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       The Broncho Rider Boys on the Wyoming Trail, p.1

           Lester Chadwick
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The Broncho Rider Boys on the Wyoming Trail


  THE BRONCHO RIDER BOYS ON THE WYOMING TRAIL

  Or

  A Mystery of the Prairie Stampede

  by

  FRANK FOWLER

  Author of "The Broncho Rider Boys Down in Arizona," "The Broncho RiderBoys at Keystone Ranch," "The Bronco Rider Boys Along the Border,"

  A. L. Burt CompanyNew York.

  Copyright, 1914by A. L. Burt Company

  CONTENTS

  CHAPTER I.--ALONG THE WYOMING TRAIL. CHAPTER II.--THE STRANGE ACTIONS OF JUPITER. CHAPTER III.--THE FIRST NEWS OF THE BAR-S RANCH. CHAPTER IV.--THE NIGHT ALARM. CHAPTER V.--THE STAMPEDE. CHAPTER VI.--TO STAND BY A CHUM. CHAPTER VII.--FOLLOWING THE CATTLE RUSTLERS. CHAPTER VIII.--THE CORRAL IN BITTERSWEET COULIE. CHAPTER IX.--READY TO ACT. CHAPTER X.--CLEVER WORK. CHAPTER XI.--LAYING PLANS. CHAPTER XII.--DRIVING THE STAMPEDED STOCK HOME. CHAPTER XIII.--ADRIAN HIRES MORE HELP. CHAPTER XIV.--THE LAME PILGRIM ON THE TRAIL. CHAPTER XV.--FACE TO FACE AT THE CORRAL. CHAPTER XVI.--A THREATENING STORM. CHAPTER XVII.--ADRIAN TAKES THE REINS. CHAPTER XVIII.--THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS. CHAPTER XIX.--BILLIE HAS SUSPICIONS. CHAPTER XX.--ALMOST CAUGHT. CHAPTER XXI.--MR. THOMAS IS AMUSED. CHAPTER XXII.--SAFE IN THE CORRAL. CHAPTER XXIII.--TO HAVE AND TO HOLD. CHAPTER XXIV.--TREACHERY. CHAPTER XXV.--ADRIAN MAKES A STAND. CHAPTER XXVI.--A BOLD PROPOSAL. CHAPTER XXVII.--TRAPPED. CHAPTER XXVIII.--COUNTING THE MINUTES. CHAPTER XXIX.--THE COMING OF THE RUSTLERS. CHAPTER XXX.--WHEN THE SHERIFF CAME--CONCLUSION.

  THE BRONCHO RIDER BOYS ON THE WYOMING TRAIL

  CHAPTER I.

  ALONG THE WYOMING TRAIL.

  "Getting near the end of our long ride, ain't we, Adrian?"

  "Another night out ought to finish our great gallop from the Arizonaborder away up into the Wyoming cattle country, Billie."

  "Huh! mebbe I ain't just glad to hear that news now. This broncho ridingbusiness may be all very well for a while; but a fellow can get toomuch, even of a good thing; ain't that so, Donald?"

  "I've found that out myself many a time, and 'specially around theChristmas stuffing season, Billie. But you'll admit that our horses haveheld out well. Wireless is about as willing as when we started from myhome weeks back."

  "That's right, and so is Jupiter here, which is a wonder, consideringthat I'm nearly as heavy as my two saddle chums combined. Time was whenJupiter kept me guessing which way he had made up his mind to throw meoff; but he don't act like a crazy thing any more."

  "No, you cured him of that trick, all right, Billie, though we thoughthe'd break that stubborn neck of yours in the bargain," laughed the boycalled Adrian.

  "And you stick to the saddle like a burr these days, because you canride just as well as--well, you can eat, which is going some, if I do sayit," went on the third of the young riders, whom the fat boy had calledDonald.

  Billie laughed merrily, showing that he was a good-natured chap, andcould take a joke, even when it was on himself, which is more than somelads are able to do, the more the pity.

  While they plod on in this way, heading toward a group of houses wherethey hoped to find a wayside tavern at which they might secure some sortof a lunch, for they did not wish to stop to do any cooking at noon, wemay as well take advantage of the opportunity to introduce these threelively boys to those readers who may not have had the good fortune tomeet them before in earlier volumes of this Western series of books.

  Donald Mackay was the son of a well-to-do ranchman located down alongthe Arizona border, where he carried on his cattle business at KeystoneRanch; and was at the same time heavily interested in certain coppermines situated among the mountains.

  Adrian Sherwood was a friend, and a chum of Donald's, who had spent along stretch with the Mackays, so that he almost looked upon their homeas his own. He was an orphan, and owned a cattle ranch of his own uphere in Wyoming, which had for a long time been managed by his UncleFred Comstock; but which the young fellow had not visited for a term ofyears, ever since meeting Donald, in fact.

  During the last twelve months or so he had been receiving verydisappointing returns from his property. All sorts of evil things hadapparently swooped down on the valuable ranch, which had once been knownunder another name, but now went by that of the Bar-S outfit.

  Adrian had bothered very little about it at first, but as these badreturns continued, his curiosity was aroused; and finally he foundhimself tempted to visit his property secretly, without warning hisuncle of his coming. In this way he hoped to see for himself just whatstrange things were taking place up here in what was once the finestcattle country, barring none, in all the Wild West.

  The third member of the trio of riders was named William StonewallJackson Winkle. Hence it would go without saying that he came of anintensely patriotic Southern family, one or more of whose members musthave ridden with the famous Confederate general in those terrible daysof the Civil War; though the Winkles now lived in the North, andBillie's father was a rich New York lawyer.

  The boy had really been sent to pay a year's visit to his cousin,Donald, in the hope that the bracing air and breezy life of a cattleranch, with plenty of outdoor exercise thrown in, might reduce his fleshmore or less; and the cure had been fairly successful.

  While Billie was still an enormously fat chap, his muscles were nolonger flabby, but "hard as nails," as he often joyously avowed. He hadcome out West a genuine tenderfoot or greenhorn, only knowing how toride fairly well; but gifted with an extraordinary stubborn dispositionthat forced him to keep "plugging" away at any thing he wished to learnuntil it _had_ to succumb.

  So he had conquered the vicious pony named Jupiter, which none of thecow-punchers had had the patience to break of his evil ways. For a longtime it was an open question whether Billie would break the pony, or thelatter break Billie's neck; but in the end the determined boy had wonout. And from that day on they delighted to call the fat chum BronchoBillie.

  Down in Arizona these three lads, known far and wide as the BronchoRider Boys because they were nearly always seen galloping swiftly overthe plains on their mounts, either in pursuit of game, runaway cattle,or just for a wild lark, had of course met with numerous excitingexperiences.

  Some of these will be found narrated in previous volumes of this series,to which the reader who would know more about the saddle pards, isreferred.

  They had made the journey of hundreds of miles mounted on their horses,and taking things rather easy. With them they carried rifles, and somecooking utensils as well as blankets; for many a night they camped justas they found themselves in the open, making themselves fairlycomfortable. At other times they put up at roadside taverns, especiallywhen a bad spell of weather came along, and the chance for shelteroffered.

  From what Adrian had said to the stout chum, they were now close to theend of their long journey, with their mounts in tiptop condition.Indeed, he had assured Billie that this night would in all probabilitybe their last on the Wyoming trail, as they should reach Bar-S Ranchbefore another sundown succeeded the one that was before them.

  Billie liked riding, but being such a heavy fellow he longed for achange. To his mind a few days spent in lying around and taking thingseasy would be a delight. At times he joked, and told his chums that ifthey kept him on the jump much longer he would be able to get a job insome dime museum as the Living Skeleton; but somehow this dolefulinformation did not appear to cause either Adrian or Donald any alarm.They would look him over critically, and then grin, as they shook theirheads in the negative, as though unable to detect any difference in hisheft nowadays from what it used to be when they left Keystone Ranch.

  In this way they rode in among the houses that fo
rmed a prairie village.Farms doubtless lay scattered around, with the owners preferring to livein a community, and ride out to their work every day, either in wagons,or the latest thing in automobiles, which were already becoming verycommon on the plains.

  Seeing an awkward, half-grown boy, who looked as though he might beconnected with the tavern in front of which they had halted, Adriancalled out to him.

  "We want to stop over and get some lunch; can you have our ponies fed,and then brought around to the hitching fence again, after beingwatered?"

  "Reckon I kin, boss," replied the boy, who was a rather silly lookingfellow, Billie thought, and who kept staring at him so hard that herather fancied he had never before set eyes on so stout a youth; he evengrinned and chuckled while taking the bridle reins of the three ponies,and continued to stare at Billie until the three travelers haddisappeared in the tap-room of the tavern.

  "Seems like you made a hit with that fellow, Billie," remarked Donald,chuckling.

  "Well, I ain't proud of my conquest," muttered the fat boy, who had notfelt easy under the bold stare of the hostler; "he hain't got thesweetest face I ever set eyes on; and 'peared to me he might be close toa fool."

  "Here's the landlord," remarked Adrian, and turning to the tall man whocame bustling forward, he continued: "We'd like to have something warmto eat, if you can give it to us in a short while; your stable boy hastaken our ponies around to bait and water. Are we in time for dinner?"

  "Be ready in ten minutes, and glad to hev you along with us," repliedthe other.

  They found that the dinner, while limited in variety, was very good, andwith an abundance that pleased Billie especially, for the fat chum was agreat eater.

  Having satisfied their appetites Donald and Adrian gave Billie a littleextra time. They recognized the fact that he had to eat for nearly twicetheir weight; and had only one set of jaws with which to do themasticating, as Billie often complained, when they reproached him forlingering over the spread.

  But finally even he had to confess that he could devour no more, thoughhe did shake his head when leaving the table, as though it was againsthis principles to allow so much to remain after he had dined.

  The horses were already fastened at the rail out at the front door, andhaving settled for the accommodation, besides leaving a generous tip forthe hostler who did not appear to be around, they mounted and rode off;at least Donald and Adrian did without any trouble.

  Billie, however, was not so fortunate. Jupiter acted very queer, afterhaving had his wild spirit so well brought under subjection by his youngmaster long ago. He shook his head, and snorted, as though afraid ofsomething, even prancing hither and thither as if unwilling to letBillie get into his saddle.

  "Whoa! you silly thing!" shouted the fat boy, with a foot in thestirrup; and then, seeing that Jupiter was bound to make him try hisbest to mount this time, Billie suddenly threw himself upward, and ashis other leg passed over the saddle he found himself seated.

  Hardly had he done so than Jupiter commenced a series of prancings andbuckings of the same type as of old, evidently objecting strenuously toBillie's weight. Not being able to dismount his young master in this waythe really frantic pony suddenly dashed furiously along, passing boththe others like a shot. And Billie, as he left the village tavern in thelurch, believed he heard a discordant shriek of boyish laughter that, itstruck him, must have come from the throat of the ugly stable boy whohad stared so hard at him and grinned like an ape!

 
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