The Border Boys with the Mexican RangersJohn Henry Goldfrap / Young Adult
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—Obvious print and punctuation errors were corrected.
Around a smoldering fire lay several men. (_Page 28_) (_The Border Boys With the Mexican Rangers_)]
THE BORDER BOYS WITH THE MEXICAN RANGERS
By FREMONT B. DEERING
AUTHOR OF “The Border Boys on the Trail,” “The Border Boys with the Texas Rangers,” “The Border Boys Across the Frontier,” “The Border Boys in the Canadian Rockies,” “The Border Boys Along the St. Lawrence.”
A. L. BURT COMPANY Publishers New York Printed in U. S. A.
Copyright, 1911, BY HURST & COMPANY
MADE IN U. S. A.
I. AN IMPRUDENT BEAR 5
II. RUGGLES—THE DERELICT 15
III. JACK’S ADVENTURE 28
IV. A BATTLE ROYAL 38
V. CAUGHT IN A TRAP 47
VI. AN EXCITING QUEST 57
VII. THE CLOUDBURST 68
VIII. ADRIFT ON THE DESERT 76
IX. THE LONE RANCHO 91
X. AFTER MIDNIGHT 103
XI. TRAPPED 116
XII. THE GRINGOES MOVE 128
XIII. SENORITA ALVERADO 140
XIV. EL FIESTA 152
XV. BY FAIR MEANS OR FOUL 164
XVI. A BORDER BOY ERRANT 176
XVII. THE TRAIL OF THE TREMBLING MOUNTAIN 186
XVIII. BLACK RAMON’S TRICKERY 197
XIX. WHAT COYOTE DID 208
XX. WITH THE MEXICAN RANGERS 224
XXI. THE CAPTAIN PLAYS A TRICK 234
XXII. THE DWELLING OF A VANISHED RACE 243
XXIII. THE HEART OF THE MYSTERY 255
XXIV. THE DEATH TRAP 266
The Border Boys with the
AN IMPRUDENT BEAR.
Professor Wintergreen sat bolt upright amidst his blankets and listenedintently. Had it been daylight, the angular figure of the scientistwould have made a laughable spectacle. But the canyon in the State ofSonora, in Western Mexico, in which the Border Boys and their preceptorwere camped, was pitchy dark with a velvety blackness, relieved onlyby a few steely-looking stars shining from the open spaces of a fastoverclouding sky.
The night wind soughed in melancholy fashion through the trees thatclothed the sides of the rugged abyss in which the camp had beenpitched that evening, and the tinkle of the tiny stream that threadedits depths was audible. But although these were the only sounds tobe heard at the moment, it was neither of them that had startled theprofessor. No, what he had heard had been something far different.
Waking some hours after he had first fallen asleep, the man of sciencehad indulged his sleepless moments by plunging into mental calculationsof an abstruse character. He was deeply engrossed in these, when thesudden sound had broken in on the quietness of the night.
“Bless me, I could have sworn that I heard a footstep, and a stealthyone, too,” muttered the professor to himself, “I must be gettingnervous. Possibly that is what made me wake up, and—wow!”
The ruminations of Professor Wintergreen broke off abruptly as hesuddenly felt something warm and hairy brush his face.
“It’s a bear!” he yelled, springing to his feet with a shout thatinstantly aroused the others,—Jack Merrill, the rancher’s son; RalphStetson, his schoolmate from old Stonefell; Coyote Pete, and WaltPhelps.
“A b’ar!” yelled Coyote Pete, awake in a flash, “wha’r is thervarmint?” As he spoke, the plainsman drew forth his well-worn oldforty-four and began flourishing it about.
Before the others could say a word a dark form bolted suddenly throughthe camp, scattering, as it went, the embers of the dying campfire.
“It’s a bear, sure enough!” exclaimed Ralph, as the creature, a smallbear of the black variety, howled and stumbled amidst the hot coals.
All at once its shaggy coat burst into flame, and with a cry of intenseagony it dashed off into the woods.
“Poor creature!” cried Jack Merrill, “it will die in misery unless it’sput out of its agony quickly. Pete, lend me your gun.”
The plainsman handed it over with a quick interrogation to which hereceived no reply. Instead, Jack made a swift dash for the spot, a fewfeet distant, in which the horses of the party were tethered. Throwinghimself on the back of one, with a twisted halter for a bridle, he setoff in hot pursuit of the unfortunate bear.
He could see it quite plainly as it lumbered along through the woods,crying pitifully. Its long coat, greasy and shaggy, burned like a torch.
“Get along, Firewater, old boy,” breathed Jack, bending over hisanimal’s neck to avoid being brushed off by the low-hanging branches,for, after a short distance, the tangle on the hillside at the canyon’sbottom grew thick and dense.
But Firewater, alarmed and startled at the spectacle of the flamingbeast rushing along through the dark woods in front, balked and jumpedabout and misbehaved in a manner very foreign to him when he had hisyoung master on his back.
But Jack never made the mistake of allowing a pony or horse to thinkit could get the upper hand of him, and, consequently, Firewater soonquieted down and realized that there was no help for it but to gowhither he was directed.
At length Jack arrived within pistol shot of the frenzied bear. Aimingas carefully as he could for a death shot, he pressed the trigger andthe wretched animal,—the victim of its own curiosity,—plunged overand lay still.
“Poor creature,” quoth Jack to himself, “you are not the first to paythe toll of too much inquisitiveness. Gee whiz!” he broke off the nextinstant with one of his hearty, wholesome laughs, “I’m getting to be asmuch of a moralist as the professor.”
Having ascertained that the bear was quite dead and out of itssuffering, the Border Boy remounted his pony and pressed back towardcamp. But as he neared it, it was borne in upon him that the adventuresof the night were by no means at an end, for before he reached theothers, and while a thick screen of brush still lay between him and theglow of the newly made camp fire, a sudden volley of shots and theclattering of many horses’ hoofs broke the stillness.
A touch of the heel was enough to send Firewater bounding forward. Thenext instant the brush had been cleared, and a strange spectacle metJack Merrill’s eyes. His companions, their weapons in hand, stood aboutthe fire staring here and there into the darkness. A puzzled expressionwas on all their faces, and particularly was this true of theprofessor, who was scrutinizing, through his immense horn spectacles,a scrap of paper which he held in his hand. He was stooping low by thefirelight the better to examine it.
“Oh, here you are,” cried Ralph, as the returned young adventurer cameforward into the glow.
“Yes, here I am,” cried Jack, throwing himself from Firewater’s back.“I despatched that bear, too, but what on earth has been happeninghere?”
“Read this first, my boy, and then I will tell you,” said theprofessor, thrusting the not over-clean bit of paper into his hands.
“Read it aloud,” urged Pete, and Jack, in a clear voice, read theuntidy scrawl as follows:—
“Señors; you are on a mission perilous. Advance no further but turn back while you are safe. The Mountains of Chinipal are not for your seeking, and what you shall find there if you persevere in your quest will prove more deadly than the Upas tree. Be warned in time. Adios.”
“Phew!” whistled Jack, “that sounds nice. But what was all thefiring—for I suppose that had something to do with it?”
“Why, the firing was my work,” struck in Walt Phelps, looking rathershamefaced, “and I’m afraid I wounded the man I shot at, too.”
“You see it was this way,” went on Ralph Stetson. “We were watching thewoods for your coming when, suddenly, a horseman appeared, as if bymagic, from off there.”
He pointed behind him into the dark and silent trees.
“Under the impression that we were attacked, I guess, Walt opened fire.But the man did not return it. Instead, he flung that note, which wastied to a bit of stone, at our feet, and then dashed off as suddenly ashe had come. What do you make of it?”
“I don’t know what to think,” rejoined Jack in a puzzled tone; “supposewe ask the professor and Pete first.”
“A good idea,” chorused the other boys. “Well, boys,” said theprofessor anxiously, “not being as well versed in such things as ourfriend Mr. Coyote, I shall defer to him. One thing, however, I noticed,and that was that the note is worded in fair English, although badlywritten in an uneducated hand.”
“Maybe whoever wrote it wished to disguise his writing,” ventured WaltPhelps.
“That’s my idee of it,” grunted Coyote Pete; “yer see,” he went on,“ther thing looks this yer way ter me. Some chap who knows of a plot onfoot ter keep us frum the Chinipal, wanted to do us a good turn, butdidn’t dare be seen in our company. So he hits on this way of doing itand gits drilled with a bullet fer his pains.”
Walt Phelps colored brilliantly. He felt ashamed of his haste.
“Don’t be upsot over it,” said Pete, noticing this, “it’s therchap’s own fault fer dashing in on us that way. I reckon, though, hekalkerlated on finding us asleep, an’ so we would have bin if it hadn’ta bin fer Mister flaming b’ar.”
“The question is, are we to heed this warning, or is it, what I believeis sometimes termed a bluff?” asked the professor anxiously. He drewhis blankets about his skinny figure as he spoke, and stood in thefirelight looking like a spectacled and emaciated ancient statue.
Coyote Pete considered a minute.
“Suppose we leave that till the morning fer discussion,” he said. “Inmy judgment, it will be best fer you folks ter turn in now and sleepther rest of ther night.”
“And you, Pete?” asked Jack.
“I’ll watch by the fire in case of another visit. I don’t thinkthere’ll be one, but you cain’t most gen’ally always tell. Gimme my gunback, Jack; I might need it.”
There was no dissuading Coyote from his plan, so the others turned inonce more, and, despite the startling interruption to their slumbers,were soon wrapped in sleep.
As for Coyote, he sat by the fire till the stars began to pale and theeastern sky grew gray and wan with the dawn. Except for an occasionalswift glance about him the old plainsman’s eyes were riveted on theglowing coals, seemingly searching the innermost glowing caverns forsome solution of the situation that confronted them.