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68
BOYS OF THE FORT.

"No, he's on a trail three miles further north. Still, the desperadoes may turn north."

"That's so," said Leeson.

As there was nothing to keep them at the cabin, the boys were now anxious to move on to the fort, and a short while later Lieutenant Carrol set off. One private carried Joe and the other Darry; and, as the horses were powerful beasts, good progress was made.

"Hurrah! The fort!" cried Joe, as he caught sight of a large flag waving in the distance. He was right; and soon they could see the tall stockade quite plainly. It was three hundred feet long by two hundred feet wide, and surrounded by a ditch twelve feet deep. Inside of the stockade were the fort proper and a dozen other buildings, including the officers quarters, the men's quarters, the messroom, hospital, and the gymnasium, and also a good-sized stable.

"Why, it s a regular town in itself!" murmured Darry, when they got inside.

"That's right, a town of exactly two hundred and seventy-five people," answered the lieutenant. "And of that number two hundred and sixty are soldiers belonging to three companies, three are officers wives, two are Indian scouts, and the rest are cooks and other helpers."

Colonel Fairfield, a tall, dignified old officer,