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campfire by the driver, and it was not
until they had finished and the pay
master had lig-hted his cigar that the
woman quietly beg-an:
"I have something- of particular im
portance to communicate to you, ma
jor. We are out of earshot of the
men, but yet under their eyes. Any
movement on your part which betrays
excitement will result disastrously.
We will look about while we talk, and
they will think we are conversing
about the scenery."
"What is it?" queried the major, his
thoughts at once leaping to the story
of the outlaws.
"You have twelve men here," she
calmly continued. "The sergeant, the
driver and seven of the men speak
Spanish; you do not. I have caug-ht
scraps of conversation during- the day
and know what is to happen to-nig-ht.
Your face is flushed already. You
must control yourself, or we are lost.
The serg-eant and seven of his com
rades have been corrupted. The driver
is in with them. Somewhere up here
is a gang- of reneg-ades. The two par
ties are to- make one, secure the money
and then scatter and leave the coun
try. Control yourself, major—our
lives depend on it!"
"Go on!" said the paymaster, clinch
ing- the rock on which he sat to hold
"The three soldiers not in the plot
will be forced to join to save their
lives. If they refuse, no mercy will
be shown. You and I are to be mur
dered, of course. I could have told
you all this two hours ag-o, but I could
not see that you could take any steps
to thwart their plans. Had you given
them a sign that you suspected the
plot, they would have shot you down.
I am now ready to plan with you."
The major tried to answer her, but
could not utter a word. His efforts to
restrain his hot and impetuous nature
used up all his strength.
"Just above us, on the other side,"
she went on, leaning- forward and
pointing down the pass, as if speaking
of some object in that direction, "is a
recess in the granite wall. You might
almost call it a cave. If you can in
vent any excuse to have the wagon
backed in there it would be pretty
hard for them to come at us. We
should be protected except in front,
and I believe we could make a long
fight of it. The sergeant is now going
to post two guards up the pass, and
while he is gone you can order the
wagon backed in. Your loyal men
are Stevens, Hurlburt and Thompson.
Your face is very pale, major. An
army officer should have more control
of his feelings."
"I am all tight now," wnispered the
major. "Sure there is no mistake
about the matter, are you?"
"I have given it to you as I picked it
up in fragments during the day. It
looks a bit like rain. That will be a
good excuse for backing the wagon in,
as the cover is old and leaky."
The woman entered the wag-on and
the paymaster ordered two or three
men to back it into the recess, explain
ing that a shower might be expected
before morning. A small tent was
then pitched for the officer between
the fire and the wagon. The soldiers
would roll up in their blankets when
ready for sleep. The major busied
himself about the wagon after it was
in position, and from behind the cur
tains the woman cautiously said to
"As I understand it, they are to
make no move until a late hour, so as
to finish you while you sleep. You
must leave your tent without being
seen, and you will find me under the
ambulance with all the weapons. If
we had the three loyal men with us we
could make a great fight, but any at
tempt to approach them would arouse
When the sergeant returned and
saw how the ambulance had been dis
posed of he seemed somewhat dis
turbed; but as the heavens were cloud
ing up, the major's reason seemed to
be a good one. Two other men were
taken down the pass to be posted, the
horses were looked after for the night,
and by 9 o'clock the camp was quiet
and everybody seemed to be asleep.
Half an hour later the major crept out
of his tent to the ambulance and found
that the sergeant's widow had rolled
up several boulders together to make a
breastwork between the fore wheels.
She had the rifles and revolvers down
there and was waiting his arrival.
"They will come within an hour,
she whispered, as she handed him his
weapon. "We will let them beg-in the
attack, and thus make sure of their
She had taken command, as it were,
from the start, and the major had not
rebelled ag-ainst it. It puzzled and hu
miliated him forever after, but in that
hour it seemed perfectly natural that
she should order and he obey. At 10
o'clock the serg-eant arose and disap
peared up the pass. Fifteen minutes
later ten or twelve men, all stepping
on tiptoes and moving like shadows,
passed the ambulance on their way to
the smouldering- fire. Of a sudden
there was a flame and a crash. A vol
ley had been fired into the officer's
tent. Had he been lying- there every
bullet would have struck him. Next
moment the three loyal men were be
ing- hustled and threatened, and soon*
they promised what was demanded of
them. The two g-uards posted down
[Continued On Page 14.]
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