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"There is a half-breed Indian, Ze
rata we call him, who used to be a
servant of the doctor," Ned was ad
vised. "He returned to the old place
about a year ago after it burned
down. He does odd jobs about the
town now and sleeps in the stable on
the old Wilman place. Maybe he can
tell you if the doctor is dead or alive."
Ned went over to the stable indi
cated. Its door was open. Seated on
a stool mending an old garment was
a dusky-hued, solemn-faced half
breed. There was character in his
statuesque face, and as he lifted his
eyes they penetrated like' electric
' "I was looking for Doctor Wilman,"
said Ned. "I have a letter for him."
The half-breed drooped his head
slightly. He pointed across the great
frowning mountain range to the
"Dead," he said simply "many
"I am sorry," observed Ned. "It
was from an old friend of his that I
came Mr. Harold Wade."
He was fairly startled at the effect
of these words upon Zerata. The lat
ter gave a quick start. A singular
gleam came into his eyes.
"I knew him," he spoke, and his
coarse, gutteral voice trembled. "He,
was my friend, you are of his family."
"I am his nephew," explained Ned.
"I came out here with some small
capital to seek a business investment.
My uncle knew that Doctor Wilman
would assist me."
"Zerata would help you, too,"
spoke the half-breed eagerly. "He will
seek, he will find for you. He will tell
Ned' comprehended that the speak
er held some pleasant memory of his
uncle and was anxious to be helpful
to him. Cast on his own resources
and researches, he devoted the en
suing week to seeking some mining
investment. It began to strike him as
strange, but at every turn he seemed
to come across the Indian. Zerata
was unobtrusive, but he had become
a positive shadow on all the move
ments of Ned.
One day Ned met in Hopeton a
blustering, typical mining prospector
named Burke. In some way the lat
ter had learned of the fact that-Ned
had some capital to invest. He had a
mine to sell and he invited Ned to
Ned did not like the appearance of
Burke, but it was a country of rough
men and the man talked in a very
plausible way of his holdings. They
set out upon their journey, about four
days' gravel from Hopeton.
It was the second night of their
camping out when Ned awoke with a
start at the sound of a pistol shot.
He aroused to see Burke on his feet
and a swift, savage form disappear
ing. "Quick! Follow!" shouted. Burke.
"You have been robbed!"
Ned placed his hand at his bosom.
The package of money was gone and
Zerata had taken it, for Zerata, it was
plain to discern, was the fleeing in
truder. The amazed Ned put after his com
panion. Occasionally he heard shots
ahead. There was bright moonlight,
and after losing track of fugitive and
pursuer Ned finally came to the edge
of a valley. Aloft a thrilling spectacle
met his view.
Upon a projecting rock, hundreds
of feet above him, two men were
struggling, Burke and Zerata. Both
had knives and were circling about
seeking an advantage.
In some way, after a murderous
lunge at his adversary, Burke stum
bled, rolled to the edge of the rock
and slid over. His frantic hands grop
ed for a saving hold. Clutching at
handfuls of long, stringy grass, he
Then began a strange, wierd
threnody. It proceeded from the lips
of Zerata. His arms folded across
his chest, he chanted some wild strain
of a death song, gazing mercilessly at
Ms victim who slid, slipped inch by
inch, and then the final catastrophe.