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M'cay's Recruit

From: Kid Wolf Of Texas

The Texan, after circling the town of Midway, rode in again. It was
not his way to leave a job unfinished, with only a threat behind. The
cigarette-paper note had aroused his curiosity to a fever heat. He
read it by the light of the moon. It consisted of three
pencil-scrawled words:


Across the wide street from the saloon, there was but one building.
Was it here that he was to go? Was it a trap of some kind? He
dismissed the latter possibility and decided to go at once to the big
frame general store, using all the caution possible.

Approaching the place from behind, he looked it over carefully before
dismounting. As Blizzard was conspicuous in the moonlight, he left him
in a thick clump of bushes and slipped through the shadows on foot. As
he neared the building, he discovered that it was not merely of frame,
as he had at first thought. The boards in front masked a fortress of
logs. It was so planned that a handful of defenders might hold it
against great odds.

As Kid Wolf knocked softly on the rear door, he wondered if it had been
built merely as a security against the renegade Indians, or for some
other and deeper purpose. For a few minutes after he knocked, there
was silence, then the door slowly opened. The Texan found himself
looking into the barrel of a .45!

"What do yuh want here?"

Framed in the doorway, the Kid saw a grim young face glaring at him
over the sights of the six-gun.

"Speak quick!" said the voice again.

"I will," the Texan said, "if yo'll kindly take that .45 out of my eye.
I can talk bettah when I'm not usin' yo' gun barrel fo' a telescope."

"That gun," said the other sharply, "is goin' to stay just where I've
got it!"

But it didn't. Kid Wolf's left hand snapped up under the gun and
rapped smartly at just the right spot the wrist that held it. It was a
trick blow--one that paralyzed the nerves for a second. The Colt
dropped from the boy's quickly extended fingers and fell neatly into
Kid Wolf's right hand! All had happened so quickly that the youth
hadn't time to squeeze the trigger. Before the amazed young man could
recover himself, the Texan handed over the gun, butt first.

"Here yo' are," he drawled humorously. "To show yo' I mean well, I'm
givin' it back. I do wish, though, that yo'd kindly point it some
other way while I'm talkin'."

The manner of the other changed at this. After losing his gun, he had
expected a quick bullet.

"Guess yo're all right," he grinned slowly. "Come on in."

Passing through the door, Kid Wolf noted the thick loophole-pierced
walls and other provisions for defense. Rifles stood on their stocks
at intervals, ready to be snatched up at a moment's notice.

"Oh, dad!" the youth called in a low voice, as they entered the big
main room of the building.

Six men were in the place, and The Kid took stock of them with one
appraising glance. Although just as heavily armed as the faction
across the street in the Idle Hour had been, they were of a different
type. They were cattlemen, some old, some young. All looked up,
startled. One of them got to his feet. He was a huge man and very
fat. His face was round and good-humored, although his puckered blue
eyes told of force and character.

"What's the matter, 'Tip'?" he asked of Kid Wolf's escort. "Who is
this man?"

The Texan smiled and bowed courteously. "Maybe I should explain, sah,"
he drawled. "And aftah I'm done, perhaps yo'll have some information
to give me."

He began his story, but was soon interrupted by an exclamation of anger
and grief from the boy's father.

"A man on a strawberry roan, yuh say? And murdered! Why, that was
Hodgson--one of my best men! Go on, young man! Go on with yore story!"

In a few words, the Texan told of bringing the half-breed to the saloon
across the street, and of his reception there.

"They-all told me to cleah out," he finished whimsically, "so I cleahed
out the Idle Hour. Or rathah, I got the job started. Some one theah,"
he added, "handed me this note. That's why I'm heah."

The big man looked at it, and his face lighted. "A short fella gave
yuh that? I thought so! That was George Durham--one o' my men. He's
there as a spy."

"As a spy?" the Texan repeated blankly. "I'm afraid this is gettin'
too deep fo' me, Mistah----"

"McCay is the name. 'Old Beef McCay, they call me," he chuckled.
"This lad, yuh've already met. He's Tip McCay, and my son. And you?"

"Kid Wolf, sah, from Texas--just 'Kid' to my friends."

The five punchers, who had been listening with intense interest to the
Texan's story, came forward to shake hands. They were introduced as
Caldwell, Anderson, Blake, Terry White, and "Scotty." All were
keen-eyed, resolute men.

"Now I'll tell yuh what this is all about," said the elder McCay.
"When I spoke of a spy, I meant that Durham is there to see if he can
find out why Jack Hardy has imported those gunmen, and what he plans to
do. Yuh see, I'm a cattle buyer. At this halfway point I buy lots o'
herds from owners who don't wish to drive 'em through to Dodge. Then I
sell 'em there at a profit--when I can."

"And Jack Hahdy?" drawled the Texan.

"Hardy is nothin' more or less than a cattle rustler--a dealer in
stolen herds on a large scale. He's swore to get me, at the time when
it'll do him the most good. In other words, at the time when he can
get the most loot.

"So far," McCay went on, "there's been no bloodshed. To-day it seems
he's had Hodgson murdered. Looks as if things are about ripe for war!"

"He seems to have mo' men than yo'," murmured Kid Wolf.

"Yuh don't know the half of it. A dozen more of his hired gunmen rode
south on the Chisholm Trail this mornin'."

"What does that signify?"

"Plenty," McCay explained. "Six o' my men are drivin' fifteen hundred
steers up this way. Quite a haul, yuh see, for Hardy. They're due
here tonight. If they don't get here----" The big man's wide mouth

"But I'm afraid I'm a poor host," he added apologetically. "Yuh'll
have supper and stay the night with us, I'm sure. Tip, you an' Scotty
go out and bring in The Kid's hoss."

The Texan consented, thanking him, and all began to make preparations
for the night. The big general store seemed more like a fort in time
of war than anything else. Some of the men slept on the counters in
the main room. A place was made for Kid Wolf in the rear. Sentries
were on watch during the entire night, which passed uneventfully.

In the morning, just as the dawn was glowing in the east, the Texan was
awakened by a horrified cry. All rushed to the front windows. Across
the wide street, over the Idle Hour Saloon, a man was dangling,
suspended from the roof by a rope! It was Durham--the man who had
given Kid Wolf the cigarette-paper note. Some one had seen him in the
act, and the fiends had lynched him.

"That settles it," said Kid Wolf grimly, turning to McCay. "I reckon
I'm throwin' in with yo'. My guns are at yo' service!"

It was a situation not uncommon in that wilderness where "the law
isn't, and the six-shooter is." Kid Wolf, however, had never seen a
bolder attempt to trample on the rights of honest men. His veins beat
hot at the thought of it. And Jack Hardy seemed to have the power to
see it through to its murderous end.

It was not long after the discovery of Durham's murder when Tip McCay
brought in a new note that had been pinned to the door.

"It was put there durin' the night some time, probably by one o'
Hardy's sneakin' half-breeds, because none o' our sentries saw any one
the whole night through," Tip said.

The note was roughly penciled on a sheet of yellow paper, and the
message it carried was significant:

Ef yu will all walk out of their without yore guns we promiss no harm
will com to yu. Ef yuh dont, we will get yu to the last man. We
alreddy got yore cattel. This offer dont go fer Kid Wolf. We no hes
their and we aim to kill him!

"They don't like me." The Texan laughed. "Well, I don't want 'em to.
What do yo' intend to do, sah?"

The elder McCay's face was very red. His fingers, as he tore the
insolent letter to bits, were trembling with anger.

"I say let 'em hop to it!" he jerked out. "I ain't givin' in to

The others cheered. And it was a fighting group of men who gathered
for a conference as to the defense of the store. It was agreed that
their position was a serious one, outnumbered as they were.

Just how serious, they soon found out, for at the rising of the sun--as
if it had been a signal--a burst of gunfire blazed out from the saloon
across the street. Splinters flew from the logs as bullets thudded
into them. Several whined through the two windows and crashed into the

Kid Wolf took an active part in quickly getting ready for a stand. The
windows and the doors were heavily barricaded, at his suggestion.
Sacks of flour, salt, and other supplies were piled over the openings,
as these were best for stopping lead. Mattresses were stuffed behind
the barricade for further protection, and just enough space was left
clear to allow a gun to be aimed through.

The volley from the Idle Hour had injured no one. The firing continued
more or less steadily, however, and an occasional slug ripped its way
between the logs. Jack Hardy's gang were firing at the chinks.

Up until this time, the defenders had not fired a shot. Even now,
after the preparations had been made, Kid Wolf advised against wasting
ammunition. The rustler gang were firing from the cover of the saloon,
and were well protected.

"Hunt up all the guns heah," the Kid cried, "and load 'em. If they
rush us, we'll need to shoot fast!"

Several rifles were hunted up--Winchesters and two muzzle-loading
Sharps .50s. There were also a powder-and-ball buffalo gun of the old
pattern, and, to Kid Wolf's delight, a sawed-off, double-barreled

In the light of the early morning, each detail of the grim scene was
brought out minutely. It was a picture Kid Wolf never forgot! Across
the street that formed the No Man's Land was the saloon, wreathed in
powder smoke, as guns spat sullen flame. And swinging slightly above
the splintered green-shuttered doors was the dead body of Durham, neck
stretched horribly, head on breast. It seemed a grotesque phantom,
warning them of death to come.

The horses had been run into the back of the store itself, as a
protection against flying bullets. Kid Wolf suggested that they be
saddled, so that they would be ready for use if occasion demanded it.

"We might have to make a run fo' it at any time," he warned.

The firing from the saloon went on for nearly an hour. Then there was
a sudden lull.

"Look out now!" The Kid exclaimed. "Looks like they mean to rush us!"

"We'll cure 'em o' that!" Old Beef McCay cried grimly. He picked up
the sawed-off shotgun.

The Texan was right. A yell went up from the saloon, and a dozen men
rushed out, firing as they came. Six others carried a heavy beam,
evidently torn from the interior of the Idle Hour. It was their
intention to use this as a battering-ram to smash in the door of the

The cry from the defenders was "Let 'em have it!"

The terrific thunder of the shotgun and the buffalo rifle blended with
the loud roar of six-guns. Hammers fell with deadly regularity. Fire
blazed from every loophole and shooting space.

When the smoke cleared away, Tip McCay emitted a whoop that the others
echoed. The charge had been stopped, and very effectively. The big
beam lay on the ground, with the writhing bodies of four men around it.
The "scatter gun" had accounted for three of them; Kid Wolf had put the
other out of business with bullets through both legs. A little to one
side were two more of the outlaws, one of whom had been brought down by
Tip McCay, the other by the lantern-jawed, slow-spoken plainsman known
as Scotty. The others had beaten a quick retreat to the shelter of the

Next: One Game Hombre

Previous: On The Chisholm Trail

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