The Boy Land Boomer/Chapter 12

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The writing of the answer to Gilbert's communication had taken several minutes, and now Yellow Elk was entirely out of sight. But Pawnee Brown was certain of the trail the Indian had taken, and by a little faster riding soon brought the rascal again into view.

Yellow Elk was now descending into a valley bound on the north by a rolling hill and on the south by a cliff varying from twenty to forty feet in height. Even at a distance Pawnee Brown could see that the Indian was having considerable trouble with Nellie Winthrop, who felt now assured that her first suspicions were correct and that Yellow Elk had taken her far from the boomers camp.

"I will not go with you!" cried the girl, and did her best to break from the warrior's grasp. But Yellow Elk's hold was a good one, and she only succeeded in tearing her dress.

"We be dare in few minutes now," replied the red skin. "Den all be right—you wait and see."

"I won't go with you—let me down!" screamed Nellie, but he silenced her by a fierce gesture which made the boomer's blood boil. It was only by the exercise of all his will power that the great scout kept himself from shooting down Yellow Elk on the spot.

The end of the long cliff was almost reached when the Indian chief reined up the mare and sprang to the ground, still holding Nellie tight. As he held the girl by the wrist with one hand he led Bonnie Bird forward with the other. In a few seconds, girl, mare and Indian had disappeared from view in the midst of a thick fringe of bushes.

They had scarcely vanished when Pawnee Brown was on the ground and had tethered his horse in a little grove of pines a hundred feet away. This done, he stole forward to what he felt must be the mouth of the cave Yellow Elk had mentioned.

The great scout knew he was on delicate and dangerous ground. There was no telling how many Indians beside Yellow Elk there might be in the vicinity, who had left the reservation without permission; it was likely all who were there would be in war paint ready to kill him on sight.

"The reds who train with Yellow Elk are not to be trusted," he muttered. "Yellow Elk wouldn't like anything better than to scalp me just for a taste of his old blood-thirsty days. Making a 'good Indian' out of such a fellow is all nonsense—it simply can't be done."

Pawnee Brown had dropped down in the long grass and was now wiggling along like a snake through the bushes and between the rocks. Soon the entrance to the cave was gained, hidden by more bushes. He hesitated, looked to see that his pistol was all right, shoved the bushes aside and slipped within.

It was so dark inside that for a moment he could distinguish nothing. But his ears were on the alert and he heard the footsteps of Yellow Elk resounding at a distance of fully fifty yards. He could hear nothing of Nellie, and rightfully concluded that the Indian had been compelled to pick her up and carry her.

An instant later he stumbled close to his mare. Bonnie Bird recognized him with a snort of joy.

"Sh-sh!" he said softly, and the gentle animal understood and made no further sound. But she gladly rubbed her soft nose up and down his neck to signify her pleasure.

"Good Bonnie Bird," he whispered. "I'll be with you soon again," and went on after Yellow Elk.

The Indian had now come to a halt and was striking a match. Soon some dry brush was set on fire and the redskin heaped upon it some stout tree branches, for the air in the cave was chilly.

"Now me and white girl have long talk," said Yellow Elk, as he motioned Nellie to a seat.

"Where is the boomers camp?" she faltered, hardly knowing how to answer him.

"Camp ten miles from here," came the short reply. "You here all alone with Yellow Elk."

At this the frightened girl gave a scream of terror.

"You base wretch!" she sobbed. "Take me back at once."

"No take back—Yellow Elk no fool. White girl stay here—make Yellow Elk good squaw, maybe," and he grinned into her pretty face.

But now an interruption came which all but stunned Yellow Elk. Leaping from his hiding place, Pawnee Brown pounced upon the redskin, caught him by the throat and hurled him backward and almost into the midst of the fire!

"You miserable dog!" came from the scout's lips.

"Oh, sir, save me from that Indian!" came from Nellie, as she quickly turned to the man she felt sure would assist her.

"I will, Miss Winthrop, don't fear," answered Pawnee Brown. "So, Yellow Elk, we meet again. I reckon you remember the man who kicked you all around the agency two years ago because you tried to steal his new pair of boots?"

"Ugh!" grunted Yellow Elk. He had just managed to scramble out of the fire, and was beating out the flames which had caught on a fringe of his garments. "Pawnee Brown."

He muttered a fierce imprecation in his native tongue. Then, before Pawnee Brown could stop him his pistol flashed in the firelight. He took aim at the scout's head and fired.

But though the action of the Indian chief was quick, the movement of the boomer was quicker.

Many times had he been under fire, and he had learned to drop when occasion required as rapidly as it could be done.

With the pressure upon the pistol trigger he went down like a flash and the bullet intended for his head merely grazed the top of his hat and flattened itself upon the cave wall opposite.

"Bah!" hissed Yellow Elk, when he saw how he had missed. He attempted to take him once more, but now Pawnee Brown hurled himself on the redskin, turning the barrel of the weapon aside, and both went to the stone flooring with a crash. Nellie Winthrop let out a shriek of terror.

"Do not let him shoot you! Make him throw the pistol away!" she cried, as she wrung her hands. She would have liked to assist Pawnee Brown, but could not see how it could just then be done.