The Boy Land Boomer/Chapter 27
THE LAST OF YELLOW ELK.
When Nellie Winthrop recovered sufficiently to realize what was going on around her, she found herself upon Yellow Elk's back, with her hands tied together at the wrists behind her.
Away went the redskin until the vicinity where the encounter with Dick had occurred was left far behind.
The brook crossed, the Indian chief set off for the river. Not once did he stop or speak until a pond was gained.
Beyond the pond was a shelter of trees, growing in a circle which was about fifteen feet in diameter. Against the trees the brush had been piled, forming a rude hut.
Taking Nellie inside of this shelter, Yellow Elk deposited her on the ground. Of the cord which bound her hands there were several feet left, and this end he wound around a tree and tied fast.
"Now white girl no run away," he grinned. "Stay here now until Yellow Elk ready to let her go."
To this she made no answer, for what would be the use of talking to such a fierce creature? She looked at his. hideously painted face and shivered.
Yellow Elk now went off, to be gone a long while. When he came back he found her so tired she could scarcely stand beside the tree. She had tried to free herself from her bonds but failed, and a tiny stream of blood was running from one of her tender wrists.
"Yellow Elk got horse now," said the redskin. "We ride now—go many miles."
"Where to?" she faltered.
"Never mind where—white girl come on."
Yellow Elk's manner was so fierce she was frightened more than ever. The Indian had stolen a horse and he had also stolen a lot of "fire-water," and this drink was beginning to make him ugly. He drew out his hunting knife.
"White girl got to become Yellow Elk's squaw!" he cried, brandishing the knife before her face. "No marry Yellow Elk me cut out her heart wid dis!"
At this Nellie gave a shriek and it was this which was borne to the ears of Pawnee Brown.
"Crying do white girl no good," growled the redskin. "Come with me."
"I will not go another foot," and Nellie began to struggle. The Indian chief upbraided her roundly in his own language and ended by raising his knife over her once more.
"Help!" cried Nellie, and a moment later Pawnee Brown burst into view. A glance showed him the true situation, and without hesitation he fired at Yellow Elk.
His bullet clipped across the redskin's chest. By this time Yellow Elk had his own pistol out, and standing erect he aimed straight for the boomer's heart.
Nellie screamed, and knowing nothing else to do, gave the Indian a vigorous shove in the side, which destroyed the aim and made the bullet fly wide of the mark.
In a second more the two men were at it in a hand-to-hand encounter each trying his best to get at the other with his hunting knife, being too close together to use a pistol. As Pawnee Brown afterward said:
"It was Yellow Elk's life or mine, and I made up my mind that it should not be mine—I considered myself worth a good deal more than that worthless redskin."
A cut and a slash upon each side, and the two broke. Yellow Elk had had enough of the fight, and now ran for it in sudden fear. He did not take to the river shore, but skirted the pond and began to ascend a slight hill, beyond which was another fork of the ravine which has figured so largely in our story."Let him go! he may kill you!" called out Nellie, when she saw Pawnee Brown start in pursuit. But the
"In a second more the two men were in a hand-to-hand encounter"
scout paid no attention to her. His blood was up and he was determined to either exterminate Yellow Elk or bring him to terms.
The top of the hill was reached. Yellow Elk paused, not knowing exactly how to proceed. Looking back, he saw Pawnee Brown preparing to fire upon him. A pause, and he attempted to leap down to a ledge below him. His foot caught in the roots of a bush and over he went into a deep hollow headlong. There was a sickening thud, a grunt, and all became quiet.
Yellow Elk had paid the death penalty at last.
When Pawnee Brown managed to climb down to the Indian's side, to make certain the wily redskin was not shamming, he found Yellow Elk stone dead, his neck having been completely broken by his fall. He lay on his back, his right hand still clutching his bloody hunting knife.
"Gone now," murmured the great scout. His face softened for an instant. "Hang it all, why must even a redskin be so all-fired bad? If he had wanted to, Yellow Elk might have made a man of himself. I can't stop to bury him, and yet—— Hullo, what are those papers sticking out of his pocket?"
The boomer had caught sight of a large packet which had been concealed in Yellow Elk's bosom. He took up the packet and looked it over. It consisted of half a dozen legal-looking documents and twice that number of letters, some addressed to Mortimer Arbuckle and some addressed to Louis Vorlange.
He read over the letters and documents with interest. Those of Dick's father related to the mine in Colorado and were evidently those stolen by Louis Vorlange upon the night of the opening of this tale. The letters belonging to the government spy were epistles addressed to Vorlange from a former friend and partner in various shady transactions. Of these we will hear more later.
"Yellow Elk must have robbed Vorlange of these," mused the great scout, as he rammed the packet in his pocket. In this he was right. Vorlange had dropped the packet by accident and the Indian had failed to restore it, there having been, as the reader knows, no love lost between the two rascals.
Having placed the dead body among the bushes in a little hollow, Pawnee Brown climbed out of the ravine again and rejoined Nellie, who was growing impatient regarding his welfare. The story of what had happened to Yellow Elk was soon told, the scout softening out the ghastly details. Then, to change the subject, he asked her if she knew her uncle was a prisoner of the soldiers.
"Yes," she replied. "Oh, sir, what will they do with him?"
"I don't believe they can do much, Nellie," he answered. "According to the news from Washington, everything is to be smoothed out, and of course the government will have no case against any of us."
"Can I get to my uncle from here? Where is he?"
"About five miles from here. Yes, we can get to him if we want to." Pawnee Brown mused for a moment. "I'll risk it," he said, half aloud. "They can't arrest me for coming to expose a criminal, and I have the facts right here in my pocket."
A moment later he was riding the horse Yellow Elk had stolen, while Nellie was seated upon Bonnie Bird. In this manner they struck out for the agency, called by the soldiers a fort.
About three miles had been covered, when suddenly there came a shout from a thicket to one side of them.
"The cavalry!" gasped Nellie. "What shall we do?"
"Take it coolly, Nellie. I have a winning card this trip," smiled the great scout.
A few seconds later half a dozen fine looking men rode forward, a well-known official of the Indian Territory at their head.
"Pawnee Brown!" ejaculated the official, on recognizing the scout. "It would seem we had made quite a capture. What are you doing with Sergeant Morris' horse?"
"Is this the animal?"
"I found him in the possession of a run-away Indian, Yellow Elk. If he is your property you are welcome to him," and Pawnee Brown leaped to the ground.
"Humph! That is all right, but what are you doing here? Don't you know you are on forbidden ground?"
The scout's coolness was a great surprise to the official.
"I would be—under ordinary circumstances, sir. But just now I am on a mission to the agency: a mission I am convinced you will not attempt to hinder."
"What is it?"
"I wish to expose a great criminal, a man who is now in the active service of the United States, although he ought to be in prison or on the gallows."
The official was much surprised.
"I would like to know some of the particulars, Pawnee."
"Are you bound for the agency?"
"Then we will go together, and you can see what takes place. It will probably be well worth your while."
"This is no trick—I know you are itching to get into Oklahoma."
"I will give you my word of honor, sir. I have received word from Washington, and I feel certain that ere long this whole matter will be settled to our mutual satisfaction. In the meantime, booming can wait," and Pawnee Brown smiled in a quiet way.
A few words more followed, and Nellie was introduced. Then the whole party set off on a gallop for the agency, where was to be enacted the last scene in this little drama of the southwest.