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The Merriweather Girls in Quest of Treasure
by Lizette M. Edholm
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"You're a great little girl, Bet!" The Judge patted her hand affectionately. "You're a sport, all right. Now, I'm mad clean through!"

"That's what I thought, and I have never seen you angry before."

"I'm sorry, child, I didn't mean to have you see me in this mood, ever," said the Judge with a trembling voice.

"But I'm so glad I did. I usually snap and snarl when I have a temper spell, and I did not know it could be done in such a dignified way. I think it was wonderful!"

The Judge stopped short in his walk and laughed, his voice echoing through the patio.

Enid heard it in her own room and came on the run to see what amused her father so greatly. When she saw Bet, she smiled.

"I might have known it was you. Dad always laughs at you." And the tall girl slipped up at the other side of her father, and snuggled close with her head on his shoulder.

"Two daughters are better than one!" The grey-haired man clasped his girl to him as if he had not seen her for weeks. Then turning to Bet he said:

"Aren't you going to work your one claim?"

"Is it worth it?" she asked.

"I think I would. You can get a Mexican to do the assessment work, and he'd be glad of the money. You never can tell what may happen," advised Judge Breckenridge.

"I had a sort of hunch that we ought to keep it, but then again in the night I decided that it would be foolish. We can go elsewhere and locate more claims."

"I'll take a trip over there with you this afternoon and have a look at 'Little Orphan Annie.' Tommy Sharpe is threatening to lay in wait for Kie Wicks with a shotgun."

"Tommy's a fool! He always was!" exclaimed Enid impatiently. "He can't imagine there is any way of getting the better of a person except by shooting him. He even wanted to go after Sol Curtin. I believe he had the notion that he could do it all by himself. He's a funny boy!"

The Judge frowned. Although a year had passed since Enid had been found, the father could not talk, without emotion, of the man who had kidnapped his daughter when she was a child. Sol was in jail and would be there for many years, but still the father was uneasy.

"This Kie Wicks makes me think of Sol," he said bitterly. "And I want you to keep as far away from him as possible. Have a man do the work for you if you keep this claim near his."

That afternoon the Judge rode with the girls down Lost Canyon, through the Iron Gate to the smaller creek and picked their way around the boulders of the river bed.

About a mile from the claim, they met Professor Gillette. He had been far over one of the hills in search of the ruins. Half a dozen arrowheads were his reward. He was preparing a belated dinner in the creek-bed, over a smouldering fire.

The girls were impatient to go on, and dragged the Judge away from his friend.

"Come on up over that hill when you finish your lunch," invited the Judge. "I have to obey, so I'm off."

"What made you think of coming away up here to locate claims, Kit?" the Judge asked as they brought their horses to the summit.

"Dad said there were some good claims over this way, and I've had experience. I've lived out here all my life and know how they go about their location work."

"I'll say your view is worth as much as 'Orphan Annie,'" enthused Judge Breckenridge, as he looked over the ranges of mountains and the deep-cut canyons.

"But views are not worth a Mexican dime out here. You can't cash in on a good outlook," returned Bet with a chuckle. "It's the mine that counts. Now tell us, don't you think we made a good job of locating those claims?"

"I think you did, Bet. However as Ramon Salazar and Kie Wicks will reap the benefit, I think we might go on to other promising spots and let them have a free hand here. You are only girls and can't fight men like them."

No other remark could have roused all the spunk in the girls.

"I don't see why we can't hold our own against any man," sniffed Kit. "Ramon Salazar is a cross-eyed Mexican with a lame leg, and Kie Wicks is a coward. I guess The Merriweather Girls could beat them with their eyes shut."

"That a girl, Kit! Of course we can," cried Bet indignantly. "And we will!"

The Judge chuckled at their flare of independence, and turned to Joy, the timid one.

"What about you, Joy? Do you want to help the girls fight for the claim?"

"I'm not saying that I want the old mine, if we can hold it, but I'm willing to help fight, if the girls say so. The Merriweather Girls stand together."

"Good for you, Joy Evans! I didn't expect it of you."

"You didn't? What are you trying to insinuate, Bet Baxter? I'm not a traitor!"

"Why, of course not, Joy, but you don't like digging mines and riding horseback and all that sort of thing."

"Maybe not. But you've never known me to back out of anything, especially where the honor of The Merriweather Girls was at stake."

"That's right," responded Bet quickly. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. You've always been a sport when it came to doing things, although you've sometimes made a frightful fuss about it."

"That's part of the game," laughed the butterfly girl. "Somebody has to be a kicker. And I'm it."

"Please do it with your feet from now on, it's much more graceful!" teased Enid.

"I may do it with my feet and I may do it with my tongue," returned Joy with a happy laugh, "but you'll find me ready to back up any one of you."

"Well said, fair lady. Now let's have a look at 'Orphan Annie.'" The Judge's eyes were sparkling with amusement as Bet led him up the gentle slope of the mountain. Suddenly Bet threw herself from the saddle.

"See folks, I found an arrowhead! Oh, boy! Isn't that lucky?"

The girls dismounted and grouped about her, all except Kit, who had picked up arrowheads since babyhood.

"It's a perfect one. I'm the happiest girl in all the world!"

"Doesn't take much to make some people happy," began Joy, then she started to laugh. "Come on, where's our little orphan?"

"This way, follow me," called Shirley Williams. "This is it, isn't it, Bet?"

"Yes, that's our baby. Poor little thing." Bet was trying to be cheerful but there was a tinge of bitterness in her voice. There was always a great soul conflict when Bet's well developed plans went amiss and in this case, where it involved double dealing, it was harder than usual to give up.

"Nine chances out of ten," remarked Enid quietly and with little emotion, "those other claims have all the ore and this one has nothing."

"For my part, I don't care if it hasn't any ore in it at all, I like it anyway," and Bet squatted down on a big flat rock within the boundaries of the claim. "It feels good to be on my own property," she added with a sigh of contentment.

But in a moment she had started up with a little cry of surprise. "What's the matter, Bet? Be careful! If it's a strange bug, it might bite you. There are so many stinging things out here," cautioned Kit.

Bet's head was bent over the rock. She did not hear what was said. Suddenly she called, "Judge Breckenridge, do come here and look at these strange markings on the rock."

"Markings on a rock," said Joy Evans contemptuously. "I thought it was a tarantula or something."

"Well, you wouldn't have liked to see a tarantula any better than the markings, and these at least are not poisonous," Bet retorted.

Judge Breckenridge was examining the markings with interest, and gave a low whistle of astonishment. "This is the sort of thing one reads about. I'm wondering though if Kie Wicks put them here to fool you."

"It might be markings that tell of a buried treasure. See the arrow! Look the way the arrow points."

"Yes, look the way the arrow points," mimicked Joy. "Now at last you have your mystery, Bet. I wish you joy of it. Follow the arrow and then you'll come to a tall cactus, and in the cactus you'll find a bullet..."

"Oh, keep quiet, Joy Evans!" flashed Bet angrily.

"We haven't found a mystery and I don't believe there is a treasure here. This is far away from Lost Canyon," said Kit.

"I'm going to believe in the treasure!" cried Bet, fired with enthusiasm at the prospect of finding something unusual. "Why, I could easily believe in a buried treasure. What's more I'll find it."

"I'm going to go and call Professor Gillette," called Enid, already in the saddle. "He can probably tell us what it means and what the Indians looked like who made the markings."

"These lines were not made by Indians," remarked the Judge thoughtfully. "There's a Spanish word there."

But when the professor came a few minutes later, he was all at sea as to the meaning of the tracings on the rock.

"It is very much like the sort of thing people used to draw when they buried treasure. You've seen the map in Tommy Sharpe's room but that doesn't say that if we located the proper spot that there would be any treasure left. Other people can read signs the same as we can, and many people have been over this ground since that sign was carved," Judge Breckenridge explained to the girls.

"Why be so sensible, Judge?" laughed Bet wistfully. "Why not let us think that there is a treasure hidden in the ground somewhere? I'm thrilled all to pieces just thinking about it."

"And that's right, too, Bet. Don't let an old fellow like me spoil your dreams by my common sense." The Judge acted as if he wanted to believe it himself and only needed a little urging.

"And there is just as much chance that no one has passed over this rock since the early days and that we may find a fortune hidden." The professor smiled around at the group with a happy, child-like stare as if he were one of the characters of a fairy story.

"Now that's the way to talk, Professor Gillette. You never can be sure unless you look around." Bet nodded at him approvingly.

The Judge suddenly looked at his watch. "I move we get home to dinner. Tang will be waiting and he hates that."

Bet very carefully spread some tiny twigs and sand over the rock so that no one else would see the markings on the stone.

"Come along up with us to dinner, Professor," suggested the Judge cordially. "We'll have a meeting tonight and talk things over and see what is best to do. I have a feeling that the shrubs and rocks have ears around these claims of Ramon's."

"That's what I say. Otherwise how did Ramon and Kie Wicks find out about the claims in the first place?" asked Bet.

"There's no mystery in that, Bet. Kie saw us coming here and followed. He spied on us, saw us building the monuments and then came and jumped the claims," explained Kit.

"All but one!" cried Bet as she clapped her hands. "And on that one little neglected claim, we find the tracings that will perhaps lead us to the buried treasure. That's luck!"

"Oh Bet, wake up, you're dreaming!" laughed Shirley, the quiet, sensible girl. Never in the world would Shirley have dreamed or let her imagination run wild. She was a practical, well-balanced girl, a clear thinker and not given to romantic flights of fancy.

"The bubble's burst!" sang Joy tantalizingly.

"It has not!" Bet swung easily into the saddle. "The bubble isn't blown yet. Just wait and see!"

In single file they rode down into the canyon below them and let their horses pick a way through the rocks of the creek bed.

Just as they passed through the Iron Gate, the narrow pass that led to Lost Canyon, they met Kie Wicks.

"Nice weather for a picnic!" he called to them gaily with a wave of his dusty sombrero. "That's an interesting canyon!"

"Yes," the judge replied with his most courteous air. "We find it very interesting. The girls located a claim up that way, and have started work on it."

"You don't say so! Well, everybody to his liking. I'm through with locating claims. It's a slave's life, forever digging, digging, digging! I don't care if I never see another copper claim as long as I live," Kie Wicks returned with decision. "I run a store, that's a good, clean business."

"You're right, Mr. Wicks. Stick to storekeeping," advised the Judge as he took the trail toward the ranch.

The girls smiled back at Kie Wicks and waved him good-bye. They had decided to play a part with this man. And not for worlds would they let him know that they suspected that he had anything to do with the claim jumping. Later, much later, they might get strong evidence against him. They would deal with him then. Just now they could not afford to antagonize the man. Open enmity might be worse than the present situation. Kie and Maude, as long as they were making a pretense of friendliness, might let drop some of their plans without meaning to. People who talked so freely often did that.

"We'll string 'em along," said Joy slangily. "Maude Wicks can't keep a secret, if I know anything."

"Which is doubtful!" laughed Bet.

"Say, who are you talking about? Maude Wicks or yours truly?" retorted Joy, at the same time making a face at her friend.

"Both!" cried Bet and gave her horse a tap on the neck, getting out of the way of Joy's quirt.

Everybody liked to tease Joy, perhaps because she flushed so prettily as her slight anger rose. But whatever the reason she was always the butt for their good natured teasing. And no matter how much she resented it, she turned it off with a joke. Yet it could be seen that she always turned to Shirley Williams, who never teased her.

Tang was watching anxiously from the kitchen door when they rode up the trail. He was always punctual and frowned on the late comers.

In the corridor of the patio, after dinner, the council met. Mrs. Breckenridge, although she could scarcely hope to be able to take such a long ride to see the claim, was the most enthusiastic one of the group. She was a dreamer by nature, and the thrill of hidden things always intrigued her. Bet threw both arms impulsively around her.

"You're a darling," Bet cried. "You are a real chum, a person after my own heart."

"But you see I've been reading lately and it seems that there is basis for the story of hidden treasure in Lost Canyon. Lots of people have believed it."

"And lots of people have hunted for the treasure and failed," returned Kit skeptically.

"Perhaps we won't fail. It's that word 'perhaps' that adds the greatest spice to life. It won't do any harm to spend a little time studying out this sign on the rock. Tomorrow I'll make an accurate copy of it and then we can have it here at home to puzzle over. And if you say so, I'll begin that assessment work on your one claim so that there will be an excuse for being over there so much." Professor Gillette suggested.

"You're a dear! That's an awful good idea! But what about your Indian ruins? You must find them." Bet was anxious for the old man to realize his desire and find the ancient village of the vanished tribe. It meant so much to his crippled daughter.

"That can wait for a little while. This looks as if it might be much more interesting." The professor's wrinkled face was flushed with the excitement of a mystery to be unearthed. "I'll begin tomorrow," he declared as he rose to join Kit and her mother and accompany them home.

Bet's face was radiant. "Here's where the fun begins!" she laughed at the prospect.

But little did Bet realize that the hunting for a treasure was to bring to the girls, not only the most thrilling adventure of their lives, but danger, suspense and fear.



CHAPTER XIV

TREASURE TROVE

To the delight of the girls, the next morning was clear. It had rained in the night and they had been sure that it would storm and they might have to stay at home.

The sun rose pleasantly warm, but the hour was five o'clock and the girls knew that before breakfast time it would be almost unbearably hot.

"But what do we care?" laughed Bet gaily. "We're out for adventure. Today is the grand and glorious event. We will hunt for treasure."

"Oh, no, we won't," Enid returned decidedly. "You forget that Professor Gillette and Dad decided that it would be better to do the location work on that claim first."

Bet frowned. It was not her way to be patient. At last she said, "Oh, well, if it has to be done, we'll do it. We'll go over early and finish that ten foot hole by noon, then we'll have all afternoon for the treasure."

"Kit said it would take us at the very least, a full week, to do that work," returned Enid.

"Don't be a spoil-sport," pouted Bet. "You don't know anything about it."

But Shirley Williams and Joy Evans both backed up Enid. "Why, Bet, that hole has to be dug through solid rock, almost."

"How stupid!" shrugged Bet.

"If you should dig right into a vein of rich copper ore, you won't think so. Why not have hopes of a mine and forget the treasure?" said Shirley quietly. "Have you given up the idea of being a mine owner?"

"Not exactly. But to tell the truth, 'Orphan Annie' doesn't look very hopeful to me." Bet shook her head dolefully. "Well, it's no use fretting. If that hole has to be dug before we start looking for the treasure, it has to be, that's all."

"Now you're being sensible, Bet. It's just as the professor says, it's wise for us to have a real claim on the land around that tracing. It might be worth something. Perhaps there is a treasure buried there, but it isn't likely." Shirley was not a dreamer and Bet, for the moment, was disgusted. She turned away and left them.

"Let's get breakfast over," called Enid, leading the way toward the dining room. "We'll be pleasing Tang and that's a good start for the day. Then we'll be ready for Kit when she comes."

"Where do we meet the professor?" asked Shirley.

"He'll be waiting for us by the pass into the small canyon. Isn't he a dear to help us out instead of looking for his village? I like him!" declared Bet.

It was only seven o'clock when the girls bade good-bye to Mrs. Breckenridge, listened to her instructions about taking care of themselves, and started down the trail, Kit in the lead.

Although it was twenty minutes before the appointed time, Professor Gillette was waiting for them. On his burro, borrowed for the occasion from Dad Patten, he carried all the tools needed for prospecting.

"You look as if you expected to dig twenty mines," laughed Bet, as she drew up her pony beside the old man.

"Only one," insisted the professor. "At least I hope that is all we will need. But no one can tell for sure."

"I think it is all foolishness anyway," Joy exclaimed. "What we want now is that treasure, and instead of looking for it, you are going to dig a well."

Kit laughed as she always did at Joy's mistakes. "Call it a well if you want to," she said patronizingly, "but don't let Tommy Sharpe or Seedy Saunders hear you say it. They'll tease you unmercifully."

"It's this way, Joy," explained Bet, impatiently. "Kie Wicks might get wise to it, and come in at the end of two months and snap up this claim too, if we haven't done our work. That has to be done within two months."

"Then he'd get the stone with the markings?"

"Yes, that's it. And he might find the treasure, if we don't watch out," added Kit.

"Then let's get to work at once!" cried Joy, digging her spur into Dolly's side.

"You mean, Professor Gillette will get to work at once while you and the rest of us stand around and look pretty," said Enid.

"Why we don't mean any such a thing, Enid Breckenridge. I'm perfectly willing to work and do my share," snapped Bet, her face red with anger. "I'll not have Professor Gillette imposed on like that."

"We'll all do what we can," soothed Kit. "Although I'm not sure we'll make much headway with the pick and shovel."

"I think we should have a Mexican do the work, girls," said Enid. "He'd do it in half the time."

"Professor Gillette said it was better not to have anyone else around for a while until we could find out something about this treasure," Bet said. "So we might as well make up our minds to dig right in and work hard."

Once on the site of the claim, the professor unloaded his tools and looked about for a suitable place to put down the ten-foot shaft. His knowledge of mining was not very great but he and Kit finally decided on the best spot.

The old man started in at once, swinging the pick as if it were a hammer. He soon dug away the thin layer of earth and crushed rock, and reached solid stone.

"It's a good thing I brought the drills along!" the professor threw down his pick and took up a drill and heavy hammer.

"Isn't it exciting!" cried Bet. "Do let me try to use the drill.

"All in good time, child, all in good time," he promised her as he adjusted the tool. "This is a two-man job anyway. Somebody has to help me."

Bet crouched down close beside him and held the drill steady while the old man prepared to hit. She glanced up at him, dubiously. The old man laughed.

"Don't know as I blame you any," he said as he twisted a piece of heavy wire about the drill and gave Bet an end to hold. "There, you can steady it with that, so I won't hit your fingers."

"Oh, I wasn't afraid," began Bet but the professor laughed and Bet did not finish her sentence.

"You looked as if you were very much frightened indeed. You were certain I would hit your fingers, and I'm not sure I wouldn't have," he chuckled.

And his first strong blow did miss the drill and the girls, watching him, laughed.

"Gee, if Bet's fingers had been there!" gasped Joy.

"Well, maybe I'd have been more careful if her hand had been there. I never take chances."

While Bet held the drill in place the professor dealt blow after blow until he was ready to drop with exhaustion.

"And some men keep that up all day, I'm told," he gasped as he threw down the tool and dropped to the ground. "I don't believe they do," he added.

"I've seen men keep at it pretty steadily for hours," interrupted Kit, "but they don't go at it so strenuously. You put all your soul and body into it. They don't get excited and they don't wear themselves out with wild flourishes. You see when a prospector has that work to do, he doesn't have to hurry. He has all the time there is."

"To tell you the truth," laughed the professor sheepishly, "I'm so anxious to start looking for the treasure that I don't want to dig this shaft, I'm like a child with a new toy."

"Come here, Kit," called Bet. "You hold this drill for a while and let me swing the hammer. I'm just dying to do it."

"And maybe I'm not glad there is a wire to hold. You'd hit me, sure."

"Don't trust me even yet," Bet returned with a gay laugh.

"That's right, Kit," trilled Joy. "You are only two feet away from her hammer, she might easily miss the mark by that much." Joy was glad of a chance to tease Bet.

Bet swung the hammer with vigor, bringing it down on the drill with a force that seemed impossible from her slender arms.

"Go it, Bet. You'll get there yet," shouted Joy.

Bet was soon worn out and the girls took turns and had the joy of finishing one hole to the required depth for setting the charge.

The professor was bending over the tracings on the rock. He had forgotten all about the location work that had to be done. While the arrow pointed southwesterly and showed the direction in which to look, it pointed over a deserted country that stretched for miles into Mexico.

"If there is anything thrilling about this, I'd like to be shown," pouted Joy. And in sheer boredom she got up, walked to a rocky ledge and scrambled up the steep face of it.

Enid and Shirley, who were watching the professor studying the markings on the rock, heard a cry of surprise from Joy, but before they could turn toward her, they saw her falling, clutching wildly at the ledges in an attempt to save herself.

Joy had turned her head to speak to her friends and had missed her footing. As she touched the ground, her ankle bent under her and she fell with a groan.

Bet ran to her help. "Speak, Joy, speak to me," we said shaking the girl. Joy's face was deathly white but her eyes fluttered open and seeing Bet she cried hysterically:

"I found it! I found it!"

"Found what, Joy? What did you find?"

"Another arrow. Right there on the rock!" Joy was struggling to her feet, but at the attempt she fell back with a groan.

"For the love of Mike, is that all? Why, Joy Evans, you'd get so excited over an arrowhead that you'd lose your footing!" Kit cried. "I thought you had more sense than that."

Between clenched teeth Joy answered, "It wasn't an arrowhead! It was an arrow carved on the rock."

"Don't be silly, Joy. You're dreaming!" laughed Kit.

"If I thought you were just teasing me, Joy, I wouldn't be sorry about your poor foot." Bet stared at the girl with a threatening look. "It isn't nice to tease about things as serious as hidden treasure."

"But the arrow's there," Joy answered.

"Which way did it point?" asked Professor Gillette, the only one who seemed to credit Joy's story.

"Why, really, I don't know. I never thought to notice. I saw an arrow and I think it was pointing toward that hill over there—but then again it might be pointing away from it. I'm not sure." Joy stopped helplessly, and clutched her aching foot.

"You're helpful at least," Kit shrugged her shoulders. "I do believe she's just teasing us. Joy would never find anything!"

"Then go and see for yourself!" snapped Joy.

"I'll do it," replied Bet suddenly letting go of Joy in her excitement. Joy collapsed with a groan.

Bet turned to help her but Enid shoved her aside. "Here is where I shine. You go and find your arrow and I'll play nurse and fix up Joy's ankle. You're lucky, Joy Evans, that it isn't broken."

"It feels as if it were," sobbed Joy.

"I don't see any arrow," called Bet in a disgusted tone. "Don't be mean, Joy. If there isn't one here, say so."

"Go on, Bet, up a little higher!" cried Joy.

Bet crept along the ledge, climbing from one projection of rock to the next.

There was a sudden cry of joy. "Here it is!"

The professor craned his neck to get a glimpse of the arrow. "Which way does it point, child?" he asked eagerly.

"It points toward the hill, that way," replied Bet, studying the markings carefully.

"That's our good luck. If it went the other way, it would be across the claims of Kie Wicks and his friend Ramon. Come on down, child, before you fall."

Bet slid down easily, her nimble body could cling to the sheer cliff, or so it seemed to those who watched her.

"I think we'll call you the goat girl, Bet, you sure can climb rocks," exclaimed Kit admiringly. "I never could do it."

"And you an Arizona girl?" laughed Bet.

"An Arizona girl only knows how to ride horses," retorted Kit.

"And if they can all ride the way you can, they need no other accomplishment." Bet ran to join the professor.

The old man was examining the ground in the direction the arrow was pointing.

"Who ever would have thought to look up at that rock for an arrow," Bet said excitedly.

"But you see, Bet, we're starting in the middle. Somewhere there's a map that shows all this, and by that map you would know you had to look at that cliff for the arrow," explained the professor seriously.

"But where to next?" asked Bet.

"Follow the arrow, that's all we know," answered Kit.

There was no more digging on the claim that day. Even lunch was eaten by them in a half-hearted way. Joy was suffering with her ankle or she might have done justice to Tang's picnic spread.

The professor was in a delightful dream. This was the sort of thing that he loved.

"Do eat something, Professor Gillette. You'll be sick if you don't," pleaded Bet.

"Why, I'm not hungry in the least. I do wonder why the arrow is pointing that way. There doesn't seem to be a thing in sight."

"Maybe if we climbed the hill, we'd find it," suggested Enid. "Suppose we divide up in teams. Some go over the hill and some hunt on this side."

"Who's going to stay with me? I won't stay alone," cried Joy her voice trembling with fear, "I'm afraid of buzzards. I've read about them. When they see people sick or crippled, they fly around, waiting for them to die. And sometimes they don't wait, they pick at them while they still live."

"Don't worry, Joy. I'll stay with you!" Enid looked longingly toward the hill, then turned to Joy.

The two girls watched the other members of the group, scramble up the steep ledge to the flat-topped hill.

"It's stupid to have to stay here," said Joy with impatience. "Couldn't you help me over there to that wall? There's some low bushes that will keep this horrible sun out of my eyes."

"Let's try it anyway. Come on!" Enid lifted Joy to her feet and supported her. "Now lean on me and just hobble along. Don't put any pressure on that ankle. Hop like a rabbit!"

Joy groaned as she limped along. By resting many times the girls reached the clump of Palo Verde trees, and were glad to drop down in their scant shade. Joy's face was white and strained.

"I know what I'd do if I had my way," announced Enid anxiously. "I'd get you home at once."

"But I won't go. I want to wait for the others."

Enid sat down on the ground beside Joy, crouched under the bushes. They were close to the wall of the cliff.

"What a funny rock!" said Enid. "I wonder what causes these strange formations. Doesn't that look like an altar? And there is a figure of a man in a long robe. And the professor will tell us that it is all made by the rain."

"Yes," said Joy indifferently. "You know, Enid, I'm tired of this Arizona country. I hate these bare mountains, and I hate the herds of cattle that stare at you and then race madly away. Everything is unfriendly. Yet, I'm almost sure I'll be homesick, like Kit, when I once get away."

"It's glorious!" answered Enid.

"It frightens me. Everything seems cruel. I'd give a dollar this minute to see a soft, green meadow."

"I'm perfectly happy right here, I wouldn't have it different." Enid was gazing over the ranges of mountains that seemed to go on and on.

It was half an hour later when the girls heard Bet's familiar call.

"She's found the treasure!" whispered Enid. "You can hear the happiness in her voice."

But the girls were mistaken. The group had searched high and low but nothing was in sight. The professor had found a bit of old ruin, part of a wall that he claimed was Indian fortification. But that was all. No mounds or signs of a village.

"Why Joy and I found something just as interesting as that," laughed Enid. "Under the trees here, the wall of that small cliff has the most peculiar weather markings. Take a look at it, Professor Gillette. It's interesting."

The professor bent away some of the branches of the trees so as to get a good view of the rock. The girls standing near, heard him give a gasp of astonishment.

"What's the matter now?" asked Bet Baxter.

"Those markings were never made by the weather. They were carved by human hands. And our arrow is pointing straight toward it. I don't understand why we didn't see it before."

"It's the treasure!" exclaimed Bet. "Let's see what's there!"



CHAPTER XV

A SPY

The professor's hand trembled with excitement as he scratched the surface of the rock, tapped the face of the wall for a possible hollow sound, then called on Bet to bring him a pick.

He dug at the base of the wall, but soon came to solid rock.

"There's nothing there!" he exclaimed. "But this is interesting." The desert weeds had grown over all the crevices in the rock, and when the professor had carefully scraped them away, he found what he had hoped for; a small opening. Behind that wall there was a tunnel. As he looked into the darkness, a rattlesnake glided through the hole, and the old man sprang back just in time to save himself.

"That was a close shave!" Wiping his forehead with his handkerchief, Professor Gillette sat down on the rock to decide what the next step would be.

"Guess we'd better call it a day. We are all tired out. We can just get back in time for dinner," said Enid. "And Dad said you were to come home with us, Professor."

"I'd like to consult with the judge," said the old man. "He can give us valuable advice I'm sure." He wouldn't for the world acknowledge that the hot dinner, already prepared, tempted him to accept the invitation.

The girls turned away from the wall, unwillingly. They now felt sure that they were leaving a treasure behind them. And tomorrow seemed so far away!

Bet and Enid helped Joy to hobble along to the edge of the cliff, and Kit hastened down the incline to where they had left the horses near the stream.

"I'll bring Dolly up, that is if she'll climb, the lazy thing!" called Kit as she disappeared. By this time Joy's foot was badly swollen and was giving her acute pain.

Before leaving the wall, the professor had concealed the opening that he had found. As he turned to go he picked up a bit of the rock that he had pried loose.

It was this rock that kept the secret of the tunnel from Ramon Salazar, hidden in the brush of the hill opposite, where he had been set to spy on the girls by Kie Wicks.

He had become rather weary of his job until he saw the professor examining the wall of the cliff, then he braced himself up expectantly, but relaxed again when he saw the old man looking closely at a rock in his hand, which he carried away with him.

"He's found a colored stone that he likes," Ramon said to himself with a sneer of contempt at the professor who was always treasuring the brightly colored mineral specimens.

And it was this report that he carried to Kie Wicks: "They just fooled around, had a picnic, and climbed the hill above the claims. I don't believe they even know you jumped them."

"You mean you jumped their claims," corrected Kie Wicks.

Ramon laughed and slapped his leg. "That's a good one, yes, I jumped their claims."

"And you'd better get busy with the assessment work, too," advised Kie.

"Who pays me for that?" demanded the cross-eyed Mexican.

"There you go again! Always wanting money! I find you some good claims and a chance, maybe, to sell out at a big price in the future, and you want pay for doing the assessment work. You're an ungrateful cur!"

"Then I won't do the work. No pay, no work!"

But even as he spoke, Ramon knew that he would do whatever Kie Wicks asked him to do. The habit of obedience to this man was too strong in him. He had been a tool for this unscrupulous rogue for more than ten years. Just why, he could not have told, for Kie Wicks was not a generous master and the Mexican got little enough for his work. Rarely ever did he get any cash out of the storekeeper, and the supplies that Kie doled out were given grudgingly. Yet the man always returned, after promising himself many times that he was through.

Kie had given him a small shack in the canyon, that had once been used by some friends of his for a summer vacation, and it was this home that sheltered his wife and eight children, which kept the Mexican faithful to Kie.

Ramon had a bad name in the hills. He had tried his hand at every kind of rascality. Cattle had disappeared, horses rustled and Ramon was suspected of knowing more about them than he should. Yet it was Kie Wicks behind him, threatening and driving him on, that made Ramon the character he was.

And while Ramon refused, at first, to go on with the assessment work on the stolen claims, he knew that he would do it in the end, and that Kie would also give him supplies while he was working on the job.

Ramon did not like to meet the girls and perhaps Judge Breckenridge. The professor, he felt, was harmless, a silly old man who roamed through the hills, but the impressive looking judge was a different matter.

Yet the next morning when the professor arrived with the girls, Ramon was digging away at the farthest claim, and did not even look up.

"Guilty conscience!" whispered Bet to the professor.

"He complicates matters considerably," frowned the old man. "I hardly know how we are going to proceed, if he stays around here."

"With Ramon watching, the only thing to do was to go on with the drilling on the Orphan Annie claim. Bet fumed and fussed, scolding anyone who came near her. She insisted on being the professor's helper, holding the drill in place with the strong wire while he hammered. This gave her an audience and was an outlet for her anger against Kie Wicks and his Mexican hanger-on.

"Take it easy, child. There's lots of time to find that treasure—that is if there is one. We don't need it right away, you know," soothed the professor.

But it took Bet a long time to regain her poise. The other girls had recovered from their disappointment and were trying to make friends with the Mexican before Bet would even smile.

"I do wish we could tell which of us he's talking to. His eyes are so crooked they overlap," whispered Enid to Bet. The Mexican did not want to make friends with the girls. He answered a few words to their questions then went moodily on with his work. But not for long. Without a master over him, the man grew lazy and before the morning was far advanced he had disappeared in the canyon.

"I thought he'd get tired of it," smiled Kit. "A Mexican miner has to have someone to keep him on the job. And I don't believe that Kie Wicks will spend much time over here."

Ramon was no sooner out of sight than the professor dropped the drill and they rushed for the wall to begin digging there. They had just started to work when Judge Breckenridge rode up.

"Let's have a look at that treasure tunnel, Professor," greeted the Judge with a laugh. "How much bullion have you found?"

"Not any yet, but who knows?" returned the old man, his eyes shining with excitement.

"Stranger things have happened!" The Judge followed the girls and looked at the wall. "Well, well," he exclaimed, "this certainly looks interesting."

The professor had already begun to pick away the crumbling rock at the small opening, and found that they had hit upon the spot where the mouth of the tunnel had been filled up. After half an hour's work he had opened it sufficiently to look in. Using a flashlight, he could see that the tunnel was very shallow, another wall confronted him and this appeared to be the solid rock of the mountain.

He was about to give up when he noticed a peculiar stone on the floor of the tunnel, or what appeared to be a stone. With the pick he dragged it forward and was able to reach it. Drawing it forth, he stood before the Judge with glowing face.

"See this!" he exclaimed excitedly. "This comes up to any story of buried treasure that I've ever read in my life." He displayed his find, a tiny disc of copper and on it were engraved strange figures and signs. They had no meaning to the group of people that stood about the tunnel. But that little copper plate was telling a story, of that there could be no doubt.

"What do you think of it?" the professor gasped in a hoarse whisper. The old man was almost too excited to speak. He made several attempts then gave up, but he held the disc as if it were a jewel.

"Let's sit down away over here and have a look at it," the Judge suggested. "And if anyone is spying on us, he'll not be apt to suspect anything."

Judge Breckenridge examined the disc carefully then spoke.

"Now there is a possibility—a slight one, we'll say, that there is a treasure in that vault somewhere. Do you think your friend Ramon is suspicious?"

"It's hard to say," Kit burst out. "Kie Wicks may be watching us this minute from over the hill across the canyon."

"We will want to carry on the work as quietly as possible, but if Kie hears about a treasure, we'll not have a minute's peace," said the Judge, rising and surveying the ground. "The first thing we ought to do," he continued, "is to stake out a claim covering this wall. Then we'll own it."

"Yes, and have Kie Jump that claim, if he is watching us." Bet shrugged her boyish shoulders.

"We'll get ahead of him on that. We'll stake the claim and I'll send a man over to record it first thing in the morning, and tonight we'll have a watchman—two in fact. We'll not leave the tunnel unguarded for a minute until we find out what it contains."

"Oh, please, Judge, let us guard it!" cried Bet.

"No!" There was a harsh, decided ring in the Judge's voice and the girls did not urge him further. That "no" meant exactly that.

"I think it might be a good idea for me to go back to the ranch and get Tommy and some of the boys to move the professor's tent up here and Tommy and Seedy Saunders might stay for a few nights to guard your claims. You'll have all the excitement there is in it, even if there is no treasure."

Bet flared up at once. "We're not so silly as to want excitement and nothing else. We want the treasure now that we have started out to find one. Nothing else will do."

The Judge laughed as he mounted his horse and rode down the trail.

But when he returned to the ranch and informed the boys what he wanted, he was met with roars of laughter.

"You want us to guard a buried treasure! That's a good one!" said Seedy Saunders, the old cowboy who was now staying with Judge Breckenridge. "Let Tommy do it! He has a treasure map in his shack that he paid five dollars for. He'd love to do it!"

However, when the cowboys heard how much it meant to the girls to have the tunnel guarded against Kie Wicks, they entered into the spirit of it, and even though they laughed and joked, they carried out the Judge's instructions.

They moved all the professor's belongings over the mountain, and took another tent and cots for themselves.

"There just naturally has to be two of us," insisted Seedy. "We'd be scared stiff to sleep alone there, even with the professor."

"Which are you scared of?" laughed Tommy Sharpe. "Kie Wicks or the ghost of the Indian Chief's daughter?"

"Both," returned Seedy pretending to shake with fright. "But I'm mostly scared of that there ghost that walks."

The boys were hilarious as they unpacked their stuff at the Orphan Annie claim.

"By rights we ought to camp in the canyon, we'll have to pack all the water up the hill," suggested Tommy.

"You'll camp right at the mouth of that tunnel, boy!" insisted Enid, and there was something of Tilly the Waif in her command. Tommy looked up at her quickly, then burst into laughter.

"Yes'm," he said meekly with a twinkle in his eye. "I obey!"

They had the tents pitched and the girls were arranging the beds and making them cozy when Judge Breckenridge returned, with a boy driving a burro loaded with provisions.

In his hand he held something white which he waved as he came up the mountain?

"It's a letter!" exclaimed Bet. "I hope it's from my Dad. I haven't had a letter for a week."

"It's a letter for me," announced the Judge, "but it may contain news that will please you. The boys will arrive this week. Phil and Bob are going to join us."

A shout went up and echoed through the hills.

Tommy gave an Indian war-whoop and the girls danced about, hugging each other in their joy.

"Won't it be good to see them!" exclaimed Bet.

"Is Paul coming with them?" asked Enid. "I'm homesick for my brother," she murmured with a happy sigh.

"Yes, the three boys will come together by airplane to Phoenix," said the Judge.

"By airplane!" echoed Bet Baxter. "If they don't let me go up with them, I'll never speak to them again, never. I want to fly!"

The hunting for treasure took second place now. The coming of their friends was more important than anything else.

"You know," said Kit solemnly, "we shouldn't get so fond of those boys. We'll spoil them."

"I've never seen any spoiling!" Billy Patten had helped Judge Breckenridge bring over the supplies, and now confronted Kit. "Don't pretend you're soft-hearted, for you're not."

Kit laughed at her teasing brother and with a wave of her hand pushed him aside. "Children should be seen and not heard," she said.

"What did Joy say when you told her that Bob was coming?" asked Bet.

"She shed a few tears; perhaps she was afraid she would miss all the fun with her sprained ankle."

"She's in luck if she only knew it," laughed Enid. "A girl with a sprained ankle will just appeal to the sympathy of those boys. Joy will be the center of the stage."

"And won't she love it?" chuckled Kit.

With many final instructions to the boys to guard the tunnel, the girls mounted their horses and hurried toward home, their faces glowing with joy.

From the mountain opposite, where Ramon had watched the previous day, Kie Wicks was on guard. He saw the preparations for camping at the claims and wondered what it was all about.

His eyes narrowed to pin-points when he saw the professor examining the wall of the cliff.

"What's he got there?" he muttered to himself. "But he can't put anything over on me. If I could get my hands on Ramon, I'd teach him to do as I tell him. If he had stuck around, I'd know what all this fuss is about."

But that was all that Kie was to know for some days. He watched by the hour, he questioned every man, woman and child he met, but the professor and his men were not talking. The location work on the Orphan Annie claim and the digging of a tunnel seemed to be their only interest.

Kie noticed that a monument had been built to cover the claim where the tunnel was being driven and smiled to himself. "These city fellows think they've got a mine with a couple of claims. They've got a lot to learn!"

The secret had to come out, of course. And when Kie Wicks heard it a few days later, he was wild with fury.

"Digging for treasure, are they?" he snorted. "I'll get them yet, those two-faced, underhanded robbers. They haven't got no business in these mountains. I'll show them!"

"If they've found a treasure, it's mine! I've hunted for it for years! I'll get it somehow!" Kie Wicks was almost beside himself with rage when he reached the store and told his discovery to Maude.

"Oh, maybe it's not the treasure," Maude tried to soothe the angry man. "Come eat your supper."

But Kie was too unhappy to eat. He glared about the cheerless kitchen and did not seem to see anything. He stared moodily. Finally he rose and went outside, grumbling like a spoiled child.

He sat for a long time, his head in his hands, not looking up to greet his customers.

"What's the matter with the old man?" inquired a neighbor. "'T ain't often you see Kie Wicks sick or under the weather."

"Somebody's stolen some property from him, and he's thinkin' out a way to get even. Let him alone," counselled Maude. "The more down he seems, the better schemes he can think up. And this one will be a dandy. He ain't eat a bite and he won't talk." Maude seemed quite elated.

It was not until some hours later that Kie came to life once more and demanded his supper. On his face was a determined scowl, as if he were ready to challenge the whole world. As he went into the store he was whistling cheerfully.

Maude smiled at him. But no words were exchanged. That smile expressed everything. Kie had a scheme, a big one, and Maude could afford to wait until he was ready to tell her what it was all about.

Meanwhile on the hill near Orphan Annie, the professor was dreaming of Indian villages and treasure, and with the two watchmen beside him, had no uneasiness.



CHAPTER XVI

MISSING

The boys were still asleep the next morning when the professor got up quietly and went into the canyon for a dip in the creek.

He wandered up the stream a short distance and was surprised to see a saddle horse standing dejectedly on the trail. The next moment Kie Wicks had hailed him genially from the cliff above.

"Say pard," he called. "Last night when I was going home over the hill here, I found what looks like the ruins of an Indian village. Do you want to take a look at them?"

"How far away is it?" asked the professor. "The boys are camping over there with me, so I'd better go back and tell them where I'm going.

"It won't take you ten minutes, my friend," Kie answered. "You'll be back before they have breakfast ready." Kie descended the steep mountain and leading his horse, he urged the professor on with a description of the marvelous ruins that he had discovered. Professor Gillette was almost wild with excitement. He fairly danced from boulder to boulder along that rocky trail, and when they reached a narrow pass between the high canyon walls, Kie stopped his horse for a moment.

At that same instant two men suddenly sprang into the trail in front of them, grabbed the unsuspecting professor, bound and gagged him and tied him to a horse.

Professor Gillette could not imagine why he should be treated like this. Why should he be robbed? He had nothing. And where was Kie Wicks? Had the men kidnapped him as well? It took the kindly mind of the professor a long time to grasp the idea that Kie Wicks might have something to do with the affair.

The old man did not struggle as he had an impulse to do. He knew it would be useless. The men were powerful, while he was frail, and helpless in their hands. It would be much better for him to save his strength so that his mind could work out a scheme for escape.

He was not the sort of person to waste energy in worry. He believed that nothing could harm him, and he lay quietly in the uncomfortable position on the horse, wondering where he was going and how long they would hold him captive. What would The Merriweather Girls do when they heard about it? He had to smile at the thought of the adventure they would make of it. Yet perhaps it was nothing to smile about. He might never return alive.

The boys did not miss the old man until breakfast was ready. They knew that it was his custom to start the day with a dip in the stream and so they went on with their breakfast preparations without giving him a thought. Finally they sat down and started to eat.

Still the professor did not come.

Tommy Sharpe called him from the summit of the cliff, waited, and called again many times. But there was no answer.

"Guess you'd better take a walk down there and see what's keeping the old chap," advised Seedy Saunders. "He never goes far away without his breakfast."

Tommy returned in a few minutes without seeing anything of the professor. He said: "I saw tracks going up the creek and there are fresh hoof prints, but that doesn't tell a thing."

"Oh, he's all right. I won't worry about him," laughed Seedy. "I can just see his face if he thought we imagined he was lost. He's such an independent old fellow, he'd be displeased."

Nine o'clock came and still the professor did not make his appearance. The boys each took turns in riding down the creek and calling, but when the girls arrived at ten, the missing man had not returned. He had not been to the ranch and the girls had seen nothing of him.

"Something has happened!" exclaimed Bet anxiously. "The professor isn't the sort of man to wander away like a lost soul. He's too interested in this treasure to leave it for a minute. Some enemy is at work."

"Melodrama from the movies," laughed Kit. "Bet is bound she's going to have some western bad man stuff."

"Don't be silly, Bet," said Enid impatiently. "Our old professor hasn't got an enemy in the world."

"Hasn't he? How do you know? Just suppose Kie Wicks found out about the treasure. He'd want to get rid of the professor first thing."

"That's an idea, Bet," replied Enid, suddenly growing excited. "I never thought of Kie."

"But what good would it do him to get rid of the professor?" asked the sensible Shirley. "Kie Wicks knows we are all backing the old man, so what would be the use of making away with him?"

"That's true," agreed Bet with a puzzled frown. "If I thought that Kie Wicks had a hand in this I'd... I'd...."

"What would you do, Bet?" asked Shirley.

"I'd tell him right to his face what I think of him."

"Heaps of good that would do," Kit shrugged. "Kie has heard about himself from lots of people."

But Kie Wicks' scheme worked out just as he planned. In their anxiety over the professor's disappearance, the treasure was left unguarded and when the girls returned to the camp, they were confronted with guns held in the hands of two burly ruffians, swarthy, heavy giants who terrified them by their looks.

The four girls wasted no time in that neighborhood. They raced their horses into the canyon and were heading toward the ranch.

"Say, what's the matter with The Merriweather Girls?" cried Bet, bringing her horse up sharply. "We're letting two cowardly ruffians frighten us away. I'm going back this minute."

"You are not, Bet Baxter! Father would be frightfully angry if you do. He trusts us not to take any big risks. I know he wouldn't want us to go back where those men are." Enid put her hand on Bet's shoulder. "Come on, Bet, be good!"

"But are we going to let those fellows get our treasure?" Bet cried hysterically. "No, I won't run away! I'm going straight back there and tell them what I think of them."

Shirley laughed quietly. "What's the use, Bet. They probably know more mean things about themselves than you can tell them. They're like Kie Wicks."

But Bet was stubborn. She hated to give up.

"I won't go home! I'm going to stay right here for the present and think out a plan."

And it was there that Judge Breckenridge found them, heard their story and commanded them to return to the ranch house without any delay.

Judge Breckenridge's word was law. Bet turned her horse's head down the canyon toward the home trail, her eyes flashing dangerously. She muttered:

"To think of being sent home when the excitement gets good! Oh, I wish I were a boy!"

"Well, since we have to go, let's hurry and have the fun of telling it all to Joy."

But Joy and Mrs. Breckenridge were a disappointment. They did not thrill to the danger, as Bet did. They were decidedly angry and afraid.

"You must never go into that canyon again while you are here!" exclaimed Mrs. Breckenridge.

"Please don't put that down as an order! That would be a tragedy. I don't believe that even the Judge would be willing to deprive us of that joy." Bet's voice was pleading.

"All right, dear, I'll take back the order and will leave it entirely to the Judge. But you must abide by his decision, that I insist upon."

"We will," said Bet. "I hope he'll be a good sport about it. I want to know what's going on."

Mrs. Breckenridge walked up and down the corridor in an anxious manner. She had been gaining strength so rapidly in the mountains that she had even threatened to try horseback riding. But the Judge had put her off. He wanted to be certain that the trial would be a success.

"I'm glad I wasn't with you, today, I'd have screamed," said Joy. "I know I would."

"That's probably what those bandits wanted. To scare us so we wouldn't go back. I hate to have them get away with it."

At noon when the men returned to lunch, they had no good report. Although they had hunted the hills for miles, not a trace of the professor had been found. He had disappeared.

Before lunch was over Kie Wicks appeared at the ranch house. "I just heard of the old man being lost, so Maude wanted me to come right over and join the search party. I think a lot of the professor and want to do my bit."

Bet looked at the man in astonishment.

"I would never have believed it," she whispered to Kit. "It just shows how we misjudge a person. I thought he would be the last man in the world to appeal to for help, and here he comes of his own free will and offers it."

"People always have some good in them."

Joy shook her head. "From the first I hated that man and feared him."

"And now you see, Joy Evans, how mistaken you were. He's a good man at heart," exclaimed Bet.

But Kit was skeptical. "I wish I could believe it. I feel as if I were playing with a rattlesnake. He's treacherous! I think we'd better watch our step."

"Of course, I know that Kie Wicks is unscrupulous in the matter of jumping claims, but you see he has a human side after all. He seems quite cut up about the professor being lost," Bet interrupted.

"And did you notice how indignant he was over the ruffians at the claim? I believe he'll help us to get rid of them," said Enid confidently.

"But those men didn't do a thing worse than Kie Wicks! Not half as bad, for they were open and above board. They pointed guns on us and Kie sneaked up after dark and stole our papers. No, girls, his change of heart is altogether too sudden to be sincere. Keep an eye on him!" advised Kit.

Whether the men at the ranch believed in Kie's innocence or not, they accepted his offer of help and let him organize the searchers.

"Let's go over and see what Ramon Salazar is up to. He's a scoundrel and looks it. Maybe he knows something about your old man," suggested Kie.

"Can't we go, too?" begged the girls. The judge was about to object, but when he saw the look of disappointment in Bet's face, he changed his mind.

"Why, it's all right, I think. I don't see that there will be any danger if you stay with me."

Bet ran for her horse. "Come on, girls, let's go!"

The group divided into two sections. The judge and the girls and Tommy went under Kie Wicks' leadership. Tommy was very contemptuous at the idea of help from Kie, but he followed without any remarks, deciding that the man needed watching. And that job would be his!

Instead of being offended at the arrival of a searching party, Ramon Salazar seemed to welcome them and even his wife acted as if she had been expecting a visit.

"Take a look around, folks," said Kie Wicks as he himself opened a door and looked into a bed room, littered with mattresses and soiled blankets.

"He ain't here," said Kie. "I didn't more than half think he was. But you never can be sure unless you take a look."

Bet caught a quick glance of understanding between the two men, but in the next second decided that it was a glance of approval.

"They're up to some mischief," whispered Kit in Shirley's ear. "I don't trust that Kie Wicks and he is altogether too sugary today to suit me. But don't say a word to Bet. She will flare up and then we won't be able to watch him."

Shirley agreed with Kit, who knew Kie Wicks better than the others.

Tommy was watching the two men, his nerves keyed up and every sense alert to the slightest movement of the men. He had noted the quick look between Kie and the Mexican and felt sure that it was a danger signal. It conveyed a message. Not for a second did the boy doubt that Kie and Ramon knew where the professor was.

The boy was angry clean through, but he held his temper under control. Only in that way could he keep in touch with these rascals and watch them. Sometime he would catch them off their guard.

Ramon joined this group of searchers and made some suggestions as to possible places to look.

"What we ought to do is to round up them fellows at the tunnel and make 'em talk. They probably killed the old man and threw his body over a cliff." It was Ramon who spoke.

Kie Wicks looked startled. He had not told Ramon that the men at the claim were being paid by him. He frowned toward the Mexican, then his face relaxed suddenly. "Now that's an idea, too," he said. "Only I should think it might be just as well to leave them in possession until we find the professor. Someone has to stay there and we need all the men we have to hunt for the old man."

"I think you're right, Mr. Wicks," agreed Bet.

Kit looked her disgust. To herself she was thinking, "I never would have believed that Bet could be such a tenderfoot. To let Kie Wicks pull the wool over her eyes like that! She certainly is an easy mark!"

But Bet was not such an easy mark as Kit imagined. She had figured it out that it would take days for the men to dig their way to the treasure and by that time they could find their old friend and then form a party to drive the ruffians away from the tunnel.

An hour later, when they were returning to camp, Kit pointed up over one of the small mountains. "Bet, I'll take a short cut with you. The trail over that hill leads into Lost Canyon. Let's go and beat them home. Who's coming?"

"I am!" exclaimed Bet turning her horse's head toward the up grade.

"I'll stay with Dad," called Enid.

"And so will I!" Shirley held her horse toward the canyon trail.

"Wise girls!" smiled the Judge. "You know good company when you have it."

Kit waved her sombrero as they reached the summit and disappeared over the ridge. But once on the other side, Kit was not so sure that she knew the way. "This doesn't look like the trail that leads into Lost Canyon, after all, Bet. Do you think we'd better go back?"

"I should say not. I'd love to get lost in the hills with you, Kit."

"Oh, we're all right, only I'm not sure that we will save any time. They'll probably get home first, if we go this way," returned Kit. "I'm not lost, I've been here before, but I just got mixed up. Lost Canyon is over the next ridge."

"It's all right with me, let's keep on."

The girls rode for an hour, and still Kit declared that they had not reached Lost Canyon.

"Are you afraid, Kit?" asked Bet, as she looked at her friend's frowning face.

"No, of course not, only I'm disgusted that I made such a mistake. Let's climb to the ridge there and look around, then I'll know in a minute where I am."

The girls urged their horses up the steep trail. Kit was ahead and as she reached the summit she signalled Bet frantically to stop. Sliding from her saddle she ran back.

"We're coming out right by the tunnel, I see the two ruffians."

The girls crept along, keeping out of sight of the camp.

But suddenly Bet grabbed Kit by the arm. The men were descending the trail to the creek, leaving the tunnel unguarded.

The girls did not wait to think whether they were wise or not. They ran forward. Two shotguns lay on the ground. The men had taken off their belts. They were in the canyon unarmed.

Bet choked with delight. "Here's where we get the drop on them," she laughed. "I'll be a regular wild westerner."

"Don't do anything rash, Bet," advised Kit anxiously as she watched her friend's flushed face.

"Trust me!" Bet picked up a weapon and held it awkwardly in her hand. It was the first time she had handled a loaded gun and it gave her a thrill.

"Can you shoot, Bet?" asked Kit. "Do you know enough to pull the trigger?"

"No, I don't know a thing about it, I'll have to put up a bluff!"

When they heard a step on the trail. Bet aimed her gun.

"Hands up!" ordered Bet and there was no sign of fear in her voice.

The ruffians raised their hands high in the air, but the foremost one smiled.

Bet's anger rose. "Don't come a step nearer! And don't fool yourself! We know how to shoot—and shoot to kill!"

Kit wanted to laugh, for Bet was repeating word for word what she had read only a few days before in a western story.

But Bet's next question was her own. "How much is Kie Wicks paying you for this job?" she asked.

One man started to take a step forward, but Bet's gun menaced him.

"Stand right where you are! Not a step nearer! Answer my question!"

"Five dollars apiece!" growled the second man. "'T ain't enough!"

"Of course it isn't. He short-changed you. The job is worth twice as much," said Bet indignantly.

The men looked pleased.

"We got a five spot between us for catching the old man and tying him up. And we are to get five each for this."

"Your master isn't very generous. Do you often work for Kie Wicks?" asked Bet.

"No, we never saw him before. We were just passing through the country. We went broke and he offered us this job."

"Where are you going from here?" demanded the girl.

"El Paso is home, and we want to work our way toward there," answered the man who had done all the talking.

"Suppose I was to offer you ten apiece, would you get away from here and not come back? In fact it wouldn't be good for you to come back where Kie Wicks could take a shot at you."

"We'd not stick around, honest we wouldn't. By night we'd be at the nearest railroad station." Both men made a motion to come toward the girls but were stopped by Bet's menacing weapon.

"All right, go to the edge of the cliff there, and stand with your backs to us. If you dare to turn around, you'll be dead men."

The ruffians backed away for a few feet, then turned and walked to the cliff.

"Halt!" shouted Bet, and the men stood still.

"Now Kit, you hold the gun on them and I'll get the money. That's one thing Dad has always insisted on that I keep a little money fastened to me, when I'm away from home." She fumbled in her dress and brought forth a small roll of bills.

With Kit protecting her, Bet walked toward the cliff, and when she got to within ten feet from the men she put the money on the ground, and made a second trip, hauling their packs to the same spot.

When her gun was once more levelled at the ruffians, she ordered: "Turn around!"

The men wasted no time in obeying. They turned.

"Now walk slowly and get your money and belongings. If you run, you drop!"

The men grabbed their money and hastened back to their position on the cliff, as if they were anxious to put distance between themselves and the shotguns.

"Now go, and go quickly! Kie Wicks is due over this way in half an hour and if he finds you gone and us in charge, he's going to send a posse after you!"

The men hastened down the trail. They saddled and mounted their horses, with the shotguns pointed in their direction.

From the opposite end of the canyon two riders were coming nearer, and the ruffians galloped their horses to get out of the way.

Kit and Bet recognized Seedy Saunders and Billy Patten, who had gone out by themselves to search for the professor.

They answered Kit's hail and raced their horses up the grade.

By the time they reached the summit, Bet and Kit were almost hysterical from laughing. Bet put the gun down gingerly. "I wonder what I would have done, if they had called my bluff!" she exclaimed.

"Oh, boys, if you could only have heard her," shrieked Kit, at last getting her breath. "You'd have thought she had just stepped out of a western two-gun story, the way she threatened those men, it's a wonder they didn't see through her. And she hardly knows how to hold the gun. It was a scream!"

"I don't believe I'd enjoy that sort of thing for regular work," laughed Bet. "I guess I don't like to give orders that much."

But the two ruffians, hastening toward the railroad station thirty miles away, never dreamed that the girl who menaced them so daringly, had never pulled a trigger.

"We're lucky to be out of it," they agreed. "Girls have a way of always making trouble and getting their own way!"



CHAPTER XVII

INDIAN TRADING

Much to the disgust of Tommy Sharpe, Kie Wicks was a guest at the Judge's table that day. Kie was beaming with self-satisfaction. He felt that he had put over a good deal and could afford to be genial.

Kie's plan was to let the ruffians hold the claim until he could make arrangements to put men to work and dig out the treasure in the tunnel. Kie did not doubt for a moment that the treasure was there. And tonight he intended to investigate and see how much needed to be done. If he could handle it alone, so much the better.

Kit and Bet arrived when the meal was half finished and pretended to be hurt at the teasing that they encountered. They decided to wait until the family was alone before saying anything about the capture of the tunnel. Kie might get ugly and actually harm the old man.

"Saw your playmate, Young Mary, coming up the canyon today," said Kie, glad of some new excitement for the girls, to take their minds off the professor for a while.

"Oh, is Mary home?" cried Kit happily. "I do want to see her!"

"Yes, Young Mary is here with a dozen other Indians of all sizes and shapes," grinned Kie. "They sure are a funny looking crowd."

Kit herself might have made the same remark, but coming from Kie, she resented it.

"Where are they?" exclaimed Bet. "I'll pay them a visit. Do you think they will make some baskets for me?"

"You can never tell a thing about them. If they need money, they will, but like as not they'll refuse. This is their vacation, they come up every year to pick mesquite beans and pinon nuts," Kit informed them.

"Let's go down right after lunch and see them," proposed the girls, but Kit hesitated.

"We might frighten them away if we are too anxious," she said. "Indians are very shy."

"I'll say they are," smiled Tommy. "And about as friendly as a block of ice."

"Why Tommy Sharpe, how can you say such a thing? There's Old Mary and Indian Joe, they are the most friendly people in the world. There isn't anything they wouldn't do for Mum and Dad and me. And they think you're a great man!" Kit defended them.

"Old Mary and Joe are altogether different. Indian Joe is just like a white man!" answered Tommy.

"And good as gold!" emphasized Kit.

"The only good Indian is a dead Indian," Kie Wicks exclaimed dramatically.

Kit flared up, but Bet soothed her.

"Remember we are already even with Kie Wicks," she whispered.

Kit nodded her head. "Just the same I don't like to hear Indians talked about like that. It always makes me angry."

After lunch, much to the joy of Kie Wicks, the girls decided to walk down into the canyon and see the Indians.

Kit ran home first, for she was sure that she would find Young Mary there, and she wanted to see the girl alone. With the other girls she might be shy.

So it was Bet who called the Judge aside, to a safe distance, from Kie Wicks' eager ears, and told him of the capture of the tunnel.

"And those fellows said that Kie put them up to it and that it is Kie who took the old man. He's safe, they said, but I'm not so sure about that."

"I wouldn't worry about him. Kie Wicks has no reason to harm the professor," declared Judge Breckenridge. "Now I'll tell you what we'd better do. You and the girls go along down the trail and visit the Indian camp. That is evidently what Kie wants you to do. I'll send Tommy over to the tunnel with two men to start the excavation work and maybe by the time we get the professor back, we'll have something to show him. Who knows, Bet? Sometimes I'm half hopeful, although my common sense tells me there isn't anything there."

"Don't use so much common sense, Judge. It's lots of fun to dream. I wish Dad were here, he'd love this. He'd have the whole thing worked out, he'd be able to see the Spaniards who buried the treasure and all the rest of it. Dad's wonderful!"

"He is, Bet. I agree with you, and I wish that he would make us a visit, he half promised, you know."

"Yes, but in his last letter he said he'd not be able to come," Bet added with a sigh, for the separation from her father was a trial to the motherless girl.

"All right, now you run along and don't say anything to the girls—not yet. Make a lot of fuss about going to see the Indians and pretend you're crazy about them."

"I don't have to pretend that, I am crazy to see them. Oh, I do hope they will like me and want to be friends."

The Judge laughed at the girl's enthusiasm.

"They will, Bet, they can't help themselves, if they are human at all."

Bet turned away without noticing the delicate compliment that the Judge had paid her. In her heart she was really concerned for fear she might not be able to get on friendly terms with the Indians.

Judge Breckenridge joined Kie Wicks and his party, after giving instructions to Tommy Sharpe, and he followed Kie on what he knew to be a "wild goose chase." Kie flattered himself that he was being very clever in keeping the searchers away from the old man.

The girls waited impatiently for Kit. "I do wish she would hurry," fussed Bet. "What's keeping her?"

"Maybe she found Young Mary there, as she hoped, and as it's been such a long time since they've seen each other, they'll need to do a lot of talking to make up for lost time."

But Kit's meeting with her Indian friend was very different from what the girls pictured.

Even Kit was surprised and a little hurt at the lack of interest in her childhood friend.

The Indian girl was already dressed in the bright silk gown that Kit had brought her. Kit caught the girl in her arms and squeezed her tight. But Young Mary was as rigid as a post. Not by word or sign did she betray the fact that she was glad to see Kit.

But Kit understood. She saw a bright light in Mary's eyes and was satisfied.

"Why Mary, you're a beauty in that dress. I want you to come over and meet my friends."

Mary shook her head. She was already gliding away toward the canyon where the Indians were camped by the stream. They had chosen the same spot that the professor had used for a camping site.

And when Kit joined the group of Indians by the side of the creek she realized that Mary was now a grown-up Indian woman. She did not run or dance about any more, but seated herself with the squaws and seemed happy.

Mary had returned to her people. There was no doubt about it. She would never again be the chum of the white girl. There were times when Kit felt angry; it seemed like a reflection on herself, on her loyalty.

The girls watched with amusement Young Mary's pride in her new dress. There was a buzz of unintelligible comments from the squaws as they pressed about the girl, fingering the material and patting the silk.

Kit learned before long why Mary was so preoccupied with herself. She was in love. In love with a man of her own race.

Old Mary shrugged her shoulders and grunted her disapproval.

But in spite of her shrugs, the older woman was proud. Young Mary was making a good choice. Andreas was a fine young Indian. He had a farm of his own on the San Pablo. They were both young and could work and would have many children to bless them.

As Kit had prophesied, the Indian women were not interested in basket weaving. They shook their heads vehemently. Then at Bet's proposal that they sell her some that were already made, the ones they carried along, their heads shook more than ever and their grunts and frowns were decisive. Kit translated it to the girls as a flat refusal. Flat refusals always spurred Bet on to further efforts.

"I'll get those baskets yet," she declared. "I want them. What's more I've got an idea."

"Go ahead Bet and dream your little dream. You never dealt with an 'injun' before. Now you've met your Waterloo." Kit laughed. At heart she was rather pleased to see Bet go up against a losing proposition for once.

Bet tossed her head impudently at her friend but made no answer. The determination in her glance proved that she had not given up the struggle.

And late in the afternoon when the girls again walked down the canyon, Bet was decked out in such brightly colored beads that she might have been mistaken for an Indian girl herself. Strings of red, blue, amber, green and orange encircled her neck.

"What are you trying to do, Bet?" exclaimed Shirley with a laugh. "Are you trying to show off in front of the squaws to make them jealous?"

Enid laughingly began to count the strings.

"Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like this," Kit interrupted.

"Oh, keep quiet, all of you! I can wear as many strings of beads as I want to. It's the latest style," she retorted with a grimace. "I have an object in wearing them."

"It's a bribe to get those baskets!" cried Kit delightedly. "And maybe you will, at that. Your methods are sound and business-like. I thought you'd met your match, but now I'm inclined to think they have."

They were nearing the Indian camp and Bet noticed with pleasure the surprised glances of the squaws. They did not look at the other girls. Bet was the center of attraction.

Finally one Indian woman drew near and put out a brown finger to touch the bright objects. Bet smiled and waited. "You like beads?" she asked.

The squaw nodded and was joined by another one. Soon Bet was surrounded. "You want them?" There were as many grunts of acceptance as there were women there.

"You sell me some baskets?" asked Bet. "Then you can have the beads."

The squaws looked at each other then back at the bright beads. They sidled away, without a word.

Bet's heart stood still. She had lost! Kit's eyes were shining with triumph.

But only for a moment. The Indian women were busily at work emptying the contents of their baskets into blankets. They were evidently preparing to give her the best they had. Bet got several small jar-like baskets besides two large ones that were used to carry things on their saddles.

They looked on in surprise when Bet paid them a good price for their baskets and passed over the strings of beads as well.

There was a chorus of grunts and Kit again translated. The squaws were congratulating themselves on their bargain. They were more than satisfied. "I've known Indians all my life," Kit whispered to the girls, "but I've never before seen them so pleased about anything! You win, Bet!"

"I certainly do, Kit Patten. Come on, girls, lend a hand and let's get these baskets home before they change their minds."

As they were going up the trail toward the ranch, Young Mary suddenly appeared from a thicket of Palo Verde.

"Kit," she said softly.

Kit turned as if she had been shot. "Mary," she answered uneasily. "What's the matter?"

Kit ran to the girl who now hesitated as if she were addressing a stranger. Then suddenly, with what appeared to be an effort, she whispered: "Your old man! He's in the hut over in Rattlesnake Creek, and he's being guarded by some bad Indians from down the valley. Be careful!"

And before Kit could stop her to ask any more questions, the Indian girl glided away as softly as she had come.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE OLD CHIEF'S DAUGHTER WALKS

"If the professor is really hidden in that hut, perhaps we can get him tonight," exclaimed Bet Baxter, as she swung up the trail carrying her Indian baskets.

"I wish we could find him before tomorrow afternoon when the boys come," said Enid. "It would be nice to give the boys our full attention."

"You'll spoil them if you do," Shirley responded.

Bet was quiet the rest of the way home. Thoughts of the professor kept crowding into her mind, schemes for his release; these things demanded her attention. Kit spoke to her three times without getting an answer, then with a smile turned to her chums.

"Bet is trying to solve a problem. She is never this way unless she is making plans of some sort."

By the time they reached the ranch house, Bet's eyes were glowing in an absent-minded way and she passed Ma Patten in the patio without speaking.

She was so intent on the problem that was bothering her that she stood staring at her father a long time before she recognized him, then with a cry she threw herself into his arms.

"Oh Daddy! I've been so lonesome for you! How did you get here and when did you come?"

"Easy, girl, or you'll choke on all those questions," laughed Colonel Baxter. "I just arrived an hour ago, and I would have let you know if I'd been sure that I could come. And then at the end, I decided to surprise you. Are you glad?"

Bet laughed happily, her blue eyes glowing now with a very different light. There was snap and joy in them as she held tightly to her father's hand.

In her joy at seeing her father she had not paid any attention to what the other girls were doing. Now as she heard the sound of happy voices she turned and saw the boys, Phil and Bob and Paul.

"Oh, you boys! Why we didn't expect you until tomorrow afternoon," she said, extending her hand to Phil Gordon.

"If you don't want to see us tonight, perhaps we could go back and sit in the station at Benito."

"Don't be silly, Bob Evans. You're just the same as ever." Bet laughed as she always did at Bob.

"What did you expect me to do in three weeks time? Get grey headed and grow a beard?"

Bob had helped Joy to her feet when they heard the girls arriving and he now stood supporting his sister while he laughed and teased.

"Isn't it good to see them?" cried Joy.

"Does that include me, too?" inquired Colonel Baxter.

"Of course it does! You don't know how often we've talked about you and wished you were here," answered Enid, before Joy could reply.

There was a real change in Paul Breckenridge since the girls had seen him the previous winter. The old brooding, shy look was gone, and now he entered into the pleasures around him as the other boys did. One could see that he liked to be near Enid, teasing her constantly as if he had to make up for those years of separation.

Judge Breckenridge smiled around at his happy family, well pleased with everything.

"The one thing that would make it perfect would be to have the old professor here," he said. "But we'll find him before long."

Kit gave a little cry. "How terrible of me to have forgotten to tell you, Judge! We know where the professor is."

"Where?" asked the Judge eagerly.

"Young Mary says that he is in the shack in Rattlesnake Creek."

"But Kie Wicks took us through that hut this afternoon," replied the Judge. "He isn't there!"

The girls showed their disappointment.

"Maybe they just moved the old man out for an hour until you finished your search," said Bet. "I wouldn't put that past Kie Wicks. Nothing is too bad for him to do."

"We hunted inside and outside of that hut," insisted the Judge. "If he had been there, surely there would have been some sign."

"I have an idea!" cried Bet, jumping to her feet. "I believe he's in that hut, they put him back after you'd been there. I'm going to find him tonight."

"You'll do no such thing, Bet. Chasing around among a lot of bad men is no place for a girl," began her father, but Bet interrupted:

"Just wait until I have worked out my plan and you'll see I'll be as safe as if I were at home. You can come with me, Dad. Will you help me, Judge? I'll need several men."

"Let us in on this," exclaimed Phil and Bob in the same breath. "We'd like to have a hand in solving your latest mystery."

Bet flew to her room and returned in a few minutes in a strange costume, a long dress of buckskin. Dark braids fell over her shoulders and feathers rose from her hair. She had no resemblance to the boyish girl they knew.

The Colonel looked puzzled but Judge Breckenridge caught the idea. "You're a wonder, Bet! And I do believe you are right. You'll be as safe as if you were in your own bed."

An hour later, the watchers by the hut rubbed their eyes and stared about them. A wild, weird cry rang through the canyon, and in the moonlight Kie Wicks and his bad men saw, far above them on the cliff, the figure of an Indian girl.

"She wasn't walking, she was just floating in the air, it seemed, and as she moved, she moaned and shrieked. It was terrible! There was no doubt about it. It was the ghost," Kie Wicks told his wife when he was safely at home.

"What happened?" Maude urged him to continue the story.

"You should have seen those Indians go! 'The Old Chief's daughter walks! It's the ghost girl!' they cried hoarsely. And that's the last I saw of them."

"And what did you do?" Maude pressed him further.

"I—well, I ran, too. I got out of there in record time, let me tell you. I don't mind shooting it out with a human being, but I don't take no chances with a ghost. I vamoosed."

"And the old man?" she inquired.

"He's there yet. One thing certain, I'll never go into that canyon late at night again."

Bet's ruse had worked better than she had hoped. In less than two minutes after she stepped out on the cliff, the place was deserted, the hut left unguarded and Judge Breckenridge and his men rushed in, broke open the door and found the old man asleep on a sack of straw.

The Judge touched him and the professor tried to shake him off.

"What are you going to do with me now?" he asked peevishly, "I want to go to sleep. Can't you let me be?"

"Ssh! Don't talk! We've come to take you home. This is Judge Breckenridge."

The professor recognized his voice and breathed a sigh of relief. He rose unsteadily and did not speak again until they were a long way up the trail.

Then he suddenly got weak and felt as if he were going to faint.

"Don't worry, I get this way sometimes. I have some medicine over at the tent."

As it was only a short distance to the claim, the Judge decided to get him there as quickly as possible.

The professor was like a child in his eagerness to stay at the camp, and finally toward morning the Judge left him there in charge of the boys and Seedy Saunders.

And when Kie Wicks, deciding that he would have a look at the tunnel which he had left in charge of the two ruffians, climbed the trail to the summit the next morning about dawn, the first person he saw was the old professor, smoking his pipe and gazing far off over the hills with a smile of happiness on his face.

Kie wheeled his horse as if he had been shot at and raced madly away. He was muttering excitedly:

"The mountains are bewitched! That ghost has spirited the old man out of the hut and back to the tunnel."

When his horse finally stopped before the store in Saugus, he was covered with foam and the man who bestrode him was trembling in every limb.

Yet he said nothing to Maude. What was the use? She would only worry and fret, and besides he had always made light of ghosts and said he didn't believe in them.

"But seein' is believin'," he said to himself as he dismounted. "I'm outdone by a ghost."

And Bet, as she put away the Indian costume the next morning, hugged it to her as if it had been responsible for the whole affair. "Whatever made you think of it, Bet?" asked Enid.

"Thoughts like that just come to her. It's what you might call inspiration, or intuition," laughed Shirley.

"Why give it such a big name," returned Bet. "I simply had a hunch, and it worked out."

"Just like that!" exclaimed Joy, as she tried to dance on the lame foot, snapping her fingers in time to the step.

"What's the next thing on the program, Bet?" asked Bob Evans. "Have you a bulletin board with the adventures scheduled?"

"I wish you'd stop teasing me. It isn't my fault if I'm always getting into the middle of a problem."

"Whose is it, Bet?" laughed her father.

"Yours, I think, Dad. You brought me up." She slid an arm around her father's neck. "And are you very much disappointed in me?"

"Fishing for compliments?" Colonel Baxter pinched her rosy cheek.

"No, I only want a little appreciation," she replied.

At that moment Billy Patten poked his head into the corridor.

"The old man at the tunnel. He says for the girls to come quick."

"Something important has happened!" insisted Kit. "Hurry up, let's go!"

Colonel Baxter hurried to his horse and followed after the girls. His mind was not, for the moment, on possible treasure, he was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the hills, their rugged outlines and the blazing sun that beat down upon them.

When they reached the summit, the girls spurred their horses across the flat.

What they saw was an excited little old man, waving his arms and dancing about a huge box.

As the girls approached, he cried.

"Come quickly. It's a brass-bound chest. It's the treasure!"

Tommy Sharpe pried the rusty lock, and as the cover was swung back, the girls gave a gasp of astonishment and dismay.

The chest was empty!



CHAPTER XIX

A BRASS BOUND CHEST

At the sight of the empty chest, Professor Gillette opened his mouth to speak, but no words came. His face was white and drawn. And the girls were no less moved than he. All their hopes had been dashed to the ground.

Tears came to Bet's eyes. Angry tears! Why was it that they always had so many disappointments? Why couldn't the treasure have reposed in that chest ready for them? Why couldn't things have gone smoothly just for once?

"What a silly thing to do! To bury an empty chest!" Bet said in a protesting voice.

"But that's the trouble. Maybe it wasn't always empty. Maybe it was once full of gold and jewels," sighed the professor wearily. He had planned on this treasure more than he realized at first. He thought of Alicia, his patient daughter, whose hope of recovery depended on his summer's work.

"Then what happened to it?" demanded Bet.

"Someone has been ahead of us, that's all. There must have been treasure in that chest," repeated the old man.

"I think you are right," interrupted Colonel Baxter. "But don't be discouraged! Unless I'm very badly mistaken, that chest will be worth a small fortune in itself. Look at those brass straps across the corners. The carving is unusual and beautiful."

"I don't see anything beautiful about it, at all," snapped Bet. "If it had been filled with treasure, then I could admire it."

Colonel Baxter laughed. But the girls at that moment could see nothing to be happy about. Their faces were serious and troubled. It was not alone for themselves that they had wanted the treasure. They had planned on being able to help the professor, to make it possible for Alicia to go to the famous specialist and be cured.

"Guard the chest well," continued Colonel Baxter. "It's valuable!"

"But there is no bullion or jewels!" Enid expressed her disappointment with a frown.

"And no doubloons or louis d'or!" said Kit. "And I did want to see one."

But Shirley laughed. "Come on, girls, what's the use of fretting over a treasure that didn't exist. Let's be satisfied with the old chest and call it a summer. For the rest of the time we'll complete our study of rope throwing and bronco busting."

"Yes, we can do that—but where's the romance?" sighed Bet. "The treasure had all the romance of the old days in the west. I did want it to come true."

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