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/WHISPERING • SMITHS
by Fbank H. Spearman x\ ° J LLUcSJRATION6 ° V BY ANDRET BOWL ETA €/ COPY RIGHT,,9OO BY CHAJ U SYNOPSIS. Murray Sinclair and his gang of wreck ers were called out to clear the railroad 'tracks at Smoky Creek. McCloud, a young road superintendent, caught Sin clair and his men in the act of looting the wrecked train. Sinclair pleaded In nocence, declaring It only amounted to a (mall sum—a treat for the men. McCloud discharged the whole outfit and ordered the wreckage burned. McCloud became acquainted with Dlcksle Dunning, a girl of the west, who came to look at the wreck Whispering" Gordon Smith told President Bucks of the railroad, of Mc- Cloud s brave fight against a gang of crazed miners and that was the reason for superintendent’s appointment to his office. McCloud arranged board at the boarding house of Mrs. Sinclair, the ex-foreman’s deserted wife. Dlcksle Dun nlng was the daughter of the late Rich ard Dunning, who had died of a broken heart shoi w after his wife’s demise, which occurred after one year of mar ried life. Smoky Creek bridge was mys terlously burned. President Bucks notl lled Smith that he had work ahead. A stock train was wrecked by an open switch. Later a passenger train was hold up and the express car robbed. Two men * po ”o Pursuing the bandits were k lied Whispering Smith" approached Sinclair. He tried to buy him off. but failed He warned McCloud that his life was In danger. McCloud was carded forcibly Into Lance Dunning’s presence, Dunning refused the railroad a rlght-of h° had already signed for. Dlcksle interfered to prevent a shooting affray. Dlcksle met McCloud on a lonely trail to warn him his life was in danger. On his way home a shot passed through his hat. A sudden rise of the Crawling Stone riv er created consternation. Dlcksle and Ma rlon appealed to McCloud for help, Whls perlng Smith Joined the group. McCloud took his men to fight the river. Lance Dunning welcomed them cordially. Mc- Cloud succeeded In halting the flood. Dlcksle and Marlon visited Sinclair at his ra .* ch ’ De tried to persuade his deserted wife to return to him. She refused. He accused Whispering Smith of having Stolen her love from him. A train was e, u up and robbed, the bandits escap ing. Smith and McCloud started In pur suit. At Baggs ranch Du Sang killed old Baggs, Whispering Smith befriended his ten-year-old son. They came to Williams Cache. Smith was certain the bandits were there. He Importuned Rebstock, "king of the cache," to give up Du Sang. Rehstock refused. Smith declared he Would clean out the whole gang, Inclu ding Rebstock. Smith came upon the bandits, Du Sang among them. Marion prayed that he should come back alive, Bmlth learned that Sinclair. Rebstock and an escaped bandit had joined forces. He started after them with Wlckwlre. Smith Invaded the Williams Cache rendezvous. He dexterously pulled himself out of a tight hole. He arrested a horse-thief. Sinclair had gone, presumably to kill McCloud. Sinclair visited Dunning and ■was given sympathy. Dlcksle knew of Bis presence. Sinclair started for Medi cine Bend. Dlcksle reproved her cousin for not arresting Sinclair. She set out In the storm for Medicine Bend. She passed Sinclair on the way and was thrown bruised and bleeding against Ma rlon’s door. Dlcksle told her story. The doctor who attended her refused Sinclair admission. CHAPTER XXXVlll.—Continued. No man In Medicine Bend knew Sin clair more thoroughly or feared him leas than Bamhardt. No man could better meet him or speak to him with less of hesitation. Sinclair, as he faced Barnhardt. was not easy in spite of bis dogged self-control: and he was standing, much to his annoyance, In the glare of an arc-light that swung across the street In front of the shop. He was well aware that no such light had ever swung within a block of the shop before and in it he saw the hand ®f Whispering Smith. The light was unexpected, Barnhardt was a surprise, and even the falling snow, which pro tected him from being seen 20 feet away, angered him. He asked curtly who was ill, and without awaiting an answer asked for his wife. The surgeon eyed him coldly. "Sin clair, what are you doing in Medicine Bend? Have you come to surrender yourself?” “Surrender myself? Yes, I’m ready any time to surrender myself. Take me along yourself, Barnhardt, it you think I’ve done worse than any man would that has been bounded as I’ve been hounded. I want to see my wife.” "Sinclair, you can’t see your wife.” “What’s the matter —is she sick?" “No, but you can’t see her." "Who says I can’t see her?” "I say so.” Sinclair swept the ice furiously from his beard and his right hand toll to his hip as he stepped back. "You’ve turned against me too, have you, you gray-haired wolf? Can’t see her! Get out of that door.” The surgeon pointed his finger at the murderer. “No, I won’t get out of this door. Shoot, you coward! Shoot an unarmed man. You will not live to get 100 feet away. This place la ■watched for you; you could not have got within 100 yards of it to-night ex cept for this snow.” Barnhardt pointed through the storm. “Sinclair, you will hang In the courthouse square, and 1 will take the last beat of your pulse with these fingers, and when I pro bouuce you dead they will cut you down. You want to see your wife. You want to kill her. Don’t He; you want to kill her. T6U were heard to wy as much to-night at the Dunning ranch. You were watched and tracked, and you are expected and looked for here. Your best friends have gone back on you. Ay, curse again and over •gain, but that will not put Ed Banks u hjs feet.” Sinclair stamped with frenzied oathsj. “You’re too hard on me," he cried, .clenching bis hands. “I say you’ra too hard. You’ve heard one •ide jbf It. Is that the way you put Judgi lent on a man that’s got no Mem is left because they start anew He oi him every day? Who is it that’s wntcl ilng me? Let them stand out like [men In the open. If they want hie, iW them come like men and take ’ ♦hU (ton® gives you ■ chance to get away; take it. Bad as you are, there are men in Medicine Bend who knew you when you were a man. Don’t stay here for some of them to sit on the jury that hangs you. If you can get away, get away. It I were your friend—and God knows whom you can call friend in Medicine Bend to-night—l couldn’t say more.. Get away before it is too late." He was never again seen alive in Medicine Bend. They tracked him next day over every foot of ground he had covered. They found where he had left his spent horse and where afterward he had got the fresh one. They learned how he had eluded all the picketing planned for precisely such a contingency, got into the Wickiup, got upstairs and burst open the very door of McCloud’s room. But Dlcksle had on her side that night One greater than her invincible will or her faithful horse. McCloud was 200 miles away. Barnhardt lost no time in telephon ing the Wickiup that Sinclair was in town, but within an hour, while the two women were still under the sur geon’s protection, a knock at the cot tage door gave them a second fright. Barnhardt answered the summons. He opened the door and, as the man out side paused to shake the snow oft his hat. the surgeon caught him by the shoulder and dragged into the house Whispering Smith. Picking the icicles from his hair. Smith listened to all that Barnhardt said, his eyes roving meantime over everything within the room and men tally over many things outside it. He congratulated Barnhardt, and when Marion came into the room he apolo gized for the snow he had brought in. Dicksle heard his voice and cried out from the bedroom. They could not keep her away, and she ran out to catch his hands and plead with him not to go away. He tried to assure her that the danger was over; that guards were now outside everywhere, and would be until morning. But Dlck sie clung to him and would take no refusal. Whispering Smith looked nt her in amazement and in admiration. "You are captain to-night, Miss Dlcksle, by heaven. If you say the word I’ll lie here on a rug till morning. But that man will not be back to-night. You ere a queen. If I had a mountain girl that would do as much as that for me I would—" "What would you do?” asked Marlon. "Say good-by to this accursed coun try forever.” CHAPTER XXXIX. Closing In. In the morning the sun rose with • mountain smile. The storm had swept the air till the ranges shone blue and the plain sparkled under a cloudless sky. Bob Scott and Wlckwlre, riding st daybreak, picked up a trail on the Fence river road. A consultation was held at the bridge, and within half an lour Whispering Smith, with un shaken patience, was in the saddle and following it. With him were Kennedy and Bob Scott. Sinclair had ridden into the lines, and Whispering Smith, with his best two men. meant to put it up to him to ride out. They meant now to get him, with a trail or without, and were putting horseflesh against horse flesh and craft against craft. At the forks of the Fence they picked up Wlckwlre, Kennedy taking him on the up road, while Scott with Whisper ing Smith crossed to the Crawling Stone. When Smith and Scott reached the Frenchman they parted to cover in turn each of the trails by which it is possible to get out of the river country toward the Park and Williams Cache. By four o'clock in the afternoon they had all covered the ground so well that the four were able to make their rendezvous on the big Fence divide, south of Crawling Stone val ley. They then found, to their disap pointment, that, widely separated as they had been, both parties were fol lowing trails they believed to be good. They shot a steer, tagged It, ate din ner and supper in one, and separated under Whispering Smith’s counsel that both the trails be followed Into the next morning—in the belief that ono of them would run out or that the two would run together. At noon the next day Scott rode through the hills from the Fence, and Kennedy with Wlckwlre came through Two Feather pass from the Frenchman with the report that the game bad left their valleys Without rest they pushed on. At the foot of the Mission mountains they picked up the tracks of a party of three horsemen. Twice within ten miles afterward the men they were following crossed the river. Each time their trail, with some little diffi culty. was found again. At a little ranch In the Mission foothills, Ken nedy and Scott, leaving Wlckwlre with Whispering Smith, took fresh horses and pushed ahead as far as they could ride before dark, but they brought back news. The trail bad split again, with one man riding alone to the left, while two had taken the hills to the right, heading for Mission pass and the Cache. With Gene Johnson and s=" - ' f*/ "Who Says I Can't See Her?” Bob at the mouth of the Cache there was little fear for that outlet. The turn to the left was the unexpected. Over the little fire in the ranch kitch en where they ate supper, the four men were in conference 20 minutes. It was decided that Scott and Kennedy should head for the Mission pass, while Whispering Smith, with Wlck wlre to (rail with him, should under take to cut oft, somewhere between Fence river and the railroad, the man who had gone south, the man believed to be Sinclair. It was a late moon, and when Scott and Kennedy saddled their horses Whispering Smith and Wlckwlre were asleep. With the cowboy, Whispering Smith started at daybreak. No one saw them again for two days. During those two days and nights they were In the saddle almost continuously. For every mile the man ahead of them rode they were forced to ride two miles and often three. Late in the second night they crossed the railroad, and the first word from them came in long dispatches sent by Whlsperlag Smith to Medicine Bend and instruc tions to Kennedy and Scott in the north, which were carried by hard riders straight to Deep creek. On the morning of the third day Dicksie Dunning, who had gone home from Medicine Bend and who had beeu telephoning Marlon and George Mc- Cloud two days for news, wa* tiding to get Medicine Bend again on the telephone when Puss came in to say that a man at the kitchen door wanted to see her. “Who is it, Puss?” “I d’no, Miss Dlcksle; 'deed, I never seen him b’fore.” Dlcksle walked around on the porch to the kitchen. A dust-covered man sitting on a limp horse threw back the brim of his hat as he touched It, lifted himself stiffly out of the saddle, and dropped to the ground. He laughed at Dlcksie’s startled expression. "Don’t you know me?” he asked, putting out his hand. It was Whispering Smith. He was a fearful sight. Stained from head to foot with alkali, saddle cramped and bent, his face scratched and stained, he stood with a smiling appeal in bis bloodshot eyes. Dicksie gave a little uncertain cty, clasped her hands, and, with a scream, threw her arms impulsively around his neck. “Oh. I did not know you! What has happened? I am so glad to see you! Tell me what has happened. Are you hurt?” He stammered like a schoolboy. "Nothing has happened. I didn’t real ize what a tramp I look or I shouldn’t have come. But I was only a mile away and I had heard nothing for four days from Medicine Bend. And how are you? Did your ride make you HI? No? By heaven, you are a game girl. That was a ride! How are they all? Where’s your cousin? In town, is he? I thought I might get some news it I rode up, and, oh, Miss Dlcksle—jlm- Iny! some coffee. But I’ve got only two minutes for it all, only two min utes; do you think Puss has any oil the stove?” Dicksie with coaxing and pulling g him Into the kitchen, and Puss tum bled over herself to sot out coffee and rolls. He showed himself ravenously hungry, and ate with a simple directs ness that speedily accounted for every thing in sight. "You have saved my life. Now 1 am going, and thank you a thousand times. There, by heaven. I've forgotten Wlckwlre! He I* with me—waiting down In the cottonwandt at the fork. Could Puss put up a lunch I could take to him? He hasn't had a scrap for 24 hours. But, Dick sie, your tramp la a hummer! I've tried to ride him down and wear him out and lose him, and, by heaven, he turns up every time and has been of more use to me than two men.” She put her hand on Whispering Smith’s arm. "I told him if he would stop drinking he could be foreman here next season." Puss was putting up the lunch. “Why need you hurry away?” persisted Dlcksio. "I've got a thousand things to say.” He looked at her amiably. “This Is really a case of must.” “Then, tell me, what favor may I do for you?” She looked appealingly into his tired eyes. “I want to do something for you. I must! don't deny me. Only, what shall it be?” "Something for me? What can I say? You’ll be kind to Marlon —I shouldn’t have to ask that. What can I ask? Stop! there is one thing. I've got a poor little devil of an orphan up in the Deep Creek country. Du Sang murdered his father. You are rich and generous, Dlcksle; do something for him, will you? Kennedy or Bob Scott will know all about him. Bring him down here, will you, and see he doesn’t go to tho dogs? You’re a good girl. What's this, crying? Now you are frightened. Things are not so bad as that. You want to know every thing—l see it in your eyes. Very well, let’s trade. You tell me every thing and I’ll tell you everything. Now then: Are you engaged?” They were standing under the low porch with the sunshine breaking through the trees. She turned away her face and threw all of her happi ness into a laugh. “I won’t tell.” “Oh, that’s enough. You have told!” declared Whispering Smith. “I knew —why, of course I knew—but I wanted to make you own up. Well, here’s the way things are. Sinclair has run us all over God’s creation for two days to give his pals a chance to break fnto Williams Cache to get the Tower W money they left with Rebstock. For a fact, we have ridden completely around Sleepy Cat and been down in the Spanish Sinks since I saw you. He doesn’t want to leave without the money, and doesn’t know It Is in Ken nedy’s hands, and can’t get Into the Cache to find out. Now the three— whoever the other two are—and Sin clair—are trying to Join forces some where up this valley, and Kennedy, Scott, Wlckwlre and I are after them; and every outlet is watched, and it must all be over, my dear, before sun set to-night. Isn’t that fine? 1 mean to have the thing wound up somehow. Don't look worried.” “Do not—do not let him kill you,” she cried, with a sob. "He will not kill me; don't be afraid.” "I am afraid. Remember what your life is to all of us!” "Then, of course. I’ve got to think of what It is to myself—being the only one I've got. Sometimes I don’t think much of It; but when I get a welcome like this it sets me up. If I can once get out of the accursed man-slaughter ing business, Dicksie— How old are you? Nineteen? Well, you’ve got the finest chap In all these mountains, and George McCloud has the finest —” With a bubbling laugh she shook her finger at him. "Now you are caught. Say the finest woman In these mountains If you dare! Say the finest woman!” "The finest woman of 19 In all crea tion!” He swung with a laugh Into the saddle and waved his hat. She watched him ride down the road and around the hill. When he reappeared she was still looking and ho was gal loping along the lower road. A man rode out at the fork to meet him and trotted with him over the bridge. Rid ing leisurely across the creek, their broad hats bobbing unevenly In the sunshine, they spurred swiftly past the grove of quaking asps, and in a moment were lost beyond the trees. CHAPTER XL. Crawling Stone Wash. When Whispering Smith and his companions were fairly started on the last day of their ride, It was toward a rift In the Mission range that the trail led them. Sinclair, with consummate cleverness, had rejoined his compan ions; but the attempt to get into the Cache, and his reckless ride into Medi cine Bend, had reduced their chances of escape to a single outlet, and that they must find up Crawling Stone val ley. The necessity of it was spelled In every move the pursued men had made for 24 hours. They were riding the pick of mountain horseflesh and covering their tracks by every device known to the high country. Behind them, made prudent by unusual dan ger, rode the best men the mountain division could muster for the Anal ef fort to bring them to account. The fast riding of the early week hud given way to the pace of caution. No trail sign was overlooked, no point of concealment directly approached, no hiding-place left unsearched. The tension of a long day of this work was drawing to a close when the sun set and left the big wash in the shadow of the mountains. On the higher ground to the right, Kennedy and Scott were riding where they could command the gullies of the pre cipitous left bank of the river. High on the left bank itself, worming his way like a snake from point to point of concealment through the scanty brush of the mountain-side, crawled Wlckwlre, commanding the pookets in the right bank. Closer to the river on the right and following the trail Itself over shale and rock and be tween scattered bowlders, Whispering Smith, low on his horse’s neck, rode slowly. It was almost too dark to catch the slight discolorations where pebbles had been disturbed on a flat surface or the calk of a horseshoe had slipped on the uneven face of a ledge, and he had halted under an uplift to wait for Wlckwlre on the distant left to ad vance, when, half a mile below him, a horseman crossing the river rode slowly past a gap In the rocks and dis appeared below the next bend. He was followed In a moment by a sec ond rider and a third. Whispering Smith know he had not been seen. Ho had flushed the game, and, wheeling his horse rode straight up the river bank to high ground, where he could circle around widely below them. They had slipped between his line and Wickwire’s, and were doubling back, following the dry bed of the stream. It was impossible to recall Kennedy and Scott without giving an alarm, but by a quick detour he could at least hold the quarry back for 20 minutes with his rifle, and In that time Ken nedy and Scott could como up. Less than half an hour of daylight remained. If the outlaws could slip down the wash and out into the Crawl ing Stone valley they had every chance of getting away in the night; and if the third man should be Barney Keb stock, Whispering Smith knew that Sinclair thought only of escape. Smith alone, of their pursuers, could now Intercept them, but a second hope re mained: On the left, Wlckwlre was high enough to command every turn in the bed of the river. He might see them and could force them to cover with his rifle even at long range. Cast ing up the chances, Whispering Smith, riding faster over the uneven ground Valuable as Honey Finder Bee Cuckoo of Africa of Great Service to the Natives and Protected by Them. One of the most sagacious of bird* Is certainly tbe bee cuckoo, or moroc, a little bird very like tbe English sparrow. it is found In various parts of Afri ca where wild bees abound, and, being unable to help itself to the honey, which is its favorite food, it resorts to human aid. Having discovered a swarm of bees, it files to tho nearest, habitation, and attracts by Its cries of “Cherr, cherr, cherr,” the attention of some of the natives. It then files off la tbe direc tion of the nest, uttering its cry and waiting for its followers to overtake than anything but sheer recklessness would have prompted, hastened across the waste. His rllle lay In his hand, and he had pushed his horse to a run. A single tearful Instinct crowded now upon the long strain of the week, A savage fascination burned like a fever In his veins, and he meant that they should not get away. Taking chances that would have shamed him In cooler momenta, he forced his horse at tho end of the long ride to within 100 paces of the river, threw his lines, slipped like a lizard from the saddle, and. darting with Incredible swiftness from rock to rock, gained the water's edge. From up the long shadows of the wash there came the wall of an owl. From It ho know that Wlckwlre had seen them and was warning him, but he had anticipated tho warning and stood below where the hunted men must ride. Ho strained his eyes over the waste of rock above. For one half hour of daylight ho would have sold. In that moment, ten years of his life. What could he do It they should bo able to secrete themselves until dark between him and Wlckwlre? Gliding under cover of huge rocks up tho dry watercourse, ho reached a spot where the floods had scooped a long, hollow curve out of a soft ledge In tho bank, leaving a stretch of smooth sand on the bod of the stream. At the upper point great bowlders pushed out of the river. He could not inspect the curve from the spot he had gained without reckless exposure, but ho must force the little daylight left to him. Climbing completely over tho lower point, ho advanced cautiously, and. from behind a sheltering spur stepped out upon an overhanging table of rock and looked across the river bottom. Three men had halted on tho sand within the curve. Two lay on their rifles tinder the upper point, 120 paces from Whispering Smith. Tho third man, Seagrtte, less than 00 yards away, had got off his horse and was laying down his rifle, when the hoot owl screeched again and he looked un easily back. They had chosen for their halt a spot easily defended, and needed only darkness to make them safe, when Smith, stepping out Into plain sight, threw forward his hand. They heard his sharp call to pitch up, and the men under the point jumped. Seagnte had not yet taken his hand from his rifle. He threw It to his shoulder. As closely together as two fingers of the right hand can be struck twice In the palm of the left, two rifle shots cracked across tho wash. Two bullets passed so close In flight they might have struck. One cut the dusty hair from Smith’s temple and slit the brim of bis hat above hla ear; the other struck Seagnte under the left eye, plowed through the roof of his mouth, and, coming out below hts ear, splintered the rock at his back. The shock alone would have stag gered a bullock, but Seagrue, laughing, came forward pumping bis gun. Sin clair. at 120 yards, cut Instantly Into the fight, and tho ball from hlg rifle creased the alkali that crusted Whis pering Smith’s unshaven cheek. As he fired he sprang to cover. For Seagrue and Smith there was no cover; for one or both It was death In the open and Seagrue, with his rifle at his cheek, walked straight Into It. Taking for a moment the Are of the three guns, Whispering Smith stood, a perfect target, outlined against tho sky. They whipped the dust from his coat, tore the sleeve from his wrist and ripped the blouse collar from his neck; but he felt no bullet shock. He saw before him only the buckle of Seagrue’s belt 40 paces away, and sent bullet after bullet at tho gleam of brass between the sights. Both men were using high-pressure guns, and the deadly shocks of the slugs made Seagrue twitch and stagger. The man was dying as he walked. Smith’s hand was racing with the lever, and had a cartridge jammed, the steel would have snapped like a match. (TO BE CONCLUDED.) It. Should they be tardy It returns to meet them, and seems as If trying to urge them on to greater speed, the natives answering It with a low whis tle. Arrived at its destination, It Is sh lent, waiting patiently on the bough of a neighboring tree while Its hu man friends dig out the nest, a good share of the honey on the comb con taining the bee maggots, being loft by them for their feathered guide. The natives never Injure this bird, and always prevent travelers from shooting It. Wrong Diagnosis. Many a girl thinks she has broken her heart when she has only sprained her Imagination.—Life.