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Pursuit








From: Kid Wolf Of Texas

Fire flames darted occasionally from the high tulles, licking the
darkness like the tongues of venomous serpents. Rifles cracked, and
bullets, fired at random, buzzed across the sand flats. Kid Wolf had
an uncomfortable few minutes ahead of him.

Whenever the moon peeped out of its flying blanket of cloud, he was
forced to lie flat and motionless on the ground. Lead often spattered
uncomfortably close, but foot by foot he made his way toward Boot Hill.

This rise in ground, he believed, would be free from his enemies.
After once reaching this, Dave Robbins and he would be on the road to
safety. Blizzard, well trained, would follow him if he managed to
elude the bullets of the Garvey gang.

The Texan was on Boot Hill now, and for the first time in many minutes,
he breathed freely. The firing behind had become faint, and it was
hardly likely that any watchers remained on the hill.

But Kid Wolf received a thrill of horror and surprise. The moon
drifted free of its cloud curtain for a moment. He was standing not a
dozen feet from the two freshly made graves. One, with Bill Robbins'
headboard over it, was covered with a mound of earth.

Standing near the other, with a cocked revolver in his hand, was the
half-breed, Charley Hood! His cruel lips were parted in a terrible
smile as he slowly raised the weapon to a level with his eyes!


While Kid Wolf had been creeping toward Boot Hill, Dave Robbins was in
the adobe hut, counting the dragging minutes. The suspense, now that
the time for action was at hand, was nerve-racking. Would the Texan
make it? Robbins strained his ears for the triumphant yells that would
announce The Kid's death or capture.

As the seconds grew to minutes, he began to breathe easier. When it
seemed to him that a half hour had passed, he prepared to follow. The
moon, however, was now too bright, and he had to wait fully a quarter
of an hour more before the light faded to shadow again. When the
moment arrived, he squirmed through the doorway and across the sands on
his hands and knees.

Dave Robbins was frontier bred, and although his progress was slower
than the Texan's had been, he crept along as silently as one of the
redskins themselves. Not a mesquite twig snapped under his body; not a
pebble rattled. It seemed to take him hours to reach the hill which
Kid Wolf had pointed out to him. As he did so, the moonlight again
became so bright that it made the landscape nearly as white as day.
For a time, he lay flat against the ground; then he wriggled on.

Where was he? Would he find his friend, the Texan? He waited a while,
and then whistled, soft and low. There was no answer. He looked
around him, trying to decide where he was and what to do. His eyes
fell upon the two recently dug graves. Headboards stood at each of
them. Both were covered. Near the mounds lay a spade. The earth
clinging to it was moist.

With his heart in his throat, Dave Robbins again looked at the grave
markers. One read: "Bill Robbins." It was the grave of his father!
The other mound was marked "Kid Wolf"!

For a few minutes, Dave Robbins stood numbed. Something terrible had
happened; just what, he did not know. It seemed the end. Could his
friend, the gallant Texan, have met death? It didn't seem possible,
and yet the evidence was before his eyes. Anger against Garvey and his
hired killers suddenly overcame him. A hot wave seemed to sweep over
him. He turned about and faced, not the distant San Simon, but in the
direction of his enemies.

"I'll get some of 'em before I go, Kid!" he cried.

As if in answer, something came to his ears that brought a cry of joy
to the youth. It was a stanza of a familiar song, sung in the soft,
musical accents of the South:

"Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie-ee!"


Turning about, Dave Robbins saw Kid Wolf's face in the moonlight! The
shock of it left the youth weak for a moment. The two wrung hands, and
Robbins blurted:

"I thought yuh were dead! What happened? Why this covered grave?"

"A half-breed lookout," the Texan explained in a whisper. "Ugly, but
slow with a gun. He had the drop, so instead of reachin' fo' mah
Colts, I pretended to raise mah hands. Then I gave him this--mah hole
cahd, the thirteenth ace."

And Kid Wolf showed him the heavy bowie knife so carefully hidden in
its sheath sewn to the inside of his shirt collar.

"With this through his throat, he fell right in the grave they'd dug
fo' me. Then I saw the shovel, and I couldn't resist throwin' some
dirt ovah him. Well, that's that. I hated to take his life, but I had
to do it to save mine. The thing to do now is to get out of this."

"How do yuh expect yore hoss to get to us?" breathed Robbins.

"Listen." The Texan smiled. "He knows this call."

He waited for a lull in the rifle-popping below, and then he gave the
coyote yell--a mournful cry that seemed to echo and reecho. The sound
was so perfect an imitation that Robbins could scarcely believe his
ears. And it even fooled the Indians. It did not, however, deceive
the sagacious horse that waited patiently in the adobe. The Kid
clutched his young companion's arm. Straining their eyes, they saw a
white something moving up an arroyo.

"That Blizzahd hoss is smahter than I am," chuckled the Texan. "He
knows who his enemies are, and he knows how to keep out of their sight.
Watch him climb that dry wash."

They held their breath until Blizzard, moving so noiselessly that his
hoofs seemed as cushioned as a cougar's, reached the top of the hill.
Then Kid Wolf led him over it and down again into a gully a little
distance to the west of it. Ahead of them now was safety, if they
could make it. The Texan mounted and swung up Robbins behind the
saddle.

"Too bad we had to leave that twenty thousand, Kid," said Robbins.

The Kid's white teeth flashed in a smile.

"Really, Dave," he drawled, "do yo' think I'd let Garvey get away with
that? That express box was just a blind. Don't yo' know what I did
while the rest of yo' were tippin' back the stagecoach? No? Well, I
transferred the twenty thousand to Blizzahd's saddlebags, so the
money"--he tapped the bulges on each side of the big saddle--"is right
heah!"

Kid Wolf, ever since he had taken charge of the express money, had
realized his responsibility and trust. He would protect it with his
life. If he could reach Mexican Tanks with it, the money would be
safe, for a small post of soldiers and government scouts guarded the
place.

They had not gone a half mile, however, when a sound of distant
shouting broke out behind them.

"That means they've discovahed ouah absence," said the Texan, grimly.
"We'll have ouah hands full befo' long!"

Robbins, and the Texan as well, had been through the country before,
and knew the lay of the land. The former had learned the location of a
water hole west of them in the hills, and they decided to head for
that, as they were suffering from intense thirst. Blizzard, too, had
not taken water for thirty-six hours.

The Apache is one of the best trailers in the world. They were under a
terrible handicap, and both realized it. With the great white horse,
strong as it was, carrying double, they could not hope to out-distance
pursuit.

"Yuh'd better leave me, Kid," Robbins begged.

"Befo' I'd leave yo'," returned the Texan, "I'd leave me!"

Dawn began to glow pink and orange behind them, and gradually the dim,
star-studded vault overhead became gray with the new day. Shortly
afterward, they reached the water hole. It was nearly dry, but enough
moisture remained to refresh both horse and riders.

Then they went on again. Kid Wolf could, tell by Blizzard's actions
that they were being followed. Before long he himself saw signs.
Little dust clouds began to show behind them, scattered over a line
miles long.

"Garvey and his Apaches!" the Texan jerked out. "And they're gainin'
fast."

"Can we beat 'em to Mexican Tanks?"

"No," The Kid drawled, "but we can fight!"

They soon saw the hopelessness of it all. The horizon behind them
swarmed with moving dots--dots that grew larger and more distinct with
every fleeting minute. Garvey had obtained reenforcements, without
doubt, for there seemed to be no end to the pursuing Apaches.

Blizzard ran like the thoroughbred he was. But even his iron muscles
could not stand the strain for long. The ponies behind were fresh, and
the snow-white charger was tremendously handicapped with the added
weight which had been placed upon it.

Puffs of white smoke blossomed out behind them. A bullet, spent and
far short, dropped away to their left, sending up a geyser of sand.

"I guess we'll fight now," Kid Wolf said, drawing his six-guns.

The grim-faced fighter from Texas knew the ways of the Apaches and was
prepared for what followed. It was not his first encounter with
renegade red men of the Southwest. He was also aware of what awaited
them if they were taken captive. Death with lead would be far more
merciful.

The line of Apache warriors spread out even farther. Blizzard was
speeding over a flat table-land now, flanked by two ridges of iron-gray
hills. A file of Indians separated from the main body and raced along
the left-hand ridge. Another file of copper-brown, half-naked savages
drummed along to the right.

Rifle fire crackled and flashed. Bullets now began to buzz and whine
like infuriated insects. Arrows, falling far short, whistled an angry
tune. The Kid held his fire and bade Dave Robbins follow his example.
It was no time to waste lead.

"Go, Blizzahd, like yo' nevah went befo'!" cried the Texan.

The beautiful white horse seemed to realize its master's danger. It
ran on courage alone. Its nostrils were expanded wide, its flanks and
neck foam-flecked. The steel muscles rippled under its snowy hide,
until it seemed to fly like a winged thing. But it is one thing to
carry a hundred and sixty pounds; another thing to bear nearly three
hundred. The pace could not last.

Kid Wolf pinned his hopes on reaching a deep arroyo ahead of them.
Already the range was becoming deadly. A bullet ripped through the
Texan's hat. Another burned his side. Directly behind them, Garvey
and his gunmen--the two Arnolds, Henry Shank, and Stephenson--pounded
furiously, gaining at every jump. Their mounts were better than those
of the Indians, and Kid Wolf saw that they must be stopped at all costs.

For the first time, his guns belched flame. The two Arnolds went down,
unhorsed. Even in that desperate moment, Kid Wolf hesitated to kill
until it was necessary. The Arnolds, however, were out of the chase
for good and all. Stephenson also felt the crippling sting of the
Texan's lead and toppled from his mount, drilled high in the shoulder.

Henry Shank and Gil Garvey, shaken at The Kid's marksmanship, drew in
their horses, unwilling to press closer. That gave Blizzard his chance
to make the shelter of the arroyo. Suddenly it yawned at their feet--a
terrific jump. Would Blizzard take it? A reassuring pressure of a
knee was all the inspiration the horse needed. They seemed to rush
through the air. Then they were sliding down the bank in a cloud of
dust, Blizzard tense and stiff-legged. By a miracle, they reached the
bottom unhurt, and without losing a second, Kid Wolf headed his
faithful mount into a thick paloverde clump.

"We'll have to stand 'em off heah," he panted.

The Texan's eyes surveyed his exhausted horse. They seemed to light
with an idea. Even in that desperate plight, his mind worked rapidly.

"I've got a hunch, Dave," he said. "It may not help us, but----"

He quickly loaded one of his .45s and stuck it down in one of
Blizzard's stirrups in such a way that it could not jolt out. Then he
gave the horse a sharp pat on the neck.

"Go, Blizzahd," he urged, "until I call!"

The horse seemed to understand perfectly, for it wheeled and ran with
all its speed down the arroyo. It was soon lost to sight among the
mesquites.

"He'll stay out of sight and within call," explained the Texan. "We
may need him worse than we do now. Anyway, Garvey will have plenty
trouble gettin' that express money."

They prepared to fight it out until the last, for already the Indians
were forcing their ponies down into the arroyo. A triumphant shout
went up--a shout that became an elated, bloodthirsty war cry. The
Apaches saw that the two white men were almost within their grasp.

"Good-by, Dave," said The Kid.

They grasped hands for a moment. There was no fear in their faces.
Then they confronted the renegades. It was to be their last stand!

"Here's hopin' we get Garvey before we go!" said Robbins fiercely.

A storm of bullets tore through the paloverdes, sending twigs and
leaves flying. Kid Wolf smiled coolly along the barrel of his
remaining gun, and he deliberately lined the sights.

The impact of the explosions kicked the heavy weapon about in his hand,
but every shot brought grief to some savage. Robbins' gun also blazed.

A half dozen screaming Apaches rushed their position in the thicket.
The charge failed, stopped by lead. Another came, almost in the same
breath. It faltered, then came on, reenforced. There were too many of
them for two men to check.

Kid Wolf understood their guttural cries as they advanced.

"They mean to take us alive!" he cried. "Don't let 'em do it, son!
It's better to die fightin'!"

But the Apaches seemed to have more than an ordinary reason for wanting
to capture them. They came on, a coppery swarm, clubbing their guns.

There was no time to reload! The two young white men found themselves
fighting hand to hand in desperate battle. Kid Wolf smashed two of the
Indians, sending them sprawling back into their companions with broken
heads. But still they came--dozens of them!

Robbins was down, then up again. He felt hands seize him. Kid Wolf
felt the impact of a gun stock on his head. The world seemed to sway
crazily. Even while falling to the ground he still fought, his hard
fists landing on the faces and chests of the red warriors in smashing
blows. His feet were seized, then one arm. In vain he tried to tear
himself loose.

"Fine! Now throw some rope around 'em!" they heard Garvey say.

A shower of blows fell upon the Texan's head. He dropped, with a half
dozen red warriors clinging to him. It was the end!





Next: Blizzard's Charge

Previous: Two Open Graves



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