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Ingraham, Prentiss / Buffalo Bill's Spy Trailer Or, The Stranger in Camp
Buffalo Bill's Spy Trailer

OR,

THE STRANGER IN CAMP

By Colonel Prentiss Ingraham

Author of the celebrated "Buffalo Bill" stories published in the BORDER
STORIES. For other titles see catalogue.

[Illustration]

STREET & SMITH CORPORATION
PUBLISHERS
79-89 Seventh Avenue, New York

Copyright, 1908
By STREET & SMITH
Buffalo Bill's Spy Trailer

All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign
languages, including the Scandinavian.




IN APPRECIATION OF WILLIAM F. CODY

(BUFFALO BILL).


It is now some generations since Josh Billings, Ned Buntline, and
Colonel Prentiss Ingraham, intimate friends of Colonel William F. Cody,
used to forgather in the office of Francis S. Smith, then proprietor of
the _New York Weekly_. It was a dingy little office on Rose Street, New
York, but the breath of the great outdoors stirred there when these
old-timers got together. As a result of these conversations, Colonel
Ingraham and Ned Buntline began to write of the adventures of Buffalo
Bill for Street & Smith.

Colonel Cody was born in Scott County, Iowa, February 26, 1846. Before
he had reached his teens, his father, Isaac Cody, with his mother and
two sisters, migrated to Kansas, which at that time was little more than
a wilderness.

When the elder Cody was killed shortly afterward in the Kansas "Border
War," young Bill assumed the difficult role of family breadwinner.
During 1860, and until the outbreak of the Civil War, Cody lived the
arduous life of a pony-express rider. Cody volunteered his services as
government scout and guide and served throughout the Civil War with
Generals McNeil and A. J. Smith. He was a distinguished member of the
Seventh Kansas Cavalry.

During the Civil War, while riding through the streets of St. Louis,
Cody rescued a frightened schoolgirl from a band of annoyers. In true
romantic style, Cody and Louisa Federci, the girl, were married March 6,
1866.

In 1867 Cody was employed to furnish a specified amount of buffalo meat
to the construction men at work on the Kansas Pacific Railroad. It was
in this period that he received the sobriquet "Buffalo Bill."

In 1868 and for four years thereafter Colonel Cody served as scout and
guide in campaigns against the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians. It was
General Sheridan who conferred on Cody the honor of chief of scouts of
the command.

After completing a period of service in the Nebraska legislature, Cody
joined the Fifth Cavalry in 1876, and was again appointed chief of
scouts.

Colonel Cody's fame had reached the East long before, and a great many
New Yorkers went out to see him and join in his buffalo hunts, including
such men as August Belmont, James Gordon Bennett, Anson Stager, and
J. G. Heckscher. In entertaining these visitors at Fort McPherson, Cody
was accustomed to arrange wild-West exhibitions. In return his friends
invited him to visit New York. It was upon seeing his first play in the
metropolis that Cody conceived the idea of going into the show business.

Assisted by Ned Buntline, novelist, and Colonel Ingraham, he started his
"Wild West" show, which later developed and expanded into "A Congress of
the Rough-riders of the World," first presented at Omaha, Nebraska. In
time it became a familiar yearly entertainment in the great cities of
this country and Europe. Many famous personages attended the
performances, and became his warm friends, including Mr. Gladstone, the
Marquis of Lorne, King Edward, Queen Victoria, and the Prince of Wales,
now King of England.

At the outbreak of the Sioux, in 1890 and 1891, Colonel Cody served at
the head of the Nebraska National Guard. In 1895 Cody took up the
development of Wyoming Valley by introducing irrigation. Not long
afterward he became judge advocate general of the Wyoming National
Guard.

Colonel Cody (Buffalo Bill) died in Denver, Colorado, on January 10,
1917. His legacy to a grateful world was a large share in the
development of the West, and a multitude of achievements in
horsemanship, marksmanship, and endurance that will live for ages. His
life will continue to be a leading example of the manliness, courage,
and devotion to duty that belonged to a picturesque phase of American
life now passed, like the great patriot whose career it typified, into
the Great Beyond.




TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. THE HERMIT OF THE GRAND CAÑON 5
II. THE MINER'S SECRET 14
III. THE GRAVE AT THE DESERTED CAMP 20
IV. A VOW OF VENGEANCE 28
V. MASKED AND MERCILESS 33
VI. THE DUMB MESSENGER 41
VII. DEATH AND MADNESS 50
VIII. A STRANGE BURIAL 62
IX. THE COURIER 67
X. DOCTOR DICK'S DRIVE 76
XI. RUNNING THE GANTLET 84
XII. A MAN'S NERVE 92
XIII. A VOLUNTEER 97
XIV. THE WAY IT WAS DONE 105
XV. A MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE 114
XVI. TAKING CHANCES 122
XVII. A SECRET KEPT 130
XVIII. A MYSTERIOUS SOUND 138
XIX. A FAIR PASSENGER 143
XX. MASKED FOES 151
XXI. THE SACRIFICE 159
XXII. THE RANSOM 168
XXIII. THE OUTLAWS' CAPTIVE 181
XXIV. THE TWO FUGITIVES 186
XXV. THE OUTLAW LOVER 195
XXVI. THE SECRET OUT 200
XXVII. THE DEPARTURE 210
XXVIII. THE LONE TRAIL 219
XXIX. TO WELCOME THE FAIR GUEST 223
XXX. AT THE RENDEZVOUS 231
XXXI. DOCTOR DICK TELLS THE NEWS 239
XXXII. THE MINERS' WELCOME 248
XXXIII. THE COUNCIL 252
XXXIV. A METAMORPHOSIS 259
XXXV. THE DRIVER'S LETTER 268
XXXVI. THE SCOUT ON THE WATCH 272
XXXVII. THE MINER'S MISSION 280
XXXVIII. A LEAF FROM THE PAST 288
XXXIX. THE OUTLAW'S CONFESSION 298
XL. TEARING OFF THE MASK 303




BUFFALO BILL'S SPY TRAILER.




CHAPTER I.

THE HERMIT OF THE GRAND CAÑON.


A horseman drew rein one morning, upon the brink of the Grand Cañon of
the Colorado, a mighty abyss, too vast for the eye to take in its grand
immensity; a mighty mountain rent asunder and forming a chasm which is a
valley of grandeur and beauty, through which flows the Colorado Grande.
Ranges of mountains tower to cloudland on all sides with cliffs of
scarlet, blue, violet, yes, all hues of the rainbow; crystal streams
flowing merrily along; verdant meadows, vales and hills, with massive
forests everywhere--such was the sight that met the admiring gaze of the
horseman as he sat there in his saddle, his horse looking down into the
cañon.

It was a spot avoided by Indians as the abiding-place of evil spirits; a
scene shunned by white men, a mighty retreat where a fugitive, it would
seem, would be forever safe, no matter what the crime that had driven
him to seek a refuge there.

Adown from where the horseman had halted, was the bare trace of a trail,
winding around the edge of an overhanging rock by a shelf that was not a
yard in width and which only a man could tread whose head was cool and
heart fearless.

Wrapt in admiration of the scene, the mist-clouds floating lazily upward
from the cañon, the silver ribbon far away that revealed the winding
river, and the songs of birds coming from a hundred leafy retreats on
the hillsides, the horseman gave a deep sigh, as though memories most
sad were awakened in his breast by the scene, and then dismounting began
to unwrap a lariat from his saddle-horn.

He was dressed as a miner, wore a slouch-hat, was of commanding
presence, and his darkly bronzed face, heavily bearded, was full of
determination, intelligence, and expression.

Two led horses, carrying heavy packs, were behind the animal he rode,
and attaching the lariats to their bits he took one end and led the way
down the most perilous and picturesque trail along the shelf running
around the jutting point of rocks.

When he drew near the narrowest point, he took off the saddle and packs,
and one at a time led the horses downward and around the hazardous
rocks.

A false step, a movement of fright in one of the animals, would send him
downward to the depths more than a mile below.

But the trembling animals seemed to have perfect confidence in their
master, and after a long while he got them by the point of greatest
peril.

Going back and forward he carried the packs and saddles, and replacing
them upon the animals began once more the descent of the only trail
leading down into the Grand Cañon, from that side.

The way was rugged, most dangerous in places, and several times his
horses barely escaped a fall over the precipice, the coolness and strong
arm of the man alone saving them from death, and his stores from
destruction.

It was nearly sunset when he at last reached the bottom of the
stupendous rift, and only the tops of the cliffs were tinged with the
golden light, the valley being in densest shadow.

Going on along the cañon at a brisk pace, as though anxious to reach
some camping-place before nightfall, after a ride of several miles he
came in sight of a wooded cañon, entering the one he was then in, and
with heights towering toward heaven so far that all below seemed as
black as night.

But a stream wound out of the cañon, to mingle its clear waters with the
grand Colorado River a mile away, and massive trees grew near at hand,
sheltering a cabin that stood upon the sloping hill at the base of a
cliff that arose thousands of feet above it.

When within a few hundred yards of the lone cabin, suddenly there was a
crashing, grinding sound, a terrific roar, a rumbling, and the earth
seemed shaken violently as the whole face of the mighty cliff came
crushing down into the valley, sending up showers of splintered rocks
and clouds of dust that were blinding and appalling!

Back from the scene of danger fled the frightened horses, the rider
showing no desire to check their flight until a spot of safety was
reached.

Then, half a mile from the fallen cliff, he paused, his face white, his
whole form quivering, while his horses stood trembling with terror.

"My God! the cliff has fallen upon my home, and my unfortunate comrade
lies buried beneath a mountain of rocks. We mined too far beneath the
cliff, thus causing a cave-in.

"A few minutes more and I would also have shared poor Langley's fate;
but a strange destiny it is that protects me from death--a strange one
indeed! He is gone, and I alone am now the Hermit of the Grand Cañon, a
Croesus in wealth of gold, yet a fugitive from my fellow men. What a
fate is mine, and how will it all end, I wonder?"

Thus musing the hermit-miner sat upon his own horse listening to the
echoes rumbling through the Grand Cañon, growing fainter and fainter,
like a retreating army fighting off its pursuing foes.

An hour passed before the unnerved man felt able to seek a camp for the
night, so great had been the shock of the falling cliff, and the fate he
had felt had overtaken his comrade.

At last he rode on up the cañon once more, determined to seek a spot he
knew well where he could camp, a couple of miles above his destroyed
home.

He passed the pile of rocks, heaped far up the cliff from which they had
fallen, looking upon them as the sepulcher of his companion.

"Poor Lucas Langley! He, too, had his sorrows, and his secrets, which
drove him, like me, to seek a retreat far from mankind, and become a
hunted man. Alas! what has the future in store for me?"

With a sigh he rode on up the valley, his way now guided by the
moonlight alone, and at last turned into another cañon, for the Grand
Cañon has hundreds of others branching off from it, some of them
penetrating for miles back into the mountains.

He had gone up this cañon for a few hundred yards, and was just about to
halt, and go into camp upon the banks of a small stream, when his eyes
caught sight of a light ahead.

"Ah! what does that mean?" he ejaculated in surprise.

Hardly had he spoken when from up the cañon came the deep voice of a dog
barking, his scent telling him of a human presence near.

"Ah! Savage is not dead then, and, after all, Lucas Langley may have
escaped."

The horseman rode quickly on toward the light. The barking of the dog
continued, but it was not a note of warning but of welcome, and as the
horseman drew rein by a camp-fire a huge brute sprang up and greeted him
with every manifestation of delight, while a man came forward from the
shadows of the trees and cried:

"Thank Heaven you are back again, Pard Seldon, for I had begun to fear
for your safety."

"And I was sure that I would never meet you again in life, Lucas, for I
believed you at the bottom of that mountain of rocks that fell from the
cliff and crushed out our little home," and the hands of the two men met
in a warm grasp.

"It would have been so but for a warning I had, when working in the
mine. I saw that the cliff was splitting and settling, and running out I
discovered that it must fall, and before very long.

"I at once got the two mules out of the cañon above, packed all our
traps upon them, and hastened away to a spot of safety. Then I returned
and got all else I could find, gathered up our gold, and came here and
made our camp.

"To-night the cliff fell, but not expecting you to arrive by night, I
was to be on the watch for you in the morning; but thank Heaven you are
safe and home again."

"And I am happy to find you safe, Lucas. I was within an eighth of a
mile of the cliff when it fell, and I shall never forget the sight, the
sound, the appalling dread for a few moments, as I fled to a spot of
safety, my horses bearing me along like the wind in their mad terror."

"It was appalling, and I have not dared leave my camp since, far as I am
from it, for it resounded through the cañons like a mighty battle with
heavy guns. But come, comrade, and we will have supper and talk over all
that has happened."

The horses were staked out up the cañon, where grass and water were
plentiful, and then the two men sat down to supper, though neither
seemed to have much of an appetite after what had occurred.

But Savage, the huge, vicious-looking dog, felt no bad results from his
fright of a few hours before, and ate heartily.

When their pipes were lighted the man who had lately arrived said:

"Well, Lucas, I brought back provisions and other things to last us a
year, and I care not to go again from this cañon until I carry a fortune
in gold with me."

"Yes, here we are safe, and I feel that something has happened to cause
you to say what you do, pard."

"And I will tell you what it is," impressively returned the one who had
spoken of himself as the Hermit of the Grand Cañon.

"Yes," he added slowly. "I will tell you a secret, comrade."




CHAPTER II.

THE MINER'S SECRET.


"Pard, after what has happened, the falling of the cliff, and our narrow
escape from death, I feel little like sleep, tired as I am, so, as I
said, I will tell you a secret," continued Andrew Seldon, speaking in a
way that showed his thoughts were roaming in the past.

"You will have a good listener, pard," was the answer.

"Yes, I feel that I will, and you having told me that you were a
fugitive from the law, that your life had its curse upon it, I will tell
you of mine, at least enough of it to prove to you that I also dare not
show my face among my fellow men.

"You know me as Andrew Seldon, and I have with me proof that I could
show to convince one that such is my name; but, in reality, Andrew
Seldon is dead, and I am simply playing his part in life, for I am not
unlike him in appearance, and, as I said, I have the proofs that enable
me to impersonate him.

"My real name is Wallace Weston, whom circumstances beyond my control
made a murderer and fugitive, and here I am. I entered the army as a
private cavalry soldier, and worked my way up to sergeant, with the hope
of getting a commission some day.

"But one day another regiment came to the frontier post where I was
stationed, and a member of it was the man to whom I owed all my sorrow
and misfortune in life. Well, the recognition was mutual, a quarrel
followed, and he--his name was Manton Mayhew--fell by my hand, and he,
too, was a sergeant.

"I said nothing in my defense, for I would not reopen the story of the
past for curious eyes to gaze upon, and accepted my fate, my sentence
being to be shot to death. On one occasion, in an Indian fight, I had
saved the life of the scout Buffalo Bill----"

"Ah, yes, I know of him," said the listener earnestly.

"He, in return, rode through the Indian country, to the quarters of the
district commander, to try and get a reprieve, hoping to glean new
evidence to clear me. He was refused, and returned just as I was led
down on the banks of the river for execution.

"I heard the result and determined in a second to escape, or be killed
in the attempt. Buffalo Bill's horse stood near, and with a bound I was
upon his back, rushed him into the stream, swam across and escaped.

"I was fired upon by the scout, under an order to do so, but his bullets
were not aimed to kill me. Night was near at hand, and pursuit was
begun, but I had a good start, reached the desert and entered it.

"The next day, for the scout's horse was worn down, my pursuers would
have overtaken me had I not suddenly come upon a stray horse in a clump
of timber, an oasis in the desert.

"I mounted him and pushed straight on into the desert, and the next day
came upon a solitary rock, by which lay the dead body of a man upon
which the coyotes had just begun to feed. He had starved to death in the
desert, and the horse I had found was his.

"At once an idea seized me to let my pursuer believe that _I_ was that
dead man; so I dressed him in my uniform, killed the horse near him,
left the scout's saddle and bridle there, and started off on foot over
the desert, attired as the man whom I had found there.

"With him I had found letters, papers, and a map and diary, and these
gave me his name, and more, for I found that the map would lead me to a
gold-mine, the one in this cañon in which we have worked so well to our
great profit.

"I wandered back, off the desert, and you know the rest: how I came to
the camp where you lay wounded and threatened with death by your
comrade, Black-heart Bill, who knew that you had a mine which he was
determined to have.

"In Black-heart Bill I recognized a brother of Sergeant Manton Mayhew,
another man whom I sought revenge upon. Hugh Mayhew had also wronged me
as his brothers had, for there were three of them, strange to
say--triplets--Manton, Hugh, and Richard Mayhew, and to them I owed it
that I became a fugitive from home.

"You remember my duel with Hugh Mayhew, and that he fell by my hand?
Well, there is one more yet, and some day we may meet, and then it must
be his life or mine.

"Taking the name of Andrew Seldon, and leaving all to believe that I,
Wallace Weston, died in the desert, I came here, with you as my
companion. We are growing rich, and though the Cliff Mine has fallen in,
there are others that will pan out even better.

"But, pard, when I went to the post this time for provisions, I came
upon Buffalo Bill escorting a deserter to Fort Faraway, and a band of
desperadoes from the mines of Last Chance had ambushed him to rescue the
prisoner.

"I went to the rescue of the scout, saved him and his prisoner, and went
on my way to the post; but yet I half-believe, in spite of believing me
dead, and my changed appearance with my long hair and beard, that
Buffalo Bill half-recognized me.

"I must take no more chances, so shall remain close in this cañon until
ready to leave it and go far away with my fortune, to enjoy it
elsewhere.

"Again, pard: I had written to the home of Andrew Seldon, whom I am now
impersonating, and I find that he too, was a fugitive from the law, and
that there is no reason for me to share this fortune with any one there,
as I had intended to do: so now let us be lost to the world, hermits
here in this weird land of mystery, the Grand Cañon, where no one dares
come, until we are ready to seek new associations and homes elsewhere,
and enjoy our riches."

"Pard, I thank you for your confidence, your secret. I felt that you had
been a sufferer in the past, while I am sure you were not the one to do
the first wrong. In all things I will be guided by you," said Lucas
Langley warmly, and it being late the two men retired to their blankets
to sleep.




CHAPTER III.

THE GRAVE AT THE DESERTED CAMP.


Two men had met in the remote wilds of the Grand Cañon country, as the
district bordering upon the Colorado River was called, having appointed
a mysterious, deserted camp as a rendezvous.

One of these men needs no description from my pen, hardly more than a
passing pen introduction to say that he bore the name of Buffalo Bill.

He had come alone from Fort Faraway, to the deserted camp over a hundred
miles from the nearest habitation, to meet a new-found friend, one known
in Last Chance Claim as Doctor Dick, and a man of mystery.

The latter was, in person, almost as striking in appearance as was
handsome, dashing Bill Cody, for he was tall, sinewy in build, graceful,
and dressed in a way to attract attention, with his cavalry-boots, gold
spurs, corduroy pants, velvet jacket, silk shirt, and broad black
sombrero encircled by a chain of gold links.

Doctor Dick was not afraid, either, to make a lavish display of jewels.
His weapons were gold-mounted, as was also his saddle and bridle, and
from the fact that he was an ardent and successful gambler, and was
supposed to be very rich, he was called in Last Chance The Gold King.

Doctor Dick had made his début into Last Chance mining-camp, by bringing
in the coach, one day, with the dead body of the driver on the box by
his side, and two murdered passengers on the inside.

He had run off, single-handed, the road-agents who had held up the
coach, and therefore became a hero at once, adding to his fame very
quickly by showing that he could "shoot to kill" when attacked.

Signifying his intention of practising medicine and surgery in Last
Chance, and gambling in his leisure moments, Doctor Dick had established
himself in a pleasant cabin near the hotel, to at once become popular,
and began to make money.

When Buffalo Bill went to Last Chance on a special secret-service
mission, to investigate the holding up of the coach, and had recognized
there a deserter, whom he had orders to take "dead or alive," Doctor
Dick had helped him out of what appeared to be a very ugly scrape, and
thus the two men had become friends.

Becoming confidential, Doctor Dick had told the scout a few chapters of
his life, and he alone doubted that his foe from boyhood, Sergeant
Wallace Weston--who had been reported as dying in the desert while
seeking to escape--was dead, and the two, the scout and the
gambler-doctor, had arranged to meet at the deserted camp and discover
if the real truth could not be ascertained.

So it was at the deserted camp they had met, and Doctor Dick had stood
with uncovered head before a quaking aspen-tree, at the foot of which
was a grave.

Upon the tree had been cut a name and date, and this told that there lay
the form of Hugh Mayhew, killed in a duel by one whom he had wronged.

It further told that Hugh Mayhew was known in the mines as a desperado,
whose cruel deeds had gained for him the sobriquet of Black-heart Bill.

Convinced that the body in the grave was that of Hugh Mayhew, after he
had unearthed the remains, and recognized in that decaying form his once
brother--one of the triplets--Doctor Dick had seemed deeply moved when
he told that he was the last of the trio and lived to avenge them: that
he was sure Wallace Weston, their old foe, was their slayer, for he knew
from the scout that he had killed his brother Manton at the fort, and
hence he would not be convinced that the grave in the desert of Arizona
held the body of Weston until he had certain proof of it.

"That man who came to your rescue, who called himself the Hermit of the
Grand Cañon, who sought to shun you after his service to you, is either
Wallace Weston, or knows something of him, and it is his trail we must
pick up on his return to his retreat, and follow to the end, before I am
satisfied," Doctor Dick had said to Buffalo Bill.

And so it was that the two had met at the deserted camp to pick up the
trail of the hermit and follow it to the end, bring what it might to
Doctor Dick.

The trail was taken up and followed to the brink of the grandest view in
all nature's marvels, the Grand Cañon of the Colorado.

To a less experienced scout than Buffalo Bill, there would have appeared
to be no trail down into the depths of that mighty chasm, and it would
have been thought that the one whom they trailed had retraced his steps
from there.

But the scout was not one to be thrown off the trail by any obstacle
that perseverance, pluck, and hard work could overcome, and so he set
about finding a way down into the cañon, though there was no trace of a
traveled path left on the solid rocks upon which he stood.

Doctor Dick's determined assertion that he did not believe his old
enemy, Wallace Weston, to be dead, really impressed the scout in spite
of the fact that he had guided Lieutenant Tompkins and his troopers in
the pursuit of the fugitive soldier, had found the body torn by wolves,
dressed in uniform, and with his own saddle and bridle, taken when he
had dashed away upon his horse, lying by his side.

Still, in the face of all these seeming proofs, the fugitive sergeant
might yet be alive and he would do all he could to solve the mystery as
to whether he was or not.

The scout had been anxious to go alone with the gambler-doctor in the
search, for he did have the hope that, if really found, Wallace Weston
might be reconciled with Doctor Dick, while, if taken by troopers, he
would be returned to the fort and executed, as he was under
death-sentence.

Buffalo Bill never forgot a service rendered him, and he did not wish to
see the sergeant put to death, when he was already believed to be dead,
and the secret might be kept.

After a long search Buffalo Bill found the perilous path down which the
one he followed had gone with his packhorses.

He revealed the fact to Doctor Dick, and the two, after a long
consultation, decided to take the risk and make the descent into the
grand valley.

For men with less nerve than these two possessed it would have been
impossible; and, as it was, there were times when the winding trail and
dangers put their pluck to the test.

At last the valley was reached, and, greatly relieved, the two went into
camp before prosecuting their search further.

The hermit had admitted to Buffalo Bill that he had a comrade dwelling
with him in his retreat, wherever the retreat was.

Would it be that they held a secret there they did not wish known, and
so would resist the intrusion of others? It might be, and that a
death-struggle would follow the discovery of their retreat.

Still, Buffalo Bill was not one to dread whatever might turn up, and he
had seen Doctor Dick tried and proven true as steel and brave as a lion.

And so the search continued, the scout unerringly clinging to the trail
until, just as the two felt that the retreat of those mysterious
dwellers in the Grand Cañon was almost before them, they came upon a
sight that caused them to draw rein and sit upon their horses appalled
at the scene presented to their view.

What they saw was the fallen cliff, and there, just peering out from
among the piles of rocks, was the shattered end of a stout cabin. They
had found the secret retreat, but they stood there feeling that those
who had dwelt in that ruined cabin were beyond all human eye, buried
beneath a monument of rocks an army could not remove in weeks.

"And this is the end?" said Buffalo Bill, the first to speak, breaking a
silence that was appalling.

"Yes, his end, for he undoubtedly lies buried there beneath that mass of
rocks. If it is my foe, Wallace Weston, who has met such a fate, so let
it be."

The two did not tarry long in the cañon, for a dread of the weird spot
seemed to have come over them both.

Doctor Dick roamed about, picking up bits of rock and examining it
closely, while he muttered:

"It was a gold-mine that held them here, but that falling cliff has
hidden the secret forever."

And Buffalo Bill went about searching for trails, yet made no comment,
whether he found any or not, to indicate that the lone dwellers in the
cañon had not both perished in their cabin, and lay buried beneath the
hills of rock that had fallen from the heights above the valley.

But, as the two men rode away up the dangerous mountain-trail, there
were eyes peering upon them they little dreamed of, and Wallace Weston
muttered:

"They believe me dead now: so let it be."




CHAPTER IV.

A VOW OF VENGEANCE.


The night after leaving the Grand Cañon, Buffalo Bill and Doctor Dick
camped again at the rendezvous of the deserted camp, which was marked by
the grave of Black-heart Bill.

The two friends talked until a late hour into the night, though they
intended making an early start in the morning for their respective
homes, the scout going to the fort, the doctor to Last Chance.

"Well, Cody, you were satisfied before that Sergeant Wallace Weston was
dead, that he died in the desert, but you yielded to my belief that he
lived and was none other than the Hermit of the Grand Cañon who came to
your rescue some time ago; but now you are assured that, the
hermit-miner being buried beneath the walls of his cabin, there is no
doubt left that, if he really was Wallace Weston, he is surely not among
the living?"

"Yes, doctor, I can hardly bring myself to believe that Weston's body
was not the one we buried in the desert, yet I grant that, it was just
possible that it might not have been his."

"So you give up the search wholly?"

"Yes, I return to my duties at Fort Faraway."

"And I to my doctoring and gambling at Last Chance; but I thank you for
coming with me on this trip, as my mind is made up."

The doctor said no more then, but wrapped his blankets about him and lay
down to rest.

The next morning when the two were about to part Buffalo Bill said:

"I wish you would keep your eye upon the suspicious characters in the
mines, for I fear, with the temptations in their way to get hold of
treasure in the coaches, there may be more mischief done."

"I will keep a bright lookout, Cody, and at once send a courier to
report at the fort any lawless deeds that may be done, for I know that
your support will be prompt."

Then the two parted, Buffalo Bill taking the trail for Fort Faraway and
Doctor Dick going on to Last Chance mining-camp.

But hardly had the scout disappeared from sight when the doctor halted,
looked back and then slowly returned to the camp.

Dismounting by the grave, he stood gazing at the inscription cut into
the tree for some minutes, and then turned his eyes upon the mound at
his feet.

"Wicked, yes, hated and feared, yet my brother, and I loved him and my
other brother, Manton, with a love that was greater than woman's love,
and I revere their memory now.

"Whatever they were, whatever the crimes that led to their losing their
lives, I must avenge them, and I will, for Wallace Weston's hand it was
that did the deed.

"Yes, he killed Manton, and I am just as sure that he killed Hugh, who
lies here at my feet. Buffalo Bill believes Wallace Weston dead; _but I
do not_!

"No, I can never believe that he could die except by my hand, and some
day we two will meet face to face, and then he will die, and I will be
avenged for Manton's and Hugh's deaths; so here I vow to take the life
of Wallace Weston, and thus avenge my brothers."

He raised his right hand as he spoke, pressed his left over his heart
and so registered his vow of revenge.

Then, mounting his horse, he rode away upon the trail he had before
followed.

He seemed in no hurry, rode slowly, made long noonday camps and camped
early at night, so that it was the afternoon of the third day before he
came in view of the scattered settlement of Last Chance Claim.

Situated in a mountain cañon, which widened into a large valley after
some miles, with towering cliffs, rugged passes and wild, picturesque
scenery upon all sides, Last Chance Claim, or mining-camp, was scattered
along for miles, the village portion, where the hotel, stores, and
gambling-saloons were, being at the upper end.

As he came out of a mountain pass into the valley proper, Doctor Dick
beheld crowds of miners hastening toward the hotel, and all were
carrying their rifles and had an excited air.

"Well, pards, what has happened?" he asked as he put spurs to his horse
and overtook a party of miners on the way to the hotel.

The response he received caused him to spur forward and dash rapidly on
to the head of the valley.




CHAPTER V.

MASKED AND MERCILESS.


Dave Dockery had taken the place of driver on the Last Chance trail,
after Bud Benton had been killed on the box by unknown parties.

Dave Dockery was as shrewd as he was brave, and bore many scars of
wounds received in the discharge of his duty, his nerve and endurance,
it was said, saving his life where other men would surely have been
killed.

The coach out from Last Chance had gone on its dangerous run with a very
large sum in gold-dust, but Dave had gotten safely through with it, and
was congratulated by all who knew the chances he had taken of losing
treasure and life.

He had heard with regret, after reaching his eastern destination, that
he was to be put to an equal strain going back, for a large sum of money
in bank-bills was to be sent back to Last Chance in payment for several
mines purchased there by outsiders.

Dave was told that the box contained at least thirty thousand dollars,
and so he hid it away as best he could in the coach.

He also was carrying out as freight a dozen rifles of the last and most
improved repeating pattern, and double as many revolvers, intended for
the vigilantes of Last Chance, and who were personally unknown to any of
the miners, though it was suspected that either Landlord Larry, the
hotel-keeper, judge, storekeeper, and proprietor of the largest
gambling-saloon in the place, or Doctor Dick, the gambler gold king, was
the secret leader.

Whoever the vigilante captain and his men might be, it was certain that
they had a good influence over the most lawless spirits in the mines,
the fact of their being unknown greatly aiding their good effect.

Dave Dockery had hoped that he would have a stage-load of passengers
upon the run to Last Chance, for he liked to have a crowd along, and
then he felt that they were a safeguard as well, as in numbers there is
strength.

But, when the starting-time came, only two passengers appeared, one of
them a miner going out to Last Chance to hunt for a fortune, and the
other a young man who told Dave Dockery that he was only traveling from
a love of adventure, and enjoyed the wild life he thus far had met with.

He gave Dave a bunch of good cigars, showed him a silver flask of fine
brandy, and was promptly invited to ride upon the box with him, an
invitation that was as promptly accepted.

Out of the little settlement rolled the coach, followed by a cheer from
the crowd gathered to see it depart, for the going and coming of the
coaches in border places are events of great moment to the dwellers
there.

The young man in search of adventure was upon the box with Dave, and the
miner passenger was inside, where it was safer for him to ride, as he
was in a hopeless state of intoxication.

The horses dashed away in fine style, enthused by the cheer of the
crowd, and Dave looked happy and proud, while his companion on the box
appeared to enjoy the scene immensely.

The young stranger was well dressed, for he had donned what was suitable
for frontier roughing it, and wore in his belt a single revolver, as a
means of defense rather than for show or bravado.

He had a fine face, fearless and frank, and looked like a man of
refinement and education.

Dave Dockery was a good reader of human nature and took to his passenger
at once, being really greatly pleased with his companionship.

Three-fourths of the trail had been gone over without adventure, the
three stops at the relay-stations, for changes of horses and meals for
passengers, having been made on time, and Last Chance was only a dozen
miles away, when, as they neared a dreary-looking spot in a gorge, Dave
said:

"There is where poor Bud Benton passed in his chips, pard, and I tell
you I don't like the spot a bit."

Hardly had he uttered the words when a sharp report rang out and Dave
Dockery fell back upon the coach and lay motionless, while out of the
shadows spurred a horseman dressed in black and wearing a red mask.

With his revolver leveled at the stranger he said sharply:

"Your turn next, sir, for I am out for blood and gold."

Riding on the box with Dave Dockery, the young stranger had heard much
of the wild ways of the border, and had been told that it would be
madness to resist a "hold-up" of a coach, unless the chances were well
on the side of those attacked.

When, therefore, the sharp report of a revolver had been followed by the
toppling over of poor Dave, and a masked horseman rode out of the
shadows of the cliff, his revolver covering him, the young man did not
just know what to do.

He had with him a few hundred in money, his watch, chain, and a few
articles of value, with some papers of importance.

That the masked horseman was alone he could not believe, and yet he had,
against all traditions of the border, begun by firing upon Dave Dockery,
and not ordering him to halt first.

That he had fired to kill the bullet-wound in the breast, and the
motionless form of the driver as he lay back upon the top of the coach,
were in evidence.

Now he stood the chance himself of life and death, and he awaited the
ordeal with white, but calm face.

The horses had stopped in their tracks, and though no other persons were
visible the stranger looked for others to appear. The thought flashed
across him that he must lose all he had with him, but his life he could
not believe was in danger, yet why the masked road-agent had killed
Dockery without mercy he could not understand.

"Do you mean to take my life, man?"

"That depends whether it is worth more to kill you than to let you
live," was the businesslike reply.

But hardly had he spoken when from out of the coach window came a flash
and report. The miner within, awakening to a sense of his danger, had
taken a hand in the affair.

The bullet barely missed the head of the masked horseman, who at once
returned the fire, aiming first, however, at the young man on the box.

With a groan the latter fell heavily to the ground, his revolver
half-drawn from its holster, and the murderer, leaping from his saddle,
took refuge among the horses while he called out:

"I have killed your two comrades, and you share the same fate unless you
surrender."

"I cry quits, pard," came in frightened tones from the coach, and the
man was evidently now sobered and greatly alarmed.

"Then come out!"

The miner quickly threw open the stage door, put his foot upon the step
and then peered cautiously toward his foe.

Instantly there came a shot, and, without a moan, he pitched forward
head foremost and fell in a heap between the wheels.

"Any more?" called out the road-agent sternly.

No answer came, and, revolvers in hand, he stepped to one side and
opened fire at the coach.



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