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The Fang Of The Wolf








From: Kid Wolf Of Texas

"Well, yuh'd better get ready to take yore medicine," sneered the
outlaw, his voice shaking with rage. "I'm goin' to make yuh crawl on
yore hands and knees, Cotton-picker!"

He holstered his gun, watching Kid Wolf cunningly, and drew back a
little to give himself leeway with his whip. Then he began to roll up
his sleeve.

"I'll make yuh beg, Cotton-picker," he taunted insultingly, as he bared
his brawny right arm. "And if yuh run, I'll shoot--not to kill; that'd
be too easy. I'll blow yore legs in two!"

Kid Wolf had been pulled from his horse by the others, and the faithful
snow-white animal had been taken along up the pass with the two
prisoners. There seemed no way of escape. Blacksnake had him, and the
gang leader grinned confidently.

"Yo're a bully, sah," drawled the Texan. It was as if he were
deliberately trying to get his enemy aroused to white-hot fury.

The words seemed to have that effect. With a loud oath, Blacksnake
cracked his whip like a pistol shot. The whip was as strong and tough
as a bull whip, with a loaded stock and a long, braided lash, thick in
the middle, like a snake. The outlaw had aimed for The Kid's thigh,
and he was an expert with it. The lash landed with such cutting force
that it cut through the Texan's clothing and tore into his flesh.

"Now take off yore shirt!" Blacksnake bellowed. "I'm goin' to flay yuh
alive! Take it off!"

There was no sign of pain in Kid Wolf's face. He was still smiling
agreeably. Blacksnake McCoy did not know what was coming. The Texan
was not entirely disarmed. True, his Colts had been taken away, and he
was apparently helpless. The Kid, however, had his hole card that was
always in the deck. This was his keen bowie knife, which more than
once had saved his life. Cleverly concealed in its sheath sewn down
the back of his shirt collar, it had been overlooked in the outlaws'
quick search. Pretending to remove his shirt, The Kid's right hand
went to his throat and closed on the handle of the knife.

Blacksnake, showing his teeth in a laugh of hate, stood a half dozen
feet away from him, swinging his cruel whip slowly from side to side,
waiting. He was holding the whipstock in his right hand, and that
favored the Texan. For in order to draw the gun that swung at his hip,
Blacksnake would first have to drop his implement of torture.

"Heah's wheah yo' get it!" snapped The Kid crisply.

Blacksnake's eyes bulged with sudden, startled terror, for he had a
glimpse of the shining blade for one brief instant. His whip hand
moved toward the butt of his gun. But he was too late. Kid Wolf could
draw and throw his bowie as swiftly as he could pull his firearms. It
flashed through the air--a streak of dazzling light! The fang of the
wolf was striking!

Ping! The steel tore its way through the outlaw's right wrist. The
Texan's throw had been as true as a rifle bead. Blacksnake yelled and
tried to reach for his Colt with his left hand.

Then The Kid leaped in. Blacksnake was still squirming about and
clawing for his .45 when the Texan's first blow landed. Blacksnake was
burly, powerful. He weighed well over two hundred, and his shoulders
were as broad as a gorilla's. But his bullet head went back with a
jerk, as the Texan's hard fist thudded heavily on his cheek bone.

In the quick scuffle, the Big Colt slipped from Blacksnake's holster
and fell to the ground. With all his fury now, the outlaw was lashing
terrific, belting swings at Kid Wolf's head. The Texan dodged, elusive
as a shadow. He leaped in, bored with his right and jolted Blacksnake
from top to toe with a smashing left. The big outlaw staggered, then
jumped back and tried to scoop up his gun. His right hand was
helpless, however, and his left clumsy. His fingers missed it, and The
Kid hit him again, bringing Blacksnake to his knees, groggy-headed and
bleary-eyed. His hand closed over the whip. The stock was heavily
loaded with lead, and it was a terrible weapon when held reversed. One
blow from it could crush a skull like an eggshell.

"I'm a-goin' to brain yuh, Cotton-picker!" Blacksnake grated furiously.

He reeled to his feet, shook his head to get his tangled hair out of
his eyes and came in, whip swung back! Kid Wolf had no time to duck
down for the gun. The heavy stock was humming through the air in a
swish of death!

Smash! Blacksnake rocked on his feet. His teeth had come together
with a click. He wabbled, swayed. His whip fell from his relaxed
fingers. The Kid's footwork had been as swift and cunning as a
mountain cat's! He had stepped aside, rocked his body in a pivot from
the hips and landed a knock-out punch full on the point of the
big-chested outlaw's jaw! With a grunt, Blacksnake went down, first to
his knees, and then face thudding the ground. He landed with such
force that he plowed the sand with his nose like a rooting hog.

Taking a deep breath, Kid Wolf walked over and picked up Blacksnake's
.45. Then he turned the outlaw face up, none too gently, by jerking
his tangled hair. "All right. Snap out of it," he drawled.

Blacksnake was out for a full two minutes. Gradually consciousness
began to show on his ugly, bruised face. He stared at the Texan,
blinking his eyes in bewilderment.

"Blast yuh!" he said thickly, when he could speak. "Guess yuh got me,
Cotton-picker. I don't know yet how yuh done it."

He tried to seize the gun, but The Kid was too quick for him.

"None o' that," he drawled. "Get up! Yo're takin' me to the othahs.
Move pronto to the Yellow Houses!"

A cunning look mingled with the hate in Blacksnake's swollen eyes.

"They'll kill yuh," he sneered. "Yuh ain't out o' this yet, blast yuh!
My men will pull yuh to pieces."

"I'm thinkin' they won't." The Texan smiled. "If they do, it won't be
very healthy fo' yo'. Now listen to what I say."


Half an hour later, Kid Wolf strolled up the hill to the Yellow Houses,
arm in arm with his enemy--Blacksnake McCoy!

The outlaw was swearing under his breath. Kid Wolf was chuckling. For
he had his hand under Blacksnake's vest, and that hand held a .45! In
his left hand, the outlaw carried his whip. The other, wounded, was in
his trousers pocket. The Texan had ordered him to keep it there, out
of sight.

The two adobes, crumbling to ruins, dated from the Spaniards. For many
years they had been used only as occasional stopping places for passing
riders. It was here that Blacksnake had ordered Red Morton and Lefty
Warren taken.

Kid Wolf was free now, and had he wished, he could have made his
escape. That thought, however, did not enter the Texan's mind. He
must rescue his friends if possible.

"Walk with me as if nothing had happened," he told Blacksnake softly.
"If they suspect anything befo' I'm ready fo' 'em to know, you'll be
sorry."

With the cold end of the six-gun pressing his ribs inside his shirt,
the outlaw dared not disobey.

The sun had set, and twilight was deepening. The faint dust haze on
the far horizon had disappeared. That meant that the stolen Diamond D
herd had been driven on. Blacksnake had been staying some distance in
the rear to keep off any possible pursuit. Kid Wolf had five other
outlaws to contend with--no, four. For Blacksnake had sent one of them
ahead with the herd.

Odds meant nothing, however, to the Texan. He knew that surprise and
quick action always counted more than numbers. Everything now depended
on boldness. As they neared the two adobes, he pretended to reel and
stagger close against Blacksnake for support, as if he had been beaten
until he could hardly stand. This, too, allowed him to keep the gun
against the outlaw's side without arousing suspicion.

At tile edge of the little cleared space surrounding the two adobes,
one of the bandits was saddling a horse. The others seemed to be
inside with the prisoners.

"Hello, Black!" the outlaw yelled. "Did yuh tear the hide offn him?

From his looks, I reckon yuh did."

"Tell him to go inside," murmured Kid Wolf softly, "and be careful how
yo' tell him."

Blacksnake opened his lips to shout a warning, but felt the touch of
steel against his ribs and quickly changed his mind.

"Go into the dobe with the others," he commanded gruffly.

The walls of one of the mud huts had crumbled utterly. Only one of
them was habitable, and it was to this one that the outlaw went, with
Blacksnake and Kid Wolf following close behind. A yell greeted
Blacksnake's arrival with his supposed prisoner.

"I thought yuh'd have to carry him back, Black, or drag him by the
heels," one voice shouted. "Yuh must've got tired."

The time for action was at hand! The Kid and the outlaw stood framed
for a brief second in the doorway. The Texan's eyes swept the room.
The four outlaws were lazing comfortably about the ruined interior.
Two were playing cards, and two were engaged in taking a drink from a
whisky flask, one of these being the man Blacksnake had sent inside.
The two prisoners--Lefty Warren and young Morton--were securely bound
in lariat rope, sitting against one wall. The Kid saw their eyes light
up as they recognized him. Evidently they had not expected to see him
again alive. Kid Wolf jerked the revolver from Blacksnake's side,
tripped him suddenly and sent him headlong into the room.

"Up with yo' hands!" the Texan sang out.

The outlaws were taken entirely by surprise. Only Blacksnake had known
what was coming, and he was unarmed. Kid Wolf was no longer reeling
and staggering. The desperadoes looked up to stare into the sinister
muzzle of a .45!

"Shoot him to pieces!" Blacksnake yelled, picking himself up on all
fours and whirling to make a jump for The Kid's ankles.

The Texan dodged to one side, his gun sweeping the room. A jet flame
darted from the barrel, and there was a crash of broken glass. He had
fired at the liquor flask that one of the outlaws still held at his
lips.

"That's a remindah," he said crisply. "Put up yo' hands!"

Guns blazed suddenly. Two of the bandits had reached for their weapons
at the same moment. The walls of the adobe shook under blended
explosions, and powder smoke drifted down like a curtain, turning the
figures of the men into drifting shadows.

The firing was soon over. The Kid's gun had roared a swift tattoo of
hammering shots. Dust flew from the wall near his head, but he had
spoiled the aim of both outlaws by fast, hair-trigger shooting. One
sank against a broken-down bunk in one corner, reamed through the upper
right arm and chest. The other fired again, but his gun hand was
dangling, and he missed by a foot. Playing cards were scattered, as
the other pair of bandits jumped up with their hands over their heads.

"We got enough!" they yelped. "Don't shoot!"

Kid Wolf lashed out at Blacksnake, who was rushing him again. The
short, powerful blow to the jaw sent the leader down for good. He
rolled over, stunned.

"Bueno." The Texan smiled. "Keep yo' hands right theah, please,
caballeros."

Before the powder fumes had cleared away, he had liberated Lefty and
Red with quick strokes of his bowie.

"I reckon we've got the uppah hand now, boys." He smiled. "Let's try
and keep it. Take their guns, Red."

The two Diamond D men had been as surprised as the outlaws had been.
They had watched the gun fight fearfully and hopefully, and it was an
enthusiastic pair that shook off their severed bonds to clap The Kid
across the back. There was no time for conversation now, however, and
they busied themselves with disarming their five prisoners and binding
them with rope.

"Gee, Kid!" Red whistled. "We thought we were done, and when yuh came
in and made sparks fly--whew!"

"Theah'll be moah spahks fly, I'm afraid," the Texan drawled. "How'd
yo' like to make some spahks fly yo'selves?"

The others showed their eagerness. The fighting fever was in their
veins, especially since the death of poor Mike Train. And now, with
Blacksnake and half the outlaw gang captured, they felt that they had a
good part of the battle won. Red tried to question Blacksnake about
his brother's death, but the outlaw was stubborn and refused to talk.
Had it not been for Kid Wolf, Red would have fallen on his enemy and
beaten him with his fists. And none of them could blame him.

It was nearly dark, and they made quick plans The stolen herd was not
far ahead, and with it were not more than seven of Gentleman John's
riders.

"We'll take those cattle away from 'em," said Red fiercely, "and head
the steers back to the Diamond D!"

It was decided that the prisoners could be left where they were for the
time being, although Lefty Warren was for stringing them up there and
then. Kid Wolf shook his head at this suggestion, however, and they
armed themselves, "borrowing" the guns of the Blacksnake gang. Then
they mounted their horses and headed south through the deepening dusk.





Next: Battle On The Mesa

Previous: On Blacksnake's Trail



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