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Title: Frank Merriwell, Jr., in Arizona
       or Clearing a Rival's Record

Author: Burt L. Standish

Release Date: February 9, 2020 [EBook #61349]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by David Edwards and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at

Frank Merriwell, Jr., in Arizona



I. A Slave of the Needle 5
II. Making a “Raise” 12
III. A Drugged Conscience 19
IV. Blunt Takes the Warpath 26
V. A Surprise at the Gulch 33
VI. The Revolver Shot 40
VII. A Blind Chase 47
VIII. Blunt’s Warning 54
IX. Accident or Treachery? 61
X. Desperate Work 68
XI. The Saving Grace 75
XII. Blunt’s “Surprise” 80
XIII. The Race for Single Paddles 84
XIV. An Enemy’s Appeal 90
XV. Taking a Chance 96
XVI. The Yellow Streak 103
XVII. A Cry in the Night 110
XVIII. Tracking Trouble 117
XIX. Missing Bullion 124
XX. The Finger of Suspicion 131
XXI. Blind Luck 138
XXII. A Slight Mistake 145
XXIII. The Solution Tank 152
XXIV. Merriwell’s Faith 157
XXV. “Warming Up” 161
XXVI. A Challenge 168
XXVII. The Line-up 175
XXVIII. Lenning Yields To Persuasion 180
XXIX. Plain English 187
XXX. Getting the Nine in Shape 194
XXXI. Hatching a Plot 201
XXXII. The Day of the Game 208
XXXIII. Poor Support 215
XXXIV. Worse—and More of It 222
XXXV. Won in the Ninth 228
XXXVI. The Plot that Failed 233
XXXVII. Woo Sing and the Pig 236
XXXVIII. A Good Word for Lenning 243
XXXIX. Startling News 249
XL. Another Blow 256
XLI. A Dark Outlook for Lenning 263
XLII. The Mysterious Message 270
XLIII. Playing in Hard Luck 277
XLIV. A Fruitless Vigil 284
XLV. Rising Hopes 291
XLVI. The Runaway Ore Car 298
XLVII. The Yellow Streak Gone 305
XLVIII. Conclusion 310

Frank Merriwell, Jr., in Arizona


Author of the famous Merriwell Stories.


79–89 Seventh Avenue, New York

Copyright, 1912

Frank Merriwell, Jr., in Arizona

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

Printed in the U. S. A.




“Buck up, Shoup! What ails you, anyhow?”

“I’m all in, Len. I d-don’t believe I can take another step. You see, I—I——”

The words faded into a groan, and the tottering youth slumped to his knees, then pitched forward and sprawled out limply in the sandy trail.

There were two of them, and they had been tramping wearily through a defile known as Bitter-root Cañon. The stage trail leading from Ophir, Arizona, to Gold Hill, followed the cañon, and the two lads had been taking this trail.

The trail was white with dust, churned up by the wheels and hoofs that had passed over it. It wound interminably along the cañon’s bed, twisting back and forth through patches of greasewood and mesquite, now hugging one wall and now the other, and again skirting the edge of some brackish pool.

A stream flowed through the cañon, although no one not familiar with such mysterious streams would have guessed it. Like a good many Arizona rivers, the water flowed under the surface, appearing only here and there where bedrock forced it upward.

The lad who had yielded to exhaustion and had fallen must have been nineteen or twenty years of age. He was well dressed, although his clothes were dusty and in disorder. His hair was of a tow color, his eyes a6 washed-out blue, and his face was hueless—startlingly white and waxlike.

The other boy was a year or two younger than his companion, with a dark, sinister face and shifty eyes. They had walked southward from Gold Hill for many miles, and while the younger lad was an athlete and ordinarily in good physical condition, yet a few days of reckless living had sapped his endurance. He was almost as exhausted as his companion.

“Here’s a go!” muttered the younger lad, looking down grimly at the unconscious, deathlike face of his friend in the trail. “Shoup hasn’t the backbone of a jellyfish. I’ve got to do something for him, but what?”

The boy looked around him and discovered that Shoup had fallen only a few yards from the edge of a pool. The sight of water suggested the means for reviving the fainting lad, and, with considerable difficulty, the other dragged him to the pool’s edge. Wetting a handkerchief in the pool, he bathed the pallid face. In a few moments Shoup drew a deep breath and opened his eyes.

“You’re pretty near a wreck, Shoup,” said the boy called Len crossly. “How do you think we’re ever going to get to the gulch if you can’t walk four or five miles without crumpling up in the trail?”

“I was trying to save the dope,” was Shoup’s answer, in a weak voice. “I haven’t got much of it, and no money to buy any more.”

“Cut that out,” the other growled angrily. “The more of that stuff you use, the more you have to use. It’s making you ‘dippy’ as blazes; not only that, but it eats up your muscle and ruins your nerves. Why don’t you quit?”

“Can’t quit. My old man used it, and my grandfather used it. The hankering for the stuff was born7 in me. What’s bred in the bone, Lenning, is bound to come out in the flesh. No use fighting against the craving. Here, help me to sit up.”

Lenning put his hands under Shoup’s shoulders and lifted him to a sitting posture, twisting him about so he could lean his back against a bowlder. With fingers that trembled from weakness, Shoup pushed up his left sleeve.

The skin of his arm was white as marble, and dotted with little, black, specklike marks. Reaching into an inside pocket of his coat, Shoup drew out a small, worn morocco case.

“Bound to squirt a little more of that poison into your veins, eh?” asked Lenning disgustedly.

As he put the question, he produced a box of cigarettes, lighted one, tossed away the burned match and dropped the box into his pocket. A sneering smile crossed Shoup’s face.

“What’s the difference, Len,” he queried, “whether you inhale the poison or take it my way? It brings us both to the same place, in the end.”

“Splash! Cigarettes aren’t as bad as all that. Anyhow, when I’m in training I cut ’em out. You’re never in training and you never cut out that dope. If you can’t get it just when you want it, your strength is snuffed out like a fool candle. How long do you think you’ll last, going on as you are now, eh?”

“That’s the least of my worries,” was the placid retort.

With his shaking right hand, Shoup pressed the needle-like point of a small “hypoderm” into the flesh of his left arm. An instant his quivering finger toyed with the tiny piston, then drove it “home.” With a long sigh of relief, he sank back.

“I’ll feel like a king pretty soon,” said he, speaking8 with his eyes half closed. “You haven’t a notion how it gingers a fellow up. Say,” and the eyes opened wide, “why don’t you try it yourself?”

“Not on your life!” returned the other, in a sort of horror. “The sight of you, with one foot in the grave on account of that stuff, is enough for me.”

“Go on,” urged Shoup, his faded eyes brightening wonderfully. “Try for yourself and see how it puts fire into your veins, and peace and happiness into your heart. Jove! Already I’m beginning to feel as though I could run a hundred miles, and be as fresh at the end of the run as when I started.”

Lenning stared at Shoup curiously.

“That’s the way you feel, but your system is all shot to pieces and you’d drop before you’d gone half a mile,” commented Lenning.

“Don’t you want to forget your troubles, old man?” coaxed Shoup. “This is a sure cure for the blues.”

“No!” almost shouted Lenning, springing to his feet. “Try to push that thing into my face again and I’ll grab it and throw it into the water. You say you inherited an appetite for the stuff; well, I inherited a few things, myself, and I reckon they’re enough to stagger under without taking on any of your failings.”

“Maybe you’ll come to it, some time,” laughed Shoup.

He was, by now, an entirely different person from the Shoup of a few minutes before. His eyes gleamed, and while his face remained colorless and of a dead, waxen white, strength ran surging through him, and his nerves steadied. It was the influence of the drug, of course, and when that failed his condition would be more pitiful than ever. Lenning, shivering at the spectacle presented by his companion, turned moodily and looked down into the pool.

9 Shoup put away his morocco case. Getting up, he stepped to Lenning’s side and laid a hand on his shoulder.

“I’m a horrible example, eh?” he breathed. “All right. You’re a good deal of an example, too. You’re a cast-off; a week ago your uncle gave you a thousand dollars and kicked you out of the house. Where’s the thousand now, Lenning? ‘Rooly’ and faro have swallowed it up.” He laughed jeeringly.

Lenning whirled on him, red with anger.

“And who helped me lose the thousand?” he cried. “It was you! You might have the grace, seems to me, to shut up about the loss of that money. We’ve neither of us got a sou; but, if we can get to the gulch beyond Dolliver’s, maybe I can borrow enough to get us out of this country for good.”

“Who’s at the gulch?”

“A few friends of mine—at least, they used to be friends. They’re members of the Gold Hill Athletic Club, and they’re camping there.”

“I don’t think you’re going to get money—not altogether,” said Shoup. “There’s something else on your mind, too. What is it, Len?”

“Tell you later,” muttered Lenning.

“Look here: The bunch of fellows at the camp in the gulch are having Merriwell over for a boating competition—canoe race, or something like that. You’ve got a grudge against Merriwell and you’d like to saw it off with him. Am I right?”

An astounded look crossed Lenning’s face. He turned his bewildered eyes on his friend.

“How the deuce did you guess that?” he inquired breathlessly.

“The dope clears the brain wonderfully, Len,” grinned10 Shoup. “It all came to me, just now. Sort of second sight, I reckon. Am I right?”

“Well, what if you are?”

“Nothing, but this: I’m with you. What reason have I to love Merriwell? No more than you. If we square the score, suppose we do it together.”

Lenning stared gloomily at Shoup, then turned on his heel and started off down the cañon. “Come on,” he called, “we’d better keep a-plugging.”

Shoup made after him, his step buoyant, his spirits as light as his step. He was paying for every hour of that stimulated, fictitious strength with a year of his life. But his thoughts did not—dared not—take account of the future. It was the immediate present that concerned him.

“You can’t get away from these family traits, Len,” said Shoup, as they made their way southward.

“There’s a mighty tough prospect ahead of me,” growled Lenning, “if that’s the case.”

“Well, it is the case.”

“I’m not taking your word for it. Nobody would take your word for anything, Billy. You’re a wreck of a man—just a burned-out hulk of what you ought to be. That’s the way with you slaves of the needle.”

“What are you, Jode?” gibed the other. “While you’re throwing it into me, you’d better think about yourself.”

“I’m no dope fiend,” snarled Jode Lenning. “I’ve got a will left, and when I get good and ready I can turn a leaf and be different.”

“I’ve got a picture of you ‘turning a leaf,’” laughed Shoup sarcastically. “You’ll have to show me. You’re not turning a leaf by going after Merriwell, are you?”

11 Lenning did not answer. Something, ahead of them in the trail, caught his attention, just then, and brought him to a dead stop.

“Thunder!” he exclaimed, “there’s a stage. Something’s gone wrong with it. Where’s the team and the driver? Wonder if they’ve had a break-down?”



The stage that carried passengers and luggage between the two towns of Ophir and Gold Hill was a mountain wagon with a canopy top. This wagon, minus the horses and driver, was at a rest in the trail.

A woman, dressed in black and with a gray shawl over her shoulders, was sitting on the seat immediately behind the one reserved for the driver. Back of her, in the rear of the wagon box, was a shabby little hide-covered trunk.

This woman, apparently, was the only passenger. The two lads stared in the woman’s direction and continued to wonder regarding what had happened to the stage.

“Some accident, sure,” said Shoup. “The driver must have taken the team and gone after help.”

“I reckon that’s the how of it,” returned Lenning.

“Now,” his companion went on, “if we had money, Len, we could ride in that rig as far as Ophir; and then, if we had some more money, we could hire horses in Ophir and get to the gulch in that way.”

“If we had money,” came grimly from Lenning, “we wouldn’t go to the gulch at all.”

“Wouldn’t we?” queried Shoup. “You say we’re going there to make a ‘touch,’ and won’t admit that your wish to play even with Merriwell has anything to do with it. But I know making a raise is only about half of our work at the gulch.”

“Well, let it go at that,” said the other, with a shade of annoyance. “No use standing here chinning when we ought to be moving on.”

13 They started forward again. As they drew nearer the stage they soon discovered what had happened.

One of the rear wheels was broken beyond repair. The wheel had struck a bowlder and had been dished. Rim and tire were lying on the ground, covered with half the spokes. The rest of the spokes were sticking in the hub.

The woman on the front seat watched the lads as they approached. They could see that she was little and old and wore spectacles. A lock of snow-white hair dropped below the brim of a hat, which was evidently homemade. Her dress was clearly her best black alpaca, and had probably been her best for many years. The old face slowly lighted up as the young men drew near.

Both boys lifted their hats when they had come close. “You’ve had an accident, ma’am?” asked Lenning.

“Well, goodness me, I should say so!” was the answer. “I’ve been sitting here for an hour, seems like, while the driver’s gone with the horses to get a new wheel, or something else to patch up the wagon, so we can get on to Ophir. Do you boys live hereabouts?”

“Gold Hill,” said Lenning briefly.

“It’s been pretty lonesome, sitting here all alone, and I don’t feel real spry, either. You see, I haven’t been long out of a hospital, and this is quite a trip for a woman, old as I am. But I like this country—always did. I’ll feel a heap better, I know, after I’ve been here a spell. Going far?”


“Dear me! Why don’t you ride when the weather’s so warm? I’ve come from up North,” she continued, without waiting for a reply, “and it’s real brisk November weather, up there. Here in southern Arizona, though, winter isn’t winter at all, is it? Years ago, when I lived14 in these parts, I’ve seen the thermometer at eighty, in the shade, on Christmas day. That wasn’t much like Christmas. Terrible dusty, don’t you think?”

She had an old-fashioned hand reticule on her lap, and just here she opened it to take out a handkerchief. As she drew out the little square of linen, a roll of bills, with a yellowback on the outside, came with it. She grabbed the money before it could fall, and pushed it back where it belonged. Then she dabbed at her face with the handkerchief.

Shoup drew a quick breath as he caught sight of the money. There was an evil, greedy gleam in his eyes as they continued to fix themselves on the hand reticule.

Lenning’s eyes also filled with longing at sight of the roll of bills. He compressed his lips tightly, however, and turned his head away.

“Sorry we can’t stay with you, ma’am,” said he, “and keep you company until the driver gets back, but we’re in a hurry. Good-by. Come on, Billy.”

Shoup smiled at the old lady and again lifted his hat as he followed Lenning along the trail. The old lady shook out her handkerchief at them and called a good-by in a thin, high voice.

“Confound the luck!” grumbled Lenning, after a bend in the trail had hidden the stage from sight, “I’m tired enough to drop. If we could only make a raise this side of the gulch, we could get to where we’re going a heap easier than hoofing it.”

“You’re right, we could!” agreed Shoup. “You’d go on to the camp in the gulch, would you,” he added mockingly, “if we had money?”

“Yes, I would,” was the almost savage response. “You’re fishing around to find out what I’m really up to, and now you’re getting it flat; I want to even up with15 Frank Merriwell. He’s raised Cain with me, and you know it. What business has he got, sticking his nose into my affairs? He’s due to get what a buttinsky ought to get—and I’m the one that is going to hand it to him. Watch my smoke!”

“Hooray!” chuckled Shoup softly.

“You can help, if you want to,” went on Lenning, fairly ablaze with his fancied wrongs now that Shoup had nagged him into starting on them, “but, by thunder, you’ve got to keep your head clear and not make a monkey out of yourself—or me.”

“I don’t think I’ll do that, Jode,” purred Shoup; “I guess you’ll be tickled to death to have some one helping you before you’re done with Merriwell. He’s a good way from being an easy proposition. Do you think you can bank on your friends in the gulch?”

“Why should they turn against me?”

“Pretty nearly all your friends have given you the cold shoulder, I notice, since your uncle pulled the pin on you.”

“I can’t believe that all of them will kick me when I’m down,” said Lenning gloomily. “I’ve done a heap for that Gold Hill crowd. I used to have plenty of money, and whenever they wanted any all they had to do was to ask me for it. A whole lot of them owe me what they’ve borrowed, too. It’s only right they should pay that back, anyhow.”

“My experience is,” said Shoup, “that a fellow will always have plenty of friends when he’s got the spondulix and can pass it out freely; but when the mazuma gives out, and the barrel can’t be tapped any more, then he can’t find a friend with a microscope.”

“Friends like that are no friends at all.”

“They’re all like that.”

16 “Merriwell’s friends are not, and I don’t see why I can’t have a few friends just as loyal as his.”

“Well, Len,” grinned Shoup, “you’re not Merriwell.”

“I’m as good as he is!” flared Lenning.

“Not at some things.”

“I didn’t have a dad who was the world’s champion all-round athlete, and that’s one place where he gets the best of me. It’s Merriwell’s father’s reputation that makes young Merriwell what he is. Take that from him and there’s nothing left.”

“Easy, easy! You’re shy a few chips, Jode. Young Merriwell stands on his own feet, and the biggest handicap he has is the way people expect big things of him because his father did big things. Although I hate Merriwell as much as you do, yet I’ve got a whole lot of respect for him. Now——”

Shoup came to a halt, one hand on the outside of his breast pocket. A blank look crossed his pallid face.

“What’s the matter?” asked Lenning, halting.

“My dope case is gone!” was the answer. “I must have dropped it along the trail somewhere.”

“Let it go, Billy! Now’s as good a time as ever to cut away from the dope. Buck up and use your will power. Try and be a——”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” cut in the other angrily. “I’d die if I had to get along without that. Will you go back with me and help me find it?”

“I will—nit. I’m pretty nearly fagged. If you’re bound to have that stuff, go back and hunt it up yourself. I’ll wait for you here.”

A look as of satisfaction crossed Shoup’s face.

“I’ll be as quick as I can,” he said, and turned back and was soon out of sight behind the chaparral.

Moodily Jode Lenning found a place where he could17 be fairly comfortable, and sat down. Every muscle in his body was aching. A few weeks before he would not have minded a jaunt like the one he and Shoup was taking, but now it told on him fearfully.

He knew the reason. His wits were keen enough to assure him that reckless living for only a few days had sapped the strength and endurance which he had been garnering for months.

He had been foolish, worse than foolish. But that couldn’t be helped, and there was no use crying over spilt milk.

The one object he had in life, just then, was squaring accounts with Frank Merriwell. Merriwell was always in the pink of condition—he made it a point to keep himself so.

“I’m all shot to pieces,” growled Lenning, “and I’ve got to go up against this paragon who never side-steps his training and settle a big score with him. Will he be too much for me? He will, sure, unless I can get at him in some underhand way. That’s the idea!” he finished.

Then, for an hour, he tried to think of some “underhand way” in which he could make young Merriwell feel the full force of his vengeance. Lenning was unscrupulous, to a certain extent, and his association with Shoup was well calculated to make him more so; nevertheless, Lenning had some shreds of character and self-respect left, although they formed a very imperfect foundation on which to build for better things.

While Lenning was still busy with his thoughts, Billy Shoup came briskly back along the trail. Lenning started up as he drew close, and stared at the triumphant look on his waxlike face.

18 “I reckon you found what you were looking for,” said he.

“You can bet a blue stack I did,” was the answer. “It wasn’t the dope case, either, Len.”

“Not that?” queried the startled Len. “What was it, then?”

Shoup proudly drew from his pocket something which he held toward Lenning in the palm of his hand. It was a roll of bills with a “yellowback” on the outside.

“Made a raise,” he chuckled. “Transferred this from the old lady’s hand bag to my pocket. Ain’t I the cute boy, all right?”



With revulsion plainly marked in his face, Jode Lenning leaped back from the outstretched hand and the roll of bills as he would from a coiled rattlesnake.

“Squeamish, eh?” jeered Shoup, his eyes two points of light and boring into Lenning’s brain. “You’ve got a lot of cause, after the way you’ve acted, to get on your high horse with me.”

“You’re a plain thief!” gasped Lenning.

“Very plain,” sneered the other; “you’re worse, Lenning, only it’s not so plain.”

Lenning jumped at Shoup with clenched fists.

“What do you mean by that sort of talk?” he demanded chokingly.

“Don’t think you can scare me, Jode. You can’t. If you want a tussle, don’t think for a minute that you’d have the easy end of it. I know you better than anybody else does—better even than your fool of an uncle, who let you pull the wool over his eyes for so long. You’re a coward. When you saw the money in that old woman’s hand bag, you wanted it just as much as I did, only you didn’t have the nerve to take it. Well, I had the nerve; and I was so clever about it that she’ll never know it’s gone until she wants to pay a bill. Now get a grip on yourself and don’t act like a blooming idiot.”

Lenning shivered slightly. The gleaming eyes of his companion were still boring into his brain, and somehow they robbed him of all desire to resent with his fists the hard words Shoup had spoken.

20 “It seems to me as though, if you’re bound to steal, you could pick out some one else for a victim,” Lenning grumbled. “That poor old woman—I can see her face now, with that lock of gray hair falling down from under that rusty old hat and—and—oh, it makes me sick just to think of it!”

He turned away in gloomy protest. Shoup laughed.

“Fine!” said he. “I didn’t know, Jode, that there was so much maudlin sentiment wrapped up in you. How do you know the old lady is so poor, eh? You can’t always judge from appearances. The biggest miser I ever knew—an old curmudgeon that looked like a tramp, had more than a hundred thousand in the bank. There’s two hundred in this roll, and it will stake us until luck begins coming our way.”

The first shock of disgust had passed and Lenning began to take a little interest in his friend’s recent achievement.

“You didn’t lose that morocco case at all, eh?” he asked.

“Not at all; that was merely an excuse for me to go back to the stage and pull off my little play.”

“Suppose I had gone with you to help hunt for the case?”

“I was pretty sure you wouldn’t.”

“Well, how did you manage it?”

“Easy. The old lady was still on the front seat, and when she saw me coming she brightened up a lot. She wanted to know why I was coming back, and I told her that I had lost something in the trail and had come back to look for it. The hand bag lay on the seat beside her. I leaned over the side of the wagon, and began to talk. I called her attention to the wall of the cañon, pointing out a queer formation of the rocks, with my left hand,21 and, with my right, opening the bag and taking out the money. She never suspected a thing. It was about the easiest job I ever pulled off.”

The shameless steps which he had followed in committing the robbery were recited by Shoup without a shadow of feeling or regret; on the contrary, there was a boasting note in his voice, as though he had accomplished something of which he was proud.

“You’re—you’re a coyote!” muttered Lenning.

“I’m a fox, Jode,” laughed Shoup, “and a slick one, believe me. You couldn’t have turned a trick like that without bungling.”

“I’d as soon think of stealing pennies out of a blind man’s cup. That dope has killed your conscience. I don’t believe you have a heart in you—when you’re under the influence of that fiendish stuff.”

“Oh, cut that out!” grunted Shoup. “We’ve made a raise and we’re going to use the money. We need it—you know we need it. Come on. We’ll see how quick we can get into Ophir and out again. We’ll hire horses and ride to the gulch. It won’t do for us to stay long in the town.”

They started again, Lenning dragging along, moodily thoughtful. His thoughts, whatever they were, must have been far from pleasant. Shoup, abnormally keen while under the spell of the slow poison, seemed to know what his companion was thinking about.

“You’re asking yourself, Jode,” said he jestingly, “how you ever happened to fall so low as to be a friend of mine. You were pretty well down yourself before we got into each other’s company this last time. While you’re thinking what a conscienceless wretch I am, let your mind circle about yourself. What have you got to be proud of?”

22 “Nothing,” snarled Jode.

“That is correct. If we can pick our bone with Merriwell, we’ll both feel a whole lot better; when that’s finished, we’ll clear out of this country and make a long jump to Frisco. That’s the town! We can do big things there.”

“What sort of things?” queried Lenning suspiciously.

“Oh, something safe and profitable. I’m well acquainted, and the friends I have are the kind who’ll help a fellow when he’s down. They’ll take you in on my say-so, and, if you prove loyal to them, you’ll find that they will prove loyal to you, in fair weather or foul. We——”

Lenning cut into Shoup’s remarks with a sharp exclamation. “Duck!” he exclaimed; “get into the brush—quick!”

At this same moment, Lenning suited his action to the word and dove pell-mell into the chaparral beside the trail. Without understanding the reason for this sudden move, Shoup did likewise. The next moment, he heard a tramp of horses’ hoofs in the trail. Riders were coming, and Lenning had been crafty enough to understand that it was not well, after the robbery, for them to be seen in that part of the cañon.

Shoup chuckled. This meant, as he looked at it, that Lenning had accepted the situation and was eager to help his companion avoid the consequences.

Three horses came along at a gallop. Two of the horses had a wagon harness upon them. One of these animals was ridden by a flannel-shirted man, who was probably the stage driver. The third animal was a saddle horse, and was ridden by a young fellow with snapping black eyes and in cowboy rig. One horse in the stage team carried a wagon wheel lashed to its back.

23 The horses and their riders flashed by the thicket where Lenning and Shoup lay concealed, and were quickly out of sight and hearing. Lenning crawled slowly back into the trail.

“If we hadn’t been quick,” said he, as Shoup joined him, “they’d have seen us.”

“But they didn’t,” answered Shoup, “so it’s nothing to worry over. What’s the cowboy along for?”

“Give it up. The cowboy was Barzy Blunt, of the Bar Z Ranch. Ever heard of him?”

“No, but there are several cowboys I never heard of, Jode. How has this fellow Blunt ever distinguished himself?”

“Well, when Merriwell first came to Ophir, Blunt got a grouch at him. Blunt is a cowboy athlete, but never had any special training. He thought Merriwell was a conceited Easterner, and made up his mind he’d take a few falls out of him. He tried it.”

“And made a failure, eh?”

“How did you know Blunt failed?”

“Guessed it. It takes a pretty good athlete to beat Merriwell at any sort of sport. But go on.”

“As you say, Blunt failed. Time after time he tried to best Merriwell, but was always beaten out. At last they became friends. There’s an old professor with Merriwell and his pals. They found him holed away in the Picketpost Mountains, holding down a gold ‘prospect.’ Merriwell helped the professor save the ‘prospect,’ and by and by it turned out that the man who had taken Blunt to raise had a grubstake interest in the professor’s claim. The man was dead, but his widow came in for the good thing. The syndicate that has the big gold mine in Ophir, I understand, have paid, or are going to pay, fifty thousand for the mine. That will put Barzy Blunt24 on Easy Street, for everybody says half the purchase price will come to him when the widow is done with it.”

“Some fellows certainly have a habit of dropping into a good thing,” murmured Shoup.

“It wasn’t a habit with Blunt. He had about as hard a time getting along as any fellow you ever saw.”

“So he and Merriwell were enemies, and now they’re friends?”


“Look out, Jode!” joked Shoup. “Maybe Merriwell will win you over before you have a chance to settle accounts with him.”

“No danger,” grunted Lenning. “Merriwell hasn’t any more use for me than I have for him. Merriwell wouldn’t wipe his feet on me, I reckon, and you can bet your last sou I wouldn’t give him a chance to try. He knows the sort of father I had, and that I’m headed wrong as a birthright, and will go wrong in spite of fate.”

“What a fellow inherits he can’t get away from,” declared Shoup. “Merriwell, it seems, understands that. When you know a thing’s true, what’s the use of trying to buck against it? We’re all born with a handicap of some sort in the race of life; we’ve got to win by doing the thing that comes easiest.”

This was the logic of a drugged conscience, of a fellow who was not himself at the very moment he brought up the argument. For a lad like Jode Lenning, already started on the downhill road, such a fellow was a dangerous companion.

“I don’t know whether you’ve got the right of that, or not,” said Lenning, “but I hope you haven’t. There are times when I want to turn over a leaf and be different—and never a time more than right now, since my uncle has kicked me out; but——” He hesitated.

25 “But you want to hand Merriwell a testimonial of your kind regards before the leaf is turned, eh?” grinned Shoup.

“I’ll show him,” snapped Lenning, “that he had no business butting into my affairs.”

“We’ll both show him, Len. I can be of more help to you than you think. We’ll get horses in Ophir and ride for the gulch. After we’re through with our work there, we’ll clear out of this part of the country and pull off some big things.”

“I wish to thunder,” said Lenning, “that I could look into the future and see just what is going to happen.”

Had he been able to do that, Jode Lenning would probably have received the surprise of his life.



Frank and his chums, Owen Clancy and Billy Ballard, sat on the front veranda of the Ophir House and saw a horseman come pounding along the road. The rider was a cowboy—that much could be seen at a glance. Cowboys were no novelty in the streets of Ophir, and this one secured attention mainly because he was pointing for the hotel.

Gracefully he dashed at the veranda steps, just as though he intended to gallop into the hotel; then, deftly whirling his horse, he came to a halt broadside on to the three lads who were watching him over the veranda rail. So suddenly did the cowboy stop, that his horse sat down and slid to a standstill in a flurry of dust.

“Whoop!” cried the admiring Clancy to the master horseman, “say, old man, you’re all to the mustard.”

“Shucks!” grinned the cowboy, “stoppin’ in a horse’s length from full gallop ain’t nothing to what old Hot Shot can do. This here little cayuse can ride up the side of a house, with me on his back, and then turn a summerset off’n the ridge pole. Fact. Which is the hombray that totes the label of Merriwell?”

“I’m the hombre,” laughed Merry.

The cowboy drew back in his saddle and peered at him through half-closed eyes.

“Is that all there is of ye?” he inquired. “From what I’ve heard, I reckoned ye was about ten feet high an’ went chuggin’ around like a steam engine. My notions was kinder hazy, more’n like. Since I was a kid, my favor-ite hero has allers been that dad o’ yourn. I allow,27 that pullin’ off athletic stunts comes mighty easy for you, arter the way you was brung up. Here’s a paper talk I was asked to kerry in an’ pass over to ye.”

The cowboy jerked a letter from the breast of his shirt, flipped it toward Merriwell, then rattled his spurs and bore on with a husky “Adios!” Frank had caught the missive deftly, and he now sat staring glumly after the disappearing rider.

“Come out of it, Chip,” said Ballard. “Just open that paper talk and let’s hear what it says.”

“That cowboy thinks athletics come easy for me because dad made such a record,” muttered Frank. “I wish to thunder people would understand that such things can’t be handed down in a fellow’s family, like silver spoons, and the grandfather’s clock, and the old homestead.”

“Don’t fret about anything that cowboy said,” returned Clancy. “He also had a notion that you were ten feet high, and went snorting around like a locomotive. His ideas don’t seem to be reliable, anyhow. What’s in the letter, Chip?”

Frank tore open the envelope and drew out the inclosed sheet. His face brightened as he read the letter.

“Here’s news, fellows,” said he; “listen.” And he read aloud:

“‘I’ll bet something handsome you’ll be surprised when you get this and find out some of us Gold Hill fellows are back at the old camp in the gulch. We’re here for a week, and we want you and Reddy, and Pink to come out and see us to-morrow. Hotch and I challenge you for a canoe race, or a swimming match, or any other old thing that’s in the line of sport and excitement. We hear that you’re soon to leave Arizona, and we can’t let you go without having a visit with you. Of course,28 we don’t expect to beat you at anything—you were born with the athletic virus in your veins and all sports are second nature to you—but give us a chance to do our best against you, anyway. Come on, and stay as long as you can.’

“And that,” Frank added, with the shadow of a frown crossing his face, “is signed by Bleeker, the Gold Hill chap we’re pretty well acquainted with.”

“It’s a bully letter!” Clancy declared. “What’s more, it hits me about where I live. Staying holed up in this hotel for the rest of the time we’re in Arizona doesn’t appeal to me a little bit. We’ll go, of course?”

“No studies for a couple of days, Chip!” put in Ballard, repressing his exultation. “Mrs. Boorland will reach Ophir to-day, and then she and the professor will be busy selling out their mine to the syndicate. The prof told us, you remember, that he regretted the break in our studies, but that he expected to make it up as soon as the mine is out of the way. Let’s pile in and enjoy ourselves. What?”

“Did you absorb what Bleek says about all sports being second nature to me?” fretted Merry, staring gloomily at that particular passage in the letter. “Say, I wonder if anybody gives me credit for doing anything in my own right? I’ve put in some pretty hard licks trying to make a sprinter, a pitcher, and a few other things out of myself, and yet there’s an impression around that dad’s responsible for it all. It’s a thundering big handicap, and I’m getting tired of it. I don’t care a picayune what a fellow inherits, he has to stand on his own feet, and it’s what he does himself that makes or breaks him.”

Merriwell was getting rather warm on the subject—too warm, he suddenly realized, and put the clamps on himself.

29 “Of course,” he went on, “I’m mighty lucky in having a father in the champion class. He has been mighty good to me, and his advice has been the biggest kind of a help, but he has only pointed the way, and it was left to me whether I made good or not. It’s the most foolish thing in the world, strikes me, to think a fellow is worthy or worthless simply because his father was one or the other. Now——”

Merriwell paused. The stage from Gold Hill, several hours late, was lumbering up the main street of Ophir. He had been watching it moodily while he talked; and then, abruptly, his moodiness vanished and he jumped to his feet.

“By Jove!” he exclaimed, in pleased surprise. “As sure as shooting, fellows, there’s Barzy Blunt!”

There was no doubt about it. Barzy Blunt, on horseback, was riding along at the side of the stage; and, on a seat of the stage, was a little old lady with spectacles, and a shawl over her shoulders.

“Hello, Barzy!” Frank called, leaning out over the veranda railing and waving his hand. “Wasn’t expecting to see you. How are you, old man?”

“How’s the ranch, Barze?” shouted Clancy.

“Good old Barzy!” chirped Ballard. “You’re a wonder, all right. Whoever had a notion you’d be turning up in Ophir this afternoon?”

The stage had halted in front of the hotel, and Blunt had swung down from his saddle and rushed to the side of the vehicle. He waved a joyous greeting to the lads on the veranda, and then very carefully helped the old lady to alight. Pophagan, proprietor of the hotel, came briskly out, followed by the Chinaman who acted as porter.

“Glad to see ye, Blunt,” said Pophagan. “An’ this30 here is Mrs. Hilt Boorland, ain’t it? It’s been a heap o’ years since I’ve seen Mrs. Boorland. Howdy, mum? Feelin’ well, I hope? I been savin’ a good room for you. I’ll take the grip, and the chink, I reckon, can manage the trunk. Come right in whenever you’re ready. Have a break-down, Andy?” he called to the stage driver. “You’re a long time behind schedule.”

The roustabout shouldered the little, hide-bound trunk and trotted into the hotel with it. Pophagan, already up the steps, was swinging a scarred and battered satchel. Blunt, still very carefully, was helping the old lady mount to the veranda. Merry ran down and lent his assistance. Andy, settling back in his seat and picking up the reins, was sputtering about the broken wheel and the delay. He drove on, still sputtering, bound for the post office, where he was to leave the mail bags.

“Merriwell,” said Blunt, after his charge had safely reached the veranda, “this is Mrs. Boorland. Mam,” and he turned to the old lady, “this is Frank Merriwell, and Owen Clancy, and Billy Ballard. I reckon,” and he laughed softly, “that you’re not exactly strangers to each other.”

“Deary me!” exclaimed the little old lady, very much flustered. “Why, the letters Barzy wrote to me at the hospital were just full of things about you boys.” She got up and put her trembling arms about Merriwell. “You don’t mind an old woman showing her affection for you, do you? Seems like you were one of my boys, same as Barzy. You did a lot for Barzy, you and your friends, Frank Merriwell. I just wish I had the last letter he wrote me! If you could see the fine things he said about you, you’d know you’d never lack for a friend so long as Barzy’s alive.”

She turned from Frank to Owen.

31 “And here’s Mr. Clancy,” she went on, “and Mr. Ballard! Goodness sakes, I am just as pleased as I can be. We’d have got here a lot sooner if the wheel hadn’t broken, ’way off in the cañon. I had to wait in the stage while the driver came on to get another wheel. Well, it was lonesome, but I didn’t mind. Two young fellows came along on foot, and they kind of cheered me up, only they didn’t stay long. Now, Barzy,” and Mrs. Boorland turned supplicatingly to the cowboy, “don’t you go and think hard about those two young fellows. I don’t believe they had a thing to do with it, not a thing. I just pulled out my handkerchief, and the roll came with it—and that’s how it was lost.”

“Never mind, mam,” said Blunt, allowing a smile to chase away the hard look that had come over his face, “you’re not as strong as you might be, and I’m going to take you into the house and make you comfortable.”

“I hope I’ll see a lot of you boys while I’m here,” Mrs. Boorland said, clinging with both hands to Blunt’s arm. “I’ll be here for quite a little while, I reckon. Friends of Barzy’s are always friends of mine, and mighty good friends, too.”

She and the cowboy vanished inside the hotel.

“So that’s Mrs. Boorland!” murmured Ballard. “She’s a nice old lady and I’m glad she’s got a wad of money coming to her.”

“Same here,” spoke up Clancy. “It was a lucky thing for Blunt that, when he was a homeless kid, a woman like Mrs. Boorland took him in and made a home for him.”

“And Blunt, ever since Mr. Boorland died,” said Merry, “has been paying back the debt. While Mrs. Boorland was in the hospital, he sent about all his wages to her, and even sold his favorite riding horse to me so32 he could send more when he found his wages weren’t enough. Well, I don’t blame him at all. I’d do the same for an old lady like that.”

A few moments later Blunt came back to the veranda. There was an angry frown on his face as he dropped into a chair near Merriwell.

“What’s biting you, Barzy?” Frank inquired.

“A whole lot, pard,” Blunt answered. “I’ve danced the medicine and am going on the warpath. Do you know a fellow with a white face, washed-out eyes, and tow hair?”

“Well, slightly,” Merriwell answered, with a grim smile. “He was brought on from some place unknown by Jode Lenning to coach the Gold Hill football squad. But he and Jode have both got their walking papers, and where they are now is more than I know.”

“They were in the cañon this afternoon,” scowled Blunt. “Mrs. Boorland saw them there. They were on foot and walking this way, but they stopped to talk for a spell. After they left and went down the cañon, this white-faced skunk came back. He talked some more, and when he went away for good, Mrs. Boorland found that two hundred in bills was missing from her hand bag.”

“Great Scott!” muttered Clancy. “Billy Shoup is up to his old tricks.”

“He must have had his nerve with him to steal from an old woman!” exclaimed Ballard contemptuously.

“I’ll bet a row of ’dobies that Lenning was in on the deal as much as Shoup,” said Blunt darkly, “only he was too much of a coward to pull off the robbery. I’m going on the warpath and get that money back—and with interest. You hear me!”



“Don’t be in a rush with your suspicions, Barzy,” Merriwell advised. “Accusing a man of robbing an old lady like Mrs. Boorland is pretty serious business. From what I heard her say to you, she thinks she may have lost the money.”

“Not on your life, she doesn’t think that!” returned Blunt. “That’s her way—always trying to screen everybody. She didn’t lose the money. It was stolen from the hand bag, and Shoup and Lenning are the ones that did it. I’m going after them, and I’ll get the money and wring their necks into the bargain. I can’t remember when anything has happened that has worked me up like this.”

Blunt was a cowboy, and, as Frank knew very well, inclined to be rough and reckless whenever he thought he was dealing with guilt or injustice. If he found Shoup and Lenning and recovered the money, there was no doubt but that he would attempt to give them a lesson they’d long remember.

“When are you going to start on this warpath of yours, Blunt?” Merriwell asked.

“Right now, just as quick as I can do it. I’ve told mam that I had to go back to the ranch, but that was only to ease her mind. Instead of loping for the Bar Z I’m going to hunt the trail of Shoup and Lenning, and run it out. If I don’t they’ll be apt to have all that money spent. I know their caliber, all right. For the last week they’ve been gambling in Gold Hill, I’ve heard,34 getting rid of the thousand Colonel Hawtrey gave Lenning when he kicked the fellow out of his house.”

“I guess,” said Frank, “that I’ll go with you, Barzy.”

The sloe-black eyes of the cowboy softened a little, then flamed.

“No, you won’t, Chip!” he declared. “This is my business and you’ll keep out of it. I know what’s on your mind. You think there are two of them, and that they’ll be one too many for me.” He flung back his head and laughed derisively. “Why,” he finished, “they’re both cowards from the ground up. They’ll be scared to death just at the sight of me. I can handle ’em.”

“I’d like to go along, anyhow,” insisted Frank. “A little excitement wouldn’t come amiss, just now. We’re going to leave Arizona pretty soon, and we’d like to keep keyed up with something or other until we go.”

“That’s you!” grinned Blunt, “but you can’t drive such palaver down my throat. You’re afraid I’ll get into trouble, and you’re making excuses to go along, but this is a single-handed expedition, and I’m going to see it through all by my lonesome. Mam is feeling pretty chipper, and she won’t need me for a while. It isn’t that I wouldn’t be glad of your company, Chip, but I just want to nail these fellows myself, and do it good and proper. You’re a crack hand at everything—get it from your dad, of course—but Barzy Blunt is pretty good at a thing like this. Buenos!

Merry had not another word to say. He watched Blunt run down the steps, pull the reins over his saddle-horn, and spring to the back of his horse. A moment later he had vanished in the direction of the cañon trail.

“That’s three times in one afternoon,” grumbled Merry.35 “And the last time it comes from Blunt, who ought to know better.”

“Chip’s hearing funny noises, Pink,” remarked Clancy to Ballard. “What do you suppose has got into him? He’s breaking out in an unexpected place.”

“Three times!” mused Ballard. “What has happened three times, Chip? Maybe I’m thick, but I can’t follow you.”

“Blunt said that I’m a crack hand at everything, which is coming it rather strong, and that I get it from my dad, of course. Everybody has suddenly begun throwing that handicap at me.”

“Not much of a handicap,” said the red-headed chap. “If my governor was the best all-round athlete in the country, I’d be tickled to death over it.”

“You’re not getting me right, Clan,” returned Merry earnestly. “I’m proud of dad, but the things he has done he did himself, and against a whole lot of discouraging circumstances at the outset. I want to make the same sort of a record, see? But how can I when everybody insists that what dad has done makes my imitation easy? If a fellow goes wrong because his father went wrong, he’s a pretty poor stick; and if he goes right just because his father went right, what credit is it to him? Anyhow, there’s nothing in that theory. If a fellow wins or loses, it’s his own doing—his own, mind you.”

Frank was nettled. It was unusual for him to show his feelings so plainly, but he was human, and there were a few things that struck pretty hard at his self-restraint.

“I’m glad you didn’t run off with Blunt,” said Ballard, after a moment, “for that would have knocked our trip to the gulch in the head. We’re going?”

“Yes,” Frank nodded. “Early in the morning we’ll ride for the gulch.”

36 “Hooray!” jubilated Clancy. “What you need, Chip, is a little outdoor exercise—a little of the summer ozone which we’re getting, in this part of the country, in the middle of November. Let’s make the most of it. When we leave southern Arizona, we’ll probably land somewhere in the ice and snow.”

The boys saw little of Mrs. Boorland until evening. At supper, she came down from her room and Frank introduced her to Professor Borrodaile, who was tutoring the three lads, getting his health back in the splendid climate, and incidentally waiting to claim the half of fifty thousand dollars, which he and Mrs. Boorland were to receive for the mining claim.

The more the lads saw of the little old lady the more they liked her. It was plain that she was all wrapped up in Barzy Blunt; and that, when she got through with her half of the fifty thousand, it would be passed on to Barzy. Nor would this be long, Merriwell thought, as he saw how frail and worn she was through years of misfortune.

Frank and his chums were in bed early, that night, and next morning they were up and on the road to the gulch before either Mrs. Boorland or the professor was stirring.

It was a crisp, bright morning. The air, pure and clean from the wide deserts, acted like a tonic. Ballard, in spite of himself, burst into song, and Clancy had a time of it smothering the ragtime airs that Ballard insisted on trying to sing.

The trail was wide and fine for the fifteen miles that lay between Ophir and Dolliver’s. Dolliver, the ranchman, was well known to the boys.

“What d’you reckon,” he asked of the boys, as they halted to water their mounts, “Lenning and that white-faced37 feller trailin’ along with him is doin’ in these parts?”

The boys were startled.

“Do you mean to say they’ve been around here, Dolliver?” Frank asked.

“That’s what,” was the reply. “They was here late yesterday arternoon, ridin’ a couple o’ hosses. The white-faced feller had a roll of bills enough to choke a dog. They’re up to somethin’ crooked, I’ll bet you.”

“Which way did they go when they left here?”

“Quién sabe?” answered Dolliver. “They jest went, an’ I didn’t see ’em when they shacked away.”

“You know Barzy Blunt?” went on Frank, casting a look at his chums that kept them silent.

“Well, I reckon. I’ve knowed Barzy ever since he was gopher-high.”

“Did you see him yesterday afternoon?”

“Nary I didn’t. He ain’t around in these parts. If he was, ye can gamble he wouldn’t pass without sayin’ how-de-do to Dolliver.”

At Dolliver’s, the boys turned from the wide trail and started into Mohave Cañon. Here the road narrowed, and angled back and forth until the mouth of the gulch was reached, and the riders turned to follow the dammed-up waters that sparkled in the late forenoon’s sun.

“I’ve a hunch,” Frank remarked, “that Blunt will get into trouble with Lenning and Shoup.”

“Chances are, Chip,” cried Clancy, “Blunt will never find them. They’re a foxy pair, and if they really stole that money, then they’ll be mighty careful to keep out of sight.”

“Maybe Shoup didn’t take the money, after all,” suggested Ballard.

38 “He’s a thief, Pink,” said Frank, “and I wouldn’t put it past him. The fellow’s not in his right mind for very much of the time.”

“That’s so. Do you think Lenning would stand for thieving of that sort on Shoup’s part?”

“Sure he would,” asserted Clancy. “That cub would stand for anything that didn’t call for any particular nerve on his part. He’s as crooked as Shoup; or, if he isn’t, he’ll be as crooked as Shoup before he’s been with him very long.”

“They say Lenning’s father was wild, and was killed in a brawl somewhere in Alaska,” remarked Ballard. “I suppose we couldn’t expect much better things of Lenning.”

“There you go, Pink!” exclaimed Merry. “What Lenning’s father did isn’t any excuse for Lenning.”

“Right!” laughed Ballard. “Lenning’s handicap is a bit different from yours, Chip, but I spoke before I thought.”

The walls of the gulch widened out, and as the boys rode along the border of the pent-up waters, they came presently into view of three white tents, pitched on a strip of clean, sandy beach.

Dinner was being made ready. A fire had been started, and the campers could be seen moving about, each doing his allotted part of the work.

Half a dozen canoes were drawn up on the sand, a little way from the tent, and off shore a float was anchored for the use of swimmers. It was a pleasant scene for the three lads, just a little tired from their long morning’s ride.

A moment after the travelers sighted the camp, the campers sighted them. Instantly all work among the tents came to a standstill.

39 “Here’s the Merriwell crowd!” whooped one of the Gold Hill fellows.

“Good old Merry!”

“Just in time for grub pile!”

A rush was made for the newcomers, and they were dragged from their horses, pounded on the back, and punched in the ribs with all the delight and good feeling imaginable.

Hotchkiss, another lad whom Frank and his chums knew pretty well, took charge of the three horses, and led them away to be picketed with the rest of the live stock. Bleeker, who seemed to be in charge of the camping party, led the visitors into the camp and showed them their quarters.

“We’re all mighty glad you’ve come,” said Bleeker heartily. “We’re going to have great times while you’re here. Didn’t see anything of Lenning and Shoup on the road, did you?”

“Lenning and Shoup?” returned Merriwell, startled. “No, we didn’t see them, but we hear they were at Dolliver’s late yesterday. Have they been here?”

“They were here last night, and I ordered them out of camp. Nearly had a fight getting them to go, but we got rid of them. Last night, though, one of our canoes was stolen. Of course,” he finished, “it’s not much of a guess who took it. Shoup’s a thief, and Lenning isn’t much better. We’ll get that canoe back, though, you can bet on that.”



“Why the deuce did Lenning and Shoup come in this direction?” asked Ballard, in a puzzled tone. “If they’d done anything crooked on the trail from Ophir to Gold Hill, they would be getting away from company instead of hunting for it.”

“It looks as though Blunt was barking up the wrong tree,” put in Clancy. “He had a revolver in his belt, under his coat, when he came out of the hotel, and started on the warpath, Chip. Didn’t see that, did you?”

“Is that straight, Clan?” Merry demanded, staring at his chum with grave concern.

“Straight as a die.”

“I didn’t see it,” said Ballard.

“Well, I did. His coat flew back as he climbed into the saddle, and for just a second I saw the gun.”

“Why didn’t you say something about it before?” asked Frank sharply.

“It would only have got you all stirred up, Chip, without doing any good. You ought to know Barzy Blunt by this time, I should think.”

They were inside the tent where the three visitors were to have their sleeping quarters. Merry, Clancy, and Ballard had flung themselves down on a pile of blankets. Bleeker had started to leave, but the conversation of Frank and his chums filled him with sudden interest, and he turned back.

“What are you chinning about?” he asked. “If Blunt had a gun, it isn’t the first time he has gone ‘heeled,’ by41 a long chalk. A cowboy, as a rule, knows how to shoot. I’ve heard that Blunt is particularly good on the trigger. What are you stewing about, Chip?”

“First,” said Merriwell, “I wish you’d tell me what excuse Lenning and Shoup gave for coming here—that is, if they gave any.”

“Lenning was after money.”

“Money? How did he expect to get money here?”

“Why, he claimed that some of the fellows in camp owed him money they had borrowed. I reckon he was right about it, but none of us brought any coin to speak of out here. So those who owed Lenning couldn’t pay him back if they wanted to. You know what a hold Lenning had on Colonel Hawtrey before the colonel cast him adrift. Lenning was always well supplied with funds. He was generally a tightwad, too, but he’d loosen up now and then, just to get some of the boys in debt to him, so he could boss them around. It must seem kind of queer to Lenning to be ‘strapped’ and have to go around collecting on the I O Us.”

“Queer, he was so hard pressed,” mused Frank, “when, if our suspicions are correct, he and Shoup should have been flush.”

“What are your suspicions?”

Frank told about Mrs. Boorland’s loss on the trail from Gold Hill, and how Barzy Blunt had “gone on the warpath” to recover the money. Bleeker gave a long whistle.

“Blunt is sure a crazy cowboy when he gets his mad up,” said he, “but he’s not so crazy as to use a gun on anybody. He might make a grand-stand play with it, but that’s as far as he’d go. He’s right, I think. Shoup took the bank roll, and Lenning must have known about it. Jode Lenning is going to the dogs as fast as he can.”

“If those fellows got the money,” queried Merriwell,42 “why in thunder were they here, trying to get some more?”

“Probably two hundred wasn’t enough.”

“Don’t forget, Chip,” spoke up Ballard, “what Dolliver said. He told us, you know, that Shoup flashed a roll ‘big enough to choke a dog.’”

“That’s right,” said Frank. “They certainly had money, and yet they came here and made a play for more. I’ll be hanged if I can understand it.”

“The Gold Hill crowd was camped right in this place, a couple of weeks ago,” went on Bleeker, “and Jode got mad at Hotch and me and made us leave the camp. I’m on top myself, just now, and am back in the athletic club, and have been elected to Jode’s place as captain of the football team. It did me good to turn on the skunk and order him off, just as he had done to me. He was backward about going, too, and said he and Shoup would have to have something to eat. We gave them some provisions, and then drove them away. They made their threats that they’d get even with us, and, as I said, last night, one of our canoes was stolen. That’s how they got even, I reckon. This is the only stretch of water in this section, where a canoe can be used, so if we hunt long enough we’re bound to get back our lost property.”

“Lenning is getting pretty mild in the way he settles his scores,” remarked Ballard. “When he’s worked up, he can be rather desperate.”

“I’m betting,” said Bleeker, “that with Shoup to nag him on, he’ll go farther than he ever went before. That Shoup is a hard case.”

“Only thing in the way of that theory,” chimed in Clancy, “is that Lenning lacks nerve. He’s got a white feather in every pocket, and he shows it every time any one gives him a chance.”

43 “I wouldn’t come down too hard on Jode Lenning,” suggested Merriwell. “Dad has told me, a good many times, that he never saw a fellow so tough there wasn’t some good in him.”

“Lenning’s the exception,” declared Bleeker. “He’s a schemer, through and through, and he’d be out-and-out bad if he had the courage.”

Frank shook his head. “Lenning has had a hard lesson,” said he, “and maybe he’ll show you Gold Hill fellows, some day, that he has profited by it.”

Bleeker laughed incredulously.

“Chip,” he declared, “your heart’s running away with your head. Lenning’s lawlessness was born in him.”

“Oh, splash!” grunted Merry. “That sort of talk makes me tired. A man’s born with the same chance every one else has to make something out of himself. If he goes wrong, he can’t sneak behind his pedigree and whine about it; and if he does anything worth while, why, he’s entitled to the credit.”

“Gee,” grinned Bleeker, “I reckon I’ve started something. Let’s change the subject. What are Blunt’s chances for overhauling Lenning and Bleeker?”

“Not very good—if we can get at those fellows first,” said Frank.

“Going on the warpath yourself, Chip?” inquired Ballard.

“Right after dinner. If Lenning and Shoup have Mrs. Boorland’s money, and if they’re anywhere in the vicinity of this gulch, we ought to be able to find them and get back that two hundred. Blunt is probably on the wrong trail, and we may be the means of saving him a little trouble. While we’re looking for the money, Bleek,” he added, “you can come along and hunt for the canoe.”

“I’ll go with you, Chip,” answered Bleeker heartily. “But44 we’re not going to waste all the afternoon on Lenning and Shoup. We’re going to have a canoe race around the Point, before sundown. I’m anxious to take a fall out of you on the water. From here to the broken pine around the Point is half a mile. I’ll pick a fellow to paddle with me, and you can take either Pink or Red. I’ve got a notion, old chap, that we Gold Hillers can show you a trick or two with the paddles.”

“I hope you can, Bleek,” laughed Merriwell. “We haven’t touched a paddle since we were up in the Wyoming country.”

“And that seems like a year ago,” sighed Clancy. “Say, I’m just honing for a paddle! Are you going to take Pink or Little Reddy, Chip?”

“We’ll settle that later,” said Frank.

“Go on!” cried Ballard, with mock indignation. “I can paddle circles all around Clancy.”

“That’s a joke,” said Clancy. “You’re too lazy to paddle circles around anybody.”

“I’m not too lazy to knock a chip off your shoulder, you red-headed chump!”

“Yah!” taunted Clancy, hunting around for a chip. “Chips are scarce,” he added finally, picking a pebble out of the sand. “How’ll this do?”

The pebble went flying from Clancy’s shoulder, and the two chums laughed and came together. While they were kicking and rolling among the blankets, a voice from outside announced “grub pile.”

“If you fellows would rather fight than eat,” said Merriwell, “stay right here and keep it up. Come on, Bleek, I’m hungry enough to eat a pair of boots.”

It was a fish dinner the campers had that day, and a good one. Half an hour before the fish was served, they had been swimming up and down the gulch. From the45 water to the frying pan was a quick shift—and the quicker the shift the better, when it comes to fish.

There were ten Gold Hillers in camp, and the coming of Frank and his chums brought the total number up to a baker’s dozen. The ten from Gold Hill all belonged to the athletic club, and were a splendid lot of fellows. They were hungry, too, for the morning had been full of exercise.

“Pass the spuds, there, Hotch!” “Trying to hog all the canned oleo, Ming?” “A little more of the planked shad, if you please!” “Where’s my fork?” “Confound it, Bleek, the first thing you know the company will find out we didn’t have forks enough to go around, and that we’re using one between us.” “If you can’t be real polite, then for Heaven’s sake be as polite as you can.” “I’ve got a bone in my throat!” wailed Hotchkiss. “Hit him on the back,” said Bleeker; “everybody hit Hotch on the back.”

Everybody took a slam at Hotchkiss, and when they got through with him he had been pounded to a frazzle—but he had got rid of the bone.

“That’ll do!” he cried. “I’m no punching bag—let up.”

“Where’s the bone?” asked Bleeker severely.

“Gone! It’s not bothering me half so much, now, as you fellows are.”

“Prove it’s gone.”


“Sing. Go on, Hotch.”

“I’ve eaten too much—I can’t sing.”

“Try it!” clamored the others.

“Shucks,” deprecated Hotch, “I’ve got a voice like a foghorn. But here goes.”

46 He threw back his head and went at it.

“I once knew a girl in the year of eighty-nine—
A handsome young thing by the name of Emmaline—
I never could persuade her for to leave me be,
And she went and she took and she married me-e-e!”

A chorus of groans greeted Hotchkiss’ attempt.

“That’s a ranch song, Hotch,” said Bleeker sternly, “and it is not in good taste. Try again. We——”

But Hotchkiss did not get a chance to try again. Bleeker’s words were cut short by the clear, yet distant, note of a firearm.

The fun stopped as though by magic. All the boys cast startled glances at each other.

“That may be the fellows who stole our canoe!” cried Hotch, jumping to his feet. “Come on, fellows! Here’s a chance to nail ’em!”

He started up the gulch bank at a run, Bleeker and Merriwell tight at his heels.



The lads were somewhat confused as to the direction from which the report had come. They were all agreed on one point, however, and that was that the shot had been fired on their side of the gulch. From there on, their ideas of the right direction varied widely. Clustered together on the crest of the long slope of the gulch bank, they held a hurried consultation, to decide what their next move should be.

“I’m sure,” said Bleeker, “that the sound came from the northwest.”

“Northeast, Bleek,” asserted Hotchkiss.

“Directly north,” a chap named Lenaway declared, with equal conviction.

“What do you think, Merriwell?” asked Bleeker.

“It’s hard to tell,” Frank answered. “If we’d been listening for the shot, and trying to locate it, we might have got the direction tolerably close; but the sound came when we weren’t expecting anything of the kind, so that the way we ought to go is more or less of a guess. I’m inclined to think you’re right, though, Bleek.”

“Pick out a couple to go with you, Hotch,” said Bleeker, “and go northeast. You do the same, Len, and go north. Merry and I will go over towards the cañon.”

Frank turned and gave Clancy and Ballard a significant look.

“You go with Hotch, Clan,” said he, “and Pink, you go with Lenaway.”

Clancy and Ballard understood Merriwell’s reason for48 this move. If the party led by Hotchkiss, or the one led by Lenaway, succeeded in finding Lenning and Shoup, then there would be some one along to make an attempt to secure Mrs. Boorland’s lost money. So far, of the Gold Hillers, only Bleeker knew of the money that had been stolen on the trail from Gold Hill to Ophir.

“This matter is settled, then,” said Bleeker. “The rest of you boys go back to camp. We don’t want to leave the camp to take care of itself and lose any more canoes. Come on, Chip.”

The party divided, the three detachments of searchers starting off hurriedly in as many different directions, while several of the lads went back down the slope to the camp.

Merriwell and Bleeker took a northwest course among low, rocky hills. They traveled rapidly, keeping their ears open for another report, which might serve further as a guide.

“That was a revolver shot,” asserted Bleeker, as they hurried on, “but it may have been farther away than we think. In this clear, still air a report will carry a long distance.”

“Did Lenning or Shoup have any weapons, Bleeker?” asked Frank, in a worried tone.

“I don’t think so; at least I didn’t see any when I sent them away from the camp, last night. If they had had any guns, they might have tried to use them then and make a bluff.”

“Probably,” said Frank, with a feeling of relief. “It’s possible, too, that some one besides Blunt was doing that shooting. There may be others in this vicinity, don’t you think?”

“Sure thing, but it’s hardly likely. I don’t believe there’s a soul nearer our camp than Dolliver’s.”

49 “Some cowboy might be riding down Mohave Cañon from the Fiddleback Ranch.”

“Yes; but I don’t know what he’d find to shoot at. Cowboys don’t carry revolvers all the time, like they used to; and, if a Fiddleback man was going to town, he certainly wouldn’t pack a six-shooter. But that couldn’t have been Blunt doing the shooting. He wasn’t on the track of Lenning and Shoup, at last accounts.”

“Blunt has had plenty of time to pick up the trail. He’s a determined chap when he sets out to do anything.”

“Hotch jumped at the conclusion that Lenning and Shoup were doing the shooting. But if they didn’t have anything to shoot with, Hotch, of course, is wrong. Whoever pulled the trigger was easily satisfied. Only one shot was fired.”

Just at that moment, Merriwell glimpsed something a few yards to the right of him. It was an object that lay on the ground and gleamed brightly in the sun. Swerving to one side, he picked the object up.

“What have you found, pard?” called Bleeker.

“An empty sardine tin,” Frank reported.

“That’s right,” said Bleeker, coming up and peering at the flat can with its ragged flap. “It’s bright and new, and hasn’t lain where you found it for very long. We gave Lenning and Shoup a couple of tins of sardines, and I reckon they must have camped somewhere near this place last night.”

The lads examined the ground in the vicinity with some care. They found a thicket of mesquite, which had been trampled by horses—and Bleeker’s theory that Lenning and Shoup had spent the night in that place was all but proved.

“I reckon they stayed here,” said Bleeker. “Their horses could browse on the mesquite beans, and it wouldn’t have50 been much of a hardship for Lenning and Shoup to sleep in the open. But why did they do it, when they could just as well have returned to Dolliver’s?”

“Perhaps they were afraid to go to Dolliver’s; that is, if they really took Mrs. Boorland’s money.”

“They’re hanging out in the hills for some purpose, that’s plain,” mused Bleeker. “We might as well keep on, Chip, and see what we can find.”

The gulch and the cañon formed a right angle, and the course the two lads were taking was carrying them nearer and nearer the deeper and narrower defile. The hills among which they traveled were low, but there were many of them, and they kept to the valleys between. Now and then, either Merriwell or Bleeker would climb one of the uplifts and take a look at the country around them. They could see nothing of the fellows they were trying to find.

“We ought to have brought our horses,” grumbled Bleeker. “If we hadn’t started in such a rush we’d have thought of that. Lenning and Shoup have mounts, and if they see us first they’ll get away and we can’t stop them.”

“It’s too late to think of our horses now,” returned Frank. “Why do you suppose they stole your canoe, last night?” he queried. “If they have horses, what use would they find for a canoe?”

“Well, they might have taken that seventy-five dollar boat just to get even with us for not letting them stay in the camp.” Bleeker came to a halt. “We’ve come twice as far as that revolver shot would carry,” he went on, “and it’s a cinch we’ve had our trouble for our pains. Suppose we give up, and go back?”

“I don’t think we’re going to have any luck,” was51 Merry’s answer, “so there’s nothing for us to do but to return to camp. But that shot is bothering me a lot,” he added, sitting down on a convenient bowlder.

“I’m puzzled a heap, myself,” said Bleeker, hunting a seat and dropping down on it disgustedly. “I reckon, after all, we’d better make up our minds that some prospector took a chance shot at a coyote. That’s as good a guess as any, Chip. It’s fair to suppose that Barzy Blunt is all at sea, and hasn’t a notion where to look for Shoup and Lenning. So he couldn’t have done the shooting. Shoup and Lenning are out of it, because they hadn’t a gun. We’ve taken this little trip through the hills all for nothing.”

“I’ve got a hunch you’re wrong, Bleek, yet I can’t say where you’re wrong, or why.”

“My nerves must be in a fearful state when I get so worked up over the report of a revolver. I wouldn’t have thought anything about it if Shoup and Lenning hadn’t been in our vicinity, and if they hadn’t taken our canoe, and if you hadn’t told me what you did about Mrs. Boorland’s money, and about Blunt going on the warpath.”

“Well, let’s give it up as a bad job and mosey back to the camp. I’d like to keep Blunt from finding those two fellows, for he might do something a whole lot worse than just losing the two hundred dollars. I guess, though, that Shoup and Lenning are foxy enough to keep away from Blunt.”

“Our best bet is to look for the canoe. That must be along the river, somewhere. If we can find that, we may be able to lie low and get track of the thieves who made off with it. I had already planned that move for this afternoon. Why not begin at the mouth of the gulch, Chip, and work our way back to the camp? It52 wouldn’t take more than an hour or two to beat up every thicket where the canoe could be hidden.”

“Come on, Bleek, and we’ll try it.”

They had hardly started before Merriwell came to a quick halt, and dropped his hand on Bleeker’s arm.

“Listen!” he said.

They bent their heads, and what Merriwell had heard came to the ears of each of them distinctly. It was the sound of galloping hoofs.

“That’s a horse, all right,” murmured Bleeker excitedly. “From the sound, the animal is heading this way.”

“One horse,” said Frank. “Wait till I climb this hill and see if I can locate the animal.”

He hurried to the top of the low hill on his left, and stared in the direction from which the hoofbeats were coming. To the south, perhaps a hundred feet away, was a long ridge. Well to the east of the point where he was making his observations, he could see the head of a horseman bobbing up and down as the animal he rode lifted and dropped in a slow gallop. The rider was heading west, following the other side of the ridge.

A quick survey of the ground showed Frank that the valley which he and Bleeker were following pierced the ridge, and, if they made good time, they could get to that part of the ridge ahead of the rider. Thus, if the rider did not change his course, they might be able to intercept him. Frank bounded down the hillside and started southward at a run.

“Hustle, Bleek,” he called. “There’s a fellow coming on a horse, and if we hurry we can head him off.”

“That’s the stuff!” answered Bleeker, getting into motion. “What sort of a looking fellow is he?”

“I couldn’t see anything but the top of his hat. There’s53 a ridge in the way, and he’s galloping along on the other side.”

The valley crooked in a half circle around the base of another hill, and Merry and Bleeker raced through it and came to the point where the ridge was broken. The thump of hoofs was growing louder and louder.

“He’s pretty near,” whispered Bleeker.

“He’s right on us,” Merriwell flung back, and jumped out from among the rocks.

He came within one of being trampled by the galloping hoofs, for he leaped almost under the horse’s nose. The animal snorted and reared back, while an exclamation of surprise came from its rider.

As soon as Frank could get his bearings, he gave a yell of surprise himself. The rider, as it proved, was none other than Barzy Blunt!



“What are you trying to do, pard?” called the cowboy. “Trying to scare a fellow to death?”

“Suffering side winders!” exclaimed Bleeker. “Blamed if it isn’t Blunt.”

“What appears to be the trouble?” asked Blunt.

“We’re trailing down a revolver shot, Barzy,” said Merriwell. “We thought Lenning and Shoup might be mixed up with it, somehow.”

“They were,” was the grim response. “I caught sight of them, but they were too quick for me. When I called on them to halt, they didn’t pay any attention; so I turned loose with a shot just to show ’em I meant business.”

“Did you hit either of them?” Frank inquired, with a good deal of concern.

“What do you take me for, Chip?” said Blunt. “I’m careless a whole lot, and there are times when I’m a pretty rough proposition, but I’m not plumb locoed. I wasn’t trying to hit either of those junipers—but I came mighty close to Shoup. You can bet your scalp lock that he heard the sing of the bullet.”

“They got away?”

“They did, with ground to spare.”

Blunt crooked a knee around his saddle horn and took up a comfortable position on his horse.

“How did you get on the track of those fellows, Blunt?” Frank went on.

“By a happenchance. When I rode away from the hotel, yesterday afternoon, I traveled the cañon trail55 toward Gold Hill. Met Schuster, one of our boys. He had been to the Hill for a couple of days, and was on his way back to the ranch. It was Schuster put me wise, Chip. He had heard a few things about Lenning and Shoup in town. You want to look out for yourself.”

“I do?” asked Frank. “Why?”

“Schuster heard that Lenning and Shoup are after your scalp. They want to balance accounts with you. I reckon you know what that means to a couple of fellows like they are.”

“Lenning and Shoup have all they can do to look out for themselves,” Chip laughingly said, “and I don’t think they’ll have any time to bother with me. Schuster probably didn’t get the thing straight, anyhow. When you overhear talk like that, Barzy, it is pretty apt to be gammon.”

“This is how straight Schuster got it,” returned Blunt. “Listen: Along at the same time Schuster heard that, he also heard that Lenning and Shoup know you and your chums were to be invited to spend a few days with the Gold Hillers in the gulch. Lenning opined that the gulch would be a good place to make his play. Did he and Shoup come out to your camp?” Blunt asked, turning to Bleeker.

“That’s what they did,” said Bleeker.

“Then Schuster wasn’t very wide of his trail on that part of it, was he? It was the information I got from him that brought me to Mohave Cañon early this morning. I didn’t stop at Dolliver’s, but drilled past his shack like a streak. Been knocking around the hills all day, and it was less than an hour ago when I got a glimpse of the skunks I’m after. Of course, I knew the Gold Hillers wouldn’t let them stay in the camp; and I was just as sure they’d hang around here, because they’re56 looking for a chance at you, Merriwell, and they won’t pull their freight till they get it.”

“I’m not going to lose any sleep or miss any fun waiting for the blow to fall,” Merriwell laughed. “Come on over to the camp, Blunt. There’s a canoe race on for this afternoon and I’d like to have you help me out with a paddle.”

“Business first, pard,” answered Blunt. “I’m going to find Shoup and Lenning, get back that stolen money, and then run them out of this part of the range before they have a chance to lay hands on you.”

“Have you had anything to eat to-day?”

“This morning. At noon, I pulled up my belt a notch. To-night, if I’ve done what I’ve laid out to do, I’ll drop in at your camp for a little chuck. If I’m still shy on my plans, then I’ll shack over to Dolliver’s for grub pile.”

“I’ll get my horse and help you hunt for those fellows.”

“I feel the same as I did at the hotel yesterday,” demurred Blunt. “This is my job, and I want every one else to keep hands off.”

“Where are you going now?”

“I’m going it blind, but I know that if I comb the hills close enough Shoup and Lenning can’t dodge me.”

Blunt straightened in his saddle.

“If those fellows are really after me, Barzy,” said Frank, “you’ll do better to go with us to the camp, and put in your time waiting and keeping your eyes skinned.”

“I’ve got a different notion. You’re the one that’s got to keep his eyes skinned. See you later.”

With that, Blunt rattled his spurs and galloped on along the side of the ridge.

“I can see with half an eye what he’s up to,” declared Bleeker.

57 “What?”

“Why, he thinks he’s saving you a little trouble by keeping Shoup and Lenning on the run. If they know he’s after them and it’s a cinch they do after that shooting—they won’t have any chance to make things lively for you, Chip. They’ll have their hands full taking care of themselves.”

Bleeker laughed. He broke into merriment suddenly, convulsed with some idea that had come to him on the spur of the moment.

“What’s the joke, Bleek?” asked the wondering Merriwell.

“Why, it’s the complete change of front Barzy has made in the last few weeks. He was as hot at you, for a spell, as Lenning is now; but, right at this minute, he’d fight for you till he dropped. It’s plumb humorous—to any one that knows Barzy Blunt. You must be a wizard to change an enemy into a friend, like that.”

“Everybody said that Blunt was rantankerous, and that his disposition was born in him and couldn’t be changed,” said Frank, “but I knew better. That cowboy is one of the finest fellows that ever breathed. All you have to do to make sure of that is to see the way he takes care of Mrs. Boorland. Come on, Bleek, if we’re going to hunt for that canoe.”

Bleeker cocked his eyes at the sun.

“I reckon we’ll let the canoe go, for now,” he answered. “Since we’ve seen and talked with Blunt, I’ve made up my mind that the canoe, wherever it is, is safe enough for the present. Shoup and Lenning have probably hidden it away in the bushes, and Blunt will keep them so busy that they won’t be able to go near it. How long are you and Clancy and Ballard going to stay with us?”

“We had two days for fun and frivolity when we left58 Ophir. That means, Bleek, that we’ve got to start back to-morrow afternoon.”

“I thought your stay might be limited, and if we have any good times at all we’ve got to start them. So we’ll let the old canoe go, get back to camp and start the races. It’s a shame you can’t be with us longer. What’s the particular rush?”

“The prof is busy selling his mining claim, and he figures that it will take two days. When the two days are over, we’ve got to grind at our studies and make up for the time we’ve lost.”

“I see. Knowledge comes at an awful price, eh? Well, let’s get back and put the canoes into the water.”

It was three o’clock before they regained the camp. The other search parties had already arrived. They had seen nothing of Shoup or Lenning.

Merriwell and Bleeker reported their own discoveries, but held back the warning Blunt had delivered. Merry had asked Bleeker to say nothing about that. He considered the idea as altogether foolish, and not worth recounting. Bleeker, on his part, although he may have credited Lenning and Shoup with sinister designs against Frank, undoubtedly thought that the two fugitives would have too much to think about to have any spare time for plots.

The idea of the races had been received by the whole camp with enthusiasm. Shoup and Lenning and the lost canoe were temporarily forgotten in the prospect of the afternoon’s sport.

It was settled that there were to be three competing canoes. Bleeker and Hotchkiss were to man one, Merry and Clancy another, and Lenaway and a chap named Orr were booked for the third.

Arizona being a dry country, there was not the chance59 for water sports that was enjoyed by States more favored by Mr. Jupiter Pluvius. Had miners, in the olden times, not thrown a dam across the mouth of the gulch, the gulch would have been like the cañon, with only a knee-deep pool here and there throughout its entire length. The dam, however, had created a reservoir some three miles long, fed by clear mountain springs. It was the only place in that part of the State where the twin sports of bathing and boating could be indulged in.

“The course, fellows,” announced Bleeker, “is one that was marked out by the late-lamented Lenning, when he was king bee in the Gold Hill crowd. Look up the gulch, will you? See Apache Point, over there?”

Frank and Clancy followed Bleeker’s pointing finger with their eyes. A little more than a quarter of a mile away, the left-hand bank of the gulch rose into a sheer wall, some fifty feet high, with the water laving its base. The stream narrowed at the foot of Apache Point, so that there was room for no more than three canoes to pass it abreast of each other.

“Around the Point,” Bleeker went on, “the gulch banks widen out again, and this stretch of slack-water navigation widens with it. A quarter of a mile up the other side of the Point, on the left-hand bank, is a white flag. The course is around the bend, to the white flag and back again to the camp. We Gold Hillers know all about it, Merriwell, and if you and Clancy want to paddle over it before the race, we’ll wait for you.”

“Any snags in the course?” asked Frank. “Any obstacles we’ll have to look out for?”

“The whole course is as clean as a whistle. The only thing to remember is to hug the foot of the cliff when you go round the Point. The lead boat gets the pole, of course,” he laughed.

60 “I don’t think we’ll have to go over it, Bleek, before we race. We’re ready, now.”

“Then pick out your canoe and get ready.”

There was really no choice in the canoes, and Merry and Clancy selected one at random and got their paddles. Bleeker, Hotchkiss, Lenaway and Orr ducked into a tent and got out of their clothes and into bathing trunks. Frank and his red-headed chum had only to step out of their ordinary garments, for as underclothes they wore gymnasium togs.

Launching their canoe, they got into it and waited for the others to make ready and for the word to start.



“What’s on to follow this race, Chip?” asked Clancy, while they were waiting.

“A half mile for single paddles,” Merry answered.

“That will give Pink a chance, if there are canoes enough to go round.”

“Don’t fret about Pink,” called that worthy from the bank, happening to overhear the talk between his chums. “I’m going to run along the bank and root for the heroes of Farnham Hall. I invented canoes, and naturally I’m a better paddler than Red, but I can put more heart into you from the shore than I could with a paddle.”

Clancy slapped the water with his paddle and threw a small shower over Ballard.

“You invented the long bow, too, you old chump,” laughed Clancy, “and you’re a champion hand at pulling it. Come on in, the water’s fine.”

Ballard had leaped out of the way of the shower, and was sputtering about his wet clothes.

“You’ll get all you want of the water if I’m any prophet, you red-headed false alarm!” he shouted. “For half a cent I’d wade out there and swamp you.”

“Somebody got a nickel?” sang out Clancy. “Throw it to Pink and let him keep the change.”

At just this point, the other canoes glided out into the water, taking up their positions on each side of Merry and Clancy.

“All ready?” cried a fellow named Dart, who was acting as starter, as the canoes lined up.

62 “All ready!” came the chorus from the racers.

“Then, go!”

Splash went the paddles, and the light, graceful water craft jumped ahead like restless thoroughbreds. Before they had gone twenty feet, Merry realized that in Bleeker and Hotchkiss he and Clancy had foemen worthy of their mettle. The lads in the other craft were working hard, but were left behind almost from the start. By an unlucky move they overturned their canoe before the Point was reached, and the last Frank saw of them on the first lap they were swimming for the bank, towing their water-logged craft.

Clancy was in the stern, and he was doing the steering in masterly fashion. Frank, wielding his paddle with grace and power, knelt at the bow.

“Steady, Clan!” he called. “Don’t use up all your ginger at the beginning!”

“Steady it is,” answered Clancy.

Bleeker and Hotchkiss were working like Trojans. Foot by foot they drew ahead of the other canoe.

“Dig, you Farnham Hall fellows!” bellowed Ballard from the bank. “What do you think this is—a picnic excursion? Dig, I tell you! If you’re last at the finish, don’t you ever speak to me again.”

“Come on, you Bleek!” shouted the Gold Hillers.

“Come on, Hotch!”

“Keep it up, Gold Hill! You’ve got ’em beaten.”

“Oh, you Bleeker! We’re slow at football, but I reckon we’re there with the goods on the water.”

“It isn’t Jode Lenning you’re up against now, Merriwell!”

All this rooting on the part of the Gold Hill fellows did not in the least disturb Merriwell or Clancy. They were paddling like clockwork, but were saving their63 energies for the last lap. After the white flag was met and turned, they’d begin to show what they were made of.

The main thing was to keep a clear head and steady nerves while the competing canoe was moving away from them. And in this certainly Merriwell and Clancy were put to a severe test.

Before the Point was reached, the stern of the other canoe was even with Merry’s position in the bow of his own craft. Bleeker had the inside, and he went so close to the perpendicular wall of the cliff that his paddle touched the base of the rocks. He looked over at Merry.

“Come on, old man!” he called.

“Not yet, Bleek,” Merry answered, with a laugh. “We want you to get farther ahead first.”

“Much obliged! Now watch us.”

Merry and Clancy had to go farther in getting around the Point than Bleeker and Hotch, for they were forced farther away from the cliff. Inasmuch as the gulch curved at the Point, the rival canoe was offered an advantage, similar to that which comes to a pole horse on the oval of a race track. When once more on a straightaway, Bleeker and Hotch were leading by a full canoe length.

The boys on the bank had not been able to get around the Point, so some of them, including Ballard, crossed to the opposite shore in the other canoes.

“What’s the trouble with you chumps?” shouted Ballard. “Don’t you know the other boat’s ahead? Buckle in—paddle like you used to. Do better than that, Red, or I’ll swim out there and take your place.”

“You got ’em, Bleek!” cried the Gold Hillers frantically. “Keep a-coming!”

“Here’s where the chip off the old block gets a setback!64 I reckon Merry’s dad was better with a baseball than he was with a paddle!”

In the excitement of the moment some ill-considered words were roared across the water. This remark, by a Gold Hill partisan, was probably excusable, in the circumstances, but it struck a spark from Merry’s temper.

It opened up the old, tantalizing question of heredity—the very thing which Merriwell had called a “handicap.” His father could pitch better than he could paddle, could he? If that was the case, then by winning that contest he might prove that what he had learned about canoes had come to him in his own right.

“Good old Merry!” cried one of the Gold Hill crowd, by way of tempering the unwise rooting of his camp-mate. “You’re the stuff! Never say die is your slogan—and that’s all that came down to you from the champion in Bloomfield.”

A thrill raced along Frank’s nerves. At the risk of giving the competitors a still longer lead, he looked shoreward to locate the chap who had called those electrifying words.

“Pink is a peach of a rooter—I don’t think,” grumbled Clancy.

“Never mind, Pink,” laughed Frank, his momentary flash of temper passing, “he’s trying to spur us across the finish line instead of giving us a pull. Ah! There’s the flag, Clan!”

A bit of white fluttered on the left-hand bank. Bleeker and Hotchkiss had already made the turn and were coming down.

“We’ll be at the finish to welcome you fellows!” jubilated Hotch.

“Maybe you’ll do better in the singles,” shouted Bleeker. “It’s hardly fair, anyway. You haven’t gripped a paddle65 for a long time, while we’ve been at it every day for a week.”

“Don’t fret about that, Bleek,” grinned Clancy.

He could grin, but nevertheless he was worried. He and Merry had a lot of strength to draw on, but could they be sure that Bleeker and Hotchkiss had not a lot of power in reserve? The next few minutes would tell the tale.

The canoe came around, and headed away on the final stretch. Bleeker and Hotchkiss, the silver spray sparkling under the strong dip of their paddles, were all of five canoe lengths in the lead.

“Now, Clancy!” cried Merriwell. “We must get the inside track around the Point! Let yourself out, old man!”

Then and there the Farnham Hall lads began doing their prettiest. They bent to their work in a way that was beautiful to see, and the strength they had been nursing for just that moment expended itself in a wonderful burst of speed.

“Now you’re coming!” screeched Ballard. “Keep that up, Chip, and you’ll pass the other canoe and leave it out of sight!”

“Don’t lose your nerve, Bleek!” shouted the Gold Hillers. “Crack your backs! Pull, I tell you! For the honor of Gold Hill, you junipers! For the love of Mike, don’t let this chance get away from you!”

“Gold Hill winners, hump, you sinners!”

It was evident to Frank, however, that Bleeker and Hotchkiss had put the best of their energy into the first half of the race. The wise precaution of husbanding their muscle for the wind-up had not appealed to them. They had wanted a good lead at the start-off—and were probably hoping that the lead could not be overcome.

66 Yard by yard Merry and Clancy overhauled the canoe ahead. Every thrust of the paddles, sturdy and strong and swift, carried the rear craft forward for a gain. Halfway to the point the canoes were side by side.

Bleeker and Hotchkiss had no breath nor inclination for joshing. Their faces were white and set, and their arms knotted at the biceps with the strain they put upon their dipping blades. Every nerve was stretched to the breaking point.

It was a good race, a splendid race. No matter which canoe won, the joy of those fleeting moments as they came down the homestretch would be happily remembered by victor and vanquished.

Bleeker and Hotchkiss must have realized how their opponents had been playing the game. They had played it squarely, too, and had calmly watched their rivals lead in the first half of the race. Now, at last, Bleeker and his canoe mate understood that they were facing a crisis, and that only heartbreaking work could save the day.

They labored so well, for a considerable distance, the canoes continued to remain side by side.

“Want us to wait for you, Bleek?” called Clancy.

Bleeker had other uses for his breath, however, than wasting it on replies to the red-headed fellow in the other craft.

“Once more, Clan!” cried Merriwell. “Hug the cliff—we’ve got to!”

Half a dozen sweeps of the paddles and Merry and Clancy were leading. A few more sweeps, and Clancy sent their craft across the bows of their rivals.

They were on the inside now, those Farnham Hall boys, and paddling like fiends. A few moments more and they were under the shadow of the Point.

67 And then—something happened. Was it accident, or was it design? Intent on their work, none of those in the two canoes could tell; nor could the frantic lads on shore.

Clancy heard a crash and roar above him. A glance aloft showed a bowlder dropping downward from the top of the Point. To Clancy, it looked as big as a house, and in a flash he knew it must strike the canoe.

The red-headed chap’s heart jumped into his throat. For a heartbeat he sat powerless, stunned by what he saw. Then he roused up suddenly, with a yell:

Jump, Merry! Jump for your life!

On the instant, Clancy dropped his paddle and went overboard. His frantic plunge overturned the canoe, and Merry was in the water almost as soon as his chum.

The falling bowlder just grazed the overturned canoe, splashed into the waves and sent up a geyser of foaming spray.



Merry, as well as Clancy, had heard the rush and roar of the bowlder. But Merry was not in a position to see it, and his first intimation of the real cause of the trouble came with Clancy’s jump, the sweeping of the canoe, and the splash of the bowlder in the water.

Bleeker and Hotchkiss, no less than the lads on the shore, were thunder-struck. The second canoe was far enough away to be out of danger, although it bobbed perilously in the swash of the waves.

The huge rock had dropped so unexpectedly, and had missed Merriwell and Clancy so narrowly, that all who watched it were paralyzed for a space. Then, when the first shock had worn away, a wild turmoil of voices went up from the bank and from the other canoe.

“A rock was loosened and dropped from the cliff!” called some one huskily.

“A bowlder was never known to drop from the Point!” protested another.

“An accident, that’s all!” asserted a third. “How could it have been anything else?”

Ballard, pale as death, was launching a canoe to the other bank. Dart and another lad crowded in with him.

The seething waters had quieted about the foot of the cliff, and Bleeker and Hotch were paddling close to Merriwell and Clancy, who were swimming to get around the Point.

“Are you all right, fellows?” Bleeker asked in a shaking voice.

69 “I am,” answered Merry. “How about you, Clan?”

“Physically, I’m all to the good, but mentally I’m badly disabled,” Clancy answered. “A fine course you laid out for us, Bleek,” he added.

“It’s Jode Lenning’s course,” said Bleeker. “I’ve been here a good many times, during the last six years, and I never knew a rock to fall from the cliff before. I can’t understand it.”

“It was an accident, Bleek,” said Frank, “and the bowlder missed us. A miss, you know, is as good as a mile. Better have somebody look after the canoe.”

“The fellows in one of the other canoes are towing it in,” said Hotch.

Merry and Clancy, reaching the sloping bank below the Point, walked up out of the water. Both were still a little dazed by the recent mishap.

Ballard, all a-tremble from the shock, landed and hurried to the side of his chums.

“You got out of that by the skin of your teeth,” said he. “Thunder! I thought you were gone, for sure. That bowlder wasn’t more than a second coming down, but it seemed to me like a year before it hit the water.”

“It must have been an accident,” commented Dart.

“No,” said Bleeker, and threw a significant look at Merriwell.

Bleeker had had a little time in which to collect his thoughts, and he was doing some reasoning, with Blunt’s warning for a background.

“I agree with Dart,” spoke up Merriwell. “I don’t see how it could have been anything but an accident.”

“I do,” muttered Bleeker darkly. “Some of you fellows get up on top of the Point. Hustle! See if you can find any one there. If you lose too much time, there isn’t a chance.”

70 Ballard led the rush up the steep slope, taking the roundabout way necessary for gaining the crest of the cliff. Several of the wondering lads followed Ballard. They were hardly started on their climb when a canoe from the opposite shore came nosing to the bank. It held two of the campers. As they arose, they got a bit of a glimpse of the water on the other side of the Point.

“Look!” one of them cried. “There’s our other canoe—and Lenning and Shoup!”

Owing to the bend in the river, nothing could be seen from the bank where Merry and the rest were standing. Merry, the instant he heard the shouted warning, started for the water’s edge and flung himself into the craft which Bleeker and Hotchkiss had used for the race.

“Come on, Clan!” Frank called. “Here’s something we’ve got to look into—and we must be quick about it.”

Clancy jumped for the canoe as though touched by a live wire. Through his befogged brain an inkling of his chum’s purpose had drifted.

In almost less time than it takes to tell it, the canoe was racing across the water, Merry in the bow and Clancy in the stern. Other canoes followed, for a feeling that something more of a portentous nature was about to happen ran through every lad’s nerves.

When well into the river, Frank could look ahead, as the vista opened out above the Point, and see the stolen canoe, with the two thieves aboard. Shoup was in the stern and Lenning at the bow. Both were using their paddles like mad, evidently trying to get across to the other bank.

“Get busy, Clan!” called Merriwell quietly, but compellingly. “I think we can overhaul those fellows before they land.”

“We’ll have to go some, if we do,” was the answer.

71 “I guess we’ve shown that we can do that, all right.”

Shoup, taking a survey over his shoulder, saw that he and Lenning were pursued. He spoke to Lenning, and both bent fiercely to their paddling.

They were awkward at the work, and the canoe zigzagged back and forth. But, in spite of the poor paddling, it looked as though the two might reach the bank before Merriwell and Clancy could get to them.

“Great guns!” cried Clancy, as an idea suddenly burst on his mind.

“What’s to pay, Clan?” asked Merry, keeping his keen, calculating eyes straight ahead.

“I’ve just thought of something, Chip. Those two hounds are trying to get away—they were on top of the Point—they dropped that rock down on us! By thunder, what do you think of that!”

“I wouldn’t say that until I had some proof,” counselled Merriwell. “Shut up, Clan, and dig in! We’ve got to if we get close enough to lay hands on them.”

Clancy smothered his desire for further talk and put all his vim into his paddle. He and Merry were gaining on the other craft, but nevertheless it seemed a foregone conclusion that Shoup and Lenning would reach shore before they could be stopped.

And then, just when the chase appeared most hopeless, Lenning’s paddle snapped. A shout of anger came from Shoup. He followed it by an act as surprising to those who looked on as it was desperate in its nature.

Rising to his feet, his own paddle in his hands, Shoup stepped forward and brought the paddle down viciously on the head of his companion. Lenning, who was still in a kneeling posture, pitched forward over the side of the frail craft and disappeared beneath the surface of the water. The canoe went gunwale under as he fell, and72 at the same moment, Shoup jumped and began swimming for the bank.

One astounding event after another was happening that afternoon, and this last tragic incident held the onlookers spellbound for a moment.

The first thought that drifted through each spectator’s mind must have been this: Why had Shoup dealt Lenning that blow? Was it anger because the paddle had broken? Or was there some other motive back of it?

Merriwell was first to recover his wits.

“Some of you fellows get ashore and try and head off Shoup!” he called. “I’ll see what I can do for Lenning. Quick with your paddle, Clan,” he added to his chum.

Lenning, stunned by the blow, had not reappeared at the surface of the water. And he might never reappear alive unless something was done for him at once.

These thoughts darted through Merriwell’s mind as he and Clancy drove the canoe onward to the place where the unfortunate youth had gone down. In less than a minute the craft was over the spot, and Merry had taken a long, clean dive into the river.

Ballard and Dart, and a few more were watching the progress of events from the top of the cliff. Bleeker and Hotch had more interest in Merriwell’s work than in trying to halt Shoup, and stood by in their canoe to be of what assistance they could. Clancy, hoping to be of some aid to his chum in effecting a rescue, had likewise taken to the water.

At such a time as that, bygones were bygones. Merriwell forgot all his old differences with Lenning—forgot also that Lenning might have been the one who had rolled the bowlder off the cliff—and plunged to the fellow’s relief just as he would have hastened to the aid of any one else in distress.

73 “That’s Chip Merriwell for you,” muttered Bleeker, kneeling and peering into the watery depths from the side of the canoe.

“Excitement is crowding us pretty hard this afternoon,” said Hotchkiss. “I’m fair dazed with it all. Why in Sam Hill did Shoup pound Lenning on the head with that paddle? I thought they were pards.”

“They were; but Shoup’s a dope fiend, and a fellow like that isn’t responsible for what he does. I suppose he was mad because Lenning’s paddle broke in his hands. Lenning couldn’t help that, and Shoup——”

Merry and Clancy had been under water for what seemed an inordinately long period. At that instant, however, they came to the surface—and between them was the white, dripping face of Jode Lenning.

“Bully for you, Merriwell!” shouted Bleeker enthusiastically. “Can we help with the canoe?”

“We’ll get him ashore,” sputtered Merry, shaking his head to get the water out of his eyes. “He’s unconscious and won’t make any trouble. How are you making it, Clan?” he asked of his chum.

“Well enough,” answered Clancy, blowing like a porpoise. “Let’s get solid ground under us as soon as we can, though. This is no easy job.”

Steadily, but surely, the two chums made their way shoreward. Fortunately, the bank was but a little distance away, and it was not long before they had dragged the limp form of Lenning high and dry on the sand.

While Merriwell and Clancy sprawled out in the sun to get their breath, Bleeker and Hotchkiss, and a few more of the campers, worked over Lenning. The lad was not in very bad shape, and the efforts at resuscitation speedily met with success.

“It was your quickness, Merriwell,” declared Bleeker,74 “that saved the fellow. If he had been under water a minute or two longer, it would have been all day with him.”

“He’s all right,” said Frank diffidently, “and that’s the main thing. Has he opened his eyes yet?”

“He’s opening them now.”

Frank got up and walked to Lenning’s side. “How do you feel, Jode?” he inquired, staring down into his bewildered eyes.

Lenning shivered, and closed his eyes again.



For several minutes Jode Lenning continued to lie on the warm sand. He could not have been very comfortable, for his hat was gone and his clothes were soaking wet. Bleeker had removed his coat in order to work over him to better advantage, and Hotch now took the garment and wrung it out. But if Lenning was not comfortable, he was at least getting his strength back and beginning to feel more like himself.

When he next opened his eyes, he sat up suddenly and looked out over the shimmering expanse of water. His lips twitched with some passing emotion, and he finally withdrew his gaze and fixed it upon Bleeker.

“Did Shoup hit me over the head with his paddle?” he asked, in a low, colorless voice.

“Yes,” was the answer.

“Merriwell and Clancy pulled me out of the water?”

“That was the way of it.”

“Where’s Shoup now?”

“Suffering horn toads!” gasped Bleeker. “Say, I had clean forgotten about that fellow. What became of him? Anybody know?”

“I can tell you,” one of the lads spoke up. “Two or three of us hustled ashore to try and head him off, but he was too quick for us. There were a couple of horses, hitched in the chaparral, and Shoup took one of them and got away.”

A baleful glitter shone in Lenning’s shifty eyes.

“He tried to do me up,” Lenning muttered.

76 “Why?” asked Bleeker. “I thought you and he were pards.”

“You never can tell what a pard like Shoup is going to do. But I gave him cause to have it in for me. Help me up, Bleeker. I’m not going to ask much of you, nor bother you very long. Five minutes will do the trick.”

Bleeker reached down and took Lenning’s hand. The lad was weak, as yet, for it would be some time before he recovered entirely from his recent ordeal.

“Let’s go to the place where Shoup got the horse,” went on Lenning. “I want the rest of you to come, too, especially Merriwell.”

Those who had followed Shoup to the chaparral placed themselves in the lead. Bleeker and Hotch followed, with Lenning between them.

Less than twenty yards up the slope of the bank the strange party came to the edge of the chaparral.

“Pick up that stone there,” said Lenning, pointing.

A stone about the size of a man’s two fists was indicated. Clancy stooped and removed the stone. As he did so, he gave vent to a low whistle, and exclamations of astonishment came from others clustered around him.

A roll of bills had been brought into view by the removal of the stone—a large roll with a yellowback on the outside.

“You take the money, Merriwell,” said Lenning, “and give it to Blunt. It’s the roll Shoup stole from Mrs. Boorland. I didn’t know the old lady was Mrs. Boorland until I found Blunt was after us. Shoup did the stealing, and he did it without my knowledge or consent. Maybe you fellows won’t believe that, but it’s a fact. I reckon I’ve come pretty low, but I couldn’t stand for what Shoup did. All the money’s there but twenty dollars.77 Shoup used that to buy a supply of dope in Ophir and to hire a couple of horses.”

Lenning paused. He was getting stronger, and he drew away from Bleeker and Hotchkiss.

“I took that money from Shoup last night, while he was asleep,” Lenning went on. “We brought our horses over here before daylight, and hid them in the chaparral. When we did that, I sneaked around and got the roll under that stone, and Shoup didn’t see me. I intended to let Blunt know, in some way, where the money was. That’s something else you can believe or not, just as you please, but it’s the truth.

“There was merry blazes to pay when Shoup found the money was gone out of his pocket. He accused me of taking it, and I admitted it. He threatened me, and even threw me down and went through my clothes to see if he couldn’t find it. Blunt made things so interesting for us that Shoup didn’t have any time to keep nagging at me. When we tried to get across the river to the horses, directly after that bowlder dropped from the cliff, Shoup found his chance to hand me a rap over the head. You saw him do it; and now I’ve explained why he had it in for me.

“Of course,” and Lenning’s glance wandered to Merriwell, “you fellows can take me to Ophir and put me in the lockup on a charge of highway robbery. The question is, are you going to do it? I’ve tried to do the right thing, and now it’s up to you either to let me go or hand me over to the law. Which is it to be?”

“Get his horse for him,” said Merriwell, “and let him go. He’s had a hard enough time of it, and the way Shoup treated him proves that his story is straight.”

Lenning, most unexpectedly, had done a good deed, and it was the saving grace of that act which led many78 of the boys to agree with Merriwell. The horse was led out of the bushes, and Lenning, with some difficulty, climbed into the saddle.

“Where are you going?” Merriwell asked.

“I don’t know,” was the answer, “and I’m not caring a whole lot.”

“Why don’t you buck up, Lenning, and try to be different?”

Lenning studied Merriwell for a moment with moody eyes.

“What’s the use?” he asked, at last. “I’m down and out. I’ve been a fool, but that doesn’t count any in my favor. When a fellow makes his bed, he’s got to lie in it.”

“If it doesn’t suit him he can get up and make it over.”

“You’ve always been at the top of the heap, Merriwell, so it’s easy for you to give advice. Try to be the under dog once, and maybe you’ll change your mind about what a fellow can or can’t do.”

Without another word, Lenning turned the horse’s head up the slope. Hatless as he was, and with his wet clothing clinging to his limbs, he was a melancholy figure as he rode to the top of the bank and then vanished from the gaze of the lads below.

“Well, I’ll be hanged!” exclaimed Bleeker. “I’m struck all of a heap, no two ways about that. To think that Jode Lenning should make a play of that kind! He hasn’t a sou in his jeans, and yet he took that roll from Shoup and was doing what he could to get it back into the hands of Blunt. Well, well!”

“It only goes to prove,” chuckled Merriwell, “that lawlessness wasn’t born in Lenning, and that he can make a pretty decent sort of a fellow out of himself if he tries.”

“I reckon,” said Bleeker thoughtfully, “that all of us are handicapped in one way or another.”

79 “We are,” agreed Frank, “but it’s our own doing.”

“That so, Chip?” put in Clancy.

Merriwell stared at him for an instant, then caught his drift and nodded emphatically.

“Yes, that’s so, Clan, and I’m not backing away from that statement because I’ve got a little handicap of my own. Who won that race, anyhow, Bleeker?” he finished, with a grin.

“You and Clancy did,” was the prompt reply.

“We can try it over again to-morrow forenoon, if you say so.”

“Not much! Single paddles are trumps, to-morrow forenoon, and I’ll see if we Gold Hillers can’t have a little luck. Now let’s get back to camp.”

A return was quickly made to the other shore; and, while Merry and Clancy were in their tent, giving all the news to Ballard, and, at the same time, getting into their clothes, Barzy Blunt stuck his head in at the flap.

“Somebody beat me to it,” he remarked. “Call that a fair shake, Chip?”

There was a laugh in Blunt’s voice, so the lads knew his words were not to be taken seriously.

“Where were you while all the trouble was going on?” demanded Frank.

“I was a heap nearer the scene of trouble than you imagine. I’ve found out something, too, that will probably change your opinion of Jode Lenning.”

“Come in, then,” said Merry, “and bat it up to us. We’re getting sort of hardened to surprises, so I guess we can stand this one.”



The cowboy pushed his way into the tent and sat down beside Ballard on a pile of blankets.

“First off,” said he, “let me ask you if you’re satisfied Schuster gave me a straight tip when I met him on the way back from Gold Hill?”

“Why, yes,” Frank answered, “Schuster had a pretty good line on the situation, all except that ‘getting even’ part.”

Blunt screwed up his black eyes and gave Merriwell a keen sizing.

“What do you think about that bowlder that dropped from the cliff?” he asked.

“Accident,” said Frank briefly.

“Well, holy smoke!” grunted the cowboy, in disgust. “Is that what you really think, Chip?”

“It is, Barzy.”

Blunt removed his hat and ran his fingers through his long, jet-black hair.

“You’re a little shy in your headpiece,” he remarked. “Either that or else you’ve got a fool notion about not wanting to go on record with what you really think. Some of the lads outside kind of told me the way you were leaning, and how you’d been cracking Jode Lenning up as something of a man, in spite of his shortcomings. What Schuster said Lenning and Shoup had up their sleeves for you, Chip, worried me a heap. I got to thinking more of keeping the three of you apart than I had thought about recovering the money. Pretty soon after81 I left you and Bleeker in the hills, I tied up my horse and started to skirmishing in some difficult places on foot.

“First thing I knew I was in the brush on top of the Point. The canoe race was going on below, and I could hear the yells pretty near as plain as though I had been down in the bottom of the gulch. Shoup and Lenning were skulking back of the cliff’s edge. They had a rock poised on the brink. Lenning was waiting to push it over, while Shoup was looking down, ready to give the signal at the right time.

“It was a few minutes before I got on to what they might be up to. Just as it rushed over me, and I started to get busy with the coyotes, Shoup gave the signal and Lenning pushed the rock over. Then both of them took to their heels. I was right after ’em, but they pulled a canoe out of the bushes when they got near the water, and slid beyond my reach.

“I started back toward the place where I had left my horse, but stopped again when I got a glimpse of the river and saw you and Clancy chasing the other canoe. I saw the rest of what happened, too, including the bat Shoup gave Lenning on the head, and the way you and Clancy went to the rescue. I reckon that was fine, considering all that those skunks had tried to do to you, but, pard, it was a whole lot more than I’d have done in your place.”

“No, it wasn’t,” said Merriwell decidedly.

“No? Seems like you’re putting me in your own class. Chip, and you know as well as I do that I don’t belong there. Well, we’ll let that pass. I went for my horse with my thoughts and feelings sort of scrambled, so that I didn’t know how I really felt. I sort of forgot about the stolen money, and about everything else, but the way those two sneaks pushed the bowlder down on you, and82 the way you went into the drink to save the fellow that did the most of it. Finally I got into my saddle and rode for this camp, where I was told how you believed that bowlder business was an accident, and that Lenning had done the square thing with the money. Then I was at sixes and sevens again. I didn’t want to jolt you with the truth about Lenning, and yet I couldn’t see how you were so dense as not to figure it out for yourself. Now, Chip, I come to you as an eyewitness, and you’re getting the facts. Schuster had it pretty straight, didn’t he?”

“Surest thing you know, Barzy,” Frank answered. “Here’s the money,” he added, passing over the roll. “It’s all there but twenty dollars. Shoup spent that in Ophir.”

“I’m glad enough to get hands on it, even if it is a twenty short. Mam is coming in for quite a wad of coin, on account of that mine deal, so maybe she wouldn’t have missed this so much as she might. It was the way Shoup took it, more than anything else, that got me all worked up. Now, Chip, tell me this: What’s your opinion about Lenning?”

“It was the best thing that ever happened to him when Colonel Hawtrey kicked him out,” said Merriwell. “There’s good stuff in Lenning and he’s going to prove it a good many times—just as he proved it this afternoon.”

“Bosh!” said Bleeker, thrusting his head into the tent, “you’re dippy on that point, Chip.”

“Wait and see, Bleek.”

“Supper’s ready—that’s what I looked in to tell you. Place for you, Blunt. Going back to Ophir to-night?”

“I hear there’s a race on to-morrow forenoon,” returned Blunt, “and I’d sort of made up my mind to hang around and take a hand in it.”

“Good for you!” cried Merriwell.

“But,” the cowboy went on, with an odd gleam in his83 black eyes, “I don’t want any more bowlders tumbling from Apache Point if I’m to be in one of the canoes.”

“Now that Shoup and Lenning have cleared out,” cried Clancy, “I’ll guarantee there won’t be any more rocks rolling down the cliff. Come on and let’s eat.”



“Get a move on, Bleek! Ginger up, pard, ginger up!”

“Good work, Merry! That’s the way to show ’em your heels!”

“Dig, old scout! Why don’t you dig?”

“Plenty of chance, yet, Bleek; don’t lose your nerve!”

“Chance? Why, Bleeker hasn’t a look-in—not with Chip Merriwell paddling like that! Merry’s coming down the stretch like a scared coyote making for home and mother. Hoop-a-la!”

There were five canoes in that race for single paddles. There had been seven, but two had fouled each other and come to grief less than a hundred yards from the starting point. Barzy Blunt and Hotchkiss, of Gold Hill, were the unlucky ones. As soon as they had gained the shore they joined the rooters who were running along the bank. A ducking had not dampened their ardor in the least, and Blunt and Hotch pranced along in their bathing trunks, cheering and encouraging the rest of the racers.

It was late in the forenoon. The bright Arizona sun trailed its beams over the waters of the gulch, gilding each little ripple as it danced about the charging canoes. The only shadow on the stream was at the place where the gentle slopes of the gulch banks were shouldered aside by the steep bluff known as Apache Point.

Above the Point, and around the turn in the gulch, was a white flag. The start of the canoe race had been from this flag. The “elbow” at the foot of the Point was to be rounded by the racers, and the finish line was opposite the white tents of the Gold Hill campers.

85 Apart from Blunt and Hotchkiss, the contesting paddlers were young Merriwell, his chums, Owen Clancy and Billy Ballard, Bleeker, a leader in the Gold Hill Athletic Club, and Lenaway, another member of the club.

Merriwell, Clancy, and Ballard, crouching in the sterns of their frail craft, had worked easily but steadily from the start. They knew from experience that swiftness in the get-away and a wild expenditure of energy at the beginning caused the loss of many a race—not only on the water but on the cinder track, as well. It is the fellow who carefully and judiciously nurses his powers for a spurt on the home stretch that makes the best showing, when all’s said and done.

The length of the course to be covered in this canoe race was about half a mile. A hundred yards from the starting point, Frank and his chums were some distance behind. Bleeker led, and almost neck and neck with him were Hotchkiss and the cowboy, Barzy Blunt. Lenaway’s canoe filled in the widening gap between the leaders and the Farnham Hall lads in the rear.

Blunt had more strength than skill, and it was his awkwardness that caused the crash with Hotchkiss. The violence of the impact caused both canoes to roll over and fill. With these two contestants out of the way, the race began rapidly narrowing down.

One by one the canoes rounded the foot of the Point, hugging the steep wall closely. Bleeker led the procession, Lenaway followed, and then came Merry, Clancy, and Ballard in the order named.

The instant Merriwell’s canoe shot away from the Point, however, he could be seen to buckle to his work in masterly style. First he overhauled Lenaway, and then passed him with comparative ease.

Lenaway, realizing that the race undoubtedly lay between86 Merriwell and Bleeker, strove to take what honors he could away from Clancy and Ballard. Halfway between the Point and the finish line, Ballard snapped his paddle.

“How’s that for luck?” he shouted ruefully, as Clancy and Lenaway dashed on prow to prow. “Go it, Reddy! It’s up to you and Chip, now, to show these Gold Hillers what we can do.”

Bleeker, a prime fellow and trained to the minute, realized that he had the fight of his life on his hands if he was to win against Merriwell. He made swift demand upon all his reserve strength, and his muscles answered superbly. But the strain of the contest was telling upon him—mainly because he had worked too hard on the first half of the course.

Merriwell was creeping up on the other canoe, slowly yet steadily and relentlessly. And the remarkable part of his work was that the tension of those exciting moments was not evident in a single move he made. With easy, almost careless, grace he dipped his blade, and his light craft plunged onward like a well-trained thoroughbred. It was evident to all that Merriwell was a “stayer,” and that Bleeker had about shot his bolt.

Frank was somewhat surprised at Bleeker, for on the preceding day he and Clancy had given the Gold Hill lads an object lesson in husbanding resources for the home stretch and not being too free with them at the beginning. Bleeker should have profited by that experience.

Little by little Merry drew up abreast of Bleeker. The latter’s face was set and there was a strained look about it which proved how hard he was driving himself.

When Frank nosed on into the lead, a roar went up from the bank. Blunt was rooting for Merry, and cheering with all his range ardor and enthusiasm. The cowboy87 had a whole-souled admiration for the Eastern lad, and believed that no one of his age or inches could beat him at any sport.

“Whoop!” he bellowed, jumping around on the bank in his drenched and abbreviated costume. “Keep your eye on my pard, will you? Throw up your hands, Bleek! It’s as good as over.”

“Never say die, Bleek!” shouted a Gold Hiller across the water. “Keep at it, old man! Come ahead, come ahead!”

Bleeker was fighting gamely. He was not the lad to quit because the tide of battle was running against him. By an effort as remarkable as it was unexpected, he dug down into an underlying stratum of power and hurled his canoe onward until it was again nose to nose with Merriwell’s.

Frank’s admiration for his plucky rival was great. To win over such a true sportsman would be a victory to be highly prized.

And Frank was doing his best. If Bleeker’s sudden access of strength held out, Frank might be only second at the swimming float where the race was to end.

“Go to it, Chip!” yelled a voice which had not been heard before in all that riot of noise from the river bank. “You’re generally first at the last of it, mainly because you never get rattled by being last at the beginning. Now’s the time to make your showing!”

A thrill shot through Merriwell as he heard that particular voice. He was wondering a little, too, as to how the owner of that voice happened to be at the Gold Hill camp. Just then, however, he had no attention to spare from his immediate work.

Bleeker’s spurt did not last. He had been too prodigal of his strength. His canoe began dropping off, and88 Merriwell came abreast of the float half a length in the lead.

“Hoop-a-la!” shouted Barzy Blunt, cutting a few cowboy capers on the bank. “What did I tell you, eh? Hurrah for Chip—a chip of the old block if there ever was one.”

Ballard, working his way to the shore with what was left of his paddle, likewise exulted in his chum’s victory. Clancy, reaching the float just ahead of Lenaway, joined in the cheering.

Bleeker, although breathless with his efforts, managed to get his canoe alongside Merriwell’s.

“Put it there, Chip,” he laughed, reaching out his hand. “You gave me the finest bit of fun I’ve had in many a day.”

Merriwell clasped the hand heartily.

“It was anybody’s race for a while, Bleek,” he answered. “If we had it to do over again, more than likely you’d trim me.”

“Not so you could notice it, old man. You’re a stayer from Stayerville, and I take off my hat to you as the better man.”

It was to be noticed that the cheering over Merry’s victory was general, and the Gold Hill boys joined in it quite as heartily as did Frank’s chums and his cowboy friend. As Merry brought his canoe to the bank and hopped ashore, he was greeted by the lad whose voice he had heard so unexpectedly while the canoes were bearing down on the float.

“Up to your old tricks, eh, Chip?” laughed this youth. “If I had known what was on for this morning, I’d have tried to get here earlier.”

“Hannibal Bradlaugh, by Jove!” cried Merry, taking a grip on the hand that was pushed out to him.

89 Ever since Merry had come to southern Arizona he had known the son of the president of the Ophir Athletic Club. The clubs at Ophir and Gold Hill were rivals—bitter rivals, at one time, but now, in a great measure, owing to Merriwell’s efforts, all the bitterness was a thing of the past.

“Hello, Brad!” called Bleeker, pushing forward to take the hand Merriwell had released. “The last of that performance was the best part of it, so you didn’t miss a whole lot by getting here late. If you’ve come to stay for a while, we’ll give you a chance to take a hand in some of these water sports.”

“I’m not going to have my scalp dangling at any Gold Hill belt,” Brad laughed, “and that’s what would happen if I got hold of a paddle and tried to do anything. Anyhow, I didn’t come to stay for more than a few minutes. I’m after Chip. He’s wanted in Ophir.”

“News from Bloomfield?” Frank asked, lifting his eyes quickly.

“No, nothing from Bloomfield. I’m sorry as blazes to cut short your stay here——”

“We were going back to Ophir this afternoon, anyhow,” Merry cut in, “so that part of it is all right. Pink, Clan, and I promised the professor solemnly we’d get back to town this evening. He’d be after us if we didn’t go, for that’s the sort of a prof he is. What’s up, Brad? From your looks I should say it was serious business.”

“Oh, not so blamed serious. Step over this way a minute, will you?”

Bradlaugh drew Merriwell to one side and began talking to him in low, earnest tones. As Merry listened, an expression of thoughtful concern could be seen to cross his face.



“You saved a fellow’s life here yesterday, didn’t you, Chip?” Brad asked.

“Clancy and I pulled Jode Lenning out of the water,” Frank answered.

“That’s about the way I’d expect you to tell it. Well, Lenning has asked for a job at the Ophir mine. He hasn’t much left in the way of reputation, and when the super asked my father what to do, pop told him to let Lenning hunt a berth somewhere else. Lenning came straight to pop’s office from the mine. He told pop that he knew he hadn’t done right, but that he had cut loose from his rowdy friends, had turned over a new leaf, and was going to make something of himself. Pop thought that was a pretty good thing to do, and told him so, but couldn’t give him any encouragement. The company had made it a rule not to hire anybody who couldn’t give a clean bill as to character. Lenning wanted to know if somebody couldn’t be responsible for him, and pop answered that it all depended on who the ‘somebody’ was. The next minute pop was almost knocked off his feet.”

Brad paused. “Who hit him?” asked Merry, with a twinkle in his dark eyes.

“Lenning,” said Brad promptly. “He hit pop with a few words that almost took his breath. ‘Chip Merriwell will be responsible for me,’ is what he said. Do you wonder that the governor was floored?”

Frank did not. In fact, Frank was almost floored himself.

91 “Pop told Lenning that he’d have to talk with you,” Brad went on, “and Lenning wanted him to get you to Ophir as soon as possible. Well, it wasn’t exactly that that brought me after you, Chip. Pop telephoned to Colonel Hawtrey, Lenning’s uncle, in Gold Hill, and the colonel’s coming to Ophir himself to see about it. We all know that Colonel Hawtrey hates Lenning like poison, and, while I can’t understand why you want to help a fellow who has done you so much dirt as Lenning has, all the same I thought I’d hustle out here and tell you about Hawtrey. If you want to help Lenning, you’ll have to see pop before the colonel gets to Ophir. I rushed to Dolliver’s in the automobile, and came on up the cañon on foot. If you want to go back with me, it won’t take us long to get to the car.”

Merriwell was in a quandary. At first, a blunt refusal to do anything for Lenning was on his lips. Something held it back.

“It’s up to you, Chip,” said Brad. “What are you going to do? You stand pretty high with pop. I’ll bet a good deal that one word from you would get the job for Lenning—providing you get busy before the colonel reaches Ophir. It’s your own business, and I’m only butting in to help you do what you want to do.”

“I know that, Brad,” Merry answered. “I can’t tell you what I want to do, offhand. I’ve got to think it over.”

“You haven’t much time.”

“I’ll have to take time to get into my clothes. Dinner’s about ready, too, and there won’t be much more delay if we eat in camp. After that, Brad, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.”

“All right, old man,” assented Brad, and turned away92 to shake hands with Clancy, Ballard, and a few other fellows with whom he was acquainted.

Merriwell was still in a quandary as he went to one of the tents and began getting out of his wet bathing suit and into his other clothes. Jode Lenning had appealed to him for help, and such a move was so unlike Lenning that Merry thought there must be something crooked back of it. On the other hand, Lenning might really be trying to turn over a new leaf, and, if that was the case, Frank was the last one in the world to hold back when a word from him to Mr. Bradlaugh would help set an enemy in the right road.

Jode Lenning and his half brother, Ellis Darrel, had lived with their uncle, Colonel Hawtrey, in Gold Hill. Lenning had gone wrong, but he had managed cleverly to pull the wool over his uncle’s eyes for a year or more. Merriwell had befriended Darrel, and, in so doing, had earned the enmity of Lenning. The latter had done a number of treacherous things—ugly, underhand deeds, some of which had only failed of accomplishing desperate ends by a narrow margin—and when the colonel finally had his eyes opened to the truth, he cast the scheming, unscrupulous nephew adrift.

Was Lenning trying honestly to turn over a new leaf? This was the question Merriwell was turning over in his mind. If he was, then he deserved and ought to have Merriwell’s help.

Nevertheless, Merriwell could not forget the past. Lenning had been sly, and treacherous, and cowardly. His whole nature could not be changed in twenty-four hours, and to be responsible for his honesty at the mine would perhaps prove dangerous business.

The only square thing Merriwell had ever known Lenning to do was in taking that stolen money of Mrs. Boorland’s93 from Shoup and returning it to Barzy Blunt. If the principle of right and justice had swerved Lenning, then certainly he was trying to put himself on a proper footing and deserved encouragement.

While Frank was considering the question that had been so suddenly put up to him, Blunt, Clancy, and Ballard came into the tent to dress and make ready for dinner. They were curious to learn what errand had brought Brad to the gulch; and Frank, after a little reflection, told them.

“Crawling side winders!” muttered Blunt, his face flushed with indignation and anger. “That juniper’s the limit! Think of him calling on Chip for help when it hasn’t been a day since he tried to smash Chip and Clancy with that bowlder! How’s that for nerve, pards?”

“Nerve is his long suit,” grunted Ballard. “Now that he’s out with Shoup, he’s trying to curry favor with Chip.”

“And of course Chip will give him the cold shoulder,” put in Clancy, with an air of conviction. “He’d be foolish to tangle up with Lenning in any way.”

“Suppose Lenning is trying to square away and do the right thing?” queried Merriwell.

“That’s a bluff,” asserted Blunt. “Lenning is more kinds of a crook than I know how to tell about. It’s a cinch he wants to get in at the mine so he can pull off some scheme or other that he’s been hatching. He’s a master hand at schemes.”

“He’s up against a tough proposition,” went on Merriwell, “and if he’s trying to be square I don’t want to turn him down.”

“If you’re fool enough to help him, Merriwell,” growled Blunt, “you’ll get yourself in trouble. Mark what I say.”

“Give Chip credit for having a little horse sense,” said94 Ballard. “Brad makes me tired. What the deuce did he want to come out here for? He might have known Chip wouldn’t have anything to do with Lenning’s affairs.”

“The trouble with Brad is, he never stops to reason a thing out,” observed Clancy. “He means all right, and I’ll bet he thought he was doing Chip a bigger favor than he was Lenning.”

“His own uncle ought to know him pretty well,” continued Ballard. “Let him handle Lenning.”

“I’m going in with Brad, anyhow,” said Merry, his face set and a resolute gleam in his eyes. “You fellows can follow along with the horses and pick up my mount at Dolliver’s.”

“What are you going in for?” demanded Ballard suspiciously.

“I want to get deeper into this business,” was the reply. “It won’t do any harm for me to have a talk with Mr. Bradlaugh.”

“Maybe not,” said Blunt, “but I’ll gamble my spurs it won’t do you any good, either. Lenning’s a cur, and he’s proved it.”

“What’s the use of jumping on a fellow when he’s down, Barzy?”

“It amounts to the same,” was the fierce retort, “as putting your heel on the head of a rattler before it can strike. Chip,” and his voice grew intensely earnest, “I don’t want you to do anything you’ll be sorry for.”

Merriwell laughed and thumped the cowboy on the back.

“Why, you crazy chump,” said he, “what do you take me for? There’s the call for grub pile. Come on and let’s eat.”

Following dinner, Frank caught up his horse, put on the riding gear, and then mounted and took up Brad95 behind him. All the Gold Hillers were sorry to see Merriwell go, but he and his chums had only come out to the gulch for overnight, and in two short days they had managed to crowd a lot of sport and excitement.

“Hope we’ll see you again before you leave Arizona, Chip,” said Bleeker, who was last to grip Merriwell’s hand. “You’re a true sportsman, and it was an honor to compete with you—even if we did get left. Adios, and good luck!”

“So long, fellows!” called Frank, waving his hand.

“We’ll be along later, Chip,” sang out Clancy.

At a word, Frank’s horse broke into a gallop along the gulch trail. The white tents faded slowly into the background and the cheers of the Gold Hillers grew fainter and fainter in Frank’s ears until they died out altogether.



Borak, the black horse Merriwell had bought of Barzy Blunt several weeks before, was a fast traveler, and it was not many minutes until he had deposited his two riders at Dolliver’s ranch, at the mouth of the cañon. The cañon trail was too rough and narrow for an automobile, and so Brad had been compelled to leave the machine at the rancher’s.

Leaving Borak at the hitching pole in front of the house, Merriwell and Brad took to the car and were soon hitting it up on the road to Ophir. Half an hour after leaving Dolliver’s they were drawing to a halt in front of the mining company’s offices in the town.

Mr. Bradlaugh was the Western representative of the syndicate that owned the mine, and was in all matters the court of last resort in questions dealing with mining, milling, and cyaniding on the company’s premises.

Merry and Brad, tumbling out of the machine and making their way into the outer office of the general manager, were told by the stenographer that Mr. Bradlaugh was busy with a caller in his private room.

“Who’s the caller?” queried Brad.

“Colonel Hawtrey.”

Brad drew a deep breath and turned to Merriwell.

“He’s here ahead of us, Chip,” said he, “but, if you’ve made up your mind as to what you’re going to do, I reckon you can get in there and do your talking along with the colonel. Wait a minute.”

A mumble of voices came from beyond the door leading97 to the manager’s private office. Frank could distinguish Mr. Bradlaugh’s voice, colorless and low-pitched, and Colonel Hawtrey’s, loud and wrathful.

Brad stepped to the door, tapped, and then opened it and passed inside at a word from his father. A moment later he looked out and beckoned to Merriwell.

As Frank entered the room, Colonel Hawtrey got up and took him by the hand.

“Mighty glad to see you again, Merriwell,” said he, “but I hope nothing Lenning has said has brought you here.”

“Hello, my boy,” smiled Mr. Bradlaugh, waving Merriwell to a chair. “This looks like a plot, with Hannibal at the bottom of it. You needn’t go, Han. You’ve got Merriwell here, now stay and see the matter through.”

Merry and Brad seated themselves.

“I hear that Jode Lenning has asked for a job at the mine,” remarked Frank, a little embarrassed to find himself in danger of crossing the colonel’s will at such close quarters.

“That’s what has happened,” replied Mr. Bradlaugh. “We need a watchman at the cyanide plant for night duty. That’s the work Lenning applied for. It’s a responsible position, and a man is needed badly and at once. The superintendent, knowing Lenning’s character was not of the best, referred the matter to me. It’s against our policy to hire any one whose record is not clean, so I turned Lenning down. Then he said that he thought you would be responsible for him. I haven’t an idea that you’re looking for such a protégé,” laughed the general manager, “and your coming here is quite a surprise. I called up the colonel, and he took the trouble to come over. From what he says, I don’t believe we can consider Lenning’s application at all.”

98 “If you hire him, Bradlaugh,” said the colonel, “you’ll do it without any recommendation from me. Lenning is a graceless scamp. The company he keeps is the worst imaginable. Why, in a week he ran through with a thousand dollars, which I gave him to use in making something of himself—squandered it at the gambling tables in Gold Hill, with that rascal Shoup to help him. His latest exploit is such as to make me blush to think that he is my dead sister’s son. Highway robbery—with a poor, old lady for the victim! By George, he ought to have been arrested and put through for that.”

“Colonel,” said Frank, “you haven’t all the facts connected with that robbery. It was Shoup who stole the money, and it was Lenning who took it away from him and returned it to its rightful owner.”

The colonel’s eyes narrowed.

“Merriwell,” said he, with a trace of annoyance, “I know more than you think. Lenning wanted to revenge himself upon you for some fancied wrong, and that was why he and Shoup went to the camp in the gulch. Lenning took the money from his scoundrelly companion and hid it away; then, aided by Shoup, he attempted to roll a bowlder from Apache Point and smash the canoe in which you and one of your friends were racing past the foot of the cliff. His villainous attempts failed. He and Shoup tried to clear out. As they crossed the river in a stolen canoe, in order to reach their horses, Shoup struck Lenning with a paddle. Shoup got away, and you saved Lenning from drowning. He——”

“Clancy and I pulled Lenning out of the water,” Frank broke in. “Possibly he would have got out himself if we had let him alone.”

“Hardly,” came the crisp protest from the colonel. “Lenning was stunned and unable to help himself. As99 soon as he revived, he took you to the place where he had hidden the money. Why?”

The colonel bored into Frank with his eyes as he put the question.

“Because he wanted to do the square thing,” answered Merriwell, “and because he wouldn’t stand for any thieving on the part of Shoup. Shoup was mad about it, and that’s why he hit Lenning with the paddle.”

“I’m surprised at you, Merriwell,” said Hawtrey. “That wasn’t the reason at all. Lenning wanted all that money for himself. When you got him out of the water, he—well, he—well, he ‘worked you,’ to use a slang term. He returned the money and told that yarn in order to keep out of jail. Lenning is shrewd—you ought to know that.”

Colonel Hawtrey was bitter against his once-cherished nephew. He was a stern man, and the fact that Lenning was his sister’s son in no wise tempered his merciless spirit.

“I think you’re wrong, colonel,” said Merriwell quietly.

For a few moments a silence dropped over those in the office. Merriwell had been still in doubt as to what he would do up to that very moment. The colonel’s relentless attitude brought him to a conclusion in a flash. Merriwell believed Lenning had returned the money because he wanted to do the right thing, while the colonel professed to believe that it was only a makeshift to save him from arrest. At last, Colonel Hawtrey spoke, and it was noticeable that his voice had softened.

“You stand pretty high in my regard, my lad,” said he to Merriwell, “and I recall the time when you believed in Darrel and I did not. As events proved, I was an unreasonable old fool and your judgment was correct. I have you to thank for giving me back a nephew who is100 in every way a credit to his family. But don’t make any mistake about Jode Lenning. He’s a thorough-paced villain, and there is not one redeeming feature in his case. It is hard for me to sit here and talk in this way, but Jode has made his own bed and must lie in it. He fooled me for a long time, and I sincerely hope, Merriwell, that you won’t let him deceive you.”

“I believe he has squared around, colonel,” insisted Frank, “and that he ought to be helped.”

“There’s some black motive back of what he’s doing.”

“The fact that he came to the Ophir and asked for a job proves——”

“You don’t know what it proves,” cut in Col Hawtrey irascibly. “Lenning is deep. There is no guessing what he has at the back of his head.”

“I think he ought to have a chance.”

“Why didn’t he take his thousand dollars, go away somewhere where no one knows him and try to make a man of himself? He had a chance then—a better chance than he’ll ever get again—and he threw it away. He’s tricky, and he’s not in earnest.”

“He was training with Shoup when he squandered that money, colonel,” urged Merriwell. “Now he and Shoup have quarreled, and Lenning hasn’t his influence to fight. If Mr. Bradlaugh will take Lenning on my say-so, I’m here to ask him to let Lenning have that job as night watchman.”

“You’re making a rash move,” declared the colonel, “and it is a move that will get you into trouble as sure as fate.” He turned to Mr. Bradlaugh. “Don’t let Merriwell do something he’ll be sorry for, Bradlaugh,” said he.

There was a grim expression on the general manager’s face. “How am I to help myself, colonel?” he asked.

“Help yourself? Why, you can refuse to put Lenning101 on your pay roll, in spite of what Merriwell says. That is the best move you could make for all concerned.”

Bradlaugh sat back in his chair, and, for a few minutes, was deep in thought. At last he roused up to address Colonel Hawtrey, once more.

“You are under obligations to Merriwell, colonel,” said he, “and so am I. He came to Ophir and immediately identified himself with the affairs of the Ophir Athletic Club, which, as you know, were in pretty bad shape. He and his friends have brought a new spirit into the club, and from being always on the losing side, now and then we’re able to win. You remember how he coached our football team, and steered the boys to victory?” The colonel winced and a smile unfolded itself around Bradlaugh’s lips. “No,” he went on, “I see you haven’t forgotten that, colonel. Well, as president of the O. A. C., I’m indebted to Merriwell. If he asks me to give Lenning a chance, and will become personally responsible for his actions, I can’t refuse. That’s flat.”

“Merriwell is taking a long chance on Lenning,” growled Colonel Hawtrey, “and I hate to see the boy make such a mistake. I’m Lenning’s uncle, and it’s a chance I wouldn’t think of taking myself.” He turned to Frank. “Think it over,” he urged, “before you finally make up your mind. Don’t forget that Jode has tried several times to be tricky with you. He may be trying it now.”

I’ve got a hunch that he’s trying to be square, and not to be tricky,” Merriwell answered. “And it’s a man’s fight, colonel, for every one seems to be down on him. He ought to be given a boost. If I’m willing to forget the past and take a chance, you ought to be.”

“I think, and you’ll pardon me for saying it, that my102 judgment is too sound. What are you going to do, Bradlaugh?”

“Lenning goes on duty at the cyanide plant to-night,” said the general manager, “but he’s accepted solely and provisionally as Merriwell’s protégé. I shall phone the superintendent to that effect in a few minutes.”

The colonel frowned and got to his feet. “I wash my hands of the consequences,” said he, “but if Merriwell gets into trouble on account of his rashness, I shall do all I can to help him.”

With that, Colonel Hawtrey strode out of the office, very much wrought up over the result of his call on Mr. Bradlaugh. As soon as he was gone, the general manager left his chair and came around to take Merriwell’s hand.

“This move of yours does you credit, Merriwell,” said he, “and I’m backing your judgment against the colonel’s. But—and please consider this a tip—keep track of Lenning as well as you can. That’s all. Hannibal,” he laughed, turning to his son, “you’re something of a schemer yourself. Why didn’t you tell me you were going after Chip?”



An hour after Merry and Brad had left the office of the general manager of the Ophir Mining Company, Merry was sitting alone on the veranda of the Ophir House, waiting for his chums to arrive from the camp in the gulch. He was wondering, a little dubiously, whether he had done right by setting his judgment against the colonel’s in the matter of Jode Lenning.

In matters of sentiment, and quite apart from ordinary business, Merriwell knew that Colonel Hawtrey was far from infallible. The colonel himself had mentioned the fact that he had been wrong and Merriwell right in affairs connected with Ellis Darrel. The same sort of a “hunch” that had led Merry to befriend Darrel was now spurring him on to help Lenning. If it was right in one case, he felt in his bones it must be right in the other.

And then, too, Lenning was absolutely friendless. In this sorry plight, he had smothered his pride and appealed for aid to a fellow whom he considered an enemy. This touched Merry, as he might have expressed it, pretty close “to where he lived.” Lenning had asked for help, and Merry would have felt like a cur if he had turned him down.

The lad on the veranda was unable to find any fault with himself for his generous action. He did not mix any hard-headed logic in his reasoning, but considered the affair almost entirely from the standpoint of doing the right thing by a chap who was down and had every man’s hand against him.

104 “I say, Merriwell!”

Frank started at the sound of the voice. Looking up, he saw a lad leaning over the veranda rail not more than a couple of yards away. His face was haggard, and his clothes, although of good quality, were dusty and rumpled. A pair of eyes, by nature of the shifty sort, were fixed with some steadiness upon Merry’s face.

“Oh, hello, Lenning,” said Frank, with a certain amount of constraint in his voice and manner. “I thought you were out at the mine.”

“I was there,” came the answer, “until I heard a little while ago that I was to have a job as night watchman, and that I owed the job to you. That sent me to town. Can you give me a little of your time? I—I’ve got something I want to say to you.”

“Sure! Come up here and take a chair. We’ll palaver as long as you please.”

“I’d rather not do my talking here. If you’re agreeable, suppose we walk out along the road to the mine. I’ll feel more like loosening up if I knew there’s no one around to overhear.”

“That suits me,” and Frank left the veranda and started south with Lenning, through the ragged outskirts of the town.

Lenning did not travel the main street, but avoided it, finally leading Frank out on the trail to the mine by a roundabout course. A short mile lay between the settlement and the Ophir “workings,” and Lenning did not speak until the last house in the town had been left behind. If he had much to say, Frank thought, he would have to talk fast if he got through before they reached the mine.

But Lenning did not propose to walk while he was easing his mind. He found a place at the trailside where105 they could sit down, and after they had made themselves comfortable, he began:

“I reckon you think I had a good deal of nerve to drag you into this,” said he, “but I knew if you wouldn’t give me a good word no one else would, and the jig would be up. I’m obliged to you. I hadn’t a notion you’d help me, but I took the only chance I had. You’ve acted white, and I want you to know that I appreciate it and that I’m going to make good—if it’s possible.”

“I don’t know why it isn’t possible,” said Merriwell, “so long as you keep away from Shoup.”

A scowl crossed the other’s haggard face. Instinctively his hand went to the back of his head, where the paddle had left its mark.

“You can bet all you’re worth I’ll keep away from that crazy dub. He had a lot to do with getting me into trouble. The responsibility isn’t all his, by a long shot, for I was born with an inclination to be crooked—and you can’t get away from what’s bred in the bone.”

“Who pounded that into you, Lenning? Was it Shoup?”

“I don’t know. He was always harping on that idea, and maybe I got a little of it from him.”

“Well, it’s the wrong idea, I don’t care where you got it. Cut it out. Don’t hamper yourself with any such foolishness. You’ve got a hard fight on your hands, and if you go into it without any confidence in yourself, you’re going to lose out.”

Lenning stared at Merriwell blankly.

“Don’t you believe that some traits are handed down to a fellow?” he asked.

“They may be handed down, but that’s no sign a fellow’s got to let them get a strangle hold on him,” Frank answered, with spirit. “Some fellows,” he added, “take106 all the credit if they make a show in the world; but, if they go wrong, they put all the blame onto some one else. You’re responsible for what you do, or don’t do. A fellow’s a pup if he can’t take all the responsibility for his own actions, or——”

Frank broke off with a laugh.

“Hang it!” he grunted, “I don’t know what license I’ve got to preach. What I’ve said is the truth, though, so we’ll let it pass and go on to something else.”

“I don’t want to go on to anything else,” said Lenning, “at least, not just yet. This is a mighty important matter, to me. I’ve got a yellow streak—in some things, I’m a plain coward—and I’ve sort of thought I came by it naturally. My father——” he paused. “I suppose,” he went on presently, a shamed look crossing his face, “that you’ve heard how my father was killed in Alaska, years ago, in a row?”

“I’ve heard something about it; but you don’t have to go into that, Lenning.”

“I want you to know,” said Lenning, almost savagely, “I want you to understand how that idea of Shoup’s has been taking a hold on me. My father was killed while—while he was trying to take another man’s bag of gold dust.”

“What has that got to do with you?” demanded Frank sharply.

“Don’t you think I come in for any of my father’s failings? Most people think that way.”

“Forget it. That kind of talk makes me sick. A fellow ought to be man enough to stand on his own feet.”

“You know I’m a coward. I rolled that rock off Apache Point, and I hoped it would ‘get’ you—providing I could skip out and you’d never know who it was loosened the bowlder.”

107 In spite of himself, Merry felt his whole nature shrink from the fellow who was admitting such an act of treachery. By an effort, however, he succeeded in getting the whip hand of his feelings.

“Then,” proceeded Lenning, “when Shoup knocked me on the head with that paddle and you pulled me out on dry land and kept me from drowning, I felt like a hound. That’s why I tried to square things by giving up that money.”

“I thought you did that because Shoup had stolen it.”

“I reckon I talked that way, but it wasn’t the truth. I took the money from Shoup and thought I’d get away with it. When you and Clancy saved me, and when I knew that I was done with Shoup, I began thinking about a job at the Ophir mine. I wondered if I could be different—if I could get the respect of people, same as you have done—and I thought maybe I’d try it. The super wouldn’t have me, so I went to the general manager. He wouldn’t have me, either, until you had asked him to give me a chance.”

Lenning swallowed hard and his voice shook as he went on:

“What you’ve done to-day, Merriwell, has done more to make me see what an infernal cur I’ve been, and to want to be different, than anything else that ever happened to me. If I can keep that yellow streak from getting the upper hand, I’ll make good at the mine.”

“You’ve got to make good,” said Frank, “because I’ve become responsible for you. What became of Shoup?”

“He has left the country, I reckon. I haven’t seen him since yesterday afternoon.” Lenning muttered a fierce exclamation. “I wish he’d hang around for a spell so I’d have a chance to get even with him.”

“That’s a sentiment you’d better side-step. You’ll have108 your hands too full straightening yourself out to get even with anybody.”

“I reckon you’re right; I’ve got a job on my hands if ever a fellow had. But Shoup’s crazy, plain crazy. I’m glad I’m rid of him. I—I guess that’s about all.” He got up from the bowlder where he had been sitting. “You’ve done more for me than my own uncle would do. I’ll not forget it, Merriwell. You have less reason to help me than the colonel had. I say you’ve acted white, and you can bet I’m going to see to it that you never have any reason to be sorry for it.”

“Let it go at that, Lenning. I guess the best of us make mistakes. You’re to be night watchman at the cyanide plant?”

“Yes. It’s a responsible place. I have to watch the valves, regulate the flow of solution, and do a lot of other things connected with the plant. They’re just finishing a clean-up this afternoon, and will be running the bullion into bars this evening. The gold will have to be kept in the laboratory safe until morning—and I’ll be a guard as well as night watchman. I’m beginning at sixty a month.”

It was odd to hear Jode Lenning talk of work, and of getting “sixty a month.” When he was in favor with Colonel Hawtrey, he had had no work to do worth mentioning, and a liberal allowance had been given him for spending money. Now he had to buckle down, and earn less than his allowance had been, with his own hands.

There was something vaguely disturbing to Merriwell in that mention of the clean-up, and of the gold which was to be put in the laboratory safe for the night, with Lenning for guard. That bullion might prove a temptation, right at the beginning of Lenning’s attempt to be honest and to turn over a new leaf. Frank mentally109 resolved that he would visit the cyanide plant that night, and stick around for a while to see how matters were going.

“Sixty a month is a whole lot of money,” Frank remarked.

“It’s a whole lot when you make it yourself,” said Lenning. “I reckon I’ll have to mosey back. The super is going to show me the ropes before it’s time for me to go on duty, and I was to report to him at four-thirty.”

“You’ve got plenty of time,” said Frank.

As he got up, he looked southward along the trail. A cloud of dust was moving northward, and, while he watched, three riders broke out of it—one of them trailing a led horse with an empty saddle.

“Blunt!” gasped Lenning, wild fear surging in the word.

He was right. One of the riders was Barzy Blunt, and the others were Clancy and Ballard. Blunt was leading Merry’s horse, Borak.



Clancy, Ballard, and Blunt, on their way to town from the gulch, came charging toward Merriwell and Lenning at full gallop. They drew to a quick halt, very much surprised at sight of Merry and his old enemy. Nor were the newcomers pleasantly surprised, as they were quick to make manifest.

“Chip, or I’m an Indian!” exclaimed Ballard.

“And I’m another Indian,” snorted Blunt, “if he isn’t chin-chinning with one of the fellows who stole Mrs. Boorland’s money!”

Clancy had nothing to say, but he looked his violent disapproval of his chum’s actions.

“If that’s the way you fellows feel,” said Frank, temper flashing in his eyes, “you can leave my horse here and ride on.”

That Lenning was in deadly fear of Blunt was plainly to be seen. The cowboy had taken the trail of Lenning and Shoup, immediately after Mrs. Boorland had been robbed, and for a time he had crowded the pair pretty hard. Lenning, evidently, was still in doubt as to the cowboy’s intentions toward him. His haggard face went white as chalk, and he crouched shivering away at the trailside.

“Don’t get excited,” sneered Blunt, leveling his cold black eyes at the youth. “If Chip Merriwell has taken you under his wing, I won’t lay a hand on you. How about it, Chip?” he demanded, shifting his gaze to Frank.

“I’ve helped Lenning get a job at the Ophir mine,” Merry answered.

111 “That settles it,” grunted Blunt, tossing the reins of Borak to Frank.

Scowling blackly, the cowboy pulled down the brim of his hat and set spurs to his horse. He had not a word to say. Frank looked after him grimly, then laughed a little, and vaulted into his own saddle.

With the going of Blunt, Lenning revived considerably. Straightening his shoulders, he stepped back to the trail. Clancy and Ballard watched him with a gaze far from friendly.

“Good-by, Lenning,” Frank called from the saddle. “Do your best, over there, and everything will come out all right.”

“Thank you, Merriwell,” Lenning answered. “If I do come out all right you can bet I’ll know who to thank for it.”

He threw a defiant glance at Clancy and Ballard, a look of gratitude at Merriwell, then turned on his heel and started south. Slowly Frank put Borak in motion the other way.

Clancy and Ballard rode on either side of Merriwell, and both preserved a glum silence. They were displeased, but Merry had done what he thought was right, and the attitude of his chums did not worry him.

“Have you hooked up with that crook, Chip?” asked Ballard, as they rode into town and headed for the corral.

“I’m trying to help a fellow who doesn’t seem to have a friend in the world,” was the answer. “If that’s what you call ‘hooking up’ with a crook, Pink, I guess you’ve nicked it.”

“It was a foolish move,” began Clancy, “and I didn’t think——”

“It’s my move, Clan,” interrupted Merry, “so you112 needn’t sob your head off about it. Your fingers won’t be burned if the move’s a bad one.”

Nothing more was said, and the ride to the corral was finished in an atmosphere that was not particularly pleasant for anybody. When the horses had been taken care of, and the three chums started on foot for the hotel, Clancy’s loyalty to Merry got the better of his wrathful feelings.

“Oh, well, hang this Lenning business, anyhow!” he exclaimed. “You never go very far wrong, Chip, and if you think you’ve done right, why, that’s enough for me.”

“Same here,” said Ballard, but rather gloomily. “Whenever I think of Apache Point and that falling rock, I’m mad enough to fight. You’re generous to a fault, but it’s your own fault, and why the blazes should we take it out on you? But it’s still my private opinion that Lenning’s a skunk.”

“I’m not trying to change your opinion,” Merry laughed, “so you needn’t get your back up if I want to do a little reasoning for myself. Now, forget it.”

They did forget it, and by the time they reached the hotel they were laughing and jollying each other in their usual fashion. Blunt was sitting on the veranda, when they arrived, and his burst of indignation had also subsided.

“You’re one too many for me, Chip,” he remarked, shaking his head in a puzzled way, “but I’m not the one to jump on you for making friends with a rattler. If the varmint makes a strike at you, though, I reckon I’ll show my hand quick.”

What Frank had done for Lenning was no longer discussed. The lads got together on the less dangerous and more interesting ground of the canoe race in the gulch,113 and talked it over until the hotel Chinaman came out in front and pounded the supper gong.

The evening meal out of the way, Barzy Blunt went off to spend the evening with Mrs. Boorland, Clancy and Ballard got into a game of checkers in the hotel office, and Merry went upstairs to his room.

Frank was pestering himself with the question of that cyanide clean-up, and the gold in the laboratory safe which Lenning was to guard. When he had first heard of the clean-up and the gold, he had made up his mind to stroll out to the Ophir workings during the evening, and sort of reconnoiter the situation at the cyanide plant. Later, he had decided that such an act would be foolish, and would show his distrust of Lenning. Now he was again wondering if he had not better go to the mine.

He recalled that he had told Mr. Bradlaugh that he would be responsible for the way Lenning did his duty. Suppose, on the first night of his work, Lenning should yield to temptation and run off with a few bars of bullion? Frank’s promise to the general manager would oblige him to go down in his pocket and make good the mining company’s loss.

Frank could not believe that Lenning would do such a thing. He believed that the fellow was honestly trying to retrieve his good name. Reformation comes slow, however, and is not secured at a single jump. Guarding bullion was a pretty hard position in which to place a fellow like Lenning, on the very first night of his work. His newly formed resolution would be put to a hard test.

Merriwell’s mind revolved around the subject until it began to get on his nerves. At last he jumped up and began pulling off his coat.

“I’ll go batty over this if I don’t get it out of my mind114 somehow,” he muttered. “Maybe if I go to bed I can sleep and forget it.”

He began to unlace one of his shoes, paused, then laced it up again.

“I don’t believe I could sleep, anyhow,” he grumbled. “The quickest way to get this out of my system is to do a little reconnoitering around that blooming cyanide plant.”

He looked at a tin clock which hung from a nail in the wall. The hands indicated a quarter past nine.

“I can get back here by eleven,” he thought, “and have plenty of time to look around at the mine. Clancy will wonder where I am, I suppose, but what he doesn’t know hadn’t ought to trouble him. Here goes.”

Clancy occupied the room with Merry, and, when he came to bed, would, of course, note his chum’s absence. It was possible that Frank might get back before Clancy and Ballard broke away from the checkerboard; at any rate, he would certainly be back very soon afterward.

Owing to the hostile attitude of his chums toward Lenning, Frank did not intend to tell them where he was going. It would only open up a subject on which he and they could not agree, but it would tend to show that Frank had not the confidence in Lenning which he professed. This would have been a false impression, and yet it would have been difficult to explain the matter so Clancy and Ballard could understand the real motive which sent Frank to the mine. It was a whole lot better to slip away quietly, and then slip back again, without inviting questions or trying to explain.

Frank went down the back stairs, then stole through the dining room to the door that communicated with the office. Clancy and Ballard were absorbed in their game.

“Wow!” Clancy was saying, “here I go slap into your115 king row, Pink! Why don’t you wake up and make this game interesting for me?”

“I’ll make it interesting enough, you red-headed chump, before I’m done,” grinned Ballard.

Frank turned back from the door and gumshoed his way into the kitchen and then out at the rear of the hotel. There was no moon, but the sky was clear and the stars were bright. He had no difficulty in following almost the identical course Lenning had led him over in the afternoon. When he struck the trail beyond the town, the thunderous roll of the stamps from the gold mill came to him on the night wind. There were a hundred stamps in the mill, and they raised a din like muffled thunder.

There was a crispness in the cool air that ran through Merry’s veins like a tonic. His step was light, and he threw back his shoulders, sniffed the air delightedly, and pushed on.

The desert, with its shadowy clumps of greasewood, stretched away into the dim distance on either side of the trail. Now and then some bird fluttered in the brush, or some skulking animal raced across the road, but there was no other human being going or coming along the trail at that hour.

As Frank drew nearer the mine, the steady clamor of the stamps grew in volume. At last, when he stood on the slight rise overlooking the shaft house, the bunk house, the mill, and the cyanide plant, the lad paused, admiring the shadowy scene that lay stretched before him.

There were lights in the windows of the bunk house, but they were dull gleams compared with the brightness that shone through every crack and cranny of the great building that housed the beating stamps. There was something ghostlike in the scene, and the effect was heightened by116 the steady moaning of the mill. An uncanny sensation ruffled Frank’s nerves, but he smothered it with a laugh and started down the slope.

Suddenly he paused. He had heard something—something like a smothered cry breaking through the low growling of the stamps. What was it?

He bent his head and listened intently. Two or three minutes passed. The sound was not repeated, and he laid it to his imagination, or to some prowling coyote off in the hills.

He had no sooner started on again, however, before the muffled cry once more struck on his ears. This time there was no mistake. It was a human voice that had given the cry, and it seemed like a call for help.

Locating the spot from which it apparently came, Frank started at a run to investigate the cause. Before he had taken a dozen steps he heard the cry more distinctly, and felt positive that some one was in distress and calling for aid.

Sure of the location of it, by then, he darted into a chaparral that lay directly in front of him.



Merriwell dashed into the chaparral like a whirlwind and beat about in the bushes trying to discover where the person was who needed help. His hunt was vain. Several times he called aloud, from various parts of the chaparral, but without getting any response.

“This beats the deuce!” he muttered, at last, withdrawing from the bushes and throwing a puzzled look about him into the dark. “What the mischief is going on? It can’t be that I imagined I heard a cry for help. If I didn’t, why can’t I find somebody or something to account for it?”

He was greatly disturbed by his failure to locate the source of that alarm. Finally he gave up, and started to regain the road that led down the slope and in among the mine buildings. Scarcely had he turned, however, when that cry in the night once more smote upon his ears.

He whirled to an about face in a flash. “Where are you?” he called.

The cry was repeated, apparently coming from a mass of shadow, to his left, and farther down the slope. He plunged on into the gloom.

“I’ll find out what’s back of this if it takes a leg,” he declared to himself.

The next moment he stumbled over some obstacle, and fell forward. He threw out his hands instinctively to ease his fall, but they came in contact with nothing more substantial than thin air.

118 He dropped through space—not far, yet far enough to give him quite a jolt when he landed on the hard rocks. After a moment he scrambled to a sitting posture and rubbed his bruised shins.

On every side of him the gloom was thick. He could look up, however, and see an oblong patch of sky, studded with stars.

“Thunder!” he exclaimed ruefully. “There’s an open cut on the slope, and I’ve stumbled into it. That’s what a fellow gets for tracking trouble over ground he doesn’t know anything about. But that cry for help! It certainly gets my goat.”

He had lost his cap in his fall, and he groped around in the dark until he found it. Then, getting to his feet, he made his way to the steep bank and began climbing.

An “open cut” is a gouge in the earth made for purposes of exploration. Usually an “open cut” is dug or blasted out in order to make sure of surface indications of a vein, and sometimes it is made in the hunt for a vein that has been lost.

Yet it made little difference how or what that particular open cut was there. The fact of most importance to Merry was that he had fallen into it.

His bruises were of small consequences; and many a time he had landed from a pole vault with a harder jolt. When a youngster keeps in the pink of physical condition, a hard fall now and then is nothing to worry him.

Presently Frank managed to paw and scramble his way to the top of the steep bank; and there he perched, trying to figure out what in blazes it was that had lured him into the pitfall. He could make nothing of it, and at last turned his attention to the buildings below him.

That was not his first visit to the Ophir mine, by any119 means. He was fairly familiar with the location of the different buildings, and he knew that the cyanide plant lay at a considerable distance to the left of the mill. It surprised him, though, to discover that his wanderings across the slope had brought him to a point directly opposite the cyanide tanks.

Cyanide of potassium, it may be explained, is one of the two commercially valuable solvents of gold. This cyanide eats up the gold and holds it in solution. For that reason, the drug is used in treating refuse from a stamp mill. In such refuse—technically known as “tailings”—there is always present a small amount of yellow metal which the quicksilver on the copper plates of the mill fails to “catch.” If it were not for the cyanide, this gold would prove a total loss.

The tailings are thrown into tanks, arranged in rows like a series of giant steps. From a large reservoir, high above the rows of vats, the cyanide solution flows by gravity into all the tanks below—entering at the bottom and percolating through the tailings upward to the top, where it flows off and into the row of tanks next below. The solution takes up the gold as it flows, finally depositing its burden of wealth on zinc shavings in what is called the “zinc box.” From the zinc box the solution drops down another step into a sump tank, and from there, at stated intervals, it is pumped back into the reservoir.

Merriwell was familiar with the cyanide plant at the Ophir mine. He had been showed around by the super, and the work had been explained to him. Consequently he was able to recognize the plant from the open cut the moment his eyes rested on the black bulk of the tanks.

For the present the tanks were out of commission. A cyanide “clean-up” is a long and tedious operation,120 and the work pauses for a longer or shorter period while the work is going on.

“I’ll slip down among the tanks and look for Lenning,” Frank murmured. “After I talk with him a while, I’ll return to the hotel and go to bed. If the bullion is locked up in a safe, I guess he won’t have any trouble taking care of it. Funny I didn’t think of that before. The strong box here must be a regular teaser for a cracksman.”

Carefully he gained his feet and descended the rough slope to the tanks. At his left, as he stood by the end of the upper tier of vats, was the laboratory building, where the cyanide expert kept his store of the deadly poison that stole the gold from the tailings, and where he had his assay equipment, his furnaces, crucibles, et cetera. The building was dark, and Frank, sure that Lenning was not inside of it, but on duty around the tanks, paid the structure no attention.

Comparatively close to the mill, where the rumble of the stamps drowned every other noise, to call for Lenning was useless. Frank would have to plunge in among the tanks and look for him. Scrambling over the tailings piles that cluttered the ground, he began his search.

Lenning was not in the vicinity of the first row, and Frank dropped to the next tier. He wasn’t there, either. In spite of the gloomy shadows cast by the big vats, the lad was able to see with tolerable clearness. The third and last row remained to be investigated, but here the same ill luck rewarded Frank’s search. Lenning was not in evidence around the tanks.

Possibly, Frank thought, the new watchman might be in the mill. Or, if he was not there, some of the night shift might know where he could be found. Just as Frank was turning to start for the mill, he saw a flash121 of light through one of the windows of the laboratory. He halted and stared, a trifle bewildered.

Not five minutes before he had looked at the laboratory, and the windows had all been dark. How did it happen that now there was a light in one of them?

“Not much of a mystery about that,” he finally decided. “Some one has gone into the place and lighted a lamp. It may be Lenning; or, if not Lenning, then some one who has been helping with the clean-up. I’ll——”

The muttered words died on Frank’s lips. Under his eyes, as he continued to watch the window, the light winked out and again left the laboratory in darkness.

“I guess that’s easily explained, too,” he presently decided. “The fellow that lighted the lamp put it out again. It was Lenning, of course. As I went hunting for him among the tanks, he had to go to the laboratory for something. That’s how I happened to miss him. He has got what he wanted, and so he has put out the light and will soon be coming back. I’ll wait here for him.”

Frank kept his eyes fixed on the dark side of the laboratory building, where he knew the door was located. Every moment he expected Lenning to appear, walking toward him out of the shadow of the laboratory wall. But the seconds grew into minutes, and still Lenning did not come. The waiting lad was forced to the conclusion that there was something strange about all this.

“If there’s anything wrong,” he thought, “I ought to find the superintendent, and report. But how do I know there is anything wrong? Maybe all I see is a part of the night’s work, and if I went to the super he’d only have the laugh on me. I’d better investigate a little before I spread any news of trouble.”

The roaring mill, with its glittering lights, suggested quick help in the case of emergency. Frank had a vague122 notion that it would be well to go there and make some inquiries before investigating the laboratory. But, if he went to the mill, the fellow who had struck a light in the laboratory would have time to come out and get away unseen. If it was Lenning, then he would miss him, and would have to begin his search all over.

Another thought came to him, as he moved slowly upon the laboratory, and Frank was surprised that it had not occurred to him before. A night watchman, moving about among those dark tanks, would certainly carry a lantern. Frank had been stumbling blindly around the tanks, hunting for Lenning, when, if he had considered the matter thoroughly, he need only have looked for a bobbing light.

“I must be getting ‘dippy’ over this Lenning business,” he reflected. “I’m making mysteries where there are only commonplace, every-night events. Probably I’ll find Lenning sitting in a chair in front of the laboratory, guarding the bullion as comfortably as possible.”

He moved on to the side of the laboratory with considerable confidence. At one of the dark windows he halted and peered into the interior of the structure. A quick breath escaped his lips.

What he saw, in the black gloom of the laboratory, was a long, quivering shaft of light. It crossed the big room, coming from a mass of shadow and trembling over some object whose nature Frank was not able to determine. But a thrill of apprehension ran through him.

Surely that penciled gleam was from a bull’s-eye lantern! An honest watchman never made use of such a light—or, at least, no watchman whose duty kept him around a lot of big cyanide tanks!

With this for a starting point, Frank’s thoughts took a dizzy and horrifying leap into a tangle of conjectures.123 Perhaps Lenning was working at the safe! It might be that he had asked for that job at the mine with the sole idea of getting a chance at the bullion! And it was Frank who had recommended the fellow to Mr. Bradlaugh!

A sick feeling ran through the lad as he stood leaning against the wall and looking into the laboratory. Then, against these forbidding fancies, he marshaled all that Lenning had said to him that afternoon—how he was going to do the square thing, and that Merry would never have cause to regret befriending him.

It did not seem possible that——

Frank’s reflections were suddenly interrupted. Above the mutterings of the stamps, his keen ear caught a crunch of sand behind him. Alarmed, he started to whirl around; but, before he could turn, he was caught by the shoulders and thrown violently sideways. As he fell, his head crashed against the stone sill of the window, and he remembered nothing more. Blank darkness rolled over him, suddenly and completely.



Had Merriwell not been as tough as sole leather, that ugly fall might have had serious consequences. As it was, he was merely stunned, and in a minute or two he was sitting up on the ground, rubbing the side of his head and trying to guess what had happened.

Although he could not remember it, yet at the moment he was seized and thrown sideways, a startled cry had escaped his lips. Ears accustomed to hearing sounds through the clamor of the mill had caught that cry, and Merriwell was conscious of a dark form hastening in his direction.

“What’s the matter here?” demanded a voice, as the form halted at Merriwell’s side. “That you, Lenning?”

“No, Burke, it’s not Lenning,” Merry answered, recognizing the man as the recently appointed superintendent at the mine, “it’s Merriwell.”

“Merriwell! What the blazes are you doing here, at this time o’ night?”

“Looking for Lenning.”

“Well, he ought to be around the tanks somewhere.”

“I couldn’t find him,” said Frank, and jumped to his feet. He was dizzy for a moment and leaned back against the wall of the building. “He wasn’t anywhere around the tanks,” he went on, “and I started for the laboratory. When I got this far I stopped and looked through the window. Somebody grabbed me from behind, all at once, and jammed my head against the window sill. When I came to I was sitting up on the ground,125 and you were hustling toward me. I haven’t the least idea how long my wits were woolgathering, but it couldn’t have been long.”

“It wasn’t,” answered Burke, his voice showing his concern. “You yelled, and I was prowling around and happened to hear. I wasn’t more than a minute in getting here.”

“What the mischief is going on, Burke?”

“Search me. Everything has been as quiet and peaceable around these diggings as a Sunday-school picnic, right up to now. You say you couldn’t find Lenning?”


“You don’t suppose he was the one who came up behind you and——”

“Lenning? Great Scott, no! Why should he want to slam me into the laboratory wall?”

“He didn’t use to be a very warm friend of yours.”

“I know, but things are different, now. You see, I’m helping him to square away and——”

“Yes, yes, I’m next to all that. He wouldn’t have been taken on here, if it hadn’t been for you. I haven’t much use for the fellow, though, even if you have. That’s why I was strolling around the tanks when I ought to have been ‘hitting the hay.’ Thought it was just as well to keep an eye on Lenning for the first few nights. Say, Merriwell,” and the super smothered a laugh as he spoke, “is that why you’re out here to-night?”

“You’re too darned keen, Burke,” laughed Merriwell. “I heard you finished a cyanide clean-up, this afternoon, and were to have some bullion in the laboratory safe for overnight.”

“That’s correct. Four ten-pound bars were locked in the safe about eight o’clock.”

“Well,” Frank proceeded earnestly, “don’t think for a126 minute that I’m not trusting Lenning. I just happened around to have a talk with him during his first night on duty.”

“He wasn’t on duty. If he had been, you’d have found him. How does that look—for a new hand?”

“There’s some reason for it, I’ll bet.”

“Yes,” said the super dryly, “there must be a reason; but, whatever it is, it’s no credit to Lenning. Come on and we’ll see if we can find him.”

Burke walked hurriedly along the side of the laboratory to the door, Frank following close at his heels. The bruise on the side of Frank’s forehead was not serious enough to bother him, and his head was as clear as a bell. The consequences of the fall had spent themselves on the first shock, and only the bruise remained to remind him of his disagreeable experience.

As his wits grew active, they picked up his interrupted chain of reflections where they had been broken off. He recalled the gleam of the bull’s-eye, and his suspicions of Lenning. Although he wanted to believe the fellow innocent of any treacherous work, yet his mysterious absence was the strongest bit of circumstantial evidence against him.

“The door’s unlocked,” announced Burke, halting at the entrance and drawing a long breath of relief, “and that means that Lenning is probably inside. Queer, though, that he hasn’t got a light.”

He pushed open the door and was about to step into the dark interior of the laboratory. Frank suddenly reached out a restraining hand and gripped his arm.

“Don’t be in a rush, Burke,” he warned. “When I was looking through the window I saw the gleam of a bull’s-eye lantern.”

“Thunder!” cried Burke, alarmed.

127 Shaking Frank’s hand from his sleeve, he flung himself into the darkness of the big room. Frank, tremendously excited, posted himself in the open door and watched and waited.

The ray from the lantern had vanished. That was a disturbing fact in itself. Listening with all his ears, Merry tried to follow the movements of the super by the noise he made in moving around. This was difficult, owing to the loud roaring of the stamps.

At last, Burke struck a match. The glimmer moved a few paces through the dark and then touched the wick of a lamp. In a moment there was light, and the large, brick-floored room slowly took form under Frank’s staring eyes.

The furnaces stood duskily out of the half gloom, quartering-down tables, glass-inclosed assayer’s scales, a pyramid of crucibles, a heap of charcoal, a huge safe in a distant corner—Frank saw all these dimly. The lamp stood on a table in the center of the room, with Burke’s tall form reared upward beside it.

“There doesn’t seem to be any one here but us,” said the super, “although there are plenty of places where a man could hide. Close the door, lock it on the inside, and keep the key in your pocket. We’ll make a search to see what we can find, if anything.”

The key was in the lock. Frank followed the super’s orders, and then went around helping him in his search.

Burke, lamp in hand, peered here and there in every place where a prowler would have a chance to conceal himself. In a few minutes it became evident that the lad and the super were the only ones in the laboratory.

Burke moved to the corner where the safe stood, and a shout of consternation burst from him. “Look there!” he gasped, as Frank rushed to his side.

128 With a shaking finger the super was pointing to the safe. The big door had been wrenched open, and broken scraps of steel and iron lay in a clutter in front of it.

“By Jove!” whispered Merry hoarsely. “There’s been a robbery.”

“I should say so,” ground out Burke. “There’ll be merry blazes to pay, now. See this!”

He bent over the wrecked door of the safe and pointed out a rim of some soft substance that had been plastered around the edge.

“What’s that?” queried Frank.

“Only a little evidence of how the safe was wrecked. Soft soap and nitroglycerin did the work. The soap was ridged around the edge of the door, and then the explosive was poured in and touched off. I’ve heard how such things are done. Hold the lamp a minute.”

Frank took the light, and the super went down on his knees and pushed head and shoulders into the safe. An instant later he drew back.

“Those four bars of bullion are gone,” he reported. “I was positive of that, of course, before I looked, but now there isn’t a shadow of a doubt. Yeggmen have cracked the safe and made off with the bars. Here’s a go!” he growled, starting to his feet and giving Frank a troubled look. “When you saw the gleam of that bull’s-eye through the window, the cracksman had just about finished the job. One of them must have been outside, posted as a lookout. He was the scoundrel who crept up behind you. While you were stunned, the thieves got away with the gold. Give me the key to the door, Merriwell, and stay here a minute.”

Burke snatched the key as Frank offered it to him, dashed for the door, unlocked it, and flung it wide, then plunged away into the night. The lad, left alone with his129 reflections, put the lamp back on the table and dropped down on a bench. What his thoughts were need not be discussed, but they were sufficiently unpleasant.

The superintendent had been gone only a short time when Frank, through the open door of the laboratory, saw half a dozen lanterns emerge from the stamp mill, separate and go scurrying off into the night in as many different directions. A little later, Burke returned.

“I’ve started men out to beat up the camp,” he reported, “and I’ve telephoned to Mr. Bradlaugh. He will get hold of Hawkins, the deputy sheriff, and get him on the trail as soon as possible. It’s a long chance, Merriwell, whether we ever get back that missing bullion. Lenning is pretty foxy.”

“Lenning?” echoed Frank.

“Sure. You know he is at the bottom of this robbery, don’t you? All he wanted the job for was to be in a position to get hold of that bullion.”

“He’s not a cracksman, Burke!” protested Frank. “The work here was done by a man who knew the business. Don’t make any snap judgments on the spur of the moment. Lenning was brought up by Colonel Hawtrey, and I don’t think he ever had a chance to take lessons in cracking safes. Give him the benefit of the doubt.”

“Let’s look this business square in the eyes,” answered Burke determinedly. “Lenning was at the bottom of it, but he certainly had help. That was part of the scheme. Some fellow who knew how acted as his confederate. While Lenning was around the place, after the bullion was locked up, it was easy for him to let his confederate into the laboratory. Probably Lenning himself was the lookout, while the confederate was tinkering with the safe. The noise of the explosion was drowned in the roar from the stamp mill. After all, Merriwell, it must have130 been Lenning who grabbed you and shoved you against the wall. You can consider that you got off pretty luckily, I think.”

“How much was that bullion worth?” queried Frank, with a sinking heart.

“It was base bullion—all this cyanide product, as we turn it out, is a good way from being the pure stuff. There were about six hundred ounces at, say, ten dollars an ounce. Placer gold runs double that, you know.”

“Six thousand dollars!” muttered Frank. “If Lenning took the gold, and if we don’t get it back, I’m in for that amount. Ouch! I wonder what dad will say when he hears of this brilliant piece of work?”



Merriwell was very much out of sorts with himself. It did not seem possible that Lenning could play such a game and make it win. And yet, he was missing and the bullion was missing. Lenning’s past record rose up against him, and clinched the circumstantial evidence. Nevertheless, a lingering doubt stirred itself far down in Merriwell’s mind.

“Chirk up, son!” said Burke, in a kindly tone. “I don’t believe Mr. Bradlaugh will come down very hard on you. You’ve made the biggest kind of a hit with the general manager, and you can bet something handsome he’ll let you off as easy as he can.”

“Business is business,” Merry answered glumly. “I put myself on record and became responsible for Lenning. It was on my say-so alone that Lenning got the job here. I’m not asking any favors from Mr. Bradlaugh, but I’ll be dinged if I call on dad to fork over the six thousand. I’ll go out and find a mine, or something, and pay it all myself.”

“That’s the spirit. Anyhow, don’t go looking for the mine until we make sure the bullion can’t be recovered. The thieves haven’t got very much the start of us, and Hawkins is a regular terror when he cuts loose on the track of a lawbreaker. Pin your faith to Hawkins, boy, and hope for the best.”

“Maybe,” said Frank, after a little hard thinking, “Lenning isn’t mixed up in the robbery, after all.”

“Don’t fool yourself about that. You’re not helping 132 matters any by starting on the wrong track. Lenning is gone. That’s the strongest point against him. How can you get around that?”

“He may have met with foul play——”

Burke laughed scoffingly.

“Nonsense! Everything points to the fact that he engineered all the foul play himself.”

“Wait a minute, Burke,” urged Merriwell. “When I was coming to the mine, I heard something like a call for help. It was a smothered sort of cry, just as though some one was having a hard time using his voice.”

Burke began to show some interest.

“Where did you hear the cry?” he asked.

“Just as I started down the slope toward the mine. I was in the trail, at the time, and it wasn’t until the cry was repeated that I gave much attention to it. You see, the stamps made so much noise that I couldn’t be sure. After a while I thought I located the sound in a clump of greasewood. I pounded around in the bushes but couldn’t find any one. Just as I had given up and was starting on again, I heard the shout once more. This time it was still farther away from the trail, seemingly. I tried to follow it, and tumbled head over heels into one of your open cuts. It’s the cut just above the cyanide works. After I got out of that hole, I came down to the tanks and tried to find Lenning. Now, what did those cries for help mean?”

“Nothing,” answered Burke. “Some coyote was yelping in the hills. The yelp of a prowling brute like that, when it gets mixed with the noise of the stamps, gives a queer impression sometimes.”

“Well,” said Frank doubtfully, “maybe you are right, Burke, but I don’t think so.”

133 “If you really heard a cry,” was the skeptical rejoinder, “why couldn’t you find the person that gave it?”

“I may have missed him in the dark.”

“That’s possible, too, but not probable.”

“Another thing,” went on Merriwell, “I think Lenning was honest in his intentions, and that he meant to do the right thing here. He came to the hotel to see me, in the afternoon, and we walked out on the trail a short distance and had a talk. He wanted to thank me for helping him get a job here. He said he was going to make good, and that I’d never be sorry for what I’d done.”

“Oh, he’s smooth,” said Burke. “If he hadn’t been, how could he have pulled the wool over his smart old uncle’s eyes for so long? He had an object in going to town—and his object wasn’t to thank you for helping him. That was merely a makeshift to cover his real purpose.”

“What do you think his real purpose was?”

“That’s a poser. Maybe, though, he wanted to get word to his confederate—to tell him that he’d got the job, and that the work could be pulled off to-night.”

“That’s a guess, Burke, and maybe a wild one.”

“If it comes to that, Chip, we’re guessing about everything except one thing—and that thing’s as plain as print.”

“What is that?”

“Why, that Lenning is at the bottom of the whole black business. It must have been Lenning. But we’re wasting time here. I don’t know that we can do much, but we can try. Suppose we rummage around for clews?”

They rummaged for half an hour, but all they discovered was a blank. Just what sort of clews Burke was looking for, Frank did not know, but he helped the super paw around the laboratory, hoping against134 hope that something might turn up. In the midst of their fruitless search, Mr. Bradlaugh and Hawkins, the deputy sheriff, hurried into the building.

“Here’s a fine kettle of fish, Burke!” cried the exasperated general manager. “Mighty queer we can’t hang onto our gold, after we get hold of it. Has Lenning turned up?”

“No,” said the super, “he has vanished, and the gold has vanished. I reckon one explains the other.”

“I reckon it does. Why,” and Mr. Bradlaugh’s glance took stock of Merry for the first time, “how did you get the news, Merriwell? And how did you beat Hawkins and me to the mine.”

“I was mixed up in the robbery,” Frank answered.

Hawkins, a good friend of Frank’s, laughed at that.

“How was it, son?” he inquired.

Frank went over his experiences for the benefit of Mr. Bradlaugh and the deputy sheriff.

“Thought, mebby, you’d made a mistake in recommendin’ Lenning, hey?” grinned Hawkins. “That why you came out to the mine?”

“No,” Frank answered, “I’ve got a lot of confidence in Lenning. I didn’t think he’d do such a thing, and I’m not positive he did it now.”

“Don’t dodge the facts, my boy,” interposed Mr. Bradlaugh. “I think it’s pretty plain, myself. Lenning’s record is all against him.”

“It must have been Lenning, Chip,” asserted Hawkins.

Just as before, when Merry had stood up for Lenning and asked Mr. Bradlaugh to give him a place, every one was against the boy. His friendlessness was even more evident than it had ever been.

“If Lenning made off with the bullion,” said Frank,135 “then I’m out six thousand dollars—in case Hawkins fails to get it back.”

“We’ll talk about that later,” said Mr. Bradlaugh significantly.

“A bargain’s a bargain,” said Frank firmly. “You’ll have to give me time, though, Mr. Bradlaugh. I’ve got to do something to get hold of that six thousand myself. That’s what it’s liable to cost me for taking a chance on Lenning.”

“Hold your bronks a spell, son,” put in Hawkins. “Don’t forget that I’m on the job, or that I’d work harder for you than I would for any one. I’ve said a number o’ times that you’re the clear quill; and when I toot my bazoo to that effect about any one, it’s a sure sign they’re pretty solid with me. I want to tell you that I’ve laid hold of this proposition with both hands, because Mr. Bradlaugh told me Lenning was your protégé. I don’t reckon you had much savvy when you tried to help the coyote, but you acted accordin’ to your lights. When a feller does that-a-way, he’s entitled to credit. Just on your account, son, I exerted myself more’n common. I managed to get hold of half a dozen men and hosses, and they’re shacking off to lay for Lenning and his burglar pal, between here and the border. That’s where they’ll make for, I reckon—mostly they all do. Mexico’s safer than the U. S., arter a job same as this. Don’t be down in the mouth till Hawkins throws up his hands and says there’s nothin’ doin’. It ’u’d tickle me plumb out o’ my boots to get back that bullion for you.”

There was no doubt of the deputy sheriff’s feelings in the matter, and Frank felt grateful.

“You’re a good friend, Mr. Hawkins,” said he. “If I can help any, I wish you’d tell me how.”

“You can help by goin’ to the Ophir House and turnin’136 in,” laughed the deputy. “Not much can be done at night. With daybreak, though, you can climb a-straddle of Borak and report to me for orders.”

“I don’t want to go back to the hotel,” demurred Frank. “I want to stay right around here, and be Johnny-on-the-spot if anything turns up.”

Hawkins and Mr. Bradlaugh went over to the safe and gave it a critical examination.

“Good job of safe blowin’,” declared the deputy. “Some old hand did the business. Couldn’t have been Lenning.”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell Burke,” said Frank, grasping at this straw of hope and trying to swing it in Lenning’s favor.

“But,” went on Hawkins, “it’s not a one-man job. There was two of ’em—mebby more. Lenning was one—he must have been.”

There was the same old positiveness in convicting Lenning. Merry had heard that “it must have been Lenning” several times. Yet, blindly, the youngster still clung to the scrap of faith he still had in Lenning.

“What have you done, Burke?” Hawkins inquired, turning from his examination of the safe to face the super.

“I’ve sent half a dozen men from the mill to curry the chaparral around the camp,” Burke answered. “I don’t think they’ll discover anything, but it was about all I could do.”

Hawkins nodded his approval.

“Any of ’em reported yet?” he asked.

“No, not yet. They’ve been out for some time, though, and I reckon it won’t be long before some of ’em come straggling in.”

The words were hardly out of Burke’s mouth before137 a couple of the mill men came running into the room with their lanterns. They were jubilant, and the very appearance of them caused those in the laboratory to feel a thrill of hope.

“Found something?” demanded Hawkins.

“Bet we have,” answered one.


“Well, no; but we got hold of a couple of fellers, and they’re comin’ this way. Wait till they come. I reckon we’d better let ’em talk for themselves.”

Then two more came into the room—and the sight of them made Merriwell dizzy.



It was about eleven o’clock, and one hour past their usual time for hunting their bunks, when Clancy and Ballard pushed away from their checkerboard.

“An even thing, Red,” said Ballard, with a good deal of satisfaction, “and that’s the way I like to quit.”

“You’ve kept me up for an hour longer than usual, Pink,” yawned Clancy, “just to saw off even. If I hadn’t given you the last three games, we wouldn’t have got to bed to-night.”

“I’ve got a picture of you giving anybody a game,” jeered Ballard. “You played for all there was in it, and I merely demonstrated the fact that I’m as good as you are.”

“Oh, well,” murmured the red-headed youth, “if it pleases you to think that, I’m agreeable. Wonder where Chip is?”

“In bed, of course, just where I’m going to be in a brace of shakes. Come on.”

They hustled upstairs, and Clancy stepped into the room jointly occupied by himself and Merry. A call from Clancy brought Ballard on the jump.

“What do you think?” asked Clancy. “Chip, isn’t here. Where the nation do you suppose he is?”

“Ask me an easier one,” answered Ballard. “It isn’t like him to skip out without telling us what he’s up to.”

Clancy had an idea.

“I’ll bet a plugged nickel against a chink wash ticket,” said he, “that Chip’s absence has something to do with Lenning.”

139 “What has it to do with Lenning?”

“I’ve dug up that much, Pink, and it’s up to you to think out the rest. I’ve started something, now you finish it.”

“If I tried to finish everything you started,” snorted Ballard, “I’d have my hands full. But I guess I can fill in the gaps of this particular proposition, all right.”

“Well, what’s the answer?”

“Chip has gone out to the mine to bolster up Lenning’s good resolutions. That would be like him, wouldn’t it? Just remember, please, that we interrupted a confab Chip and Lenning were having when we came in from the gulch. More than likely Chip has gone to the cyanide plant to wind up that conversation.”

“You’ve hit it, old man,” beamed Clancy. “I know as much as anybody, if I could only think of it, but that gilt-edged theory certainly got past me. Look here, Pink. Suppose we take a stroll out toward the mine, meet Chip, and escort him back to the hotel?”

“You’re on! But if Chip doesn’t happen to be at the mine——”

“Well, if we don’t find him, we’ll have a nice little walk. And it’s a fine old night for a walk, Pink.”

“If I’d known you’re as wide-awake as all that, Red,” grumbled Pink, “I’d have had another game out of you.”

“You would—not. If we don’t stir up a little excitement during this stroll of ours, so I can get my mind off checkers, I’ll be beating you in my sleep. Come on, if you’re ready.”

They descended the stairs, passed through the office, and out at the front of the hotel. Then, turning south, they traversed the length of the main street.

Ophir was an orderly little place. A great many Easterners had come to the town, in the employ of the syndicate140 that operated the mine, and they exerted an influence in the settlement that was all on the side of law and order.

The street was quiet, and almost deserted. At the end of it, Clancy and Ballard found themselves in the trail that led directly to the Ophir “workings.” The road stretched southward in a clear, whitish streak against its background of dusky desert.

“Chip has got me going in this Lenning affair,” confessed Ballard, as they walked leisurely along the trail.

“Same here, Pink,” said Clancy. “When Chip takes the bit in his teeth you might as well stand back and let him go.”

“He never does that unless he’s mighty sure he’s on the right track.”

“Sure not, but one of these days he’s liable to run full-tilt over the wrong course. Between you and me, Pink, I believe that’s what he’s doing now. Lenning had a lot of nerve to refer Mr. Bradlaugh to Chip.”

“That was the right move, though, if Lenning really wanted help from Merry. Lenning was wise to that.”

“I guess he’s wise to a lot of things that Merry will never know anything about. Hang it all! I wish Shoup had taken Lenning out of the country with him. They’re a fine pair, those two, and one isn’t much better than the other.”

As the lads strolled on they kept an expectant watch ahead. At any moment they believed Merriwell might show up in the trail, traveling townward. But they did not see him. The stamps were rumbling in the distance, and as the noise grew in volume, Ballard halted with a shiver.

“There’s something about that moaning of the stamp141 mill, at the dead of night like this,” he remarked, “that gives me the creeps.”

“Don’t get scared, little Bright Eyes,” murmured Clancy soothingly. “Remember, I’m along.”

“Oh, you go to blazes!” grunted Ballard. “If it was a case of spooks, Red, you’re the last fellow I’d want for company. Now——”

Ballard had started on again. Then, suddenly biting his words short, he halted once more.

“What’s the trouble, Pink?” inquired Clancy. “See anything in the bushes?”

“No, I don’t see anything,” returned Ballard, “but my ears are pretty good, and I’m hearing something.”


“Listen yourself. Maybe it will break out again.”

The lads were almost at the top of the rise where the trail pitched downward into the mining camp. Consequently they were so close to the stamp mill that its racket interfered with the sounds they were listening for. But the noise came again, and it was clear enough.

“It’s the whinny of a horse,” said Clancy.

“That’s how it struck me,” answered Ballard. “The horse is in a thicket, over there on the left of the road. What’s a horse there for, at this time of night?”

“Probably it’s a stray horse, Pink. Horses break loose occasionally, you know.”

“Well,” declared Ballard, “I’m going to find out whether it’s a stray horse or not. If the animal’s loose, we’ll lead it on to the mine. Chances are, that’s where it came from.”

“Lead on, old man. If trouble lurks in yonder thicket, don’t forget that Clancy is ready to shoulder his share.”

There wasn’t much trouble in the thicket, that is, not so far as the lads could see. What they did find, however,142 were a couple of horses, saddled, bridled, and hitched to a white thorn bush. Here, certainly, was food for reflection.

“What do you know about this?” demanded Ballard.

“There’s no law against a couple of riders leaving their horses in a patch of scrub, Pink,” remarked Clancy.

“It’s queer, anyhow. Where are the riders?”

“Not being a mindreader, I’ll have to give that up. If the riders are not here now, they’ll probably be around before long. Horses are worth money, you know, and they’re not left for good in any such way as this. Possibly——”

“Sh-h-h!” cut in Ballard excitedly, grabbing his chum’s arm, and dragging him back into the greasewood. “They’re coming now,” he added, in a husky whisper, his lips close to Clancy’s ear.

According to Clancy’s matter-of-fact ideas, there was not much sense in hiding from those two horsemen. But Ballard had ideas of his own—and nerves that had been somewhat ruffled by the uncanny booming of the stamps. He had insisted on pulling Clancy down into the brush, and Clancy was content to remain there.

Two dark figures were crashing through the bushes, tearing their way toward the horses, as fast as they could go. Between them the men were carrying something. It looked like a bag, and that the bag was heavy was proved by the fact that it caused them a lot of trouble.

The men did not exchange a word, but buckled in and hustled as though their lives depended on it. It was dark in the chaparral, and Clancy and Ballard could not see the men very distinctly, but they had no difficulty in following their movements.

When the horses were reached the bag was dropped. Each man leaped to an animal and tore loose the bridle143 reins. One mounted. The other lifted up the bag and attempted to throw it over the horse behind the mounted man. The bag slipped and dropped again.

The man on the horse swore softly. It was the first sound either he or his companion had uttered.

The fellow on the ground made another attempt, and, this time, succeeded in getting the bag back of the saddle cantle. Clancy and Ballard could see that it was heavily weighted, and that the weight was divided in each end of the bag, so that the contents held it to the horse’s back.

Then the other man scrambled to get into his saddle, and, in almost less time than it takes to tell it, both were mounted and ready for flight.

Just here Clancy yielded to a reckless impulse. Had he thought twice about the matter, he would probably have suppressed himself. But he was excited, and perhaps not accountable for what he did.

Starting up suddenly, he gave vent to a yell.

“Hold up, you fellows!” he shouted. “What have you got there?”

His answer was a wild rattle of spurs and swish of quirts.

“Ride!” shouted one of the horsemen, in a voice that was strangely familiar. “They’re laying for us!”

The horses dashed out of the chaparral at frenzied speed. Something fell heavily, and the lads knew it must be the bag. It had been torn from the horse’s back by the bushes, or had been dislodged by the horse’s wild movements. Anyhow, the bag dropped—and the horsemen did not pause to recover it. Their anxiety to get away astounded Clancy and Ballard.

“What did you want to butt in for, Red?” demanded Ballard, watching the dim figures receding at breakneck speed into the distant shadows.

144 “I don’t know,” answered Clancy. “I was curious, I suppose. If I had it to do over again, I’d keep still. What I said scared them, though, and that’s why they went on without the bag. Let’s see what’s in the thing.”

The boys stepped toward the heavily weighted bag and Clancy began untying the cord at the top of it.



“Tell me what this is, Pink,” said Clancy, “and you can have it.”

The red-headed chap had pulled a short, thick bar from the bag. The surface of the bar was rough, and plainly it was of some sort of metal.

Ballard took the bar and weighed it in his hands; then he held it in one hand and rubbed the other hand over it.

“Feels like a chunk of lead,” said he. “Weighs nine or ten pounds, I should think. Wait till I strike a match and get a better look at it.”

The bar did not improve any upon being examined in the flare of a match. It had a brown, dingy look, and Ballard dropped it with an exclamation of disgust.

“Anything else in the bag, Red?” he asked.

“Three more bars, just like that one,” was the reply.

“I’d like to know why those fellows were taking so much trouble with that stuff. Looked to me as though they were running off with it.”

“That’s an easy guess. They’re a couple of thieves, Pink, and they’ve been stealing.”

“Where have they been stealing?”

“At the mine; there’s no other place handy where there’s anything valuable. Thunder!” The exclamation broke excitedly from Clancy, for at last the right idea had dawned upon him. “Pink,” he cried, “this stuff is bullion!”


“It’s a cinch. Those fellows were trying to get away with it, and we happened around just in time to block146 proceedings. Say, old man, we’re starring ourselves to-night!”

“I thought bullion was gold,” observed Ballard.

“That’s what it is.”

“Well, gold is yellow. Strikes me this bullion is off-color a good deal.”

“Probably it’s base bullion—gold mixed with other kinds of metal.”

“I guess you’re right, Red,” said Ballard, after a brief period of thought. “Those two fellows stole the bullion at the mine—and left their horses here while they were doing it. We blundered on the horses, and then you cut loose with a yell that scared them into thinking some one from the Ophir Mine was ‘laying for them.’ They pulled out in such a hurry they lost the bag, and didn’t dare come back after it. It’s a case of blind luck. Now, let’s carry the bag to the mine and get the reward.”

Clancy dropped the one bar that had been brought out for purposes of inspection back into the bag, and began binding the cord around the open end.

“Wasn’t there something familiar about the voice of that robber, Pink?” asked Clancy. “Seems to me I have heard it somewhere before.”

“Come to think of it,” said Ballard, “the voice did have a familiar ring. Where the deuce have I heard it?”

Both lads racked their brains for a few moments. It was Clancy who finally recalled the owner of the voice.

“It was that pasty-faced Shoup!” he declared. “Lenning’s particular crony, Billy Shoup.”

“That’s right!” cried Ballard. “A job like this is about what we might expect of Shoup. But who was the other fellow? It’s so dark in here I couldn’t see much of either of them. The other fellow didn’t do any talking, did he?”

147 “No; neither of them wasted much time in talk. I wonder,” and Clancy drew a quick breath, “if that second fellow was Lenning?”

“Why, no!” exclaimed the startled Ballard. “Lenning is night watchman at the cyanide works.”

“That doesn’t cut any ice. He might have got the job as watchman just to make this robbery easier for him and Shoup.”

“Those two wouldn’t work together, Clan; that is, not after what happened in the gulch.”

“You wouldn’t think so, if they were any other fellows than Shoup and Lenning. But you never can tell what those chaps will do. They may have patched up their differences, and got together for this piece of lawless work.”

“Perhaps you’ve hit it off, Red, but I wouldn’t be sure about it. Right now we’ve got to think of getting on to the mine. If Shoup and that other fellow should make up their minds to come back here and get the bag, you and I would be in a fine row of stumps.”

This was a point that hadn’t occurred to the lads until that moment. It helped to spur them on toward the mine with the bag of bullion. Each holding an end of the sack, they made their way out of the chaparral and back to the trail; then, looking behind them in the direction taken by the two riders to make sure they were not returning, they crossed the rise and started down the slope beyond.

At this point, three or four lanterns appeared at a little distance, bobbing around like so many fireflies. The lights, it soon became manifest, were converging toward a certain place—and that place was the ground on which Clancy and Ballard were standing.

“There are some of the miners, now,” said Clancy.

148 “They’re coming this way, too,” added Ballard. “Aiming for us, Red, if I’m any prophet.”

“Listen!” exclaimed Clancy.

“Halt, there!” bellowed a voice, making itself heard above the stamps. “Don’t try to run, or you’ll be sorry for it.”

“Just as though we could run with a load as heavy as this!” said Clancy, in a disgusted tone. “What do those miners take us for?”

Four lanterns clustered close, drawing in upon the two chums from four different directions.

“Try to shoot,” threatened a voice, “and we’ll beat you to it. You’re prisoners.”

“We haven’t anything to shoot with,” called Ballard. “And what do you mean by saying we’re prisoners?”

“You know well enough.”

Two of the men with lanterns jumped up on either side of the boys, and each had his arm gripped by a muscular hand.

“Here’s the bag of loot, Sim!” exulted one of the men.

The man called Sim appeared to be the leader. He was a bushy-bearded fellow in greasy overclothes, and he held up his lantern to get a good look at the faces of the boys.

“What!” he roared. “Say, ain’t I seen you kids some’r’s before?”

“I guess you have, if you work at the Ophir Mine,” replied Clancy. “We’re chums of Frank Merriwell’s.”

“Well, sufferin’ Ike!” gasped Sim. “It can’t be that you’ve been robbin’ the safe in the labr’tory.”

“You think we’re the thieves that ran away with this bullion?” gulped Ballard, horrified.

“We was out lookin’ for the thieves,” apologized Sim,149 “an’ we hopped onto you two with the bullion. What was we to think?”

“You’ve made a slight mistake, that’s all,” laughed Clancy.

“Where’d you git that bag of loot?”

Both Clancy and Ballard took a hand in explaining that part of it. The explanation was accepted at once, and the jubilant miners had a good laugh over the mistake they had made.

“You’ve done a mighty big thing, you two,” declared Sim. “Come on to the labr’tory with the boodle. Hank and I will scoot on ahead an’ sort of ease off the tension that’s prevailin’ in the vicinity of the cyanide works. Joe, you and Lafe come along with Ballard and Clancy. Better tote the bag for ’em, I reckon; they’ve purty nigh done enough work for one night.”

Sim and Hank rushed away with their lanterns. Joe and Lafe relieved the two boys of the bag, and the four made such good time toward the laboratory building that they bid fair to reach it neck and neck with Sim and Hank.

As a matter of fact, Clancy and Ballard were only a little way behind the two who had gone on ahead; and when they stepped into the building, the first person they saw was Merriwell. Frank was thunder-struck.

“Howdy, Chip,” grinned Clancy.

“Thought we’d find you here, old man,” added Ballard.

“Great Scott!” murmured Frank. “What are you doing here?”

“A whole lot more than we expected to do when we started out,” said Clancy. “You see, Chip, we just about knew you had come to the mine for a talk with Lenning. I had figured that out——”

“With some help from me,” struck in Ballard forcibly.

150 “Yes,” corrected Clancy, “with some help from Pink. Having settled that in our minds, we started along the trail to meet you and escort you back to the hotel. But, instead of meeting you, we encountered some one else.”

At this juncture, Joe and Lafe tramped in with the bag and dropped it, with a thud, on the brick floor.

“What’s that?” demanded Hawkins, pointing to the bag.

“That’s the bullion,” said Clancy, “four bars of it.”

“We gathered it in on our way to the mine,” added Ballard, “and came mighty near being gathered in ourselves by a bunch of men with lanterns.”

“Meanin’ us,” beamed Sim. “At first we took ’em for the robbers.”

Mr. Bradlaugh, dazed by the sudden trend of events, pushed forward.

“Do you mean to say, my lads,” he asked, “that you recovered the stolen bullion on your way here from town?”

“Yes,” came from both Clancy and Ballard.

“How in the world did you do it?” queried the perplexed general manager.

“It was a case of blind luck,” said Ballard, and, for the second time, he and Clancy explained how they had found the horses in the chaparral, and had later been fortunate enough to recover the bag of bullion.

“Well, of all the darn-fool plays I ever heard of,” grunted Hawkins, “that takes the banner. Why, you boys didn’t even know there’d been a robbery here.”

“Didn’t even know we’d got hold of bullion, at first,” laughed Ballard, “and after looking at one of the bars at that.”

“It’s one of those things,” said the overjoyed Mr. Bradlaugh, “which could happen about once in a thousand times.”

151 “Once in a million times,” declared Burke. “Merriwell, you’re lucky to have two such fellows for pards.”

“That’s what we’ve been trying to impress upon him for a long time,” remarked Ballard plaintively. “Now I guess he knows what a fine pair of star actors we are.”

“You’re all to the mustard, both of you!” cried the delighted Merriwell.

“All that’s left for me to do, I suppose,” growled Hawkins, “is to find Lenning and Shoup. This business is being wound up in short order, Mr. Bradlaugh.”



Hawkins’ remark reminded every one in the laboratory, and particularly Merriwell, that Lenning was still to be found and dealt with. Merriwell’s faith in Lenning was growing. He had drawn certain inferences from the story told by his chums which strengthened his trust in his protégé.

“I think, Hawkins,” said Frank, “that it’s pretty clear now that Lenning wasn’t one of the robbers.”

“What makes it clear?” demanded the deputy sheriff.

Mr. Bradlaugh and Burke were opening the bag and examining the bars of bullion. Frank’s statement and Hawkins’ question claimed their attention, and they straightened up and looked around.

“Clancy and Ballard,” Merriwell replied, “recognized the voice of Shoup. The other fellow didn’t speak, so they were not able to recognize him by his voice. Now, Lenning and Shoup are enemies. It would have been impossible for them to work together.”

“Shucks!” grunted the deputy. “They only pretended to be enemies, sos’t Lenning could fool you into helping him get a job here.”

This was a most astounding theory. Furthermore, it was so wildly improbable that Merry and his chums had to laugh.

“You don’t understand what happened between Lenning and Shoup out at the camp in the gulch, Hawkins,” said Frank. “Shoup struck Lenning over the head with a paddle, knocked him out of a canoe, and came within one of drowning him. I guess they weren’t pretending they had a row—not to that extent.”

153 Merriwell suddenly paused. He was talking in a loud voice—a voice that echoed in tremendous volume through the big room. He wondered what was the cause; and then, in a moment, he realized that the roar of the stamps had ceased. Twenty batteries, of five stamps each, had gone abruptly out of commission in the gold mill. The silence that hovered over the mining camp was most profound. Merry had been talking against the roar of the stamps, and when the roar ceased his voice was still lifted.

“What’s the matter with the mill?” he inquired.

“The stamps have been ‘hung up’ for an hour,” answered Burke, “so the amalgamators can dress down the plates.”

“It happens twice in every twenty-four hours,” put in Mr. Bradlaugh, “once on the night shift and once while the day men are on duty. We——”

Sim, who had started back to his work in the mill, returned and thrust his head in at the door just at that moment.

“Something queer goin’ on among the tanks, Burke,” he reported.

“Something queer, Sim?” echoed the super. “What do you mean by that?”

“Step outside once an’ use your ears.”

Not only Burke, but all the others, stepped from the laboratory building and stood at attention, facing the grim, black tanks. Thump, thump thump! came a hollow, reverberating note. There was nothing else, merely that thump, thump, thump! It came sometimes at regular intervals and sometimes a bit wildly and uncertainly.

“What is it?” inquired Mr. Bradlaugh.

“Blest if I can sabe it,” said Sim.

“How long has it been going on?”

154 “Don’t know that, either. Mebby it’s been goin’ on for quite a spell, an’ that the roar of the stamps sort of smothered it. Now, when the stamps is all hung up, the thumpin’ can be heard plain.”

“It comes from the tanks,” put in Hawkins; “maybe it’s a leaky valve poundin’.”

“There’s nothing in the pipes,” said Burke. “The cyanide plant is out of commission until to-morrow. Sounds as though some one was striking a club against the side of a tank. We ought to be able to run it down and find out what causes it.”

Burke started off, mounting a plank incline that led to the lower row of tanks, and then moving slowly along a plank gangway that spanned the tanks’ tops. Merry, Clancy, and Ballard followed him.

It was difficult to decide just where the thumping sound came from. The hollow, resonant note was very deceiving. A little search, however, proved conclusive that it did not emanate from the lower tier of vats, so Burke and Merry and his chums mounted to the next tier.

While they were hunting over the gangway that crossed the second tier, they were suddenly startled by a yell from Hawkins. Looking upward, they saw the deputy sheriff standing on a ladder, visible from his waist up over the top of the big solution tank. His form was silhouetted against a background of starry sky, and he was making grotesque and excited gestures with his arms.

“I’ve found what you’re lookin’ for,” he called. “Bring a lantern and come here. It’s in the solution tank.”

“That’s as it should be,” laughed Burke; “the solution tank is the proper one to offer a solution of the mystery.”

A lantern was secured, and Burke and the three lads hastened to climb to the huge tank that topped all the155 others. Those below, including Mr. Bradlaugh, went around the edge of the massed tanks and gained the reservoir from the other side.

Merry and his chums climbed to the rim of the tank and hung over it, looking downward into its black, cavernous depths. Thump, thump, thump! came the mysterious racket from below, now wilder, louder, more insistent.

Hawkins climbed to the rim of the tank, and pulled up the ladder and lowered it down on the inside. Then he took the lantern that Burke handed to him and began descending into the gloom. A little pool of light went with him, and brought the interior of the tank slowly into view.

As the deputy reached the foot of the ladder and flashed the lantern about him, a cry of wonder burst from his bearded lips. The cry was echoed by all those who were hanging to the rim of the wooden reservoir and peering downward.

Jode Lenning was found!

Bound hand and foot, and with a cloth tied tightly over his lips, he was lying on the bottom of the vat, close up against its rounded side. His head was turned so that his eyes, glimmering weirdly, looked upward into the faces overhead. As he lay there, he brought his bound heels against the wooden staves, beating out a sort of tempo which the mill hand, Sim, had been first to hear.

“By thunder,” gasped Clancy, “it’s Lenning!”

“Sure as you’re a foot high!” echoed Burke.

“Those two thieves must have tied him and dropped him into the tank,” said Ballard. “Gee, but that was rough on him!”

“It would have been rougher still,” went on the super,156 with a black frown, “if he had stayed there until morning, when the solution in the sump tank was to be pumped back into the reservoir. It’s a deadly poison.”

A shudder ran through Merriwell.

“I thought Lenning had been the victim of foul play,” was all he said.

Hawkins, putting down the lantern beside him, began releasing Lenning. First he removed the cloth from his lips.

“The safe has been broken open,” were Lenning’s first, halting words; “Shoup was one of the thieves—I don’t know who the—the other man was. Follow them! You’ll have to hurry or——”

“Never mind, Jode,” interrupted Hawkins, in a kindly voice. “Shoup and the other fellow got away, but the bullion was recovered.”

“The bullion—was re-recovered, you say?” faltered Jode.


A sob of relief rushed through Lenning’s lips.

“I—I was afraid it would be laid to me,” he cried. “I didn’t want that to happen after Merriwell had got me the place, and had become responsible for what I did.”

“Everything’s all right, Lenning,” Merriwell called down, “so don’t fret.”

Hawkins got the cords off Lenning’s feet and hands, and then helped him up the ladder and down to the hard ground outside the tank. Mr. Bradlaugh was there to catch him by the hand.

“Did—did you think I—I took the bullion?” Lenning asked weakly.

Mr. Bradlaugh had nothing to say.



Although Lenning had been roughly treated, he had suffered no serious injury. The worst of his sufferings had come while lying in the big, empty tank, kicking his heels against the staves and hoping against hope that some one would hear him, in spite of the clamor from the mill.

“I thought no one would ever come,” said he, leaning back in a chair in the laboratory and speaking to Hawkins, Bradlaugh, Burke, Merriwell, Clancy, and Ballard. “I never knew a stamp mill made so much noise before,” he added whimsically.

“How did the thieves manage to get the best of you?” queried Burke.

“They jumped on me from behind. I had come in here for a lantern, and had stepped out and was locking the door. That’s when they got me. Before I knew what was going on, some one was on my back, and another fellow had clapped a hand over my mouth. I couldn’t yell, and I couldn’t get away. It was mighty tough, I tell you, when they got the ropes on me and I was lying on my back and looking up into the face of Shoup. I knew right off what he was up to. I yelled for help, and I managed to get in a few more yells before they got me gagged. No one heard me, though.”

“You’re wrong there, Lenning,” said Merry. “I heard you. I was coming down the trail into the camp at the time, and it was hard for me to locate the place where the cry came from. I thought it was up the slope, in the chaparral.”

158 “You were coming here?” asked Lenning. “What for?”

“Just to see you for a while. Thought you wouldn’t mind a little chinning during your first night on duty.”

“Well,” went on Lenning, “those fellows got rid of me by dropping me into the big tank. Then they skipped out. How did you get back the bullion? I can’t understand how you did that, and let Shoup and the other fellow get away from you.”

So Clancy and Ballard had to tell again of their experiences while on the way from town to the mine.

“That was mighty lucky,” said Lenning, when the story was finished. “I reckon I’m playing in good luck all around. It was tough, though, that this had to happen the first night I got to work here.”

“It was, Lenning,” agreed Mr. Bradlaugh, “but still, all’s well that ends well, you know. You’d better go to the bunk house and turn in. I’ll have Burke put some one else on in your place for the rest of the night.”

“I’d a heap rather stick it out. I’m feeling pretty good, and if I’m to do this work I’d better keep at it.”

Merry could see that this remark of Lenning’s pleased the general manager and the superintendent.

“It looks very much, Lenning,” said Mr. Bradlaugh, “as though Merriwell’s faith in you had been justified. I’m going to relieve Merriwell from any further responsibility in your case, and from this on you’re to stay here on your own responsibility. Get that? I hope you’ll make such a record, my lad, that your uncle will feel that he has made a mistake in your case.”

“Colonel Hawtrey is the least of my worries,” scowled Lenning. “I’m not trying to be square because I expect anything from him. I’m much obliged to you, Mr. Bradlaugh, and you can bet I’ll do my best to hold this job.”

159 “That’s as much as I could ask of any one on the work. Eh, Burke?”

The super nodded his full agreement.

“What did that companion of Shoup’s look like, Lenning?” Hawkins asked.

“I can’t tell you anything about him,” was the reply. “He kept himself out of sight most of the time, and whenever I did see him he had a handkerchief tied over his face. He was a big fellow, though, and, from his talk, I reckon he was a pretty tough proposition.”

“He’s a yeggman, and no mistake. I’m going to do my best to get both of those fellows. Going back to town, Mr. Bradlaugh?”

“At once,” answered the general manager.

“Then I believe I’ll ride with you. There’s a little telegraphing and telephoning I’ve got to take care of.”

“We’ll go along, Mr. Bradlaugh,” spoke up Merriwell, “if you’ve got room.”

“Plenty of room, Chip,” said the general manager.

Burke remained with Lenning, while Frank and his chums and the deputy sheriff made for the car. They were soon on their way back to Ophir.

“I’m stumped,” admitted Hawkins, as they scurried on through the night.

“So am I,” said Mr. Bradlaugh.

“What’s got you on the hip?” inquired the deputy.

“Lenning. I could have taken my oath that he was one of those who had tried to steal the bullion.”

“That’s what I was turnin’ over in my mind, Mr. Bradlaugh. Merriwell had sized the fellow up a whole lot better than any of the rest of us.”

“He had faith in him all the time.”

“There was one spell,” laughed Merry, “when you fellows came pretty near arguing me over to your way160 of thinking. But I’m glad I hung on. Lenning hasn’t many friends—and he needs a lot of good ones.”

“He has one good one,” said Hawkins, “and that’s a cinch.”

“And he has more friends now,” remarked Mr. Bradlaugh, “than he had a few hours ago.”



“Ho, hum!” yawned Owen Clancy, stirring drowsily in his chair on the veranda of the Ophir House, “this is certainly the easy life. Trouble is, fellows, it’s too darned easy. About all the exercise we get is when we mosey out to the athletic club and boot the pigskin around. I’m getting sluggish.”

“Come over and slug me,” Billy Ballard invited, from the other end of the veranda. “Feeling kind of sluggish myself, Red, and if you’re pining for exercise, here’s your chance.”

“Tush, tush!” scoffed the red-headed chap. “Taking a fall out of you, Pink, wouldn’t be exercise, but a walk-away. Everything’s too deuced humdrum around here to suit me. Say, Chip, can’t you mix us up something with real snap and ginger in it? Nothing has happened for a week—not since Ballard and I got back the bullion that had been stolen from the Ophir Mine. That livened up things a whole lot.”

Young Merriwell looked up from the paper he was reading.

“Ten yards in four downs,” he remarked absently. “The new football rules this year will bring a revival of the old smashing line drives of the past. I wish we’d got this news before Ophir played the Gold Hillers.”

Merry showed a disposition to become absorbed once more in the article he was reading. Clancy headed him off.

“Bother the new rules! I asked you if you couldn’t162 fix up a little excitement for us, Chip. Life in southern Arizona is becoming flat, stale, and unprofitable. Every morning the prof makes us grind to the limit; every afternoon we loaf around until four, and then go out to the club field and punt, tackle the dummy, or fall on the ball. It’s getting mo-no-to-nious.”

“I guess the climate is playing hob with you, Clan,” grinned Merry, throwing aside the paper. “Early December, and here we are in our shirt sleeves, loafing in the shade and trying to be comfortable. But buck up. It won’t last forever. It won’t be long now before we’ll be pulling up stakes and hiking toward the ice and snow.”

“What’re we waiting for?”

“The prof’s mining deal is hanging fire. Almost any mail from the East may bring the letter that winds it up.”

“Then I wish things would warm up while the deal is being wound up.”

“That’s always the trouble with a chap that’s got brick-red hair,” complained Ballard. “He’s a volcano, and can’t be happy unless he has a violent eruption every fifteen minutes.”

“I’ve got a notion,” scowled Clancy, “to imitate an earthquake and shake you off the porch.”

“Go on and shake,” urged Ballard, chuckling. “I’d like to get a strangle hold on an earthquake just once and make it behave.”

With a whoop the red-headed chap projected himself out of his chair and in the direction of his chum. But he never reached Ballard’s end of the porch. Merry put out a foot and neatly tripped him.

“Here, now!” protested Clancy, slamming into a porch post and grabbing it in his arms to keep from going down. “Who invited you to take a hand in this, Chip?163 Maybe you want me to roll you off the porch before I do business with Pink?”

“Spell ‘able,’” said Merry, squaring around in his chair.

“Too hot,” answered Clancy, after a moment’s reflection.

“Oh, slush!” muttered Ballard disgustedly. “It’s too hot now, but a moment ago he was anxious to have things warm up. He’s bluffing, that’s all.”

Clancy took no notice of the good-natured gibe, but crossed the veranda to a thermometer that hung beside the hotel door.

“Only seventy-five,” he announced, then reached for the newspaper Merry had dropped and tore off a piece of it. “It ought to be more than that,” he added.

Taking a match from his pocket he fired the scrap of paper and held it close to the bulb of the thermometer.

“What’s that for?” demanded Ballard.

“Warming things up,” answered Clancy. “Beginning with the thermometer. Gee, look at the mercury climb! Eighty-five, ninety, ninety-five——”

“Here!” interposed Merry. “Don’t you know that’s the town’s official thermometer? You might as well tinker with the weather bureau, Clan. Everybody in Ophir swears by that instrument.”

“I’ll have ’em swearing at it before long,” was Clancy’s calm rejoinder. “A hundred and fifteen,” he added, as he dropped the charred paper. “That’s going some.”

Just as he was backing away from the thermometer, Woo Sing, the Chinese roustabout, came blandly out on the veranda. He looked cool and comfortable in his roomy silk kimono.

“Velly fine day, Missul Melly,” he grinned.

164 “Pretty hot, Sing,” answered Merry, pretending to mop his face with a handkerchief.

“You callee hot?” demurred Woo Sing. “Goodness glacious! Me allee samee cool as cucumber.”

He took a slant in the direction of the thermometer, gave it a casual glance, then jumped and brought his eyes closer to the top of the column of mercury.

“Gee Klismus!” he gasped, and the sweat began to start out on his parchmentlike face. “Him plenty hot—hot as blazes. My gettee fan befo’ my gettee sunstluck!”

With that he slumped weakly back into the hotel, peeling off his kimono as he went.

“That proves,” said Merry, joining in with the laughter of his chums, “that this climate business is about two-thirds imagination.”

“Sh-h!” whispered Clancy, “here comes the prof. He looks about as warm as a hundred and fifty pounds of ice. Let’s see what effect the thermometer has on him.”

Merry pulled his shirt open at the throat, fell back in his chair, and began mopping his face. Ballard leaned over the veranda rail and gasped like a spent fish. Clancy was also panting, seemingly in the last stages of exhaustion.

Professor Phineas Borrodaile had a book in his hand, one finger between the leaves to mark his place. He was bareheaded, and was evidently coming out to sit in the shade and read comfortably.

“Well, well, young gentlemen,” he murmured, coming to a startled halt as his eyes rested on the boys, “you act as though you were overcome with the heat. Why, I had not noticed that the weather was at all uncomfortable. It seems to me very pleasant, ve-ry pleasant.”

“Look—at the thermometer!” gasped Merry huskily, smothering his face in his handkerchief.

165 The professor walked over to the instrument and studied it. Another moment and he was tremendously excited.

“What is this?” he cried. “A—a hundred and ten degrees Fahrenheit? Mirabile dictu! There must be something wrong with the thermometer.”

In spite of the professor’s guess that there was something wrong, the perspiration began to bead his brow. Taking his book under one arm, he allowed a hand to grope for a handkerchief in the tail pocket of his long black coat.

“Who says there’s anything wrong with that there thermometer?” growled a voice. “Why, the hull town gits its temperature from that machine! Whenever it says the weather’s so and so, you can gamble your spurs that’s what it is.”

Pophagan, proprietor of the hotel, shoved out upon the veranda.

“But look, Mr. Pophagan,” quavered the professor, dabbing at his bald head with his handkerchief and beginning to loosen his collar. “It’s one hundred and ten—in the shade!

“That’s right,” whispered Pophagan faintly, staring at the instrument. “Sufferin’ sinners, but it’s hot. Hadn’t noticed it before. Hottest early December I ever seen in Ophir.”

“There are some new spots on the sun,” remarked the professor, unbuttoning his vest and fanning himself with his book, “and they always have the effect of disarranging the seasons. Mercy! I feel as though I was suffocating.”

Pophagan threw off his hat and jerked off his coat.

“It come on sudden,” he panted. “I’m allers subject166 to heat spells like this. Purty nigh got done up oncet with a sunstroke in the Harqua Halas.”

“Merriwell,” queried the professor, in alarm, “you are not light-headed, are you? You don’t feel as though you were going to succumb to this excess of solar caloric?”

Merry, handkerchief over his face, was squirming in his chair.

“I’m all right, professor,” he answered, in a smothered voice.

Clancy stood at the end of the porch, leaning against the wall of the hotel with his back to the professor and Pophagan. His shoulders were heaving convulsively.

Ballard continued to lean over the rail, keeping his face averted and doing his best to stifle his laughter.

“Better go into the hotel, young gentlemen,” suggested the professor, “and get some fans. I’m going. I feel as though I was being incinerated.”

“Me, too,” chimed in Pophagan. “If this gits much worse, we’ll all be burnin’ up. Can’t remember a time like this since the summer o’ ninety-six. You could fry eggs in the sun that year. Rattlesnakes an’ coyotes got grilled in the desert afore they could hunt their holes. There was a drummer stoppin’ with me then, an’ he wore a celluloid collar. He went out to sell a bill o’ goods an’ the collar exploded. Pair o’ rubber boots I had melted into a chunk. Whoosh!”

Pophagan, closely followed by the professor, melted into the hotel. The youngsters on the porch pulled themselves together, exchanged glances, and went into another spasm of laughter.

“Got to keep this going,” sputtered Clancy, lighting another piece of paper and fanning it back and forth around the bulb of the thermometer. “This is the most167 fun I’ve had since Pop and Woo Sing went hunting cats.”

“We’ll have the whole town fried to a frazzle,” hiccuped Ballard. “I never thought a thermometer made the weather before, but this seems to prove it.”

“You don’t have to do that, boys, to get things warmed up,” remarked some one, with a laugh, from the foot of the veranda steps. “I’m bringing you a proposition that will do more to warm things up than all the overheated thermometers in Arizona.”

All the lads whirled to give their attention to the man who had just spoken.

“Colonel Hawtrey!” exclaimed Merriwell.



How long the mining magnate from Gold Hill had been enjoying the performance on the veranda, the boys did not know. He had caught Clancy red-handed, however, trying to drive the mercury out of the top of the thermometer.

“It beats all,” laughed Clancy, “what a fellow can make people do just by fooling with a thermometer.”

“The power of suggestion is tremendous,” said the colonel, “if rightly handled. It is so in everything, my lads. Start a train of suggestions properly and, if they lead in the right direction, you can mold nearly any one to your will. But that isn’t what I came over here to talk about.”

The colonel had climbed the veranda steps while talking, and he now shook hands warmly with Merry and his chums. Ballard pushed out a chair for him, and he lowered himself into it with a genial smile, while his eyes roved from one to another of the glowing young faces in front of him.

In some things Colonel Hawtrey was a stern old martinet. The better part of his life had been spent in the military service of his country, and this may have developed the relentless side of his nature. He had a will of iron, backed by a judgment that was apt to make a mountain of errors out of a molehill of mere mistakes.

He was a lover of sports, however, and was the backbone and mainstay of the Gold Hill Athletic Club. He believed that, quite apart from physical prowess, the169 right spirit in athletics developed inevitably all a youth’s manly qualities. And he had no patience with any one in whom manliness and personal integrity were lacking in the slightest degree.

That something of an unusual nature had brought the colonel from Gold Hill that afternoon Merriwell was positive. And that it might prove as interesting as it was unusual was evident from the colonel’s manner.

“What’s in the wind, colonel?” queried Ballard curiously. “Clancy, here, is feeling like a castaway on a two-by-four island. If he can’t have a little healthy excitement before long, his pranks will probably get us all into trouble.”

“I’ve got everybody in a sweat around this hotel,” said Clancy; “that is,” he added, “with the kind assistance of Chip and Pink.”

“We’re all in it,” acknowledged Merry. “But what sort of a proposition have you got, colonel?”

“Darrel suggested the idea last night,” returned the colonel, “and it struck me as being a pretty good one. How long before you’re going to leave this part of the country, Merriwell?”

“As soon as the professor and Mrs. Boorland get the money for that mine. The check has to come from the East.”

“Do you think you’d have time to match an Ophir nine against a team from Gold Hill? This would be a very pleasant diversion, it seems to me, and I know it would be highly enjoyed by all the fans in both towns.”

“Bully!” exclaimed Clancy, all enthusiasm on the instant.

“Now you are shouting, colonel!” seconded Ballard, with equal zest.

“Fine idea, colonel!” said Merriwell. “All the big170 teams go South for their spring practice, and here in southern Arizona we’ll be getting ahead of them by two or three months.”

“Back at Farnham Hall,” went on the red-headed chap, enthusing more and more as the idea took firmer hold of him, “they’re thinking of skates, and toboggans, and ice hockey, and here we’re planning to go out on a diamond and bang the horsehide through the balmy air. Chip,” and he turned to his chum, “if that letter came from the East before the game, I guess we could delay our start for the North long enough to take a fall out of the Gold Hillers, couldn’t we?”

“Sure,” Merry heartily agreed. “I suppose this game would be pulled off in a few days, colonel?”

“Why, yes,” was the answer, “just as soon as you can pick up a nine. We had thought of playing next Saturday, on the theory, you understand, that we’d have to hurry matters if we succeeded in getting a game with you before you left. If you can stay longer, make it a week from next Saturday, if that suits you better, or any other day that tallies with your convenience.”

“This is Wednesday,” Frank mused, “and that would leave only two days for getting a team together and practicing a little in case we play on the last day of this week. But we’d better make it next Saturday,” he added.

“Good!” exclaimed the colonel. “You’ve run up a long score of athletic victories since you’ve been in Ophir, Merriwell, and I give you fair warning that Gold Hill is going to do its best to give you a parting shot you’ll long remember.”

“Of course,” said Merry, “if Gold Hill didn’t work hard to win, the game wouldn’t be worth while.”

“We’ll have the advantage of you, unless the Ophir171 Athletic Club can give you all the players you need who are up to snuff. Our boys will come direct from our own club, and they have been playing ball ever since that football game a few weeks ago. Bleeker, and the rest of those who had gone into camp in the gulch, got back to Gold Hill several days ago, and they have been gingering up on the diamond ever since.”

“It’s a cinch, then, that your team will have a big advantage. I can use a few from the Ophir Club; Clancy, Ballard, and I will play, and then we’ll have to go hunting for the rest of our material. It will be quite a job to get the team together and pound it into any sort of shape in two days; but—well,” and Merry smiled, “there’s a spice about doing things on short notice, colonel, and it rather appeals to me. We——”

At this moment, Pophagan, palm-leaf fan in one hand and a handkerchief in the other, came slowly out on the veranda. He appeared surprised to find those on the veranda paying so little attention to the weather.

“Howdy, kunnel,” said he. “Ain’t you feelin’ the heat none?”

“I’m very comfortable, thank you, Pophagan,” the colonel answered, with a sly wink at the boys.

“Don’t mean to say you haven’t looked at the thermometer?”

“What’s the use? I don’t look to a thermometer for information as to whether I’m comfortable or not.”

“No? Well, all of Ophir gits its temperature right from this here weather machine o’ mine. I want to tell you, Colonel Hawtrey, that we’re havin’ a spell o’ weather right this minute that ain’t been equaled since ninety-six. Whoosh! Jest take a look at that mercury and see how high she is.”

172 “You look, Pophagan,” laughed the colonel, “and report.”

The proprietor of the hotel lurched over to the thermometer and recoiled from it in amazement.

“Jumpin’ sand hills!” he exclaimed. “I’ll be dad-burned if this don’t beat all get-out. What d’ye think?” and he whirled on Colonel Hawtrey with popping eyes. “That there thermometer has gone down more’n thirty-five degrees in half an hour. Blamed remarkable, that’s what I call it. Dern nigh gives me a chill.”

Pophagan threw away the fan and put his handkerchief in his pocket.

“Reckon I better go and tell the perfesser an’ the chink afore they catch their death o’ cold tryin’ to be comfortable.”

With that he vanished through the hotel door. Colonel Hawtrey cast an amused glance after the lank, retreating form.

“It would be hard for a person to believe that a thing like that could happen,” he remarked, “unless he witnessed it with his own eyes. The whole affair is absurd on the face of it, and yet there is no doubt of the genuineness of Pophagan’s sentiments. Well, well! That is carrying suggestion to an extreme.”

“I wonder,” said Ballard, a little pensively, “if he’s trying to turn the joke on us?”

“Not on your life,” answered Clancy. “If that thermometer registered zero, when the temperature was really where it is now, Pop would put on his ear muffs and his fur-lined overcoat.”

“That’s the trouble with a good many of us,” said the colonel. “Often we’re not ruled by common sense, but by a very foolish habit.”

There were several things connected with this incident173 of the thermometer which Merriwell was to remember later; and the most of them had, for a basis, the few comments made by Colonel Hawtrey.

“It’s definitely settled, then,” went on the colonel, “that the ball game is to be played next Saturday?”

“Yes,” Merriwell answered. “We’ll have to do a little hustling to get our nine together, but I think we can make it.”

“You know pretty well where you’re to get your material?”

“I’ve been going over that in my mind, colonel, and I think I have every position filled.”

“You’ll pitch, of course?”

“Sure thing,” put in Clancy promptly. “We couldn’t get along without Chip in the pitcher’s box.”

“You’re our stumblingblock, Merriwell,” the colonel laughed. “Gold Hill is full of rumors regarding your wonderful ability as a pitcher. I don’t suppose we have any one who can hold a candle to you, and we’ll have to make up what we lack by good work on other parts of the diamond.”

“Who will be the battery for Gold Hill?”

“Darrel and Bleeker. Darrel was always our star pitcher, and perhaps it was a good thing for our boys that he fractured his left arm some time ago instead of his right.”

Hawtrey frowned as he remembered the events connected with the fracturing of that left arm of Ellis Darrel’s.

“What sort of a catcher is Bleek?” Merry asked, more by way of getting the colonel’s mind off a disturbing train of reflections than for the purpose of acquiring any useful information.

“He’s good anywhere,” was the answer, “and particularly174 good behind the bat.” The colonel got up. “We’ll be here Saturday afternoon,” he added, “and you can count upon facing a team that will make the affair interesting to you.”

With a friendly nod he passed down the steps and made his way up the street.

“This gives us something to take up our time, anyway,” remarked Clancy, with a good deal of satisfaction.

“We’re up against a hard proposition,” said Ballard, looking very much concerned. “Chip, it will never do for us to leave Arizona with a defeat behind us.”

“I don’t think we’re going to,” Merry answered. “You can bet your last copper, though, that we’re not going to have a walk-away. Let’s figure out the make-up, fellows. Pink, take a pencil and paper and put Jode Lenning’s name at the head of the list.”

Ballard and Clancy straightened suddenly in their chairs and gave Merriwell a startled look.



Merry’s friendship for Lenning had been dead against the sentiments and the judgment of Clancy and Ballard. That Merry’s insight into the fellow’s nature had been more keen and more correct than their own, Clancy and Ballard were forced to admit. Nevertheless, they still felt that Lenning was more or less of a crook, and it surprised them to have Merry mention his name at all in connection with the prospective nine.

“What’s biting you?” asked Frank, meeting the stare of his chums good-naturedly.

“Can’t you find enough players without taking on Lenning?” queried Ballard.

“Possibly, Pink, but I want him.”

“The rest won’t stand for it, Chip,” blurted out Clancy.

“Why won’t they?”

“Well, it’s—it’s—— Oh, hang it, you know why they won’t, Chip, without my going into details.”

“Whom do you mean by ‘they,’ Red?”

“The Ophir fellows—and the Gold Hillers, too. Lenning has proved that he isn’t square. I guess that’s enough to make every one give him the cold shoulder.”

“If you’re going to dig into a fellow’s past, Clan, and judge him by what he was rather than by what he is now, of course I haven’t got anything to say. But I don’t call that being square, either.”

“We were off a bit when we accused Lenning of helping Shoup run away with the bullion,” put in Ballard, “but we haven’t had much proof, as yet, that Lenning176 has squared away and intends to do the right thing from now on.”

“We’re going to give him a chance, fellows,” Merry cried, “and we’ll begin by selecting him for this pick-up nine.”

“There’ll be objections——”

“All right,” cut in Merry impatiently, “if the objections come I’ll try and meet them. Put down Jode Lenning’s name first, Red.”

Clancy secured pencil and paper and, not without some reluctance, wrote as his chum directed.

“Where will Lenning play?” queried Ballard, striving to make the most of what he considered an unwise selection.

“Don’t know about that yet,” was the answer. “For the next man put down Mexican Joe for backstop.”

Again Clancy and Ballard displayed astonishment, but this time it was of another sort.

“Who the mischief is Mexican Joe?” Ballard inquired. “Never heard of him before.”

“He works in the blacksmith shop at the mine,” said Merriwell, “and Mr. Bradlaugh was telling me about him only the other day. He used to catch for a Mexican team, and they say he has the prettiest throw to second of any amateur in Arizona. We’ve got to have Mexican Joe.”

“I wonder,” grinned Clancy, “if he’ll do his signalling in the greaser lingo? If he does, Chip, you’re liable to get balled up.”

“I’ll chance that part of it, old man,” said Merry. “Put down Owen Clancy for the first bag and Billy Ballard for center field.”

“Got that,” reported Clancy, writing rapidly, “and also Chip Merriwell for pitcher.”

177 “Bradlaugh, junior, for short.”


“Barzy Blunt, second base.”

“He’s a pitcher, isn’t he?” struck in Ballard.

“He is, and a good one, but I’m told he’s equally good as a baseman. If I have to be relieved, Barzy can be shifted to the pitcher’s box. Mose Handy will cover the third sack, and Jerry Spink will take care of left field.”

“You’ve got your nine, Chip,” reported Clancy, totting up, “and Lenning is left for right field. Want any substitutes?”

“Got to have. Benaway, Shaw, and Reckless will sit on the benches and be prepared to fill in. I hear they are good all-around ball players.”

“It’s a good team,” commented Clancy, after studying the list for a few moments, “with possibly one or two exceptions.”

“Strikes me, fellows,” said Merry, “it’s a mighty fine line-up. I’ll go over to Mr. Bradlaugh’s office and speak for Mexican Joe, Lenning, and Brad. I wish you two fellows would hunt up the others. If you can find them, have them all report at the Ophir athletic field not later than four this afternoon. This will be just preliminary to some hard work to-morrow.”

Merry grabbed his cap from the veranda floor, where he had dropped it, and started briskly to his feet.

“You can count on Pink and me to interview the rest of the fellows, Chip,” returned Clancy.

“Stir around,” Frank answered, on his way down the veranda steps. “There’s not much time between now and four. If some of the fellows can’t get out to the clubhouse by four, then any time up till five will do.”

It was not many minutes until Merry was in the office of the general manager of the Ophir Mining Company.178 Mr. Bradlaugh greeted him with a smile and a warm handclasp.

“Have you heard,” the lad asked, “that we’re to have a ball game here next Saturday?”

“I have,” was the answer, “and I’m pleased almost to death, Merriwell. Colonel Hawtrey left this office not more than five minutes ago. He told me about it. You’ll have to do some tall hustling, my lad, if you dig up a nine that can hold the Gold Hillers. Of course, our nine has got to win. We can’t consider any other result. It would be too bad to have you wind up your stay in Ophir with a defeat on the ball field.”

“I believe we’ve picked a winning team,” said Merry. “Here’s the line-up, Mr. Bradlaugh,” and he handed Clancy’s list to the general manager.

Mr. Bradlaugh leaned back in his office chair and began examining the list. He had no more than dropped his eyes to the first name than he gave a start, and looked up.

“Lenning, Merriwell?”

“Yes,” nodded Frank. “He’s a good player, if all I hear is true, and we need him.”

“Er-hem!” coughed the general manager. “No doubt he’s a good player, and would be a decided acquisition, but is it a judicious selection?”

“I think so,” answered Frank calmly.

“There are liable to be objections,” suggested Mr. Bradlaugh, “and if you persist in keeping Lenning in the nine, in spite of them, there will be discontent among the players. You know too much about sports, Merriwell, for me to remind you what discontent means among a lot of players.”

“The point is here, Mr. Bradlaugh,” Frank observed, with considerable warmth: “Lenning is doing his best to be square, but nobody seems to have much use for179 him. He needs friends, and he hasn’t any. Here’s a chance for him to win back a few of the friends he has lost. I believe in giving him the chance.”

The general manager wrinkled his brows dubiously.

“I appreciate what you are trying to do, and the generous motive back of it,” said he; “but is it wise to arouse discontent and pave the way for a possible defeat? I’m putting the thing up to you frankly.”

“I’ll tell you just as frankly, Mr. Bradlaugh,” said Merry, with spirit, “that I don’t see why there should be any discontent. Let’s go ahead with Lenning until we see what happens, anyhow.”

The general manager nodded, still dubious, but content to leave the matter in Merry’s hands. He studied the rest of the list.

“With the probable exception of Lenning,” he reported, “I think you have made wise selections. I’ll arrange to give Mexican Joe a three days’ vacation. He’s a wonder as a backstop. Brad, of course, will be delighted. If Lenning plays, I’ll have Burke lighten his duties at the cyanide works. Perhaps you’d better go out to the mine and see Joe personally?”

“Thank you, Mr. Bradlaugh; I had thought of that. And when I see Mexican Joe, I’ll also talk with Lenning.”

The general manager nodded. “My car’s in front,” said he, “and I have nothing pressing for the rest of the afternoon. I’ll take you out to the mine.”

As Mr. Bradlaugh pulled down the roll top of his desk, preparatory to leaving, Frank noticed that his face wore a troubled look. Was it, he asked himself, because he had selected Lenning for one of his players? It hardly seemed possible that so small a matter could affect the general manager so seriously.



The short mile separating Ophir from the mine was quickly covered by the big car. There was little time for conversation during the ride, and what little talk the general manager indulged in had nothing to do with Lenning, but concerned Mexican Joe entirely.

“Burke got hold of Joe less than two weeks since,” remarked Mr. Bradlaugh. “The boy came here from a mine near Wickenburg, with the best recommendations I ever saw for a Mexican. He’s as strong as a horse and as spry as a wild cat; what’s more to the point, he knows his business, and is straight as a string. Just now, Merriwell, Joe is a comparative stranger. He flocks by himself pretty much, but he is well liked by those who have come to know him. Burke, the superintendent, can’t say too much in his favor.”

“How old is he?” Frank asked.


A disappointment awaited the general manager and Merriwell when they stopped at the blacksmith shop for a few words with Mexican Joe. Joe had been given leave of absence by Burke to go to the bedside of a sick relative who lived near Gold Hill.

The superintendent, who saw the car at the blacksmith shop, strolled down from the little headquarters office to find out what the general manager wanted. His face lighted up when he heard about the forthcoming ball game.

“You’ve got to have Joe, Merriwell,” he declared. “Our181 miners play ball a little, between shifts, and I’ve seen Joe behind the bat. He’s a wonder as a backstop.”

“But if he’s away,” Frank answered, intensely disappointed, “how can we possibly have him?”

“He’ll be back to-morrow morning, and I’ll arrange to have him go out to the clubhouse whenever you say.”

“Good! Make it to-morrow afternoon at two-thirty.”

“He’ll be there; and I can promise you that, on the day of the game, there’ll be a big attendance from these diggings. But don’t you let Gold Hill down you!”

“We’re going to do our best, Burke,” laughed Merriwell. “Where is Lenning?”

“Lenning?” the super echoed, giving Frank a quick glance, and then shifting his gaze to the general manager.

“Merriwell,” Mr. Bradlaugh explained passively, “has chosen Lenning for one of his players.”

It seemed, for a moment, as though Burke was going to voice a protest of his own against the availability of Lenning. He thought better of it, however.

“Lenning ought to be at the bunk house now,” said he. “He’s still the night watchman, you know, and doesn’t go on duty until seven-thirty.”

“You go over to the bunk house, Merriwell, and talk with him,” suggested Mr. Bradlaugh. “I’ll stay here with Burke.”

Frank was glad that he was to be alone when he talked with Lenning. In a private interview there would be less restraint, and a freer expression of views and motives, than could have been the case if the general manager or the superintendent had been present.

Lenning was found sitting on a bench in the shadow of the bunk-house wall. His back was against the wall and his eyes were turned upward, staring into vacancy.182 Evidently he was in a thoughtful mood, and gave no heed to Frank when he came around the corner of the bunk house.

At a little distance, Frank halted. The friendly shout which was on his lips was smothered, and he stood silently at gaze for a few moments studying the form on the bench.

Lenning had a sinister face and eyes that showed a tendency to waver and shift about, looking anywhere but at the person with whom he happened to be talking. Neither face nor eyes, it must be admitted, were calculated to inspire confidence. And yet, as Merry knew well, such appearances are not to be taken as final in judging a person’s character.

Just at that moment, Lenning’s face wore an overwhelming expression of sadness, perhaps of contrition. He did not have to go far into his past to find abundant cause for self-reproach and regret.

Lenning, when he had posed as the favorite nephew of Colonel Hawtrey, had been allowed everything for his comfort that money could buy. His only work had been to act as his uncle’s secretary, and he had worn expensive clothes and had been supplied with more of the good things of life than often come the way of most boys.

Now, by contrast, he was an ordinary hand at the cyanide plant, and the serviceable corduroys in which he was clad were frayed and stained with oil and dust. From almost a drone, living on another’s bounty, Jode Lenning had become a worker, and was earning his own support.

Here was proof of Lenning’s resolve to be different from what he had been, and it was one of the things that had impelled Merriwell to befriend the fellow when all others had turned against him. With an odd feeling183 of heightened respect for the lad on the bench, Frank moved forward with a cheery, “Hello, Jode!”

Lenning gave a start, lowered his eyes, and turned. The next moment he had started to his feet, a pleased smile wreathing his lips.

“Howdy, Merriwell?” he called, taking the newcomer’s outstretched hand. “What brings you over this way? Had a notion you’d left Arizona by this time.”

“I wouldn’t do that, Len,” answered Frank, “without coming around to say good-by. Can’t tell just how soon we’ll go, but it won’t be for a few days yet. What sort of a ball player are you, old chap?”

The question rather surprised Lenning.

“Oh,” he answered noncommittally, “I know the game, after a fashion. But I’m no great shucks at it.”

“I guess you’re pretty good, from what I hear. I’m picking up some fellows for a game next Saturday. How’d you like to make one of the nine?”

“You—you don’t want me, do you?” Lenning inquired curiously.

“Sure I want you.”

“Who’s going to play?”

“Ballard, and Clancy, and I; then Mexican Joe, if we can get him, and a few chaps from the O. A. C.”

“I reckon you better count me out,” said Lenning, turning his face away. “It wouldn’t be pleasant for your chums, or the O. A. C. fellows, to have me around.”

“Bother that! I’m bossing this nine, and I guess that whatever I say will have to go. Don’t be foolish, Len. I’ve got a special reason for wanting you in that game.”

“What reason?” Lenning, steadily enough, brought back his gaze and fixed it on Merriwell.

“For one thing,” explained Frank, “there’s nothing like a good, stiff contest on a ball field to level the differences184 one chap may have against another. I’ve seen out-and-out enemies play together, help each other in a pinch, according to league rules, and then, when the game was done, forget that they’d ever had a grouch. Something queer about what the diamond can do in a case of that kind, but it’s a fact, all the same.”

Lenning’s face clouded and filled with distrust.

“You think, Merriwell,” said he, “that I haven’t any friends, and that this game would probably make some for me. Is that it?”

“Well, yes, something like that.”

“Don’t you know,” went on Lenning, paling a little under his tan, “that if I failed in a close play some one would say that I was trying to throw the game? Nobody has any confidence in me. Every one has the notion that I’m a crook, and can’t get over it. My cue is to keep away from people. I’m sorry, Merriwell, because if there’s one person on earth I’d hate to disappoint, it’s you.”

“I don’t think that’s the proper spirit, Lenning,” insisted Frank. “You’re all right, but how is any one going to know it if you don’t get out and show them? I’m planning on you. You’re one of the first fellows I thought about when the idea of the game was sprung on me this afternoon.”

“Who sprung it?”

“Colonel Hawtrey.”

“And your pick-up nine is going to play a team from Gold Hill?”


“That does settle it. Even if I could get along with the Ophir crowd, I’ll bet the Gold Hillers would refuse to play if they knew I was in the game.”

There was bitterness in the boy’s voice.

185 “Why,” he went on, “the colonel himself would be the first to kick up trouble. I’m asking no odds of my uncle. He’s cut loose from me, and I’m not blaming him. I’ve got my own way to make, and I’m going to do it without trying to curry favor with Colonel Hawtrey. You’ll have to find another player in my place, Merriwell.”

Frank had not expected Lenning to take such a stand. Although it was beginning to look as though his choice of Lenning for the nine, if not unwise, might be hopeless, yet he continued to try persuasion.

“I’ve got my heart set on this,” said he, “and you might at least go over to the athletic field with me and join in the preliminary round-up.”

“Haven’t time for athletics,” was the answer. “I have to work nights, you know, so I can’t very well stay up all day.”

“Mr. Bradlaugh says that he’ll relieve you of your work between now and Saturday, if you’ll play.”

Lenning’s interest showed itself immediately.

“Mr. Bradlaugh said that, did he?” he asked, as though surprised.


“Did he say he thought it was all right for me to get into that game?”

“That part of it was left with me, Len,” Frank answered. “You like to play ball, don’t you?”

Lenning’s face lit up with a sudden glow, and his eyes sparkled. But it was only for a moment. A dejected expression quickly drove away the flash of feeling.

“I don’t think that has anything to do with it, Merriwell,” he returned.

“Then, you won’t play? You won’t give yourself a chance to make good on the diamond?”

There was something about the phrase “make good”186 which evidently struck the right chord in Lenning’s new resolutions.

“I’d do a heap for you, Merriwell,” said he, in a low tone, “and if you really are anxious to have me go over to the clubhouse grounds this afternoon, and it’s all right with Mr. Burke, I’ll go. But I won’t promise to play until I see how matters stack up on the diamond. How does that strike you?”

“Get your hat, Len, and come along,” answered Merriwell, pleased to secure even that much of a concession.



Clancy and Ballard were not successful in rounding up all the fellows Merriwell had asked them to see. On such short notice, however, they did very well.

Jerry Spink, who was booked for left held, had gone to the Tin Cup Ranch with an important letter for his father, who was part owner of the cattle outfit. He was expected back some time Thursday, and the boys left word for him to report at the clubhouse by two-thirty Thursday afternoon, if he got back in time.

Benaway, picked for one of the reserves, was a clerk in the general store and post office. The proprietor of the store had sent him to a placer mine to collect a bill, and it was expected that he would return some time during the evening. A message was likewise left for him.

Shaw was down with tonsillitis, and he set up a terrible wail of disappointment when he learned what was going on, and realized his inability to help out.

Barzy Blunt, Mose Handy, and Lin Reckless were all the fellows Ballard and Clancy could get together. Spink and Benaway would be on hand the following day, however, without fail.

The six lads, brimming over with enthusiasm because of the game scheduled with Gold Hill, reached the Ophir clubhouse at about four-thirty. Neither Merry, nor any of those he had gone to see, had arrived.

“Chip will be along before many minutes,” said Clancy. “Let’s get a couple of balls and begin limbering up on the diamond.”

188 They were hard at it when the Bradlaugh car halted at the clubhouse and unloaded Mr. Bradlaugh, his son, Hannibal—who had been picked up on the way through town—Jode Lenning, and Merriwell.

The party came onto the athletic field by a passage between the end of the clubhouse and the gymnasium. Merriwell was first to come into view of those on the diamond.

“Hoop-a-la!” shouted Barzy Blunt, waving his cap. “Here’s Chip with the rest of the bunch. You can bet a ripe persimmon he wouldn’t——”

The rest of the cowboy athlete’s remark did not appear. Words suddenly froze on his lips. Just behind Merriwell was Lenning, and for Lenning, Blunt had no use whatever.

“Suffering cats!” muttered Blunt, as soon as he could recover the power of speech. “Say, Ballard, why is that no-account juniper trailing Chip?”

Clancy and Ballard had kept quiet about Merry’s determination to work Lenning into the nine. They had a feeling that their chum’s move was to prove distinctly unpopular, and they fought shy of mentioning it. The secret would soon be out, now, and Clancy and Ballard awaited the result with a good deal of trepidation.

Blunt was a firm friend of Merriwell’s, but when fate gave him Blunt for a surname she indicated his character unerringly. He was blunt of speech and had a hot temper, and it was a habit of his to flash out his feelings in plain English, with small regard for consequences.

Nor was the cowboy the only one on the diamond who had been jolted into silence by the sight of Lenning. Handy and Reckless likewise manifested all the symptoms of severe frost.

Clancy and Ballard tried to save the situation by a little189 joshing and horseplay. It was a half-hearted attempt, however, and could not make a breach in the forbidding wall with which Blunt, Handy, and Reckless had surrounded themselves.

Merry was quick to sense the chill in the air, and he hurriedly seconded the efforts of Clancy and Ballard to put matters on a better footing. Brad, on the ride out to the clubhouse, had had several minutes to accustom himself to the presence of Lenning. Loyally he rallied to Merry’s support. Brad’s father, also, did what he could to ease off the tension.

“Hello, fellows!” Frank called good-naturedly. “I wonder if you’re all as hungry to get after the horsehide as I am? This game with Gold Hill suits me right up to the handle. Barzy, you look like a three-time winner. Handy, you look as fit for the national game as you did for the gridiron, a few weeks ago. Reckless, old chap, how’s tricks?”

In this breezy fashion, Frank strove to smooth out the disagreeable twist in the situation. Lenning was there by his persuasions, and he felt that the fault would be his if the lad was humiliated in any way.

“I think we owe a vote of thanks to Colonel Hawtrey and Chip Merriwell for this chance to clash with Gold Hill on the diamond,” piped Brad. “We’ve got to work like the dickens, though, if we get in shape for the game between now and Saturday.”

“You must all pull together, my lads,” put in the general manager significantly.

Neither Blunt, nor Handy, nor Reckless had a word to say. After their first cool scrutiny of Lenning, they proceeded to ignore him.

“Where’s the wonderful Mexican backstop, Chip?” queried Clancy.

190 “Couldn’t get hold of him to-day,” Frank answered, “but he’ll be along to-morrow. What about Spink, Benaway, and Shaw, Clan?”

Clancy reported as to the three players Merry had mentioned.

“That’s tough about Shaw,” Merry observed, “but, on the whole, we’re making out a good deal better than I expected. I can depend on you fellows, can I?” The question was aimed particularly at Blunt, Handy, and Reckless.

“I reckon you can, Chip,” drawled Blunt, a gleam of temper playing in his sloe-black eyes. “How have you fixed the make-up of the team?”

“You’re down for second, Barzy, and if they hit me too hard you’ll probably have to move up to the pitcher’s box.”

“That’s a joke,” and the grin that half formed itself about the cowboy’s lip’s led Merry to think he was forgetting Lenning. “You’re the best amateur twirler in these parts, and if you can’t handle the Gold Hillers there’ll be no use calling on me. I’m satisfied to hold down the second bag. You and this greaser from the mine will be the battery for Ophir, eh?”

“Probably. Clancy’s at first, Handy’s at third, and Brad goes to short. Ballard, Spink, and Lenning will be in the outfield.”

Here Handy proceeded to take part in the conversation. “Lenning?” he echoed.

Merry faced around and gave Handy a square look.

“I said Lenning would be in the outfield,” he remarked.

“Oh!” Handy grunted. That was all, but if ever a monosyllable shook its rattles and got ready to strike that one did.

The nature of Lin Reckless belied his name. He was191 canny, and just at that moment realized the value of holding himself in check. He had both balls, and he began juggling them with one hand, and whistling softly.

“I reckon I might as well tune up my bazoo and go on record right here, Chip,” said Blunt. “You ought to know, by now, that I never walk around a ten-acre lot in order to call a spade an agricultural implement. I’m not going to do it now. I’d hate myself for a month of blue moons if I ever played ball with a snake in the grass like Jode Lenning. Instead of leaving Reckless on the bench, you can put him in the outfield. Lenning will have his hands full looking after that job you got for him, if I’m any prophet.”

It was a barbed shaft, and Lenning squirmed when it struck him. His face went white on the instant.

Frank’s face was almost as white as Lenning’s. With a quick move he placed himself alongside the lad under discussion. Before he could speak, Handy broke in.

“Blunt’s got it about right, Chip,” said he. “I don’t want to hurt Lenning’s feelings, or put you in any sort of hole, but I can’t see why you should expect us fellows to play ball with Lenning.”

“I expect you to have some consideration for me,” said Frank hotly, “even if you haven’t any for Lenning. He’s here by my invitation. I have asked him, just as I asked you, to help make up the nine. If you don’t want a team, and don’t care for a game with Gold Hill, say so here and now, and we’ll declare it off.”

Merriwell resented, with all the force of his nature, these flings at Lenning. He felt that his anger was getting beyond control, and he was glad that Mr. Bradlaugh took a hand in the matter at that moment.

“You ought to know better than to talk that way, Blunt,” said Mr. Bradlaugh sharply. “And you, too,192 Handy. Merriwell is getting the team together, and you ought to have enough confidence in him to approve of whatever he does.”

“Whenever I’ve got anything on my mind,” answered Blunt, “I try to get rid of it in plain English. Now that I’ve had my say about Lenning, I’ll drop in a few words for Chip. You’re the clear quill, pard,” he went on to Merry, “and I’d fight for you any day you can find in the almanac; but when it comes to associating with a crook and a schemer, I reckon I’ve got a right to pick and choose for myself.”

“Sure you have,” approved Handy.

Reckless was still whistling and juggling the two balls. He seconded everything that Blunt and Handy were saying, but felt that some consideration was due Merriwell in the matter, and declined to express himself.

“It’s a darned shame,” blurted out Brad indignantly, “that you two chumps couldn’t have talked this over privately with Chip instead of shooting off a big noise where it will do the most harm. You make me tired!” and he turned on his heel and walked off.

Truth to tell, the helpless writhing of Jode Lenning was more than Brad could endure. Lenning himself suddenly turned and moved away in the direction from which he had come, his head bowed dejectedly.

“Blunt,” said Merriwell scathingly, “you and Handy ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Is it your style to jump on a fellow when he’s down? If I put into this plain English you’re harping about all I think of you two, it would be different from what you’ve said about Lenning, but it would sound a whole lot worse. You might have had the common decency to keep still while Lenning was around.”

193 The vigor with which Merry expressed himself rather startled Blunt and Handy. But Frank was not yet done.

“Look back a little in your own life, Blunt,” said he meaningly. “I guess you will find something there that will help you to understand how you have made Lenning feel.”

The cowboy fell back a step, with twin devils blazing in his eyes. Merriwell’s words had probed a sore only recently healed, and for a second Blunt felt all the old agonizing smart caused by the rough handling. Then, as quickly, his rage passed.

“I reckon you got me there, Chip,” said he. “I went a heap farther with Lenning than I meant to, but that’s how I feel.”

Frank did not answer. Turning, he hurried after Lenning, vanishing between the end of the clubhouse and the south wall of the gymnasium building.

“Fine business, I must say,” growled Ballard. “If this kind of a spirit lasts up till next Saturday, I can see where we get off.”

“It won’t last,” said Handy. “Lenning’s out of it now, just as he ought to be, and everything is all right.”

But Mr. Bradlaugh shook his head forebodingly.



Lenning was well started on the trail to Ophir when Merriwell overtook him.

“I’m mighty sorry,” was all Frank could say, as he dropped a hand on the other’s arm.

“You see how it is, Merriwell,” Lenning returned, in a tense voice, lifting his pale, drawn face for a quick look at his companion.

“Yes, I see how it is,” Frank acknowledged. “I had no right to put you in that position.”

“I should have had sense enough not to come. Don’t blame yourself any. And don’t find too much fault with Blunt and Handy. I mixed the dose for myself, and it’s no more than right that I should swallow it.”

During the walk back to town Frank did what he could to soothe Lenning’s injured feelings. Lenning listened quietly to his talk, and really seemed in a better frame of mind when he and Frank parted in front of the Ophir House.

While waiting for Clancy and Ballard to arrive, Frank had ample time for a little hard thinking on the veranda.

At first he had been tempted to throw up the proposed game with Gold Hill and have nothing further to do with it. He was beginning to see now that such a move on his part would be childish.

He had had ample warning not to try to drag Lenning into the baseball game. He had gone ahead in spite of the warning, and for the disaster of the afternoon he alone was to blame.

195 When his reflections took stock of Blunt and Handy, he felt the hot blood beginning to pound in his veins. But this was childish, too. Lenning, not so very long before, had given everybody abundant excuse for thinking of him just what Blunt and Handy thought.

After all, Lenning was only paying the score he had run up. It was a debt he had to meet. When he was through with the battle, he would be all the better for a few scars to remind him of it.

This train of thought put Frank himself in a more tolerant mood by the time Clancy and Ballard got back to the hotel. They went in to supper together, and, by tacit agreement, dismissed the incident of the afternoon without any further discussion.

On the following morning there came a grind at the books under the eagle eye of Professor Borrodaile; then, after dinner and early in the afternoon, Frank and his chums went out to the baseball grounds and were greeted by the whole team, as originally selected by Frank, with the exception, of course, of Lenning and Shaw.

Mexican Joe was introduced to Frank by Brad. Joe was of about the same height and build as Jode Lenning, and, in addition, the two had a facial resemblance that was most remarkable. Naturally, the Mexican lad’s face was of a swarthier hue, and this of itself made the difference between them most pronounced.

While Benaway and Reckless pounded out flies and grounders for most of the team, Merry and Joe were off to one side warming to the work with jump balls, drops, and curves. Merry showed a skill and control that caused the Mexican backstop to open his eyes, and Joe, on his part, convinced Merry that he was all that Mr. Bradlaugh had cracked him up to be.

That Thursday afternoon’s work brought Frank entirely196 under the spell of the game—the sport he loved best of all. For weeks he had not had the leather sphere in his hands, and now the very touch of it thrilled him through and through.

On first meeting Blunt and Handy, Thursday afternoon, Frank was conscious of a feeling toward them that was distinctly unfriendly; and they, on their part, had as little to say to Frank as possible. But when, at five o’clock, a grand rush was made for the bathrooms in the gym, the magic of baseball had wrought its work, and every member of the team was full of hope, and enthusiasm, and friendly consideration for the rest of his teammates. Merriwell, Blunt, and Handy met and mingled just as they had always done, and just as though the disagreeable incident of the preceding afternoon had never happened.

This is not to say that Frank had forgotten Lenning, for such was far from being the case. He was still sorry for the friendless chap, and still eager to do him a good turn. What is more, he believed more firmly than ever that many barriers between Lenning and his former friends might be leveled if Lenning could have a part in Saturday’s game. It was queer how that conviction persisted and intensified in Merriwell’s mind.

Friday afternoon the Ophir nine played a game with a scrub team. The second nine was poor, for Merriwell had gathered in all the good material, and the regular team had no difficulty in running up a good, big score.

More and more Frank was pleased with the excellent work of Mexican Joe. The backstop was about as talkative as a cigar-store Indian. He played silently, swiftly, surely, and his signals showed such an intelligent comprehension of the right balls that Frank’s admiration was aroused.

197 “You’re a corker, Joe!” he declared, slapping the Mexican youth on the back when the afternoon’s work was over with.

A gratified smile crossed Joe’s swarthy face.

“You more of a corker as me,” he averred, and so eased himself of the only remark he had made during an hour and a half of hard work.

When Frank and his chums got back to the Ophir House, late that Friday afternoon, they were all tired, but happy and confident.

“We’ve got a fast nine,” declared Ballard, “and we’re going to put it all over that Gold Hill team. You hear me!”

“They’re a snappy lot, no two ways about that,” agreed Clancy. “I hate to give Darrel, Bleek, Hotchkiss, and the rest of that outfit the sort of a jolt they’re due for to-morrow, but if they’re bound to have a game they’ll have to take the consequences.”

“That’s right,” said Merriwell. “They’re going to make it pretty interesting for us, though, and it’s just possible that they’ll open a bag of tricks that will surprise us.”

“What sort of a pitcher is Darrel?” queried Ballard. “It’s mighty odd that, all the time he was with us up Mohave Cañon, he never let out a peep about being a ball tosser.”

“He’s good,” asserted Merriwell.

“How do you know, Chip?” demanded Clancy.

“I know because Darrel’s the sort that doesn’t do things by halves. If he set out to learn to pitch, you can bet he has trained his ‘wing’ in a way to make us sit up and take notice. There’ll be an exciting time on the ball ground to-morrow afternoon. Bank on that, Red.”

“I’ll be disappointed if there isn’t, Chip,” grinned198 Clancy, “but you and that greaser marvel are going to take care of Darrel and Bleeker, with ground to spare.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“I know I’m right! When Darrel opens his box of tricks, Chip, he’ll find that you have got a few on tap that are just a little better.”

“Thanks, old man,” laughed Merry. “It would be hard for me to do any worrying while you’re around.”

“Everything’s going swimmingly, Chip,” remarked Ballard, “and there hasn’t been a hitch since—since Wednesday afternoon.”

“That’s the trouble,” Frank answered. “I’m afraid, Pink, that the luck is too good to last.”

This remark of Merriwell’s proved to be prophetic. A blow between the eyes was dealt Merry less than an hour after supper. It wasn’t a knock-out, but it came close to being one.

The blow arrived by messenger from the Ophir Mine, and was neatly wrapped up in a note written by Burke, the superintendent. Merriwell was alone on the veranda at the time the message came to hand, and he drew up close to a lighted window so that he could see to read it.

At first he was dazed, and could hardly believe that he read aright. After rubbing his eyes, he perused the note a second time. Then it was that the dread news burst upon his realization like a thunderclap.

“Blazes!” he gasped, crushing the note in his hand and looking around despairingly. “What the mischief are we going to do now? On the last day, and in the afternoon, too! Why in the deuce couldn’t——” He bit his words short and tossed his hands deprecatingly. “But it couldn’t be helped, it couldn’t be helped!” he muttered.

Gloomily enough, he walked to a chair at the far end of the veranda and slumped down into it. Who’d have199 thought that such a thing could happen? The Ophir club, it seemed absolutely certain, was going to meet its Waterloo! There did not appear to be a possible way out of that tangle of hard luck.

While Frank was sitting there among the deep shadows of the veranda and floundering helplessly in a mire of reflections, a horseman galloped up to the hitching pole in front of the hotel, swung to the ground, buckled his reins around the pole, and then bounded lightly up the veranda steps.

The light from a window, shining over him, showed that he was a mere lad. His face was open and frank, and a mat of thick, curly hair fringed the bottom of his cap.

He paused on his way across the veranda to the hotel entrance. The figure in the chair, at the far end of the veranda, had caught the newcomer’s eye. Muttering an exclamation, he started toward the youth with the bowed head and hopeless air.

“Hello, Chip, old pal!” the lad cried. “What are you doing out here all by your lonesome?”

Merriwell, at the sound of that voice, was on his feet in a twinkling.

“Darrel, by Jove!” he exclaimed, happily surprised. “What brings you to Ophir, Curly?”

“Business,” laughed Darrel. “I’ve got a letter for you from Colonel Hawtrey.”

“I hope there’s no bad news in the letter. Hang it all, I’ve had enough bad news for one night!”

“Nothing serious, Chip?” queried Darrel solicitously.

“I guess it wouldn’t strike you as being serious,” Merry returned, with a short laugh. “Say, Curly, how’d you like to have Ophir present you with that game to-morrow?”

“I wouldn’t like it. I don’t want Ophir to present us200 with anything but the hardest game we Gold Hillers ever played. Do that, Chip, and I’ll be blamed if I care who wins. But read this letter,” Darrel broke off, handing the missive to Merriwell. “When you have done that, we’ll hold a powwow. I’ve got something to tell you, pard, and like enough it will surprise you. I don’t think the colonel has written anything that will give you much of a jolt.”

“I’ve had my one big surprise for to-night. Curly,” said Merriwell, with a rueful laugh, “so I guess that anything you can spring won’t take me off my feet.”

He withdrew to the window to read the colonel’s letter. When he had finished, he turned back to Darrel, with a low whistle, which proved that there must have been something surprising in the letter, after all.



“You know what there is in this letter, Curly?” Frank asked.

“Pretty nearly,” was the reply. “Uncle Alvah is afraid, from something he has heard, that you’re going to have Jode Lenning in your team. If that is your plan, he sincerely hopes you’ll reconsider; for the move would arouse resentment in Gold Hill, and might lead to the canceling of the game. You know, of course, that Lenning’s past record is all against him, that he’s a vicious young scamp, and so forth, and so forth. Isn’t that about what the colonel wrote to you, Chip?”

“Just about,” Frank answered glumly.

“I heard, although I don’t know how straight I got it, that some of the Ophir chaps refused to play with Jode, and that he’s out of the game for good. Is that right?”

“There were objections when I tried to get Lenning on our nine, and Blunt and Handy aired their grievance right in front of Lenning. That fixed it. Lenning couldn’t go on when he saw how those two felt about it.”

“What’s the matter with Blunt and Handy?” demanded Darrel, his voice quivering with anger. “Are they so all-fired righteous that they can’t associate with a fellow who’s trying to live down his past?”

Darrel’s attitude set Merriwell to wondering. He had suffered at his half brother’s hands more than any one else, and yet here he was, apparently championing his cause and taking his part.

“It’s hard to tell what’s biting Blunt and Handy, Ellis,”202 said Frank. “Looks like they’re trying to make out that they’re ready for harps and halos, while they’re only convincing people that they’re snobs, with little, two-by-four dispositions that are anything but heavenly.”

“Well, even at that, the feeling against Jode is pretty general, isn’t it?”

“There are more than Blunt and Handy against his playing ball to-morrow, but the rest have the decency to keep their objections to themselves.”

“Isn’t there any possible chance for getting Jode into the game, Chip?”

Darrel spoke earnestly, almost eagerly.

“Do you mean to say, Curly,” asked Merriwell, “that you’d like to see him play against Gold Hill?”

“I’d like to see him give a good account of himself on the diamond. He has squared away, and is trying to make something of himself. I think it would help him to brush up against fellows who used to be his friends, and corral a little of the good feeling that breaks out in a snappy, well-fought game of ball.”

“Well, I’ll be darned!” muttered Merriwell. “What would the colonel say if he heard you talk like that?”

“I don’t know as that would make any difference. I think a heap of the colonel, Chip, but I haven’t reached the point where he does my thinking for me. I’m not sore at Lenning. We have had our differences, and I’ve managed to come out on top. Jode is the under dog, and now that he’s trying to be white, I’d like to help him.”

“Put it there, Darrel!” cried Merriwell heartily, thrusting out his hand. “I wish Blunt and Handy were here to absorb your sentiments. Hearing you talk like that ought to make them feel pretty small.”

“The colonel wanted me to come over to Ophir to-night,” went on Darrel, “in order to get that letter into203 your hands. You know the sort of a fellow Uncle Alvah is. He’ll crowd a chap mighty hard if he’s given half a chance. He’s more bitter against Jode than he ever was against me—and I reckon you know what that means. I’ve argued with him to give Jode another chance, but he’s as hard and set in his way as the rock of Gibraltar. You can’t budge him. There’s only one thing that might pull him over a little in Jode’s direction, Chip.”

“What’s that?”

“You know how wrapped up the colonel is in every sort of sport? Well, his biggest favorite of all the sports is the national game. He’s the most inveterate fan that ever came down the pike. What’s more, he’s too good a sportsman to be much of a partisan. Naturally, he likes to see the Gold Hill fellows win; but to-morrow, if an Ophir chap makes a star play, you’ll find the colonel cheering himself blue in the face. Simmer the thing right down, and it’s the game itself he loves—the man in the box with the clever ‘wing,’ the chap who makes a running catch with all the odds against him, the fellow who steals and slides to the bag, keeping the base on a close decision. You understand what I mean, Chip, a heap better than I can tell it. That’s what gets under the colonel’s skin. A little, snappy baseball, and he’s sure to bring his best side uppermost.”

“I don’t get you exactly,” said Merriwell. “What has the colonel’s love for baseball to do with Jode?”

“If Jode’s in the game, and makes good with a few star plays, it will start the good suggestions to working in his favor. See what I mean?”

By a queer twist of the imagination, Merriwell began thinking of the thermometer which Clancy had manipulated on the veranda of the Ophir House, two or three days before. The colonel’s very words, in commenting204 on the thermometer incident, recurred to Frank: “Start a train of suggestions properly, and, if they lead in the right direction, you can mold nearly any one to your will.” Was that foolish little joke of Clancy’s to bear fruit in the affairs of Jode Lenning?

“I see what you mean, all right, Curly,” said Frank, “but Lenning has told me that he doesn’t care to curry any favor with the colonel. He has decided to make his fight single-handed, without putting himself under obligations to any one. Good idea, too, strikes me.”

“What he’d do in that ball game, Chip,” declared Darrel, “is part of his fight. He’d not only impress the colonel, but a rush of true sportsmanship over the diamond would blot out all the hard feelings Jode’s old friends are holding against him. Just one snappy double play, in the last of the ninth, with the score tied and the bases full, might make or mar Lenning’s whole future. Maybe it seems foolish to talk like that, but human nature is a queer problem, Chip. I’ve studied it a little, and there are times when it only takes a mere trifle to start a flood of sentiment moving in a right or wrong direction.”

“I think you’re right about the things that are liable to happen during a ball game, Curly,” Merriwell answered, “but would luck favor Lenning? Is he a good enough player so that he could confront an issue like that and make good?”

“Jode? Why, he’s one of the best ball players in this part of Arizona. An all-around player, Jode is. I’ve known him to pitch a no-hit game, to put up one of the smoothest performances as backstop that I’ve ever seen, to play first, and short, and all around the diamond in a way that made everybody sit up and stare. He knew that baseball was the colonel’s favorite game, and he studied and worked to perfect himself in it.”

205 “More to make a hit with the colonel than anything else?”

“I suppose that was his real motive at that time. Since then, though, everything has changed.”

“Well, admitting all that this game might mean to Lenning, how are we to get him into it?”

“That’s what I came over here to talk with you about. By all means, Jode must play. Couldn’t you make a decided stand in his favor? If you threatened to quit, yourself, unless Jode was given a chance on your team, I think all the objections would melt away. Don’t you?”

“I don’t want to get any player into the game by making threats,” demurred Merry. “That’s not my style, anyhow, Curly. And, even if I took such a stand, Lenning himself wouldn’t put up with it. There’s such a feeling against him that he’s made up his mind to stay out of the game. Up to now, I’ve given him a whole lot of credit for that.”

“Somehow,” insisted Darrel, “we’ve got to have Lenning play. Can’t you think of some plan, Chip?”

Frank walked back and forth the length of the shadowy veranda, racking his brain to evolve some expedient or other that would fit the case. Suddenly the message from Burke occurred to him, and he whirled on Darrel and thrust the crumpled note into his hand.

“Read that, Curly,” said he. “Maybe it opens up a situation which can be used to help Lenning. I’m giving you a lot of information about our troubles, but I guess it won’t hurt our chances much. The whole thing is a mighty delicate matter, and will have to be handled with gloves.”

“I’ll handle it,” returned Darrel, “if you give me a tip as to what to do.”

He stepped over to the lighted window and slowly read206 the message which had caused Frank so much chagrin and disappointment. Darrel turned from the window with a puzzled face.

“What’s the idea?” he asked. “I don’t exactly grasp it, Chip.”

“Why, I had thought that, if it could be arranged, a substitute——”

“Strike me lucky!” gasped Darrel. “That’s just the thing, by George! Say, Chip, that idea is a humdinger!”

“I don’t know about that. The success of it hangs on a good many contingencies. You’ll first have to win over Lenning to the scheme——”

“Leave that to me. He works nights, doesn’t he? I’ll go over to the mine and see him the moment I leave here.”

“Then, again,” said Merriwell gravely, “there’s a suggestion of trickery about the move that I don’t like.”

“Trickery nothing! It’s strategy, that’s all. Consider the motive, Chip. The play is being made for a good purpose—a purpose that could not be accomplished in any other way.”

“Well, it’s up to you, Curly. You belong with the other team, and if you’re willing to put the deal through I don’t see why I should object.”

“Don’t worry about that. I’ll have a good, long talk with my half brother, and I’ll bet I can make him see things as I do.”

Darrel was full of generous enthusiasm. With a final word for Merry, he darted down the veranda steps, unhitched his horse, mounted, and bore away in the direction of the Ophir Mine.

The plot had been hatched, and Darrel had gone actively to work to carry it out. Were they right or wrong in taking the stand they had done? Merry fretted over207 that part of it for a little while, and came to the conclusion that if Darrel, the captain of the Gold Hill team, thought the proceeding was justified, then no one else had any reason to complain.

Half an hour later, as Merriwell crawled into bed, he was taking an optimistic view of events to come. The disappointment that had come to him with Burke’s message would be obliterated by the success of Darrel in carrying out their plot. And, somehow or other, he had a feeling that Darrel was going to be successful.



The whole of Saturday, Frank and his chums had planned to devote to that contest with Gold Hill. Morning dawned bright and cloudless; but that is not saying much, for bright and cloudless mornings prevail in southern Arizona for three hundred and sixty days out of every year.

This was a land in which summer sports were to be enjoyed the whole year round. For those who liked that sort of thing the climate had its appeal, but Merriwell and his friends were beginning to think that the rigor of frost and snow, at the usual time, would form a pleasant change in that monotonous round of balmy weather.

Saturday was free from the grind which, for five days in the week, the professor insisted on during the hours from eight to twelve. Nearly the whole forenoon, therefore, Merriwell was free to spend on the clubhouse grounds.

All his players had presented themselves, with the exception of Mexican Joe. It was around Joe that the plot which concerned Lenning was to revolve, and the absence of the catcher caused Frank some apprehension.

There was a little practice on the diamond, but not enough to tire the players, and some time before noon Merry, Clancy, and Ballard were back at the hotel. Already people were beginning to arrive in town for the game. They came afoot, on horseback, and in buckboards and mountain wagons.

There were miners and ranchers, Indians, Mexicans,209 and Chinamen. The Bar Z Ranch, where Blunt worked, sent a big delegation of cowboys—and they were all there to root for Barzy.

News of the game had traveled like wildfire over the cattle ranges and the mining districts. Young Merriwell had been pretty much in everybody’s eye during the time he had sojourned in Arizona, and much of the outpouring was due to a desire to see the lad who had proved himself such a worthy chip off the old block.

As a sporting event, the baseball game promised to be Merry’s farewell performance. This, in itself, was a powerful lure in gathering the crowds.

As early as one o’clock the movement set in from Ophir toward the clubhouse and the athletic field. The game was not called until three, but the eagerness of the people to secure good seats led them to make an early start for the grounds.

“There’ll be some crowd on hand to see us land on the Gold Hillers, Chip,” remarked Clancy, as they stood on the hotel veranda and watched the flow of people along the main street of the town.

“Or to see the Gold Hillers land on us,” Frank laughed.

“Not at all, not at all,” insisted the red-headed chap. “It would be too awful if we got stung at this athletic game just before we shook the Arizona dust from our brogans for good. Here, where we have been consistently victorious, we must wind up our activities with a success that will eclipse all the others. Victory shall perch on the Ophir banners, to the end that finis coronat opus may be justly exemplified. I repeat, friends and fellow citizens, that——”

“Choke off that old windjammer, Chip!” begged Ballard, coming out on the veranda at that moment with his210 suit case. “He’s got a notion that he’s making a public speech.”

“I’ve got other notions, Pink, if it comes to that,” said Clancy, giving his chum a look of intense disapproval. “One of them is that you’re little Billy Buttinski, and spoil many a good thing because you’re jealous.”

“Jealous—of you? Why, you red-headed snipe——”

“Tut, tut!” interposed Clancy, waving his hand restrainingly, “men have been shot for less than that. But don’t push me too far, Pink, don’t push me too far.”

Ballard was about to reply, keeping up his end of the good-natured give and take, when he caught sight of some one hurrying toward the hotel along the sidewalk.

“Here’s our prize greaser, fellows!” he announced. “Wonder why he wasn’t around this morning?”

“Knows he didn’t need the practice, I guess,” answered Clancy. “If the rest of us can measure up to the standard set by him and Chip, Gold Hill won’t get a score across the pan.”

Frank got his eyes on the approaching backstop and watched him keenly and critically. The appearance of the lad was the first intimation he had had of the success of Darrel in carrying out the plot of the preceding evening. Now, as his eyes followed the catcher along the sidewalk and to the steps of the veranda, Merriwell experienced a thrill of profound satisfaction. Darrel, it was evident at a glance, had done his work wonderfully well.

Clancy and Ballard had not been taken into Merry’s confidence regarding that note which had arrived from Burke. Had they been with Frank at the time of its receipt, very likely they would have been given the whole disturbing message. Later, after his talk with Darrel, Frank was glad that his chums were in ignorance of211 Burke’s note. Now he was purposely keeping them in the dark.

“Howdy, Joe!” shouted Clancy. “You’re looking as husky as a keg of nails.”

The other’s swarthy face parted in a genial smile; but, true to his taciturn disposition, he had nothing to say in reply.

“Think we’re going to win, Joe?” queried Ballard, by way of testing the catcher’s confidence.

The other ducked his head emphatically.

“That’s right, Joe,” grinned Clancy, “I wouldn’t talk if it’s painful. If you’d only learn the deaf-and-dumb alphabet you could express yourself with your hands. I believe you’d be a fluent talker if you’d use your fingers.”

The catcher continued to grin expansively, but could not be coaxed into doing any talking.

Merriwell had been watching Clancy and Ballard with sharp eyes while they were concerning themselves with the backstop. An expression of humorous relief crossed his face, and he reached out, caught the newcomer by the arm, and drew him to one end of the veranda. From the motions the two indulged in, Clancy and Ballard could see that they were going over the signals.

“I don’t see the use of that,” grunted Clancy. “Joe had ’em down pat yesterday afternoon, and it’s a cinch he wouldn’t forget ’em this quick.”

“Nothing like being sure,” said Ballard.

For nearly half an hour, Merriwell and the catcher continued to go through their signals and to converse in low tones. At the end of that time, Mr. Bradlaugh came along in his car to take the lads to the grounds.

“All aboard, my lads!” he shouted.

As they piled into the car, Frank noticed that Mr. Bradlaugh was eying the catcher with a strange, dubious212 expression. For a moment Frank experienced a thrill of dismay, but he was reassured the next moment when Mr. Bradlaugh remarked:

“Joe will show them to-day what a real high-class fellow behind the bat can do in helping to win a game. I hear that you’re more than pleased with your catcher, Merriwell?”

“I am,” Frank answered, with emphasis.

When the car reached the grounds, grand stand and bleachers were crowded. Automobiles were lined up beyond the stand, and every point that commanded a good view of the diamond was filled.

Gold Hill was well represented, and more than half of the grand stand was occupied by stanch supporters of the rival team. Gold Hill and Ophir did a lot of friendly joshing back and forth, and the yells and cheers rang in Frank’s ears as he got out of the car and hurried to the dressing room in the gym.

All the rest of the men who were to play with the Ophir team, or to sit on the benches as substitutes, were clad in their uniforms, and were waiting for Frank and those with him to arrive. They were greeted warmly, and Blunt slapped the backstop on the shoulder as he passed him with his dingy old suit case.

“We’re expecting great things of you, you old greaser wonder!” exclaimed the cowboy.

“That’s what, Joe!” seconded Handy.

“And you’re not going to disappoint us,” added Reckless. “I know that just as well as I know that I’m alive.”

The catcher’s reply was a wide smile, but not a word. As he passed on and vanished into the dressing room, Merriwell also smiled—but it was a smile of another sort.

While Merry was getting into his baseball togs, a din213 of frenzied cheering was borne to him from the grand stand and bleachers. He knew, from the mere volume of sound, that the Gold Hill team had appeared from their dressing rooms under the grand stand, and had scattered over the diamond to warm up.

A few moments later, Merry stepped out among his players, gathered them around him, and calmly scrutinized their flushed and eager faces.

“We’ve had two days of practice, fellows,” said he, “and we’re going up against a team that has been in harness for weeks. But don’t let that bother you. It’s the spirit you put into your work that counts. Be on your toes every minute. Come on!”

He flung open the gym door, bounded through it, and started at a trot toward the ball field. The backstop was at his side, and close at his heels trailed Clancy and Ballard. After them came the rest of the team.

A broadside of cheers went up from the spectators. Gradually the volume of sound separated into staccato notes and pauses, and clear and high rolled the chant, “Merry, Merry, good old Merry!”

Frank flushed. He wondered what that crowd would think if it knew what “good old Merry” had up his sleeve?

Off to one side, Darrel and Bleeker were working out. Both waved their hands in friendly greeting to Merriwell, as he and his swarthy-faced catcher began their preliminary practice.

While passing the balls to his companion, Merry was taking note of the work of the Gold Hillers. It was snappy, and quick, and true, and the way the horsehide flashed around and across the diamond was enough to make the Ophirites wonder a bit how that game was going to come out.

214 Darrel called in his men, and Frank sent the Ophir players into the field. Then began an exhibition which was not calculated to inspire much confidence in the Ophir partisans. Blunt muffed a throw from the home plate, Spink juggled a fly that had been lifted right into his hands, and Brad and Handy crashed together in trying to smother a low drive, and caused a ridiculous flurry between third base and second. Everybody seemed bent on showing just what a poor performer he could be, on occasion, and there were more jeers than cheers while Ophir was warming up.

Frank was thankful to have the comedy of errors cut short by the umpire, who had produced the little pasteboard box and was shaking the new ball out of it. The backstop was getting into his chest protector and turning his cap, preparatory to putting on the mask. Another moment, and Frank was in the pitcher’s box and the umpire had tossed him the white sphere. “Play ball!” came the command.



Frank was perfectly cool and composed, and never more thoroughly master of himself than when he stepped into the box. He knew that fate had played him up prominently while he had been in that part of the country, and that what fate had failed to do the florid imaginations of a good many people had been quick to accomplish.

Many of the spectators, no doubt, expected to find in young Merriwell a pitcher who was half a wizard and half a magician. Frank realized that onlookers of this class were due for a severe disappointment. He was glad of it, for he had no patience with the wild stories about him which had been flying over that section of the country.

Bleeker was the first man to toe the plate for the Gold Hillers. Clancy, from first, had to do all the ragging, for the backstop remained as silent as usual.

“Now for the first victim, Chip. This is Bleek. You know Bleek? Well, he’s going to look pretty bleak when you get through with him. Start the circus!”

“Don’t be hard on your old friends, Chip,” grinned Bleeker.

There was an air of jaunty confidence about Bleeker which suggested three-baggers and home runs. Frank believed that this was a good place to take a reef in Bleek’s aspirations.

He led off with a jump ball, and the speed behind it made the spectators jerk themselves together wonderingly.216 The sphere spanked into the backstop’s mitt with a report like that of a rifle. Somewhere on its erratic course Bleek had taken a swat at the deceptive object.

“Strike!” shouted the umpire.

A chorus of jeers went up from around the diamond. Bleek, hardly realizing what had happened, stood looking foolishly at the end of his bat.

“Wake up, old man!” warned Darrel from the bench. “Mind your eye, and don’t reach for the wide ones.”

From the way Merry started the next ball it looked like it was going to be another lightning express, but when it crossed the plate it was jogging along like a slow freight. Bleek, expecting something speedy, smashed at the sphere before it was within a yard of him.

“Strike two!” barked the umpire.

A roar of laughter floated out over the field from the Ophirites in the grand stand and on the bleachers.

“What’s the use?” yelled some one. “He can’t see ’em!”

“Pound it on the nose the next time, Bleek!” begged a Gold Hiller.

“Kill it! Kill it!”

“Baste it out!”

Bleeker nerved himself for a supreme attempt, but in vain. Merry handed him an inshoot which found the hole in his bat, and he tramped to the benches with a flush of chagrin.

“Merry’s certainly all to the mustard,” he grunted, as he dropped down among his teammates. “He’s got some fancy capers that will fool the best of ’em. If Hotch connects with the ball it will be an accident.”

“Watch Merriwell, fellows,” urged Darrel. “See how he does it, then maybe you’ll be ready for him when you go in for your own stickwork.”

217 Obedient to orders, the Gold Hill players studied Merry and tried to get “wise” to his curves. But, just as they thought they had discovered something, they saw something else that proved the supposed discovery wasn’t any discovery at all.

Hotchkiss, second baseman for the Gold Hillers, was the next man up. He was a left-handed batter, and Frank, who could pitch equally well with either hand, fell back on his left wing.

“Jumpin’ tarantulers!” boomed a cowboy. “Watch him, will ye? He’s usin’ his south paw!”

The first was a lightninglike bender, which coaxed a strike out of Hotch.

“That’s the way to start ’em, Chip!” cried Brad. “One, two, three—that’s the style.”

“Darn it, Chip,” cried Hotch, “why don’t you gi’ me a chance? Ain’t you a friend o’ mine?”

The catcher signaled for a wide one, but Hotch was making good use of his eyes, and allowed it to pass.

The third cut a corner of the plate. Hotch fouled it back of third base, and had the second strike called on him.

The next signal called for a drop. Frank started it pretty high, and Hotch grinned and shook his head. Then he looked dazed when the umpire called him out.

“Rotten!” grunted Hotch, throwing himself down beside Bleeker. “That last ball was over my shoulders.”

“You’re wrong, Hotch,” answered Bleek. “It was lower than that. Now, El,” he shouted, as the captain of the team went to bat, “lace it out. For the love of Mike, show Merriwell we’re alive.”

Darrel just managed to do that. He connected with the second one over, and Merry smothered it without leaving his tracks.

218 The Ophirites began to whoop and howl. Their boys were making good, and they jubilated as only miners and cowboys can.

The first man to face Ellis Darrel for Ophir was the backstop. He stepped into the batter’s box with a smile, and cheerfully rapped out the first one over. A fellow named Dart, who played shortstop for the Gold Hillers, cuffed it down and snapped it to first. The ball beat the catcher by a yard.

“Tough luck, Joe,” commiserated Clancy, himself stepping to the plate. “Now,” he called, “put one over, Darrel, and I’ll show you what I can do.”

Darrel had good control and plenty of speed. Clancy decided to let the first ball pass, and then listened while the umpire called a strike on him.

“Don’t go to sleep, Red,” laughed Bleeker.

“Just getting waked up for the next one,” chuckled Clancy.

“Here she is.”

Clancy sawed the air, and spank went the ball in Bleek’s mitt.

“Not waked up yet?” jeered Bleek. “Well, well! How long are you going to wait?”

“I guess I’ve waited long enough,” said Clancy, and his bat met the next one on the nose.

It sailed over Darrel’s head, was muffed by Hotchkiss at second, then picked up and sent to first like a streak of greased lightning. It looked, from where Merriwell sat, as though Clancy had beat it out. But the umpire decided otherwise, and the crestfallen Clancy jogged away to the bench.

Merriwell was next.

“Be easy with this one, El,” suggested Bleeker.

219 “It would be a feather in my cap if I could fan him,” laughed Darrel.

“That’s been done a good many times, Curly,” Merriwell grinned.

The first ball was a strike. It looked a little wide to Frank, and he did not reach for it.

The second ball was a wide one, and so was the third. The fourth ball was just about where Frank wanted it, and he smashed it for a couple of bases.

“Whoop!” roared Barzy Blunt; “we’re off, we’re off! Three tallies, pards! I’ll not be satisfied with anything less than three runs this inning.”

Ballard was the next one up. Merriwell stole third, and he’d have got home if Ballard had given him a chance. But Ballard fouled once back of the home plate, and then struck out.

“That’s awful, Chip,” groaned Ballard, passing the pitcher’s box on his way to center field.

“Never mind, Pink,” answered Frank. “We’re hitting Curly, and next time we’re at bat I believe we’ll do something.”

Lenaway, left fielder for the Gold Hillers, was the next man to confront Merry.

“Remember what you did before, Chip!” called Clancy. “Don’t try to hog the whole game yourself. Start a man this way and give me a chance to limber up. Start something, old man.”

Lenaway swung at the second ball. He must have caught it on the handle, for it dropped in front of the plate and rolled briskly down toward Clancy, just inside the path.

“It’s mine, Chip!” yelped Clancy, and darted at the rolling sphere.

The red-headed chap booted the ball, and by the time220 he had laid hold of it, Lenaway was roosting comfortably on first. Frank had run to cover the base. He now went back to the mound, wondering what in the deuce had got into Clancy.

“Wow!” cried Lenaway. “You can handle a paddle, Red, a heap easier than you can field a grounder.”

“Don’t talk to me,” grunted Clancy, in a spasm of self-reproach, “I’m sore enough.”

“Well, return the ball so I can take a lead.”

“There it goes,” and Clancy tossed the sphere to Merry.

“Now, then,” shouted Darrel, coming down to the coaching line back of first, “nobody down, fellows! On your toes, everybody. Ginger up, and we’ll make a showing. Go down toward second, Len—go on! I’m here to keep you out of danger.”

Dart, the shortstop, picked up a bat and stepped to the plate. Merry got him for three balls and two strikes, and then Dart lined one out toward Brad. It was an easy one, but Brad’s fingers were all thumbs, and the ball went through him like a sieve. The fielder raced in and picked up the ball, whipping it over to second just an instant too late. Dart reached the bag, and Blunt, apparently, forgot that Lenaway was on third.

“The ball, Barzy!” cried Merriwell.

Sudden realization of the fact that the man on third had taken a dangerous lead toward home startled Blunt. He threw to the plate instead of to Merry, and he threw wild. While the catcher was chasing the ball Lenaway got across the first score, and Dart went to third.

There was much glorying in the Gold Hill section of the grand stand. No one out, one run, and a man on third! Certainly the prospects were gratifying.

Mingo, the Mexican first baseman, followed Dart to bat. Merry struck him out, and then expeditiously fanned221 Rylman, the third baseman. Doolittle, right fielder, belied his name, and hoisted a fly to Spink in left field. Spink played beanbag, with it, dropped it, picked it up, then dropped it again. During the farce, Dart darted home and Doolittle gained second.

Stark, center fielder, fanned, and Doolittle died on third. But ragged support had given the Gold Hillers two runs. The swarthy-faced backstop pulled a long face and Merriwell walked to the bench, trying to figure out the errors in the first half of the second. They were so many that he had to give it up.



Colonel Hawtrey was flying around the Gold Hill section of the stand, now and then rising in his seat to cheer or to hand a little good-natured raillery to his friend, Mr. Bradlaugh.

“Thought you had some ball players over here, Bradlaugh,” he shouted, while runs were crossing the pan for Gold Hill.

“So did I,” laughed the general manager. “The game’s young yet, colonel. Wait till we’re a little farther along.”

“You fielders have got to take a brace,” Merry was saying to some of his teammates. “Clancy, I’m surprised at you! Brad, I wonder how your father enjoyed that play of yours? Now, then, all get together and do something.”

Brad, who was first at bat, tried hard to retrieve himself. Perhaps he tried too hard, for overanxiety is worse than not being anxious enough. Yet, be that as it may, his little pop-up was bagged neatly by Dart, and Brad turned from the path to first and made for the bench.

Then Blunt tried for a hit, but Darrel was pitching great ball, and nothing happened. Handy followed, and managed to get to first but Spink spoiled all his chances by getting a grounder to Rylman and being thrown out at first.

Bleeker was up again in the first half of the third. Frank had made up his mind, by then, that he and the backstop would have to do most of the work, and he was pitching ball that made the fans open their eyes. He did not allow a man to reach first, but struck them out as fast as they came to the plate.

223 In this round, which added a goose egg to the Gold Hill score, Ellis Darrel was included.

Reckless, in the last half of the third, aroused Ophir hopes by dropping the ball into left field. Lenaway made a grand effort to get under it, but it slipped over the ends of his fingers.

“Now, Joe,” begged Blunt, as the catcher picked out his bat, “bring Reckless in, and come in yourself.”

The backstop smiled genially, and proceeded to sacrifice Reckless to second. He almost got to first on the bunt, but was called out by the umpire.

“Now, do your prettiest, Clan,” urged Merry. “You’ll never have a better chance to do something.”

“Watch me, that’s all,” grinned the red-headed chap. “Here’s where I make up for some of my errors.”

Then an awful thing happened. Clancy hit a long fly. The coacher thought the fielder couldn’t possibly get it, and started Reckless to third. But the fielder, making a magnificent running catch, took the ball in out of the wet and whipped it to second.

That was all; and the best chance Ophir had yet had to score was lost. The Gold Hillers began to sing, and some of the more demonstrative marched in a procession around the grand stand, using their megaphones to “rub it into” the Ophirites.

The score remained two to nothing. By magnificent work, Merriwell and his swarthy backstop continued adding ciphers to the Gold Hill score, but they were not able to get any runs for themselves.

“Something’s bound to happen yet, colonel,” said Mr. Bradlaugh, in the second half of the eighth. “I shouldn’t wonder if the balloon would go up about here.”

“The score would have been twenty to nothing,” declared Colonel Hawtrey, “if Merriwell and that Mexican224 catcher hadn’t stood like a wall between our boys and first. By Jove! I never saw steadier or more clear-headed work, and right in the face of the worst support I ever heard of. You can thank your battery, Bradlaugh, for getting off easy this afternoon.”

“Perhaps,” answered the general manager hopefully, “we’ll be able to thank our battery for more than that.”

“I can admire your grit, anyhow,” laughed Hawtrey, “even if I can’t applaud your judgment. You are right about one thing, though, Bradlaugh: A game is never finished until the last man is out.”

The Gold Hillers, who had hoped to roll up a big score, were now contenting themselves with merely holding their opponents. Two runs would be enough. They would win one of the hardest games ever contested on the Ophir diamond.

“We’ve got to have three tallies, fellows,” was the word Frank was circulating among his men. “All together, now! We’ve fooled with these Gold Hill chaps long enough.”

Frank was cheerful, even sanguine. Even when Darrel fanned the first three men to come to bat, Merriwell continued to cheer up his discouraged teammates.

“We’re going to win,” said he confidently. “I’ve got a hunch to that effect.”

“Pretty soon it will be too late to start,” returned Blunt gloomily.

“It’s never too late to start, Barzy, so long as the under dog has a chance to bat.”

“Well, we’ve only got one more chance.”

“That will be enough—providing we improve it.”

During the first half of the ninth, Gold Hill came within a hair’s breadth of getting another run. A throw to the plate, relayed to Merriwell and passed to the backstop,225 who made a marvelous catch and tagged out the runner, was all that prevented the score from coming in.

“Who made that throw from deep center?” shouted Colonel Hawtrey, rising in his seat.

“Ballard, Merriwell’s chum,” some one replied.

“Bravo, Ballard!” cheered the colonel. “Now you’re playing ball! And you Mexican boy, down there!”

The Ophir catcher, with a queer movement, turned and looked up at the colonel.

“That was fine, do you hear?” went on the colonel enthusiastically. “I must shake hands with you for that.”

The backstop turned on his heel and walked to the benches with bowed head.

“It’s about over, Bradlaugh,” said the colonel, lifting his voice high in order to be heard through the buzz of conversation that surrounded him. “So far as results are concerned, we could just as well leave now.”

“Don’t be in a rush,” answered Mr. Bradlaugh. “I still think something is going to happen that will turn the tide in our favor.”

“Hope springs perennial in the breast of the baseball fan,” laughed Hawtrey.

“Merriwell gets to bat in the last half. He’ll do something.”

“How do you figure that?” demanded Hawtrey. “Spink is first up, then Reckless, then Mexican Joe, then Clancy. Merriwell comes after that. What chance has Merriwell got to do any stickwork? Three will fan before his turn at the plate—Darrel will look out for that.”

“Maybe Darrel will slip up in his calculations,” said the general manager doggedly.

With his hands thrust deep into his pockets, Mr. Bradlaugh sat in growing hopelessness while Spink and Reckless fanned. It looked as though it was all over. Many226 of the Gold Hillers in the automobiles began to toot their horns triumphantly, and to prepare to leave. Those in the grand stand and on the bleachers were already congratulating each other.

With two out, the swarthy backstop was leading the forlorn hope. What could he accomplish, in the face of defeat that seemed absolutely certain?

There was nothing about the catcher, as he picked up his club and stepped to the plate, which suggested that he was either nervous or discouraged. He was there to do his best, and thoughts of failure did not seem to bother him in the least.

No one, not even the Ophirites, had much to say to the backstop. It seemed, to almost every one except Merriwell and the catcher, as though the game was irretrievably lost. Merry and the catcher, however, were still hoping against hope.

Darrel, perhaps too confident of victory, allowed a ball to cross the plate just about where the catcher wanted it. With a crack that sounded like the report of a rifle he lifted the horsehide far out between left and center.

The smack of bat against ball at once claimed the attention of the crowd.

Those who were on the point of leaving stood in their tracks and faced around to follow proceedings on the diamond.

“It’s only a flurry,” the Gold Hillers said to each other. “There are two out, and not a ghost of a chance for Ophir tying the score. They’re dying hard, though.”

Stark, in center field, managed to pick up the ball and to fling it in. He was so quick with it that the catcher was prevented from making a try for third.

Clancy was the next batter. His flagging hopes had been revived. After him came Merriwell. If Clancy227 could only make good use of the swatstick, a whole chain of gorgeous possibilities would flash through the murky skies that encompassed Ophir.

“Keep your nerve, Clan,” called Merry. “Remember, it’s all up to you. Lace it out, old chap. Not that way,” he added, with a laugh, as the nervous Clancy swung at the sphere and missed.

Clancy ground his teeth, and into his wildly beating heart there entered the determination to do or die.

Again Darrel sent the ball at him. The bat moved a little in his hands, but did not come down.

“He had a notion!” some one yelled, as the umpire called a ball. “Coax him again, Darrel. He can’t get a hit!”

Once more Darrel “wound up,” and let the ball go. This time, to the dismay of the Ophirites, Clancy cracked it out. It sped hotly past the pitcher, and was finally scooped up by short.

The complexion of affairs had changed. The backstop was on third, and Clancy was hugging first. Handy went down to the coaching line. Merriwell, a smile on his face, stepped to the plate.

“All I want is a good one, Curly,” said he, “and we’ll sew up the game right here.”

A wild commotion broke out among the spectators. Those who had started to leave sat down again, and some who had left crowded back into the grand stand.

Was it possible, every onlooker was asking himself, that Ophir could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in such a spectacular manner?

Merriwell was at the bat. Here was the point that aroused the wildest fears of Gold Hill, and the fondest hopes of Ophir.



Nerves, everywhere around the ball field, were drawn to breaking tension. On Merriwell alone depended the fortunes of the day for Ophir.

It was the last half of the ninth inning. There were two out and two on bases. A hit by Merriwell would certainly bring in the catcher, and, if the hit happened to be a two-bagger, a couple of scores might be put across the pan. This is as far as the wildest dreams of the Ophirites allowed them to go.

Ellis Darrel was keyed up to the highest pitch of achievement. If he could strike out Merriwell—something which he had not been able to do so far—the danger point would be safely passed. He made up his mind that he would fan him.

It was something which Darrel hated to do. There was no one whom Darrel thought more of, or to whom he owed a greater obligation, than Frank Merriwell, junior.

With face a little white and eyes gleaming restlessly Darrel shot a ball across the plate. It was not the sort of a ball Merry wanted, so he let it pass.

A discontented murmuring came from the wild-eyed Ophirites as the umpire called the strike.

There was silence in the crowded grand stand, over the bleachers, and among the automobiles. All eyes were fixed, as by a weird fascination, on the trampled ball field, holding the players steadily under gaze, and keeping nervous track of the base runners and of the lithe, slender figure holding the bat.

229 Darrel let fly with another ball. It was wide. The third one delivered was also too far off to count. But the next one——

Merriwell, with a terrific swing, met it squarely. With a smack that could be heard for half a mile in the quiet air, the bat started the ball skyward.

Wild cheers broke from the crowd, and the hardest cheering was done by Colonel Hawtrey. What did he care how that magnificent hit might benefit Ophir at the expense of Gold Hill? He had just witnessed the finest example of pluck in the face of overwhelming discouragement which it had ever been his lot to observe.

“Go it, Merriwell!” shouted the old colonel, hopping up and down and thrashing his arms in the air. “See how many bases you can tear off before the ball comes in.”

“There’s the greaser, spilling over the home plate!” howled a delirious voice.

“And here comes Clancy! Hoop-a-la! Watch him go. That red head looks like a comet.”

Blunt was standing up on the players’ bench, roaring at the top of his voice. What he said, however, was lost in the general hubbub.

While Clancy was covering the ground as though it burned his feet, the fielders were scrambling to get the ball. Farther and farther out they went, clear down into the distant oval of the cinder track.

Clancy came home—the score was tied. Still the ball was not coming back.

“Come in, Merry!” howled a hundred frantic voices. “Come in! You’ve knocked out a home run!”

This was really the case. The voices of the coachers were drowned in Merriwell’s ears, and he had to keep230 track of the ball himself. He was disposed to play safe. In the face of the general yell for him to get in the winning tally, however, he plunged for home with all the speed that was in him. By then the ball was coming, and those who had shouted for Merry to finish his circle of the bases were beginning to feel sorry that their ardor had carried them away.

The ball was relayed from second by a beautiful throw. Bleeker nabbed it and reached for Merry. But, at that moment, Merry’s feet were on the plate.

“Safe!” bellowed the umpire.

That was the signal for bedlam to be turned loose. There was still a chance for Ballard to bat, but the game was won, and what was the use of prolonging the agony?

Spectators scrambled into the field and a rush was made for the panting and dusty Merriwell. Those who could not get near Merry rushed at Clancy, and those who failed to reach Clancy made a set at the swarthy backstop.

It was remembered that honors were due equally to the three lads who had brought in the runs. It was the catcher who had started the batting rally, and had he not got a hit there would have been no chance for Clancy and Merriwell.

Colonel Hawtrey was one of those who had failed to come close to Merry and Clancy and had turned to the backstop.

“My boy,” said he, his voice a-thrill with excitement, “you started a bit of the finest and most sportsmanlike work I have ever seen pulled off on a ball ground. I wish to congratulate you, and——”

The colonel paused. The streams of sweat, which231 were pouring down the backstop’s face, were leaving little gutters of white in the swarthy hue of his cheeks.

“You’re not a Mexican!” exclaimed the colonel.

“No,” agreed the youth, standing his ground. “I never said I was a Mexican, colonel.”

“That voice!” gasped Hawtrey, recoiling. “That——”

He suddenly ceased speaking. His face hardened and his eyes became two glowing points of white-hot steel.

“I know you!” went on the colonel savagely. “You couldn’t get into the game by fair means, and so you disguised yourself, smearing your face with some kind of stain to make you look like a Mexican. You double-dealing scoundrel! You——”

Just at this point Darrel stepped to the front and thrust an arm affectionately through that of his half brother.

“Don’t blame Jode for it, colonel,” said Darrel. “I’m the one who engineered the scheme.”

“And I’m the one who helped you,” said Merry, moving up on Lenning’s other side.

Colonel Hawtrey passed a dazed hand across his forehead.

“Do you mean to say, Ellis,” he muttered, “that you—you admit having deceived me?”

“I admit persuading Jode to fix himself up as Mexican Joe,” answered Darrel. “It was his only chance to get into the game, you see. He had to come in as Merriwell’s substitute, although posing at the same time as Mexican Joe.”

“Why did you want him in the game?” demanded the colonel.

“We wanted to see him do some good work and win back your friendship and that of a few of the lads who have turned against him.”

232 “Perhaps he has succeeded,” said the colonel coldly, “but it is a case of double-dealing which I will not countenance.”

Hawtrey, elbowing the crowd aside, started toward the clubhouse.

“I say, colonel!” called Mr. Bradlaugh.

“I’m going to town, Bradlaugh,” said the colonel, without looking back. “If you want to see me, it will have to be at the Ophir House.”

“Don’t fret, boys,” said Mr. Bradlaugh to Merry, Lenning, and Darrel. “He’ll feel better after a while. I’ll see what I can do with him.”

With that Mr. Bradlaugh hurried after his irate friend.



“You can see what’s happened, Darrel,” said Lenning, turning with a weary air to his half brother. “The colonel is down on me worse than ever; and he’s down on you, too.”

Merry, Darrel, and Lenning were surrounded by a crowd about equally composed of Gold Hill and Ophir players. The revelation that had stripped the mask from the supposed Mexican Joe, leaving in his place the friendless Jode Lenning, had come as a stunning surprise.

“I’d like to know something about this, Chip,” said Ballard. “It strikes me that you haven’t been square with us.”

“He was as square as he could be, Pink,” answered Darrel. “After the plot was hatched he couldn’t very well give it away, could he?”

“Where the deuce is Mexican Joe?” asked Clancy.

“I got a note from Burke last evening,” Merriwell exclaimed, “which informed me that Joe had been called suddenly back to the bedside of his sick relative. That put me strictly up against it, till Darrel blew in and suggested that Lenning be substituted for Mexican Joe, but without telling any one the difference.”

“I had a hard time getting Jode’s consent,” said Darrel, “but finally, more to please Chip and me than anything else, he agreed. I secured that stain for him in town, and Burke got him some clothes that looked enough like the greaser’s to pass muster. He was a pretty close imitation of the real thing, eh, fellows?” Darrel laughed, slapping his half brother heartily on the back.

234 “I should say so!” exclaimed Clancy. “Why, we had the real Mexican with us for a couple of days, and yet I couldn’t see any difference between the two.”

“Nor I,” said Ballard. “Lenning was a dead ringer for Mexican Joe.”

“What was the plot aimed at, Chip?” asked Blunt.

“It was aimed at you fellows and the colonel. We thought Lenning would make such a good record in the game that he would win the approval and good will of the colonel and the boys from Gold Hill and Ophir. But,” Merry finished regretfully, “I guess we made a miss of it, and that the plot failed.”

“Not much it didn’t fail—that is, not entirely,” Blunt resumed. “Lenning has shown himself a good deal of a man, by jumping into this thing like he did, and I for one feel as though I had made a blamed fool of myself.” He turned to Lenning. “Will you shake hands,” he asked.

A gratified smile wreathed itself about Lenning’s lips.

“You bet I will, Blunt!” he exclaimed. “The plot certainly worked out all right if it gave me Barzy Blunt for a friend.”

“Shucks!” grunted Blunt, deeply touched. “I reckon I acted like a coyote, t’other day, when I allowed I wouldn’t have you in this nine of Chip’s. I’m sorry I tuned up like I did.”

“Just forget it, Blunt,” smiled Lenning.

“I feel a good deal the same as Barzy does,” spoke up Handy. “If it hadn’t been for you, Lenning, dropping into our team as a substitute for the Mexican, I reckon we would have lost out. Will you shake with me?”

And, beginning right there, Jode Lenning held an impromptu reception. Reckless was next to grip his hand235 after Handy had released it; then came Clancy and Ballard, and every player that was left in both teams.

“I guess you fellows didn’t fall down on that plot, after all,” laughed Clancy. “You made good on the diamond, Lenning, and that has shown a few of us what pesky idiots we were.”

“I—I want you to understand, fellows,” said Lenning, his voice trembling and his eyes misty, “that I appreciate your show of confidence in me. I have turned over a new leaf, and I’m not particularly anxious to curry any favor with Colonel Hawtrey. I gave him cause to treat me as he did, and I don’t want him to think I’m sneaking around, trying to get him to take me back and help me. I wouldn’t go back if he offered to take me. I’m earning my way now, and I want to be independent.”

“That’s the talk!” approved Barzy Blunt.

“Come on over to the gym, fellows,” called Merry, “and let’s get under the showers. I think we’ll all feel better for a bath and a rubdown.”

“It’s like going home, El,” Lenning whispered to Darrel, with a catch in his voice.

Silently Darrel’s arm went around his half brother and tightened affectionately.

The plot may have failed in so far as it concerned Colonel Hawtrey, but in other ways, equally far-reaching, it had been a success.



“Suffering snakes!” exclaimed Barzy Blunt, coming to a halt in the trail, “what in blazes is that, fellows?”

“It might be a steam calliope breaking out in high C,” grinned Owen Clancy, “only this part of Arizona runs more to cantaloupes than calliopes, so——”

Billy Ballard groaned heavily.

“Pa-ro-no-masia,” he said, clearly and distinctly. “Get that?”

“No,” said young Merriwell decidedly, “I don’t get it, Pink, and I don’t want to. Sounds worse than the measles.”

“I reckon I’ve had it,” remarked Blunt seriously. “If it’s catching, I know I have. When I was a kid I made it a rule to corral everything from mumps to meningitis. Can you have it twice?”

“I’m vaccinated,” said Clancy, “so I guess it wouldn’t be fatal even if I did catch it. What are the symptoms, Pink?”

“In your case, Red,” Ballard explained, “the symptoms are ‘cantaloupe’ and ‘calliope.’ Professor Phineas Borrodaile, who is long on polysyllables, explained the term to me.”

“Well, come across. What sort of a silly-bull is this pa-ra-what-d’you-call-it?”

“Slay him!” whispered Ballard weakly. “There are more symptoms.”

Feigning wrath, Clancy bristled up to Ballard.

“I’ll be slaying you, Pink,” he growled, “if you don’t tell me what I’ve got so I can get rid of it.”

237 “Keep your distance, Clancy!” ordered Ballard. “I can see another pun in your eye. If you make it, somebody will have to hold me or I’ll give you a jab with my powerful right.”

“That would be a pun-jab, and—— Ouch! Quit it, Chip! Let go!”

Merry had grabbed his red-headed chum with both hands.

“Will you let up of your own accord, Clan,” hissed Merry, “or have I got to strangle you?”

“I’ll quiet down if Pink will kindly explain what he means,” said Clancy.

“A fellow who puns has pa-ra-no-masia,” explained Ballard.

“Oh, that’s it!” murmured Clancy, pretending a great relief. “A fellow who puns ought to be punished, I suppose.”

“He ought to be punched,” declared Ballard; “and right here——”

But, just at this point, the sound which Blunt had first heard, and which had aroused his curiosity, came suddenly closer. It was loud, and shrill, and ear-splitting. Nor was it hard to determine the cause of it, now that it was so close.

“A pig, by thunder!” exclaimed the cowboy.

The words were still on his lips as a small and highly excited porker came plunging wildly into view around a turn in the trail. There was a rope tied to one of the pig’s hind legs, and attached to the end of the rope was a Chinaman.

The Chinaman’s silk kimono was split up the back, one of the sleeves had been torn away, and what remained of the garment was covered with dust and grime. His flapping238 trousers were also considerably out of repair, and one of his sandals was gone.

“Why,” cried Merry, “it’s Woo Sing!”

Woo Sing was the Chinese roustabout at the Ophir House, the hotel at which Merry and his chums had put up during the whole of their stay in Ophir, Arizona. Ordinarily, Woo Sing was very bland and peaceable, but now it was evident that his Oriental temper was getting the best of him.

“Whoosh!” he shouted, on catching sight of the boys. “One piecee pig makee heap tlouble. Woo Sing no likee pig, by Klismus! Somebody give Woo Sing club, by gee clickets, him makee pig bologna sausage chop-chop.”

The pig, for the moment, had stopped struggling and stopped squealing. With his round, wicked little eyes he was surveying the four lads in the trail.

“Where’d you get the porker, Sing?” inquired Ballard.

“Pophagan he wantee. Him sendee Woo Sing to gettee. I pay fi’ dol’ fo’ pig, and he makee fitty dol’ damage with tlouble. Pophagan no sendee Sing fo’ pig ally mo’. Him tly sendee, Sing quit job, by glacious!”

All the boys studied the angry Chinaman for a moment, and then the humor of the situation broke over them, and they began to laugh.

“You makee laugh, huh?” chattered the Chinaman wrathfully. “You ketchee heap plenty fun flom China boy’s tlouble! By jim’ Klismus, I been so mad I likee make fight. Mebbyso, you takee pig with stling bymby flom one place to some othel place. Pig makee tlouble fo’ you, then China boy laugh allee same Sam Hill. Now China boy no can laugh. Whoosh! Giddap,” he added, shaking the rope in an attempt to make the pig resume the journey townward.

The pig, however, seemed to have ideas of his own on239 the subject of starting. Planted firmly in the trail, he merely let out a protesting squeal every time Woo Sing jerked the rope.

“He makee squeal, no makee move!” cried the exasperated Chinaman.

“He’s balky, Sing,” observed Blunt, tipping a humorous wink at the other lads. “You’ve got the rope around the wrong end of that pig. If you had it hitched in front, you know, you could pull him along.”

“In flont?” cried the Chinaman, in horror. “Me no gettee in flont of pig fo’ hunnerd dol’. It plenty bad to tlavel behind, where China boy makee watch pig do his devil tlicks. P’laps pig makee move if China boy givee kick.”

With that, Sing hauled off with the foot which still wore a sandal. In less than a second the Chinaman’s foot and the pig had a rear-end collision. The pig let out an angry squeal, and started—but not in the right direction. Instead of striking out along the trail on the way to Ophir, the pig began running circles around Sing.

In just two rounds the Chinaman’s feet were neatly lashed together by two coils of rope. Another round, and the pull on the rope jerked the bound feet out from under their owner, and he sat down in the trail with more haste than grace.

By that time, the pig evidently came to the conclusion that he had done enough circling, and started off on the straightaway. He did not head toward Ophir, however, but away from the town and in the direction of Bitter Root Cañon.

For possibly two yards he dragged the helpless Chinaman after him, then the Chinaman’s weight, pulling against the loop around the pig’s leg, caused the rope240 to slip off, and the unmanageable little porker found himself free to travel where he pleased.

Frank and his friends had been attempting to do something to relieve the Chinaman’s distress. Woo Sing was sputtering like a package of firecrackers, however, and the situation was so funny that the boys had to laugh in spite of themselves. Their enjoyment interfered with their efforts to aid, and they had barely surrounded the pig and the Chinaman when the pig broke loose.

Ballard, as it happened, was right in the pig’s way. Without taking the trouble to go around Ballard, the pig charged for his legs, and knocked them out from under him. For about a second Ballard was standing on his head.

“Me losee fi’ dol’, him gettee ’way!” wailed Woo Sing, untangling himself from the rope and jumping to his feet. “Whoa, pig! Come, pig; come, pig!”

The Chinaman was flying at speed after the escaped porker.

“Help ketchee, help ketchee!” he flung over his shoulder, in an imploring voice, as he raced onward.

“That’s the darndest, most contrary pig I ever saw in my life!” fumed Ballard.

“He’s not used to chinks,” laughed Blunt, “and that’s all the trouble.”

“Pink tried to hog all the Chinaman’s trouble,” said Clancy, “and now he’s sore because he got just a little of it.”

“Gee!” exclaimed young Merriwell; “the pig’s going like a streak, and he’ll be in the cañon in about two minutes. No chance of overhauling him so long as he sets a pace like that.”

The trail Frank and his friends were traveling was the one leading from town to the clubhouse and athletic241 field of the Ophir Athletic Club. This was also the main trail to Gold Hill; and, at the point where the clubhouse road branched away, the pig had exercised considerable discrimination by keeping right on toward Gold Hill.

The frantic Woo Sing was leading the pursuit. His tattered garments were fluttering and snapping around him in the wind of his flight, and his long queue was standing straight out behind. The pig was a mere flurry of dust in the distance.

At the place where the trail forked to lead to the clubhouse, Frank drew to a halt.

“We can’t all of us go on and help Sing, fellows,” said he. “There’s work for us at the golf links, and we can’t waste time getting there. Ballard, you and Blunt go on and help recapture the pig. Clan and I will hunt up Mr. Bradlaugh and Colonel Hawtrey and see what we can do for Lenning.”

“There’s your chance, Pink,” laughed Clancy. “Go ahead and stir yourself. But I’d advise you not to get too much in the pig’s way. If he makes a dead set at you, just swing around, get on his back, and ride. Do that, and it won’t be long before you tire him out and get him so he’ll eat out of your hand.”

“You go to blazes!” growled Ballard. “If you know so much about catching runaway pigs, maybe you’d better go with Blunt and let me trail along with Chip.”

“Come on, Bal,” cried the cowboy, and started off, running awkwardly in his feet-pinching, high-heeled boots.

Without waiting for further talk, Ballard took after Blunt. Merry and Clancy watched until the little cloud of dust, representing the pig, had crossed the rim of the cañon and vanished down the steep slope; then, turning, they set their faces toward the clubhouse.

242 “That was more fun than a box of monkeys, Chip,” chuckled Clancy. “I wish I could be around to see how the chase comes out.”

“They’ll catch the pig, of course,” laughed Merriwell. “It means five dollars to Sing, and he’ll never give up until he lays the porker by the heels. Ballard and Blunt couldn’t very well give up the chase and leave the Chinaman to go it alone.”

For a few moments the two chums walked onward, chuckling and snickering over recent events; then, as they drew near the clubhouse, Merry’s face suddenly straightened.

“Now, Clan,” said he, “we’re right up to one of the hardest jobs we ever tackled. Let’s get serious.”



It was Monday forenoon, and the second day after Merriwell’s pick-up nine had clashed on the diamond with the team from Gold Hill.

As a result of Jode Lenning’s clever work during that game, he won over all the ball players, and made many friends among the spectators; but the one man Merry and Darrel had wished to reconcile with Lenning became angry at what he termed Lenning’s deception, and seemed more bitterly set against the young fellow than ever. That one man was Colonel Hawtrey.

Lenning, happy in the thought that many of the friends he had lost had been regained, returned with a light heart to his work at the Ophir Mine. At the Ophir House, directly after the baseball game, Mr. Bradlaugh, president of the Ophir Athletic Club and general manager for the syndicate that operated the gold mine, had labored hard with Colonel Hawtrey to soften him in his attitude toward Lenning. He had not been very successful, but he had given Frank a tip that, Monday forenoon, he and the colonel were to play a game of golf on the Ophir club links, and he suggested that Frank appear personally and speak a good word for Lenning.

What the ball game had failed to accomplish, Frank might succeed in bringing about by explaining that, whatever duplicity Lenning had used in the game, had been at the suggestion and by the advice of Merriwell himself and of Darrel.

It was a delicate mission, this that was taking Frank to the golf links that forenoon, and he had every reason244 to consider it, as he had observed to Clancy, “one of the hardest jobs he had ever tackled.”

The club links lay to the south of the clubhouse, and Merry and Clancy had hardly reached the clubhouse door before they glimpsed two white-clad figures and two diminutive lads with bags out on the course. One of the white-clad figures was on its knees, building a tee.

“There they are, Clan,” remarked Merriwell soberly.

“Sure thing, Chip,” laughed Clancy, a little uneasily. “Let’s mosey over and have our little interview.”

Perhaps it was not an opportune moment in which to interrupt two golf enthusiasts, but Merry reflected that he and Clancy were there by invitation of Mr. Bradlaugh, and it seemed the part of wisdom to get their interview with the colonel over as soon as possible.

It was the colonel’s first drive, and he was carefully weighing his driver in his hands as the boys came up.

“Hello, Merriwell,” he called out genially; “and here’s Clancy, too. Did you come out to see me get the better of Bradlaugh? This,” he laughed, “is going to be one time when Gold Hill puts Ophir down and out.”

Mr. Bradlaugh nodded to the boys, and gave Merry a suggestive wink. That wink said, as plain as words, that Merriwell had better chip in with his word for Lenning while the colonel was feeling in such an amiable mood.

“I don’t want to butt in here, colonel,” said Frank, “but Clancy and I didn’t come to see your match with Mr. Bradlaugh, but to have a bit of a talk with you.”

A look of surprise crossed the colonel’s face, and then his brows lowered with just a shade of suspicion. He tucked his driver under his arm, gave a regretful look at the waiting ball, and then pushed his hands resignedly into his trousers pockets.

“Go ahead, Merriwell,” said he. “I wouldn’t allow245 many young fellows to stand between me and the ball I’m going to put over that bunker, I can tell you. I realize, though, that I’m vastly indebted to you in a good many ways. What’s on your mind?”

“There’s just one thing, colonel,” returned Merriwell earnestly, “which I’d like to see accomplished before Clancy, Ballard, and I pull up stakes and quit southern Arizona.”

“Only one thing, eh?” said the colonel, with a faint smile. “Well, what is it?”

Frank was brought right up to the critical point, first crack out of the box. He had steeled himself for the ordeal, however, and answered calmly:

“It’s about Jode Lenning, colonel. I’d—I’d like to see you take down the bars a little, and be friends with him.”

The faint smile had passed from Hawtrey’s face. The brows lowered again.

“Be friends with that young ne’er-do-well?” he observed. “That’s the thing you’d like to see accomplished before you leave Arizona?”

“Yes, sir,” Frank answered hopefully.

“When do you expect to leave?”

Frank’s hopes continued to grow. Why all this talk if the colonel was not inclined to be in a receptive mood regarding his cast-off nephew?

“Why, we’re going to leave just as soon as Professor Borrodaile receives his check from Mr. Bradlaugh’s syndicate for the mine in the Picketpost Mountains. Just when that will be I don’t know.”

“I can tell you, my boy,” struck in Mr. Bradlaugh. “I had a telegram from New York yesterday, saying the check would be here in to-day’s mail. The stage will bring it this forenoon.”

246 “That means, then,” said Merriwell, “that we’ll probably get away to-morrow.”

“Too soon.” scowled the colonel. “You’re not giving me time enough.”

“About how much time do you want, Hawtrey,” queried Mr. Bradlaugh, “in order to show a merciful and forgiving spirit toward your own flesh and blood?”

Colonel Hawtrey faced Mr. Bradlaugh slowly and looked him full in the eyes.

“About fifty years,” he answered harshly, “and then some.” His tone changed a little as he turned back to Merriwell. “I’m sorry, my lad,” he went on. “I suppose you’ll think I’m a hard-hearted old wretch, but this matter that seems so simple to you is really quite complicated. As I’ve said before, Jode has made his own bed, and now he must lie in it.”

“I’d like to explain,” Frank continued gloomily, “that Jode got into the ball game because Darrel and I begged him to. If there was any deception, Darrel and I are responsible for it.”

“I suppose that Jode is sending you to me with all this talk,” commented the colonel. “It would be like him.”

“He has nothing to do with it, colonel,” protested Frank. “In fact, he says he doesn’t want to curry any favor with you. He says you did exactly right to set him adrift, and that, from now on, he intends to make his own way in the world and stand on his own feet. He doesn’t want any help from you.”

“That’s a very laudable purpose—if Jode really means what he says. But—you never can tell about that. I’ve had enough of the young cub.”

“He means what he says now, colonel,” averred Frank earnestly, hating to give up championing Lenning’s cause.

“It’s my opinion that you’re wrong in thinking that.247 It’s also my opinion that you’re showing very poor judgment, as well as a very generous and forgiving nature, by having anything whatever to do with Jode. You’ll be sorry, I fear, before you’re done with that scapegrace.”

“Merriwell’s judgment,” suggested Mr. Bradlaugh, “has proved to be pretty good since he has been with us.”

“I’ll agree with you there, Brad,” nodded the colonel; “but,” and he laughed, “there’s always got to be a first time when a fellow’s judgment goes wrong.”

“You ought to make Merriwell feel good over this Lenning affair before he leaves Ophir, colonel,” observed Mr. Bradlaugh casually. “It wouldn’t cost you much but a little pinch in your pride.”

“It’s a matter of principle, not pride, with me,” growled Hawtrey. “I’d do a good deal for you, my boy,” he added, turning to Frank, “but you could hardly expect me to break a principle just to make you ‘feel good,’ as Bradlaugh puts it.”

“Lenning is trying to do right,” Mr. Bradlaugh persisted. “He’s as steady as a clock, out at the mine.”

“Glad to hear it. You can’t depend on him, though, Bradlaugh. He’s liable to go wrong again at any time. Lenning’s my nephew, and I hate to say it, but there’s nothing to be gained by shying at the truth.”

Colonel Hawtrey, as though he considered these words final, put himself in position and let drive at the ball. The white sphere went arching magnificently across the bunker.

“Beautiful!” murmured Mr. Bradlaugh. “You’re in great form to-day, Hawtrey.”

The colonel laughed good-humoredly. Turning, he slapped Merriwell affectionately on the shoulder.

“Don’t fret about Lenning,” said he, “for you’ll find that——”

248 The colonel was interrupted by a man on a horse, who galloped up and came to a quick stop at that moment. It was Burke, the superintendent at the mine.

“Hello, Burke!” exclaimed Bradlaugh, who was just getting ready to make his drive. “What’s on your mind this beautiful morning?”

“We’ve got to have a new night watchman at the cyanide plant,” Burke answered.

Everybody’s attention was captured on the instant.

“Where’s Lenning?” demanded the general manager.

“He went away yesterday and hasn’t come back,” said the superintendent.



The night watchman at the cyanide works had very important duties to perform. Jode Lenning, in spite of his youth, had been filling the position to the satisfaction of everybody at the mine. Burke’s announcement, therefore, came as a tremendous surprise.

“Went away?” repeated Mr. Bradlaugh. “Didn’t he tell you he was going?”

“Oh, certainly,” replied the superintendent, “he told me he was going, and that he would be back in plenty of time to go on duty at the tanks. Borrowed my saddle horse, too—the sorrel with the white stocking foot. Up to an hour ago, though, he hadn’t got back. Had to fill in his place last night with a man from the night shift in the mill.”

Colonel Hawtrey was taking this all in with significant glances, directed now at Frank and now at Mr. Bradlaugh. His face wore a grim “I-told-you-so” expression.

“What time did he leave the mine?” asked Mr. Bradlaugh.

“About nine in the morning.”

“Did he say anything about what he intended to do?”

“No. But he did remark, I remember, that he had quite a long ride to make; and, last evening when he failed to return, the man in charge of our powder house told me that Lenning had given him a dollar for some dynamite, a length of fuse, and a cap.”

This merely intensified the mystery.

“What the deuce do you suppose he wanted of that dynamite?” muttered Mr. Bradlaugh.

250 “Lenning’s schemes go pretty deep sometimes,” frowned the colonel. “He’ll not come back, Burke. I don’t believe he intended to come back, when he left the mine. I’ll ride over in a day or two and give you a check for your horse and riding gear. I don’t consider that I’m in any way responsible for your missing property, understand, but Lenning is a relative of mine, and I don’t want any of my friends to suffer financial loss through him.”

“I believe he’ll come back,” said Burke. “All my opinions about that boy have changed since he’s been working at the mine. I think he’s trying to be square, and to clear his record.”

“I’d give fifty thousand dollars this minute,” declared the colonel, “if I could know that what you say is a fact. But,” he added, “actions speak louder than words. Before many hours have passed we’ll hear what Lenning has been up to. Maybe he just got tired of a life of honest endeavor and made a sudden break to get away from it. I was afraid that, sooner or later, the life out there would get too monotonous for him.”

“We’re going to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Mr. Bradlaugh. “He was going to take a long ride, and may have met with an accident, or have been delayed in some other way. Just leave the mill hand on the work for a day or two, Burke, and we’ll wait for Lenning to show up, or to send us word.”

“Thought I’d better report the thing to you, Mr. Bradlaugh,” Burke remarked. “If any other hand had turned up missing, I’d not have bothered you with the matter, but I realize that Lenning is a sort of protégé of Merriwell’s, and I wanted to let him know what had happened.”

“I think the affair will come out all right, Merriwell,”251 said Mr. Bradlaugh to Frank, “and that there’s no need to do any worrying.”

“Whether it comes out all right or whether it doesn’t, Brad,” spoke up the colonel, “we’ve got a little business together on the links. Go ahead and get started.”

Mr. Bradlaugh turned to make his drive.

“Lenning had a reason for not getting back as he said he’d do,” Frank asserted confidently. “When he shows up at the mine, he’ll explain the delay in a manner that will be satisfactory to everybody. I’m just as sure of that as I am that I’m alive this minute.”

The youngster’s loyalty to Lenning won a nod of approval from Mr. Bradlaugh. While the latter was swinging at the ball, Frank, Clancy, and Burke turned and started for the trail in front of the clubhouse. The superintendent rode slowly at the side of the two boys.

“What in the world do you suppose Lenning wanted that dynamite for?” Burke asked.

“Search me!” Frank answered, vastly puzzled.

“While you’re asking conundrums,” chimed in Clancy, “what did he want to take a ride for—and a long one, at that?”

“Yesterday was Sunday.” Burke reminded Clancy, “and the mill is shut down. Most of the men pull out for a ride or a walk.”

“But Lenning has to be on duty every night, hasn’t he? If he was going to take a ride that lasted all day, when would he get his share of sleep?”

“Probably he could do without that for one day. You see, he——”

Burke bit off his words abruptly. His eyes were fixed on the trail that led from the main road to Gold Hill to the clubhouse.

“Who’s that over there?” he asked, with a hint of a252 laugh in his voice. “The man, whoever he is, seems to be having a little trouble.”

Against the clear, bright sky a man on a mule stood out in clean-cut prominence. The man was tall and angular, while the mule was long and equally angular. The mule was at a standstill, his long ears laid back, and the rider was pounding his bony sides desperately in an attempt to get him to move.

“Holy smoke!” chuckled Clancy; “why, that’s Professor Phineas Borrodaile, our tutor, and he’s trying to make Pophagan’s mule, Uncle Sam, carry him on to the clubhouse.”

“Uncle Sam appears to be an obstinate brute,” laughed Burke.

“He’s worse than that,” grinned Merriwell. “When Uncle Sam starts, he’s liable to begin all at once and go straight up in the air before he moves ahead. We know a little about that mule, and the professor ought to be pretty well acquainted with him by this time. He—— Ah, look at that, will you?”

Uncle Sam had suddenly resented the sting of the quirt. As though propelled by springs he had all at once bounded upward.

Daylight showed between the professor and the saddle, but he kept himself from going overboard by grabbing at the saddle horn with both hands. This time, at least, the upward jump was not followed by a movement forward; on the contrary, Uncle Sam continued to rise in the air, but not altogether, as at first. The brute was full of tricks and vagaries, and he began to rise now forward and now at the rear, canting himself from one position into the other with a lightninglike, seesaw motion that must have been intensely disagreeable to Professor253 Borrodaile. It was rather edifying to the super and the boys, however.

The professor’s hat was jarred off, and the skirts of his long, black coat billowed about him with each upward spring of the mule. The rider, flung alternately toward the front of the quadruped and then toward the back, was put to it to remain in the saddle. Language could be heard, flowing copiously across the bleak sands from the professor—words of many syllables, some Latin and a little Greek, but all well calculated to express the professor’s annoyance.

Burke bowed his head and shook with suppressed mirth. Clancy snickered. Merry, knowing the professor was safe from injury, took his own toll of enjoyment. All three of them laid a course calculated to bring them to the part of the trail at that moment occupied by the professor and Uncle Sam.

Before they reached the scene of the professor’s trouble, the learned gentleman had slipped wrathfully from the saddle to the ground and had planted himself in front of his refractory steed. Clinging to the bridle reins with one hand, the “prof” shook a finger in the mule’s face and commenced telling the brute what he thought of him.

“You belong to the stone age, you obnoxious quadruped,” he cried, “when the genus homo ruled the rest of creation with clubs and granite hammers! Your unmannerly attempts to relieve yourself of my weight, should bring upon you punishment of a most severe nature. If I were possessed of any instrument at all adequate, I should use it savagely in an attempt to subjugate you. As it is. I can merely pit my strength against your own, and pull. Will you come, you vicious, long-eared peace disturber? Will you?”

254 Hanging to the reins with both hands, the professor lay back on the bridle with all his strength. For a moment, Uncle Sam resisted; then, urged by some mulish, mischievous instinct, the brute allowed himself to relax abruptly and to lurch forward. As a result, the professor went backward, almost heels over head.

The reins were suddenly released. Freedom, perhaps, was what Uncle Sam had desired and had been working for. The instant he found himself free, he whirled around on his hind feet and would have cleared out in the direction of Ophir had Frank not deftly seized the flying reins.

The professor got up dazedly. Rubbing the small of his back, he passed his eyes over those who had just arrived upon the scene of his trouble with the mule. Then, recognizing those who had suddenly grouped around him, his face brightened.

“Ah, Merriwell!” he murmured; “and Clancy!”

“And Mr. Burke, from the mine,” added Clancy, smothering his enjoyment as he picked up the professor’s hat. “I guess you know Mr. Burke?”

“I believe we have met,” was the reply. “I was in a hurry to get from Ophir to the clubhouse, and so I borrowed Pophagan’s mule. That was a mistake,” he added ruefully, taking his hat from Clancy and carefully settling it on his head, “a very great mistake. If any one is in a hurry to transport himself from one place to another, about the worst thing he can do is to take Uncle Sam. A most perverse brute, young gentlemen! I assure you that I have spent nearly an hour on the road from Ophir to the clubhouse.”

“What was your hurry, professor?” inquired Merry, hiding his smile by turning toward Uncle Sam.

“News of most tremendous importance reached Ophir.255 I wanted to convey it to Mr. Bradlaugh. I was informed that he is playing golf on the club links, so I took Uncle Sam and started for the links.”

“Important news?” asked Clancy, brushing the professor’s clothes with his hands. “Anything exciting, professor?”

“It has excited me,” was the reply, “because I am indirectly concerned in what has happened. Did I tell you that payment for the mine in the Picketposts was due to arrive this morning, by mail from the East?”

“I don’t think you told us, professor,” returned Frank, “but Mr. Bradlaugh gave us the information a short time ago. The stage must be in by this time. Did you get your money?”

“Not at all, I’m sorry to say. You see, the stage was robbed while coming through the cañon, robbed, and——”

“Robbed!” came the startled exclamation from Merriwell, Clancy, and Burke.

“Yes, robbed,” repeated the professor. “There wasn’t much aboard but the mail pouches. They were taken, and in one of them was my certified check, and also the check for Mrs. Boorland. The—the event is most deplorable. I can ill afford to lose twenty-five thousand dollars. You see, young gentlemen, I had been counting upon that money to afford me rest and comfort in my declining years. Now it is gone! I—I thought I had better tell Mr. Bradlaugh.”



A period of stunned silence settled over the little group in the trail. Uncle Sam suddenly and finally dispelled the stillness by tossing up his head and emitting a long and discordant “hee-haw!” The professor, whose nerves were in a lamentable state, jumped straight into the air. When he came down, he turned an indignant look at the mule.

“So!” he mumbled. “That animal is the most provoking creature that ever lived. One can never tell what he is going to do, nor when he is going to do it. Where are the golf links, Merriwell?”

“Over there, professor,” Frank answered, pointing toward the golf grounds. “We just left Mr. Bradlaugh. He and Colonel Hawtrey are out of sight, just now, behind that bit of a rise, but you can find them without much trouble.”

“I believe I will go on, then, and acquaint Mr. Bradlaugh with this most distressing occurrence.”

“Don’t you want to ride?” asked Clancy.

“I prefer to walk,” was the answer. “I will be under obligations to you, Merriwell, if you will see that Uncle Sam is returned to Pophagan.”

“Just a minute, professor,” struck in Burke. “Can’t you tell us something about this robbery? Just where did it happen, and how did the news reach Ophir?”

“The stage driver brought the news to town, and when I left, Hawkins, the deputy sheriff, was getting one or two men to ride with him and begin pursuit of the thieves.”

257 “Any passengers on the stage this morning?”

“No; there was only the driver and the mail pouches. The express company was supposed to have money aboard this morning’s stage for the Ophir bank, but, fortunately, the shipment failed to arrive. The robbers, presumably, had heard of the expected shipment of funds, and so were disappointed when they had to content themselves with only the mail pouches. I am a loser to the extent of——”

“Don’t worry over your lost check, professor,” interrupted Burke. “You’ll not lose a cent. Whether it was a check or a draft, payment will at once be stopped, and another check or draft will be sent to you.”

The professor was woefully ignorant of business matters.

“You are sure of this, Mr. Burke?” he asked, brightening.

“I am positive. See Mr. Bradlaugh, however, and tell him about what has happened. He will take the necessary steps to protect you. How many robbers were in the gang?”

“Two, and they seemed to be young fellows. They had handkerchiefs tied over their faces, and rode out from behind a mass of bowlders, a mile or two north of the place where the road leaves the cañon. Pistols were shown, but not used. The driver had nothing at all in the way of a weapon—which, perhaps, was a most fortunate thing for the driver. I—I really believe I had better be going now. I hope, Merriwell, that you will have no difficulty in getting that vicious quadruped back into his owner’s hands.”

“I’ll take chances, on that,” Frank laughed, and vaulted into the saddle. “Want to ride, Clan?” he asked, of his red-headed chum.

258 “I love to ride,” grinned Clancy, “especially mules.” With that, he climbed up behind Merriwell.

The professor did not pause to see how quietly Uncle Sam behaved under Merry’s guiding hand. Already the professor was striding off toward the golf links.

Without any ill-natured move whatever, Uncle Sam had allowed himself to be turned around, and had started over the return course to Ophir. His gait was never very rapid, and Burke restrained the impatience of his own mount in order to ride beside the boys.

“That is the first time, to my knowledge, that the Gold Hill-Ophir stage has ever been held up,” remarked the super. “This part of the country has been tolerably free from crimes of that sort. As a rule, we’re about as peaceable a community as you’d find anywhere. Mrs. Boorland was robbed of her money in the gulch—but a sneak thief did that; and then there was that attempted theft of bullion from the mine. Up to the time those two crimes were attempted, nothing of the sort had excited the community since—I don’t know when. Hawkins is getting considerable work during the last few weeks.”

“He didn’t have any luck chasing those fellows who tried to make off with the bullion,” said Merriwell.

“Billy Shoup and that unknown safe cracker he had with him were too many for Hawkins,” said Clancy.

“Hawkins is pretty persistent,” observed Burke. “He hasn’t given up finding those fellows.”

“It was Shoup who took Mrs. Boorland’s money,” went on Merriwell, “and it was Shoup, again, with an unknown companion, who tried to steal the bullion. I’m wondering if the fellow isn’t mixed up in the robbery this morning?”

“Possibly,” mused Burke. “If he is, he has got himself259 into hot water for fair. Stealing mail bags is a crime against the government, and the secret-service men are relentless fellows to deal with. No stone will be left unturned to bring the thieves to book, you can gamble on that. They—— Well, well,” he broke off quizzically, “what sort of a procession is that, ahead there?”

The boys and the super were close to the point where the clubhouse trail joined the Gold Hill road. Along the latter trail, at that moment, a queer little procession was moving in the direction of Ophir.

Billy Ballard was in the lead. He had some object tied to a cord, and was pulling it slowly through the dust of the road behind him.

Just behind Ballard was a pig—the same small porker with which Merriwell and Clancy had become acquainted a little earlier in the forenoon. The pig was tied to a rope by a hind leg, and Woo Sing, as before, was attached to the rope.

Barzy Blunt brought up the rear of the procession. He was armed with a long switch.

As Ballard dragged the mysterious object through the dust, he would let it lie still for a moment, and the pig would run forward to get hold of it. This was Ballard’s signal to jerk it out of the pig’s way.

Sometimes the pig would trot along after the receding object so rapidly that the Chinaman had a hard time keeping up; and then again there were times when the pig grew discouraged, and lagged, and Blunt would have to reach over Woo Sing’s shoulder and apply the gad.

It was a humorous performance, although none of the four concerned in it—which includes the pig—seemed to think of it in that light.

“This little trip of mine from town to the clubhouse,” laughed Burke, “has been full of surprises, pleasant and260 otherwise. Now, that, I should say, is about as comical as the professor’s troubles with Uncle Sam. Whose pig is it? And what are Ballard and Blunt doing, along with the chink?”

Merry and Clancy explained, and, by the time the explanation was finished, they had reached the procession. Those with the pig came to a halt, and Ballard promptly jerked in the object he was dragging, and held it aloft in his hands. The object proved to be a dirty, half-shelled ear of corn.

What made the situation all the funnier to Merry, Clancy, and Burke were the very serious expressions worn by Ballard, Blunt, and Woo Sing—especially Woo Sing. If there had been a joke about coaxing the pig to town with an ear of corn, it had long since passed out of the consciousness of those with the pig.

“Whoop!” shouted Clancy. “You fellows ought to have a drum corps along. What show do you fellows belong to, anyhow?”

“Chip,” said Ballard sadly, “you handed Blunt and me a hard job when you sent us with Woo Sing to get back that pesky porker. We had to run our legs off in the cañon before we could get hands on the pig; and, even then, he got away from us half a dozen times before we finally landed him.”

“We’ve had a dickens of a time!” grunted Blunt. “Barked our shins on bowlders, scratched our hands and face in the chaparral, say nothing of having the pig knock us down and run all over us. Jumping sand hills! Say, if I had it to do over again, I’d rather let the pig go and pay Pophagan five dollars out of my own pocket.”

“Pig plenty hard to ketchee,” sighed Woo Sing. “Him allee same stleak of lightning, by jim’ Klismus! Now we think we ketchee, now we no ketchee. Velly tough261 luck. My no likee, by jing! My tellee Pophagan my no likee. Pophagan no likee, him gettee ’nother China boy. Whoosh!”

Burke was almost smothered. “Where did you get the corn?” he asked.

“Sing had it in his pockets all the time,” growled Ballard. “The ground and lofty tumbling he did with the pig shelled the ear a little, but enough corn was left for a coaxer. It was my idea,” and Ballard’s heavy face lightened somewhat. “We’ve been teasing the pig all the way from the cañon, but it’s slow work, and I’m about ready to throw up the job. What’re you chumps laughing about?” he demanded hotly.

“That’s what I want to know,” scowled Blunt, bending over to rub one of his shins. “If you think it’s funny chasing a pig over all outdoors, you’d better try it once.”

“You made good, anyhow,” chuckled Merry. “That’s the principal thing, fellows. Whether you’re chasing a pig, or running a race of any other sort, you ought to feel like shaking hands with yourselves when you win.”

“It’s no joke,” snorted Ballard, “and I want you to stop that fool grinning.”

“The joke was on the pig,” said Clancy. “And I think it’s a pretty how de do when three husky fellows like you will make such a rumpus over one small porker.”

“That’ll do,” cried the cowboy. “A while ago I felt like massacring the pig, but now I’m beginning to feel as though I’d like to massacre you. What about it, Pink?”

“Count me in,” answered Ballard. “Only make a complete job of it, that’s all, Barzy.”

“By the way,” said Blunt, having a sudden thought that sent his attention galloping on another course, “what’s Jode Lenning doing out this way?”

262 “Lenning!” exclaimed Merriwell. “You don’t mean to say you saw him?”

“Looked like him, although he and the other fellow were a good way off. They were pelting along on horseback, as tight as they could go—came out of a gulch and rushed along the trail to beat the band. Each of ’em had something over the saddle in front of him that looked like a bag. They didn’t come very near where we were, so we didn’t have a chance to give ’em a close sizing; but the fellow was Lenning—I’d almost stake my head on it.”

A queer feeling raced through Merriwell’s nerves. He was wondering if, after all, Lenning had left the mine for some such work as had taken place in the cañon that morning? Another moment and he had fought down the rising suspicion.

“What sort of a horse was the fellow riding?” asked Burke; “I mean,” he added, “the one you thought was Lenning?”

“Sorrel,” reported the cowboy, “a sorrel, with one white forward foot.”

The superintendent drew in a quick breath, and rested his eyes on Merriwell.



Merriwell and Burke looked at each other so long and so significantly that Ballard became curious.

“What’s biting you two, anyhow?” he asked.

In the fewest possible words, Frank told Ballard and Blunt about the robbery in the cañon.

“Thunder!” exclaimed Ballard. “Why, the stage went past us with both horses on the run while we were tangled up with that pig. I wondered then why the mischief the driver was in such a tearing hurry.”

“That must have been right after the robbery,” said the excited cowboy, “and the driver was in a rush to get to town and spread the news. Gee, but this is a stunner!”

“Those two fellows we saw on horseback were the robbers,” went on Ballard. “The things they had in front of them were the mail bags!”

“Great head, Pink!” approved Clancy.

“But, of course,” observed Blunt, “the juniper we thought was Lenning couldn’t have been Lenning at all. Looked a heap like him, though.”

“Um!” grunted Burke; “I don’t know about that. Lenning left the mine yesterday and hadn’t returned up to something like an hour ago. He took my horse when he went—and my horse is a sorrel, with a white stocking foot.”

Frank was sorry the superintendent had thought it necessary to throw in any comments about Lenning. The only result would be to crowd suspicion upon the absent watchman, when, in all likelihood, he was as blameless of the robbery as Burke himself.

264 The superintendent, however, was never backward about airing his views. Ballard stared as he listened to Burke, and then turned and looked at Barzy Blunt.

Blunt’s face was a study. Up to the time of that ball game with Gold Hill, the cowboy had had no sort of use for Jode Lenning. In fact, right to Lenning’s face, Blunt had declared that no respectable fellow would take part in a game in which a crook like Lenning was booked to play.

But the game itself had changed all that. Blunt, and all the players, had been won over by Lenning’s clever work, and by his meeting in masterly fashion that thrilling moment when victory or defeat for Ophir hung on his efforts alone.

Had the enthusiasm inspired by Lenning’s splendid work in a crisis developed a friendship that could not last? Frank watched Blunt critically.

“I reckon you haven’t got it right, Burke,” said the cowboy finally. “It wasn’t so mighty long ago when I’d have believed Lenning equal to any sort of skullduggery. It used to make me sore to see Chip, there, standing up for the fellow, getting him a job, and all that; but, on the day of that ball game, I made up my mind that Chip Merriwell’s judgment was warranted not to come out in the wash. ‘What’s good enough for Chip,’ I said to myself, ‘is good enough for me, and right here’s where I quit handing it to Lenning every time a chance comes my way.’ I’d be a pretty measly sort of a coyote if I shook hands with Lenning on Saturday and then turned against him Monday. Sorrel horse or no, that couldn’t have been Lenning we saw in the cañon.”

“Bully for you, Barzy!” exclaimed Merriwell, deeply gratified by the stand the cowboy had taken.

Burke shook his head, by way of dissent.

265 “The circumstantial evidence is pretty strong,” said he.

“The same kind of circumstantial evidence, Burke,” returned Merry, “that led you to think Lenning had made off with that bullion. Remember that? Lenning was missing, and the bullion was missing, so you thought——”

“This isn’t the same, Chip, not by a whole row of ’dobies,” broke in the superintendent. “Lenning’s record is all against him.”

“So it was the night the bullion was taken,” said Frank warmly, “and Lenning has been making a mighty fine record since then.”

“Well, this sort of talk won’t get us anywhere. It doesn’t make any difference, just now, whether Lenning was one of the thieves or whether he wasn’t. The main point is, Ballard and Blunt saw the thieves galloping off after the stage was held up. Hawkins ought to be put in possession of what they know without loss of a moment’s time. I’m going to hustle for town and tell some one who can get the news to the deputy sheriff in short order.”

His spurs rattled, and he kicked up the dust on the road to Ophir.

“It gets my goat,” muttered Ballard, “the way Lenning drops into trouble. Just as he gets started on the right road, something like this has to happen and put him all to the bad again. I’ll be hanged if I can understand how he manages it.”

“Somebody else manages it for him,” said Clancy. “That’s an easy guess. It was Shoup that engineered the bullion plot.”

“Who engineered this one?” queried Ballard.

“Maybe it was Shoup again.”

“Did the fellow you saw with the one who looked like Lenning resemble Billy Shoup?” asked Frank.

266 “No more than I do,” said Blunt. “He was a square, chunk of a man. Of course, you understand we weren’t near enough to see either of ’em very clearly.”

“I understand that. Well, let’s get to town, fellows. I’m all worked up about this thing. The professor’s check was in that batch of stolen mail, and if he doesn’t get it back we’ll have to hang out here until another check can come on from New York.”

“How many more will that mule carry?” inquired Ballard, looking at Uncle Sam wistfully.

“He’s loaded to the guards now, Pink,” answered Clancy. “If you got on with Chip and me, we’d swamp him. Besides,” and here the red-headed chap’s voice grew rather lofty, “you don’t know how to ride a mule, anyway. There’s a knack about it that only comes of long practice.”

“Oh, splash!” grunted Ballard. “You’re sitting up there like a frog on a toadstool. Let’s see what sort of a mule rider you are.”

He was standing within arm’s length of Uncle Sam, and he reached out suddenly and touched the mule’s flank with one end of the ear of corn. Thereupon Uncle Sam tried to stand on his head, Blunt had to dodge his flying heels, and Ballard, in trying to get out of the way, stumbled over the pig and fell flat. As for Clancy, in spite of his implied prowess as a mule rider, he was jolted off, and Merriwell had all he could do to stick in the saddle.

“There, Pink, cut that out!” cried Merry. “We want to get back to town, and we don’t want any more foolishness. This business of Lenning’s needs attention.”

“I’m anxious to get back to town, too,” said Ballard, picking himself up, “but we can’t leave Woo Sing. Suppose we rope the pig and let it ride in Clancy’s place,267 Chip? I don’t believe the mule will know the difference.”

“Good idea,” approved Merry. “Tie the pig and boost it up here.”

“Velly fine!” cried the Chinaman, his slant eyes sparkling.

Blunt, Ballard, and Woo Sing fell upon the small porker, and, while the air was torn with squeals, they bound his feet together and then hoisted him to Uncle Sam’s back. There was a good deal of wriggling and squirming on the pig’s part, but Uncle Sam took it good-naturedly, and ambled off.

Clancy, Ballard, Blunt, and Woo Sing kept pace with the mule, and they all arrived in town together. The pig was unloaded in the waiting pen, out back of the hotel, and Uncle Sam was turned into the small corral where he passed most of his time. The Chinaman was so happy over the safe ending of his work with the pig that he almost shed tears.

“Melliwell,” he snuffled, “you do a heap plenty fo’ Woo Sing. China boy nev’ fo’gettee.”

“Not a word for us,” said Ballard disgustedly, as he walked away with Frank and the rest, “and Blunt and I helped capture the porker in the cañon. I always said that chink had a wooden head. Next time he goes pig catching, by George! he can take Clancy and Chip.”

There was a buzz of excitement in Ophir’s main street. Everywhere the stage robbery was being discussed. Riders were leaving town by twos and threes, all heading for the cañon, and fired with a desire to do something to help run the robbers to earth.

The boys saw Burke just as they turned to mount the steps leading to the hotel veranda. Burke was sitting on his horse by the hitching pole in front. He had just268 mounted, it appeared, preparatory to returning to the mine.

“Hawkins was gone long before I got here,” said he, “but I sent word to him by two or three of those who just pulled out for the cañon. Maybe they’ll see the deputy sheriff, and maybe they won’t. I’ve done the best I could, though.”

“Telephone in, will you, Burke,” requested Merry, “in case Lenning is at the mine when you get there?”

“Glad to,” was the answer, “but,” and a grim look crossed the superintendent’s face as he spoke, “don’t waste any time waiting for the message, Chip. Lenning’s in this up to his eyes.”

It was dinner time at the Ophir House, and the gong which called guests to meals had long since sounded. Frank and his friends, as soon as they could get some of the dust off their faces and hands, went into the dining room and took their places at the table.

As the robbery had been the one exciting topic in the street, so was it now the principal event discussed by those at the tables. Lawlessness is always a theme that draws universal attention, and this was particularly the case in a town like Ophir.

Although a Western town with a past that was pretty turbulent, in later years it had settled down into a peaceful and orderly little burg. The robbery, therefore, had caused a ripple of excitement, since crime of any sort was in such decided contrast to the ordinary mood of the place.

Frank was no more than half through his meal when, somewhat to his surprise, Pophagan called to him from the dinning-room door: “Ye’re wanted at the phone, Merriwell!”

269 “There it is!” exclaimed Blunt, with much satisfaction. “Burke’s calling to tell you that Lenning’s at the mine.”

“That must be the case!” exclaimed Frank, hurrying from the room to answer the call.

The rest of the boys finished their meal hurriedly, and, by the time they were done and out in the office, Frank came out of the little booth where he had been receiving his message. There had been a change in his face. It no longer wore a pleased expression, but was heavy and troubled.

“What’s to pay, pard?” demanded Blunt.

“The message wasn’t from Burke,” said Merry, “and that’s about all I can tell you now. Will you take a ride with me, Barzy?”

“A ride? Where?”

“Tell you later. This is a rush order, and we’ve got to be on the move.”

“Sure, I’ll ride with you, Chip—anywhere.”

“Come on, then,” said Merriwell, and hurriedly led the way out of the office.



Frank was leading the way to the town corral, bent on getting his horse, Borak. Blunt, who had leave of absence from the Bar Z Ranch, was likewise keeping his cowpony at the corral. When clear of the main street, Frank turned, to find Clancy and Ballard trotting along behind him. He stopped.

“I say, Clan,” said he, “you and Pink are not in this.”

“If not, why not?” demanded Ballard. “This party isn’t so blamed exclusive that Red and I can’t go along, is it?”

“You’ve nicked it, old man. The orders are for two, and no more.”

“Who sent the orders?”

“Give it up. They come through Dolliver.”

“Oh, Dolliver! Think it has anything to do with the robbery?”

“I hope not,” said Frank. “My biggest wish just now is that it has something to do with Lenning.”

“Don’t you know that, Chip?” queried Clancy.

“I don’t know a thing about why we’re going out there. It’s a hurry-up call, and no more than two are to come.”

“Then that settles it,” said Ballard. “Two are to go, and you’ve chosen Blunt. Take your ride, Chip, but if you don’t get back in a reasonable time, Red and I will get a couple of horses and follow you.”

“No,” Frank answered hastily, “don’t do that. I wasn’t to tell anybody but the chap who came with me where we were going. You fellows just stay here, keep mum, and271 wait till we get back—if it isn’t until next week. Understand?”

“That’s a big order, Chip,” said Clancy, “but I guess we can fill it.”

“We’re going to Dolliver’s now,” Frank went on. “I haven’t a notion where we’ll go from Dolliver’s, or what we’re to do. So long, fellows!”

Rather gloomily Clancy and Ballard bade Chip and Barzy good-by, and wished them luck. The uncertainty in which Clancy and Ballard were left was not at all soothing to their nerves.

Blunt proceeded silently with Merriwell to the corral. It was not until they were mounted, and galloping stirrup to stirrup toward the Ophir Mine on their way to Dolliver’s that Blunt allowed himself to talk.

“It was Dolliver that got you on the wire, Chip?”

“Yes,” Frank nodded.

“What sort of a powwow did he give you?”

“I told Clan and Pink practically all of it, Barzy. Dolliver said that some one was just at his ranch and wanted him to telephone to me. It was noon, and this person who wanted the message sent told Dolliver he thought I could be caught at the Ophir House without any trouble; but, if I wasn’t there, then Dolliver was to try and get you.”

“Dolliver didn’t say who the fellow was that wanted one or t’other of us?”

“I asked him that, but he wouldn’t answer. He said I was to come to his place as quick as I could, was to bring just one person with me, and wasn’t to tell anybody but my companion about the message nor where I was going.”

“Suffering cats!” Blunt exclaimed. “This has got me worked up a-plenty, Chip. It’s a whale of a mystery, eh?”

272 “That’s what it is.”

By then, the boys were galloping past the mine, and the roar of the stamp mill was loud in their ears. Their course carried them on beyond the mine, and, as they got farther and farther away from it, the song of the stamps died by degrees into silence.

Dolliver’s ranch was fifteen miles from Ophir. Frank and his chums knew the place well, for they had made free use of Dolliver’s telephone, several weeks before, when the Ophir football squad was in camp at Tinaja Wells, in Mohave Cañon.

Dolliver’s home was entirely surrounded by a wild, unsettled country. Close to the pioneer’s adobe, the bridle path through the cañon began its course, separating from the road that was used by wagons freighting for the Fiddleback outfit.

“You don’t think this can be any sort of trap, do you, pard?” asked Blunt suddenly, while they were pounding along.

“Trap?” Frank laughed. “What sort of a trap, Barzy?”

“Give it up. If somebody wanted to get us into trouble, I reckon this would be a good way to do it.”

“I don’t know of anybody who’d want to get us into trouble. Anyhow, Dolliver wouldn’t. He’s a pretty good sort of a chap, that Dolliver.”

“You can bet your spurs on that!” declared the cowboy heartily. “I’ve known Dolliver ever since I was knee-high, and he’s sure the clear quill. You’re positive it was Dolliver talking at t’other end, of the line?”

“When you’ve heard Dolliver’s voice once,” said Frank, “you couldn’t mistake it for anybody else’s. Sure it was Dolliver talking.”

273 “The whole thing is so blamed queer that it sort of set me to wondering.”

“We’re winding up our stay in Arizona with a lot of blue fire and tremelo trimmings,” went on Frank. “If it’s going to do anybody any good, though, I don’t see how I can have any kick coming.”

“You’d like a heap to see Lenning and the colonel on good terms before you leave, wouldn’t you?”

“Nothing would suit me better, Barzy.”

“What luck did you have with the colonel at the golf grounds?”

“None at all. He’s bitter against Lenning.”

“Reckon I told you we’d have our trouble for our pains if we tried to put in a good word for Lenning, didn’t I? Hawtrey is a crabbed old proposition, and when he fastens himself to an idea you can’t pry him loose with a crowbar. It may be a fool idea, too, but that don’t count.”

“He said he’d like to oblige me by being friends with Lenning, but that I was asking him to break through a principle—which was something he wouldn’t do for anybody.”

“The colonel doesn’t take any stock in Lenning’s trying to act square with everybody. He’d rather watch a game of baseball than eat, but he’d never let himself get carried away to the extent that he’d overlook a grouch or forget an injury. He’s a pretty fine old fellow, too, if you come at him on the right side.”

Talking occasionally, but more often pounding along the trail in silence, the boys at last came to Dolliver’s lonely little cabin. They had hardly drawn rein before the rancher stepped through his front door.

“Put up yore critters, boys,” said he, “an’ then come274 into the house. It won’t take me long to tell ye what I left out in palavering over the phone.”

With that, Dolliver stepped back through his front door.

“Pretty short about it,” remarked Frank.

“He’s worked up about something,” said Blunt. “He hasn’t any time for the extra frills when he’s bothered like that.”

They rode around the cabin to the corral, stripped the riding gear from their horses, and turned the animals into the small inclosure. A moment later, they were inside the house, occupying a couple of chairs and facing the rancher.

Dolliver had his pipe going, and his eyes were glittering strangely.

“Reckon ye’re some s’prised to be brought out here like this, eh?” he asked.

“Well, a little,” Frank acknowledged.

“Why’d ye come on such scant information?”

“Mainly because you gave us the information, Dolliver.”

“That’s you!” said Dolliver, with something like a cackle in his hairy throat. “Merriwell, ye’re plumb queer. I figgered that out some weeks back, when ye was up to Tinaja Wells, in camp. When a feller does ye dirt, ye don’t allers hide out in the bresh with a gun and wait fer him to come trompin’ by. Not you! Ye lay fer him with the glad hand, if he’ll only give ye half a chance. Blunt knows that,” he added significantly.

The red leaped into the cowboy’s face, and then slowly faded.

“I was a fool,” the cowboy grunted. “Chip didn’t lay for me with the glad hand, either—not so you could notice. He licked me good and proper, right over there in Mohave Cañon. I needed the trimming.”

275 “Keno! And ye got what ye needed, Barzy. Ever since then ye’ve been purty sensible.” Again a smothered chuckle sounded in the rancher’s tanned throat. “Merriwell,” he continued, smoothing down the fire in his pipe with his thumb, “I hear ye’re purty soon to leave these parts, but I want to tell ye that ye’ve done a man’s work since ye’ve been in Ophir.”

“Don’t lay it on too thick, Dolliver,” Frank laughed. “I’ve made a few friends down this way, I guess, but they had as much to do with that as I had.”

“Mebbyso, mebbyso,” and the wave the rancher gave his hand signified that he had some opinions of his own on that matter. “But this palaver ain’t gittin’ us fur on the road ye’ve got ter travel.”

“Who asked you to send that message to us?” Frank asked.

“Ye ain’t goin’ to know it till ye find it out,” replied Dolliver. “I reckon that’s plain, ain’t it?”

“Yes, I suppose so; but when are we to find it out?”

“Purty quick. I opine ye know Mohave Cañon about as well as the next one, eh? Anyways, it’s plain to you betwixt here and Tinaja Wells?”

“I’ve gone over it enough so I ought to know it.”

“Correct. Well, I’m powerful glad ye brought Barzy along. Ye’re the two fellers that chap asked for. ‘If ye can’t git Merriwell,’ says he, ‘git Blunt.’ Fust choice was you, an’ next was Barzy. Ye’re to leave yer ridin’ stock with me an’ travel up the cañon afoot. That’s all.”

“Where are we to go?” asked Frank, puzzled.

“Ye’re to keep goin’ till some un stops ye. I couldn’t tell ye a thing more if I was ter be hung fer it. Better be movin’, boys. I don’t know whether there’s any time ter waste or not, but I opine not.”

Without delaying further, Merry and Blunt left the276 cabin, crossed the main wagon road, and struck into the bridle path that led through the cañon. So far from clearing the mystery, Dolliver had only deepened it by his few remarks.

“I’d like to know what we’re up against,” grumbled Blunt, as he and Merry trudged onward between the high, rugged walls of the defile.

“I guess we’ll find out before we go very far,” Merriwell answered.

In this he was correct. They had hardly put more than a mile between them and Dolliver’s when a voice hailed them from behind a mass of bowlders at the foot of the clifflike wall on their left.

They halted, recognizing the voice that had called to them and yet wondering if their imagination was playing them a prank. But they were not mistaken. A form appeared around the edge of the pile of bowlders—a form that they recognized at once.

“Lenning!” Merriwell exclaimed.



Jode Lenning’s face was pinched and haggard. He was also wearing a suit of clothes in which Merriwell had never seen him before, and yet which struck an oddly familiar note in Merriwell’s memory.

Frank had suspected that this mysterious call from Dolliver might have something to do with Lenning; but that he and Blunt should find him, hiding in Mohave Cañon and apparently disguised, furnished most of the surprise that entered into the situation.

“Come over here, Chip, you and Blunt,” Lenning called. “I’ve got something to tell you, and there are a good many reasons why we should not do our talking in the cañon trail.”

The cowboy was plainly bewildered. His brows knotted into a frown, and silently he followed Merriwell to the heap of bowlders.

“We can look each way from here,” Lenning said nervously, “and we can see whoever comes in time to get out of sight before they get close to these rocks.”

“Who are you expecting, Jode?” Frank asked.

“Shoup,” was the answer, “and a fellow who is with him and is called Geohegan. They’ll come, I’m pretty sure.”

“Shoup! What makes you think he’s still in this part of the country?”

“I’ve got plenty of reason for thinking so,” said Lenning angrily. “Before I talk more about him, though, just tell me what’s happened, will you?”

“What’s happened?” repeated Frank. “Where?”

278 “In Ophir. Hasn’t something happened there recently?”

“Two things have happened,” spoke up Blunt, his face dark with doubt and suspicion of Lenning. “One happened yesterday and the other this morning. You borrowed a horse from Burke and went for a long ride—but you didn’t come back. Then——”

“I’ll tell you about that,” broke in Lenning eagerly. “What happened this morning?”

“The stage from Gold Hill was held up.”

“That’s it, that’s it,” Lenning half whispered, dropping a trembling hand on the cowboy’s arm. “Do they think I had anything to do with holding up the stage? That’s what I want to know.”

Blunt studied the haggard face before him and looked into the shifty, dark eyes. His voice was less hard as he went on.

“There were two of the robbers, and one of them looked like you, Lenning. What’s more, he rode a horse that answers the description of Burke’s.”

Lenning struck his hands together sharply.

“So that’s what he tried to do!” he muttered fiercely; “that was his game all along! Isn’t there any chance at all for a fellow who wants to do right—who’s trying to clear his record? I suppose, now, that everybody thinks Jode Lenning is up to his old tricks, and was one of those who robbed the stage?” Lifting himself high above the bowlders, Lenning looked up and down the cañon. “I wish they’d come!” he gritted. “Why can’t they come now?”

At that moment, doubtless, Blunt had the same idea that ran through Merriwell’s brain. Lenning seemed “flighty” and out of his head. Had his troubles unbalanced him?

279 “Don’t fret about anything, Jode,” said Frank. “Take things easy. There are a lot of fellows, back in Ophir, who feel sure you hadn’t anything to do with robbing the stage. Why did you leave the mine? Where did you go, and why did you take the dynamite?”

A flicker of a smile crossed Lenning’s face.

“It won’t take long to explain all that, Chip,” said he, dropping down below the top of the pile of bowlders again. “Do you remember, several weeks ago, when Colonel Hawtrey put in a charge of dynamite near our camp in the gulch? He had discovered evidences of mineral, and I put down the hole for him and he loaded it. That blast was never set off. You know why. Well, while I’ve been at the Ophir Mine I’ve been thinking of that mineral ‘prospect,’ and I made up my mind to set off the charge and see what it would uncover. That’s why I borrowed Burke’s horse for a long ride, and that’s why I took the dynamite.”

“That explanation is simple, sure enough,” Frank laughed. “The mouth of the gulch isn’t very far from here, and the place where the colonel began his blasting operations isn’t much farther. You went there, put more dynamite and a capped fuse on top of the other charge, and then set off the load?”

“That’s what I did, Chip.”

“What did you find?”

Lenning pushed one hand into his pocket and drew out a small piece of ore. The ore was white quartz, powdered thickly with yellow specks.

“Great guns!” gasped Blunt, staring. “Say, if you’ve found much of that, Lenning, you’ve got a big thing.”

“Yes, if it belonged to me. But it doesn’t. It belongs to the colonel.”

“It belongs to the fellow that gets his monuments up280 first, and files his location. If the colonel hasn’t done that, Lenning, the claim is as much yours as his.”

“It’s the colonel’s by right of discovery,” asserted Lenning, “and I’m not going to try and beat him out in locating it. All I wanted to set off the charge for was to satisfy my curiosity. I reckon I’ve explained why I left the mine, haven’t I? It doesn’t look much as though I had planned to hold up the stage, does it?”

“No,” said Frank.

“You have explained why you left the mine,” spoke up Blunt, “but you haven’t explained why you didn’t go back.”

“Look here.” Lenning held out his hands close together. The wrists were red and swollen. “And look here.” He caught hold of the side of the coat he was wearing. “Can’t you guess anything from all that?” he asked.

“We don’t want to do any guessing, Jode,” returned Frank kindly, “what we want are the facts.”

Once more Lenning straightened erect and looked searchingly up and down the defile. He discovered nothing, and quickly dropped down again by the side of Merriwell and Blunt.

“This is what happened,” said he. “I set off the blast. After that I went down into the bottom of the gulch to get Burke’s horse. Naturally, I had secured the animal at a good safe distance from the place where I was exploding the dynamite. Two fellows jumped at me from the chaparral—one of them was Shoup and the other was this chap, Geohegan. They threw me down, and for a few moments I was stunned. When I got my wits back Shoup was covering me with a revolver. He ordered me to remove my clothes. When I had done that, Geohegan drew a bead on me while Shoup removed his own clothes281 and got into mine. Then I was made to put on Shoup’s garments, and the two tied me hand and foot and left me. When they came, I reckon they had only one horse between them; but, when they left, each had a mount, for Shoup had taken Burke’s horse. You believe me?” Lenning broke off to ask. “I know it’s a fishy story, but it’s the truth. I don’t want you to think that I’m lying.”

Blunt remained silent, clearly incredulous. Frank, however, had confidence in Lenning and felt sure he was telling the truth.

“Go on with the rest of it, Jode,” said he. “It’s a strange yarn, but it rings true.”

“Things happened early in the afternoon, yesterday,” Lenning proceeded. “Those scoundrels left me bound and helpless, and I remained right on the spot where they had dropped me for the rest of that afternoon and all night.”

Lenning shivered, and a light of horror rose in his shifty eyes.

“I’m a coward,” he whispered. “No one can know what I suffered, all through those black hours of the night, lying helpless on the slope of the gulch wall. I yelled and shouted for help, but of course there was no one within miles of me. I was afraid some prowling mountain lion would spring upon me, or a wild cat or—or—I can’t begin to tell you of all the things I was afraid of. And yet I had to lie there all through the night, every minute an hour and every hour an eternity. When dawn came, I began to have a little nerve, and when the sun rose I began to think about trying harder to free myself. It was astonishingly easy, when I once got around to it.”

“How did you do it?” queried Blunt.

“Well, I twisted and rolled up the slope until I reached282 some of the rocks that had been thrown out by the blast. They had jagged corners, sharp as a knife. I turned on my back and scraped the ropes that bound my hands against the ledge of one of the broken fragments. Pretty soon I had freed my hands. It did not take me long after that to get the ropes off my feet. Then I started for Dolliver’s. I had it in mind to telephone from there to Mr. Bradlaugh, so that he would know why I had been delayed. You see,” and a bitter smile played about Lenning’s lips, “I had a notion Burke might think I had stolen his horse and run away. I didn’t know anything about the stage robbery, although I felt positive Shoup and Geohegan were up to something unlawful, and were going to try and make it appear as though I had a hand in it. The sun was high, the forenoon was more than half gone, and I was in a hurry to reach Dolliver’s and telephone to Mr. Bradlaugh.

“But I was weak as a cat, Merriwell. I had brought a lunch with me from the mine and had eaten it at noon. Of course I had had no supper or breakfast, and the horrors of the night were pretty well calculated to wear me out. It took me some time to get down the cañon, and I was less than halfway to Dolliver’s when I heard a sound of galloping. I thought at once that Shoup and Geohegan were coming back to look after me, and crawled out of sight among the rocks. Then,” and Lenning laughed huskily, “luck began to turn my way.”

“What happened?” asked Frank, absorbed in Lenning’s recital.

“About the strangest thing you could imagine, Chip,” replied Lenning; “something that’s stranger even than what I’ve already told you. Shoup and Geohegan were really coming up the cañon, and each had a bag in front of his horse. They stopped within a stone’s throw of283 where I was hiding, hid the two bags among the bowlders, and then mounted and rode on as fast as they could. I thought they were going to see what had become of me, but possibly I was mistaken. If they had only gone to the gulch, they would have been back long before this. People say I’m a good schemer. Well, I did some scheming then. First I changed the two bags from where Shoup and Geohegan had left them, then I went on to Dolliver’s and told him what I wanted him to do. He gave me something to eat, and I rushed back here. And here I’ve been ever since, waiting for you to come—and for Shoup and Geohegan to show up.”

“What if Shoup and Geohegan do show up?” asked Blunt.

“We’ll capture them,” answered Lenning fiercely. “The three of us could turn the trick.”

“Where are the bags, Lenning?” queried Merriwell.

“Around back of this pile of bowlders. This way, if you want to see them.”

He stumbled around the base of the huge rock pile, Merriwell and Blunt following him. In the narrow space between the rocks and the foot of the steep cañon wall lay the two mail bags. They had not, as yet, been tampered with in any way.

Here was evidence of the truth of Lenning’s wild story—evidence that could not be doubted.



Lenning certainly had been playing in hard luck. He had started into the hills with the very innocent idea of setting off a blast in the gulch, and fate had played him a scurvy trick by bringing down on him two scoundrels like Shoup and Geohegan. Toward the end of Lenning’s weird experience, however, fortune had smiled, and the plunder secured by the road agents had fallen into his hands.

“You’ve had a pretty tough time of it, Jode,” said Merriwell, his eyes on the mail bags, “but you’ve made a star play in getting back this government property. Great work! There was about one chance in a thousand that these mail pouches would come close enough for you to get a whack at them, but the chance came your way and you made the most of it. Where did Shoup and Geohegan unload the sacks?”

“Across the cañon, a little farther up,” Lenning replied.

“And you toted ’em down here and stowed ’em in a different place so as to hold ’em out on the measly junipers?” asked Blunt, his sloe-black eyes beginning to glow.


“And, according to your notion, Shoup and Geohegan will surely return for their loot, at which time you, and Chip, and I will make a surround and take a little of the deputy sheriff’s work off his hands?”

“That’s what I was thinking.”

Bueno! All that makes the biggest kind of a hit with me. Chip, those two curs will certainly come back after285 the bags, and we can work through the program just as Lenning has chalked it up. It’s a great plan, by thunder!”

“It’s a plan for the deputy sheriff,” said Merriwell, “and he’s the fellow who ought to be on the job. Why didn’t you figure it that way, Jode?” he asked. “Why did you send for Blunt and me, instead of Hawkins?”

Lenning swerved his eyes quickly to Merriwell.

“You understand, don’t you, that I had to have my two best friends?” he asked. “I couldn’t take chances with Hawkins, nor with any one else. Had the deputy sheriff found me here, like this, with both mail bags in my possession, his first move would have been to arrest me for holding up the stage. My record is against me; circumstances are against me. Hawkins would never swallow that yarn I gave you fellows.”

“I reckon that’s correct,” agreed Blunt. “You had to make something of a mystery out of that telephone message to Chip in order to play safe.”

“That’s it,” Lenning nodded. “I only wanted two to come, because two would be enough for my work here. I wanted those two to be my best friends, so they’d take my word as to what had happened. I didn’t want Chip to know who had sent for him, or to tell anybody where he was going, because, if the news got out, some one else who wasn’t so friendly might have taken it into their heads to come to the cañon and interview me. I had to fight shy of that.”

“By glory,” breathed Blunt, “but you’ve sure got a head for plans! You worked through that complicated puzzle with ground to spare.”

“I guess you sabe, all right,” pursued Lenning grimly, “that if you were not friends of mine you’d say right off that I’d told you a cock-and-bull story, and that I was286 really one of the thieves, but that I had lost my nerve and was trying to pull out of a bad scrape without taking any of the consequences.”

“We’re a good way from thinking that, Jode,” said Merriwell earnestly.

“I’m no end grateful to you for hanging on to your confidence in me. There are others, though, who won’t be so considerate. I can’t go back to Ophir without taking Shoup and Geohegan along. Understand? If I do, I shall be arrested. I’ve figured that all out, and know what I’ve got to do.”

Merriwell and Blunt had not looked at the affair from this angle. They were not slow to perceive that Lenning was right, however. His record, in the matter of the robbery, had to be cleared by the capture of the real robbers, or he would surely be regarded with suspicion himself.

“You’re right, Lenning,” declared Merriwell, his face taking on a resolute cast, “we shall have to capture Shoup and Geohegan. The next question is, how are we to do it? Are you armed?”


“Neither are we. Undoubtedly the two road agents are pretty well heeled. There are three of us and only two of them, but, with guns, they’ll have far and away the best of it, unless——”

Merriwell’s voice trailed away into silence and he dropped his head thoughtfully.

“Unless what, pard?” said Blunt.

“Why,” and Frank looked up, “unless we can use a little strategy. If we can engineer a bit of a surprise, perhaps we could capture those fellows before they have a chance to draw their weapons and shoot.”

“Now you’re shouting, Chip!” jubilated the cowboy.287 “Strategy, that’s the thing. Let’s hatch up something and then slam it at those junipers before they sabe what we’re about.”

This was the idea, and the three lads fell to work on it without delay. They finally concluded that they would watch and listen vigilantly, and when they heard or saw the road agents approaching they would hustle across the cañon to the place where the mail bags had originally been left. There they would hide themselves, leap out on the thieves when they bent to pick up the sacks, and trust to strength, and quickness, and the surprise of the attack to accomplish their purpose.

It seemed like a desperate plan, although Barzy Blunt chuckled over it and appeared to consider it a joke more than anything else. Merriwell, although fully resolved, had grave apprehensions regarding the outcome. Lenning was almost panic-stricken, but his needs were great enough to master his fears.

For the rest of the afternoon the lads took turns scanning the cañon from the top of the pile of bowlders. The evening shadows began to lengthen, and Blunt suggested that some one go to Dolliver’s after food.

It was decided that the cowboy should make the trip. Lenning begged him to hurry, for, if Shoup and Geohegan should come while he was away, the plan for a capture might fail because there were only two left to carry it out.

Blunt was gone only half an hour. It had been an anxious half hour for Merriwell and Lenning, but it had passed without bringing any sign of the two road agents.

“I told Dolliver what we were up to,” said Blunt, while he and his companions were eating the cold rations he had brought. “He’s a good old scout, that Dolliver person,288 and he wished us all sorts of luck. Said if we didn’t make our capture before morning he’d tote breakfast for three up the cañon.”

“If anything at all happens,” returned Merriwell, “it will happen before morning.”

“That’s my notion to a t-y, ty,” agreed the cowboy.

A long and fruitless vigil followed. The lads took turn about doing guard duty, and while one kept on the alert, the other two slept.

Frank had his turn at sentry-go about midnight. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant piece of work.

The bottom of the cañon was as dark as a pocket. Overhead was a broad streak of sky, glittering with stars, edged by the jagged crests of the cañon’s walls.

The silence that reigned in the depths of the defile was intense. The heavy breathing of Blunt and Lenning seemed to rumble around the rock pile, and even the ticking of Frank’s watch grew in volume until it equaled that of an eight-day clock.

Now and then the weird quiet was broken by the distant wail of a panther, or the far-off yelp of a coyote. During the three hours of Frank’s watch, however, no hoofbeats sounded among the rocks, and no human prowlers came in quest of the mail bags.

It was three in the morning when Frank roused Blunt to relieve him. The cowboy got up with a yawn.

“Anything happened, Chip?” he asked.


“Blamed queer! I can’t understand why those two holdup men leave their loot for so long.”

“I can’t, either. Maybe they’re having a hard time dodging Hawkins and his posse.”

“Like enough. Hawkins is a regular bloodhound when he strikes a criminal’s trail. I hope we’re able to accomplish289 something here, just on Lenning’s account. He had it about right when he said he’d only have to show himself in Ophir to be arrested. The fact that he was found with the mail bags would be enough to land him in jail. Say, he’s up against it for fair.”

“He’s playing in the hardest kind of luck, Barzy, and no mistake,” Frank agreed.

“He’s got a fight on his hands if he ever clears his record.”

“That’s the fight he’s been making ever since he broke with Billy Shoup. Whenever he takes a step forward and begins to hope he’ll win out, something happens to make him slip back. Everybody’s so darned anxious to believe the worst of him.”

“That’s what a fellow gets for having a black past. People, as a rule, judge a man by what he was, and not so much by what he is or what he’s trying to be. That yarn Lenning sprang on us to account for his failure to get back to the mine, and for the way he got hold of the mail bags, was certainly a beaut. Not more than two in a million would have taken any stock in it, but Lenning sure picked the two. Even at that, Chip, now and then a doubt comes sneaking into my head.”

“What sort of a doubt?”

“Why, that Lenning is putting one over on us, somehow. I know I hadn’t ought to have any suspicions, but a fellow can’t always help what he thinks.”

“Don’t turn against Lenning, Barzy,” urged Merriwell. “Before long something will happen to prove that he’s given us the right of it. The mail bags come pretty nearly proving that he has told the truth, I think.”

“I’ll hang on to Lenning as long as you do, pard,” said the cowboy. “Now, find a nice soft rock, curl up,290 and catch your forty winks. I’ll keep a lookout for the road agents.”

It was several minutes before Frank dozed off. His bed was hard and far from comfortable, but he slept soundly, nevertheless. When he awoke there was a sound of voices in his ears, and the sun was looking over the rim of the eastern wall of the defile. He sat up. Dolliver was standing at the base of the bowlder heap, talking with Blunt and Lenning.

“Here’s news, Chip,” jubilated the cowboy, looking around. “Dolliver brings our breakfast, and also a report he just received over the phone from town. What do you think has happened?”

“I’m not in shape to guess conundrums, Barzy,” Frank answered. “What’s the news?”

“Hawkins and his posse have captured Shoup and Geohegan—and Shoup was wearing Lenning’s clothes and riding a sorrel with a white forward foot. How’s that?”

“Bully!” cried Frank, and the next moment he was on his feet with a cheer.



The skies were brightening for Jode Lenning. His story of what had happened in the gulch has been borne out by the capture of the road agents and by the discovery that Shoup was wearing Lenning’s clothes and riding Burke’s horse. Blunt was beaming and Lenning was radiant.

“Ye’ve had yer fuss around this rock pile all fer nothin’,” remarked Dolliver.

“Glad of it,” Frank laughed. “Where did Hawkins catch those fellows, Dolliver?”

“On the trail between here and Ophir. Shoup an’ t’other chap are swearin’ by all they’re worth that they don’t know a thing about the holdup, but Burke’s hoss an’ Lenning’s clothes are two things Shoup can’t explain. Hawkins is now trying to get the road agents to tell what they done with the mail bags. They won’t tell. I opine they think they stand a show to dodge the consequences if they keep mum about that missin’ mail.”

“We’ll get the bags to town as soon as possible,” said Frank.

“Good idee,” approved Dolliver. “Put away this here grub, fust thing, then come down to my shack an’ git yore hosses.”

“Did you telephone anything about the mail bags, Dolliver?” asked Lenning.

“Nary a word. I jest kept all that was goin’ on here to myself. You fellers can explain about the mail bags. It’s none o’ my put in.”

There were three happy youngsters who sat at the foot292 of the bowlder heap that morning and ate the grub Dolliver had brought to them. A cheerful mind is a good appetizer, and the lads were not long in cleaning up the supply of food. After that the mail bags were shouldered, and the return to Dolliver’s was made.

On the way down the cañon the boys acquainted the rancher with many matters of which he had been in ignorance. The story told by Lenning was gone over for his benefit, and struck as hard a blow at his credulity as it had at Merriwell’s and Blunt’s. But recent events had clinched the truth of the yarn, so all Dolliver could do was to believe and marvel.

“Sounds purty far-fetched, an’ that’s a fact,” declared the rancher, “but ye can’t dodge facts, not noways. Everything’s workin’ around purty good fer you, Lenning. I’m glad as blazes that I made up my mind to help ye with that telephonin’ yesterday. There was one spell that I reckoned I hadn’t better have anythin’ ter do with ye; then, when it kinder struck me how Merriwell was yore friend, and that his jedgment was a heap better’n the ordinary run, I jest nat’rally made up my mind ter do what I could.”

“I’m obliged to you, Dolliver,” said Lenning.

“Let it go at that. I’m a rough old propersition, I reckon, but I like ter help a feller when he’s down. An’ you was purty well down, wasn’t ye, when ye stuck yer head in at my door yesterday an’ asked would I send that myster’ous message ter town?”

“I was,” said Lenning, with emphasis.

“So I allowed,” and the chuckle sounded in the rancher’s hairy throat.

Once at the ranch, Frank and Blunt lost little time getting their horses under saddle.

293 “One of us will have to carry the mail bags, Barzy,” said Frank, “and one of us will have to carry Lenning.”

“You let Lenning ride with you, Chip,” the cowboy suggested. “This cayuse of mine never carried double, and I don’t know how he’d act. I’ll agree to make him tote the mail bags, though. Got any rope, Dolliver?”

Dolliver secured a reata, and Blunt used it to make the two bags fast behind his saddle. When the cowboy mounted, his horse showed some temper at the unaccustomed load at the saddle cantle by pitching and plunging. It was not much of a fracas, and Blunt quickly got the animal steadied down.

“Takes quite a hoss ter git the best o’ you, Barzy,” grinned Dolliver. “Ye can ride, boy.”

Merriwell took Lenning up behind him. The latter, before they started, reached out a grateful hand toward the rancher.

“Some time, Dolliver,” said Lenning, “I hope I can do something for you. Until that time comes, my thanks will have to be your pay.”

“Shucks!” grunted Dolliver. “Think I have ter take money for every blame’ thing? I don’t want nothin’ more. What I’d like a whole lot, though, would be ter have a couple of friends like Merriwell an’ Blunt.”

“You’ve got ’em, pard,” said the cowboy. “Eh, Chip? If you ever get in a hole, send us a hurry-up call and we’ll come a-smokin’. Adios, Dolliver.”

“So long!” called Frank.

Lenning waved his hand. Then, the next moment, both horses were galloping along the trail toward Ophir.

“I’m pulling out of this a good deal better than I thought I would,” remarked Lenning. “I suppose I’ll have to get another job, though. Burke wouldn’t hold my place at the tanks for me.”

294 “That’s where you’re wrong,” Frank answered. “Mr. Bradlaugh told Burke to give you the benefit of the doubt, and to let one of the mill hands fill in as night watchman until you come back.”

“Mr. Bradlaugh did that?”

“Sure! I was around when he gave orders to the super.”

“Then I’m mighty glad the general manager isn’t going to be disappointed in me,” Lenning said, with a good deal of feeling. “That ball game, last Saturday, made me a host of friends, Chip.”

“Good friends and true!” declared Frank. “By work like this, up Mohave Cañon, you’re making yourself solid with everybody, Jode.”

“Things looked pretty dark for me for a while.”

“I’ve heard folks tell that it’s always darkest just before day,” put in the cowboy. “That’s the case with you, I reckon, Lenning.”

It was a glorious morning. Arizona mornings, especially in early December, are always glorious. Southern Arizona has the finest climate in the world during the winter, and the finest part of every perfect day comes directly after sunrise.

Mile after mile rolled out from under the galloping hoofs of the horses. For a long time the three lads rode in silence, and it was Lenning who was first to speak.

“I think, fellows,” said he, “that I had better go directly to the mine.”

“Of course,” Frank agreed. “What you want to do, Jode, is to slip into your blankets at the bunk house and pound your ear good and hard. To-night, I suppose, you’ll have to go on duty at the tanks.”

“That’s right. The mail bags, though, ought to be taken into town as soon as possible.”

295 “I’ll see that they reach the post office in good shape,” said Barzy Blunt. “I’m the fast mail between Dolliver’s and Ophir this morning,” he added whimsically. “The mail’s twenty-four hours’ late, but it won’t lose much more time while I’m getting it over the road.”

“The professor’s check for twenty-five thousand ought to be in one of those bags.”

“Is that right?” asked Lenning.

“Yes,” said young Merriwell. “Mr. Bradlaugh got a telegram saying the payment for that mine in the Picketpost Mountains would be along yesterday. The professor was scared stiff when he heard of the robbery. He thought he had lost the money for good.”

“You were waiting for the professor to close up his mining deal before you left for the North, weren’t you?” went on Lenning.

“That’s all that has been keeping us.”

“Then I suppose you’ll be leaving pretty soon?”

“Just as soon as we can.”

Both Lenning and Blunt fell silent. They hated to think that Merriwell, Clancy, and Ballard were presently to leave Ophir, and for good.

Frank and his chums had made many friends during their stay in southern Arizona, and, for Blunt and Lenning, at least, their going would leave a big gap in the little mining town.

“I hate to think of it, pard,” said the cowboy presently, in a subdued tone.

“Same here,” added Lenning, with just the barest shake in his voice.

“You and your pards, Chip,” proceeded Blunt, “have done a whole lot for athletics in this section of the Southwest. You blew in here, I remember, with pretty nearly everybody down on you, but you started right in and296 cleaned up on the unpopular sentiment. I reckon there won’t be anybody but will hate to see you pull up stakes.”

Frank was conscious of many regrets himself. Never would he forget the clear, beautiful days, the happy friendships, or the exciting experiences which he had encountered in that far-away corner of the Southwest.

“We’ve had a good time here, fellows,” said he, “but we didn’t come to Ophir to camp down indefinitely. We have stayed a whole lot longer than we intended. Clancy, Ballard, and I are on a roughing-it trip. The trip was originally planned for six months, you know, but it may be longer than that. You see, we’re missing school, and dad is a stickler about having me keep up my studies along with the athletics. Professor Borrodaile rather helped us over that part of the difficulty. He has become our private tutor, and when we do get back to Farnham Hall, we’ll be up with the rest of our class. Besides that, we’re having a whole lot of fun that we shouldn’t have had otherwise. I’m sorry to leave Ophir, but we’ve got to move—that’s all.”

Again silence settled over the three boys. Barzy and Jode, no doubt, were thinking of what they owed Chip Merriwell. They owed him a good deal, too, for Frank was a true chip off the old block and had passed around many of the teachings which had been handed down to him by his illustrious father.

Presently, almost before the boys dreamed they were so near, the croon of the stamps at the mine broke on their ears. At the trail which forked from the main road to lead to the mining camp, Frank and Jode turned, leaving the cowboy to hustle on into town with the recovered mail pouches.

“I’ll report to King, the expert in charge of the cyanide works,” Lenning said, after Merry had hitched297 Borak by the bunk house, “and then I’ll hunt my blankets. Are you going to stop, Chip?”

“I’ll just speak a word with Burke,” Frank answered.

He accompanied Lenning toward the cyanide plant, climbing the slope that led to the mill, and lingering near the long ore platform. Then he watched while Lenning made his way to the laboratory building, disappeared inside, and, after a few minutes, reappeared and climbed the slope in Frank’s direction.

Fate, at that moment, had once more taken Lenning’s affairs in hand. All the details of an accident were forming, and the accident itself was about to project itself suddenly into the peaceful activities of the camp.

Frank and Jode, as it chanced, were so placed at that moment as to become active participants in the near tragedy which was about to be launched.



Colonel Hawtrey got the better of Mr. Bradlaugh on the golf links that Monday forenoon. This event, no doubt, pleased the colonel mightily, and yet there was something at the back of the colonel’s consciousness which disturbed him.

Young Merriwell had come to him and had spoken a good word for the colonel’s cast-off nephew. Rather brusquely the colonel had refused to meet Merriwell’s advances on Lenning’s behalf. This, as Hawtrey fondly assured himself, was because the Lenning matter was less an affair of pride than of principle. Yet, for all that, the colonel was sorry that he had been so unyielding.

After Merriwell had left the golf links with Burke and Clancy, Professor Borrodaile had appeared excitedly and announced the robbery of the stage. Instantly, Colonel Hawtrey had thought of Lenning’s mysterious absence from the mine, and, almost as quickly, he had settled it to his own satisfaction that Lenning must have had a hand in the robbery.

So far from making the colonel contented on the score of turning a deaf ear to Merriwell’s plea for Lenning, the information about the robbery and the colonel’s deductions merely disquieted him the more.

In the afternoon Colonel Hawtrey went back to his home in Gold Hill. Here he came directly under the influence of his other nephew, Ellis Darrel.

Darrel, at one time, had occupied a position almost identical with Lenning’s at that moment. There was this difference, however, that Darrel’s hands were clean of299 any crooked work. He had been plotted against, and the colonel had cast him off unjustly.

Merriwell, believing in Darrel, had helped him to regain his place in his uncle’s regard. And now Darrel, perhaps influenced by Merriwell’s example, was trying to befriend his half brother, Lenning.

The colonel and Darrel had had many talks regarding Lenning. In these interviews Darrel had tried to patch up the differences between the colonel and Jode. In this he had no success whatever. The colonel had finally forbidden Darrel to mention Lenning’s name.

Back from his game with Mr. Bradlaugh, and thoroughly ill-humored because of his disturbing thoughts about Lenning, the colonel repaired to his study. Here Darrel met him and attempted to broach the forbidden subject of his half brother.

“That will do, Ellis!” cried the colonel sharply. “I want no more of your views on the subject of Jode. He has proved himself a crook and a coward—two classes of people I have no use for whatever.”

“I am only asking you to give him a chance, Uncle Alvah,” pleaded Darrel.

“Merriwell seems to be taking good care of Jode. As for a chance, why, the young scoundrel will have to make his own chances for himself. If he could only prove that he had a little courage, a little honesty. I might feel differently toward him. But he’s a coward, he has a yellow streak—and that makes him a disgrace to the family.”

“Then you won’t——”

“I’ll not discuss this any longer with you,” snapped the colonel, and flung himself into a chair and picked up a paper.

Later in the day news came to Gold Hill that the300 two road agents who had held up the stage had been seen in Bitter Root Cañon, and one of them rode a sorrel horse with a white stocking foot and was believed to be Lenning.

“I don’t doubt it,” growled the colonel. “Is there no depth to Lenning’s baseness? If he is bound to pile disgrace upon disgrace, I wish, for the sake of the rest of us, he would migrate to some other part of the country.”

“I doubt the report, colonel,” said Darrel stoutly. “Jode has turned over a new leaf and he is trying honestly to live down the past. He had no hand in that robbery.”

“What means his absence from the mine?” cried the colonel heatedly. “Put two and two together, Ellis! For Heaven’s sake, don’t try to appear so dense. Lenning was seen in the cañon, near where the stage was robbed—and he was riding a horse that answers the description of Burke’s.”

“Blunt and Ballard thought Lenning was the fellow they saw,” qualified Darrel. “They weren’t sure of it.”

“Well, I’m sure of it, so we’ll let it go at that.”

The irascible old colonel went to bed that night in a bad temper. He did not sleep, however, but lay and tossed restlessly. Visions came to him—visions of Jode and of his only sister, Jode’s mother. In these midnight fancies the face of Jode was haggard and repentant, and the face of the mother was pitiful and pleading. Finally, along toward morning, the colonel could bear his thoughts no longer.

He got up and, for two or three hours, he paced the confines of his bedroom. Something was urging him to probe the facts in Jode’s case. He remembered that he had promised Burke he would visit the mine and settle301 for the horse and the riding gear. Why not go to the mine that morning?

When Ellis Darrel came down to breakfast, he discovered that his uncle had gone away. Blixen, the most spirited driving horse in the stable, had been put to the road wagon, and Colonel Hawtrey had been last seen making for the Ophir trail.

“It’s something about Jode that’s taking him in that direction,” thought Darrel happily. “The old chap isn’t so hard-hearted as he wants me to think.”

All the way along the trail through Bitter Root Cañon Blixen gave the colonel a handful. The horse had not been out of the stable for two or three days, and was even more spirited and hard to manage than usual. Perhaps it was a good thing for the colonel that Blixen took all his attention. He had no leisure for disagreeable thoughts about Lenning.

The journey from Gold Hill to Ophir had not absorbed much of Blixen’s surplus energy, for he tore through the latter town at a tremendous clip. Hawtrey had to twist the reins around his hands and curb the plunging roadster with all his strength.

When well out of Ophir and close to the mine, the colonel passed Barzy Blunt, galloping the other way, with two bags roped behind him to the back of his horse. The colonel was too busy with Blixen to get a good look at the bags. Blunt shouted something to him as they rapidly passed each other, but he could not distinguish the words.

With a grind of wheels the road wagon lurched into the mining camp and up to the door of the headquarters adobe. A Mexican stood at the door.

“Where is the superintendent?” the colonel inquired.

“Him gone to stamp mill,” was the answer.

302 The colonel turned and started to drive up the slope toward the head of the mill. In taking this move it was necessary for him to cross the narrow railroad track by which loaded ore cars were carried full to the ore platform and empty away from it. To understand clearly what took place, a little description of the method of delivering ore to the Ophir Mill will be necessary.

The ore cars were of iron and supplied with suitable brakes. They were filled at the various shaft houses and drawn by teams up the incline to the ore platform. Here the teams were taken away, the brakes on the cars were set, and the wheels blocked with stones, and the unloading begun. When the unloading was finished, the blocking was knocked away, and the cars slid down the sleep slope of their own momentum.

The track at the head of the mill formed a loop. Thus the empty cars, when released, rolled down the hill and back to the main track before their momentum was lost.

This morning, in some mysterious manner, a loaded car broke away and started down the incline. The brakes on the car had not been set—which was an infringement of the rules—and the teamster who had left the car in position for unloading had been content merely to block the wheels.

Fate worked out many little details in bringing about the near tragedy that morning, and this matter of the runaway car was but one of them. The colonel, just as the car broke loose and began slipping slowly down the steep grade, was driving across the rails, far below, planning to come up the slope to the mill by the wagon road.

In some manner a forward wheel caught in one of the rails. Blixen, impatient of the sudden and unexpected303 pull on the traces, stopped and began to back. A shout from somewhere, booming clearly above the roar of the stamps, apprised the colonel of his danger from the ore car.

Snatching the whip from its socket, he struck Blixen sharply. The horse plunged ahead, breaking away from the carriage. The colonel, by the pull on the lines, was dragged over the dashboard and flung across the tracks. His limp hand released the reins, and Blixen raced on among the buildings and ore dumps of the camp.

But the colonel, stunned by his rough contact with the iron rail, lay unconscious across the track. He was in deadly peril. There was no one near enough to drag him out of his dangerous predicament, and the heavy ore car was plunging toward him at frightful speed.

Burke, coming suddenly out upon the ore platform at the head of the mill, gasped as he stared downward and took in the tragic scene. The next moment, he groaned and staggered back.

“Nothing can save him!” he cried huskily. “The runaway car will grind him to pieces!”

But the superintendent was wrong in his conclusions. At the very moment the car broke from its moorings, Merriwell was standing beside the track, halfway down the hill. He was waiting for Lenning to climb to his side from the laboratory building.

Lenning, having seen Burke come to the ore platform, changed his course. Instead of making straight toward Merriwell, who was part way down the hillside, he started for the crest of the hill at the place where Burke had appeared.

He was close to the track, a little below the ore platform, when the runaway car came charging down the304 grade. Merriwell was perhaps three hundred feet below him. Far below Merriwell, lying unconscious across the rails, was Colonel Hawtrey. Lenning, his ears accustomed to the roar of the stamps, heard and distinguished the stricken, hopeless cry of the super from the platform above. And then, in a flash, the outcast nephew planned a move which might save his uncle.

“The switch!” he yelled, motioning with his hands. “The switch, Merriwell! Throw it!

Merriwell, although frantically alive to the colonel’s danger, yet managed to keep his wits about him. Ten feet below him was a switch by which cars were sometimes placed upon a short spur track. If Merry could throw the switch before the car reached it, the car would be hurled to the siding and the colonel would be saved.

But, as Merry quickly realized, the car was coming so rapidly that the switch could not be thrown before the leaping ore carrier was past the spur. Then Merry realized something else.

Utterly oblivious of danger to himself, Jode Lenning had crouched beside the rails and then leaped recklessly at the flying car. Fortune favored him. Although cruelly buffeted by his landing on the loaded ore, Lenning gained the car and laid hands on the brake. Then, to Merriwell, Jode’s purpose became clear. Jode would put on the brakes, thus slackening the car’s speed and giving Merriwell time to throw the switch.

The next moment Merry had flung himself at the target and twisted the hand lever.



All this had happened in a very brief space of time. The many details which, combined, made the accident possible, stretched over a period of some duration, but the accident itself passed from beginning to conclusion in a few ticks of a watch.

Sick and unnerved, Merriwell leaned against the target. The screech of the ore car’s wheels rasped wildly in his ears. He had a glimpse of the runaway ore carrier sliding from the loop track to the switch, with Jode kneeling on the ore and clinging to the brake wheel.

The next instant Merriwell realized that Jode, by his daring work, had plunged himself into a fresh catastrophe.

The spur track was short and lay on level ground. There was no barrier at the end of it, but a plunge downward for half a dozen feet right from the ends of the rails. Lenning, with the car and its load, must take that plunge!

The events of Lenning’s past life were such as to lead people to believe that he was a coward, and had a yellow streak. Yet how could that be when he voluntarily threw himself into terrible danger to save his uncle?

Under Merriwell’s horrified eyes the ore car sped out to the end of the spur and dived downward. Not a cry escaped Lenning as, white-faced and rigid, he tipped off into space with the load of ore.

Colonel Hawtrey was himself a witness of his nephew’s306 plunge from the end of the spur track. His senses returned to him quickly and he lifted himself on one elbow. As it chanced, his eyes were fixed on the spot where Jode and the car were shooting off into space from the spur.

Burke was another eyewitness. Quickly as he could come, he rushed down the hill and hurried out to the end of the little siding. There he and Merriwell stood together, looking down.

The car lay bottom up on the ground below. The ore it had carried was scattered widely.

“Do you see him?” Burke whispered hoarsely in Merriwell’s ear.

“Yes,” Merriwell answered, and forthwith began descending to the foot of the slight slope.

Lenning had been thrown quite a little distance from the car, and was lying face downward in the sand and gravel. He was silent and motionless.

“Jode!” called Frank, kneeling beside him and touching his shoulder.

There was no answer from the lad who had fought so hard to clear his record. With a sinking sensation at his heart, Frank lifted Jode in his arms and turned his face upward. His cheek and temple were gashed and bleeding, and his eyes were closed.

“Can’t he talk?” asked Burke. “Is he unconscious?”

Frank nodded. “Let’s take him somewhere,” said he; “to the bunk house, where we can get him on a bed. He must be badly hurt, Burke.”

“I don’t see how he ever came through that alive!” muttered the superintendent.

A crowd had gathered, racing to the scene from the cyanide works, from the blacksmith shop, from the mill.

307 “That was the bravest thing I ever saw!” declared King, the cyanide expert. “Is he going to live, Burke?”

“Of course he’s going to live!” declared Frank, white-lipped but with a voice of conviction. “What do you think now,” he added, “you fellows that thought Jode was a thief and had a yellow streak?”

“If he had ever had a yellow streak,” returned King, “he has wiped it out for good and all.”

“King,” said Burke quietly, “telephone to town for a doctor. The rest of you men,” he added, “go back to your work. Everything possible will be done for Lenning—I don’t need to tell you that. Come on, Merriwell,” he finished, “and let’s get him to the bunk house.”

As carefully as they could, Frank and the super lifted Lenning between them and bore him away to the long, low building where the miners and mill men had their sleeping quarters.

They had hardly laid Lenning down on his cot, before Colonel Hawtrey, his face ashen, pushed into the bunk house and up to the side of the unconscious boy. The colonel’s clothing was torn and his hat was gone, but he was giving no thought to himself.

For a moment he stared into the haggard, bleeding face of his nephew; then he turned to Frank and the superintendent.

“Tell me about this,” he said, in a queer, dry voice. “I missed some of the details. The ore car broke loose, I remember that; then I tried to get out of the way, and one of the front wheels of my carriage became locked in the track; I struck Blixen with the whip, and the singletree broke, and I was jerked over the dashboard. When I came to myself, the ore car, with Jode aboard, was pitching off the end of the spur tracks. Fill in the gaps for me, please.”

308 “Jode yelled to me,” said Frank, “to run and throw the switch. At the same time Jode jumped aboard the car as it rushed past him. If he hadn’t put on the brakes, the car would have got by the switch before I could have thrown it. That’s all, colonel. Jode tipped off the end of the spur with the car and the ore.”

The colonel moistened his dry lips with his tongue.

“Is—is he dead?” he asked, in a low voice.

“No,” replied Burke.

“Send for a doctor and do everything possible to save him.”

“We have sent for a doctor, colonel, and I don’t think there’ll be any trouble about saving him. He was in splendid physical condition to stand such a shock. But if the car had fallen on him, or the ore—well, there’d have been another story to tell.”

Without a word, Colonel Hawtrey drew a chair to the head of the bed and sat down to wait. And all the while he was waiting he never took his eyes from Jode’s unconscious face.

In less than twenty minutes the doctor was at the mine. Removing his coat, he rolled up his sleeves and went to work with professional briskness.

“What is your verdict, doctor?” inquired Colonel Hawtrey, after the examination had been finished.

“A fractured leg is about all the damage, colonel,” was the answer, “so far as I can see. He may be hurt internally, but I don’t think so. We’ll know more about that later on. Jode has been doing some great work, eh? He not only recovers the stolen mail bags and sends them to town, but he caps his exploits by saving your life, colonel. There must be something pretty fine about a fellow who can do all that.”

309 “Saved the mail bags?” repeated Hawtrey. “What do you mean by that?”

Just here Frank took the conversation into his own charge, and proceeded to tell the colonel all that had happened in Mohave Cañon. The colonel’s face was a little pale as he listened, but his expression did not undergo a change in any particular. He was an iron man, with an iron control of his feelings.

The doctor set the broken leg; then, when it was done, he took measures to revive the injured lad. Under the doctor’s ministrations it was not long before Jode opened his eyes.

At first his gaze was troubled and bewildered. Finally, realization came to him and he stretched out his hand to Merriwell.

“Chip,” said he, “we had to do it quick, but we did it well. I—I wonder how I ever had the nerve!”

“Never mind about that, old man,” answered Frank, with twitching lip and blurred eyes. “You saved the colonel. It was you, Jode. I had mighty little to do with it.”

The colonel arose from his chair and stepped to the side of the cot. For a moment uncle and nephew gazed into each other’s eyes.

“I have wronged you, my lad,” said the colonel. “Are we going to let bygones be bygones?”

“If you want it that way, colonel,” Jode answered.

And then their hands met in one long, lingering clasp. Merriwell stepped out of the bunk-house door, and stood in the clear, bright sunshine.

“At last!” he murmured.



Jode Lenning’s experience with Shoup and Geohegan, his recovery of the stolen mail bags, and his rescue of Colonel Hawtrey from the runaway ore car were topics of discussion in that part of Arizona for a good many days.

Geohegan, it developed, was the cracksman who, on a former occasion, had helped Shoup break into the safe at the cyanide works and make off with four bars of bullion. Hawkins had been hunting for Shoup and Geohegan on the score of that attempted robbery, and he had about given up finding the rascally pair, when they dropped into his hands through that holdup in the cañon.

Shoup, although a young fellow, was a drug fiend. He had gone from bad to worse, until now he had committed a crime which, in all likelihood, would have to be expiated in some government prison.

In the confession which Geohegan made, it appeared that the two thieves had blundered upon Lenning entirely by chance. Taking his clothes and his horse was a plan of Shoup’s. After hiding the mail bags in the cañon, the two robbers had gone into the gulch. Here they discovered some of Hawkins’ posse, and fled to escape them. They were followed relentlessly, and finally captured.

Two drafts for twenty-five thousand dollars each, one for the professor and one for Mrs. Boorland, were found in one of the stolen mail pouches. Thus the matter of the mine in the Picketpost Mountains was wound up, and nothing further remained to delay the departure of Frank and his chums from southern Arizona.

311 The one thing Frank had wished for with all his heart—the reconciliation between Colonel Hawtrey and Lenning—had been accomplished. The lad now felt that he could leave Ophir with a cheerful spirit.

Among the first to pay Lenning a visit in the Ophir bunk house and congratulate him on his brightening prospects were Clancy and Ballard.

“Don’t congratulate me, fellows,” said Lenning. “Give Merriwell the credit. He was my friend when every one else had turned against me. Whenever I needed a boost in the right direction, I could always count on him to give it. I’ll never forget Chip, and I’ll never cease to be grateful to him.”

“Chip is all to the mustard,” said Clancy loyally, “and I can only find fault with him about one thing.”

“What is that?”

“He wouldn’t let Pink and me go along with him and Blunt when they answered that mysterious call from Dolliver. See what a lot of excitement we missed!”

“That was a case, Clancy,” smiled Lenning, “where two of you were company and four would have been a crowd.”

“All right,” assented Ballard cheerfully, “we’ll leave it that way. Going to Gold Hill to live, Jode, as soon as that broken pin is mended?”

“No,” replied Lenning, “I’m going to stay right here and work for Mr. Bradlaugh and Mr. Burke. The colonel has done the fine thing by me, and he’d do more, but I don’t intend to let him. From now on I shall make my own way in the world.”

And for this determination, Clancy, Ballard, and all the rest of Lenning’s friends thought more of him than ever.

It was Wednesday when Frank and his chums took312 their leave of Ophir. The last thing Frank did, before getting out of the town, was to send Borak to Barzy Blunt with a card. The card presented Barzy with Frank’s compliments and best wishes, and begged him to accept Borak as a present.

Borak had once belonged to Blunt. When dire necessity urged, the cowboy had been compelled to sell the famous black steed. Frank had purchased the animal, but had always intended, on leaving Arizona, to return the saddler to his former owner.

When the stage, which was to take the boys to Gold Hill, the nearest railroad point, pulled up at the door of the Ophir House, Pophagan, Woo Sing, and a host of others were gathered on the veranda to bid Merriwell, Clancy, and Ballard good-by. A miner, whose regard Frank had won by coaching the Ophir football squad to victory, presented each of the lads with a nugget of placer gold to be made into a scarfpin.

“You’re sartinly the clear quill, kids,” said the miner, “and we’re a heap proud to have had ye among us. Pure gold, them nuggets is, and I reckon as how you’re all three the same. Come back to us some time. Don’t let this be the last time we see ye.”

“Maybe we will,” said Frank, shaking hands all around with a smothered feeling in his throat. “You’ve been mighty good to us, all you Ophir people.”

“That’s no jolly,” said the red-headed chap.

“We almost feel like we belonged to Ophir,” added Ballard.

The professor had gone on to Gold Hill the day before, and the boys were to meet him in that town, and they were all to proceed northward together.

When the lads had shaken hands until their arms ached, they climbed into the stage, and the driver313 whipped up his team. As they rolled down the straggling, familiar street, cheers went up from the hotel and were echoed all along the sidewalks.

“Three cheers for Merriwell, Clancy, and Ballard!” rang out the cry, and they were given again and again with a hearty good will.

“Seems almost like we were leaving home,” sniffed Clancy.

“That’s right, Red!” agreed Ballard.

But Merriwell said nothing. He could not trust himself to speak.


“Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s Mission” will be the title of the next volume of the Merriwell Series, No. 218. Burt L. Standish has outdone himself in this latest narrative. It is a tale of sympathetic understanding and real friendship, as well as a story of action and excitement.





Stories of Frank and Dick Merriwell

Fascinating Stories of Athletics

A half million enthusiastic followers of the Merriwell brothers will attest the unfailing interest and wholesomeness of these adventures of two lads of high ideals, who play fair with themselves, as well as with the rest of the world.

These stories are rich in fun and thrills in all branches of sports and athletics. They are extremely high in moral tone, and cannot fail to be of immense benefit to every boy who reads them.

They have the splendid quality of firing a boy’s ambition to become a good athlete, in order that he may develop into a strong, vigorous, right-thinking man.


  • 101—Frank Merriwell’s Nomads
  • 102—Dick Merriwell on the Gridiron
  • 103—Dick Merriwell’s Disguise
  • 104—Dick Merriwell’s Test
  • 105—Frank Merriwell’s Trump Card
  • 106—Frank Merriwell’s Strategy
  • 107—Frank Merriwell’s Triumph
  • 108—Dick Merriwell’s Grit
  • 109—Dick Merriwell’s Assurance
  • 110—Dick Merriwell’s Long Slide
  • 111—Frank Merriwell’s Rough Deal
  • 112—Dick Merriwell’s Threat
  • 113—Dick Merriwell’s Persistence
  • 114—Dick Merriwell’s Day
  • 115—Frank Merriwell’s Peril
  • 116—Dick Merriwell’s Downfall
  • 117—Frank Merriwell’s Pursuit
  • 118—Dick Merriwell Abroad
  • 119—Frank Merriwell in the Rockies
  • 120—Dick Merriwell’s Pranks
  • 121—Frank Merriwell’s Pride
  • 122—Frank Merriwell’s Challengers
  • 123—Frank Merriwell’s Endurance
  • 124—Dick Merriwell’s Cleverness
  • 125—Frank Merriwell’s Marriage
  • 126—Dick Merriwell, the Wizard
  • 127—Dick Merriwell’s Stroke
  • 128—Dick Merriwell’s Return
  • 129—Dick Merriwell’s Resource
  • 130—Dick Merriwell’s Five
  • 131—Frank Merriwell’s Tigers
  • 132—Dick Merriwell’s Polo Team
  • 133—Frank Merriwell’s Pupils
  • 134—Frank Merriwell’s New Boy
  • 135—Dick Merriwell’s Home Run
  • 136—Dick Merriwell’s Dare
  • 137—Frank Merriwell’s Son
  • 138—Dick Merriwell’s Team Mate
  • 139—Frank Merriwell’s Leaguers
  • 140—Frank Merriwell’s Happy Camp
  • 141—Dick Merriwell’s Influence
  • 142—Dick Merriwell, Freshman
  • 143—Dick Merriwell’s Staying Power
  • 144—Dick Merriwell’s Joke
  • 145—Frank Merriwell’s Talisman
  • 146—Frank Merriwell’s Horse
  • 147—Dick Merriwell’s Regret
  • 148—Dick Merriwell’s Magnetism
  • 149—Dick Merriwell’s Backers
  • 150—Dick Merriwell’s Best Work
  • 151—Dick Merriwell’s Distrust
  • 152—Dick Merriwell’s Debt
  • 153—Dick Merriwell’s Mastery
  • 154—Dick Merriwell Adrift
  • 155—Frank Merriwell’s Worst Boy
  • 156—Dick Merriwell’s Close Call
  • 157—Frank Merriwell’s Air Voyage
  • 158—Dick Merriwell’s Black Star
  • 159—Frank Merriwell in Wall Street
  • 160—Frank Merriwell Facing His Foes
  • 161—Dick Merriwell’s Stanchness
  • ii 162—Frank Merriwell’s Hard Case
  • 163—Dick Merriwell’s Stand
  • 164—Dick Merriwell Doubted
  • 165—Frank Merriwell’s Steadying Hand
  • 166—Dick Merriwell’s Example
  • 167—Dick Merriwell in the Wilds
  • 168—Frank Merriwell’s Ranch
  • 169—Dick Merriwell’s Way
  • 170—Frank Merriwell’s Lesson
  • 171—Dick Merriwell’s Reputation
  • 172—Frank Merriwell’s Encouragement
  • 173—Dick Merriwell’s Honors
  • 174—Frank Merriwell’s Wizard
  • 175—Dick Merriwell’s Race
  • 176—Dick Merriwell’s Star Play
  • 177—Frank Merriwell at Phantom Lake
  • 178—Dick Merriwell a Winner
  • 179—Dick Merriwell at the County Fair
  • 180—Frank Merriwell’s Grit
  • 181—Dick Merriwell’s Power
  • 182—Frank Merriwell in Peru
  • 183—Frank Merriwell’s Long Chance
  • 184—Frank Merriwell’s Old Form
  • 185—Frank Merriwell’s Treasure Hunt
  • 186—Dick Merriwell Game to the Last
  • 187—Dick Merriwell, Motor King
  • 188—Dick Merriwell’s Tussle
  • 189—Dick Merriwell’s Aero Dash
  • 190—Dick Merriwell’s Intuition
  • 191—Dick Merriwell’s Placer Find
  • 192—Dick Merriwell’s Fighting Chance
  • 193—Frank Merriwell’s Tact
  • 194—Frank Merriwell’s Puzzle
  • 195—Frank Merriwell’s Mystery
  • 196—Frank Merriwell, the Lionhearted
  • 197—Frank Merriwell’s Tenacity
  • 198—Dick Merriwell’s Perception
  • 199—Dick Merriwell’s Detective Work
  • 200—Dick Merriwell’s Commencement
  • 201—Dick Merriwell’s Decision
  • 202—Dick Merriwell’s Coolness
  • 203—Dick Merriwell’s Reliance
  • 204—Frank Merriwell’s Young Warriors
  • 205—Frank Merriwell’s Lads
  • 206—Dick Merriwell in Panama
  • 207—Dick Merriwell in South America
  • 208—Dick Merriwell’s Counsel

In order that there may be no confusion, we desire to say that the books listed below will be issued during the respective months in New York City and vicinity. They may not reach the readers at a distance promptly, on account of delays in transportation.

To be published in January, 1929.

  • 209—Dick Merriwell, Universal Coach
  • 210—Dick Merriwell’s Varsity Nine

To be published in February, 1929.

  • 211—Dick Merriwell’s Heroic Players
  • 212—Dick Merriwell at the Olympics

To be published in March, 1929.

  • 213—Frank Merriwell, Jr., Tested
  • 214—Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Conquests
  • 215—Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Rivals

To be published in April, 1929.

  • 216—Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Helping Hand
  • 217—Frank Merriwell, Jr., in Arizona

To be published in May, 1929.

  • 218—Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Mission
  • 219—Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Ice-boat Adventure

To be published in June, 1929.

  • 220—Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Timely Aid
  • 221—Frank Merriwell, Jr., in the Desert


Round the World Library

Stories of Jack Harkaway and His Comrades

Every reader, young and old, has heard of Jack Harkaway. His remarkable adventures in out-of-the-way corners of the globe are really classics, and every one should read them.

Jack is a splendid, manly character, full of life and strength and curiosity. He has a number of very interesting companions—Professor Mole, for instance, who is very funny. He also has some very strange enemies, who are anything but funny.

Get interested in Jack. It will pay you.



  • 1—Jack Harkaway’s School Days
  • 2—Jack Harkaway’s Friends
  • 3—Jack Harkaway After School Days
  • 4—Jack Harkaway Afloat and Ashore
  • 5—Jack Harkaway Among the Pirates
  • 6—Jack Harkaway at Oxford
  • 7—Jack Harkaway’s Struggles
  • 8—Jack Harkaway’s Triumphs
  • 9—Jack Harkaway Among the Brigands
  • 10—Jack Harkaway’s Return
  • 11—Jack Harkaway Around the World
  • 12—Jack Harkaway’s Perils
  • 13—Jack Harkaway in China
  • 14—Jack Harkaway and the Red Dragon
  • 15—Jack Harkaway’s Pluck
  • 16—Jack Harkaway in Australia
  • 17—Jack Harkaway and the Bushrangers
  • 18—Jack Harkaway’s Duel
  • 19—Jack Harkaway and the Turks
  • 20—Jack Harkaway in New York
  • 21—Jack Harkaway Out West
  • 22—Jack Harkaway Among the Indians
  • 23—Jack Harkaway’s Cadet Days
  • 24—Jack Harkaway in the Black Hills
  • 25—Jack Harkaway in the Toils
  • 26—Jack Harkaway’s Secret of Wealth
  • 27—Jack Harkaway, Missing
  • 28—Jack Harkaway and the Sacred Serpent
  • 29—The Fool of the Family
  • 30—Mischievous Matt
  • 31—Mischievous Matt’s Pranks
  • 32—Bob Fairplay Adrift
  • 33—Bob Fairplay at Sea
  • 34—The Boys of St. Aldates
  • 35—Billy Barlow
  • 36—Larry O’Keefe
  • 37—Sam Sawbones
  • 38—Too Fast to Last
  • 39—Home Base
  • 40—Spider and Stump
  • 41—Out for Fun
  • 42—Rob Rollalong, Sailor
  • 43—Rob Rollalong in the Wilds
44—Phil, the Showman By Stanley Norris
45—Phil’s Rivals By Stanley Norris
46—Phil’s Pluck By Stanley Norris
47—Phil’s Triumph By Stanley Norris
48—From Circus to Fortune By Stanley Norris
49—A Gentleman Born By Stanley Norris
50—For His Friend’s Honor By Stanley Norris
51—True to His Trust By Stanley Norris
52—Facing the Music By Stanley Norris
iv 53—Jungles and Traitors By William Murray Graydon
54—The Rockspur Eleven By Burt L. Standish
55—Treasure Island By Robert Louis Stevenson
56—In Fort and Prison By William Murray Graydon
57—The Rockspur Rivals By Burt L. Standish
58—George Arnold’s Pluck By John De Morgan
59—The Golden Harpoon By Weldon J. Cobb
60—The Rockspur Nine By Burt L. Standish
61—Always on Duty By John De Morgan
62—On the Wing By Weldon J. Cobb
63—Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea By Jules Verne
64—A Legacy of Peril By William Murray Graydon
65—Lost in the Ice By John De Morgan
66—The Young Railroader By Stanley Norris
67—The Tour of the Zero Club By Capt. Ralph Bonehill
68—The Young Railroader’s Flyer By Stanley Norris
69—The Silent City By Fred Thorpe
74—The Young Railroader’s Long Run By Stanley Norris
75—The Treasure of Star Island By Weldon J. Cobb
76—The Young Railroader’s Comrade By Stanley Norris
77—In Unknown Worlds By John De Morgan
78—The Young Railroader’s Promotion By Stanley Norris
79—A Trip to Mars By Weldon J. Cobb
80—The Young Railroader’s Chance By Stanley Norris
81—Rob Ranger’s Mine By Lieut. Lounsberry
82—Zip, the Acrobat By Victor St. Clair
83—Rob Ranger’s Cowboy Days By Lieut. Lounsberry
84—On His Merit By Victor St. Clair
85—Out For Sport By Wallace Kincaid
86—Where Duty Called By Victor St. Clair
87—Engineer Ralph By Frank H. MacDougal
88—Fortune’s Winding Trail By Roy Franklin
89—The Boy Conjurer By Victor St. Clair
90—The Go-Ahead Boys’ Legacy By Gale Richards
91—With Odds Against Him By Weldon J. Cobb
92—Sunset Ranch By Stanley Norris
93—Chums of the Prairie By Stanley Norris
94—The Young Range Riders By Stanley Norris
95—Jack Lightfoot, the Athlete By Maxwell Stevens
96—Jack Lightfoot’s Crack Nine By Maxwell Stevens
97—Jack Lightfoot Trapped By Maxwell Stevens
98—Jack Lightfoot’s Rival By Maxwell Stevens
99—Jack Lightfoot in Camp By Maxwell Stevens
100—Jack Lightfoot’s Canoe Trip By Maxwell Stevens
101—Jack Lightfoot’s Iron Arm By Maxwell Stevens
102—Jack Lightfoot’s Hoodoo By Maxwell Stevens
103—Jack Lightfoot’s Decision By Maxwell Stevens
104—Jack Lightfoot’s Gun Club By Maxwell Stevens
105—Jack Lightfoot’s Blind By Maxwell Stevens

In order that there may be no confusion, we desire to say that the books listed below will be issued during the respective months in New York City and vicinity. They may not reach the readers at a distance promptly, on account of delays in transportation.

To be published in January, 1929.

106—Jack Lightfoot’s Capture By Maxwell Stevens
107—Jack Lightfoot’s Head Work By Maxwell Stevens

To be published in February, 1929.

108—Jack Lightfoot’s Wisdom By Maxwell Stevens
109—The Pride of Annapolis By Com. Luther G. Brownell

To be published in March, 1929.

110—The Haunted Hunter By Edward S. Ellis
111—An Annapolis Adventure By Com. Luther G. Brownell

v To be published in April, 1929.

112—The Two Scouts By Edward S. Ellis
113—An Annapolis Hero By Com. Luther G. Brownell

To be published in May, 1929.

114—Among the Redskins By Edward S. Ellis
115—Making Good in the Navy By Com. Luther G. Brownell

To be published in June, 1929.

116—Tracked Through the Wilds By Edward S. Ellis
117—A Dash for Glory By Com. Luther G. Brownell

Nick Carter Still Lives!

For many years the stories of the adventures of Nicholas Carter, the great American detective, have been favorites with busy men in all walks of life. The reason is not hard to find. They afford splendid relaxation and complete entertainment.

Some of the Nick Carter stories are among the greatest detective stories ever written and will remain so, as long as the English language is read.

Look over the list of these titles in the NEW MAGNET LIBRARY and buy yourself a real treat.



New Magnet Library

Not a Dull Book in This List


Nick Carter stands for an interesting detective story. The fact that the books in this line are so uniformly good is entirely due to the work of a specialist. The man who wrote these stories produced no other type of fiction. His mind was concentrated upon the creation of new plots and situations in which his hero emerged triumphantly from all sorts of troubles and landed the criminal just where he should be—behind the bars.

The author of these stories knew more about writing detective stories than any other single person.

Following is a list of the best Nick Carter stories. They have been selected with extreme care, and we unhesitatingly recommend each of them as being fully as interesting as any detective story between cloth covers which sells at ten times the price.

If you do not know Nick Carter, buy a copy of any of the New Magnet Library books, and get acquainted. He will surprise and delight you.


  • 901—A Weird Treasure
  • 902—The Middle Link
  • 903—To the Ends of the Earth
  • 904—When Honors Pall
  • 905—The Yellow Brand
  • 906—A New Serpent in Eden
  • 907—When Brave Men Tremble
  • 908—A Test of Courage
  • 909—Where Peril Beckons
  • 910—The Gargoni Girdle
  • 911—Rascals & Co.
  • 912—Too Late to Talk
  • 913—Satan’s Apt Pupil
  • 914—The Girl Prisoner
  • 915—The Danger of Folly
  • 916—One Shipwreck Too Many
  • 917—Scourged by Fear
  • 918—The Red Plague
  • 919—Scoundrels Rampant
  • 920—From Clew to Clew
  • 921—When Rogues Conspire
  • 922—Twelve in a Grave
  • 923—The Great Opium Case
  • 924—A Conspiracy of Rumors
  • 925—A Klondike Claim
  • 926—The Evil Formula
  • 927—The Man of Many Faces
  • 928—The Great Enigma
  • 929—The Burden of Proof
  • 930—The Stolen Brain
  • 931—A Titled Counterfeiter
  • 932—The Magic Necklace
  • 933—’Round the World for a Quarter
  • 934—Over the Edge of the World
  • 935—In the Grip of Fate
  • 936—The Case of Many Clews
  • 937—The Sealed Door
  • 938—Nick Carter and the Green Goods Men
  • 939—The Man Without a Will
  • 940—Tracked Across the Atlantic
  • 941—A Clew from the Unknown
  • 942—The Crime of a Countess
  • 943—A Mixed-up Mess
  • 944—The Great Money-order Swindle
  • 945—The Adder’s Brood
  • 946—A Wall Street Haul
  • 947—For a Pawned Crown
  • 948—Sealed Orders
  • 949—The Hate that Kills
  • 950—The American Marquis
  • 951—The Needy Nine
  • 952—Fighting Against Millions
  • 953—Outlaws of the Blue
  • 954—The Old Detective’s Pupil
  • 955—Found in the Jungle
  • 956—The Mysterious Mail Robbery
  • 957—Broken Bars
  • 958—A Fair Criminal
  • 959—Won by Magic
  • vii 960—The Piano Box Mystery
  • 961—The Man They Held Back
  • 962—A Millionaire Partner
  • 963—A Pressing Peril
  • 964—An Australian Klondike
  • 965—The Sultan’s Pearls
  • 966—The Double Shuffle Club
  • 967—Paying the Price
  • 968—A Woman’s Hand
  • 969—A Network of Crime
  • 970—At Thompson’s Ranch
  • 971—The Crossed Needles
  • 972—The Diamond Mine Case
  • 973—Blood Will Tell
  • 974—An Accidental Password
  • 975—The Crook’s Double
  • 976—Two Plus Two
  • 977—The Yellow Label
  • 978—The Clever Celestial
  • 979—The Amphitheater Plot
  • 980—Gideon Drexel’s Millions
  • 981—Death in Life
  • 982—A Stolen Identity
  • 983—Evidence by Telephone
  • 984—The Twelve Tin Boxes
  • 985—Clew Against Clew
  • 986—Lady Velvet
  • 987—Playing a Bold Game
  • 988—A Dead Man’s Grip
  • 989—Snarled Identities
  • 990—A Deposit Vault Puzzle
  • 991—The Crescent Brotherhood
  • 992—The Stolen Pay Train
  • 993—The Sea Fox
  • 994—Wanted by Two Clients
  • 995—The Van Alstine Case
  • 996—Check No. 777
  • 997—Partners in Peril
  • 998—Nick Carter’s Clever Protégé
  • 999—The Sign of the Crossed Knives
  • 1000—The Man Who Vanished
  • 1001—A Battle for the Right
  • 1002—A Game of Craft
  • 1003—Nick Carter’s Retainer
  • 1004—Caught in the Toils
  • 1005—A Broken Bond
  • 1006—The Crime of the French Café
  • 1007—The Man Who Stole Millions
  • 1008—The Twelve Wise Men
  • 1009—Hidden Foes
  • 1010—A Gamblers’ Syndicate
  • 1011—A Chance Discovery
  • 1012—Among the Counterfeiters
  • 1013—A Threefold Disappearance
  • 1014—At Odds with Scotland Yard
  • 1015—A Princess of Crime
  • 1016—Found on the Beach
  • 1017—A Spinner of Death
  • 1018—The Detective’s Pretty Neighbor
  • 1019—A Bogus Clew
  • 1020—The Puzzle of Five Pistols
  • 1021—The Secret of the Marble Mantel
  • 1022—A Bite of an Apple
  • 1023—A Triple Crime
  • 1024—The Stolen Race Horse
  • 1025—Wildfire
  • 1026—A Herald Personal
  • 1027—The Finger of Suspicion
  • 1028—The Crimson Clew
  • 1029—Nick Carter Down East
  • 1030—The Chain of Clews
  • 1031—A Victim of Circumstances
  • 1032—Brought to Bay
  • 1033—The Dynamite Trap
  • 1034—A Scrap of Black Lace
  • 1035—The Woman of Evil
  • 1036—A Legacy of Hate
  • 1037—A Trusted Rogue
  • 1038—Man Against Man
  • 1039—The Demons of the Night
  • 1040—The Brotherhood of Death
  • 1041—At the Knife’s Point
  • 1042—A Cry for Help
  • 1043—A Stroke of Policy
  • 1044—Hounded to Death
  • 1045—A Bargain in Crime
  • 1046—The Fatal Prescription
  • 1047—The Man of Iron
  • 1048—An Amazing Scoundrel
  • 1049—The Chain of Evidence
  • 1050—Paid with Death
  • 1051—A Fight for a Throne
  • 1052—The Woman of Steel
  • 1053—The Seal of Death
  • 1054—The Human Fiend
  • 1055—A Desperate Chance
  • 1056—A Chase in the Dark
  • 1057—The Snare and the Game
  • 1058—The Murray Hill Mystery
  • 1059—Nick Carter’s Close Call
  • 1060—The Missing Cotton King
  • 1061—A Game of Plots
  • 1062—The Prince of Liars
  • 1063—The Man at the Window
  • 1064—The Red League
  • 1065—The Price of a Secret
  • 1066—The Worst Case on Record
  • 1067—From Peril to Peril
  • 1068—The Seal of Silence
  • 1069—Nick Carter’s Chinese Puzzle
  • 1070—A Blackmailer’s Bluff
  • 1071—Heard in the Dark
  • 1072—A Checkmated Scoundrel
  • 1073—The Cashier’s Secret
  • viii 1074—Behind a Mask
  • 1075—The Cloak of Guilt
  • 1076—Two Villains in One
  • 1077—The Hot Air Clew
  • 1078—Run to Earth
  • 1079—The Certified Check
  • 1080—Weaving the Web
  • 1081—Beyond Pursuit
  • 1082—The Claws of the Tiger
  • 1083—Driven from Cover
  • 1084—A Deal in Diamonds
  • 1085—The Wizard of the Cue
  • 1086—A Race for Ten Thousand
  • 1087—The Criminal Link
  • 1088—The Red Signal
  • 1089—The Secret Panel
  • 1090—A Bonded Villain
  • 1091—A Move in the Dark
  • 1092—Against Desperate Odds
  • 1093—The Telltale Photographs
  • 1094—The Ruby Pin
  • 1095—The Queen of Diamonds
  • 1096—A Broken Trail
  • 1097—An Ingenious Stratagem
  • 1098—A Sharper’s Downfall
  • 1099—A Race Track Gamble
  • 1100—Without a Clew
  • 1101—The Council of Death
  • 1102—The Hole in the Vault
  • 1103—In Death’s Grip
  • 1104—A Great Conspiracy
  • 1105—The Guilty Governor
  • 1106—A Ring of Rascals
  • 1107—A Masterpiece of Crime
  • 1108—A Blow for Vengeance
  • 1109—Tangled Threads
  • 1110—The Crime of the Camera
  • 1111—The Sign of the Dagger
  • 1112—Nick Carter’s Promise
  • 1113—Marked for Death
  • 1114—The Limited Holdup
  • 1115—When the Trap Was Sprung
  • 1116—Through the Cellar Wall
  • 1117—Under the Tiger’s Claws
  • 1118—The Girl in the Case
  • 1119—Behind a Throne
  • 1120—The Lure of Gold
  • 1121—Hand to Hand
  • 1122—From a Prison Cell
  • 1123—Dr. Quartz, Magician
  • 1124—Into Nick Carter’s Web
  • 1125—The Mystic Diagram
  • 1126—The Hand that Won
  • 1127—Playing a Lone Hand
  • 1128—The Master Villain
  • 1129—The False Claimant
  • 1130—The Living Mask
  • 1131—The Crime and the Motive
  • 1132—A Mysterious Foe
  • 1133—A Missing Man
  • 1134—A Game Well Played
  • 1135—A Cigarette Clew
  • 1136—The Diamond Trail
  • 1137—The Silent Guardian
  • 1138—The Dead Stranger
  • 1140—The Doctor’s Stratagem
  • 1141—Following a Chance Clew
  • 1142—The Bank Draft Puzzle
  • 1143—The Price of Treachery
  • 1144—The Silent Partner
  • 1145—Ahead of the Game
  • 1146—A Trap of Tangled Wire
  • 1147—In the Gloom of Night
  • 1148—The Unaccountable Crook
  • 1149—A Bundle of Clews
  • 1150—The Great Diamond Syndicate
  • 1151—The Death Circle
  • 1152—The Toss of a Penny
  • 1153—One Step Too Far
  • 1154—The Terrible Thirteen
  • 1155—A Detective’s Theory
  • 1156—Nick Carter’s Auto Trail
  • 1157—A Triple Identity
  • 1158—A Mysterious Graft
  • 1159—A Carnival of Crime
  • 1160—The Bloodstone Terror
  • 1161—Trapped in His Own Net
  • 1162—The Last Move in the Game
  • 1163—A Victim of Deceit
  • 1164—With Links of Steel
  • 1165—A Plaything of Fate
  • 1166—The Key Ring Clew
  • 1167—Playing for a Fortune
  • 1168—At Mystery’s Threshold
  • 1169—Trapped by a Woman
  • 1170—The Four Fingered Glove
  • 1171—Nabob and Knave
  • 1172—The Broadway Cross
  • 1173—The Man Without a Conscience
  • 1174—A Master of Deviltry
  • 1175—Nick Carter’s Double Catch
  • 1176—Doctor Quartz’s Quick Move
  • 1177—The Vial of Death
  • 1178—Nick Carter’s Star Pupils
  • 1179—Nick Carter’s Girl Detective
  • 1180—A Baffled Oath
  • 1181—A Royal Thief
  • 1182—Down and Out
  • 1183—A Syndicate of Rascals
  • 1184—Played to a Finish
  • 1185—A Tangled Case
  • 1186—In Letters of Fire
  • 1187—Crossed Wires
  • 1188—A Plot Uncovered
  • ix 1189—The Cab Driver’s Secret
  • 1190—Nick Carter’s Death Warrant
  • 1191—The Plot that Failed
  • 1192—Nick Carter’s Masterpiece
  • 1193—A Prince of Rogues
  • 1194—In the Lap of Danger
  • 1195—The Man from London
  • 1196—Circumstantial Evidence
  • 1197—The Pretty Stenographer Mystery
  • 1198—A Villainous Scheme
  • 1199—A Plot Within a Plot
  • 1200—The Elevated Railroad Mystery
  • 1201—The Blow of a Hammer
  • 1202—The Twin Mystery
  • 1203—The Bottle with the Black Label
  • 1204—Under False Colors
  • 1205—A Ring of Dust
  • 1206—The Crown Diamond
  • 1207—The Blood-red Badge
  • 1208—The Barrel Mystery
  • 1209—The Photographer’s Evidence
  • 1210—Millions at Stake
  • 1211—The Man and His Price
  • 1212—A Double-Handed Game
  • 1213—A Strike for Freedom
  • 1214—A Disciple of Satan
  • 1215—The Marked Hand
  • 1216—A Fight with a Fiend
  • 1217—When the Wicked Prosper
  • 1218—A Plunge into Crime
  • 1219—An Artful Schemer
  • 1220—Reaping the Whirlwind
  • 1221—Out of Crime’s Depths
  • 1222—A Woman at Bay
  • 1223—The Temple of Vice
  • 1224—Death at the Feast
  • 1225—A Double Plot
  • 1226—In Search of Himself
  • 1227—A Hunter of Men
  • 1228—The Boulevard Mutes
  • 1229—Captain Sparkle, Pirate
  • 1230—Nick Carter’s Fall
  • 1231—Out of Death’s Shadow
  • 1232—A Voice from the Past
  • 1233—Accident or Murder?
  • 1234—The Man Who Was Cursed
  • 1235—Baffled, But Not Beaten
  • 1236—A Case Without a Clew
  • 1237—The Demon’s Eye
  • 1238—A Blindfold Mystery
  • 1239—Nick Carter’s Swim to Victory
  • 1240—A Man to Be Feared
  • 1241—Saved by a Ruse
  • 1242—Nick Carter’s Wildest Chase
  • 1243—A Nation’s Peril
  • 1244—The Rajah’s Ruby
  • 1245—The Trail of a Human Tiger
  • 1246—The Disappearing Princess
  • 1247—The Lost Chittendens
  • 1248—The Crystal Mystery
  • 1249—The King’s Prisoner
  • 1250—Talika, the Geisha Girl
  • 1251—The Doom of the Reds

In order that there may be no confusion, we desire to say that the books listed below will be issued during the respective months in New York City and vicinity. They may not reach the readers at a distance promptly, on account of delays in transportation.

To be published in January, 1929.

  • 1252—The Lady of Shadows
  • 1253—The Mysterious Castle
  • 1254—The Senator’s Plot

To be published in February, 1929.

  • 1255—A Submarine Trail
  • 1256—A War of Brains

To be published in March, 1929.

  • 1257—Pauline—A Mystery
  • 1258—The Confidence King

To be published in April, 1929.

  • 1259—A Chase for Millions
  • 1260—Shown on the Screen

To be published in May, 1929.

  • 1261—The Streaked Peril
  • 1262—The Room of Mirrors

To be published in June, 1929.

  • 1263—A Plot for an Empire
  • 1264—A Call on the Phone



When you want real recreation in your leisure hours, read! Read the Street & Smith Novels!

They are the cheapest and most interesting reading matter published in America to-day. No jazz—no sex—just big, clean, interesting books. There are hundreds of different titles, among which you will find a lot of exactly the sort of reading you want.

So, when you get tired of rolling around in your Lady Lizzie or listening to the blah-blah of your radio, hie yourself to the nearest news dealer, grab off a copy of a good detective, adventure or love story, and then READ!

Read the Street & Smith Novels. Catalogue sent upon request.

Street & Smith Corporation
79 Seventh Avenue New York City

Printed in the U. S. A.

Transcriber’s Note:

The Contents has been provided by the transcriber.

Punctuation has been standardised. Spelling has been retained as published in the original publication except as follows:

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