Dick and Nellie listened to the quarrel with bated breath. Both hoped that Vorlange would follow to the cabin. When he approached closer than ever, their hearts seemed to almost stop beating.
Feeling that a contest was at hand, Dick groped around in the darkness for some weapon. No stick was at hand, but at his feet lay a jagged stone weighing all of a pound. He took it up and held it in readiness.
Closer and closer came Vorlange, turning now to the right and now to the left, for following the trail among the rocks and brush was no easy matter.
"Might as well give yourselves up!" he called out. "I am bound to spot you sooner or later."
To this neither offered any reply, but Dick felt Nellie shiver. They could now see the flare of the torch plainly, for Vorlange was less than thirty feet away.
Presently the spy uttered a low cry of pleasure. He had found several footprints, where Dick had slipped from a rock into the dirt. Now he came straight for them, waving the torch above his head that it might throw its light to a greater distance.
"So there you are!" The man caught sight of Nellie's dress. "I told you I would catch you. It's not such an easy matter to get away from Louis Vorlange. The next time I lock you up—oh!"
A deep groan escaped the spy. Dick had let fly the jagged stone, taking him directly in the forehead and keeling him over like a tenpin. The blow left a deep cut from which the blood flowed in a stream, and Vorlange was completely stunned.
"Oh, Dick, have you—you—killed him?" burst from Nellie's lips, in horror.
"I guess not, Nellie; he's stunned, that's all. Come, let us run for it again—before that Indian changes his mind and comes back."
"You might take his pistol," suggested the quick-witted girl.
"A good idea—I will. Now let me carry you again, I see you can hardly stand on that foot." For Nellie had limped along a dozen steps in great pain.
"But I am so heavy, Dick——"
"Never mind, I can carry you a little distance, at least."
"You had better save yourself and let me go."
"What! Nellie, do you think me so selfish? Never! Come, and we'll escape or die in the attempt."
And catching her up as before, he started off on as rapid a gait as the weight of his fair burden would permit.
A distance of a hundred yards had been covered and Dick found himself ascending a slight hill. The climb was by no means easy, yet he kept on manfully, knowing what capture by Yellow Elk might mean.
"He would tomahawk me and carry Nellie off," he thought, and it would be hard to say which he thought the worst, the tomahawking or the carrying off of the girl for whom he entertained such a high regard.
The top of the hill reached, they saw before them a broad stretch of open prairie, flanked to the north and the south by the woods from which they had just emerged.
"I'll be thrashed if I know where we are," he said. "Have you any idea?"
"No, Dick, I am completely bewildered."
"I wonder if it is safe to attempt to cross this prairie? It is pretty dark, but that redskin has mighty sharp eyes."
"Let us go down to the edge of the woods first and rest a bit. I am sure you are pretty well out of breath, and if I can bathe my ankle in some cold water perhaps I'll be able to walk on it before long."
"Don't try it, Nellie; I'll carry you," and again the youth picked her up.
It was not long before they reached a convenient hollow, where there was a small pool. Here Nellie made herself comfortable and took off the shoe which hurt her so much. Bathed, the ankle which had been twisted felt much better. It was still, however, much swollen, and to walk far on that foot was as yet out of the question.
An hour went by, a quiet hour, in which only the cries of the night birds and the occasional hoot of an owl disturbed them. They conversed in whispers and Dick's ears were ever on the alert, for he felt certain that Vorlange or Yellow Elk would sooner or later continue the search for them.
Nellie was very sleepy and at last her eyes closed and she dropped into a slumber upon Dick's shoulder, forming such a pretty picture the youth could do nothing but admire her. "I'll save her—I must do it!" he murmured, and kissed her wavy tresses softly.
It wanted still two hours to sunrise when he awakened her. She leaped up with a start.
"I have been asleep! Oh, Dick, why did you let me drop off?"
"I knew how tired you must be after going through all you did. But we must be on our way now, before it grows lighter. How is the foot?"
"It is stiff, but much better. Which way shall we go?"
"Let us strike across the prairie and to the north. That is bound to bring us into Kansas sooner or later, and once there we'll be sure to locate the boomers without much trouble."
Both were hungry, but, as there was no food at hand, neither said a word on that point. Getting a drink at a running brook close by, they started off, Dick holding Nellie's hand, that she might not go down on the ankle that was still weak.
Only a corner of the broad prairie passed, and then they turned again into a woods. The sun was now up and it was growing warmer.
"I'll shoot a few birds if I can't find anything else," said Dick. "We can't starve, and birds broiled over a fire will make a fair meal."
"But the noise?" began Nellie.
"I know; but, as I said, we can't starve, Nellie. We'll have to take the risk. Here goes!"
Dick crept forward to where half a dozen birds sat on a nearby bush. The birds were in a flutter over something, but Dick did not notice this. Bringing two of the birds into range for a single shot, he blazed away with his pistol.
The sharp crack of the firearm was still echoing through the woods when there came a roar from behind the bushes the birds had occupied. Dick had brought down his game and more, he had struck a bear in the shoulder. In another moment the huge beast leaped into sight, and with angry eyes and gleaming teeth bore straight for the astonished boy.
THE SOLDIERS AGAIN.
Never was Dick Arbuckle more astonished than when the big bear leaped out from behind the bushes and confronted himself and Nellie Winthrop.
"Oh, Dick! a bear!" screamed the girl, and stood still, too paralyzed with fright to move.
As we know, Dick had just brought down several birds with his pistol—indeed it was this very shot which had clipped the bear—and now the weapon was empty and useless, having had but one chamber loaded.
But as the great beast came forward, Dick knew enough not to stand still. He retreated in double-quick order, and forced Nellie to accompany him. Away they went through the woods with the bear in close pursuit.
At the start of the chase girl and boy were at least forty feet in advance, but despite his bulk the bear made rapid progress, and slowly but surely began to lessen the distance between himself and those he sought to make his victims. Looking over his shoulder, Dick saw him lumbering along, his mouth wide open and his blood-red tongue hanging out as though ready to lick him in.
"I—I—can't run any more," gasped Nellie. Her heart was beating as though ready to break. "Oh, Dick, what shall we do?"
"Here is a tree with low branches—jump for that—I will help you up!" returned the youth, and in a few seconds they were in the tree, a scrub oak, with the big bear underneath, eying them angrily, and speculating upon how he could bring them down within reach of his powerful embrace and his hungry maw.
"He is going to climb up," came from Nellie's lips a few seconds later. She was right. Bruin had attacked the tree trunk and now he was coming up slowly, as though afraid of moving into some trap.
Dick did not answer, for talking would have done no good. He was re-loading the pistol with all possible speed.
Crack! Dick had leaned down through the branches of the oak and taken aim at one of those bloodshot eyes. There was a howl and a roar, and the bear fell down with a crash that shook the forest. As to whether the bullet had found that eye or not Dick could not tell, but certain it was that once on the ground the bear picked himself up in short order and started to run away.
"You hit him!" cried Nellie. "Oh, Dick, if only he don't come back!"
"He's not going away—very far," answered the boy. The shot had encouraged him and his blood was up. A moment later Nellie was horrified to behold him drop to the grass and make off after the beast.
"That bear will kill him sure!" she ejaculated. "Oh, Dick, come back! please do!" she screamed.
A shot answered her, a shot which was quickly followed by another. A minute of painful silence; then suddenly the bear staggered into view with Dick at his heels.
"I've nailed him!" shouted the boy, joyfully, and another shot did the work. With a groan the bear keeled over, gave a jerk or two, and died.
Nellie was in such a tremble she could scarcely descend from the tree. When she did come down she found Dick hard at work cutting out a juicy steak from the bear's flank.
"We'll have a breakfast fit for a king now," he said, with a little laugh, to scatter his former nervousness. "Just wait till I light a fire. I must gather the driest available sticks, so as to make as little smoke as possible."
"Yes, we don't want our enemies to locate us," answered the girl, and saw to it that every twig which went on the blaze which was kindled was as dry as a bone.
In less than half an hour the steak had been done to a turn, and they sat down to eat it. It was certainly a most informal meal, without plates or platter, and only Dick's pocket knife to cut the steak with. Yet neither had ever enjoyed a repast more. Having finished, they procured a drink at a flowing stream behind them, and then Dick cut off a chunk of the bear meat, wrapped it in a bit of skin and slung it over his shoulder.
"We may want another meal of it before we reach civilization," he explained, "Nothing like preparing one's self, when we have the chance."
"It's a shame to leave such a beautiful bear skin robe behind," answered Nellie. "But I suppose it cannot be helped. Oh, if only we were safe once more."
Again they set off on their weary tramp northward, and thus nearly two miles were covered. The sun was now coming out strongly, and Dick saw that his fair companion was beginning to grow tired.
"We will rest a little, Nellie," he said, "I think perhaps we can afford to take it easy now."
"I am so fearful that Indian is following us!" answered the girl with a shudder. "If he should find that bear, and—Oh, Dick, look!"
Nellie leaped to her feet from the seat she had just taken, and pointed behind her. Dick gave one look and his heart sank within him. Yellow Elk was bearing down upon them as swiftly as his long legs would permit!
In his hand the Indian chief carried a gun, and as Nellie arose he caught sight of the pair and pointed the weapon at Dick's head.
"White boy throw down pistol!" he called out, when within speaking distance.
"Let Yellow Elk throw down his gun," answered Dick. His pistol was up and now he shoved Nellie behind him.
"White boy fool—cannot shoot against Yellow Elk," growled the redskin. He had been following their trail since sun-up and was somewhat winded.
"Perhaps I can shoot. Did you see that bear I brought down?" rejoined Dick.
At this the Indian frowned.
"Bear must have been sick—white boy no bring game down like that if well—too powerful."
"I brought him down and I'll bring you down if you don't stop where you are," was the steady answer.
"Oh, Dick, he'll shoot you," whispered Nellie. She wanted to get before him, but he would not allow it.
By this time Yellow Elk had arrived to within a dozen steps of them. Now he stopped and the frown upon his ugly countenance deepened.
"Did white boy hear what Yellow Elk said?"
"Does white boy want to die?"
"Does Yellow Elk want to die? I can shoot as straight as you."
The words had scarcely left Dick's mouth than there came a clear click.
The redskin had fired point-blank at the lad, but the gun had failed to go off, the weapon being an old one the Indian had found at the fort—a gun some soldier had discarded as useless.
Following the click Nellie uttered a scream. Then came a crack as Dick fired, and Yellow Elk uttered a yell of pain, having received a painful wound in the side.
With clubbed gun the Indian now rushed in and a hand-to-hand struggle followed. Dick fought valiantly, but was no match for the tall redskin, and a well-directed blow laid him senseless upon the prairie grass. "You have killed him!" screamed Nellie. She was about to kneel at Dick's side, when Yellow Elk hauled her back.
"White dove come with me—boy no killed—be right by-an-by," said the redskin.
"I will not go with you!" she gasped. "Let me down!" for Yellow Elk had raised her up to his broad shoulder.
The redskin merely smiled grimly and set off on a swift walk, which speedily took both Nellie and himself out of sight of poor Dick.
The girl's heart was almost broken by this swift turn of affairs. She had hoped in a few more hours to be safe among her friends, and here she was once again the captive of the Indian she so much feared.
On and on kept Yellow Elk until the stream was reached upon which was located the log cabin where Nellie had been a prisoner. She wondered if Yellow Elk was going to take her there again, but she asked no questions.
Presently the Indian chief came to a sudden halt and raised his head as if to listen. Nellie listened, too, and at a distance heard the tramp of several men. At once Yellow Elk darted behind a number of bushes.
"White girl make noise Yellow Elk kill!" he hissed into his fair captive's ear, and drew his hunting knife.
The tramp of feet came closer. A detachment of foot soldiers were moving through the woods. Soon they came within sight of the pair.
As they came closer Nellie saw they were Government troops. A prisoner was between them—a man. It was Jack Rasco.
"Uncle Jack!" she moaned, when Yellow Elk clapped his hand over her mouth and pointed the hunting knife at her throat.
"Hush!" he commanded, but this was unnecessary, for the discovery and her great fear had caused Nellie to swoon. She fell back, and for a long while she knew no more.
In the meantime Dick had slowly recovered consciousness. The blow had been a fearful one, and long after he sat up he was unable to rise to his feet, so shaky was he in the legs. Slowly the realization of what had occurred came back to him.
"Gone—poor Nellie!" he gasped, and braced himself as best he could. Gazing around he saw that neither girl nor redskin was in sight. Without delay he started to search for Yellow Elk's trail.
He was loping along over the prairies when a shout from his left struck upon his ears. As he gazed in the direction he beheld a number of soldiers swooping down upon him. These were the men who had Jack Rasco a prisoner, the cavalrymen having turned the man of the plains over to them. In a moment Dick was surrounded.
"Jack!" cried the youth, and rushed up to Rasco. "What does this mean?"
"It means I'm a prisoner," answered Rasco, sadly. "Have you seen anything of Nellie?"
In a moment Dick had told his story, to which the soldiers as well as Rasco listened closely. At once several of the guard were sent off to hunt up the redskin, if it were possible to do so. Rasco wanted to go along, but his request was refused.
"You'll slip us if you get the chance," said the officer in charge. "You'll go to the fort. And I fancy the boy will go, too, since he seems to belong to the boomers."
And against his earnest protestations Dick was made to accompany the soldiers, being bound hand to hand with the man of the plains.
An hour later the soldiers' camp was reached, and Rasco and Dick were placed in a temporary guard house. They had been there but a short while when a visitor entered. It was—Louis Vorlange!
"So they have you safe, I see," began Vorlange, when Rasco sprang at him and knocked him down.
"Will you make my niece a prisoner," he cried, wrathfully, for Dick had told him the story. "You dirty spy!"
"Hold up," gasped Vorlange, his face growing white. "Rasco, don't be a fool. I—I—made her a prisoner because I have orders to arrest anybody found roaming around——"
"I won't argy the p'int!" roared Rasco. "I know you, Vorlange, and so does Dick here. You robbed and nearly murdered thet boy's father!"
At these words Vorlange staggered back as though struck a blow.
"Who says I—I did that?" he faltered.
"I say so."
"And so do I," put in Dick, boldly. "We'll have a nice story to tell when we are brought out for examination, I'll tell you that."
Vorlange breathed hard and glared from one to the other. Then of a sudden he caught Dick by the arm and turned him to one side.
"Boy, beware how you cross me," he hissed into Dick's ears. "Beware, I say! I have known your father for years, and I have the knowledge in my possession which can send your father to the gallows."
CHASED BY CAVALRY.
"Checkmated! By Jove, but this is too bad."
Such were the words which issued from Pawnee Brown's lip as he swung around and saw the cavalrymen sitting on their horses at attention.
His disappointment was keen. In speaking of it afterwards he said:
"I never felt so bad in my life. I had promised to take the boomers through and I felt that I had disappointed nearly four thousand people who were looking to me with utmost confidence."
But disappointment was not the worst of it. Hardly had the command to halt been issued than the captain of the troops advanced toward the scout.
"Pawnee Brown!" he ejaculated, in surprise, and a smile of satisfaction crossed his face. "This is a great pleasure."
"Is it?" answered the great scout, coldly.
"It is indeed. Do you intend to throw up your hands?"
For the scout's hands had not yet been lifted skyward.
"This looks as if you meant to arrest me, captain."
"Why shouldn't I? You are at the head of the Kansas boomers, are you not?"
"I have that honor, yes."
"It's a question to me if it is an honor. You are transgressing the laws of the United States when you try to get into Oklahoma for homestead purposes."
"Say rather that we transgress the laws of the cattle kings, captain. Under the U. S. Homestead Law we have a perfect right to this land, if we can get in and stake our claims, and you know it."
"I know nothing of the sort. This talk about the cattle kings is all nonsense!" roared the cavalry officer. He knew Pawnee Brown was more than half right, but felt he must obey the orders he had received from his superiors. "I'll have to take you to the fort."
"All right, take me—if you can, captain," came the quick answer. "Don't you dare fire on me, for you know I am a crack shot and I promise I'll fire on you in return and lay you low!"
Thus speaking, the boomer wheeled about and sent Bonnie Bird off like a shot along the trail he had come.
The movement was so quick that for the moment the cavalry officer was paralyzed and knew not what to do. He raised his long pistol, but Pawnee Brown's stern threat rang in his ears and he hesitated about using the weapon, having no desire to be laid low.
"After him, men!" he roared, upon recovering his wits. "We must capture him!"
"Shall we fire, cap'n?" came from several, and a number of shining pistol barrels were leveled toward the great scout.
"N—no, capture him alive," came the hesitating reply; and away went the calvary men at a breakneck speed in pursuit.
Looking back over his shoulder, Pawnee saw them coming. To lessen the chances of being shot, he bent low over his faithful mare's neck.
"On, Bonnie, on!" he cried softly, and the beautiful animal seemed to understand that it was a race for life and death.
"Crack!" It was the report of a pistol close at hand. Looking among the trees, Pawnee Brown saw an arm wearing the colors of a cavalryman disappearing among the foliage of a nearby tree. He aimed his own weapon and pulled the trigger. A yell of pain followed.
The marksman had been Tucker, the fellow hired to take the great scout's life. Tucker had been on picket duty for the cavalry troop, but had failed to note Pawnee Brown's first movement in that direction. Seeing the scout coming, he had instantly thought of the promised reward and taken aim. The bullet had struck Pawnee Brown's shoulder, merely, however, scraping the skin. On the return fire Tucker was hit in the side and nearly broke his neck in a tumble backward into a hole behind him.
The chase was not of long duration. Although they had good steeds, not one of the cavalryman's horses could gain upon the scout's sturdy racing mare, and soon they dropped further and further behind. Seeing this, Pawnee Brown turned to the eastward, out of the ravine, and in three minutes had his pursuers entirely off the trail.
His face grew thoughtful as he allowed Bonnie Bird to drop into a walk. The cavalry had followed the wagon train westward—they were bound to keep the boomers in sight. What was to be done? Should he advise another movement during the night to come and then a forward dash?
"We might make it," he mused. "But if we did not there would be a fearful fight and possibly slaughter. I wish I knew just how matters were going at Washington."
Pawnee Brown had friends at the Capital, men who were doing their best to defeat the cattle kings by having a bill passed in Congress opening Oklahoma to settlement—a bill that would smooth the present difficulty for all concerned. He felt that the bill was not needed, yet it would be better to have such a law than to have some of the boomers killed before their rights could be established.
"I'll send a messenger off to the nearest telegraph station and telegraph for the news," he went on. "A day's delay may mean many lives saved. It shall never be said that Pawnee Brown rushed in, heedless of the danger to those who trusted in him."
It was not long before the scout reached the boomers' camp. Here he found several waiting for him.
"I want to see Pawnee Brown." It was Dan Gilbert, who was making his way through the crowd to the great scout's side. Gilbert held a message from Arkansas City. It was to the effect that Pawnee Brown should telegraph to Washington at once and wait until noon at Arkansas City for a reply.
Five minutes later Pawnee Brown was on the trail over which the wagon train had journeyed the night before. He had told Gilbert, Clemmer and the others of the nearness of the Government cavalrymen and had advised a halt until further orders from himself. Clemmer had promised to wait, although ready "ter swoop down on 'em, b' gosh, an' take wot belongs ter us," as he expressed himself.
The ride back to Arkansas City was an uneventful one, and arriving there, Pawnee Brown lost no time in visiting the telegraph office.
"A message for you," said the operator, and handed it over.
It was from Washington and stated: "The Oklahoma bill is now before the Lower House; wait for more news."
"I'm glad we've woke up those politicians at Washington," murmured the scout, and then wrote out a telegram in reply.
There was now nothing to do but to wait, and impatient as he was to rejoin the boomers, Pawnee Brown had to content himself until another message should reach him. To make the time pass more quickly the great scout went around to a number of places buying supplies that were much needed.
An hour later he found himself on the outskirts of the city, whence he had come to look up several wagons, to replace some that had broken down. He was galloping along on horseback when the sight of two men quarreling near the open doorway of a deserted barn caught his eye, and impelled by something which was more than curiosity, he turned in from the road to see how the quarrel might end. As he came closer he saw that one of the men was Mortimer Arbuckle!
"Hullo, what can this mean?" he cried, softly. "I thought Dick's father was still in bed from the effects of that dastardly night's work. Who can that stranger be?"
Dismounting, he tied Bonnie Bird to a tree and came forward, but in line with the barn, that he might not be seen. Soon he was within easy hearing distance of all that was being said.
"I want to know what brought you out here, Dike Powell?" he heard Mr. Arbuckle say in excited tones. "Did you follow me?"
"No, I did not, Arbuckle," came in reply. "What makes you think I did?"
"I was knocked down and robbed but a few nights ago, and my most valuable papers, as well as my money, were taken from me."
"Do you mean to insinuate that I am a thief?" cried Dike Powell.
"You are none too good for it. I have not forgotten how you used to sneak around my office in New York after information concerning my Western mining claims."
"You're getting mighty sharp, Arbuckle."
"I hope I am. I used to feel queer in my head at times, but—but—I think I am growing better of that."
As he spoke Mortimer Arbuckle drew his white hand across his forehead.
The attack and the adventure on the river had been fearful, but it really looked as if they were going to prove of benefit to him. His eyes were brighter than they had been for many a day. Pawnee Brown noticed, too, that his manner of talking was more direct than he usually employed.
"I hope for the boy's sake his mind is clearing," he thought.
"I think you are growing more queer—to accuse me," said Dike Powell. "I never harmed you."
"I know better. While I was on my back I thought it all over. Dike Powell, you are a villain, and if ever I get the chance I'll turn you over to the police. You have followed me to the West, and for no good purpose. I will unmask you."
"Will you? Not much!"
Thus speaking, Dike Powell leaped forward. He was a powerful man, and catching Mortimer Arbuckle by the throat, he would have borne the semi-invalid to the floor had not Pawnee Brown interfered.
There was a rush and a crack, as the scout's fist met Dike Powell's ear, and over the man rolled, to bring up against the side of the barn with a crash.
"Who—who hit me?" spluttered the rascal, as, half dazed, he staggered to his feet. "If I—Pawnee Brown!"
"Dike Powell!" ejaculated the scout, as he saw the fellow full in the face for the first time. "Where have you been these long years?"
"Oh, Pawnee, how glad I am that you came in," panted Mortimer Arbuckle, sinking down upon an old feed box. "The villain was—was——"
"I saw it all, Arbuckle; rest yourself. I will take care of this forger."
"Forger!" came simultaneously from Mortimer Arbuckle and from his assailant, but in different tones of voice. "Do you then know Dike Powell?"
"Yes, I know him as Powell Dike, a forger, who fled from Peoria a dozen years ago. And what do you know of him?"
"I know him as a Wall street sneak—a man who was forever hanging around, trying to get information out of which he might make a few dollars. I have accused him of following me to the West. I am inclined to think he robbed me——"
"I did not," ejaculated Powell Dike, for such really was his name.
"I believe you," replied Pawnee Brown. He had spoken to Dick and Rasco of this man. "But you know who did rob Mortimer Arbuckle," he went on, significantly.
"I—I—do not," answered Powell Dike, but his lips trembled.
"You lie, Dike. Now tell the truth."
Pawnee Brown saw the manner of man he had to deal with and tapped his pistol. Instantly Powell Dike fell upon his knees.
"Don't—don't shoot me!" he whined. "I'll tell all—everything. I am not dead positive, but—but I guess Louis Vorlange robbed Arbuckle."
Pawnee Brown looked at Mortimer Arbuckle to see what effect this declaration might have upon Dick's father. He saw the ex-stock broker start forward in amazement. Then he faltered, threw up his hands, and fell forward in a dead faint!
GOOD NEWS FROM WASHINGTON.
"Fainted, by Jove!"
So spoke Pawnee Brown as he sprang forward to Mortimer Arbuckle's aid.
The man was as pale as the driven snow, and for the instant the great scout thought his very heart had stopped beating.
He raised Mortimer Arbuckle up and opened his collar and took off his tie, that he might get some air.
"Wot's the row here?"
It was the voice of Peter Day, the backwoodsman who had agreed to take care of Arbuckle during his illness. He had followed the man out of the house to see that no harm might befall him.
"He has fainted," answered Pawnee Brown. "Fetch some water, and hold that—hang it, he's gone!"
Pawnee Brown rushed to the barn door. Far away he saw Powell Dike running as though the old Nick was after him. A second later the rascal disappeared from view. The boomer never saw or heard of him again.
Between the great scout and Pawnee Brown, Mortimer Arbuckle was once again taken to Day's home and made comfortable.
"He insisted on taking a walk to-day," explained the backwoodsman. "I told him he couldn't stand it. I reckon he's as bad now as he ever was."
"Take good care of him, Day, and beware of any men who may be prowling about," answered Pawnee Brown. "There is something wrong in the air, but I'm satisfied that if we help this poor fellow we'll be on the right side of the brush."
Mortimer Arbuckle was now coming around, but when he spoke he was quite out of his mind. The doctor was hastily sent for, and he administered a potion which speedily put the sufferer to sleep.
"It's an odd case," said the medical man. "The fellow is suffering more mentally than physically. He must have something awful on his mind."
"He is the victim of some plot—I am certain of it," was the scout's firm answer.
Not long after this, Pawnee Brown was returning to Arkansas City, certain that Mortimer Arbuckle would now be well cared for and closely watched until he and Dick could return to the sufferer.
"As soon as this booming business is over I must try to clear things for that old gent," murmured the boomer to himself as he rode up to the telegraph office. "I'd do a good deal for him and that noble son of his."
Another telegram had just come in, by way of Wichita, which ran as follows:
"The Lower House of Congress has passed the Oklahoma bill. Pawnee Brown has woke the politicians up at last. Stand ready to enter Oklahoma if an attempt is made to throw the bill aside in the Senate, but don't be rash, as it may not be long before everything comes our way—in fact, it looks as if everything would come very soon."
At this telegram the great scout was inclined to throw up his hat and give a cheer. His work in Kansas was having an effect. No longer could the cattle kings stand up against the rights of the people. He handed the message to a number of his friends standing near.
"Hurrah fer Pawnee Brown!" shouted one man, and standing on a soap box read the telegram aloud.
"Score one fer the boomers!"
"An' a big one fer Pawnee."
"Don't hurry now, Pawnee, you've got 'em whar the hair ez good an' long!"
"It would seem so, men," answered the great scout. "No, I'll be careful now—since the tide has turned. In less than sixty days I'll wager all I am worth we'll march into Oklahoma without the first sign of trouble."
It did not take the news long to travel to the boomers' camp, and great was the rejoicing upon every side.
"Dot's der pest ding I vos hear for a month," said Humpendinck. "Pawnee ought to haf a medal alreatty."
"It's a stattoo we will put up fer him in Oklahomy," said Delaney. "A stattoo wid Pawnee a-ridin' loike mad to the new lands, wid the Homestead act in wan hand an' a bundle o' sthakes in th' other, an' under the stattoo we'll put the wurruds, 'Pawnee Brown, the St. Patrick av Oklahomy!'"
"Ach! go on mit yer St. Patrick!" howled Humpendinck. "He vos noddings but a snake killer."
"Oh, mon!" burst in Rosy Delaney. "A snake killer, Moike, do ye moind thot? Swat the Dootchman wan, quick!"
And Mike "swatted" with an end of a fence rail he was chopping up for firewood. But Humpendinck dodged, and Rosy caught the blow, and there followed a lively row between her and Mike, in the midst of which the German boomer sneaked away.
"Dot Irishmans vos so fiery as der hair mit his head," he muttered to himself. "I dink I vos keep out of sight bis he vos cool off, and den—Mine gracious, Bumpkin, var did you come from? I dinks you vos left behind py Arkansas City."
For there had suddenly appeared before Humpendinck the form of the dunce, hatless and with his black hair tumbled over his face in all directions.
"Ha, ha! where have I been?" cried Pumpkin. "Where haven't I been you had better ask. I've been everywhere—among the soldiers and the boomers and the Indians." He stopped short. "Where is Pawnee Brown?"
"Ofer py Clemmer's vagon. But he ton't vont ter pother mit you now."
"He will bother with me," and so speaking Pumpkin ran off, to reach the great scout's side and pluck him by the coat sleeve.
"At your service, sir," he said, bowing low, for with all of his peculiarities Pumpkin had a great respect for Pawnee Brown.
"What is it, lad?"
"I have to report, sir, that your pard is captured—Jack Rasco; he had a fearful fight and the soldiers have him. Ha! ha! they will shoot Jack—if you let 'em, but I know you won't—will you now?"
"You are certain Jack is captured?"
"Dead sure—saw him with my own eyes. Ha! ha! they tried to catch Pumpkin, but they might as well try to catch a ghost. Ha! ha! but I give 'em a fine run."
It took a good deal of talking to get a straight story from the half-witted youth, but at last Pawnee Brown was in full possession of the facts. Pumpkin had seen Rasco on the march just before Dick was taken.
Immediately after this the boomer held a short consultation with Clemmer.
"I feel it my duty to help Rasco to escape, if it can be done," he said. "Besides, it is high time for me to return to Dick Arbuckle and to find out, if possible, what has become of Jack's niece."
"Shall I go along?" questioned Clemmer, "I wouldn't like anything better."
"All right, come on," answered the great scout.
He had scarcely spoken when a loud cry rang out, coming from the lower end of the camp.
"Buckley's bull has broken loose! Look out for yourself, the beast has gone mad!"
"Buckley's bull!" muttered Pawnee Brown. "I ordered him to slaughter that vicious beast. Why, he's as fierce as those the Mexicans use in their bull fights!"
"He's a terror," answered Clemmer. "If he—By gum, here he comes, Pawnee!"
As he spoke Clemmer turned to one side and started to run. Looking forward the great scout saw the bull bearing down upon him. The eyes of the creature were bloodshot and the foam was dripping from the corners of his mouth, showing that he was clearly beyond control.
The bull, which was of extra large size, had Clemmer in view, and made after the cowboy, who happened to be unarmed. Away went man and beast in something of a circle, to fetch up near Pawnee Brown less than a minute later. As they came close, Clemmer fell and went sprawling almost at the scout's feet.
"Save me!" he panted. "Save me, Pawnee!"
Pawnee Brown did not answer. Leaping over the cowboy's prostrate form, he pulled out his pistol and his hunting knife and stood ready to receive the bull, who came tearing along, with lowered horns, ready to charge the scout to the death.
THE BOOMER AND THE BULL.
For the moment it looked as if Pawnee Brown meant to let the mad bull gore him to pieces.
On and on came the beast until less than two yards separated him and the great scout.
Crack! came the report of the boomer's pistol, and the bull fell back a pace, clipped between the horns. A lucky swerve downward had saved him from a bullet wound through the eye.
There was no time for another shot. With a bellow the bull leaped the intervening space and landed almost on top of Pawnee Brown!
A yell went up from those who saw the movement.
"Pawnee is done fur. The bull will rip him inside out."
"Buckley ought to have killed that bull long ago—that's the second time he's gone on a rampage."
"Somebody shoot him and save Pawnee!"
The last was a well meant cry, but a shot could not be thought of, for man and beast were too close together.
But Pawnee Brown was not yet defeated. He still held his trusty hunting knife, and he was not terrorized as some of the onlookers imagined.
A few words will explain the cause. In his day the scout had visited Mexico more than once, and while there had participated in more than one bull fight, on one occasion defeating a celebrated Mexican fighter and gaining a handsome prize.
As the mad bull charged, the scout leaped like lightning to one side, and drove the hunting knife up to the hilt into the beast's throat.
There was a spurt of blood, a bellow of pain, and the bull staggered back several steps.
He was badly wounded, but by no means out of the fight, as his glaring eyes still showed. He shook his head vigorously, then charged again.
Once more the knife went up and came down, this time just below the beast's ear. A fearful bellow came after the stroke. Before the bull could retire, the knife was withdrawn and plunged in a third and last time. This third stroke wound up the encounter, for limping to one side the bull fell forward upon his knees, gave a kick or two with his hind legs, and rolled over on the prairie grass, dead.
"Hurrah! Pawnee has killed him."
"Talk about yer bull fighters! They ain't in it with Pawnee!"
"Yer saved my life," exclaimed Clemmer, who had risen. "I shan't forget yer, Pawnee," and he held out his broad hand for a shake.
The bull dead, Pawnee Brown called Buckley up and gave him a lecture for not having killed the vicious beast long ago.
"You have no business to bring such a bull into camp in the first place, Buckley," he said. "Be more careful in the future, or you'll have to get out, bag and baggage. That bull might have killed half a dozen people had he charged the crowd."
A short while after this the great scout and Clemmer set off from Honnewell along the ravine in search of Dick, Rasco and Nellie Winthrop. The cheering news from Washington had set Pawnee Brown at rest so far as his duty to the boomers was concerned, and he felt quite free to pursue his own affairs and those of his immediate friends.
"If possible I would like to meet Louis Vorlange and have a talk with him," he said to Clemmer, after having related what had occurred near Peter Day's home. "I think that spy can clear up much of this mystery concerning Mortimer Arbuckle, if he will."
"It ain't likely he'll open his trap," answered Clemmer. "By doin' thet he'd only be gettin' himself in hot water."
"We'll make him speak," was Pawnee Brown's grim response.
An hour of hard riding brought them to the spot where Dick had been left. Not a single trace of the lad could be found. Both men looked blank.
"Bet he's wandered off and got lost," said Clemmer, and Pawnee Brown nodded.
"We'll strike off eastward, Cal, and see if we can't find some trace of him. It is no use of going westward. If he had gone that way, he would have reached the ravine and come up into Kansas."
Once again they set off. An hour was spent here and there, when suddenly Clemmer uttered a cry.
"Been a struggle hyer, Pawnee. See them footprints?"
"Three people," answered the scout, making an inspection. "A boy, a girl or a woman, and an Indian. Can they have been Dick, Nellie Winthrop and Yellow Elk? Hang me if it doesn't look like it."
"Hyer's where the trail leads off," said Clemmer. "And that's the boy's. Can't see nuthin' o' the gal's."
"That means the Indian carried her off," ejaculated Pawnee Brown. "Let us follow his trail without delay."
"But the boy's?"
"You follow that, and I'll follow the redskin. If he had the girl I want to know it."
A few words more and they separated. Pawnee Brown was on his mettle and followed Yellow Elk's trail with all the keenness of an Indian himself. In half an hour he had reached the brook. Here he came to a series of rocks and was forced to come to a halt.
But not for long. Fording the water-course, he began a search which speedily revealed the trail again, leading to a small river a quarter of a mile further on.
He followed the river for less than fifty feet, when a number of voices broke upon his ears.
"I'm sure I saw the redskin on the river, and he had a girl with him, Ross."
"You must have been dreaming, Tucker. No redskins up here."
"All right, I know what I am talking about."
"I think I saw something, too," said a third voice, that of Skimmy, the calvary man.
The three calvary men were out on a scouting expedition, to learn if the boomers were in the vicinity of the river.
Tucker especially was on the lookout for Pawnee Brown, determined to bring the great scout down and thus win the reward Louis Vorlange had promised.
The scout listened to the talk of the cavalrymen for fully ten minutes with great interest.
He had just started to move on, satisfied that it would be of no benefit to remain longer, when Tucker turned and walked his horse directly toward the spot where he was concealed.
"A boomer behind the brush!" shouted the cavalryman. "Come, boys, and take him!"
Immediately there was a rush, and Pawnee Brown was surrounded. He had his pistol out and in return came the weapons of the trio.
"Well, gentlemen, you seem to want to make me your prisoner," said the scout, coolly.
"Thet's wot," cried Ross. "Eh, Tucker?"
To make Pawnee Brown a prisoner would be of no personal benefit to him.
"You seem to bear me a grudge," said the boomer, eying him sharply.
Tucker could not stand that gaze and his eyes dropped.
"Yes, you're a prisoner," said Ross. "Let's bind him up, Skimmy."
Pawnee Brown leaped forward and hurled both Ross and Skimmy to the ground. Ere they could rise he had turned upon Tucker. The tall calvary man had his pistol cocked, and now he blazed away almost in Pawnee Brown's face, and then both went down, with the scout on top.
The flash of the pistol had scorched the boomer's skin, but the bullet sung over his head, missing him by less than an inch. As he came down upon Tucker he hit the cavalryman a terrific blow in the jaw, breaking that member and knocking out several teeth.
"On him!" yelled Skimmy, and tried to rise. But now Pawnee Brown was again up, and flung Skimmy on top of Ross. In a moment more he was running along the river bank.
He was almost out of sight, when there came two shots, from Ross and Skimmy. Neither hit him, however, and he continued on his way, while the two cavalrymen turned back to pick up Tucker, who lay in a heap, groaning and twisting from intense pain. The tall cavalryman could not, of course, talk, and his wound was so serious that there was nothing to do but to carry him to his horse, support him in the saddle and ride back to the fort for medical assistance. It was a clean knock-out, and one that Tucker had good cause to remember to the day of his death.
It was some time ere Pawnee Brown struck the trail of Yellow Elk again, but having once spotted it he pursued his course with increased vigor. The trail led along the river to where there was almost a lake. This had just been reached, when he heard a scream. Instantly he recognized Nellie Winthrop's voice.
"Thank heaven I came as soon as I did," he murmured, and dashed forward to the spot from whence the sound had proceeded.
THE LAST OF YELLOW ELK.
When Nellie Winthrop recovered sufficiently to realize what was going on around her, she found herself upon Yellow Elk's back, with her hands tied together at the wrists behind her.
Away went the redskin until the vicinity where the encounter with Dick had occurred was left far behind.
The brook crossed, the Indian chief set off for the river. Not once did he stop or speak until a pond was gained.
Beyond the pond was a shelter of trees, growing in a circle which was about fifteen feet in diameter. Against the trees the brush had been piled, forming a rude hut.
Taking Nellie inside of this shelter, Yellow Elk deposited her on the ground. Of the cord which bound her hands there were several feet left, and this end he wound around a tree and tied fast.
"Now white girl no run away," he grinned. "Stay here now until Yellow Elk ready to let her go."
To this she made no answer, for what would be the use of talking to such a fierce creature? She looked at his hideously painted face and shivered.
Yellow Elk now went off, to be gone a long while. When he came back he found her so tired she could scarcely stand beside the tree. She had tried to free herself from her bonds but failed, and a tiny stream of blood was running from one of her tender wrists.
"Yellow Elk got horse now," said the redskin. "We ride now—go many miles."
"Where to?" she faltered.
"Never mind where—white girl come on."
Yellow Elk's manner was so fierce she was frightened more than ever. The Indian had stolen a horse and he had also stolen a lot of "fire-water," and this drink was beginning to make him ugly. He drew out his hunting knife.
"White girl got to become Yellow Elk's squaw!" he cried, brandishing the knife before her face. "No marry Yellow Elk me cut out her heart wid dis!"
At this Nellie gave a shriek and it was this which was borne to the ears of Pawnee Brown.
"Crying do white girl no good," growled the redskin. "Come with me."
"I will not go another foot," and Nellie began to struggle. The Indian chief upbraided her roundly in his own language and ended by raising his knife over her once more.
"Help!" cried Nellie, and a moment later Pawnee Brown burst into view. A glance showed him the true situation, and without hesitation he fired at Yellow Elk.
His bullet clipped across the redskin's chest. By this time Yellow Elk had his own pistol out, and standing erect he aimed straight for the boomer's heart.
Nellie screamed, and knowing nothing else to do, gave the Indian a vigorous shove in the side, which destroyed the aim and made the bullet fly wide of the mark.
In a second more the two men were at it in a hand-to-hand encounter each trying his best to get at the other with his hunting knife, being too close together to use a pistol. As Pawnee Brown afterward said:
"It was Yellow Elk's life or mine, and I made up my mind that it should not be mine—I considered myself worth a good deal more than that worthless redskin."
A cut and a slash upon each side, and the two broke. Yellow Elk had had enough of the fight, and now ran for it in sudden fear. He did not take to the river shore, but skirted the pond and began to ascend a slight hill, beyond which was another fork of the ravine which has figured so largely in our story.
"Let him go! he may kill you!" called out Nellie, when she saw Pawnee Brown start in pursuit. But the scout paid no attention to her. His blood was up and he was determined to either exterminate Yellow Elk or bring him to terms.
The top of the hill was reached. Yellow Elk paused, not knowing exactly how to proceed. Looking back, he saw Pawnee Brown preparing to fire upon him. A pause, and he attempted to leap down to a ledge below him. His foot caught in the roots of a bush and over he went into a deep hollow headlong. There was a sickening thud, a grunt, and all became quiet.
Yellow Elk had paid the death penalty at last.
When Pawnee Brown managed to climb down to the Indian's side, to make certain the wily redskin was not shamming, he found Yellow Elk stone dead, his neck having been completely broken by his fall. He lay on his back, his right hand still clutching his bloody hunting knife.
"Gone now," murmured the great scout. His face softened for an instant. "Hang it all, why must even a redskin be so all-fired bad? If he had wanted to, Yellow Elk might have made a man of himself. I can't stop to bury him, and yet——Hullo, what are those papers sticking out of his pocket?"
The boomer had caught sight of a large packet which had been concealed in Yellow Elk's bosom. He took up the packet and looked it over. It consisted of half a dozen legal-looking documents and twice that number of letters, some addressed to Mortimer Arbuckle and some addressed to Louis Vorlange.
He read over the letters and documents with interest. Those of Dick's father related to the mine in Colorado and were evidently those stolen by Louis Vorlange upon the night of the opening of this tale. The letters belonging to the government spy were epistles addressed to Vorlange from a former friend and partner in various shady transactions. Of these we will hear more later.
"Yellow Elk must have robbed Vorlange of these," mused the great scout, as he rammed the packet in his pocket. In this he was right. Vorlange had dropped the packet by accident and the Indian had failed to restore it, there having been, as the reader knows, no love lost between the two rascals.
Having placed the dead body among the bushes in a little hollow, Pawnee Brown climbed out of the ravine again and rejoined Nellie, who was growing impatient regarding his welfare. The story of what had happened to Yellow Elk was soon told, the scout softening out the ghastly details. Then, to change the subject, he asked her if she knew her uncle was a prisoner of the soldiers.
"Yes," she replied. "Oh, sir, what will they do with him?"
"I don't believe they can do much, Nellie," he answered. "According to the news from Washington, everything is to be smoothed out, and of course the government will have no case against any of us."
"Can I get to my uncle from here? Where is he?"
"About five miles from here. Yes, we can get to him if we want to." Pawnee Brown mused for a moment. "I'll risk it," he said, half aloud. "They can't arrest me for coming to expose a criminal, and I have the facts right here in my pocket."
A moment later he was riding the horse Yellow Elk had stolen, while Nellie was seated upon Bonnie Bird. In this manner they struck out for the agency, called by the soldiers a fort.
About three miles had been covered, when suddenly there came a shout from a thicket to one side of them.
"The cavalry!" gasped Nellie. "What shall we do?"
"Take it coolly, Nellie. I have a winning card this trip," smiled the great scout.
A few seconds later half a dozen fine looking men rode forward, a well-known official of the Indian Territory at their head.
"Pawnee Brown!" ejaculated the official, on recognizing the scout. "It would seem we had made quite a capture. What are you doing with Sergeant Morris' horse?"
"Is this the animal?"
"I found him in the possession of a runaway Indian, Yellow Elk. If he is your property you are welcome to him," and Pawnee Brown leaped to the ground.
"Humph! That is all right, but what are you doing here? Don't you know you are on forbidden ground?"
The scout's coolness was a great surprise to the official.
"I would be—under ordinary circumstances, sir. But just now I am on a mission to the agency: a mission I am convinced you will not attempt to hinder."
"What is it?"
"I wish to expose a great criminal, a man who is now in the active service of the United States, although he ought to be in prison or on the gallows."
The official was much surprised.
"I would like to know some of the particulars, Pawnee."
"Are you bound for the agency?"
"Then we will go together, and you can see what takes place. It will probably be well worth your while."
"This is no trick—I know you are itching to get into Oklahoma."
"I will give you my word of honor, sir. I have received word from Washington, and I feel certain that ere long this whole matter will be settled to our mutual satisfaction. In the meantime, booming can wait," and Pawnee Brown smiled in a quiet way.
A few words more followed, and Nellie was introduced. Then the whole party set off on a gallop for the agency, where was to be enacted the last scene in this little drama of the southwest.
CLEARING UP A MYSTERY—CONCLUSION.
As Vorlange uttered his dire threat into Dick's ear, the boy turned pale and staggered against the wall of his prison.
"Wot's that yer sayin'?" demanded Jack Rasco, who plainly saw the changed look upon his companion's features.
"It is none of your business, Rasco," muttered the spy. "I told the boy; that's enough."
Dick breathed hard. Part of that mystery of the past was out at last. His father was accused of murder—Vorlange held the evidence against him. Like a flash came back to him several things he had almost forgotten. He remembered how on more than one occasion his father had sent money to the West after a letter had come which had upset him greatly. That must have been hush money, to keep this rascal quiet.
"I—I—do not believe you!" he cried in a faint tone. "My father is as upright as any gentleman in the land."
"Is he?" sneered Vorlange. "All right, if you think so, just drive me to the wall and see."
"Where was this crime committed?"
"In Creede, Colorado—at the time the camp was started."
"Who was killed?"
"A miner named Rickwell. He was once a partner of a man named Burch, of whom you have no doubt heard ere this."
"Yes, Burch left us the property you know all about, since you stole the deeds to it. Louis Vorlange, you are playing a deep part but you cannot make me swallow your statements about my father."
"Do you want me to expose him?"
"We'll see about that later. Rasco and I will certainly try to show you up for what you really are."
"Very well," blustered Vorlange. "Your father is a murderer, and he shall swing for it—unless you keep your mouth shut. I——"
Footsteps outside of the prison interrupted Louis Vorlange. An instant later Pawnee Brown and half a dozen others stepped inside of the apartment.
"Pawnee Brown!" cried Dick and Rasco together.
"Are you a prisoner, too?" continued the boy.
"Hardly," smiled the great scout. Then he noticed Vorlange. "Just the men we are after."
"Me?" ejaculated the spy.
"What do you want of me, Pawnee Brown? I want nothing to do with such as you—a thieving, low-down boomer—who—oh!"
Vorlange ended with a yell, for Pawnee Brown had caught him by the ear and almost jerked him off his feet.
"Let up! Let up! Oh!"
"Now keep quiet Vorlange," said the scout sternly. "You can thank your stars that I didn't put a bullet through you for letting your tongue run so loosely."
"Thet's so, b'gosh," was Rasco's comment. "But say, Pawnee, he's a reg'lar snake in the grass."
"I know it." Pawnee Brown looked at Dick. "Has he been threatening you, lad?"
"Yes; threatened me and my father, too."
"Have no fear of him, Dick. Louis Vorlange, you have about reached the end of your rope."
"What do you mean?" and the spy's lips quivered as he spoke.
"I mean that I am here to expose you." Pawnee Brown turned to the others who had come in. "Gentlemen, let me introduce to you Louis Vorlange, alias Captain Mull, once of Creede, Colorado."
"Captain Mull!" exclaimed several. "Do you mean the Captain Mull that was wanted for several shady doings, Pawnee?"
"The same Captain Mull, gentlemen."
"It is a—a lie!" screamed Louis Vorlange, but his looks belied him.
"It is the truth, gentlemen, he is the man who once sported under the name of Captain Mull. But that is not all."
"What else, Pawnee?"
"Some years ago a man by the name of Andrew Rickwell was murdered in the Last Chance hotel at Creede. At that time Creede was but a small place and Captain Mull ran the hotel. Who murdered Rickwell was not discovered. But he had occupied a room with another man, a mining agent from New York named Mortimer Arbuckle, the father of this lad here, and some thought Arbuckle had done the foul deed, and he had to run away to escape the fury of a mob. The horror of this occurrence unbalanced the man's mind and to this day he sometimes thinks he may be guilty. But he is innocent."
"He is guilty!" shrieked Louis Vorlange. "I saw him do the deed!"
"I see you acknowledge you were in Creede at that time," answered Pawnee Bill, and Vorlange staggered back over the bad break he had made. "As I said, Mortimer Arbuckle is innocent. There is the murderer, and here are the documents to prove it—and to prove more—that Vorlange is a thief, that he assaulted Mortimer Arbuckle in the dark and left him for dead, and that he is now acting against the best interests of the United States government."
As Pawnee Brown ended he pointed at Vorlange, and held aloft the packet he had taken from Yellow Elk.
"My father's documents!" cried Dick.
"The letters!" shrieked Louis Vorlange. Then he made a sudden leap to secure them, but Pawnee Brown was too quick for him. The scout turned to the captain of cavalry standing near.
"You had better arrest him before he tries to escape."
"They shall not arrest me!" came from Louis Vorlange's set lips. "Clear the way!"
Like a flash his pistol came up and he fired into the crowd, which parted in surprise and let him pass. But not more than ten steps were covered when Pawnee Brown caught him by the arm and threw him headlong to the ground. At the same time the prison sentry fired, and Vorlange was mortally wounded in the side.
"I'll not forget you!" he cried to Pawnee Brown. "But for you I would have lived in clover the balance of my life!" Then he fell into a faint from which he recovered presently, to linger for several days in terrible anguish, dying at last in convulsions.
With the death of Vorlange we bring our story to a close. By what was said during the man's last hours on earth, Mortimer Arbuckle was entirely cleared of the cloud which had hung over his honorable name. Soon after this his right mind came back to him and to-day he is as well and happy as it is possible to imagine.
Whatever became of Stillwater and Juan Donomez is not known.
With the truce declared by the actions of the authorities at Washington and the word given by Pawnee Brown that no attempt should be made to enter Oklahoma for the present, it was not deemed advisable to hold either Dick or Rasco longer, and the two were given their freedom, to journey at once to Honnewell, in company with the great scout and Nellie Winthrop.
From Honnewell, Dick rode post haste to carry the glad news to his father. A scene followed which no pen can describe, a scene so sacred to the two it must be left entirely to the imagination of the reader. Never was a man more proud of his son than was Mortimer Arbuckle of Dick, or more grateful than was the mine-owner to Pawnee Brown for his courageous and marvelous work in clearing up the mystery.
"He is a man among men," he said. "God bless him!"
Nellie Winthrop was overjoyed to be with her uncle once again, and took good care that nothing should separate them. As for Jack, he guarded her with a care which could not be exceeded.
"Ef they carry her off again it will be over my dead body, b'gosh," he murmured more than once.
And yet Nellie was carried off four years later. But this time the carrying off was done by Dick Arbuckle, and both Nellie and Jack were perfectly willing. The wedding was a grand one, for the Colorado claims had panned out big for the Arbuckles, and the best man at the affair was Pawnee Brown.
In due course of time the bill concerning Oklahoma was passed by the United States Senate and signed by the President. This was followed by a grand rush of the boomers to get the best of the land granted to them. The advance was led by Pawnee Brown, who, riding his ever faithful Bonnie Bird, covered twenty miles in the short space of sixty-five minutes and located his town site at the mouth of Big Turkey Creek. This town site, along with his other Oklahoma possessions, made the great scout a rich man. He never grows weary of telling about this great rush into Oklahoma. "It was grand, awe-inspiring," he says. "I would go a thousand miles to see it again—those hundreds of wagons, thousands of horsemen and heads of cattle, all going southward, over hills, through forests, crossing brooks and rivers—all bound for the land which has since made them so prosperous and happy."
And here let us take leave of Dick Arbuckle, Pawnee Brown, and all their friends, wishing them well.