The Boy Land Boomer/Chapter 15

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"Yes, it's settled, Powell; and as soon as we are done here with the boomers, I'll get to work and find out what the claim is worth."

"How about being shadowed in the affair?"

"I'm not afraid—I'm laying my plans too well," answered Louis Vorlange. "I would go ahead at once, but to throw up my position under the government just now might excite suspicions."

"Have you the papers with you?"

"No; I left them at the cavalry camp. They are too valuable to carry in one's coat pocket."

"Supposing the camp moves?"

"I have my belongings secreted in a nearby cave where they are as safe as in a deposit vault of a bank."

"Well, Vorlange, what am I to do now I am out here?"

"Remain in Arkansas City for the present and take it easy."

"You promised me a hundred dollars on my arrival."

"And there it is."

There was the rustle of bank notes.

"New money, eh?" was Dike Powell's comment. "Been printing some out here?"

"Not much. I know better than to go into the counterfeiting business."

Dick clutched Rasco's arm. The youth's face was full of concern.

"My father's money was in new bills," he whispered into his companion's ear. Rasco nodded, but quickly motioned for silence.

"I reckon this is drinks on me," said Powell, arising. "Come down to the bar before you go back to the cavalry camp."

"I'm in a hurry, Powell, but I'll take one glass," concluded Louis Vorlange, and the two men hurried from the reading-room.

"He is the man—I feel certain of it!" burst from Dick's lips, when he felt safe to speak. "Rasco, there is some mystery here. My father——" He stopped short and bit his lip.

"I know wot's in yer mind, Dick. I've heard yer father go on in his sleep, and war talkin' ter Pawnee Brown about it. An' Pawnee knows this air Vorlange. The two air enemies from school days. Pawnee said Vorlange wasn't squar nohow!"

"He is evidently in the employ of the government."

"Yes; a land-office spy, now workin' ag'in the boomers fer the cavalry as intends ter keep us out of Oklahoma."

"It will be hard to bring such a man to justice, without some direct evidence against him, Rasco."

"Don't yer try ter do it—yet, lad. Take my advice an' watch him. An' afore yer come down on him yer hed better question yer father about Vorlange."

At this Dick winced.

"Rasco, my father's manner is against him—I know that. But I'm certain he never committed a crime in his life."

"I believes yer, Dick. Yer father's a gentleman, every inch o' him; I seed thet the fust I clapped eyes on him. But knowin' the truth is one thing an' provin' it is another, especially in the wild west. This air Vorlange may hev yer father in a mighty tight hole, and if you show him up as the thief who stole the deeds an' the money, he may turn on yer dad and squeeze him mightily, see?"

"I see. But what shall I do just now?"

"Follow Vorlange and spy on to him all yer can. It ain't no ust ter hurry matters, with your father flat on his back. Powell will remain here and Vorlange will be with the cavalry, so yer will know whar ter clap eyes on ter both of 'em if it's necessary."

A moment's reflection convinced Dick that this was sound advice, and he said he would follow it, mentally resolved not to accuse Vorlange of any thing until he had gotten his parent to confess to the true state of affairs.

By this time the boy and the man of the plains had left the veranda and walked around to where Rasco had left his horse. A moment later they saw Louis Vorlange hurry from the barroom of the hotel, leap upon his own animal, and strike out of town in a westerly direction.

"If I had a horse I'd follow him," began Dick, when Rasco motioned the youth to hop up behind. Soon they were riding after Vorlange, but not close enough to allow the spy to imagine that he was being followed.

"If you go after him you'll get no chance to hunt up your niece," began Dick, when the city was left behind.

"That's true, lad." Jack Rasco's face grew troubled. "I don't know wot's best ter do. It ain't fair ter let yer follow Vorlange alone; an' with only one hoss—hullo, wot does this mean? Carl Humpendinck, an' wavin' his hand to us like he war crazy."

Rasco had discovered the German boomer sweeping up a side trail. Humpendinck had made out Rasco but a second before and now shouted for the man of the plains to halt.

"What is it, Dutchy?" called out Rasco, when they were within speaking distance.

"Vot ist it? Donner und blitzen, Rasco, it vos der vorst news vot efer you heard!" burst from Carl Humpendinck's lips. "I chust here him apout quarter of an hour ago, und I ride der horse's legs off ter told yer."

"But what is it—out with it?"

"It's apout dot girl you vos lookin for. Rosy Delaney, dot Irish vomans vot haf such a long tongue got, she tole me der sthory. Gott im himmel! it vos dreadful!"

"But tell me what it is, Dutchy!" exploded Rasco. "Wot is dreadful?"

"Der sthory she tole—I can's most believe him."

"See here, out with the whole thing, or I'll swat yer one on the cocoanut, Humpendinck!" roared Rasco. "Yer as long-winded ez a mule thet's gone blind."

"Gracious, Rasco, you vouldn't hit me, afther I ride me dree miles und more ter tole you?" wailed the German, reproachfully. "I dink me you vos mine pest friend, next to Pawnee Prown, ain't it?"

"There'll be a dead Dutchman here in another minute if yer don't open up clear down ter the bottom!" howled Rasco, who had never before suffered such exasperation.

"Tell us the exact trouble," put in Dick, calmly. He saw that exciting Humpendinck still more would do no good.

"Der Indian haf carried dot girl avay!" exploded Humpendinck.

"Carried the girl away!" ejaculated Dick.

"My Nellie?" yelled Rasco.

"Dot's it, Rasco. Ain't it awful! Dot Irish vomans seen dot Indian mit dot girl in his arms, flying der trail ofer like a biece of baber pefore a cyclone alretty!"

"Humpendinck, are you telling the truth?"

"I vos tole you vot dot Irish vomans tole me. Mike Delaney und dree udder mans vos lookin' for you."

On the instant Louis Vorlange was forgotten, not only by Rasco, but also by Dick. It made both shudder to think that Nellie had been carried off by a redskin. They turned into the trail from which Humpendinck had emerged, and were soon on their way to the camp.

Here Rosy Delaney was found very much disturbed. She came up to Rasco wringing her hands.

"To think o' the red rascal a-takin' thet young leddy off!" she cried. "I know her by thet photygraph! Och, the villain! An' it moight have been Rosy Delaney, bad cess to him!"

"Show me the exact trail he followed," said Rasco, and this the Irish woman did willingly. Soon Rasco was tearing over the prairie, followed by Humpendinck, Delaney, Clemmer and by Dick, who borrowed a horse from another boomer.

The trail left by Yellow Elk was easily followed to the vicinity of Honnewell, but here it led away to the southwest and was swallowed up among the bushes and rocks leading down into the ravine previously mentioned.

"Oi reckon thot's the trail," said Delaney, after an examination.

"And I vos dink dot ist der trail," put in Humpendinck.

"An I calkerlate this is the trail," added Cal Clemmer.

Each pointed in a different direction, while Rasco and Dick were of the opinion that none of them were right and that the trail led up the ravine, just as it really did.

An interruption now occurred. There was a stir in the bushes above their heads, and an elderly scout peered down upon them, rifle in hand.

"Hullo, Jack Rasco, wot's the best word? Whar is Pawnee Brown?"

"Dan Gilbert!" cried Rasco. "Come down Pawnee ought to be somewhere about here."

In a moment more Dan Gilbert, a heavy-set, pleasant-looking frontiersman, stood among them. A hasty consultation immediately followed. Dan Gilbert was on his way back to where he had left the blaze on the tree, and it was decided that Rasco and Dick should accompany him, while Clemmer, Delaney and Humpendinck went to reconnoitre in the opposite direction. A double pistol shot from either party was to bring the other to its aid.

In less than five minutes the first party was on its way to the blazed tree. Dan Gilbert feeling certain that if Pawnee Brown had passed that way he must have seen the sign and left word of his own.

"If Pawnee was down here you can bet he spotted that Injun if he came within a hundred yards of him," said Gilbert. "He can smell a red like a cat can smell a rat."

The tree reached, the frontiersman threw back the flat rock and brought forth the message left by the great scout. He read it aloud.

"Following Yellow Elk!" cried Jack Rasco. "I know the rascal! And it was he as stole my gal! Jess wait till I git my hand on his windpipe, thet's all! Whar's thet cave, Gilbert?"

"I don't know, but it must be somewhere up the ravine. Come on."

And away went the trio, on the hunt for Yellow Elk, Pawnee Brown and poor Nellie Winthrop.