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The Rescue








From: Kid Wolf Of Texas

The stranger's crisp words had their effect, since "Kid Wolf" was a
name well known west of the Chisholm Trail. His reputation had been
passed by word of mouth along the border until there were few who had
not heard of his deeds. His very name seemed to fill the riffraff of
the barroom with courage. Some of them cheered, and all prepared to
obey the young Texan's orders. Every one was soon busy loading and
examining six-guns.

Garvey was the one exception. He was infuriated, and his malignant
eyes gleamed with hate. Kid Wolf had made an enemy. He was, however,
accustomed to that. Smiling ironically, he faced Garvey, who was
quivering all over with helpless rage.

"Yo' won't need to come along," he drawled. "I'd rathah have Apaches
in front of me than yo' behind me."

Kid Wolf lost no time in rounding up his hastily drafted posse. A
horse was procured for Robbins and The Kid prepared to ride by his
side. Kid Wolf's horse was "tied to the ground" outside, and a shout
of genuine admiration went up as the men caught sight of the
magnificent creature, beautiful with muscular grace. Swinging into his
California saddle, the Texan, with Robbins at his side and the posse,
numbering eleven men, swept down toward the mountain pass.

Some of the men carried Winchesters, but for the most part they were
armed with six-guns. Now that they were actually on the way, the men
seemed eager for the battle. Perhaps Kid Wolf's cool and determined
leadership had something to do with it.

Young Robbins reached over and clasped the Texan's hand.

"I'll never forget this, Mr. Kid Wolf," he said, tears in his eyes.
"If it wasn't for you----"

"Call me 'Kid,'" said the Texan, flashing him a smile. "We'll save yo'
fathah and the men in the stage if we can. Anyway, we'll make it hot
fo' those Apaches."

After a few minutes of fast going, they could hear the faint crackling
of gunfire ahead of them, carried on the torrid wind. Robbins
brightened, for this meant that some survivors still remained on their
feet. Kid Wolf, experienced in Indian warfare, understood the
situation at once, and ordered his men to scatter and come in on the
Indians from all sides.

"Robbins," he said, "I want yo' with me. Yo' two," he went on,
singling out a couple of the posse, "ride in from the east. The rest
of yo' come in from the west and south. Make every shot count, fo' if
we don't scattah the Apaches at the first chahge, we will be at a big
disadvantage!"

It was a desperate situation, with the odds nearly five to one against
them. Reaching the pass, they could look down on the battle from the
cover of the mesquites. From the overturned stage, thin jets of fire
streaked steadily, and a pall of white smoke hung over it like a cloud.
From the brush, other gun flashes answered the fire. Occasionally a
writhing brown body could be seen, crawling from point to point. The
thicket seemed to be alive with them.

Kid Wolf listened for a moment to the faint popping of the guns. Then
he raised his hand in a signal.

"Let's go!" he sang out.

A second later, Blizzard was pounding down the pass like a snowstorm
before the wind.

The leader of this band of murderous Apaches was a youthful warrior
named Bear Claw, the son of the tribal chief. Peering at the coach
from his post behind a clump of paloverde, his cruel face was lighted
by a grin of satisfaction. From time to time he gave a hoarse order,
and at his bidding, his braves would creep up or fall back as the
occasion demanded.

Bear Claw was in high good humor, for he saw that the ambushed victims
in the stage could not hope to hold out much longer. Only three
remained alive in the coach, and some of these were wounded. The white
men's fire was becoming less accurate.

The young leader of the Apaches was horrible to look at. He was naked
save for a breechcloth and boot moccasins and his face was daubed with
ocher and vermilion. Across his lean chest, too, was a smear of paint
just under the necklace of bear claws that gave him his name. He was
armed with a .50-caliber Sharps single-shot rifle and with the only
revolver in the tribe--an old-fashioned cap-and-ball six-shooter, taken
from some murdered prospector.

Bear Claw was about to raise his left hand--a signal for the final rush
that would wipe out the white men in the overturned coach--when a
terrific volley burst out like rattling thunder from all sides.
Bullets raked the brush in a deadly hail. An Indian a few paces from
Bear Claw jumped up with a weird yell and fell back again, pierced
through the body.

The young chief saw whirlwinds of dust swooping down on the scene from
every direction. In those whirlwinds, he knew, were horses. Bear Claw
had courage only when the odds were with him. How many men were in the
attacking force, he did not know. But there were too many to suit him,
and he took no chances. He gave the order for retreat, and the
startled Apaches made a rush for their ponies, hidden in an arroyo.
Bear Claw scrambled after them, with lead kicking up dust all about him.

But it did not take Bear Claw long to see that his band outnumbered the
white posse, more than four to one. Throwing himself on his horse, he
decided to set his renegade warriors an example. Giving the Apache war
whoop, he kicked his heels in his pony's flanks and led the charge.
Picking out the foremost of the posse--a bronzed rider on a snow-white
horse--he went at him with leveled revolver.

What happened then unnerved the Apaches at Bear Claw's back. The man
Bear Claw had charged was Kid Wolf! The Texan did not return the
Indian's blaze of revolver fire. He merely ducked low in his saddle
and swung his big white horse into Bear Claw's pony! At the same time,
he swung out his left hand sharply. It caught Bear Claw's jaw with a
terrific jolt. The weight of both speeding horses was behind the
impact. Something snapped. Bear Claw went off his pony's back like a
bag of meal and landed on the sand, his head at a queer angle. His
neck was broken!

Then Kid Wolf's guns began to talk. Fire burst from the level of both
his hips as he put spurs to Blizzard and charged with head low directly
into the amazed Apaches. The others, too, followed the Texan's
example, but it was Kid Wolf who turned the trick. It was the deciding
card, and without their chief, the redskins were panic-stricken. The
only thing they thought of now was escape. The little hoofs of their
ponies began to drum madly. But instead of rushing in the direction of
the whites, they drummed away from them. Kid Wolf ordered his men not
to follow. Nor would he allow any more firing.

"No slaughter, men," he said. "Save yo' bullets till yo' need them.
Let's take a look at the stage."

Wheeling their mounts, the posse, who had lost not a man in the
encounter, raced back to the overturned coach. The vehicle, riddled
with bullets and arrows, resembled a butcher's shop. On the ground
near it was the body of the driver, while the guard, hit in a dozen
places, lay half in and half out of the coach, dead.

Young Robbins had left four men alive when he made his escape toward
Lost Springs. There now remained only two. And one of these, it could
be seen, was dying.

"Dad!" Robbins cried. "Are yuh hurt?"

"Got a bullet in the shoulder and one in the knee," replied his father,
crawling out with difficulty. "Good thing yuh got here when yuh did!
See to Claymore. He's hit bad. I'm all right."

Kid Wolf drew out the still breathing form of the other survivor. He
was quick to note that the man was beyond any human aid. The
frontiersman, his six-gun still emitting a curl of blue smoke, was
placed in the shade of the coach, and water was given to him.

"I'm all shot to pieces, boys," he gasped. "I'm goin' fast--but I'm
glad the Apaches won't have me to--chop up afterward. Take my word for
it--there's some white man--behind this. There's twenty thousand
dollars in the express box----"

His words trailed off, and with a moan, he breathed his last. Kid Wolf
gently drew a blanket over his face and then turned to the others.

"I think he's right," he mused, as he took off his wide-brimmed hat.
"When Indians murdah, theah's usually a white man's brains behind them."


Garvey, when Kid Wolf had left with his quickly gathered posse, went to
the bar and took several drinks of his own liquor. It was a fiery red
whisky distilled from wheat, and of the type known to the Indians as
"fire water." It did not put Garvey in any better humor. Wiping his
lips, he left his saloon and crossed the road to a tiny one-room adobe.

A young Indian was sleeping in the shade, and Garvey awakened him with
a few well-directed kicks. The Indian's eyes widened with fear at the
sight of the white man's rage-distorted face, and when he had heard his
orders, delivered in the hoarse Apache tongue, he raced for his pony,
tethered in the bushes near him, and drummed away.

"Tell 'em to meet me in the saloon pronto!" Garvey shouted after him.

The saloon keeper passed an impatient half hour. A quartet of Mexicans
entered his place demanding liquor, but Garvey waved them away.
Something important was evidently on foot.

Soon the dull clip-clop of horses' hoofs was heard, and he went to
the door to see five riders approaching Lost Springs from the north.
He waved his hand to them before they had left the cover of the
cottonwoods.

The group of sunburned, booted men who hastily entered Garvey's Place
were individuals of the Lost Springs ruler's own stamp. All were
gunmen, and some wore two revolvers. Most of them were wanted by the
law for dark deeds done elsewhere. Sheriffs from the Texas Panhandle
would have recognized two of them as Al and Andy Arnold--brother
murderers. Another was a killer chased out of Dodge City, Kansas--a
slender, quick-fingered youth known as "Pick" Stephenson. Henry
Shank--a gunman from Lincoln, New Mexico--strode in their lead.

The fifth member of the quintet was the most terrible of them all. He
was a half-breed Apache, dressed partly in the Indian way and partly
like a white. He wore a battered felt hat with a feather in the crown.
He wore no shirt, but over his naked chest was buttoned a dirty vest,
around which two cap-and-ball Colt revolvers swung.

His stride, muffled by his beaded moccasins, was as noiseless as a
cat's. This man--Garvey's go-between--was Charley Hood. He grinned
continually, but his smile was like the snarl of a snapping dog.

"What's up, Garvey?" Shank demanded. "We was just ready to start out
fer a cattle clean-up."

"Plenty's up," snarled Garvey. "Help yoreselves to liquor while I tell
yuh. First o' all, do any of yuh know Kid Wolf?"

It was evident that most of them had heard of him. None had seen him,
however, and Garvey went on to tell what had happened.

"How many men did he take with him?" Stephenson wanted to know.

"About a dozen."

"Bear Claw will wipe him out, then," grinned Al Arnold.

"Somehow I don't think so," said Garvey. "And if that stage deal fails
us----"

"A twenty-thousand-dollar job!" Shank barked angrily. "And we get
half!"

"We get all," chuckled Garvey. "The Apaches will give their share to
me for fire water. That's why this must go through. If Bear Claw and
his braves slip up, we'll have to finish it. As for Kid Wolf----"

Garvey's expression changed to one of malignant fury, and he made the
significant gesture of cutting a throat.

"I hear that this Kid Wolf makes it his business to right wrongs,"
Shank sneered. "Thinks he's a law of himself. Justice, he calls it."

"Well, one thing!" roared Garvey, thumping the bar. "There ain't no
law west o' the Pecos! And he's west o' the Pecos now! The only law
here is this kind," and he tapped his .44.

"What's happened to yore gun?" one of them asked.

Garvey's face suddenly went dark red.

"I dropped it this mornin' and busted the handle," he lied. "If it had
been in workin' order, I'd have got this Kid Wolf the minute he opened
his mouth."

"Well, if the Apaches don't get him, we will," Stephenson declared.
"By the way, Garvey, there's another deal on foot. What do yuh think
o' this?" And he laid a chunk of ore on the bar under the saloon
keeper's nose.

"Solid silver!" Garvey gasped. "Where's it from?"

"From the valley of the San Simon. It's from land owned--owned, mind
yuh--by an hombre named Robbins. Gov'ment grant."

"We'll figger a way to get it," returned Garvey, then his eyes
narrowed. "What name did yuh say?"

"Robbins. Bill Robbins."

Garvey grinned. "Why, he was on the stage! It was his kid that came
here and made his play fer help. Looks like things is comin' our way,
after all."

The conference was interrupted by the sound of galloping hoofs. An
Indian pounded up in front of the saloon in a cloud of yellow dust.
The pony was lathered and breathing hard.

"It's a scout!" Garvey cried. "Let him in, and we'll see what he has
to say."

The Indian runner's words, gasped in halting, broken English, brought
consternation to Garvey and his treacherous gunmen:

"No get money box. Have keel two-three, maybe more, of white men in
stage wagon. Then riders come. White chief on white devil horse, he
break Bear Claw's neck. Bear Claw die. We ride away as fast as could
do. White men fix stage wagon. Hunt for horse to drive it to Lost
Springs."

Garvey clenched his huge fists.

"Get me another gun!" he rasped. "We'll have this out with Kid Wolf
right now!"

Charley Hood spoke for the first time, and his bestial face with
distorted with rage.

"Bear Claw son of Great Chief Yellow Skull! Yellow Skull get Keed Wolf
if he have to follow him across world! And when he get him----"

Charley Hood, the half-breed, laughed insanely.

"I never thought of that," said Garvey. "Maybe we'd be doin' Mr. Wolf
from Texas a favor by puttin' lead through him. Bear Claw was Yellow
Skull's favorite. The old chief is an expert at torture. I'd like to
be on hand to see it. But I've got an idea. Shank, have Jose dig a
grave on Boot Hill--make it two of 'em. We've got to get that express
money."

"And the silver," chuckled the desperado, as he took a farewell drink
at the bar.





Next: Two Open Graves

Previous: Apaches



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