You were about to pip e off th a t t h e u ps and d o wn s o f the w at e r here are c a u se d b y the ri se an d fall o f th e t i d e in the big dr i nk. "You are r ight," answer ed Ted. "That is my theo r y ; but there may be some o th e r e xp lanation for the wat e r thus rising and falling."


THE ROUGH RIDI:RS WEEKLY. 19 "Then, according to your theory," asked Kit Summers, "in a certain length of time this rocky platform, forming the floor of the elevator, will drop gradually to the position in which you found it when you approached from the crater?" "Exactly," replied Ted; 'and I figure that the outlaws rode their horses right'orito the platform and sank with it to the bottom, then rode off into the passage leading to the crater. From the crater we could see that their horses' hoof marks went into another passage, which we have not yet explored. We will probably find that this latter pas sage leads to some plateau above, which has some connec tion with the rocky ledge where the cabin is located." "Well, what do you propose for the next move?" asked Bob Martin. "The elevator will probably not begin to descend until near morning," said Ted. "I propose that we get a good night's rest and be ready with our horses to take a ride when the tide goes out. We will force our way to where the outlaws are camped." CHAPTER XI. THE MOUNTAIN RECLUSE. It was not yet daylight when Ted Strong and his com panions were stirring about, preparing to take advantage of the fall of the natural elevator to gain the interior cf the mountain caverns with their horses and all their ac couterments. The horses were saddled, the camping necessities packed away, and just before the break of day the young rough riders mounted their horses and rode into the mine shaft and upon the rocky platform. They had not long to wait when they noticed that they were slowly descending to the depths beneath. Ted had at least worked out a part of the mystery of the old mine shaft correctly. The descent was slow, but at length the young rough riders were able to ride off from the elevator and into the passage leading to the old crater. Ted rode in the lead, followed by Bud, and, after reach ing the crater, he deemed it advisable not to at once start with the horses up the passage taken by the outlaws. He decided to hide the animals in one of the branching passages, and first explore the passage taken by the ban dits on foot. The young rough riders accGrdingly dismounted and led their horses into the passage from which Bud and Ted had first entered the crater cavern. Then, after looking well to their weapons, they followed their young leader into the passage where the hoof prints of the bandits' horses led. As Ted had expected, it was found that the passage soon took an upward ascent, much steeper than the pas sage the young rough rider and Bud Morgan had explored the day before. Up and up climbed the boys, until they at last came to a place where there opened a branch passage, consider ably smaller than the one in which they were traveling, which led off in a diagonal direction to the left. Telling his companions to wait where they were for a few minutes, Ted entered the smaller avenue for the pur pose of making a superficial examination. The young rough rider hardly expected to discover any thing of particular importance in the passage he had just entered, but had taken the chance, because of his natural habit of making a thorough business of everything he un dertook. Ted had gone ten or twelve rods down the smaller pas sage without seeing anything more thari might be ex pected, and he was just about to turn back to join his companions, when his quick ear caught the sound of a human voice. The voice was heard but faintly, as if muffled by inter vening walls. No words could be distinguished, but Ted knew that the persol'l who was speaking was either in the passage he was following, or in cave adjoining 1t, and further beyond where he had penetrated. He listened for a moment until the sound of the voice suddenly ceased. Then he hurried along in the direction from which the sounds seemed to have come. He went several rods further before he again heard the v01ce. The voice was now plainer, but no words could be made out. At the same moment that the noise of human utterances was heard the second time, Ted espied a light in the pas sage ahead. The light shone out into the passage as from a door or opening in one of its walls. Quickly, but noiselessly, Ted darted forward and soon approached what he made out to be a door in the side wall of the passage, leading to another passage or to a room to the right. Now he could hear the voice distinctly, and the words were audible.


20 THE YOUNG ROUGH RIDERS WEEKLY. Ted recognized th e tone to be that of Frank Casse, the bandit chief! "Don't tell me again you old fos s il, that you J o st your mon,.ey I am not a fo ol. Give it to me and J will set you free to go where you will. If I find it without your help, I will see that your throat is cut from ear to ear!" Those were the first w o rds Ted heard. The n a feeble voice, as from an old man, replied : "Frank Casse, would you kill your uncle in c o ld blood-your father's brother-the man who furnished the money to give you an education, who sent yo u throu g h college, who clothed you while there, and who afterward gave you a start in life such as few men have had?" "Oh, cut it out I am not here to listen to any sermons. You didn't miss the money you spent on me. Wha t I wan t is money riow and I w

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