The History and Future of the Book

The Dime Novel






A few years ago there was a hustling mining camp located in San Miguel County, Colorado.

The camp, which had sprung up like a mushroom and had flourished for more than six months, was quite near to the Utah line and lay in a little valley through which a rather wide but shallow stream flowed.

Gold dust had been taken out in large quantities, but mostly it was placer mining, and this,  as the more experienced prosecutors claim, will not last any great length of time.

However, occasionally the mother lode is located by following up a dry water-course to the place where the dust is washed from.

In two or three instances men had located these mother lodes, and hence the flourishing condition of Shinbone Bar, which was the name that had been given to the camp.

There was no railroad within many miles of the place, and hence the only means of getting to it from the towns and other mining camps that were scattered about in that region of the Rockies was by stagecoach or horseback.

It happened that there was quite a town located something like thirty-five miles to the east of Shinbone Bar.

There was a big smelter here, and here it was that the majority of the rich ore the miners took from the earth was sent in to go through the first process of refining.

Naturally there was a trail that was traveled from one place to the other, and as was very often the case, especially at the time of which we write, there were frequent hold-ups and robberies along the trail.

The name of the town just referred to was Jackson, and here it was that the county buildings were located.

Of course, the names of the two places have been changed since, but we simply give it as it was at the time our story opens.

It happened that in the forenoon of a bleak November day Young Wild West, the well-known Boy Hero and Champion Deadshot of the West, rode into Jackson with his two partners and the girls who traveled with him on his adventurous trips through the wildest part of the region known in the Wild West in quest of excitement and adventure.

It was the first time any of them had ever visited this particular spot, for they had been pretty well through the whole State of Colorado, as well as the other States and Territories comprising the Rocky Mountain region.

Attired in their fancy hunting and riding suits, the party made a pleasing as well as picturesque appearance as they rode up the sandy street that ran with remarkable straightness through the little town.

Good-sized structures were on either side of it, and by the number of the stores and public places it was quite evident that it was a sort of center for quite a surrounding territory.

Our friends were so well known throughout that part of the country that it was not strange that they should be recognized by several men who were loitering in front of the Globe Hotel, which was the leading hostlery of the town.

“Here comes Young Wild West!” a rough-looking man with unkempt hair and beard called out excitedly, and then as the party rode up and came to a halt they were quickly surrounded by as many as a dozen.

“Hooray for Young Wild West!” the man who made the announcement shouted, waving his hat. “He’s the whitest boy that ever lived, an’ I reckon he’s jest the one that Jesse Morgan would like to see now.”

Even those who had never heard of the dashing young deadshot joined in the cheer that followed.

Young Wild West looked on smilingly, for he was used to that sort of thing, though it must be said that he never got what is called a “swelled head,” no matter how much flattery was showered upon him.

His two partners, Cheyenne Charlie, the ex-government scout, and Jim Dart, a Wyoming boy, were quite like him in this respect, and they sat in the saddle and looked on calmly, while the girls appeared to be only slightly amused at the ovation.

The girls, we might as well say, were Arietta Murdock, the golden-haired sweetheart of our hero; Eloise Gardner, Jim Dart’s sweetheart; and Anna, the wife of Cheyenne Charlie.

It must be mentioned right here that with the party were two Chinamen, brothers, named Hop Wah and Wing Wah.

These were hired as servants.

Wing did the cooking, and Hop was called the handy man, though it was never a great deal of work that he had to do. 

But he was really quite a character, as will be found later on.

“Gentlemen,” Young Wild West said, in the cool and easy way that had helped make him famous, as he nodded to the crowd before him, “I reckon this place is called Jackson.”

“Right yer are, Young Wild West,” one of them answered, quickly. “It’s an all right town, too. Maybe it ain’t as big as Denver, but it will be afore very long, an’ you kin bet on that.”

“I hope it will,” and the boy laughed lightly as he glanced on either side at the rows of buildings. “But say, my friend, who is Jesse Morgan? I believe that man standing there remarked that he would be glad to see me.”

“Why, Jesse Morgan is the sheriff of San Miguel County. Ain’t never heard of him, eh? He was only elected last year, an’ he’s been doin’ great work. But he’s got a mighty tough job on his hands now, an’ that’s why I thought he would be 


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glad to see you. You have got a reputation of huntin’ down road agents an’ outlaws, I believe.”

“I don’t know how much of a reputation I have got in that line, but one thing I’ll tell you, my friend, I am always glad to break up such bands. There is nothing like pushing civilization, you know, and we are the ones to help it out every time.”

“Here comes the sheriff now,” a voice called out from the rear of the crowd, and then all eyes turned up the street.

A tall, lanky man with an extra wide-brimmed hat on his head and a pair of heavy revolvers hanging at either hop was walking toward the hotel with long strides.

Others were now seen hurrying to the spot, too, for the picturesque party had attracted their attention from a distance.

Sitting on the back of his clean-limbed sorrel stallion, Spitfire, Young Wild West calmly looked around.

He turned to his swetheart, who was mounted upon a cream-white broncho, and said:
“Well, Et, it seems that we usually find someone who knows us wherever we go.”

“That’s right, Wild,” Arietta answered, with a smile. “But there’s nothing strange about that. Aren’t we on the go all the year round, and don’t we visit all parts of the West?”

“Yes, that’s true enough. “But we haven’t seen one-tenth of it yet and I mean to see it all if I live long enough.”

“So do I, Wild. When I first started out to make the long horseback rides with you I didn’t like it very much. But now I hardly think I could be satisfied to live in a house the year round and never run into danger. It’s the same with Anna and Eloise. I am very glad that Charlie married Anna, and that she told him he must either settle down or else take her with him. If that hadn’t happened neither Eloise or myself would have been with you nearly all the time.”

Their conversation was cut short, for just then Sheriff Morgan came up.

Two or three had gone to meet him, and no doubt they had told him who the strangers were, for with a smile of welcome on his rugged face, he pushed his way straight to the sorrel stallion, and holding out his hand, said:

“Shake, Young Wild West. I’m mighty glad to meet yer. Two or three times I’ve been talkin’ about yer, an’ it seems like as if a streak of good luck has suddenly hit me. You’re jest the boy I want. I’d like to swear yer in as a deputy right away.”

“Never mind about doing that, sheriff,” the boy answered, with a smile. “I am not of age yet, and therefore I could hardly serve in the capacity of a deputy sheriff. But that makes no difference. Possibly I can help you out. Just tell me what the trouble is.”

“Yer ain’t heard, then?” and the sheriff looked at him in surprise.

“No, we just struck the trail that run in here about an hour ago, and we met only one man who was riding along to the south. He was a cowboy, and he informed us that the name of this town is Jackson.”

“He informed yer jest right, Young Wild West. That’s the name, an’ it’s a good one, too. Old man Jackson is dead an’ gone, but he was the first one as settled here, an’ it ain’t no more than right that the place should be named for him. but I’ll tell yer what’s the trouble. At the end of this here street, which you kin see right up there, the trail what goes over to Shinbone Bar starts. It’s a putty rough sort of trail, though there’s quite a lot of travelin’ done on it. Well, there’s a gang of road agents what calls themselves the Vultures located somewhere along that trail, an’ there’s jest ten of ’em. Some calls ’em the Band of Ten. That is the gang I want to git, an’ try as I might, I ain’t been able to do it yet.”

“Oh, I see,” and the young deadshot showed that he was considerably interested. “They’ve been making life miserable for travellers and the owners of the stagecoach line, I suppose?”

“That’s jest what they’ve been doin’, Young Wild West. You guessed it the first time.”

“There’s nothing strange in that, sheriff,” the boy said, in his cool and easy way. “Many times we have found just such conditions. It is a common thing for bands of outlaws and road agents to locate themselves along trails where there is quite a little traveling done. Have they cleaned up much in the way of money and valuables since they have been at the business here?”

“I should say they had. Things has got to sich a state that the stagecoach never goes over unless it has three extra men armed with carbines. A lot of money is carried back an’ forth, you know, an’ it’s necessary to guard it. There’s been three drivers shot in the last four months, but never once has one of the Vultures been downed or caught. They’re mighty bold in their way of doin’ things too, an’ when they show themselves they’ve generally got the heads of vultures fixed up with a lot of feathers on their heads, with masks hangin’ down to cover the upper part of their faces. I s’pose they ain’t nothing more than caps that’s rigged up that way but they say they look like fiends with ’em on.”

“You haven’t seen them yourself, then, sheriff?”

“No, I ain’t. But I’ve looked for ’em lots of times. It ain’t my luck, it seems. Every time I go out with half a dozen deputies there ain’t no Vultures to be found. As I said afore there’s s’posed to be jest ten of ’em. They give it out that way, anyhow. Here’s somethin’ that was pinned to a tree about twenty miles from here along the trail. The driver of the stagecoach brought it over yesterday when he come from Shinbone Bar.”

The sheriff took a piece of brown paper from the pocket of his coat, and unfolding it, handed it to the boy on the sorrel stallion.

Wild, as he was always called by his friends and acquaintances, looked it over quickly and read the following, which was in a scrawling hand:

“Look out for the Vultures. The Band of Ten is always ready for business. Catch us if you can.”

“What do you think of that, Young Wild West?” Sheriff Morgan asked, as the boy handed the paper to Cheyenne Charlie.

“It seems that these fellows are pretty bold,” was the reply. “That is what you might call an open defiance. But I reckon they can be caught, all right.”

“I told yer so,” someone in the crowd shouted. “Young Wild West is the boy to ketch the Vultures, sheriff. Hooray, hooray!”

Then there was more cheering, and the sheriff was forced to hold up his hand for silence.
When Charlie had scanned the inscription on the piece of brown paper he gave it to Jim Dart, who in turn let the girls read it.

Arietta was the last one to take it, and just as she was about to hand it back to the sheriff a piping voice from the rear called out:

“Me wantee see, Missee Alietta.”

“What’s that?” the sheriff cried, looking surprised.

Then Hop Wah, one of the two Chinamen, rode forward on his piebald cayuse, and taking off his hat, made a profound bow.

“Me allee samee velly smartee Chinee. Me wantee lead um paper.”

“Kin you read, heathen?” the sheriff asked, doubtingly.

“Me lead allee same likee Melican man, so be. Me go to Sunday School in’Flisco, and me learnee evelythling.” Holdee uppee, evelybody whattee come ’long. Stealee plenty money. Shotee quickee and len hidee in um cave. Me undelstand.”

“I reckon yer do, heathen,” and the chief official of the county looked quite surprised.

The fact was that Hop could read considerably, though he could not seem to make much headway in mastering the English language.

His pidgin-English was understood pretty well, however, so it made little or no difference.

“How about the other heathen?” the sheriff asked, turning to Young Wild West.

“Oh, he don’t want to read it,” was the reply. “Wing is a very easy-going sort of fellow. He is our cook, and a good one, too. Hop is different. He wants to know everything that’s going on, and I don’t mind saying that he is often a very great help to us.”

“What kin he do?”

“A little of everything. But maybe he’ll show you something of what he can do a little later on. I reckon we’ll stop here and have dinner. Then we’ll strike out along the trail for Shinbone Bar. What sort of a camp is it over there, anyhow?”

“A might lively one. Things is boomin’ over there, and that’s what helps this little town along a whole lot. Ain’t thinkin’ of goin’ over there to stake out claims, are you?”

“Oh, no. We have done about all that sort of thing we in-


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tend to do for a while. You see, we either own or are interested in mines in different parts of the country, and the income we derive is more than sufficient to pay our expenses, so we can ride about wherever we want to and enjoy ourselves thoroughly.

“So I heard tell, spoke up the man who had first called out that Young Wild West was coming. “You ain’t never satisfied unless you’re into some kind of a scrimmage with outlaws or bad redskins. Always on the jump an’ doin’ good for your country.”

“You know all about Young Wild West, it seems, Ike,” the sheriff said, with a grin.

“I know as much about him as anyone does what never seen him afore, an’ I’ll bet on it,” was the reply.

“I reckon yer do, ’cause I’ve heard yer say so myself. But it’s all right now. Young Wild West is goin’ to stop here at the Globe Hotel, an’ then he says he’s goin’ to strike out for Shinbone Bar. If it happens that the Vultures show up afore he gits there there’ll be some lively happenin’s, an’ that’s sartin. I reckon I’ll go along with him.”

The sheriff now walked toward the door of the hotel, and was quickly met by a man who was evidently the proprietor.

“Jack,” he said, “here’s Young Wild West with his pards an’ the gals an’ two heathens. They want a mighty good dinner here. Jest see to it that they git it, too, an’ charge it to me.”

“All right, sheriff,” was the reply. “Whatever you says has got to go. Jest let the ladies git off their horses an’ go right into the parlor. I’ll send a couple of men around to the stable to git things ready for the horses. They’ll want somethin’ to eat putty soon, as well as them what’s been ridin’ ’em.

Young Wild West gave a satisfied nod when he heard this, and leaping from the back of the sorrel, he turned and assisted his sweetheart to dismount.

Charlie and Jim followed his example in this direction, and Anna and Eloise were quickly upon the ground.

Then all three walked to the regular entrance of the hotel, the door of which was opened for them before they got to it by no less a personage than the wife of the proprietor.

Our hero and his partners then led the horses around to the rear of the building, where the stable was located, the two Chinamen following and leading the pack-horses that carried the camping outfit and supplies.

They were not long in satisfying themselves that the horses would receive proper care, and then our hero and his partners went on back to the front of the hotel.

They had barely got there when the two horsemen came riding up.

“Hello, sheriff!” one of them called out, as he waved his hand to the county official. “You’re not out after the Vultures this morning, I see.”

‘No, Cap,” was the reply. “But I’ll be after ’em this afternoon, you kin bet.”

“You will, eh? Well, I hope you get them. They are pretty slippery customers, this Band of Ten.”

“Yes, but I’ve got someone to help me now that will soon fix things up in proper shape. You have heard tell of Young Wild West, the Champion Deadshot?”

“Why, yes,” and the horseman looked surprised and then turned and shot a glance at his companion.

“Well, there he is right there. He’s jest been around to the stable puttin’ away his horse. He’s goin’ to have dinner here, an’ then we’re going to strike out for Shinbone Bar. If them Vultures happen to show up the chances are that there will be less of ’em afore we git through with ’em.”

“You think so, eh? Well, I hope you are right. Maybe we can go with you. Rooster Dick is quite a deadshot, you know, and I happen to be pretty good in that line myself.”

“Of course you kin go with us, if Young wild West says so. You have been sworn in as my deputies, an’ I reckon your help will come in all right.”

“Just introduce me to Young Wild West, will you?”


Then after the two men had dismounted the sheriff led them over to where Wild was standing with Charlie and Jim.

“Young Wild West, this is Captain Bird, a mighty good feller an’ a deadshot,” the official said, and Wild accepted the hand of the stranger and gave it a shake.

“This other feller is Rooster Dick, an’ he’s another good shot.”

“Glad to meet them both, I am sure,” our hero answered, in his cool and easy way.

Cheyenne Charlie and Jim Dart were then quickly introduced, and the man called Captain Bird suggested that they go inside and have a drink.




Being a close student of human nature and one who could judge a man’s character by his general appearance and manner of speech, Young Wild West had formed an opinion of the two horsemen almost before he was introduced to them.

His decision was that they were a pair of crafty men, who were not exactly what they appeared to be.

But he, of course, said nothing of his thoughts, not even to his two partners, and went on into the barroom of the hotel with them.

“The best liquor you have got in the house, Jack,” Captain Bird called out, as he tossed a buckskin bag that was no doubt partly filled with gold coins upon the bar. “I consider it an honor to be allowed to treat Young Wild West and his partners. I have read not a little about them, and what I have would fill a book. I am more than glad to think that they have come here, for I firmly believe that they will do much toward exterminating the pest that has located somewhere between here and Shinbone Bar. It is getting to be so that it isn’t safe to ride over the trail any more. I have been robbed twice by the Vultures, and each time I was so taken by surprise that I hadn’t the least chance of shooting at them. Of course, I don’t believe in putting up a fight when I find myself covered by a gun. Anyone who would try to fight under such circumstances would show himself to be a fool. It is better to lose what money you have got and get away with your life, I think.”

“I think so, too, Cap,” Sheriff Morgan declared. “Most likely Young Wild West is of the same opinion.”

“I certainly am,” our hero spoke up, smilingly. “I wouldn’t attempt to pull a gun if I found myself looking into the muzzle of one. The fellow holding it surely could press the trigger before I could get mine ready to shoot.”

“Ever been fixed that way, Young Wild West?” Captain Bird asked, showing no little curiosity.

“Well, yes. I have seen the time when the muzzle of a gun was looking me squarely in the face. But I always managed to get away alive, though, and I have never yet paid toll to a road agent.”

“Maybe toll was never demanded of you.”

“Oh, yes, several times.”

“But you just said that if you found the muzzle of a gun staring you in the face you would not attempt to pull your own gun.”

“Yes, I believe I did say that. But I meant that I wouldn’t try to pull the gun before I knocked the gun from the fellow’s hand. That’s the way I generally do business, you know.”

“Oh, I see. You knock the gun from the fellow’s hand and then you cover him before he knows what has happened.”

“That’s about the size of it, Captain Bird.”

“Marvellous!” the man exclaimed. “What do you think of that, Rooster?”

“Putty good, I should say,” Rooster Dick answered. “He’s jest the one to tackle the Vultures, an’ no mistake.”

“You bet he is, and we’ll back him up, too, won’t we, sheriff?”

“We sartinly will. But come on, here’s the pizen ready for us to drink.”

“Oh, yes,” and Captain Bird seized the bottle that had been placed upon the bar before him and pushed it toward our hero.

Glasses had been set along the bar in a row, and all that had to be done now was for each one to pour out what he wanted of the liquor.

Young Wild West shook his head, and with a smile pushed the bottle to Cheyenne Charlie, who sat next to him.

The scout gave a nod of satisfaction and poured some of the bottle’s contents from the glass.
Jim Dart was next to him, and he was the last one at that end of the bar, so when the scout thrust the bottle back to Captain Bird the latter evinced considerable surprise.

“Wild an’ Jim don’t drink,” Charliel said, with a shake of the head. “I mean by that that they don’t take anything strong. Most likely they’ll take a little ginger-pop or somethin’ like that.”


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“Don’t drink anything strong? What do you think of that, Rooster?”

Captain Bird certainly was really surprised now, if he had not been at any time before.

“That’s what I call somewhat astonishin’,” Rooster Dick declared, shrugging his shoulders. “of course, they ain’t much more than boys, but they’re big enough to drink tanglefoot, I think.”

“Certainly. If they’re big enough to clean up outlaw gangs and run down bad Indians, they surely are big enough to drink whisky.”

“The question of size don’t count in this case,” our hero remarked, in his cool and easy way. “But the fact is that neither Jim nor I have ever tasted liquor, and if we both keep thinking as we do now, we never will. We have found that we can get along very well without it, though neither of us have any objections as to what others may think about it. If you like whisky you have the privilege to drink it, and it is so with everyone else.”

“That is a good argument you’re putting up,” Captain Bird laughingly remarked. “But I think that you ought to break your rule in this case. Everyone here knows me pretty well, and I hardly think you can find a man in Jackson who will say that there is anything really bad about me. I happen to be pretty well fixed, as I struck it rich last fall, and am living on an investment I made. Now just change your mind and take a few drops of the best liquor that’s to be found within miles of here.”

“I am sorry, Captain Bird, but I wouldn’t change my mind for anything. I’ll take a little ginger-pop, if you don’t mind.”

“Give the kid what he wants,” Rooster Dick exclaimed, disgustedly. “Maybe all his talk about his bein’ sich a wonder with a gun an’ all that is only bluff, after all. Anyone as won’t take a drink of liquor now an’ then sartinly can’t amount to much.”

“Easy there, Rooster,” warned the sheriff. “I wouldn’t talk that way if I was you. There ain’t no use of makin’ Young Wild West mad.”

“Oh, I am not getting at all angry,” the young deadshot retorted, laughingly. “The man is simply expressing his opinion, and everyone has that right, you know. But I’ll tell you all right here that I am not going to take a drink of whisky. I might add that if every man here was to pull a gun at this very minute and threaten to shoot me if I didn’t, I would still refuse.”

“An’ you kin bet your life that he would git out of here alive, too,” Cheyenne Charlie spoke up quickly. “It wouldn’t make no difference if every galoot in this here barroom was to pull his gun, Young Wild West would be able to take care of himself.”

“Listen to that!” exclaimed Captain bird, and there was a tinge of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke. “That’s what I call genuine spunk. All right, Young Wild West. You and Jim Dart are welcome to take anything you like. I am sorry that the discussion has reached this point.”

At this juncture, a big lumbering man who had been asleep at a table at the further end of the room, arose and came staggering toward the bar.

Evidently he had heard some of the conversation, for he promptly called out:

“What’s all this talk for? I jest heard that kid say that he wouldn’t take a drink of whisky not if every man in this here room was coverin’ him with a gun. Where I come from they always make a galoot drink when he says he’s temperance. Jest give me a glass of liquor, an’ I’ll soon show yer how I’ll make the kid drink it. I’ve got a mighty cute way about me, an’ when I starts to do a thing I always does it.”

“Go an’ set down, Jerry,” called out the sheriff, sharply. “You ain’t got no right to interfere here.”

“I’ll set down when I git good an’ ready, sheriff,” was the retort. “Don’t think you kin make me set down, either. I ain’t doin’ nothin’ in the way of breakin’ the law. You see this?”

He drew an ugly-looking gun as he spoke and turned the muzzle straight at the sheriff’s breast.

“Yes, I see it all right,” was the reply. “Put it away. You don’t want me to lock yer up, do yer?”

“Yer ain’t never done that yet, heave yer?”

“No, but I’ve threatened to do it lots of times, an’ if it wasn’t that you was a putty good feller when you was sober it would have happened long ago.”

“That’s all right, Jesse. Me an’ you is brothers-in-law. You wouldn’t want to lock me up, an’ I know it. Your wife is my sister, an’ she’s a mighty good woman, too. If I was half  as good a man as she is a woman, maybe I’d be all right. But I’m glad to be the way I am, an’ I don’t want you to interfere in this here piece of business at all. That kid has got to take a drink of whisky or I’ll know the reason why.”

“Sheriff,” spoke up Wild, sharply, as he raised his hand and motioned him back, “just leave this to me. I have sized this man up pretty well, and I am satisfied that he is nothing more than a bag of wind. I have met so many bluffers of his sort that I am used to them. I’ll take care of him, and I won’t hurt him much, either. Just you step back and don’t say a word.”

“Thunder!” exclaimed the county official, opening wide his eyes. “I know you’re a hummer, Young Wild West, but Jerry is what they call a bad man. I don’t mean by that he would murder or rob anybody, but he’s a regular cyclone when he gits drunk, an’ he’s drunk now.”

“Jerry, as he was called, swaggered about and frowned as he listened to what was being said.

The fact was he had been very drunk and had awaked from a sort of stupor.

But he had heard enough of what was going on to make him feel as though he ought to take a hand in the game.

He had taken a hand, and now he meant to go through with it.

“Kid,” he said, as he fumbled about in his pockets and drew forth a plug of tobacco, “you’re a likely lookin’ galoot, I’ll admit. Look as though you might jump over a five rail fence an’ not half try. You’re plenty big enough to drink tanglefoot. Age don’t count, so if you want to stay here an’ live in a peaceable way for a while you’ll take a drink when I tell yer to.”

“See here!” Wild exclaimed, his eyes flashing, while at the same time he motioned for Cheyenne Charlie to keep silent. “I am not going to take a drink of whisky for you or any one else. I believe you heard me say a minute or two ago that I couldn’t be compelled to do it. Now, then, you go and sit down over in that corner and finish your sleep. You are not in a fit condition to hold an argument.”

“I ain’t, eh? We’ll see about that,” and then the man hitched up his trousers and let out a yell that fairly jarred the room, while he brandished his arms widly about as though he was going to tear everything to pieces.

“Jack,” he said, as he recovered his equilibrium, “give me a glass full of whisky; I want it full, understand.”

The proprietor hesitated, but Wild gave him a nod, and then he was not long in filling the order.

Jerry again mumbled in his pockets, and finding a silver quarter tossed it on the bar.”

“There yer are,” he said. “Now then, I”ll show yer how to make that kid take a drink of tanglefoot.”

Wild was actually smiling now, though those standing about looked on somewhat in surprise and seemed amazed.

The two men called Captain Bird and Rooster Dick seemed greatly interested.

They kept together near the sheriff, and neither said a word but kept their eyes fixed upon the two principals in the affair.

“Here yer are, kid. There ain’t no use of tryin’ to crawl out of it. Here’s some good old tanglefoot, an’ I want you to drink it. If you do it I’ll shake hands with yer an’ call you true blue.”

He stepped a little closer, and then, without the least warning, Wild struck it sharply with his left hand and knocked the glass from his grasp, sending the liquor squarely into his face.

He had no sooner done this when he lowered his head and leaping forward, caught the man by the collar with his left hand, while his right gripped him about the thigh.

A sudden hitch upward, and Jerry went clear to the floor.

Then, without pausing for an instant, the young deadshot rushed over to the other side of the room and the bad man was deposited, with a thump, upon the chair he had lately risen from.

“You sit there until tell you to get up. If you don’t I’ll fill you full of holes,” came the ringing command.

“There!” exclaimed the sheriff, his face beaming with admiration. “That’s what I call somethin’ a whole lot out of the ordinary. What do you think of that, cap?”

“The boy is certainly strong and active,” Captain Bird answered, rather coolly. “But who couldn’t handle that fellow like that?”

“Anybody could if he caught him unawares,” Rooster Dick remarked.


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Wild seldom let his anger get the best of him, but he could not help from making a retort.

“If either of you think that you can handle me in that way, you are welcome to try!” he exclaimed.

“Easy, Young Wild West,” and Captain Bird laughed with great coolness.  “We didn’t say that we could handle you in that way. We were referring to Jerry.”

“Well, you said it in a rather sarcastic way, so it makes no difference.”

“If I were to try real hard and didn’t want to make bad friends with you, I could easily show you how you would be a mere plaything in my hands,” the captain said, quietly.

“You could, eh? Well just forget about the bad friends part of it. I assure you that I won’t get the least bit angry if you make a mere plaything of me. To show you that I mean business, and that it will be done in a good-natured sort of way, I’ll wager the cigars for all hands that I can throw you over my head, even though I am nothing but a boy.”

“He’s getting excited, sheriff,” the captain said, smilingly. “I have heard it said two or three times that Young Wild West never loses his coolness. But, of course, I am not going to take advantage of what he says. I don’t want to excite him so that he will do something rash.”

This was a little more than Wild could stand.

Springing forward with the quickness of a cat, he seized the man by the collar of his shirt and, with a quick jerk, brought him to the center of the room.

“Now, then, you sneaking coyote!” he exclaimed, his eyes flashing dangerously, “you have either got to throw me out of this room, or I’ll throw you out. Get ready!”

Captain Bird stepped back with remarkable quickness and reached for his gun.

No doubt he realized now that he was up against it, so to speak, and that he must act quickly or the boy would make good his threat.

But he did not get the weapon from the holster.

Never had Young Wild West been quicker in his whole career.

With a dazzling swiftness he seized the man by the left wrist, and then, with his right hand, caught him by the other arm.

A quick twist and the captain was whirled around like a top, and then, before he knew it, his heels flew up into the air and his back was upon the boy’s shoulder, his body perfectly balanced.

“Clear the way there,” the young deadshot shouted, and then he made a bee-line for the door.

Almost before the man was able to understand what had happened he was whisked out of the room, and the next thing he knew he landed upon his hands and knees in the dirt, fully six feet from the porch.

“There you are, Captain Bird,” Wild said, in his cool and easy way, as he stood on the prch, his arms folded across his breast. “I reckon you went a little too far. I”ll admit that you got me roiled somewhat. Now, if you are willing to behave yourself we’ll let the matter drop. If you are not, we’ll have it out to the finish.”

Rooster Dock had been petrified for the space of a couple of seconds, but he now came rushing out as though to interfere.

But a heavy hand gripped him by the shoulder, and when he looked around he saw Cheyenne Charlie holding a revolver close to his head.

“You stand right where you are,” the scout said, his eyes flashing dangerously. “You jest try to interfere in this here business an’ I’ll bore a hole through you in a hurry. No measly coyote like you is goin’ to have a thing to say.”

“Easy, gentlemen,” shouted the sheriff, who seemed to be much disturbed at the way things were going. “This is all a might big mistake.”

“Maybe it is,” Jim Dart spoke up. “But you’don’t suppose that Young Wild West is going to stand any such nonsense as this. Take it easy, sheriff, and don’t say anything more.  You are a good fellow, I know, so don’t interfere. Everything is bound to come out all right, one way or the other.”

“Well, I’ll be gum-swizeled!” the county official exclaimed. “I never seen sich a thing afore in all my life. It’s a shame that two sich good fellers as Captain Bird an’ Rooster Dick should make bad friends with Young Wild West an’ his pards.”

“Never mind, sheriff,” our hero called out, as he nodded to him smilingly. “You can’t say that we are making bad friends, when we never were good friends. We were strangers to each other until a few minutes ago, if you recollect. We haven’t had time to get friendly.”

“Come on in an’ have a drink an’ we’ll call it square,” the sheriff called out. “Young Wild West an’ the boy Dart don’t have to drink whisky, not when I’m treatin’. They kin take what they like.”

Rooster Dick promptly walked inside, though his face was red with anger.

“Come on, Cap,” he called out. “What’s the use of havin’ any more foolin’? Young Wild West is too much for yer, an’ that settles it.”

“Oh, I know it well enough, Dick,” came the retort, as the captain nervously brushed the dirt from his clothing after having risen to his feet. “I was just trying to have a little fun with the boy, that’s all. I had no idea that he was going to take it seriously. It’s all right; we’ll drink with the sheriff and call it square.”




Wild was as cool as an iceberg when he walked into the barroom of the hotel.

But, like Charlie and Jim, he was keeping an eye on Captain Bird and Rooster Dick.

All three knew pretty well what sort of men they were now, and they were not going to permit them to steal a march on them.

But neither showed the least indication that they were anything more than ashamed of themselves for what had occurred.

The sheriff treated every one in the house, with the exception of Jerry, the bad man, who had not offered to rise from the chair that Wild had placed him upon.

Some one brought up the subject of the Vultures, the band of ten that was causing so much trouble along the trail to Shinbone Bar, and then it was not long before the sheriff got much interested and asked Wild what time he meant to leave the hotel.

“It all depends upon what time we have our dinner,” the boy answered, coolly.

“You’re goin’ to let me go with you, ain’t you?”

“Why, certainly.”

“How about Captain Bird an’ Rooster Dick?”

“Well, I wouldn’t try to stop them if they wish to go along. You claim that they are deputies under you.”

“Yes, that’s right. They’re both wearin’ badges.”

“All right, then. That settles it.”

“I s’pose you’re goin’ to leave the women folks here at the hotel, ain’t yer?”

“Certainly not. They’re going with us. We mean to go right on to Shinbone Bar. We want to see what kind of a camp it is. If we are stopped by the Vultures, as they call themselves, there will be a delay. But we’ll manage to get there before sunset, I think.”

“I don’t know about that. It’s a good thirty-five miles from here.”

“All right, we’ll get there after dark, then. It makes little difference. Is there a hotel over there that can accommodate us?”

“Not the kind of a one that would do for the gals,” and the sheriff shook his head.

“All right. It’s seldom we put up at a hotel when we strike a small mining camp. We generally pitch our tents somewhere and camp, just as if we were a hundred miles away from anything like civilization. I reckon we’ll leave here about one o’clock, sheriff.”

“You kin do that, all right,” spoke up the proprietor of the hotel. “Dinner will be ready at twelve sharp. It’s now eighteen minutes past eleven.”

“All right. We’ll go in and talk to the girls a while, and when the dinner-bell rings you can bet we’ll be on hand. Come on, boys.”

So saying the young deadshot went out by the front way, and his two partners followed him.

They had scarcely left the room when Hop Wah, who was sometimes called Young Wild West’s clever Chinee, entered the barroom by a rear door.

He came in bowing and smiling, and instantly all eyes were turned upon him.

While it was not common to see Chinamen in Jackson, the general run of them were very meek, and kept aloof from those who hung about or visited the barrooms.

To see this Chinaman come in smiling just as though he owned the building was quite enough to arouse the ire of some of those present.


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Captain Bird and Rooster Dick looked surprised at first, but quickly ignored Hop entirely.

“Velly nicee day,” the clever Chinee said, smilingly, as he made a brief bow. “Me velly smartee Chinee. Me likee haveee lillee tanglefoot.”

“Easy, heathen,” the sheriff spoke up, rather sharply. “Don’t you go to gittin’ fresh around here,” cause the boys don’t like anything like that. I know you’re with Young Wild West, but that don’t say that you’re goin’ to walk in here jest as if you owned the whole town.”

“Whattee mattee?” Hop asked, innocently. “Me wantee lillee dlink of tanglefoot. Me gottee money, and me pay velly muchee quickee.”

“That ain’t the thing. If you want a drink go on an’ git it. But don’t go to grinnin’ at everybody here.”

“Allee light, Mister Sheliff,” the heathen answered, showing that he knew who he was talking to, and then he walked up to the bar and deposited a silver dollar upon it, causing it to ring as he let it drop heavily.

As the coin settled upon the bar he picked it up again and threw it down harder still.

This time it rolled over and hit Rooster Dick on the arm.

With a quick brush of his hand he sent the silver dollar flying across the room.

“Go an’ pick it up, heathen, an’ then git out of here!” he exclaimed, angrily.

“Allee light,” was the bland reply. “Me gittee velly muchee quickee.”

“Then, as he started to go after the coin, Rooster Dick gave him a kick which sent him along in a hurry.

But the Chinaman only laughed, and picking up the silver dollar, he came back as smiling as ever.

But before he got to the bar he gave a sneeze, and then cries of astonishment went up, for apparently hanging from his nose was a long string of sausages.

“Whatee mattee?” the Chinaman exclaimed, making out that he broke them loose from his nose and holding the string up so every one could get a good view of it. “Velly stlange, so be.”

This was quite enough to make the majority of those present have an entirely different opinion of him.

“Well, I swan!” exclaimed the sheriff, his eyes bulging from their sockets. “Did you ever see anything like that? The heathen sneezed them sausages right from his nose.”

Hop slowly turned until he had gone completely around, and then he dropped the string of sausages upon the floor and brought his feet sharply upon them.

There was a report as loud as a gunshot, and then the sausages had disappeared.

“Velly funny, so be,” he declared, rubbing his eyes and shaking his head as though he was much puzzled. “Now, len, me havee lille dlink of tanglefoot.”

Down came the silver dollar upon the bar again.

“Here you are, heathen,” the proprietor said, when he had found the use of his tongue. “Go ahead an’ take a drink. You’re sartinly the funniest Chinee I ever seen. What did you do just then, anyhow?”

“Me no undelstand,” was the reply.

Hop poured out his drink, and no one offered to interfere with him.

He swallowed the liquor, and then pushed the coin toward the man behind the bar.

As Jack, as he was called, reached for it it suddenly disappeared, while Hop was looking toward the door, as though interested in something that was going on outside.

“Where’s that dollar you had, heathen?” came the query.

“Whattee mattee?”

“I don’t know what’s the matter, but that dollar disappeared mighty quick from the bar.”

Hop pushed his way past half a dozen men, and ran around behind the bar.

Then he stooped down suddenly and picked the silver dollar from the floor, or appeared to do so, rather, for, of course, he did not.

“You wantee me puttee in um dlawer?” he asked, grinning at the surprised proprietor.

“Yes,” was the quick retort. “Go ahead,” and the drawer was opened immediately.

The coin was heard to drop among the silver the drawer contained.

But when Jack looked for it it was not there.

“What are you tryin’ to do, anyhow, heathen?” he demanded. “It jest happens that I ain’t got a silver dollar in the drawer. There’s quarters an’ halves in there, but there ain’t a dollar to be seen. You dropped it in there, I know, but where is it now?”

“Me no undelstand,” the clever Chinee answered, with a shake of the head. “Maybe you gotteee in you pocket.”

“No, I ain’t. I ain’t got no such thing as a hard dollar about me.”

“Allee light,” and Hop backed around until he was in front of the bar again. “Me bettee you dlinks lat you gottee um dollee in you pockee.”

“I’ll take the bet.”

“What is the use of fooling with this fellow?” Captain Bird spoke up. “I can see perfectly well that he is playing a little sleight-of-hand upon us. He may be a pretyy smart Chinee, after all. Jack, if he says you have got a silver dollar in your pocket, you can make up your mind that he is telling the truth.”

“Maybe you would like to bet that I’ve got one there, cap?”

“I certainly would like to bet you.”

“How much will you bet?”

“Well, I’ll wager ten dollars that you have.”

Hop grinned, and worked his way up close to the side of the captain.

What he did no one saw, but he certainly dropped something into the man’s coat-pocket.

Jack counted out ten dollars and Captain Bird covered it.

“Now, then, let somebody to through me, an’ if I’ve got a silver dollar anywhere on me you win, cap,” he said. “The Chinee wins the drinks, too.”

“You lookee in you pockee,” Hop suggested.

“All right, I will.”

Then the proprietor thrust his hands in his trousers pockets and a look of amazement suddenly came over his face.

Reluctantly he drew forth a handful of silver and gold, and one of the coins was a silver dollar.

“I’ve lost!” he exclaimed, shaking his head in a puzzled sort of way. “But I’ll be willin’ to swear that I didn’t have that dollar there a few minutes ago.”

“Velly stlange,” observed Hop, with a grin.

Of course, he knew exactly how the dollar got into the man’s pocket.

He had placed it there when he was behind the bar.

But more than that, he had slipped another into the pocket of Captain Bird.

“You’re like me, Jack,” the captain said, laughingly, as he gathered up his winnings. “You don’t believe in carrying much silver around with you. I always make it a rule to steer clear of hard dollars. I don’t carry them about with me.”

“Maybe you gottee one in you pockee now,” Hop observed, blandly.

“I hardly think so, heathen, but I may have, for all that. I know pretty well how the dollar got into Jack’s pocket. You was behind the bar very close to him, and that accounts for it. But I don’t believe you slipped a dollar in my pocket.”

“Me bettee you ten dollee you gottee um silver dollee in you pockee.”

But the captain was too foxy to bet.

He seemed to know pretty well that they had a very clever Chinaman to deal with.

“All right, heathen,” he said, “I won’t bet you, but I’ll just see if I have.”

Then he felt in his pockets and soon drew forth the dollar.

“You’re right, my heathen friend,” he observed, as he tossed the dollar to him. “That is yours. Put it in your pocket and keep it. I have changed my mind a whole lot about you. You’re welcome to stand at the bar and drink all you like. You can say what you like, too.”

“Muchee ’bligee,” Hop retorted, and then Jack, who was still somewhat mystified, set out a round of drinks.

Hop had made himself solid by this time, and it was not long before he had everybody in a good humor.

He performed a few minor sleight-of-hand tricks, and as most of his audience had never seen anything like it before, it was not strange that they should vote him to be a remarkable personage.

He kept on at it until the dinner-bell rang, and when that occurred Captain Bird whilspered something to Rooster Dick, and then, stepping up to the sheriff, said:

“I guess we won’t wait and go with you and Young Wild West. We are going to take a ride over to Shinbone Bar, and we’ll leave right now.”

“How is that?” the sheriff asked, in surprise. “Aint’ you goin’ to stay an’ git your dinner here?”

“No, we both had a late breakfast over at the ranch we are stopping at. If you come over there to-night we’ll see you.”

Then the two men without any further delay left the hotel,


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and, mounting their horses, rode away, leaving a cloud of dust behind them.

The two villains, for such they were, had changed their minds rather quickly.

But this was no doubt due to the fat that they were members of the Band of Ten, and were really so-called Vultures.

More than that, Captain Bird was the leader of the gang that was so defiant to the sheriff and his minions.

He had remained very cool during the time he was at the hotel, but, just the same, he was thinking very hard.

Young Wild West had offered to assist the sheriff in hunting down the Vultures, and certain things had transpired that made the captain think that there was a strong likelihood of the young deadshot succeeding.

Hence it was his desire to get to the cave where his band was located and be prepared when the party came riding along the trail.

As soon as they were a short distance away from the hotel Captain Bird turned to his companion and said:

“Well, Dick, this has been the most surprising time of my whole life. I’ve heard much about Young Wild West and his pards, but I never dreamed that they were anything they have proven themselves to be. Just look at me. I have still got the dust on me from being thrown heels-over-head upon the ground. That boy is as strong as a young giant, and he is quicker than lightning. But I thank myself for being level-headed. I never get excited, and that counts for a whole lot.”

“I know that, cap,” Rooster Dick answered, with a shrug of the shoulders. “If I was somethin’ like you in that way I’d give a whole lot. But when I see how you act it makes me keep still. If I’d done what I thought I oughter do I would have shot that kid in a hurry.”

“No, you wouldn’t have done that, Dick. His partners wouldn’t have permitted you. They were on the watch all the time; I could see that. But never mind. They are going to help that old fool of a sheriff to hunt us down. They’ll have a tough old time doing it, for I meant to lay a trap for them and clean them up before they have fairly got started. Here we have been fooling the people at either end of the trail right along. But now it seems that we have reached the limit. I am just as certain that Young Wild West suspects us two of being in league with the vultures as I am that we are now riding along this trail. But it’s all right. Let him suspect. He won’t be doing it very long. Before he finds out that his suspicions are correct he’ll die.”

“What do you s’pose would make him think anything like that?” Dick asked, as though he could not quite understand it.

“Never mind. That kid is a quick thinker, and he takes in everything he sees. He’s a judge of people, I can see that. I suppose if I had acted differently it would have been better. But when I take a dislike to any one I can’t help showing it. That’s one failing I’ve got.”

“Me, too, cap. But jest let ’em come along lookin’ for us.”

“They won’t even have a chance to look for us, Dick. We are going to look for them.”

Then the two started their horses at a faster pace and went galloping over the trail, bent upon reaching the headquarters of the Vultures as quickly as possible.




Sheriff Morgan went in to dinner with Young Wild West and his friends.

Our hero had passed no remarks about the two men leaving so suddenly, and it was not until the meal was well under way that he brought up the subject.

“Sheriff,” he said, looking at the man keenly, “what do you think of Captain Bird and Rooster Dick?”

“Well, I can’t say as I like jest the way they acted a little while ago, but I always did think they was all right. They’ve been willin’ to help me out right along, an’ that’s why I’ve made ’em deputies.”

“You thought, then that they would be of some help to you in catching this band of ten that is called the Vultures?”

“Yes, I sartinly did. They seemed to be men who wasn’t afraid of nothin’, an’ was willin’ to help me.”

“Well, in my opinion if you were to wait for them to do anything that would assist you in running down this gang of road-agents you would wait a hudred years, if it were possible for you to live that long. Those two men wouldn’t think of such a thing as aiding you in that direction. If I were going to make a wager I’d risk all I have that they would rather help the Vultures than you. The fact is, sheriff, Captain Bird and Rooster Dick are no good. They are common scoundrels, though the captain is a pretty shrewd sort of fellow and able to decive most people.”

“He couldn’t deceive us, though, could he, Wild?” Cheyenne Charlie spoke up, a grim smile showing on his face.

“Hardly, Charlie,” was the reply.

“I knowed right away what kind of galoots they was, an’ so did Jim.”

The young deadshot nodded his head and smiled at his two partners.

“You both were pretty certain what I thought about them I suppose?”

“Of course, Wild,” Dart retorted.

“Why wouldn’t we think that?” the scout added, quickly. “If I have got my doubts about a feller you’re talkin’ to I jest watch your face, an’ it don’t take long for me to understand jest about what you think of him. That’s one thing I’m putty good at, Wild.”

“Quite clever in you, Charlie,” Anna said, smilingly, as she touched him on the arm. “I really believe you are getting to be a very close student of human nature.”

“Never mind about the human nature part of it, gal. But I’m livin’ an’ learnin’ all the time. I hit upon somethin’ almost every day that I never knowed afore. This is a funny world, this is, but there’s a whole lot to be learned in it, jest the same.”

It happened that the only guest that day in the dining-room besides our friends was the sheriff, so not caring much about him as far as what they said was concerned, they talked on, he joining in now and then.

But the main subject was the Vultures and the two men who had left the hotel so suddenly.

Gradually the chief official of the county began to believe that he had made a mistake in appointing Captain Bird and Rooster Dick as deputies.

“Say,” he said, after he had listened for a while to what our hero and his partners were saying, “suppose it should happen to be that them two fellers was members of the Band of Ten?”

“Nothing strange in that, sheriff,” Wild answered, quickly.

“That is my opinion, and it was almost from the very start. I am sorry now I didn’t follow them when they rode away, for I feel pretty sure that I would have been able to find out the hidden retreat of the Vultures.”

“Great snakes! To think that I could be fooled. But maybe it ain’t that way, Young Wild West. You might be mistaken in what you think.”

“I might be, sheriff, but I don’t believe I am. As soon as we have finished dinner we’ll see about getting ready to set out for Shinbone Bar. If we don’t meet Captain Bird and Rooster Dick before we get there we certainly will come across the Vultures. You say there are ten of them. That isn’t so many when it comes to a pinch. We have handled more than that many a time.”

“But not sich fellers as they are,” and the sheriff shook his head doubtingly. “They’re a very foxy lot. they’ve got ways of showin’ up right afore yer when you ain’t expectin’ ’em, an’ it seems that they kin git out of sight ag’in as if by magic. There’s all sorts of stories been told about this here Band of Ten.”

“No doubt of that. But stories are not always true. Just give us a chance and we’ll see what we can do for you.”

“I’m goin’ to give you all the chance in the world, an’ I’m willin’ to be led by yer. I ain’t goin’ to boss the job. You kin do that, Young wild West, an’ let me tell yer, there’s a reward offered any one who is the means of breakin’ up this here gang. It’s two thousand dollars, too, an’ if you succeed in doin’ it the money is yours.”

“All right, if the county has put up that much money I’ll be willing to take it if I succeed. We’ll divide it among us, won’t we, boys?”

“Don’t we get a share, too?” Arietta spoke up, laughingly.

“That all depends upon what part you take in the game, Et,” Wild answered.

“Well, I mean to take part in it, you can be sure of that.”

“Yes, I suppose you will have to get into it somehow.”

“You don’t mean to tell me that she’s goin’ to try an’ hunt for the Vultures?” the sheriff asked, looking amazed.

“Why not, sheriff? She can shoot just about as well and as quick as most of the men I have met, and she always keeps cool, too. Arietta is not like the general run of girls, and she was brought up in Wyoming in the times when every one had to be ready to shoot for their lives, for bad Indians were


Page 8

continually raiding the settlers. Yes, Arietta is not like the average girl, you can depend on that.”

“But wouldn’t the vultures take her a prisoner an’ keep her if they got a chance?”

“If they were to do that it would not be the first time such a thing has happened.”

“I reckon not,” Cheyenne Charlie spoke up. “She’s been caught by outlaws an’ Injuns more times than you kin count on your fingers an’ toes, sheriff. She’s always come out all right, too, an’ generally been the means of helpin’ things along for the benefit of the rest of us, too.”

“Well, I swan!” and the sheriff then looked at Arietta in admiration, forgetting to eat what he had on his plate.

They all took their time about disposing of the meal, and finally when they were through Wild excused himself and went to see if the Chinamen had been fed.

He found them just getting up from a table in the kitchen, where they had been eating along with a couple of the employees of the hotel.

“Hop, you and Wing can go and get the pack-horses ready as soon as you are ready to do it,” the young deadshot said. “We are not going to linger around here very long. We’ll hit the trail for Shinbone Bar, and if we don’t get there tonight we will some time to-morrow. You have got to look out for yourselves, too, for the chances are that you will see a Band of men wearing masks and hats that look like birds’ heads. Vultures, you know. They’re a bad lot, too, and maybe they have wings, so they’ll be able to pick you up and fly away with you.”

“Lat allee light, Misler Wild,” Hop answered, quickly. “Me no ’flaid of um Vultures. Me velly smartee Chinee. Me shootee um birds velly muchee quickee.”

“You might get a chance to shoot Captain Bird.”

“Lat light, Misler Wild,” and the Chinaman winked knowingly. “He allee same um Vulture. Me velly sure of lat.”

“You think so, eh?”

“Yes, Misler Wild. Me see Melican man likee him before. He comee ’lound and fool evelybody. Captain Bird allee samee bad man. Velly muchee smartee, too. Me knowee lat.”

Wing had nothing to say at all.

Evidently he as satisfied that his brother could do enough talking for the pair of them, so he turned and went out of the kitchen, making straight for the stable.

Hop followed him a couple of minutes later, and then while the girls were making preparations to leave the hotel, Wild and his partners strolled out of the front way and entered the barroom.

The sheriff was there waiting for them.

“My horse will be here in a few minutes, an’ all you have got to do is to say the word an’ I’ll be with yer,” he declared.

“All right,” Will answered. “I suppose you mean to go right on through to Shinbone Bar if we are not interfered with on the way.”

“Yes, I want to go over there, anyhow. I’ve just got the notices ready to put up for the reward for the cleanin’ up of the Vultures. Here’s one of ’em.”

He showed Wild and his partners a placard which contained the announcement that two thousand dollars would be paid for the arrest and conviction of the gang that was known as the Vultures, or Band of Ten.

“I s’pose I oughter put on it that it will be apid if they’re caught dead or alive. That would give you a better chance.”

“There is something in that, sheriff. It wouldn’t do any good to convict a man if he is dead,” and the young deadshot laughed lightly.

“All right, I’ll see to it that it’s put on the placards. I’ve got two for this town an’ one I’m goin’ to take over to Shinbone Bar. I’ll put that up in the whisky –mill over there, so everybody kin read it. Then maybe there’ll be more interest taken in the affair.”

He found a man who was able to do the lettering for him, and by the time the pack-horses were led around to the front of the hotel the placards had been fixed to his satisfaction.

Our hero and his partners then went to the stable and saddled the horses.

They mounted their own and led those belonging to the girls around to the front, followed by Hop and Wing, who were leading the loaded pack-horses.

The girls came out promptly enough, and as soon as they had mounted the sheriff got upon his horse and they were ready to leave.

Quite a few men were there, and they wished them good luck as they rode away.

It did not take them long to leave the town behind them, and then the horses cantered along the winding trail that led over the mountain to Shinbone Bar.

Wild questioned the sheriff as they rode along, and he learned that the hold-ups had occurred in various places along the trail, and that generally the Vultures had appeared on foot, their horses being nowhere to be seen.

“Sometimes they’ve showed up within two miles of Shinbone Bar. Then ag’in, there’s been folks held up within a couple of miles of Jackson. But most of the time the trouble had been about half-way between the two places,” Morgan said.

“Well, we can look out for something to happen when we get about half-way, then,” the young deadshot retorted. “You say it is thirty-five miles from Jackson to Shinbone Bar?”

“Yes, jest about, as near as you kin git at it.”

“All right, then. When we’ve gone eighteen miles and the Vultures don’t appear I’ll begin to think that they are going to let us go on through without molesting us. Maybe we may meet your two deputies before that, though.”

“You mean Captain Bird an’ Rooster Dick?”


“Maybe we will. I hope we do, ’cause I’d like to ask ’em a few questions.”

“Don’t say anything to them that would make them have the least idea that you were suspecting them, sheriff.”

“You think I’d better not?”

“Yes, I do.”

“All right, jest as you say, then. I won’t ask ’em nothin’ any more than why they went on ahead. But we ain’t met ’em yet, an’ most likely we won’t see ’em till we git to the minin’ camp.”

But Wild had got it in his head that they would see them before that, and the more he thought about it the more convinced he became that he was right.

They continued on the jonrney, and when about ten miles had been covered they came to a defile that ran almost straight between high walls of rock.

“That looks like a good place for a hold-up, sheriff,” our hero observed, as he nodded to him and then looked straight ahead.

“Yes, I reckon it does. But I don’t know as there’s ever been any hold-ups right here in this pass. As I said afore, they’ve appeared at different places.”

“Don’t the stage come over to-day? I think I heard some one say so at the hotel.”

“Yes, we’ll meet the outfit about ten miles further on if it’s on time.”

“All right. We’ll be on the watch for it when it comes along.”

Our hero and his companions were pretty good judges of distance.

When they thought they had gone something like seventeen or eighteen miles they came to a halt, and the sheriff wondered what this meant.

When he inquired about it, Wild smiled at him and said:

“I reckon ths must be about half-way.”

“Yes, I should say it was jest about that.”

“And we haven’t met a soul yet.”

“No, an’ we ain’t likely to, unless them Vultures show up. Blamed if I don’t wish they would show up. I”d like to see ’em once. I want to know jest how they look.”

After giving the horses a short breathing spell, Wild decided to go on.

They had just about started when they heard the sounds made by horses at a walk not far ahead of them.

A few seconds later two horsemen came around a bend not more than two hundred feet ahead of them.

A single glance showed them to be Captain Bird and Rooster Dick.

“There they are, Wild!” Cheyenne Charlie exclaimed, in a low tone of voice. “I was dead sartin we would meet them galoots afore we got to Shinbone Bar.”

“So was I, Charlie. But just take it easy now. We’ll see what they have to say.”

The two men acted as though they were glad to see them coming.

“We thought it pretty nearly time for you to come along,” Captain Bird said, as he doffed his hat to the girls. “We took it along rather easy, you know, and thought we would wait for you.”

“Your horses don’t look as though you took it very easy, Captain Bird,” Wild said, as he pointed to the two steeds they rode, which were fairly steaming.

Captain Bird frowned slightly, but answered promptly:


Page 9

“We were riding a little fast just now when we came back, after deciding to wait for you.”

“Oh, I understand. Didn’t see anything of the Band of Ten with their vulture heads on them, did you?”

“Not a sign of them. But say, Young Wild West, one reason we have for coming back to meet you was that we talked it over and thought some kind of an apology was coming to you.”

“It isn’t at all necessary, Captain Bird. Don’t bother yourself to make an apology.”

“All right, then. I only wanted to show you that we have nothing but the best of feelings toward you and your friends.”

“I am glad to hear that. But just let the matter drop. You are going on with us to Shinbone Bar, I suppose?”

“Certainly, if you will permit us to ride with you.”

“I reckon nobody will object to it.”

They had halted at a place where the trail was very narrow.

On one side the cliff reared itself almost straight above them, while on the other a rocky slope went on up for perhaps a dozen feet, stunted oaks and tall pines growing upon it, with here and there a bunch of prickly bushes.

Wild knew his partners were keeping a close watch upon the two villains, so he took in his surroundings.

At the right where the slope ran upward was a stumpy cedar tree that was dead, and when the boy saw this move slightly he could not help thinking  it rather strange, since there was no air stirring that could possibly cause the movement.

The cedar was a very big one, and was brown instead of green, since the sap had long ceased running upward from the roots.

Without saying a word the young deadshot drew his revolver, and taking aim at the tree, pulled the trigger.


As the report rang out the tree fell down, and then all hands caught a glimpse of a man as he leaped behind an adjacent rock.

“That was a pretty good shot, eh, sheriff?” our hero said, nodding to the surprised official. “I knocked that tree down with a bullet from my gun.”

“There was a man holdin’ it up as sure as you live, Young Wild West,” was the reply. “I seen him jump behind that rock there.”

”I reckon you did, sheriff. I saw him, too. I happened to notice that the dead cedar moved slightly, and I knew it wasn’t caused by the wind. That’s why I took a shot at it. I’d be willing to wager a hundred dollars to ten that it was one of the so-called vultures who was holding up the tree. How about it, Captain Bird?”

“I didn’t see anything of a man,” was the quick reply. “Did you, Rooster Dick?”

“No,” and the man addressed shrugged his shoulders and acted as though he was getting nervous.

“Well, I am going to make a little investigation. It strikes me that it is not going to take us very long to run down the Band of Ten. Here goes!”

The boy leaped lightly to the ground, and just as he did so Captain Bird whistled sharply, and then, whipping out a revolver, called out:

“I guess I have got you folks dead to rights. There is no use playing this farce any longer.”

Then from before and behind them several armed men appeared.

Their faces and heads were covered with the vulture heads, too, and there was no mistaking who they were.




Young Wild West had hardly expected this movement on the part of Captain Bird, and as the whistle sounded he turned quickly and found that he was the one who was covered by the villain’s revolver.

He was too far from him to have a chance to knock the weapon from his hand, so he simply stood there, gun in hand.

Cheyenne Charlie and Jim Dart were as much surprised as any one there, and the girls, when they saw the queer-looking men assemble so quickly, could not help screaming.

Rooster Dick, with a gun in either hand, looked on, his face beaming with delight.

There was no getting out of it. Our friends had been caught neatly.

They were covered from almost every side, and wild, being the only one who had dismounted, stood the best chance of reaching cover.

But he did not take his gaze from the face of Captain Bird, and holding his revolver with the muzzle toward the ground, as it had been when he turned, he said:

“Well, it seems that you have caught us napping. What are you going to do about it?”

“You’ll find out quickly enough, if you don’t drop that gun,” came the reply. “If I went in strict accordance with my feelings I’d send a bullet through your heart right away. But I am not going to do that. I want to take you a prisoner. I am Captain Bird, the leader of the Vultures. There are just ten of us, counting myself and Rooster Dick. A fine lot of men I have, too, Young Wild West. You thought you were very smart, didn’t you? But I made up my mind to nip this piece of business in the bud. I think I have done it nicely, too.”

“You want me to drop my gun, do you?” the boy asked, for he was now as cool as he ever had been in his whole life.

“If you don’t do it inside of five seconds I’ll shoot you!”

As our hero had turned to go in the direction of the fallen cedar tree he had noticed a sort of hole in the ground.

It was only about three or four feet in depth, and went on down behind some rocks.

He had just started to step around this when the whistle sounded.

He could not see the hole now, but knew about where it was.

“I suppose I’ll have to do as you say, Captain Bird,” he said, forcing a smile.

Then, with lightning-like quickness, he leaped to the left and, turning, dropped into the hole.

The movement was so unexpected that Captain Bird did not even shoot.

“Keep cool, everybody,” the boy shouted, as he scrambled down the short descent and got behind the rocks. “Don’t run any risk, boys. They have got you dead to rights, but they haven’t got me yet.”


A revolver shot sounded from behind the rocks where the man had leaped as the cedar tumbled down when Wild shot at it.

The young deadshot heard the hum of the bullet as it went over him, and he knew that he had to look out.

But he quickly crawled a dozen feet further, and then found a clump of rocks that would conceal him pretty well, and at the same time give him a chance to see any one who might attempt to come that way.

“I’m all right,” he shouted. “Boys, keep cool. Et, don’t lose your nerve.”

None of the Vultures could see him now, and they were somewhat stumped.

Charlie and Jim and the sheriff were forced to hold their hands over their heads.

There was no other way, so reluctantly, they did so.

The girls were not asked to do this, for it seemed that the Band of Ten did not regard them as being at all dangerous.

“You two heathens come right on up here. We want to see what you have got there,” Captain Bird called out.

Hop and Wing obeyed.

“Here yer are, captain,” one of the Vultures said, as he handed over a vulture headdress. “You had better put this on. It will make it look more natural like.”

“Thanks,” the villain said, politely, as he took it and pulled it on over his hat.

Rooster Dick was then give one, and he, too, was quickly transformed into a Vulture.

Arietta was, perhaps, as cool as any one of our friends.

She had heard the leader say that there were ten of them.

But all she could count was nine.

The tenth man must be behind the rocks, however, so that made the right number.

When Wild called out that he was all right the girl’s spirits rose a hundred per cent.

“Do you mean to rob us?” she asked, looking at the leader boldly.

“Yes, miss, that’s our line of business. But I mean to do a little more than rob you all. I am going to take you a prisoner.”

“You’ll never do that,” Arietta retorted, defiantly, and then she suddenly drew a revolver.

but before she could raise it it was knocked from her hand by one of the villains who was standing close to her.

Then, at a nod from Captain Bird, the girl was seized and pulled from the back of her horse.


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Almost before the rest were aware of it she had been whisked out of sight.

But a sharp cry came from her, and Charlie and Jim knew that she had been carried into a rather wide crevice that was but a few feet from her horse.

There was only one chance for them to get the best of the Vultures, and Jim Dart thought of it just then.

Turning his head, he shot a glance at Hop and gave a slight nod.

The clever Chinee understood.

“Me no wantee be killee,” he called out, suddenly, acting as though he had suddenly become very much frightened. “Me goodee Chinee.”

“Shut up, theathen,” Rooster dick exclaimed. “I feel jest like killin’ you, anyhow, an’ if you say another word I’ll do it.”

The Chinaman put his hands over his face and made out that he was weeping.

Then he slipped  his right hand under his blouse, and the next thing they knew something hit the ground right in the midst of the Vultures and there was a loud explosion.

“Hip hi!” shouted the clever Chinee. “Evelybody gittee ’way velly much quickee.”

What appeared to be a cloud of steam came up from the spot where the explosion had occurred, and realizing that their only chance had arrived, all hands started their horses forward and went galloping away from the spot.

We say all hands, meaning, of course, those who were mounted and ready to make the dash for the escape.

Young Wild West and Arietta were left behind.

The former was crouching in the niche something like thirty feet away, while there was no telling where the latter was just then.

Luckily for them there was a sharp bend in the trail very close to the spot where the excitement took place, and they all succeeded in getting around it before the Vultures came to a realization of it.

The instant he saw that they could not be seen by the villainous band, Cheyenne Charlie reined in his horse and called out excitedly to Dart:

“Hey, Jim, let the others go right on. We’ve got to save Wild an’ Arietta.”

The boy answered with a nod and stopped his horse immediately.

Then both urged Anna and Eloise to ride along with the two Chinamen.

Hop, however, did not go but a few yards before he left the pack-horse he had been leading in charge of his brother and came riding back to where Young Wild West’s partners were at a halt trying to agree upon some plan of action.

“Me wantee helpee, Misler Charlie,” the clever Chinee said, earnestly.

“You have helped a whole lot already, heathen,” was the quick reply. “You done it so quick that I didn’t know it an’ I wasn’t ready for it. What did you do, anyhow, to make that explosion?”

“Me havee bottle of something, Misler Charlie. When um bottle bleak it makee velly biggee bang. Plenty steam, so be.”

“Some of them chemicals you’re always foolin’ with, I s’pose. But, anyhow, it’s all right,” and the scout showed that he was perfectly satisfied.

“I should say it was all right,” Jim Dart spoke up. “We were in a might tight place just then. Those fellows surely had us dead to rights. It’s too bad that they got Arietta. Wild will be quite able to take care of himself. But just were they took her I don’t know.”

“I now putty well where they took her,” the scout answered, with a shrug of his shoulders. “There’s all kinds of nooks and crannies in them rocks back there, an’ most likely there’s a cave right there. The one as grabbed her didn’t have very far to go. If he had we would have seen jest what he done with her. But keep your eyes open. Them galoots might come sneakin’ this way. They ain’t got their horses, I reckon, an’ that’s why they ain’t followed us.”

Jim nodded and then they listened for the space of a minute.

But not a sound did they hear, and becoming satisfied that it was time they went back to tackle the band, Charlie, without saying anything, started right around the bend.

Jim came after him, Hop following a short distance behind.

As the scout was half-way around he looked straight ahead to the spot where the excitement had occurred.

But there was no one there now.

The place was absolutely deserted.

“What do you think of that, Jim?” Charlie said, as Dart ran to this side. “Them Vultures has gone.”

“It seems so, Charlie,” was the reply. “Well, I suppose they’re satisfied with what they have done. They have got Arietta a prisoner, and maybe they are willing to let it go at that for the present. But just look out. They sprang upon us so suddenly that it seemed almost as if the ground had suddenly opened to let them do it and give us a surprise. We must find out where Wild is.”

“Yes, that’s right. I reckon I’ll take a chance of yellin’ to him.”

“All right, go ahead. I’ll keep a watch while you’re doing it.”

“Wild! Wild! Hello, Wild!” the scout shouted.

“Hello!” came the reply immediately.

“Come on, the sneakin’ coyotes has gone.”

There was a short wait then, and Young wild West suddenly came in view.

Revolver in hand, he stepped down the little slope upon the trial.

But instead of joining his partners, whom he saw right away, he motioned for them to come to him.

“Hop,” said the scout, “you had better ride on an’ git Spitfire. Wild will want him putty soon, I reckon.”

“Allee light, Misler Charlie,” and the clever Chinee at once turned and rode away at a gallop.

Charlie and Jim then unhesitatingly rode back to the spot where all the trouble and excitement had occurred.

Wild was standing in the center of the trail, so he could keep a watch at either side.

“Boys,” said he, for he was now very cool, “a rather strange thing has happened. They’ve got Arietta; I know that, but I don’t see just how it happened. But I heard a scream, and that was enough to tell me all about it.”

“It was the greatest thing I ever seen, Wild,” the scout answered, in a low tone of voice, for it seemed as if he feared some one might be listening close at hand. “Them Vultures, as they call themselves, had us dead to rights, an’ there we had to set in the saddle, our hands over our heads. There was no use tryin’ to put up a fight, ’cause they was all around us jest as quick as if they had dropped from the sky, an’ a blamed sight quicker, too. Arietta didn’t scare a bit, an’ she was goin’ to shot one of ’em when the gun was knocked from her hand. Then, afore we knowed it, she was pulled from her horse, an’ in a twinklin’ she was out of sight. But there’s the place where they took her. I’m sartin of that.”

He pointed to a crevice in the rocky wall at the side of the trail.

“All right. That might be the way to get into a cave, or it might only be just a little break in the bank. But if you’re satisfied it was there she was taken in such a hurry it must be that there is a passage or a cave there. But I am satisfied there is more than one way to get into this cave, if there really is one right here. I think there is one beyond a doubt, for I never saw men appear so quickly before in all my life. Of course, it is possible that the Vultures could have been hiding behind the rocks around here, and simply waiting for their leader to give the word for them to spring upon us. I am inclined to think that this is the solution of the mystery. But that dead cedar I knocked down with a bullet means something. It strikes me that there might be a hole up there, and that after firing the shot at me while I was getting out of sight the villain entered it. I’ll tell you what you do. Get off your horse and go and stand back close to the rocks right there. There certainly is no opening there, so they can’t surprise you from behind. Keep your eyes open and shoot the first man you see. Shoot them all, if they happen to show up and you have the chance to do it. I am going up there to that dead cedar and make an investigation. If they took Arietta into a cave through that crevice it can easily be that there is a way to get in it up there on the hil, for if you will take notice it is almost directly above here, and the distance is not more than fifty or sixty feet.”

The young deadshot’s partners nodded and quickly dismounted.

Then leaving their horses standing in the center of the trail, they pushed against the solid wall of rock, taking care to tap it with the butts of their revolvers before doing so.

This was to make sure that a false covering was not there to deceive them.

The young deadshot no sooner saw them in the proper position to watch than he turned deliberately and walked up the slight hill in the direction of the fallen cedar tree.

He not only watched carefully, but listened as well as he made his way along, and he stepped so lightly that it would have been impossible for any one to hear him coming, even though they were but a short distance away.


Page 11

Reaching the cedar, the boy was not long in discovering that it simply had been propped up against a big stone.

There was nothing like a hole or any other opening there, so he turned his attention to the clump of rocks the man had disappeared behind after he had fired the shot at the tree.

Then he saw something that carried out his idea of it.

What appeared to be a natural crack in the strata of rock that was right on the surface lay before him.

It only extended a few feet, and was about two feet wide in the center, narrowing down to nothing at either end.

The young deadshot gave a quick glance all around him, and then stepped fearlessly to the crack.

When he was directly over it he looked down and was able to see the bottom of the hole not more than ten feet below.

“That’s where the villain went, I reckon,” he thought. “I’ve found out something, anyhow. Now, then, I wonder what I had better do. Of course, I must get inside there and save Arietta. But would it be advisable for me to go this way, or should I wait? I reckon I had better go this way, so I’ll let Charlie and Jim know what my intentions are.”

Then the brave boy stepped around the rocks, and catching the eyes of his two partners, he made motions to them so they would know that he was going to descend into the hole.

Having done this, he stepped back, and throwing his feet over the edge, grasped the other side with his hands and promptly lowered himself down.

His feet would not quite touch the bottom, but he could see it plainly enough, so he did not hesitate to drop, landing lightly and scarcely making the least sound.

Young Wild West now felt certain that he was in the hiding place of the Vultures.



Cheyenne Charlie and Jim Dart were both rather uneasy when they understood that Wild was going into some sort of an opening he must have discovered.

They waited there patiently after he had disappeared, and when fieve minutes had elapsed their attention was called further up the trail.

They looked that way, and saw Hop Wah riding back, leading the sorrel stallion, while close behind him was Sheriff Morgan.

“The sheriff has made up his mind to come back, eh?” the scout said, in a whisper. “I didn’t say nothin’ to him when I asked you to come. But I thought he would have sense enough to do it. I reckon he ain’t no braver than he oughter be.”

“It looks that way, Charlie,” Jim answered.

Up came the three horses, making quite a clatter.

Hop halted the sorrel and left him standing close to the steeds of Charlie and Jim.

The sheriff rather timidly came to a stop and called out:

“Found out anything?”

“Not much,” Jim answered.

“Where’s Young Wild West?”

“He’s around close by.”

“Did you see him?”


“Where is he now?”

“He went up the hill.”

“Lookin’ for them Vultures, eh? Do you think they had horses the other side of the hill, an’ that they went that way?”

“That’s what Wild thinks,” Jim said, thinking it advisable to talk in that way, since he knew it was possible that some of the villains might be listening.

“Why didn’t you go with him?” the sheriff asked, becoming a little more easy.

“Because he told us to stay here until he came back.”


Then Morgan dismounted.

Hop got off his horse, too, and began looking carefully about.

When Cheyenne Charlie saw him treading pretty close to the rift that he was certain Arietta had been carried through, he watched keenly but said nothing.

Hop was looking into every crevice and niche he could find, holding the big, old-fashioned six-shooter he always carried with him in his hand as though he was ready to shoot down the first outlaw he met.

As he reached the crevice he thrust his head and shoulders in and tried to pierce the gloom that was ahead.

At that very moment there was a rattling caused by falling dirt and stones, and he disappeared from view, uttering a sharp cry of alarm as he did so.

“There he goes!” Cheyenne Charlie exclaimed, darting forward.

“I saw him just as he went, Charlie,” Jim said, as he followed him. “But I am pretty certain that no one pulled him in there. As he took a step into the opening the ground caved under his feet. I saw it plainly.”

“Then he’s tumbled down somewhere.”

“That is just what has happened. I am sorry he wasn’t more careful.”

“Well, it’s all right, anyhow,” and the scout seemed to think it really was. That’s where they took Arietta, an’ if Hop has got in there he’ll sartinly be able to do somethin’ to git her out ag’in.”

“It isn’t likely that Arietta is very close to this place, Charlie,” Jim said, winking to make him understand that he was merely talking for the benefit of any one who might be listening. “Maybe there’s a passage through there that leads to the other side of the hole above. That is where the scoundrels took the girl, undoubtedly.”

Then they listened in the hope of hearing something from Hop.

But not the least sound came to their ears.

The sheriff had become very nervous again.

“Say,” he said, suddenly, “let’s ride on over the top of that hill an’ look for them Vultures. I’ll bet they had their horses up there an’ that Captain Bird seen to it that they was hidin’ here while he come to meet us. That feller is a slick one. I never would have believed anything like this of him. The idea of his bein’ the leader of the Vultures, an’ me swearin’ him in as a deputy sheriff.”

“That’s where you didn’t have your eyes open, sheriff,” the scout declared. “A man in your position ought to have more sense anyhow.”

The official took this without a murmur.

No doubt he was heartily ashamed of the ignorance he had shown in the matter, and was not going to get angry when it was spoken of.

“I’ll tell you what you kin do, sheriff,” Charlie observed, after a short silence.

“Tell me an’ I’ll do it,” was the quick reply.

“Git on your horse an’ ride over the hill there an’ see if you kin see anything of Young Wild West. He went on foot, you know. His horse wasn’t here then.”

“All right, I’ll do it, an’ you kin bet if I see one of them fellers with a vulture’s head on him I’ll pop him over quicker htan chained lightnin’. I ain’t goin’ to stand no more foolin’. I don’t care whether I take ’em alive or not. After they’ve took the gal the way they did they deserve nothin’ short of killin’ an’ they’ll git it from me, you kin bet.”

Then he flourished his gun and quickly mounted his horse.

Without saying anything more he rode up the hill, pausing close to the hole Wild had dropped into, but not taking any notice of it.

Meanwhile, Charlie and Jim, now left to themselves again, were sorely perplexed.

After talking it over in whispers for a few minutes, they decided to use a rope and one of them entered the place Hope had slipped down into.

“It’s a big risk, I know,” Jim declared, with a shake of the head, “but I am willing to take it. Wild has got in from the other side, and Hop has tumbled in. We already know that Arietta must be in there somewhere. Give me the noose of your lariat, Charlie, and I’ll slip it under my arms and go down there.”

“All right, Jim, I’ll do it; but be mighty careful.”

The next minute Dart had the noose about his body, and then while Charlie held tightly to the rope he stepped to the crevice and soon sat down.

His feet touched the ground, which slanted sharply there.

Working himself along by degrees, the boy was soon lost to view, Charlie paying out upon the rope meanwhile.

But Jim did not have to go downward more than six or eight feet before he came to an almost level spot of solid rock.

Enough light was admitted for him to see this plainly, and when he saw there was nothing there that looked anything like Hop’s hat or anything belonging to him he decided that probably the heathen had taken advantage of his sudden entrance into the place to proceed to make a search.

The boy walked along the passage until he was brought to a stop with a jerk.

He could no longer see ahead of him now, so he thought it advisable to go back and let Charlie know how things were.

Back he went, and stretching himself upward against the


Page 12

slanting earth and rock, he was able to see the scout squatting outside and peering down at him.

“Just tie that rope around a rock somewhere, Charlie,” he whispered, softly. “I think I could get out without being assisted by you, but it will be just was well to have it ready in case we have to come back in a hurry. I want you to come down here with me.”

“Did you see anything of Hop?” Charlie asked, eagerly.

“Not the least sign of him. But I’m satisfied now that he’s working around in the cave. There seems to be one here, or else this passage goes on straight to the other side of the hill.”

“All right, I’ll come right down there.”

Charlie was not long in making the rope fast, and then he slid cautiously down and soon was standing beside the boy.

Jim led the way along.

He had removed the rope from about his body, but carried it in his hand and did not drop it until it had stretched to its full length.

“There you are,” he said, in a whisper. “If we have to come back in a hurry we can catch on the rope and pull ourselves along to make us all the quicker in getting out.”

Charlie nodded and then endeavoured to pierce the inky blackness that lay before them.

He waited for Jim to lead the way, however, for he seemed to think that the boy had the right to do it, since he had been the first to come there.

Dart stepped along cautiously, making sure that he could not drop into any pitfall.

He followed the left side of the passage, too, and then suddenly they were able to see ahead of them.

A light was admitted from somewhere, though just where they could not tell.

As their eyes became accustomed to the dimness they were able to discern things more plainly.

It seemed they had struck a veritable network of passages.

But they soon decided to find out where the light was admitted.

The first passage they tried was a failure, for it grew darker instead of lighter as they pushed their way through it.

Then they came back and tried another, and were rewarded for doing it, for in less than a minute they were standing right at the entrance of a good-sized cave.

The light came through from a rift overhead and to the right, and as they looked around they saw evidences of some one having been there.

There were a couple of barrels close to the wall to the left of them, and beyond them were some rocks.

Walking over to them they made an examination, but quickly came to the conclusion that no one had been using it lately for a sleeping or living place.

“Whisky barrels, I reckon,” the scout whispered, after he had looked closely at them. “They’re empty, too. Them galoots must be putty hard drinkers to clean up a couple of barrels. I don’t know how long they’ve been here, but from what the sheriff said it can’t be so very long.”

Jim nodded without making any verbal reply.

He was well satisfied that the headquarters of the Vultures was somewhere within the cavernous place.

This part of the cavern might have been used at one time for them to store things, but they certainly had never used it for even a stable.

He motioned to Charlie to follow him, and then turned and walked toward the other end of the rocky chamber, which was somewhat in the shape of an oblong.

As they reached the darkest corner the faint sounds of voices came to their ears.

Charlie gave a start, and then taking off his hat went through the performance of giving a noiseless cheer.

“Easy, Charlie,” cautioned Jim. “I reckon we are on the right track now.”

“I reckon so,” was the reply.

Jim was not long in discovering a natural archway, and through this he stepped boldly, for it was in that direction the voices came from.

Twenty feet straight ahead, and then a sharp turn to the left, and daylight showed again.

The voices were plainer, too; so, much encouraged, the two continued on and in a few seconds found themselves looking into another chamber, the headquarters of the Band of Ten, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Standing and sitting about three round tables, such as are used in saloons for card playing, were ten men, all of them wearing the vulture masks and headdress.

Jim Dart counted them quickly, and he felt like giving vent to a sigh of relief when he found that the full number was there.

This meant that there were none of them outside to watch what was going on.

He waited until he had made sure that there were exactly ten of them, and then looked around for Arietta, or Wild, or Hop, for he did not know but what they might all be prisoners there.

But there were no traces of any of them.

However, there were alcoves and jutting pieces of wall that nature had formed in the big cave to be seen all around.

Behind any one of these obstruction prisoners might be kept.

The Vultures seemed to be holding a sort of meeting.

One of them, whom they readily knew was Captain Bird, sat at one of the tables.

He was talking in low tones, and at every few words he would say the rest would nod approvingly.

Presently he raised his voice slightly and said:

“Now, then, the question before the house is what shall be done with the girl? I have never made war upon defenceless women, or even those who were able to put up a fight for themselves. This girl seems to be quite able to do that. She’s the pluckiest one I ever saw in my whole life. We have decided to wipe out Young Wild West and his partners and the sheriff as well. They must never get away from here alive. We all know pretty well that they’ll be in no hurry to leave here. They want to find the girl too much for that.”

“If you don’t want the gal, cap, give her to us an’ we’ll chuck dice to see who wins her,” one of the men spoke up.

“No,” was the quick reply. “Nothing of the kind will ever happen as long as I’m the leader of the Band of Ten. I think I had better decide the question for good and all.”

“You have got the authority to do it, cap,” another of the villains observed.

“Yes, I know I have, and I’ll do it right now. She shall be kept a prisoner here until such a time arrives that it will be safe to take her somewhere and give her her liberty. That settles the question.”

Charlie and Jim were eager listeners, as might be supposed.

They now knew for a certainty that Young Wild West and Hop must be somewhere in the cave, and were searching for the very spot they had found.

Jim was just about to whisper something to Charlie when he felt a light touch on his shoulder.

Turning quickly he saw the grinning face of Hop Wah, while right behind him stood Young Wild West.



Feeling doubly sure that he had found a way to get into the hiding-place of the Vultures, Young Wild West listened for the space of a full minute before he took a step.

Even then he looked upward and made pretty sure that he would have no great difficulty in getting out of the hole should he be compelled to make a hasty exit, and then he started through what was surely a passage.

It ran slightly downward and was rocky and uneven.

But what light there was to come in from the opening showed him the way for several yards, and when he finally came to where it was too dark to see ahead of them he went forward slowly, feeling every step and keeping his left hand upon the rocky wall.

He kept on until he came to a rather sharp turn, and then saw light ahead.

This was encouraging, and a minute later he found himself looking into the underground apartment that must have easily covered an area of five hundred square feet.

Light was admitted through a jagged opening at one side, and it was not more than a few seconds before he was able to see horses standing along the rocky wall at one side.

“I reckon it isn’t going to be so very hard to settle this business,” the boy thought. “Only for the fact that Arietta must have suffered quite a fright, I could call it a lucky thing that the scoundrels got her. Anyhow, she isn’t the girl to faint or become hysterical over such a thing. If they haven’t harmed her it’s all right, for she will soon be free. We’ll have the Vultures, too.”


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Thee boy started across the underground chamber, treading softly.

He was satisfied that there was no one there, and that the horses occupied it alone.

This meant that the place where the outlaws had their quarters must surely be close by.

The boy had been in many similar underground places before, so it did not strike him was being strange that such a spot was there.

Young Wild West never did anything hasty, especially when he had time to think it over.

He felt that he could gain nothing by hurrying matters now.

What must be done first by them was to locate exactly where the Band of Ten were.

Keeping to the right side he went along until he found an opening, and peering into this, he saw that it was natural gallery that extended away in zigzag fashion.

There was enough light there for him to distinguish objects, so he decided to go further up and run the chance of finding the part of the cavernous place he was looking for.

After turning this way and that and covering a distance of easily a couple of hundred feet, the boy suddenly found himself at the end of the passage.

Before him reared a jagged cliff at the top of which he could see trees and bushes growing.

He went outside, but it happened that a high point of rock lay between him and the trail.

“Charlie and Jim are right over there somewhere,” he muttered. “Well, I reckon I won’t go to them now, for it may be that some of the villains are on the watch for me, and they might drop me before I knew it. I’ll go back the same way and try again. One thing is certain, they’ll wait there until they think that something must have happened to me or I return.”

Having decided upon this course, he turned and went back through the passage.

He was not long in reaching the chamber where the horses were, and then he looked about for another way out of it.

The mouth of a smaller gallery was close at hand, and entering it, he proceeded on for probably a hundred feet, walking upward all the time, and presently found himself looking outside once more.

This time he knew he was not far from the hole he had dropped into when he discovered the cavernous place.

Of course, he could not see anything of his partners from there, so he turned and went back to look again for what he was so anxious to find.

When he as half-way back to the stable, as it might be called, he heard a faint cry and the sounds made by dirt and stones falling down from somewhere.

“Hello!” he exclaimed, under his breath. “I wonder what that means?”

Then stepping over to the side of the passage from which the sounds came he went along and soon came to a branch of it.

It was just light enough for him to see an object moving about thirty feet ahead of him.

Of course, it was a man.

The young deadshot knew that right away.

But he held his revolver in readiness, and stepping behind a corner, waited expectantly.

With a great degree of caution the man came toward him.

Wild was watching from behind the rock, and suddenly he gave a start.

It was Hop Wah he saw, and, not a little surprised, he remained right where he was until the Chinaman had passed him.

Then, in a low whisper, he said:

“Hello, Hop!”

“Misler Wild!” came the startled exclamation, but in a very low tone of voice.

“Yes, I’m here, Hop. How did you manage to find the way I came?”

“Me allee samee fallee down, and when me see um passage me thlinkee me bettee lookee for Missee Alietta.”

“You fell down a hole, then?”

“Lat light, Misler Wild. Me lookee where Misler Charlie say um outlaws takee Missee Alietta. Um glound allee samee givee ’way, and me commee down velly muchee quickee. Maybe Misler Charlie and Misler Jim velly muchee suplise, but me no care for lat.”

“You should have gone back and let them know that you were all right, Hop,” the young deadshot declared.

“Allee light, Misler Wild. Me go back now, so be.”

“Go ahead. I’ll follow you. We’ll get them down here, and then probably we won’t be long in saving Arietta and catching the Vultures.”

Then both turned and started back through the passage, but as luck would have it, Hop kept a little to the left, and without knowing it he was leading the way through an entirely different passage.

This led along in a crooked fashion for many feet, and finally the clever Chinee stopped in the darkness, and in a low whisper said:

“Me makee lillee mistakee, Misler Wild. Me no findee where me comee in.”

“How is that?” the young deadshot asked, impatiently.

“Me no undelstandee.”

“Come on back, then. We must have struck a fork in the passage, and that’s why we came the wrong way.”

Back they started, and in the faint light that pervaded the passage they moved along straight to where they had met, as they thought.

But, as has been said, there was a veritable network of passages under the earth in that particular spot, and when they had gone a couple of hundred feet they suddenly found themselves looking into the chamber where the horses were kept.

Wild shook his head.

“This is a regular puzzle, Hop,” he whispered. “A fellow can’t tell where he is going here. But never mind. There is one thing certain, and that is that the horses must be pretty close to where their owners are. We’ll go over to the other side now and see if we can’t make a discovery.”

“Allee light, Misler Wild,” Hop answered, with a nod.

The young deadshot was soon right among the horses.

Half-way between the line of them he found a broad opening, though it was very dark within it.

The boy listened for a few seconds, and then took the risk of striking a match.

As he held it up before the opening he saw that it was a much larger passage than any he head seen before, and satisfied that he had struck it right now, he nodded for the Chinaman to follow him, and boldly walked along through the darkness, permitting the match to drop to the ground.

There was a turn about thirty feet from the big chamber, and then light could be seen ahead.

At that very moment the two could hear the sounds of voices, though they were not altogether distinct.

“We’re all right now, Hop,” Wild said, in his cool and easy way. “I never thought of looking where the horses were before. But this is the way the horses are led in, I am certain. Now, then, we’ll soon be looking at the sneaking coyotes who think they are so clever. I reckon I’ll show Captain Bird that he don’t know as much as he thinks he does. No doubt he feels that he has won a big trick int eh game by seizing Arietta and moving over into this cavern. But he’ll soon find out his mistake, for by doing that he has simply made it possible for us to find his hiding-place.”

The clever Chinee gave a nod, and as dark as it was our hero could see that a broad smile shone upon his yellow face.

Around the turn in the passage they went, and then they found themselves in a rather narrow chamber, the ceiling overhead being irrgular in shape, with sharp points of rock showing up all over it.

But it was more than high enough to permit a man to ride on horseback, and the light that came in from some place at the right enabled them both to see the marks of hoofprints on the stony ground.

The voices sounded much nearer now, of course, and it did not take our hero long to locate the direction they came from.

Proceeding on through the narrow chamber, they came to a large one, where it was a little darker.

The voices were now quite distinct, though they could not catch many words that were being spoken.

Wild crouched down beside a rock, and the Chinaman followed his example.

They had hardly done this when they heard a faint sound off to the right.

The young deadshot touched the Chinaman on the arm, motioning for him to remain perfectly silent.

Hop understood and said nothing.

Half a minute later they discerned two forms, cautiously making their way along near the opposite side of the chamber.

It was altogether too dark to see them clearly, and though Wild had a faint suspicion that they might be Charlie and Jim, he was not going to take any chances.

No doubt the Vultures were in the habit of moving softly about, especially when they knew they had enemies outside the cavern.


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The two figures went on and were soon lost to view behind a natural pillar of rock.

Then after waiting for two or three minutes, Young wild West decided to go closer to where the voices came from.

He nodded for Hop to follow him, and stepped softly around an angle.

Then, following the rocky wall almost directly back again, he soon came to where it turned and ran across.

In this way he managed to get on around to the other side of the chamber.

He paused here and listened and was able to hear pretty well what was being said.

It was Captain Bird, who was talking about Arietta, and when the young deadshot hear him say that she was not to be harmed he felt a great deal easier.

Finally he decided to go a little closer, and when he had taken about ten steps he suddenly came in sight of Charlie and Jim, who were crouching in a listening attitude.

The boy could not help recognizing them now, for it happened that it was pretty light there.

He quickly pointed them out to Hop, and the Chinaman gave a nod and without waiting to be told what to do, stepped forward and touched Jim lightly on the shoulder, as has already been stated.

Delighted at meeting each other, the four could hardly keep from saying something aloud.

But they were so well used to such situations that they managed to keep from doing it and simply shook hands.

“Well, Charlie,” our hero said, in a whisper, “I reckon I’ll have a peep at those fellows inside. Are they all here?”

“Every one of ’em, Wild,” was the reply. “Jest say the word an’ we’ll open fire on ’em an’ clean ’em up in short order.”

The boy made no reply to this, but stepped around so he could have a good look into the headquarters of the band.

The villains still had on their disguises, and in the semi-darkness that pervaded the cave they looked ghostly and mysterious.

But it was not Wild’s intention to open fire on them and shoot them down ruthlessly.

Even though they were a determined band of villains of the worst kind, it was not his way of doing business.

What he wanted to do was to take them all alive, if possible.

Well satisfied that his sweetheart was save and that she was not far away, he set his brains at work to think of a plan that would enable him to do the job in the best possible manner.

There were ten of the Vultures in the cave, and if the three chose to they might easily shoot them all down before they had a chance.

That would be one way of settling it in a hurry.

Wild could not help thinking of how easy it would be, but he merely shook his head and muttered to himself:

“No, it shan’t be done that way.”

He remained standing there for nearly a minute, Charlie and Jim near him and watching all that was to be seen.

Presently Captain Bird, who had been sitting at the table in a thought ful mood, arose to his feet and said:

“Well, boys, I suppose they are outside yet. I think I’ll go out and have a look at them.”

Wild nudged Jim Dart, who was standing close to him, and the boy knew exactly what he meant to do.

Charlie did, too, for he quickly whispered:

“Goin’ to ketch the galoot, eh, Wild?”

“That’s it exactly,” was the reply. “You and Jim get ready to follow him as he goes out. Be careful that he don’t see you. Hop and I will stay right here and look for a possible chance of getting Arietta away from them. I would like to find out just where she is, you know.”

That was all that was said.

The four drew back in the shadows, and the next moment the leader of the Band of Ten walked out.

Unconscious of the fact that his enemies were so close to him, Captain Bird turned to the left and entered another of the many passages the cavernous place contained.

Charlie and Jim went after him noiselessly, and when they discovered that he was ascending a slight rise and that the passage was broad and high enough for horses to pass through, they figured that he was going out by what might be termed the main means of entrance and exit.

There was plenty of light ahead, and this forced Young Wild West’s partners to go a little slower, for if it happened that the villain looked behind him he would surely see them.

The result was that Captain Bird walked on up and went out into the open air before Charlie and Jim were within fifty feet of him.

But they went on, just the same, and stepping softly through the passage, they found themselves in a narrow gallery which turned sharply to the left.

They were just in time to see the captain of the Vultures disappear, and then nodding to each other, they started after him.

A minute later they saw him crouching behind a rock and looking down on the trail, which was not more than fifty feet away.

Charlie grinned when he saw the villain shake his head in a puzzled way.

No doubt he could see the horses of our friends there, but the fact that no riders were visible must have surprised him somewhat.

“Come on, Jim,” the scout whispered, as he nudged his companion. “I reckon we’ll make that galoot a prisoner right away. If he goes to puttin’ up much of  a fight I’ll crack him on the head with the butt of my gun. Blamed if I won’t give him a good hard one, too.”

“Wild wants to take him alive, you know, Charlie,” Dart answered.

“Yes, I know. It’s all right; come on.”

The two then crept stealthily forward, and the next instant they were within six feet of the man.

Charlie suddenly leaped forward and caught him by the throat with his left hand, at the same time pressing the muzzle of his gun against the side of his head.

“One little cry an’ the top of your head will go off, you sneakin’ coyote!” he exclaimed.

Surprised as he was, Captain Bird put up a desperate struggle.

But Jim as right there, and he was thrown violently to the ground and his arms pinned to his sides.

He did not make an outcry, for the muzzle of the revolver was pressing against his head and he had sense enough left ot probably realize that his life was not worth very much just then.

“You heard what I said!” Charlie exclaimed, threateningly. “You jest yell out once an’ I’ll shoot you jest the same as if you was a snake. I ain’t got no use for sich galoots as you, anyhow, an’ it would be a pleasure for me to put you to a finish.”

“You have got me,” was the reply. “Everything is going your way now, but my turn may come later on. Go ahead and do as you please with me.”

They certainly did this, and it was not long before Jim had his arms bound to his sides.

Then, not knowing what else to do with the prisoner, they forced him to go down to the trail with them, where the horses were waiting.

“Well, Jim,” the scout said, with a shrug of the shoulders, “I reckon you had better stay here with him. I’ll go an’ let Wild know what we’ve done.”

“All right, Charlie,” was the reply. “Go ahead.”



Young Wild West and Hop Wah were both satisfied that Charlie and Jim would make no mistake.

They would surely catch the leader of the Band of Ten, all right, so there was nothing to do but to wait and watch for a chance to find where Arietta was.

But the young deadshot soon came to the conclusion that it would be a difficult task to do this.

There seemed to be but one way to get into the living part of the cavern, and that was by the way the leader had come out.

Five minutes passed.

They heard nothing that would indicate that anything had gone wrong outside, and then Wild, becoming more eager in his desire to find where his sweetheart was, took the risk of creeping a little closer to the opening between the two rocky apartments.

He found that he could see about the entire interior now and looked around sharply for a possible place where his sweetheart might be hidden from view.

In a corner at the extreme left a blanket was hanging at full length, and stretched across what might be an alcove or smaller apartment.


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The boy decided that it must be here that Arietta was located.

Still, it would be impossible for him to get half way to the spot without being discovered.

He shook his head and did some more thinking.

Finally he decided to wait until he heard from Charlie and Jim.

It seemed to be a long time, though it was really but a few minutes, before a slight sound not far distant indicated the presence of some one.

Wild and the Chinaman instantly turned their attention in the direction the noise came from, and then they saw the scout returning.

He shook his hand in a jubilant sort of way, which told them plainly that everything was all right.

Wild stepped back from the opening, and the moment the scout was near enough he said:

“You got him, eh?”

“Yes. We didn’t have no trouble about doin’ it, either. We followed him right outside. He stopped behind a rock an’ was lookin’ down at our horses when me an’ Jim come on him. He put up a fight, but he had sense enough not to yell out after I told him not to do it. I come back to let yer know. Now, then, jest tell me what’s next to be done.”

“I don’t know exactly. I am pretty well satisfied that I have located the place where Arietta is confined. Still, I am not sure about it. But in order to get in there we will have to let our presence be known. As I am still of a mind to take the Vultures alive, we don’t want to start a shooting-match here. Perhaps Hop can help us out a little.”

“Me helpee velly muchee quickee,” the clever Chinee said, with an eagerness that told plainly how willing he was.

“Let him chuck a big firecracker in among them galoots, Wild, suggest the scout.

“That would be a good idea, probably.”

“Me fixee velly muchee quickee,” Hop observed, with a chuckle.

He was always provided with different sorts of explosives, and it must have occurred to him just then that he ought to use something good and strong, so it would have all the more effect upon the band of villains.

When he took an oblong package from one of his many pockets and held it up, Charlie grinned and whispered:

“That looks as though it oughter do somethin’. Is it full of powder, Hop?”

“Velly muchee full, so be, Misler Charlie,” was the reply. “Makee velly biggee bang.”

“Go ahead with it, then,” Wild spoke up, for he was getting impatient.

The Chinaman soon pulled the end of a fuse from the package, which was bound thoroughly with a strong cord, and then he produced a match and lighted it.

The moment the flame was going right he touched it to the fuse.

There was a sharp hiss, and then taking good aim, he hurled the package into the cave where the outlaws were.

Just as it struck the ground, causing the Vultures to look around in a startled way, it exploded with such a loud report that even Wild and Charlie, who were expecting it, were almost deafened.

A rumbling followed it, too, and then a portion of the rocks and dirt at one side of the chamber fell in with a crash.

Wild bounded forward through the smoke, but when he found the way blocked he gave vent to an exclamation of disgust.

The fact was that the terrific explosion had caused a cave-in from above, and the way to get into the apartment where the Vultures and Arietta were had been shut off.

“What’s the matter, Wild?” Cheyenne Charlie cried, as he endeavoured to push his way forward and nearly fell dwon over the stones that had fallen there.

“Hard luck, Charlie,” was the reply. “Hop went it a little too strong, it seems. But take it easy. Don’t get excited.”

Chagrined at being baffled just when he thought the way would be made clear for the rescue of his sweetheart, the young deadshot was still quite cool.

The underground chamber was full of smoke, and he could not see Charlie or Hop.

But there was a draught through the cave, and remaining right where he was he waited for the atmosphere to clear.

Meanwhile, loud shouts and cries of alarm had been heard from the adjoining rocky apartment.

Just as the smoke cleared away sufficiently for them to see what they were about, the cries ceased, and all was as silent as the tomb.

“Charlie,” the young deadshot said, as he pointed to the mass of earth and rock that had effectually blocked the way, “this is what I call too bad. I reckon there must have been another way to get out of that place inside there, for nothing can be heard of the scoundrels now.”

“It looks that way, Wild,” was the reply, with a shake of the head. “They was sartinly makin’ enough noise a little while ago. Them galoots was about scared out of their wits, I reckon. But I didn’t hear nothin’ of Arietta.”

“No, I didn’t, either. But there is nothing strange in that. They may have compelled her to keep quiet. I think they have gone out of the cavern by another way. Since it will be impossible for us to get through here, we had better look and see.”

“Come on, then, an’ let’s hurry up about it.”

“Lat light, Misler Wild,” Hop spoke up, for he no doubt felt sorry that the explosion had caused the sudden cave-in.

Charlie knew the quickest and best way to get out, so he now led the way, and in a very short time all three were outside.

They hurried around to the trail, and found Jim waiting there with the prisoner and the horses.

Dart waved his hand exultantly when he saw them coming, for no doubt he expected that Arietta was with them.

But when he saw that she was not his face fell, and he then said:

“Anything wrong, Wild? I heard the explosion and I know that Hop must hav cause it.”

“There’s a whole lot wrong, Jim,” our hero answered. “You were right in thinking that Hop caused the explosion. But he went it a little too strong, and the earth and rocks caved in and prevented us from getting into that part of the cave where the villains were. We have strong reason to believe that they went out, for it’s as silent as the grave in their now.”

“They certainly didn’t come this way, then. I haven’t heard a sound that would mean that they were anywhere close by, either.”

The prisoner, who still wore his mask and headgear, laughed derisively.

“They’ve outwitted you, Young Wild West,” he called out. “Don’t you think that I have been leading a set of fools. There is not a man among the Vultures who wouldn’t know what to do in a case like this. You will never see the girls again.”

“You think so, eh, Captain Bird?” Wild answered, as he strode up to the prisoner. “Well, I can tell by the way you are talking that you are putting up a bluff. You know as well as I do that it won’t be long before we’ll have the whole bunch of them. But first of all I want to save the girl.”

“I know that well enough. But you’ll never do it. Rooster Dick will lead the boys to safety, and they’ll take the girl with them. They would be foolish to let her go now, for even if they are not now aware of it, they will find out soon enough that you have me a prisoner. The place around here is full of underground passages. They can go under the trail and back again at their will, and there are as many as a dozen openings. That is one reason why they have managed to appear an disappear so quickly. This is not the only place that all the hold-ups and robberies have been committed by the band, but the most of them have.”

“You haven’t told me a thing that I have not already found out,” declared Wild, who was just as cool as ever. “But you wait. I’ll show you whether they’ll get away with the girl or not.”

“All right,” and again the villain laughed, but it was a forced one, as his hearers well knew.

“Me go findee um Vultures, Misler Wild,” Hop spoke up just then. “Me velly solly me makee um biggee bang.”

“Go ahead and find them, Hop,” was the retort. “I am going, too. Jim will stay here with the prisoner, and Charlie can strike out on his own hook. I reckon between the three of us we’ll soon locate them.”

The clever Chinee promptly started from the spot.

It was evident that he felt keenly the result of his action in the cavern.

He could just as well have set off something that would have caused a much lighter explosion and the result would have been all right.

Bent on making amends for his mistake, he started up the hill toward the spot where the cedar had fallen when Young Wild West fired the shot after they ahd first reached the scene.

He turned and then went on around behind the ridge, taking it for granted that the cavern lay in that direction.

It was a pretty good guess the Chinaman made, for he


Page  16

had not gone more than a couple of hundred feet when he caught sight of  a man wearing a Vulture headgear.

The fellow disappeared almost instantly around some rocks, and Hop paused a minute, expecting that others might appear.

But none did, so it struck him that this might have been the last of them, or that he was simply one who had been sent out spying.

Anyhow, he quickly started forward again, and when he reached the place where the Vulture had disappeared he peered cautiously around the rocks.

Hop could hardly suppress an exclamation of joy, for less than a hundred yards from him in a narrow defile where the rocks were plentiful, he saw the band gathered in a bunch.

But that was not all.

Standing with her back against the cliff was Arietta.

As he looked at her he could not help noticing that she appeared to be perfectly cool, and kept looking up and down as though she expected at any moment to see her dashing young lover come to her rescue.

“Lat velly goodee,” the clever Chinee muttered, nodding to himself. “Now, len, me go backee velly muchee quickee and telle Misler Wild.”

He looked around for a good way for our hero and his partners to ride up on horseback.

But there seemed to be none.

It was a gully full of rocks, so to speak, and almost directly to the left was a hill upon which some cattle were grazing.

Hop knew that there must be a ranch somewhere close at hand when he saw them, but he cared little about that, though it struck him that possibly some of the men belonging to the band might live there when they were not playing their parts as road-agents.

The only thing for him to do was to go back ac quickly as he could and inform Wild of his discovery.

Taking in his surroundings carefully, so he would make no mistake about it, he turned and ran lightly back.

It did not take him more than three or four minutes to reach the trail, and when he got there he found Jim guarding the prisoner.

Wild and Charlie were nowhere to be seen.

But he had heard them say that they were going to make a search for the outlaws, and with a nod of his head he ran up to Jim, who looked at him expectantly, and exclaimed:

“Me findee velly muchee quickee, Misler Jim. Um Vultures allee samee alound lere,” and he pointed in the direction of the spot whre he had located them.

“What’s that, Hop?” Dart asked, both delighted and surprised. “You saw them, you say?”

“Me see lem, Misler Jim. Ley gottee Missee Alietta, too. Me see her. She standee by um cliff, and um Vultures lere, too.”

“Good! go and find Wild and Charlie right away. Wild went that way,” and he pointed to the right, “while Charlie thought he would go across the trail over there.”

“Me findee Misler Charlie, len.”

The Chinaman promptly started away, and he had not gone very far when he saw the scout walking about.

The moment Charlie saw him he started toward him.

“Come on, Misler Charlie,” Hop called out. “Me findee um Vultures allee light. Hully uppee.”

“Great gimlets!” and Charlie ran forward, for he did not doubt that the heathen was telling the truth. “Where are they, Hop?” he asked, excitedly.

Hop told him, and then the two were not long in getting over to Jim.

Jim told them both where they might find Wild, so they hurried down the trail and then turned to the left.

“Misler Wild go allee light, so be,” the Chinaman declared, nodding his head approvingly. “He go ’lound lat way, and maybe he see um Vultures.”

They searched for over five minutes without seeing a sign of the young deadshot.

Then Charlie happened to find some footprints, and he easily recognized them, or claimed he did, anyhow, and he gave an exclamation of satisfaction.

“He went down here, Hop,” he declared, as he pointed to a rather steep hill before them.

“He no findee, len,” was the reply.

They hurried on down the hill, and came to quite a wide gorge through which a stream of water flowed.

Charlie made his way to the edge of the high bank and looked over.

At first he saw no one, but just as he was going to step back he caught sight of Wild as he was stealing along, revolver in hand, among the rocks.

Knowing that the outlaws were close at hand, he did not call to him, but, stepping back, found a stone about the size of an egg and then threw it as far as he could in the direction of the boy.

The stone struck the ground, makind considerable noise, of course, and almost instantly wild turned and looked behind him.

When he saw the scout waving his hat to him and beckoning for him to come back, he lost no time in starting.

The two waited for him until he reached the top of the hill.

“Me findee, Misler Wild,” Hop exclaimed, clapping his hands softly. “Me velly smartee Chinee. Me makee lille mistakee in um cave, but evelythling allee light now. Me showee you. Comee ’lound this way.”

“Hurry up, then, Hop,” came the reply. “Did you see anything of Arietta?”

“Me see Missee Alietta, all light. She watchee for you to comee, so be. She no ’flaid of um Vultures.”

Back they went over the rough and rocky ground, and soon returned to the spot where Jim was waiting with the prisoner.

Hop told wild exactly where he had seen the villains, and the young deadshot was very anxious to get to them, as might be supposed.

“Just fetch that fellow along, Jim,” Wild said, in his cool and easy way. “I reckon we’ll need him in order to save Arietta. Once we have done that we’ll make short work of the Vultures. Of course, I expect to take them alive, but if they put up a fight we will have to shoot, that’s all.”



During the time that had elapsed since the rather mysterious disappearance of Arietta, Sheriff Morgan had been in a state of excitement.

He had gone back to keep the company of Anna and Eloise and Wing Wah, and he remained there until the explosion Hop had caused was heard.

“I wonder what that was,” he said, looking at the two girls in surprise.

It was a heavy report, but still muffled, and sounded out of the usual.

“I think I know who caused it,” Anna answered, quickly. “Hop Wah probably did that, and if he did it was done for a good purpose, you can rest assured.”

“The clever Chinee, you mean?”


“I think I oughter go back there an’ see how they’re makin’ out. I’ve been here long enough.”

“It might be a good idea, sheriff. We are not afraid to remain here.”

“But some of them Vultures might come sneakin’ around, though,” and he shook his head.

“If they do we’ll shoot them, that’s all,” Eloise spoke up, for she had seen quite enough of the sheriff to believe that he did not possess any more courage than he should.

“That’s the way to talk, bal. Well, I’ll go back there, I think.”

But he hesitated about doing it, and it was not until about five minutes had passed that he decided to go.

Cautioning the girls to keep a sharp watch, he went along the trail toward the spot, which must have been probably three hundred yards away.

He held a revolver in his hand, and had no doubt nerved himself to put up a fight if it came to the point.

When he was a little more than half way he paused, and scratching his head, thoughtfully, muttered:

“Maybe I’d better go up the hill to the left an’ take a look around. I reckon I’ll do it, anyhow.”

Then he did so.

It took him probably three or four minutes to get to a high point from which he could see pretty well around the immediate vicinity.

But it happened that Jim with the prisoner and horses were hidden from his view.

However, he caught sight of the Vultures just as they were coming to a halt in the place where Hop had discovered them.

The sheriff gave an exultant cry, and then when he had


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counted them and found there were nine of them he shook his head and said:

“I wonder where the other one is? There’s ten of ’em, that sartin. I reckon I had better go an’ find Young Wild West right away.”

Down the hill he went, and reaching the foot of it, he passed upon the trail again and appeared to be doubtful about it.

“There’s one of ’em left, that’s sure,” he thought. “This is still a puzzle to me, anyhow. Just how them fellers got away with the gal right afore our eyes I can’t understand. Then, ag’in, them Vultures showed up as if they had come out of the ground. What makes it all the more puzzlin’ is that heavy report we heard. The gals back there thinks it was the Chinee what done it. But I don’t see how he could have done it. It sounded like a cannon bein’ fired away off. It might have been an earthquake, though.”

He kept on thinking in this strain until another five minutes had passed, and then once more plucking up courage he started directly along the trail.

It happened that he was just in time to see Young Wild West and his partners with the clever Chinee and their prisoner.

“Jumpin’ cats!” the sheriff exclaimed. “There’s the tenth man, blamed if it ain’t. They’ve got him. Well, it begins to look as though Young wild West is goin’ to keep his word. He said he would git ’em, all right, an’ he’s got one of ’em. That sartinly is a good starter.”

Thinking he was going to give an important piece of information, he ran hurriedly to the spot, waving his hand excitedly.

Wild had just started to walk from the spot, leading Captain Bird by the arm.

He paused when he saw the sheriff coming.

“I  know where the rest of the gang is, Young wild West,” the latter said.

“Is that so, sheriff? Well, we know, too.”

“Oh, you do, eh? I thought maybe you didn’t. I climbed up a hill back there an’ I seen ’em. They’ve got the gall there, too. I counted ’em, an’ there was only nine. You have got the other one.”

“Yes, that’s right, and he’s Captain Bird.”

“Is that so? Well, ain’t I glad! do you think we’ll be able to ketch the rest of ’em.”

“I certainly do, sheriff. Just keep cool. You’re awfully excited, I think.”

“Maybe I am, but I can’t help it. I feel like letting out a yell.”

“Don’t do it, please. I reckon you had better remain here with the horses.”

“If you say so I will.”

“All right, do so, then. We’ll be back in a short time.”

Captain Bird had not said a word, but had been listening to all that was said.

He now knew that his men were likely to be given a surprise, and it seemed as if his bluffing way had entirely left him.

Hop took it upon himself to lead the way, since he had been the first to discover the whereabouts of the Vultures.

Wild, holding tightly to the arm of the prisoner, came next, and Charlie and Jim followed.

It took them but a short time to get into the gully among the rocks, and then Hop quickly pointed out the villains, who had not moved from where they had stopped.

Arietta could not be seen now, but this did not worry our hero one bit.

Pushing the prisoner forward, he pointed out the spot where the nine men were gathered and said:

“There are your comrades, Captain bird. What do you think of the situation now?”

“I think it’s all right,” was the reply. “They are there, and they must certainly have the girl with them. You don’t suppose they are going to give her up, do you?”

“I certainly do. I am going make you cause them to do it, too.”

“Make me do it, eh?”

“Yes, that’s right. Do you see this gun?” and the boy pushed the muzzle of his revolver close under the villain’s nose.

“Don’t shoot, Young Wild West,” came the cry.

“You don’t want me to shoot, eh? Well, I certainly will shoot you dead if you don’t make those fellows free the girl. No, then, you may as well give up the idea of getting the best of us. What are you going to do about it? Do you want to live a little longer, or do you want to die right now?”

The prisoner shrugged his shoulders and remained silent for a moment.

“How am I going to make them set the girl free?” he asked.

“Easily enough. all you have got to do is to tell them to.”

“Do you want me to call out to them to do it?”

“Not just yet. Wait until we get a little closer. Charlie, you just fetch him along behind me. I see a way to get pretty close to the bunch of scoundrels.”

“Right you are, Wild,” the scout answered, and he promptly grabbed the outlaw by the arms.

Wild’s eyes were more keen than Hop’s, and though the Chinaman had claimed to find a way to get nearer to the Vultures without being seen, he had not.

He turned slightly to the left and began moving along behind some rocks.

The scout followed him, causing the prisoner to get upon his knees and move along in that way.

He was not going to untie his hands, so it was with no little difficulty that Captain Bird got over the ground.

But it was only a short distance they had to go in that cautious manner, for once they reached the cover of some rocks that lay directly opposite to the cliff where the Vultures were in waiting it was easy enough to creep forward without being observed.

“Make him lie behind that big boulder, Charlie,” Wild whispered. “I’ll get a little closer and try and find out what they are talking about.”

“I kin hear them mumblin’ over somethin’ every once in a while, Wild,” the scout answered, as he touched the captain’s breast with his revolver and forced him to do as the boy said.

Our hero paid no attention to the last remark, but crept up to within twenty feet of the Vultures.

Some of them were squatting upon the ground, while others were standing.

They were all holding revolvers in their hands, which told plainly that they expected to be atacked at any minute.

As the boy peered around a rock he caught sight of his sweetheart for the first time since she had disappeared so suddenly.

Arietta was sitting on a stone, apparently anything but frightened.

The fact was that she had quickly got over the sudden fright caused by her capture, and since that time had been waiting expectantly for Wild and his partners to come to the rescue.

Even when the explosion had occurred in the cavern she had not shown fear, for she readily guessed who it was that caused it.

Very glad to get outside, for she seemed to feel much better in the open air, she was satisfied that it would not be long before Wild would come.

The fact that Captain Bird had not returned worried his men a whole lot, and Arietta took delight in it.

None of them seemed to have the least idea what had caused the explosion, and she certainly was not going to enlighten them any.

It had been the enemy’s opinion that the best thing they could do was to get out of the underground place at once, and this they had done as soon as they were able to find their way through the smoke.

Wild had been mistaken in thinking there was no other outlet to the chamber.

There was one, and it was through it that the villains had made their way, taking the girl with them.


Unable to get to their horses, they had decided to wait there in the hope that Captain Bird would appear and give them the advice they were so much in need of.

Though he was a sort of lieutenant, Rooster Dick had been unable to suggest anything that seemed of value to them, and he had given it up as a bad job.

But he knew it was policy to hold the girl a prisoner, for by doing so there might be a chance to save themselves in case Young Wild West surprised them.

Unaware of the fact that the young deadshot and his two partners had located them and were at that minute but a few yards away, the vilains talked in low tones, all the time wondering where Captain Bird was.

Sitting upon the stone, Arietta looked to the right and left, and then straight ahead, alternately.

She seemed to feel the near presence of her dashing young lover, and as the minutes wore on she could not resist the temptation to rise to her feet.

“Set down there, gal,” one of the villains commanded, as he turned and looked at her through the eye-holes in his bird-like mask.


Page  18

“I am not going to run away,” she answered, coolly. “I know I wouldn’t get very far if I tried it.”

“Set down, anyhow.”

It happened that Wild had got as far as he could without being discovered by the villains, just then.
At first he was going to call out for them to release the girl instantly, but he changed his mind, and after peering at Arietta from behind the rock, he turned and went back to where Charlie was holding the prisoner.

“Don’t you open your mouth until I tell you to,” he said, sternly, as he touched the villain with his revolver. “Now then, Charlie, we’ll drag him over to that big rock. We’ll have to slide along or they’ll see us. Come on, and don’t make any more noise than is possible.”

The scout gave a nod, and then in about a minute they had pushed the prisoner behind the rock.

“Get upon your knees,” Wild whispered.

Captain Bird obeyed, for he knew his life was not worth much if he refused.

“When I tell you, I want you to rise up and say ‘Hello!’ to your men. Do you understand?”

“I suppose I will have to do it,” was the whispered retort.”

“If you don’t you will be shot, that’s all.”

Wild peered around the rock and found that the situation was about the same.

There was no need of waiting any longer, so he told Captain Bird to get upon his feet.

Slowly the villain did so.

Wild cut the rope that held his right hand to his side, and then holding him by the left arm, nodded for him to go ahead.

“Hello, boys!” Captain Bird called out, in a voice that was rather shaky.

Instantly the eyes of the Vultures were turned in that direction.

“Hello! Hello!” came the reply, and some of them started to run over to him.

“Tell them to bring the girl here,” Wild whispered, as he pointed his gun at the prisoner. “Do as I say, or you’ll die!”

“This way with her, boys,” the outlaw called out, raising his free hand and beckoning.

It happened that one of the gang was holding Arietta by the arm at the time, and though apparently somewhat surprised, he promptly started forward with her.

Wild gave the captain a nudge with his revolver.

Tell them to let her come alone to you,” he said.

“That’s all right. Let her come alone here. I want her,” the villain said, just as though he meant it.

The man promptly released his grasp upon her arm and then Arietta, not exactly knowing what to expect, started to move away to the right.

But at that moment Wild called out, softly:

“This way, Et. Everything is all right.”

His voice was heard by the Vulture who had come close to the rock, and the villain gave a startled cry.

But Arietta lost no time in leaping over a boulder, and the next minute she was at her young lover’s side.

Charlie now reached up and, grabbing the prisoner, pulled him to the ground.

He had a rope ready, and with remarkable quickness wound it about his arms.

“You scoundrels!” Young Wild West exclaimed, as he showed himself to the astonished Vultures.

“Hold up your hands! You are all covered, and the least move you make to get away will mean death for you!”

Such a command as that could hardly go unheeded.

While the villains certainly knew how many there were in the party, they could not tell if others had come or not.

They looked at each other, but no one offered a suggestion.

“You heard what I said,” the young deadshot went on, in his cool and easy way. “Up with your hands!”

“An’ be mighty quick about it,” the scout called out from his place of concealment.

One of them slowly raised his hands above his head.

This was the cue for the others, it seemed, for in less than ten seconds the whole nine men were standing with upraised hands.

Charlie now leaped ot his feet and stepped toward them.

“There’s jest fourteen men behind htem rocks, an’ each of ’em has got a rifle,” he said. “You fellers seem to know putty well when you’re well off.”

“I surrender!” called out roster Dick.

“So do I!” came from several of the others.

“All right. That shows that you know when you’re well off. Come on, Jim. Let’s fix ’em up.”

“I want to take a hand in this,” Arietta called out, while Wild remained standing behind a rock, a revolver in either hand.

The brave girl fearlessly approached the Vultures, and proceeded to relieve them of their weapons.
Hop Wah came to assist her, carrying a lariat with him.

Then with the assistance of Charlie and Jim, he tied them all securely, not one man offering to make the least resistance.

When the last one had been bound, Cheyenne Charlie took off his hat, and bowing in a mocking way, said:

“Now, then, them fourteen men with rifles will come out an’ show themselves.”

All eyes were turned toward the rocks, but when no one appeared and the scout laughed heartily it dawned upon the villains that they had been duped.

But the victory had been won, and what the sheriff and his deputies had failed to do in three or four months, Young wild West and his partners had accomplished in a few hours.

They had run down the Band of Ten that was called the vultures, and the whole ten had been taken alive, too.

A few minutes later the prisoners were marched around to the trail.

Then Hop went with Jim Dart, and the horses were led from the cave, for that part of the underground place had not been disturbed by the explosion.

“Well, sheriff,” our hero said, smiling at the chief official of the county, “I reckon everything is all right. Shall we go on the Shinbone Bar, or go back to Jackson?”

“Go back to Jackson, I say,” was the quick reply. “I reckon we kin git there by the time it gits dark, if we hurry.”

“All right, Jackson it will be, then.”

It is not necessary to dwell any further upon this particular adventure of Young Wild West and his friends.

They all rode back to Jackson, arriving there shortly after darkness set in.

There was much surprise, of course, when it was discovered that the Band of Ten had been captured so neatly and quickly by the dashing young deadshot and his partners.

They were all lodged in jail, and the reward was paid the following day, after which our friends were again ready to set out in quest of further adventures.

As they were leaving the hotel, Jerry, the bad man, was as loud in his cheering for them as any one else, and this was somewhat gratifying, for to think that the fellow had been tamed and was not “sore” about it was a winning point for Young Wild West.