The Boy Land Boomer/Chapter 28
CLEARING UP A MYSTERY—CONCLUSION.
As Vorlange uttered his dire threat into Dick's ear, the boy turned pale and staggered against the wall of his prison.
"Wot's that yer sayin?" demanded Jack Rasco, who plainly saw the changed look upon his companion's features.
"It is none of your business, Rasco," muttered the spy. "I told the boy; that's enough."
Dick breathed hard. Part of that mystery of the past was out at last. His father was accused of murder—Vorlange held the evidence against him. Like a flash came back to him several things he had almost forgotten. He remembered how on more than one occasion his father had sent money to the West after a letter had come which had upset him greatly. That must have been hush money, to keep this rascal quiet.
"I—I—do not believe you!" he cried in a faint tone. "My father is as upright as any gentleman in the land."
"Is he?" sneered Vorlange. "All right, if you think so, just drive me to the wall and see."
"Where was this crime committed?"
"In Creede, Colorado—at the time the camp was started."
"Who was killed?"
"A miner named Rickwell. He was once a partner of a man named Burch, of whom you have no doubt heard ere this."
"Yes, Burch left us the property you know all about, since you stole the deeds to it. Louis Vorlange, you are playing a deep part but you cannot make me swallow your statements about my father."
"Do you want me to expose him?"
"We'll see about that later. Rasco and I will certainly try to show you up for what you really are."
"Very well," blustered Vorlange. "Your father is a murderer, and he shall swing for it—unless you keep your mouth shut. I——"
Footsteps outside of the prison interrupted Louis Vorlange. An instant later Pawnee Brown and half a dozen others stepped inside of the apartment.
"Pawnee Brown!" cried Dick and Rasco together.
"Are you a prisoner, too?" continued the boy.
"Hardly," smiled the great scout. Then he noticed Vorlange. "Just the men we are after."
"Me?" ejaculated the spy.
"What do you want of me, Pawnee Brown? I want nothing to do with such as you—a thieving, low-down boomer—who—oh!"
Vorlange ended with a yell, for Pawnee Brown had caught him by the ear and almost jerked him off his feet.
"Letup! Letup! Oh!"
"Now keep quiet Vorlange," said the scout sternly. "You can thank your stars that I didn't put a bullet through you for letting your tongue run so loosely."
"Thet's so, b'gosh," was Rasco's comment. "But say, Pawnee, he's a reg'lar snake in the grass."
"I know it." Pawnee Brown looked at Dick. "Has he been threatening you, lad?"
"Yes; threatened me and my father, too."
"Have no fear of him, Dick. Louis Vorlange, you have about reached the end of your rope."
"What do you mean?" and the spy's lips quivered as he spoke.
"I mean that I am here to expose you." Pawnee Brown turned to the others who had come in. "Gentlemen, let me introduce to you Louis Vorlange, alias Captain Mull, once of Creede, Colorado."
"Captain Mull!" exclaimed several. "Do you mean the Captain Mull that was wanted for several shady doings, Pawnee?"
"The same Captain Mull, gentlemen "
"It is a—a lie!" screamed Louis Vorlange, but his looks belied him.
"It is the truth, gentlemen, he is the man who once sported under the name of Captain Mull. But that is not all."
"What else, Pawnee?"
"Some years ago a man by the name of Andrew Rickwell was murdered in the Last Chance hotel at Creede. At that time Creede was but a small place and Captain Mull ran the hotel. Who murdered Rickwell was not discovered. But he had occupied a room with another man, a mining agent from New York named Mortimer Arbuckle, the father of this lad here, and some thought Arbuckle had done the foul deed, and he had to run away to escape the fury of a mob. The horror of this occurrence unbalanced the man's mind and to this day he sometimes thinks he may be guilty. But he is innocent."
"He is guilty!" shrieked Louis Vorlange. "I saw him do the deed!"
"I see you acknowledge you were in Creede at that time," answered Pawnee Bill, and Vorlange staggered back over the bad break he had made. "As I said, Mortimer Arbuckle is innocent. There is the murderer, and here are the documents to prove it—and to prove more—that Vorlange is a thief, that he assaulted Mortimer Arbuckle in the dark and left him for dead, and that he is now acting against the best interests of the United States government."
As Pawnee Brown ended he pointed at Vorlange, and held aloft the packet he had taken from Yellow Elk.
"My father's documents!" cried Dick.
"The letters!" shrieked Louis Vorlange. Then he made a sudden leap to secure them, but Pawnee Brown was too quick for him. The scout turned to the captain of cavalry standing near.
"You had better arrest him before he tries to escape."
"They shall not arrest me!" came from Louis Vorlange's set lips. Clear the way!"
Like a flash his pistol came up and he fired into the crowd, which parted in surprise and let him pass. But not more than ten steps were covered when Pawnee Brown caught him by the arm and threw him headlong to the ground. At the same time the prison sentry fired, and Vorlange was mortally wounded in the side.
"I'll not forget you!" he cried to Pawnee Brown. "But for you I would have lived in clover the balance of my life!" Then he fell into a faint from which he recovered presently, to linger for several days in terrible anguish, dying at last in convulsions.
With the death of Vorlange we bring our story to a close. By what was said during the man's last hours on earth, Mortimer Arbuckle was entirely cleared of the cloud which had hung over his honorable name. Soon after this his right mind came back to him and today he is as well and happy as it is possible to imagine.
Whatever became of Stillwater and Juan Donomez is not known.
With the truce declared by the actions of the authorities at Washington and the word given by Pawnee Brown that no attempt should be made to enter Oklahoma for the present, it was not deemed advisable to hold either Dick or Rasco longer, and the two were given their freedom, to journey at once to Honnewell, in company with the great scout and Nellie Winthrop.
From Honnewell, Dick rode post haste to carry the glad news to his father. A scene followed which no pen can describe, a scene so sacred to the two it must be left entirely to the imagination of the reader. Never was a man more proud of his son than was Mortimer Arbuckle of Dick, or more grateful than was the mine-owner to Pawnee Brown for his courageous and marvelous work in clearing up the mystery.
"He is a man among men," he said. "God bless him!"
Nellie Winthrop was overjoyed to be with her uncle once again, and took good care that nothing should separate them. As for Jack, he guarded her with a care which could not be exceeded.
"Ef they carry her off again it will be over my dead body, b'gosh," he murmured more than once.
And yet Nellie was carried off four years later. But this time the carrying off was done by Dick Arbuckle, and both Nellie and Jack were perfectly willing. The wedding was a grand one, for the Colorado claims had panned out big for the Arbuckles, and the best man at the affair was Pawnee Brown.
In due course of time the bill concerning Oklahoma was passed by the United States Senate and signed by the President. This was followed by a grand rush of the boomers to get the best of the land granted to them. The advance was led by Pawnee Brown, who, riding his ever faithful Bonnie Bird, covered twenty miles in the short space of sixty-five minutes and located his town site at the mouth of Big Turkey Creek. This town site, along with his other Oklahoma possessions, made the great scout a rich man. He never grows weary of telling about this great rush into Oklahoma. "It was grand, awe-inspiring," he says. "I would go a thousand miles to see it again—those hundreds of wagons, thousands of horsemen and heads of cattle, all going southward, over hills, through forests, crossing brooks and rivers—all bound for the land which has since made them so prosperous and happy."
And here let us take leave of Dick Arbuckle, Pawnee Brown, and all their friends, wishing them well.