|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||A Brave Boy's Battle|
A BRAVE BOY'S BATTLE.
BY LEON LEWIS.
"WE are halting—drat the beasts!" muttered the Ohion, bestowing a vicious kick upon the unruly animal he bestrode. "See here, Sambo,"
he added, turning hastily to the negro guide.
" Got a pistol ?" The guide, whose teeth were already chatter ing with fear of the pursuers, gasped an affir mative. He had a pistol which he had recently bought of a miner, he confessed, but he didn't know how to use it, and if he did, he should never dare drew it upon the two terrible men now coming up. " Give it to me, then," cried Eddy. " I will cue it." The guide gave up his weapon. Eddy exa mined it quickly, and found it loaded, as the negro had bought it. "Aim at their mules, Eddy," whispered Oorse. " Here they come!" "Surrender!" cried the [leader^ of the two desparadoes. " This is the way we surrender," returned the Obioan, a wild, fierce gleam lighting up his bandit-like face. " The nigh mule, Eddy. Blaze •way!" The two pistols poured forth their deadly contents, and the two mules of the desperadoes staggered under dangerous wounds, Betting up an unearthly braying. " Duck your heads," cried Gorae, suiting the action to the word. The heads of Eddy, Tina, and the guide dropped beside the necks of their males. At the same moment the rifle bullets whistled abore their heads. As if the shots had been the signal for which they had been waiting, or as if they believed that judgment was overtaking them for their contumacy, the mules of the fugitives set up a wild braying, and bounded forward with snoh violence as nearly to unseat their riders. The progress ot the unhappy beasts for the next few minutes would have done credit to a race* oourse. Up hills, down dales, snorting, bray* ing, and displaying an utter extremity of mule terror, the miserable quadrupeds tore away at a pace that threatened to dislocate every bone in the bodies of their unfortuate riders. Tina's small hands dug into the mane of her mule; Eddy clung to his steed with arms clasped under his thick neck, after the manner of a circus rider j Gorse, by a fortunate facility, inter twined his long lank legs under or about the body of his oharger, and fastened to his ears. As for the negro guide, he clung with all the energy of a mad despair. On descending a rocky elevation, a small stream of water was seen ahead of them shining in the moonlight. The mules made for this stream with frantic energy, hurrying down the declivity as if flying from a mule demon. Poor little Tina, quite exhausted by this time, went flying over the head of her steed, alighting upon the ground, and he galloped on unconcernedly, eager to reach the creek. Gorse, still clinging to his mule, was borne ont into the stream, where he almost lost his balance, as the eager beast bent his head to drink. " Are any of you hurt ?" he inquired, loudly. " Hot one of us," answered Eddy. " How do yon feel ?" " I am one big bruise," lamented the Ohioan, not daring to relax his grasp on his mule, or to look around. " This beats John Gilpin's ride all hollow. I wonder what mules were made for ?" No one could render a satisfactory reply. "I am sore aa a boil," continued the ex schoolmaster, " but"—and hia face lighted up with a glow of prospective satisfaction—" lam not done with this mule yet. I intend to take pay in full for this little debt out of his hide! I won't be the only bruised one when he and I get through with each other!" Eddy, Tina, and the guide limped down to the water's edge. When the mules had Bated their thirst, they set out soberly, fording the stream and striking into the path beyond. " Don't hear any sounds of pursuit, do you Eddy ?" inquired Gorse. " Not one," returned the boy, listening keenly. "We must have killed their mules, or wounded them dangerously at the least. The ruffians must have gone back to the Indian Tillage !" v If they tried to follow us on foot they must be in an insane condition by this time," re marked Gorse, in his whimsical way. "If they went back to the village for fresh mules, they will find it impossible to overtake us. They were a bad lot, Eddy, but we are quit of them. ni tell you what I think," said Gorae, abruptly changing the subject. •' I should like to live to get back to Ohio. I'd like to write a book on mules. I don't think the subject's ever been done.juitice to. f've got a living knowledge of the nature of mules since I set nut on this expe dition.' " If you get up such a book, Ichabod," said Eddy, "be sure and have it illustrated with cuts." " That I will," asserted the Ohioan. " This mule I'm on '11 have a picturesque hide by the time I get through with him. He'll be ' illus trated with cuts,' if the illustrations cost me ten dollars extra on the price of the mule, besid s ten good rawhides. I sba'r.'t begrudgo expense in getting up my illustrations. A mule, Eddy, is—is a male, a miserable, forsaken, mulish mule. That's just what he is. The nature of a mule," ho continued, as if quoting from his prospective book, " is compounded of obstinacy and mulishneas, equally proportioned. I hate a mule as I hate tobacco or whisky. I despise a mule as I de?pi?e a miserable, low-lived healthy loafer. I abhor a mule as— Hia comparison was cut short by the quad ruped he bestrode, who threw out his hind legs at this juncture in a manner that nearly threw his rider. Tha essay on mules in general gave place to a contest with one mule in particular. It i 3 needless to say that the brute was victo rious. After going through a course of balking, rear ing, shying, plunging, and finally making an at tempt to roll over on the ground, the beast con cluded to go on. The Obioan, " a sadder and a wiser man," kept silence for some time, as if he feared again arousing the ire of his quad ruped. " I'll ride the beast till he drop?," he mut tered at last vengefully, in an undertone. "I won't halt till I get to Panama." The night aoon wore away. Without the interlude of morning twilight, the sun suddenly buret in full splendor upon the scene. The mon keys awakened from their slumbers, and chatted
noisily as they showed themselves to the travel lers. About 8 o'clock, the party came to a halt by the bank of a clear and shaded stream. Des pite his resolve to the contrary, Gorse dis mounted. The tired mules were tethered with within range of water and grass, and the riders resolved to rest their own jaded frames, and to refresh themselves with breakfast. The spot at which they had halted was a small open glade, inclose 1 and shaded by trees. Gorse threw himself on the graßS as did the negro guide. Eddy and Tina crept to the water's edge, and bathed their faces and combed their hair with Eddy's pocket comb. Tina, in whom the instinct of neatness was strongly developed, brushed her neat plain dress and her her stout high shoes, using wisps of grass for the purpose. Their example proved contagious, Gorse fol lowing it. Their supply of food was then opened, and the travellers hastened to do justice to it. They remained two hours at the glade, the mules resting, and the fugitives dropping off into slumber on the cool grass. But by 10 o'clock they were again in the saddle, pursuing their journey. And still there came no sounds of pursuit. They travelled as swiftly as possible during the hours that followed. In the middle of the afternoon they made another halt of an hour's duration. At a late hour, about sunset, they came in view of the quaint and picturesque town of Panama. The city, regularly fortified, occupying a peninsula jotting into the bay ; its streets ex tending across the pom* from water to water ; its cathedral, convent, colleges, and nunery plainly to be distinguished with the sunlight on their domes and spires, was a memorable sight. The party halted to look at it with joyful eyes. Eddy's eyes sought the bay in eager quest. There was no steamer rocking on the swell of the waters ; bat a dingy old schooner, evidently a whaling vessel, lay at anchor in the harbor. " I wonder where that vessel's bound to," said Gorse. "It may be going to touch at San Francisco. We'll see." They resumed their journey, passing clusters of bamboo huts set in the shade of palm-trees, and rode into the quiet streets, their guide lead ing the way. Life in Panama was, from its strangeness, not devoid of interest and charms. The shop keepers rocked in their hammocks in the dark shade of their shops, lazily awaiting a chance customer; provision shopß supplied with fes toons of dried beef, sold by the yard, and with strange vegetables, were on every side j fruit women had frequent stalU; and some negresses transported on gaily turbaned heads palm-leaf baskets of fruit. There were peripatetic ped dlers of fans and cool drink, and now and then a figure completely enveloped in straw bats stalked by, uttering the monotonous cry of their trade. The guide threaded the narrow paved streets, skilfully avoiding the dusky children in the gutters, and convoyed his charge safely to the Panama Hotel. Here his duties ended. Gorse dismissed him at the portal, bestowing upon him double the gratuity promised; and the guide, with'his mules, for whose return he was responsible, wended his way to a cheaper hostelry. The landlord of the hotel, a swarthy New Granadan, came out to welcome his guests. He led them along the latticed verandah at the side of the court, ushering them into two chambers which, though not opening into each other, were side by side, and opened into the verandah. One of these was assigned to Tina j the other to Eddy and Gorse. The chambers were neat and clean and cool. Tina found plenty of toilet appurtenances, and took a hand bath. By the time she waß again dressed, a knock was heard at her door, and a voice announced that supper was ready. Tina emerged upon the verandah, aud found that a table had been spread in its cool shade, and that Eddy and Gorse, both the better for a bath, were waiting for her. She took her place at the table, pouring the hot and fragrant coffee. Eggs, chicken, fish, a species of sweet cake, and a variety of fruits heaped in open-work baskets, littered the table. To the travellers, who had fared so ill since leaving Chagres—to Tina, who had subsisted on Indian fare for the past three weeks—this was like " a feast of the gods." The night fell upon them while they lingered at the table, but a night scarcely less bright than the day. "I will leave you two for an hour," said Gorse, arising from his seat. " I wast to go down and see the captain of the whaler. If we could get off in her, Eddy, we may outwit Tina's enemies and Jacob Vellia, who is posting after us, you may be sure. If we can't get off in her, and have to wait for the steamer, there'll be a row." " I will stay with Tina," said Eddy. " Re present the case strongly to the whaling captain, Ichabod. I pray he is going to stop at San Francisco." Gorse donned his sugar-loaf hat, and hurried away. The hours of his absence were employed by Eddy and Tina in an interchange of confidences. She told anew her simple and pathetic etory, and Eddy poured into her ears the story of his parents' wrongs, his mother's persecutions, hi 3 own fears of Vellis. Tina's tears mingled with his as he told of his noble, gentle mother's ter rible imprisonment in a mad-house, and Tina's hand stole softly into his. " I'll help you find your father, Eddy," she whispered. "It isn't for nothing you have picked me ub and befriended me. God means that I shall bring some great good to you. I am sent to help you in your search." Her brown, starry eyes looked up at him with a strange steadfastness. A holy purpose glori fied her face. Eddy's soul thrilled within him at her words and manner.
Chapter XXI. ON THB PACIFIC. The hour was growing late when Ichabod Gorse returned to the Panama Hotel. Eddy and Tina sat in the recess of the latticed arcade. The moonlight, scarcely lesß brilliant than sun light, in those tropical latitudes, flooded the court and penetrated to their cool retreat. "Up yet ?"said Gorse. " I half expected to find you both asleep. Well, youngster*, I've been out to the whaler. She lies two miles out in the bay—she can't get nearer, the water's too shallow. She's been taking in water and sup plies, and is to sail at sunrise." " For what port ?" inquired Eddy. The Ohioan dropped heavily into a chair and commenced to fan himself with his hat. " She's bound for the whaling region up north," he answered j " up into the cold regions.
She's out on a three years' cruise. She has a full crew, and will stop at San Francisco." " Has she any passengers ?" " Not one, and no accommodations for any. But I made a bargain with the captain, and he will convey us, if we are aboard at daybreak, and if we can put up with poor fare. The ves sel is the R. A. Graham, bound from New Lon don. The captain's a downright good fellow. His name is Hodson." " The matter is all settled ?" asked Eddy. " Yes; I've bought some blankets, three Panama hats—one for Tina with a blue ribbon —and some other traps. But about the whaler. She's clean, and that's the best that can be said of her. She's a rickety old tub, but she may be better than she looks. It is to be hoped so. As everything is now settled, and we must get up early, suppose we go to bed ?" Tina arose at once, put up her fresh lips to Eddy to be kissed, and then approached Gorse. He stooped and kissed her, patting her tiny black rings of curls, and Tina then went into her own room and closed the door. " That girl's a regular sunbeam," said Gorse, his eyes moistening. " Hetty Plummer'll take to her, and no mistake. But we must turn in. Come, Eddy." They were astir early, and went ont upon the latticed verandah. Tina was sitting there in the shade, and arose to welcome them with a bright smile. Looking into her sunlit face one would not have guessed that she had cried herself to sleep, her heart filled with grief for " poor papa." With her rare instinctive delicacy, she kept her tears for her solitude, and had only smiles for her benefactors. The table was laid for breakfast already. A waiter appeared with the coffee, a plate of light hot cakes, and meat, eggs and fruit; and the breakfast was eaten before sunrise. Then Eddy paid the hotel bill, and the trio rambled out into the quaint street. Early as was the hour, the shops were open* and street venders and water-carriers were pur suing their avocations. Bows of balconies adorned the fronts of the dwellings, and in some few of them dark-haired senoritas were taking the morning air. Children were already at their play in the gutters, and the movable stalls -were being set up by their proprietors. Gorse stopped to purchase two immense palm leaf baskets, one of which he bestowed on Eddy. Then, halting at a fruit shop, he filled the bas kets with choice fruits for use on shipboard. Tina bought for herself, in an adjoining shop, a few artides of underwear and some collars. Eddy bought a couple of shirts of some blue checked material, as did Gorse. Thus fitted out, they pursued their course towards the bay. Going down the quaint street, and past the unhung gate in the city wall, they came out upon the yellow beach. A long rocky reef stretched out into the bay for a mile or more, the tide being low. Moving cautiously along the uneven path thus afforded, they came to the end of the reef, where a couple of stout negroes were lounging, waiting for them. At the distance of a few feet, manned by stout rowers, rocked a greasy whale boat. The distance between the reef and the boat was to be bridged by the waiting negroes. In other words, Gone, Eddy, and Tina were compelled to mount those broad and shining back*, and the negroes, under their burden, struggled, splashed and hurried to the whale boat, depositing their passengers therein. " This is travelling under difficulties," ob served Gorse, when the baskets had been brought to the boat, and the services of the negroes had been properly recompensed. " I've ridden mule-back and man-back. I can't say which I like best!" A few minutes' steady pull brought the whale boat alongside the ship! Eddy and Tina climbed to the whaler's deck, in the wake of Gorse. It was a dingy vessel, with the smell of whale oil pervading every board and spar and sail. The deck was grimed and greasy, yet having the appearance of having been recently and thoroughly scrubbed. The noise of the arrival brought the captain to the deck. He was a hearty rough New Englander, with a bluff, red face, a sandy beard, and a pair of twinkling, kindly natured eyes. " Good morning, Mr. Goree," he said extend ing his hand. " You are in good time," and the captain shook hands all round. " Fine breeze," he said. "We shall start out handsomely. Afraid of the sea, miss ?" " No, sir," said Tina. " I have come all the way from Massachusetts. And I wasn't seasick either. I like the sea." The captain laughed, well-plewed with his small passenger. " Would you and Master Burnß like to see your quarters ?" he inquired. The young couple assented. The captain bade them follow him, and led the way down the companion-stairs into a dingy and greasy little cabin. Off this cabin opened the officers' state-rooms. One of these state-rooms had been fitted up for the use of Gorse and Eddy. It looked neat and wholesome. For Tina's accommodation, a spare pantry had been cleaned out. Gorse had communi cated to the captain as much of Tina's and Eddy's stories as he deemed advisable, and the commander was greatly interested in the young pair. The girl's room was, therefore, as plea sant as cleanliness and care could make it. It was small, of course. It had a port-hole. The walls had all been scrubbed with soap and water. A wide bunk had been put up, the clean white sheets and blankets of which Gorse had sent aboard the previous night. A small square of mirror on the wall, a tiny basket with combs, brushes, eoaps and towls, were also the gift of the thoughtful Ohioan. There were in addition a few books, and a package of confec tionery. The port-bole was open and the sweet sea breeze came into tlie small cell, purifying every nook and corner. " How pleasant!" exclaimed Tina, delightedly. " It's as nice as the steamer, and I was afraid it wouldn't be. I shall take a great deal of com fort in here, Captain Hodgson." " If you like it, I'm paid," said the captain, well pleased at her delight and surprise. " We've got some jellies and fol-de-rola coming aboard, eur'u as girls like. We'll make you as happy ac rce '.an, Miss Tina." From t.t shadows and depths of the time wotn city, iloated the sound of matin bells. " How beuu'.iful!" breathed Tina. " I'll i.et you a glas9, and you can see the shore more plainly," said the captain. He hurried Delow. The whale-boat, which was making her last trip, bud now left the reef and was making for the ship, her crew singing some odd sea rhyme as they pulled at the oars. " Bee, Kna," said Eddy suddenly, " some men are liurry.ng along the reef and beckoning to
the whale-boat to return. Can they belong to the ship, and have been left on shore ?" " No," said Tina, because the boat don't put back for them. And see, Eddy, there's a canoe by the reef with two negroes in her. The men are coming off in the canoe." The captain now appeared with the spy-glass, which he carefully adjusted, and gave into Tina's hands. The girl turned the instrument toward the reef, and studied the figures upon it. " Oh, Eddy," she gasped, turning white with horror. "The men who are getting into the canoe are those awful robbers who stole papa's money : And there's a man with them!" Eddy snatched up the glass and scrutinised the canoe and its occupants. They were three men besides the rowers. They had entered the canoe, and were pulling away from the reef in the direction of the whale ship. Two of the men, as Eddy recognised, were the ruffians whom he had first seen at the bed side of Tina's father. The third man was Jacob Vellis!
Chapter XXII. A BTBOEB 07 JUSTICE. As they recognised the faces of the three villains in the canoe, the hearts of Eddy and Tina sank heavily. The relentless energy of their enemies appalled them. "What's the matter, Eddy ?" asked Gorse, noticing how pale the boyish face had grown, and how the lad's brown hands trembled under the weight of the spy-glass. " See anything juboua?" Eddy silently handed his friend the glass. Gorse adjusted it, and carelessly surveyed the canoe, which'was now bonnding over the waters at a rate that threatened to overhaul the whale boat. Then he too started, his countenance changing. " It's them, sure enough," he muttered. " They didn't let the grass grow under their feet, anyhow. They may find their little game blocked though, by the gentleman from Ohio— that's me!" " Anything wrong ?" inquired the captain, marking the agitation of Eddy and Tina. " Captain," returned Gorse deliberately, " just you take a look through that glass at the men in yonder canoe. The captain did as requested. " A bad-looking lot," he commented. " They are," returned Gorse. " Just mark those two long-bearded chaps, cap'n. They are the vultureß that robbed the dead body of Tina's father—who stole the orphan's heritage, as I was telling you last night." "The vampires!" ejaculated Captain Hod son, his ruddy face darkening. " And the other?" "Is Jacob Vellis, Eddy's enemy, who has made three distinot attempts on the boy's life, as I also told you." The captain's eyes sparkled. " Vellis must have hunted Chagres for us the next morning after our arrival, and within a few hours of our departure up the river," said Gorse. " He discovered that we had set out for Panama, and he hurried in pursuit. He probably arrived at the Indian settlement at about the time those two big ruffians were about to set out for the second time in pursuit of us. They joined parties, got acquainted with each other, and united their interests. What they expect to do now, Satan only knows!" " Let them come on," said the captain with a smile. "They couldn't find anybody more anxious to meet them than I am. Let them come." The whale-boat came speeding to the ship. And Bcaroely three boat lengths in the rear came the light canoe, with its freight of eager passengers. Suddenly, as the canoe had lessened her dis tance from the ship to a few yards, Captain Hodsen shouted, in tones like those issuing from a trumpet: " Canoe, ahoy, there! Stop where you are!'» The negro rowers rested on their oars on the instant. "Ship, ahoy!" ydled Vellis. «Where are you bound for ?" " To the North Pacific whaling grounds," was the answer. " Do you stop at San Francisco ?" cried Vellis. " Aye, aye," said the captain. " I want to take passage with you!" exclaimed Vellis, rising in his canoe. " I was a passenger on the Atlantic, which was burned at sea. I missed connection with the Pacific Will you take me ?" " No, sir," said the captain. " This isn't a passenger veiweL You'll have to wait for the neit Bteamer." " But you've got passengers on board," cried Vellis. "That's my business," returned Captain Hodson. " I'll pay you doable what they give," said Vellis eagerly. " No, sir!" cried the captain, drawing himself up, bis countenance blazing with menace. " I wouldn't take you on board, you miserable Jonah, to save your wretched life. In fact, you and the villains with you would come on board at the peril of your lives. I know all about you, you thieves, robbers, assassins ! I'd shoot you down, one and all of you, as I'd shoot a noxious wild beast!" And the captain's looks declared that he meant what he said. The three villains looked at each other in dis may. The captain of the whale-ship, they com prehended, knew all about their career of vil lainy. " I'll have to hang up my fiddle on going aboard," muttered Vellis. " Young Burns and Gorse were too sharp for me. Let us lie off here a few minutes. What was that the sailors in the whale-boat were saying about being short of hands ? It don't look like it. The ship's on the point of putting off." During the brief parley, the whale-boat had swung alongside the ship and passed up her I stores. The seaman now mounted to the deck. j The captain turned and surveyed them with j a keen glance. " Did you bring off the men ?" he asked. " No, sir," was the response of the second i mate, who had been in charge of the boat. : " Johnson is worse with his fever, captain, and couldn't be brought aboard. He isn't fit for j duty, sir. And Brooks and Ellis, who went ? ashore last night, are not to be found, sir. They | were to be on the reef for the last boat, but 1 they've turred up missing. They're lying off for a chance to get to the gold diggings." The captain frowned, and look anxious. "Deserted!" he exclaimed. "I wouldn't have believed it of them. They were the con tentedest fellows on board, or I should never have given them leave to spend the night ashore. Sure they are not on the reef now ?" He looked with eagerness in that direction, bat the forms he waght were nowhere Tirible.
"I am sure they have deserted," said the second mate. "They were crazy to go to California. And none of the crew knew that you were actually going to atop at San Fran cisco, Captain." "I wasn't certain of it myself till last night," returned Captain Hodson. " This puts us into an unpleasant predicament, Mr. Harris. The crew is three short. I don't like to put out to sea short of hands." " If you choose to lie here an hour or two, captain," said the second mate, "we can easily find good seamen ashore. The delay will be brief, and the crew will be better satisfied." " Very well, Mr. Harris," said Captain Hod son discontentedly, "you can go ashore and pick up two or three able men. We've got to hare a Cull crew, if we stay here a week." The second mate re-entered the whale-boat, and struck out again for the shore. " They're going to hunt up extra hands," muttered Vellis. " I've got an idea. Pull out, you black rascals. Give us some of your best rowing." He stood up in the canoe and shook his fist menacingly at the three passengers on the whale ship, and then settled himself in his seat, and the canoe returned to the reef. "I bid you good-bye here," said Vellis, as he leaped out upon the bare rocks. " You are not thinking of going to California ?" " No," said the leader of the two desperadoes, with a hoarse laugh. " We've been out there, and don't find the climate healthy. We mean to run the Isthmus at present. There's money to be made made here by the right sort of fel lows." " I wonder what Vellia is up to ?" muttered the ruffian who had been called Tom by his comrade on a previous occasion after they separated. " He's got an idea working under his wool. He's a smart fellow, Dirk, one of our sort; but if he don't look sharp, he'll stretch hemp out at the diggings." The chief of the precious pair assented. The two arrived at the inn, procured food, and lounged several hours in a gambling saloon. A few hours later, they mounted their mules, and set out on their return to the small Indian vil lage. " I don't know," observed Tom, as they rode out of the quaint old city, " but what we are taking a good deal of trouble for a little money. We watched three weeks by Mr. Perry while he was sick, and all we got for the trouble was three thousand dollars which you've got around your waist, and which I want divided to-day. Seems to me we could have done the job up sooner—" " And had the whole Isthmus on guard against us ?" cried the pther. " You talk like a turkey. We couldn't kill the man outright, with that little girl for ever sitting by his pillow and watching us like a cat. And the sick man seemed to suspect our designs, and even in his delirium kept his revolver under his pillow ready for use. And he would have used it too, if he'd been as crazy as a loon. We had to see the matter through, and I consider we're paid. We've got to bury the man decently, and this adventure's ended, and we can go down to Chagres and come up with the frain. We'll find a sick man or a gudgeon in it. If we had done differently in regard to Perry, the Indians at the village would have warned all travellers, against us. As it is, we've got up our reputa tions, and we'll do a big business before we take in our shingle." " You are right, Dirk. We'll bury our man, and hu'.ry down to Chagres. There's lots of game down there." Toward the olose of the afternoon of the fol lowing day, the two desperadoes re-entered the small Indian village. The landlord was sitting upon a bench before his door, smoking a pipe. The ruffians rode up to the door of the inn, dismounted, and proceeded to rub their legs, and to call for brandy. A villainous liquid called by that name was presented to them. While they were drinking it, the landlord dis appeared within the inn, and his wife came out to wait upon her customers in his stead. " Won't you come in, senors ?" she asked, as the ruffians threw themselves on the bench her husband had vacated. " No, we've hardly life enough left to stir. Four days in the saddle on the back of a mule isn't what it's cracked up to be. How about the chap up there ?" added Dirk, nodding in the direction of the hut in whioh he had left his viotim. " We'd better have that funeral pretty quick, or you'll have a pestilence in the place." The landlady's countenance changed, but she replied rather constrainedly: "My husband thought the—the body ought to be attended to the day you went away. And he took charge of it—" "Buried it, did he?" "Of course," answered the woman glibly. "The hut has been cleaned out. The poor dead gentleman's baggage and yours are still there—that's all. Did you find the little girl?" " She's on her way to California in a whaler. She's all right with her new friends. We pro mised her to see her father buried; but if you've buried him, it's so much the better. We are going to Chagres, Senora. Get us supper, order us fresh mules, and we'll start at nightfall." The hostess assented, and hastened into the hut to prepare the desired meal. The men lounged on the bench in the shade until it was ready. They then partook of the repast, linger ing over it. It was nightfall when they finished, announc ing themselves ready for departure. " Are the mules ready, Senora ?" inquired Dirk, as he arose from the table and swaggered about the door yard. " Almost, Senor," replied the landlady. " Then we'll go up to the hut and get our things. Come, Tom!" The ruffians strode briskly toward the hut they had occupied with the Perrys, and which had an air of forlornness and desertion. The landlady looked after them with a strange smile on her fat, rosy face, and she muttered : " They are going to the hut, ha! I wonder how they'll like what they find there ?" To explain this utterance, it will be necessary to relate what had occurred at the village after the second departure of the two desperadoes in pursuit of their escaped prey. Remembering her promise to Tina to give decent burial to the poor child's father, the fat kindly ladylady had repaired to the lonely hut with her husband soon after daybreak on the morning of Tina's flight, intending to prepare the body for interment. The pair entered the hut and bent over the rigid figure lying upon the bed. They contem plated the noble features, pinched and sharp, and set in a ghastly expression. The eyes were closed. The good landlady lifted the pulseless hand. It dropped from her clasp a dead weight. ' "How natural he looks!" she murmured. " Poor gentleman! It was hard for him to die
among strangers, and worse still for the poor child to live. Ah, it's a woeful world!" " He don't look dead," said the stout land lord. " There's a moisture on his forehead!" " It's the death damp. He's dead. Feel of his heart." . The sick man's shirt was 'open, revealing his white breast. The landlord thrnst in his hand, withdrawing it with a hasty exclamation. "It beats—his heart beats!" he cried. The woman hastened to assure herself that this was no delusion. "It does beat!" she said, in an awed tone. " He's alive." The pair were right. The poor gentleman, who had been left for dead, was still living. He had fallen into a state of syncope, so closely resembling death as to be mistaken for it. Such cases have been common throughout the world, as medical records prove, and are most common in cases of cholera or deadly fevers, where the vitality is drained quickly from the human sys tem, rather than worn out by the slow process of decay. The worthy pair proceeded to devote them selves to the recovery of their patient. Hot baths, potions, and medicaments were bestowed freely. In the course of an hour the pulse was perceptible in his wrists, and a faint color was creeping back into his hollow cheeks. "He's coming to," breathed the landlady "He " The heavy eyelids feebly unclosed, and the landlady uttered a cry of joy. The sound seemed to aiouse the patient. He moved his hand slightly, as if feeling for some thing or someone. His lips moved faintly, forming the word— "Tina!" " That's his child," whispered the landlady— " hia poor child, whom he will perhaps never see again!" Sut the sick man neither saw nor heeded the swarthy faces bending over him. With the breathing of his daughter's name he fell asleep. A soft warm dew came out on his forehead, and even those simple people knew that his life was saved —that with care he would live. The eick man slept for hours. When he awakened he called again for his daughter. But the little ourly head did not appear at his call—there c:me no springing tread of tiny feet, no answerisg call in the small sweet voice. " Where's Tina ?" he asked, faintly, address ing the landlady, his self-constituted nurse. " She hasn't come in yet," was the answer. " Ah, poor little tired Tina!" murmured the father fondly. "My faithful, true-hearted little girl!" He smiled as he thought of her. His child was very precious to him, but he bade them not call her, fancying that she was resting herself in the fresh air. Then he felt feebly for the belt of money he had worn around his waist. " Where is it ? Where is it ?" he panted. "It's safe," answered the cabaret-keeper's wife. " It's quite safe. Tina knows all about it " " If Tina knows, it's all right," said the father contentedly. " Perhaps she put it on." They fed him and presently he slept again. They watched him all that night and the next day, fearing that the lamp of life flickering so faintly would die out at any moment. He called often for Tina, but was easily quieted by the landlady, who assured him that Tina was out of doors, consoling her conscience with the assur ance that the truth should not be spoken at all times, and that it would be particularly inap propriate on this occasion. On the morning of the third day after Tina's flight, before the village was astir, the patient was removed to the best room the cabaret afforded. The cabaret-keeper and his wife then con sulted together upon a plan which was intended to restore to the invalid the money of which he had been so heartlessly robbed by his two in famous countrymen. The woman, being the shrewder-witted of the pair, proposed to fill the hut on the hill with villagers, upon the arrival of the ruffians, and, on the visit of the latter to their late domicile, take from the pair the money they had stolen. The idea was acted upon. When the landlord entered hiß inn, after the arrival of Dirk and Tom, he went out again by a rear door, summoned a half-dozen stout In dians to whom he had previously told the story, and hastened with them to the hut the Perrys and their enemies had occupied. Concealing themselves inside the hut they waited. The room was quite dark before the steps of the ruffians were heard approaching. They were in haste to procure their effects and depart, but they were talking, and evidently delighted with the success that had attended their nefa rious plans. They lifted the latch and entered the dusky chamber. At the Bime moment a dozen hands seized them—by the arms, the necks, the legs—in a' grip that seemed like the closing of a vice. The terrified villains yelled loudly, but they were not permitted to struggle. Their clothes were torn into tatters; the money-belt wrested from the body of Dirk; they were tossed up and down and bandied about; they were beaten, pummelled, kicked, and scared to the verge of insanity; and at last they were flung out of the door in a pitiable condition, bleeding, bruised, and Bwollen. Gathering themselves up from the ground, they staggered down toward the inn, only one thought animating their miserable souls—tho thought of escape from the town. But on arriving at the cabaret, no mules were to be seen. The landlady met them at the door and informed them that the mules were too tired, and could not be let. Not daring to stay, too feeble and exhausted to protest against her decree, fearing that their mysterious assailants would pursue them to kill them, they tottered from the inn and took their way painfully in the direction of Cruces. They had been gone some five minutes, when ' the landlord appeared, flushed with delight. " Here's the money-bc-lt of the 6ick Ameri cano," he said, tossing the articlo to his rosy spouse. " The robbers have had the best beat ing they have had in their lives. They won't come back here in a hurry." -" When you undertake business you do it well," said the landlady, smiling approval. "I ] will take the belt to the Americano, but I dread | to meet him." " And why ?" " Because he calls bo pitifully for Tina all the time. He suspects all is not right. How shall we pacify him? If we tell him the truth, he will die." She moved toward the door, money-belt in , hand.
And then she paused, turniog pile, for through the closed door came the piteous cry, full of a father's agony : "Tina! Tina! Ob, my little child! Where is she ? Those villains have stolen her—killed her! Oh God! My child—my little innocent child!" " You hear ?" whispered the little woman tearfully. "He will die if I let him keep on fretting this way. And he'll die if I tell him the truth. Madre de Dios! was there ever a trouble like this ?" [TO BE CONTIXrED.J