Three Young Ranchmen/Chapter 30

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CHAPTER XXX.


Together at Last—Conclusion


Allen spoke the truth. There, tied by strong ropes to a projecting rock, was the uncle of the Winthrop boys.

His face was pale and haggard, showing he had suffered much since his confinement.

Forgetting the woman, Allen dashed forward.

"Uncle Barnaby! How glad I am that we have found you!" he cried loudly.

"Who is that?" The prisoner sprang up from where he was resting. "Allen!"

"Yes, uncle! Are you not glad to see me?"

"Glad is not a strong enough word, my boy!" was the reply from Barnaby Winthrop, and as soon as Allen had released him he caught his nephew in his arms. "I was praying to be rescued."

"They have not treated you well, I can see that, uncle."

"They have used me worse than a dog. They wanted to get my secret from me, and used every means in their power to accomplish their purpose."

"But they did not succeed, did they?"

"No. I told them I would die rather than allow the scoundrels to get rich through my instrumentality."

A scuffle behind them stopped the conversation. Ike Watson was trying to secure the woman, who was struggling desperately to get away.

By biting and scratching the desperate female at last freed herself from the old hunter s grasp. Then she bounded for the cave entrance. Watson aimed his gun at her and then lowered the weapon.

"Reckon I won't," he drawled. "Never did shoot at a woman, an' I'm too old ter begin now. She don't count, anyhow!"

And thus the woman was allowed to escape. She lost no time in quitting the vicinity.

The old hunter shook hands warmly with Barnaby Winthrop, who was profuse in his thanks to Watson for what he had accomplished.

"You shall lose nothing by what you have done, Ike," he said. "Just wait till I open up that new claim."

"Speaking of the claim, there is somebody else to see you," began Allen, when the talk was interrupted by the clattering of horses hoofs on the rocks outside.

"Saul Mangle and Darry Nodley!" exclaimed Allen, as he glanced down the stony trail. "They are coming here, too!"

"They belong to the gang," said Barnaby Winthrop.

"Reckon ez how we can receive em all right," put in Ike Watson, dryly.

As quickly as possible Barnaby Winthrop was provided with firearms.

"My gracious!"

It was Allen who let out the cry, loud enough for those who were approaching to hear.

"What's up?" asked his uncle.

"Look back of them."

All did so, and then a shout went up. There only a few hundred yards to the rear, were Chet and Paul, trying their best to run down the horse thieves, whom they had discovered but a short five minutes before.

"We've got em corralled!" said Watson, grimly.

"Look, there is Jack Blowfen, too!" ejaculated Allen, as the cowboy also came into view.

"Halt!"

Ike Watson uttered the command.

He ran into the open, followed by the others. A shout went up from Saul Mangle and Darry Nodley, and then another from those in the rear.

"There is Allen!"

"There is Uncle Barnaby!"

"Capture the horse thieves!"

The two rascals were bewildered and paused, not knowing which way to turn.

They were quickly surrounded, and it was old Ike Watson who commanded them to throw down their weapons.

At first they felt inclined to refuse, but a glance at the stern faces about them caused them to comply.

"The jig is up!" muttered Saul Mangle, and Nodley groaned inwardly.

There was another joyous greeting between uncle and nephews when Paul and Chet rode up.

In the meanwhile Jack Blowfen assisted Ike Watson in making prisoners of Mangle and Nodley. The latter asked for his wife and seemed disappointed to learn she could not share his captivity.

Allen and Barnaby Winthrop were glad to learn that Captain Grady was a prisoner.

"When I am done with him I warrant he'll not give any of us further trouble," said the uncle of the boys.

Before the party left the vicinity, Saul Mangle and Nodley were searched, and from them were taken the seven hundred dollars which had been stolen from the ranch home, as related at the be ginning of this story.

The prisoners were removed to Daddy Wampole's hotel, and later on were placed in the hands of the sheriff. The sheriff also took into custody Captain Hank Grady and Lou Bluckburn. The colored man, Jeff Jones, was, by the advice of Chet and Paul, allowed to go his own way on promise to turn over a new leaf. Slavin was taken to a hospital and later on let go.

Several years have passed since the events above recorded took place. In that period of time many important changes have occurred.

The horse thieves and would-be claim stealers were all duly tried according to law, and are now serving various terms of imprisonment. The ranch belonging to Captain Grady was confiscated by creditors from Deadwood and sold to Barnaby Winthrop, who turned it over to the three boys to add to the ranch already belonging to them.

The Winthrop mine is now in operation and is paying very well. It is managed by Barnaby Winthrop himself, and Noel Urner owns a large block of stock, which he considers the best investment he ever made.

Caleb Dottery and Jack Blowfen manage the ranch jointly in connection with their former work, doing this on shares for the Winthrop boys. As for old Ike Watson, he still roams the hills and mountains. He can have a good home with Barnaby Winthrop any time he wishes, but says he is not yet ready to settle down.

And Allen, Paul, and Chet? The three boys are all in San Francisco. Allen is in college, and his two brothers are preparing to follow at a well-known private school. Allen is to be a lawyer, and privately has a notion he may enter politics as the State of Idaho grows in importance. Paul is inclined to be a doctor. Chet has not yet settled the question of a future occupation.

"I think I ll go in with Uncle Barnaby," he said a few days ago. "I love the mountains too well to stick in any city. I'll become a mine owner and speculator in claims and cattle."

They are all happy together, and, come what may, will never forget their adventures when they were left alone on the ranch to combat their many unknown enemies.