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Aunt Jane's Nieces and Uncle John by Edith Van Dyne

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dreadful experience."

"Oh, that!" snapping his fingers scornfully. "He not a good bad-man,
for he too much afraid. I have no gun, for I do not like gun. Still,
if I not come, he make you give him money an' trinkets."

"You were very kind," replied Beth, "and I thank you as much as Patsy
does. If you had not arrived just when you did I might have killed the

"You?" inquired Wampus, doubtingly.

"Yes." She showed him a small pearl-handled revolver which she carried
in the pocket of her jacket. "I can shoot, Wampus."

The little chauffeur grinned; then looked grave and shook his head.

"It make funny world, these day," said he. "One time girl from city
would scream to see a gun; now she carry him in pocket an' can shoot!
Ver' fine; ver' fine. But I like me old style girl who make scream.
Then a man not feel foolish when he try protect her."

Patsy laughed merrily; but Beth saw he was offended and hastened to

"I am very grateful to you, Wampus, and I know you are a brave and
true man. I shall expect you to protect me at all times, for I really
don't wish to shoot anyone, although I think it best to carry a
revolver. Always after this, before I am tempted to fire, I shall look
to see if you are not near me."

"All right," he said more cheerfully. "I am Wampus. I will be there,
Miss 'Lizbeth."



Little Myrtle grew brighter day by day. She even grew merry and
developed a fine sense of humor, showing new traits in her hitherto
undeveloped character. The girl never mentioned her injury nor
admitted that she suffered any pain, even when directly questioned.
Indeed she was not uncomfortable during that splendid automobile ride
over mountain and plain into the paradise of the glowing West. Never
before in her life had Myrtle enjoyed an outing, except for an hour or
two in a city park; never before had she known a friend to care for
her and sympathize honestly with her griefs. Therefore this experience
was so exquisitely delightful that her responsive heart nearly burst
with gratitude. Pretty thoughts came to her that she had never had
before; her luxurious surroundings led her to acquire dainty ways and
a composed and self-poised demeanor.

"Our rosebud is unfolding, petal by petal, and beginning to bloom
gloriously," said Patsy to sympathetic Uncle John. "Could anyone be
more sweet or lovely?"

Perhaps almost any girl, situated as Myrtle Dean was, would have
blossomed under similar influences. Certain it was that Uncle John
came to have a tender affection for the poor child, while the Major's
big heart had warmed from the first toward the injured girl. Beth and
Patsy were devoted to their new friend and even Mumbles was never so
happy as when Myrtle would hold and caress him. Naturally the former
waif responded freely to all this wealth of affection and strove to be
companionable and cheery, that they might forget as much as possible
her physical helplessness.

Mumbles was not the least important member of the party, but proved
a constant source of amusement to all. In the novel domains they now
traversed the small dog's excitable nature led him to investigate
everything that seemed suspicious, but he was so cowardly, in spite of
this, that once when Patsy let him down to chase a gopher or prairie
dog--they were not sure which--the animal turned at bay and sent
Mumbles retreating with his stubby tail between his legs. His
comradeship for Wampus surprised them all. The Canadian would talk
seriously to the dog and tell it long stories as if the creature could
understand every word--which perhaps he did. Mumbles would sit up
between the driver and Patsy and listen attentively, which encouraged
Wampus to talk until Patsy in self-defense turned and tossed the fuzzy
animal in to Myrtle, who was always glad to receive him.

But Patsy did not always sit on the front seat. That honor was divided
among them all, by turns, except the Major, who did not care for the
place. Yet I think Patsy rode there oftener than anyone else, and it
came to be considered her special privilege because she had first
claimed it.

The Major, after the incident at Gallup, did not scorn Wampus so
openly as before; but he still reserved a suspicion that the fellow
was at heart a coward and a blusterer. The chauffeur's sole demerit in
the eyes of the others was his tremendous egotism. The proud remark:
"I am Wampus!" was constantly on his lips and he had wonderful tales
to tell to all who would listen of his past experiences, in every one
of which he unblushingly figured as the hero. But he really handled
the big touring car in an admirable manner, and when one afternoon
a tire was punctured by a cactus spine by the roadside--their first
accident--they could not fail to admire the dexterous manner in which
he changed the tube for a new one.

From Gallup they took a wagon road to Fort Defiance, in the Navajo
Indian reservation; but the Navajos proved uninteresting people, not
even occupying themselves in weaving the famous Navajo blankets, which
are now mostly made in Philadelphia. Even Patsy, who had longed to
"see the Indians in their native haunts," was disgusted by their filth
and laziness, and the party expected no better results when they came
to the adjoining Moki reservation. Here, however, they were happily
disappointed, for they arrived at the pueblo of Oraibi, one of
the prettiest villages on the mesa, on the eve of one of their
characteristic snake dances, and decided to remain over night and
see the performance. Now I am not sure but the "Snake Dance" was so
opportune because Uncle John had a private interview with the native
chieftain, at which the head Snake Priest and the head Antelope Priest
of the tribe were present. These Indians spoke excellent English and
the chief loved the white man's money, so a ceremony that has been
held during the month of August for many centuries--long before the
Spanish conquistadors found this interesting tribe--was found to be on
tap for that very evening. The girls were tremendously excited at the
prospect and Wampus was ordered to prepare camp for the night--the
first they had spent in their automobile and away from a hotel. Not
only was the interior of the roomy limousine converted into sleeping
quarters for the three girls, but a tent was spread, one side fastened
to the car while the other was staked to the ground. Three wire
folding cots came from some hidden place beneath the false bottom of
the car, with bedding enough to supply them, and these were for the
use of the men in the tent. The two "bedrooms" having been thus
prepared, Wampus lighted the tiny gasoline stove, over which Patsy and
Beth enthusiastically cooked the supper. Beth wanted to "Newburg" the
tinned lobster, and succeeded in creaming it very nicely. They had
potato chips, coffee and toasted Holland rusks, as well, and all
thoroughly enjoyed the improvised meal.

Their camp had been pitched just at the outskirts of the Indian
village, but the snake dance was to take place in a rocky glen some
distance away from the pueblo and so Uncle John instructed Wampus to
remain and guard their outfit, as the Moki are notorious thieves. They
left the lean little chauffeur perched upon the driver's seat, smoking
one of his "stogie" cigars and with Mumbles sitting gravely beside

Myrtle hobbled on her crutches between Beth and Patsy, who carried
little tin lanterns made with lamp chimneys that had candles inside
them. They first visited the chief, who announced that the ceremonies
were about to begin. At a word from this imposing leader a big Indian
caught up Myrtle and easily carried her on his shoulder, as if she
were light as a feather, leading the way to the rocky amphitheatre.
Here were assembled all the inhabitants of the village, forming a wide
circle around the performers. The snakes were in a pit dug in the
center of the space, over which a few branches had been placed. This
is called the "kisi."

These unique and horrifying snake dances of the Moki have been
described so often that I need not speak of this performance in
detail. Before it was half over the girls wished they were back in
their automobile; but the Major whispered that for them to leave would
cause great offense to the Indians and might result in trouble. The
dance is supposedly a religious one, in honor of the Rain God, and at
first the snakes were not used, but as the dancers became wrought up
and excited by their antics one by one they reached within the kisi
and drew out a snake, allowing the reptiles to coil around their
almost naked bodies and handling them with seeming impunity. A few
were harmless species, as bull snakes and arrow snakes; but mostly the
Moki used rattlesnakes, which are native to the mesa and its rocky
cliffs. Some travelers have claimed that the fangs of the rattlers are
secretly withdrawn before the creatures are handled, but this has been
proved to be untrue. The most accepted theory is that the snakes are
never permitted to coil, and cannot strike unless coiled, while the
weird chanting and graceful undulating motions of the dancers in some
manner "charms" or intoxicates the serpents, which are not aroused to
antagonism. Occasionally, however, one of the Moki priests is bitten,
in which case nothing is done to aid him and he is permitted to die,
it being considered a judgment of the Rain God for some sin he has

The barbaric rites seemed more picturesque, as well as more revolting,
in that they took place by the flickering light of torches and
bonfires in a rock strewn plain usually claimed by nature. When the
dancers were more frenzied they held the squirming serpents in their
mouths by the middle and allowed them to coil around their necks,
dancing wildly the while. The whole affair was so nauseating and
offensive that as soon as it was possible the visitors withdrew and
retired to their "camp." It was now almost midnight, but the path was
lighted by the little lanterns they carried.

As they approached the automobile Uncle John was disturbed not to see
Wampus at his post. A light showed from the front of the car, but the
chauffeur seemed to be missing. Coming nearer, however, they soon
were greeted by a joyous barking from Mumbles and discovered Wampus
squatting upon the ground, puffing at the small end of the cigar and
seeming quite composed and tranquil.

"What are you doing there?" demanded the Major, raising his lantern
the better to light the scene.

"I play jailer," grunted Wampus, without moving. "Him want to steal;
Mumble he make bark noise; for me, I steal too--I steal Injun."

A dusky form, prone upon the ground, began to squirm under Wampus, who
was then discovered to be sitting upon a big Indian and holding him
prisoner. The chauffeur, partly an Indian himself, knew well how to
manage his captive and quieted the fellow by squeezing his throat with
his broad stubby fingers.

"How long have you had him there?" inquired Uncle John, looking at the
discomfited "brave" curiously.

"About an hour," was the reply.

"Let him go, then. We have no prison handy, and the man has perhaps
been punished enough."

"I have wait to ask permission to kill him," said Wampus solemnly. "He
know English talk, an' I have told him he is to die. I have describe,
sir, several torture we make on Injun who steal, which make him think
he die several time. So he is now prepare for the worst."

The Indiam squirmed again, and with a sigh Wampus arose and set him

"See," he said; "you are save only by mercy of Great White Chief. You
ver' lucky Injun. But Great White Chief will leave only one eye here
when he go away. If you try to steal again the eye will see, an' then
the torture I have describe will be yours. I am Wampus. I have spoke."

The Indian listened intently and then slunk away into the darkness
without reply. The night had no further event and in spite of their
unusual experiences all slept excellently and awoke in the morning
refreshed and ready for new adventures.



From the reservation to the Grand Canyon of the Colorado was not far,
but there was no "crosscut" and so they were obliged to make a wide
detour nearly to Williams before striking the road that wound upward
to the world's greatest wonder.

Slowly and tediously the big car climbed the miserable trail to the
rim of the Grand Canyon. It was night when they arrived, for they had
timed it that way, having been told of the marvelous beauty of the
canyon by moonlight. But unfortunately the sky filled with clouds
toward evening, and they came to Bright Angel, their destination, in a
drizzling rain and total darkness. The Major was fearful Wampus might
run them into the canyon, but the machine's powerful searchlights
showed the way clearly and by sticking to the road they finally drew
up before an imposing hotel such as you might wonder to find in so
remote a spot.

Eagerly enough they escaped from the automobile where they had been
shut in and entered the spacious lobby of the hotel, where a merry
throng of tourists had gathered.

"Dinner and bed," said Patsy, decidedly. "I'm all tired out, and poor
Myrtle is worn to a frazzle. There's no chance of seeing the canyon
to-night, and as for the dancing, card playing and promiscuous gaiety,
it doesn't appeal much to a weary traveler."

The girls were shown to a big room at the front of the hotel, having
two beds in it. A smaller connecting-room was given to Myrtle, while
Patsy and Beth shared the larger apartment. It seems the hotel, big
as it was, was fairly filled with guests, the railway running three
trains a day to the wonderful canyon; but Uncle John's nieces did
not mind occupying the same room, which was comfortably and even
luxuriously furnished.

A noise of footsteps along the corridor disturbed Patsy at an early
hour. She opened her eyes to find the room dimly lighted, as by the
first streaks of dawn, and sleepily arose to raise the window shade
and see if day was breaking. Her hand still upraised to guide the
shade the girl stood as motionless as if turned to stone. With a long
drawn, gasping breath she cried: "Oh, Beth!" and then stood staring at
what is undoubtedly the most entrancing, the most awe inspiring and at
the same time the most magnificent spectacle that mortal eye has ever
beheld--sunrise above the Grand Canyon of Arizona.

The master painters of the world have gathered in this spot in a vain
attempt to transfer the wondrous coloring of the canyon to canvas.
Authors famed for their eloquent command of language have striven as
vainly to tell to others what their own eyes have seen; how their
senses have been thrilled and their souls uplifted by the marvel that
God's hand has wrought. It can never be pictured. It can never be
described. Only those who have stood as Patricia Doyle stood that
morning and viewed the sublime masterpiece of Nature can realize what
those homely words, "The Grand Canyon" mean. Grand? It is well named.
Since no other adjective can better describe it, that much abused one
may well be accepted to incompletely serve its purpose.

Beth joined her cousin at the window and was instantly as awed
and absorbed as Patsy. Neither remembered Myrtle just then, but
fortunately their friend had left the connecting door of their
rooms ajar and hearing them stirring came in to see if anything had
happened. She found the two cousins staring intently from the window
and went to the second window herself, thus witnessing the spectacle
in all its glory.

Even after the magnificent coloring of sunrise had faded the sight was
one to rivet the attention. The hotel seemed built at the very edge of
the canyon, and at their feet the ground appeared to fall away and a
great gulf yawned that was tinted on all its diverse sides with hues
that rivaled those of the rainbow. Across the chasm they could clearly
see the trees and hills; yet these were fully thirteen miles distant,
for here is one of the widest portions of the great abyss.

"I'm going to dress," said Beth, breaking the silence at last. "It
seems a sin to stay cooped up in here when such a glorious panorama is
at one's feet."

The others did not reply in words, but they all began to dress
together with nervous haste, and then made their way down to the
canyon's brink. Others were before them, standing upon the ample
porches in interested groups; but such idleness would not content our
girls, who trooped away for a more intimate acquaintance with the
wonderful gorge.

"Oh, how small--how terribly small--I am!" cried Patsy, lost in
the immensity of the canyon's extent; but this is a common cry of
travelers visiting Bright Angel. You might place a baker's dozen of
the huge Falls of Niagara in the Grand Canyon and scarcely notice they
were there. All the vast cathedrals of Europe set upon its plateau
would seem like pebbles when viewed from the brink. The thing is
simply incomprehensible to those who have not seen it.

Presently Uncle John and the Major came out to join them and they all
wandered along the edge until they came to a huge rock that jutted
out far over the monster gulf. On the furthermost point of this rock,
standing with his feet at the very brink, was a tall, thin man, his
back toward them. It seemed a fearful thing to do--to stand where the
slightest slip would send him reeling into the abyss.

"It's like tempting fate," whispered Patsy, a safe distance away. "I
wish he would step back a little."

As if he had overheard her the man half turned and calmly examined the
group. His eyes were an almost colorless blue, his features destitute
of any expression. By his dress he seemed well-to-do, if not
prosperous, yet there was a hint of melancholy in his poise and about
him a definite atmosphere of loneliness.

After that one deliberate look he turned again and faced the canyon,
paying no attention to the interested little party that hovered far
enough from the edge to avoid any possible danger.

"Oh, dear!" whispered Myrtle, clinging to Beth's arm with trembling
fingers, "I'm afraid he's going to--to commit suicide!"

"Nonsense!" answered Beth, turning pale nevertheless.

The figure was motionless as before. Uncle John and the Major started
along the path but as Beth attempted to follow them Myrtle broke away
from her and hobbled eagerly on her crutches toward the stranger. She
did not go quite to the end of the jutting rock, but stopped some feet
away and called in a low, intense voice:


The man turned again, with no more expression in his eyes or face than
before. He looked at Myrtle steadily a moment, then turned and slowly
left the edge, walking to firm ground and back toward the hotel
without another glance at the girl.

"I'm so ashamed," said Myrtle, tears of vexation in her eyes as she
rejoined her friends. "But somehow I felt I must warn him--it was an
impulse I just couldn't resist."

"Why, no harm resulted, in any event, my dear," returned Beth. "I
wouldn't think of it again."

They took so long a walk that all were nearly famished when they
returned to the hotel for breakfast.

Of course Patsy and Beth wanted to go down Bright Angel Trail into the
depths of the canyon, for that is the thing all adventurous spirits
love to do.

"I'm too fat for such foolishness," said Uncle John, "so I'll stay up
here and amuse Myrtle."

The Major decided to go, to "look after our Patsy;" so the three
joined the long line of daring tourists and being mounted on docile,
sure-footed burros, followed the guide down the trail.

Myrtle and Uncle John spent the morning on the porch of the hotel. At
breakfast the girl had noticed the tall man they had encountered at
the canyon's edge quietly engaged in eating at a small table in a far
corner of the great dining room. During the forenoon he came from the
hotel to the porch and for a time stood looking far away over the

Aroused to sympathy by the loneliness of this silent person, Uncle
John left his chair and stood beside him at the railing.

"It's a wonderful sight, sir," he remarked in his brisk, sociable way;
"wonderful indeed!"

For a moment there was no reply.

"It seems to call one," said the man at length, as if to himself. "It
calls one."

"It's a wonder to me it doesn't call more people to see it," observed
Mr. Merrick, cheerfully. "Think of this magnificent thing--greater and
grander than anything the Old World can show, being here right in the
heart of America, almost--and so few rush to see it! Why, in time to
come, sir," he added enthusiastically, "not to have seen the Grand
Canyon of Arizona will be an admission of inferiority. It's--it's the
biggest thing in all the world!"

The stranger made no reply. He had not even glanced at Uncle John. Now
he slowly turned and stared fixedly at Myrtle for a moment, till she
cast down her eyes, blushing. Then he re-entered the hotel; nor was he
again seen by them.

The little man was indignant at the snub. Rejoining Myrtle he said to

"That fellow wasn't worth saving--if you really saved him, my dear. He
says the canyon calls one, and for all I care he may go to the bottom
by any route he pleases."

Which speech showed that gentle, kindly Mr. Merrick was really
annoyed. But a moment later he was all smiles again and Myrtle found
him a delightful companion because he knew so well how to read
people's thoughts, and if they were sad had a tactful way of cheering

The girls and the Major returned from their trip to the plateau full
of rapture at their unique experiences.

"I wouldn't have missed it for a million dollars!" cried the Major;
but he added: "and you couldn't hire me to go again for two million!"

"It was great," said Patsy; "but I'm tuckered out."

"I had nineteen narrow escapes from sudden death," began Beth, but her
cousin interrupted her by saying: "So had everyone in the party;
and if the canyon had caved in we'd all be dead long ago. Stop your
chattering now and get ready for dinner. I'm nearly starved."

Next morning they took a farewell view of the beautiful scene and then
climbed into their automobile to continue their journey. Many of the
tourists had wondered at their temerity in making such a long trip
through a poorly settled country in a motor car and had plied them
with questions and warnings. But they were thoroughly enjoying this
outing and nothing very disagreeable had happened to them so far. I am
sure that on this bright, glorious morning you could not have hired
any one of the party to abandon the automobile and finish the trip by



The roads were bad enough. They were especially bad west of Williams.
Just now an association of automobile tourists has been formed to
create a boulevard route through from the Atlantic to the Pacific
coast, but at the time of this story no attention had been given the
roads of the far West and only the paths of the rancheros from town to
town served as guides. On leaving Williams they turned south so as to
avoid the more severe mountain roads, and a fine run through a rather
uninteresting country brought them to Prescott on the eve of the
second day after leaving the Canyon. Here they decided to take a day's
rest, as it was Sunday and the hotel was comfortable; but Monday
morning they renewed their journey and headed southwesterly across the
alkali plains--called "mesa"--for Parker, on the boundary line between
Arizona and California.

Towns of any sort were very scarce in this section and the country was
wild and often barren of vegetation for long stretches. There were
some extensive ranches, however, as this is the section favored for
settlement by a class of Englishmen called "remittance men." These are
mostly the "black sheep" or outcasts of titled families, who having
got into trouble of some sort at home, are sent to America to isolate
themselves on western ranches, where they receive monthly or quarterly
remittances of money to support them. The remittance men are poor
farmers, as a rule. They are idle and lazy except when it comes to
riding, hunting and similar sports. Their greatest industry is cattle
raising, yet these foreign born "cowboys" constitute an entirely
different class from those of American extraction, found in Texas and
on the plains of the Central West. They are educated and to an extent
cultured, being "gentlemen born" but sad backsliders in the practise
of the profession. Because other ranchers hesitate to associate with
them they congregate in settlements of their own, and here in Arizona,
on the banks of the Bill Williams Branch of the Colorado River, they
form almost the total population.

Our friends had hoped to make the little town of Gerton for the night,
but the road was so bad that Wampus was obliged to drive slowly and
carefully, and so could not make very good time. Accidents began
to happen, too, doubtless clue to the hard usage the machine had
received. First a spring broke, and Wampus was obliged to halt long
enough to clamp it together with stout steel braces. An hour later the
front tire was punctured by cactus spines, which were thick upon the
road. Such delays seriously interfered with their day's mileage.

Toward sunset Uncle John figured, from the information he had received
at Prescott, that they were yet thirty miles from Gerton, and so he
decided to halt and make camp while there was yet sufficient daylight
remaining to do so conveniently.

"We might hunt for a ranch house and beg for shelter," said he, "but
from the stories I've heard of the remittance men I am sure we will
enjoy ourselves better if we rely entirely upon our own resources."

The girls were, of course, delighted at the prospect of such an
experience, for the silent, solitary mesa made them feel they were
indeed "in the wilds of the Great American Desert." The afternoon had
been hot and the ride dusty, but there was now a cooler feeling in the
air since the sun had fallen low in the horizon.

They carried their own drinking water, kept ice-cold in thermos
bottles, and Uncle John also had a thermos tub filled with small
squares of ice. This luxury, in connection with their ample supply
of provisions, enabled the young women to prepare a supper not to be
surpassed in any modern hotel. The soup came from one can, the curried
chicken from another, while artichokes, peas, asparagus and plum
pudding shed their tin coverings to complete the meal. Fruits, cheese
and biscuits they had in abundance, so there was no hardship in
camping out on a deserted Arizona table-land, as far as food was
concerned. The Interior of the limousine, when made into berths for
the three girls, was as safe and cosy as a Pullman sleeping coach.
Only the men's quarters, the "lean-to" tent, was in any way open to

After the meal was ended and the things washed and put away they all
sat on folding camp chairs outside the little tent and enjoyed the
intense silence surrounding them. The twilight gradually deepened into
darkness. Wampus kept one of the searchlights lit to add an element of
cheerfulness to the scene, and Myrtle was prevailed upon to sing one
or two of her simple songs. She had a clear, sweet voice, although not
a strong one, and they all--especially Uncle John--loved to hear her

Afterward they talked over their trip and the anticipated change from
this arid region to the verdure of California, until suddenly a long,
bloodcurdling howl broke the stillness and caused them one and all
to start from their seats. That is, all but Wampus. The chauffeur,
sitting apart with his black cigar in his mouth, merely nodded and
said: "Coyote."

The Major coughed and resumed his seat. Uncle John stood looking into
the darkness as if trying to discern the creature.

"Are coyotes considered dangerous?" he asked the Canadian.

"Not to us," replied Wampus. "Sometime, if one man be out on mesa
alone, an' plenty coyote come, he have hard fight for life. Coyote is
wild dog. He is big coward unless pretty hungry. If I leave light burn
he never come near us."

"Then let it burn--all night," said Mr. Merrick. "There he goes
again--and another with him! What a horrible wail it is."

"I rather like it," said Patsy, with her accustomed calmness. "It is
certainly an added experience to be surrounded by coyotes. Probably
our trip wouldn't have been complete without it."

"A little of that serenade will suffice me," admitted Beth, as the
howls grew nearer and redoubled in volume.

Myrtle's eyes were big and earnest. She was not afraid, but there was
something uncanny in being surrounded by such savage creatures.

Nearer and nearer sounded the howls, until it was easy to see a dozen
fierce eyes gleaming in the darkness, not a stone's throw away from
the camp.

"I guess you girls had better go to bed," remarked Uncle John, a bit
nervously. "There's no danger, you know--none at all. Let the brutes
howl, if they want to--especially as we can't stop them. But you are
tired, my dears, and I'd like to see you settled for the night."

Somewhat reluctantly they entered the limousine, drew the curtains and
prepared for bed. Certainly they were having a novel experience, and
if Uncle John would feel easier to have them listen to the howling
coyotes from inside the limousine instead of outside, they could not
well object to his request.

Presently Wampus asked the Major for his revolver, and on obtaining
the weapon he walked a few paces toward the coyotes and fired a shot
into their group. They instantly scattered and made off, only to
return in a few moments to their former position.

"Will they continue this Grand Opera chorus all night?" asked Uncle

"Perhap," said Wampus. "They hungry, an' smell food. Coyote can no
reason. If he could, he know ver' well we never feed him."

"The next time we come this way let us fetch along a ton or so of
coyote feed," suggested the Major. "I wonder what the poor brutes
would think if they were stuffed full for once in their lives?"

"It have never happen, sir," observed Wampus, shaking his head
gravely. "Coyote all born hungry; he live hungry; he die hungry. If
ever coyote was not hungry he would not be coyote."

"In that case, Major," said Uncle John, "let us go to bed and try to
sleep. Perhaps in slumber we may forget these howling fiends."

"Very well," agreed Major Doyle, rising to enter the little tent.

Wampus unexpectedly interposed. "Wait," called the little chauffeur.
"Jus' a minute, if you please."

While the Major and Mr. Merrick stood wondering at the request, the
Canadian, who was still holding the revolver in one hand, picked a
steel rod from the rumble of the automobile and pushing aside the flap
of the little tent entered. The tail-lamp of the car burned inside,
dimly lighting the place.

The Major was about to follow Wampus when a revolver shot arrested
him. This sound was followed by a quick thumping against the ground of
the steel bar, and then Wampus emerged from the tent holding a dark,
squirming object on the end of the rod extended before him.

"What is it?" asked Mr. Merrick, somewhat startled.

"Rattlesnake," said Wampus, tossing the thing into the sagebrush. "I
see him crawl in tent while you eat supper."

"Why did you not tell us?" cried the Major excitedly.

"I thought him perhaps crawl out again. Him sometime do that. But no.
Mister snake he go sleep in tent which is reserve for his superior. I
say nothing, for I do not wish to alarm the young ladies. That is why
I hold the dog Mumble so tight, for he small eye see snake too, an'
fool dog wish to go fight him. Rattlesnake soon eat Mumble up--eh? But
never mind; there is no worry. I am Wampus, an' I am here. You go to
bed now, an' sleep an' be safe."

He said this rather ostentatiously, and for that reason neither of the
others praised his watchful care or his really brave act. That Wampus
was proving himself a capable and faithful servant even the Major was
forced to admit, yet the man's bombast and self-praise robbed him of
any word of commendation he justly earned.

"I think," said Uncle John, "I'll bunk on the front seat to-night. I'm
short, you see, and will just about curl up in the space. I believe
snakes do not climb up wheels. Make my bed on the front seat, Wampus."

The man grinned but readily obeyed. The Major watched him

"For my part," he said, "I'll have a bed made on top the roof."

"Pshaw!" said Uncle John; "you'll scratch the paint."

"That is a matter of indifference to me," returned the Major.

"You'll roll off, in your sleep, and hurt yourself."

"I'll risk that, sir."

"Are you afraid, Major?"

"Afraid! Me? Not when I'm awake, John. But what's to prevent more of
those vermin from crawling into the tent during the night?"

"Such thing very unusual." remarked Wampus, placing the last blanket
on Mr. Merrick's improvised bed. "Perhaps you sleep in tent a week an'
never see another rattler."

"Just the same," concluded the Major, "I'll have my bed on top the

He did, Wampus placing blankets and a pillow for him without a word of
protest. The Major climbed over Uncle John and mounted to the roof of
the car, which sloped to either side but was broad and long enough
to accommodate more than one sleeper. Being an old campaigner and a
shrewd tactician, Major Doyle made two blankets into rolls, which he
placed on either side of him, to "anchor" his body in position. Then
he settled himself to rest beneath the brilliant stars while the
coyotes maintained their dismal howling. But a tired man soon becomes
insensible to even such annoyances.

The girls, having entered the limousine from the door opposite the
tent, were all unaware of the rattlesnake episode and supposed the
shot had been directed against the coyotes. They heard the Major
climbing upon the roof, but did not demand any explanation, being deep
in those bedtime confidences so dear to all girls. Even they came
to disregard the persistent howls of the coyotes, and in time fell

Wampus did not seem afraid of snakes. The little chauffeur went to bed
in the tent and slept soundly upon his cot until daybreak, when the
coyotes withdrew and the Canadian got up to make the coffee.

The Major peered over the edge of the roof to watch him. He had a
sleepy look about his eyes, as if he had not rested well. Uncle John
was snoring with gentle regularity and the girls were still asleep.

"Wampus," said the Major, "do you know the proper definition of a

Wampus reflected, stirring the coffee carefully.

"I am not--what you call him?--a dictionairre; no. But I am Wampus. I
have live much in very few year. I would say a fool is man who think
he is wise. For what is wise? Nothing!"

The Major felt comforted.

"It occurred to me," he said, beginning to climb down from the roof,
"that a fool was a man who left a good home for this uncomfortable
life on a barren desert. This country wasn't made for humans; it
belongs to the coyotes and the rattlesnakes. What right have we to
intrude upon them, then?"

Wampus did not reply. It was not his business to criticise his



Uncle John woke up when the Major inadvertently placed a heel upon his
round stomach on the way to the ground. The chubby little millionaire
had slept excellently and was in a genial humor this morning. He
helped Wampus fry the bacon and scramble the eggs, while the Major
called the girls.

It proved a glorious sunrise and the air was full of pure ozone. They
had suffered little from cold during the trip, although it was in
the dead of winter and the altitude considerable. Just now they were
getting closer to California every hour, and when they descended from
the mesa it would gradually grow warmer.

They were all becoming expert at "breaking camp," and preparing for
the road. Beth and Patsy put away the bedding and "made up" the
interior of the limousine for traveling. The Major and Uncle John
folded the tent and packed it away, while Wampus attended to the
dishes and tinware and then looked over his car. In a surprisingly
short time they were all aboard and the big machine was gliding over
the faint trail.

The mesa was not a flat or level country, for they were still near to
the mountain ranges. The way was up hill and down, in gentle slopes,
and soon after starting they breasted the brow of a hill and were
confronted by half a dozen mounted men, who seemed as much astonished
at the encounter as they were.

It being an event to meet anyone in this desolate place Wampus
involuntarily brought the car to a halt, while the riders lined up
beside it and stared rather rudely at the party. They were dressed as
cowboys usually are, with flannel shirts, chapelets and sombrero hats;
but their faces were not rugged nor healthy, as is the case with most
Western cowboys, but bore marks of dissipation and hard living.

"Remittance men," whispered Wampus.

Uncle John nodded. He had heard of this curious class. Especially were
the men staring at the three pretty, feminine faces that peered from
the interior of the limousine. They had remained silent thus far, but
now one of them, a fellow with dark eyes and a sallow complexion,
reined his horse nearer the car and removed his hat with a sweeping
gesture that was not ungraceful.

"A merry morning to you, fair ladies--or angels--I much misdoubt which
we have chanced upon. Anyhow, welcome to Hades!"

Uncle John frowned. He did not like the bantering, impudent tone. Beth
flushed and turned aside her head; Myrtle shrank back in her corner
out of sight; but Patsy glared fixedly at the speaker with an
expression that was far from gracious. The remittance man did not seem
daunted by this decided aversion. A sneering laugh broke from his
companions, and one of them cried:

"Back up, Algy, and give your betters a chance. You're out of it, old

"I have no betters," he retorted. Then, turning to the girls again and
ignoring the presence of the men accompanying them, he continued:

"Beauteous visions, since you have wilfully invaded the territory of
Hades Ranch, of which diabolical domain I, Algernon Tobey, am by grace
of his Satanic majesty the master, I invite you to become my guests
and participate in a grand ball which I shall give this evening in
your honor."

His comrades laughed again, and one of them shouted:

"Good for you, Algy. A dance--that's the thing!"

"Why, we haven't had the chance of a dance for ages," said another

"Because we have had no ladies to dance with," explained Algy. "But
here are three come to our rescue--perhaps more, if I could see inside
that barricade--and they cannot refuse us the pleasure of their

"Sir," said Major Doyle, stiffly, "you are pleased to be impertinent.
Ride on, you rascals, and spare us further sight of you."

The man turned upon him a scowling face.

"Don't interfere," he said warningly. "This isn't your party, you old

"Drive ahead, Wampus," commanded Uncle John.

Wampus had to get out and crank the engines, which he calmly proceeded
to do. The man who had called himself Algernon Tobey perceived his
intention and urged his pony to the front of the car.

"Let that thing alone. Keep your hands off!" he said.

Wampus paid no attention. The fellow brought his riding whip down
sharply on the chauffeur's shoulders, inflicting a stinging blow.
Instantly little Wampus straightened up, grasped Tobey by the leg
and with a swift, skillful motion jerked him from his horse. The man
started to draw his revolver, but in an instant he and Wampus were
rolling together upon the ground and the Canadian presently came
uppermost and held his antagonist firmly between his knees. Then
with deliberation he raised his clinched fist and thrust it forcibly
against Mr. Tobey's eye, repeating the impact upon his nose, his chin
and his cheek in a succession of jarring thumps that were delivered
with scientific precision. Algy fairly howled, kicking and struggling
to be free. None of his comrades offered to interfere and it seemed
they were grimly enjoying the punishment that was being; inflicted
upon their leader.

When Wampus had quite finished his work he arose, adjusted his
disarranged collar and tie and proceeded to crank the engines. Then he
climbed into his seat and started the car with a sudden bound. As he
did so a revolver shot rang out and one of the front tires, pierced by
the bullet, ripped itself nearly in two as it crumpled up. A shout of
derisive laughter came from the cowboys. Algy was astride his pony
again, and as Wampus brought the damaged car to a stop the remittance
men dashed by and along the path, taking the same direction Uncle
John's party was following". Tobey held back a little, calling out:

"Au revoir! I shall expect you all at my party. I'm going now to get
the fiddler."

He rejoined his comrades then, and they all clattered away until a
roll of the mesa hid them from sight.

Uncle John got down from his seat to assist his chauffeur.

"Thank you, Wampus," he said. "Perhaps you should have killed him
while you had the opportunity; but you did very well."

Wampus was wrestling with the tire.

"I have never start a private graveyard," he replied, "for reason I
am afraid to hurt anyone. But I am Wampus. If Mister Algy he dance
to-night, somebody mus' lead him, for he will be blind."

"I never met such a lawless brood in my life," prowled the Major,
indignantly. "If they were in New York they'd be put behind the bars
in two minutes."

"But they are in Arizona--in the wilderness," said Uncle John gravely.
"If there are laws here such people do not respect them."

It took a long time to set the new tire and inflate it, for the outer
tube was torn so badly that an extra one had to be substituted. But
finally the task was accomplished and once more they renewed their

Now that they were alone with their friends the girls were excitedly
gossiping over the encounter.

"Do you really suppose we are on that man's ground--his ranch, as he
calls it?" asked Myrtle, half fearfully.

"Why, I suppose someone owns all this ground, barren as it is,"
replied Patsy. "But we are following a regular road--not a very good
one, nor much traveled; but a road, nevertheless--and any road is
public property and open for the use of travelers."

"Perhaps we shall pass by their ranch house," suggested Beth.

"If we do," Uncle John answered, "I'll have Wampus put on full speed.
Even their wild ponies can't follow us then, and if they try shooting
up the tires again they are quite likely to miss as we spin by."

"Isn't there any other road?" the Major asked.

Wampus shook his head.

"I have never come jus' this same route before," he admitted; "but I
make good friend in Prescott, who know all Arizona blindfold. Him say
this is nice, easy road and we cannot get lost for a good reason--the
reason there is no other road at all--only this one."

"Did your friend say anything about Hades Ranch?" continued the

"He say remittance man make much mischief if he can; but he one
foreign coward, drunk most time an' when sober weak like my aunt's
tea. He say don't let remittance man make bluff. No matter how many
come, if you hit one they all run."

"H-m," murmured Uncle John, "I'm not so sure of that, Wampus. There
seems to be a good many of those insolent rascals, and I hope we shall
not meet them again. They may give us trouble yet."

"Never be afraid," advised the chauffeur. "I am Wampus, an' I am

Admitting that evident truth, our tourists were not greatly reassured.
Wampus could not tell where the road might lead them, for he did not
know, save that it led by devious winds to Parker, on the border
between Arizona and California; but what lay between them and that
destination was a sealed book to them all.

The car was heavy and the road soft; so in spite of their powerful
engines the car was not making more than fifteen miles an hour. A
short ride brought them to a ridge, from the top of which they saw a
huddle of buildings not far distant, with a near-by paddock containing
a number of ponies and cattle. The buildings were not palatial, being
composed mostly of adobe and slab wood; but the central one, probably
the dwelling or ranch house, was a low, rambling pile covering
considerable ground.

The road led directly toward this group of buildings, which our
travelers at once guessed to be "Hades Ranch." Wampus slowed down and
cast a sharp glance around, but the land on either side of the trail
was thick with cactus and sagebrush and to leave the beaten path meant
a puncture almost instantly. There was but one thing to be done.

"Pretty good road here," said Wampus. "Hold tight an' don't get scare.
We make a race of it."

"Go ahead," returned Uncle John, grimly. "If any of those scoundrels
get in your way, run them down."

"I never like to hurt peoples; but if that is your command, sir, I
will obey," said Wampus, setting his jaws tightly together.

The car gathered speed and shot over the road at the rate of twenty
miles an hour; then twenty-five--then thirty--and finally forty. The
girls sat straight and looked eagerly ahead. Forms were darting here
and there among the buildings of the ranch, quickly congregating in
groups on either side of the roadway. A red flag fluttered in the
center of the road, some four feet from the ground.

"Look out!" shouted Uncle John. "Stop, Wampus; stop her, I say!"

Wampus saw why, and applied his brakes. The big car trembled, slowed
down, and came to a stop less than a foot away from three ugly bars of
barbed wire which had been placed across the road. They were now just
beside the buildings, and a triumphant shout greeted them from their
captors, the remittance men.



"Welcome to Hades!" cried a stout little man in a red blouse, sticking
his leering countenance through the door of the limousine.

"Shut up, Stubby," commanded a hoarse voice from the group. "Haven't
you any manners? You haven't been introduced yet."

"I've engaged the dark eyed one for the first dance," persisted
Stubby, as a dozen hands dragged him away from the door.

The Major sprang out and confronted the band.

"What are we to understand by this outrage?" he demanded fiercely.

"It means you are all invited to a party, and we won't accept any
regrets," replied a laughing voice.

Patsy put her head out of the window and looked at the speaker. It was
Mr. Algernon Tobey. He had two strips of sticking plaster over his
nose. One of his eyes was swollen shut and the other was almost
closed. Yet he spoke in a voice more cheerful than it was when they
first met him.

"Don't be afraid," he added. "No one has the slightest intention of
injuring any of you in any way, I assure you."

"We have not the same intention in regard to you, sir," replied Major
Doyle, fuming with rage, for his "Irish was up," as he afterward
admitted. "Unless you at once remove that barricade and allow us to
proceed we will not be responsible for what happens. You are warned,

Uncle John, by this time standing beside the Major upon the ground,
had been quietly "sizing up the situation," as he would have expressed
it. He found they had been captured by a party of fourteen men, most
of whom were young, although three or four, including Tobey, were
of middle age. The atmosphere of the place, with its disorderly
surroundings and ill kept buildings, indicated that Hades Ranch was
bachelor quarters exclusively. Half a dozen Mexicans and one or two
Chinamen were in the background, curious onlookers.

Mr. Merrick noted the fact that the remittance men were an unkempt,
dissipated looking crew, but that their faces betokened reckless good
humor rather than desperate evil. There was no doubt but most of
them were considering this episode in the light of a joke, and were
determined to enjoy the experience at the expense of their enforced

Uncle John had lived many years in the West and knew something of
these peculiar English exiles. Therefore he was neither frightened
nor unduly angry, but rather annoyed by the provoking audacity of the
fellows. He had three young girls to protect and knew these men could
not be fit acquaintances for them. But he adopted a tone different
from the Major's and addressed himself to Tobey as the apparent leader
of the band.

"Sir," he said calmly but with pointed emphasis, "I believe you were
born a gentleman, as were your comrades here."

"You are right," answered Tobey. "And each and every one you see
before you has fallen from his former high estate--through no fault
of his own." This may have been a sarcasm, for the others laughed in
boisterous approval. "In some respects we are still gentlemen," Tobey
went on, "but in others we are not to be trusted. Be reasonable,
sir--I haven't the faintest idea who you are or what your name is--and
consider calmly our proposition. Here we are, a number of young
fellows who have seen better and happier days, living alone in the
midst of an alkali desert. Most of us haven't seen a female for
months, nor a lady for years. Why, last fall Stubby there rode eighty
miles to Buxton, just to stand on a corner and see a lot of greasy
Mexican women go by. We tire of exclusive male society, you see. We
get to bore one another terribly. So here, like a visitation from
heaven, three attractive young ladies descend upon us, traveling
through our domain, and having discovered their presence we instantly
decided to take advantage of the opportunity and invite them to an
impromptu ball. There's no use refusing us, for we insist on carrying
out our plan. If you men, perhaps the fathers of the young ladies,
behave reasonably, we will entertain you royally and send you on your
way rejoicing. Won't we, boys?"

They shouted approval.

"But if you oppose us and act ugly about this fete, gentlemen, we
shall be obliged to put a few bullets into you, and decide afterward
what disposition to make of the girls. About the best stunt we do is
shooting. We can't work; we're too poor to gamble much; but we hunt
a good bit and we can shoot straight. I assure you we wouldn't mind
losing and taking a few lives if a scrimmage is necessary. Eh, boys?"

"That's right, Algy," said one, answering for the others; "we'll have
that dance if we die for it--ev'ry man Jack of us."

Myrtle was trembling in her corner of the limousine. Beth sat still
with a curl on her lips. But Patsy was much interested in the
proceedings and had listened attentively to the above conversation.
Now the girl suddenly swung open the door and sprang out beside her
father, facing the group of cowboys.

"I am Patricia Doyle," she said in a clear voice, "and these
gentlemen," indicating the Major and Mr. Merrick, "are my father and
my uncle. You understand perfectly why they object to the arrangement
you suggest, as any one of you would object, had you a daughter in
a like position. But you are arbitrary and not inclined to respect
womanhood. Therefore but one course is open to us--to submit under
protest to the unwelcome attentions you desire to thrust upon us."

They listened silently to this frank speech, and some of their faces
wore crestfallen expressions by the time she had finished. Indeed,
one of the older men turned on his heel and walked away, disappearing
among the buildings. After a brief hesitation a delicate young
fellow--almost a boy--followed this man, his face flaming red with
shame. But the others stood their ground.

"Very good, Miss Doyle," remarked Tobey, with forced cheerfulness.
"You are quite sensible to submit to the inevitable. Bring out your
friends and introduce them, and then we'll all go in to luncheon and
prepare for the dance."

"I won't submit to this!" cried the Major, stamping his foot angrily.

"Yes, you will," said Uncle John, with a motion preventing his irate
brother-in-law from drawing a revolver, "Patsy is quite right, and we
will submit with as much dignity as we can muster, being overpowered
by numbers."

He beckoned to Beth, who stepped out of the car and assisted Myrtle
to follow her. A little cheer of bravado had arisen from the group,
inspired by their apparent victory; but when Myrtle's crutches
appeared and they saw the fair, innocent face of the young girl who
rested upon them, the shout died away in a hush of surprise.

"This is my cousin, Elizabeth De Graf," announced Patsy, with cold
deliberation, determined that the proprieties should be observed in
all intercourse with these people. "And I present our friend, Myrtle
Dean. Under ordinary circumstances I believe Myrtle would be excused
from dancing, but I suppose no brute in the form of a man would have
consideration for her infirmity."

This time even Tobey flushed.

"You've a sharp tongue, Miss Doyle, and it's liable to lead you into
trouble," he retorted, losing for the moment his suave demeanor. "We
may be brutes--and I imagine we are--but we're not dangerous unless

It was savagely said, and Uncle John took warning and motioned Patsy
to be silent.

"Lead the way, sir," he said. "Our chauffeur will of course remain
with the car."

Wampus had kept his seat, motionless and silent. He only nodded in
answer to Mr. Merrick's instructions and was entirely disregarded by
the remittance men.

The man called "Stubby," who had a round, good-humored face, stepped
eagerly to Myrtle's side and exclaimed: "Let me assist you, please."

"No," she said, shaking her head with a wan smile; "I am quite able to
walk alone."

He followed her, though, full of interest and with an air of deep
respect that belied his former actions. Tobey, content with his
present success, walked beside Mr. Merrick and led the procession
toward the ranch house. The Major followed, his tall form upright, his
manner bellicose and resentful, with Beth and Patsy on either side of
him. The remittance men followed in a straggling crowd, laughing and
boisterously talking among themselves. Just as they reached the house
a horseman came clattering down the road and all paused involuntarily
to mark the new arrival. The rider was a handsome, slim young fellow,
dressed as were the other cowboys present, and he came on at a
breakneck speed that seemed only warranted by an errand of life and

In front of him, tied to the saddle, appeared a huge bundle, and as
the horse dashed up to the group standing by the ranch house the rider
gracefully threw himself off and removed his hat with a sweeping
gesture as he observed the young ladies.

"I've got him, Algy!" he cried merrily.

"Dan'l?" asked Tobey.

"Dan'l himself." He pointed to the bundle, which heaved and wriggled
to show it was alive. "He refused to come willingly, of course; so
I brought him anyhow. Never yet was there a fiddler willing to be

"Good for you, Tim!" shouted a dozen voices. And Stubby added in his
earnest way; "Dan'l was never more needed in his life."

Tobey was busy unwinding a long lariat that bent the captive nearly
double and secured him firmly to the panting horse. When the bonds
were removed Dan'l would have tumbled prone to the ground had not
willing hands caught him and supported him upon his feet. Our friends
then observed that he was an aged man with a face thickly furrowed
with wrinkles. He had but one eye, small and gray and very shrewd in
expression, which he turned contemptuously upon the crowd surrounding
him. Numb and trembling from his cramped position upon the horse and
the terrible jouncing he had endured, the fiddler could scarcely stand
at first and shook as with a palsy; but he made a brave effort to
control his weakness and turned smilingly at the murmur of pity and
indignation that came from the lips of the girls.

"Where's the fiddle?" demanded Tobey, and Tim unhooked a calico bag
from the saddlebow and held it out. A laugh greeted the gesture.

"Dan'l said he be hanged if he'd come," announced Tim, with a grim
appreciation of the humorous side of the situation; "so I hung him and
brought him along--and his fiddle to boot. But don't boot it until
after the dance."

"What do you mean, sir, by this rebellious attitude?" questioned
Tobey, sticking his damaged face close to that of the fiddler.

Dan'l blinked with his one eye but refused to answer.

"I've a good mind to skin you alive," continued the leader, in a
savage tone. "You'll either obey my orders or I'll throw you into the
snake pit."

"Let him alone, Algy," said Tim, carelessly. "The old scoundrel has
been tortured enough already. But I see we have partners for the
dance," looking critically at the girls, "and I claim first choice
because I've brought the fiddler."

At this a roar of protest arose and Tobey turned and said sullenly:

"Come in, all of you. We'll settle the order of dancing later on."

The interior of the ranch house was certainly picturesque. A great
living room ran all across the front, with an immense fireplace
built of irregular adobe bricks. The floor was strewn with skins of
animals--mostly coyotes, a few deer and one or two mountain lions--and
the walls were thickly hung with weapons and trophies of the chase.
A big table in one corner was loaded with bottles and glasses,
indicating the intemperate habits of the inmates, while on the chimney
shelf were rows of pipes and jars of tobacco. An odor similar to that
of a barroom hung over the place which the air from the open windows
seemed unable to dissipate.

There were plenty of benches and chairs, with a long mess table
occupying the center of the room. In a corner was an old square piano,
which a Mexican was trying to dust as the party entered.

"Welcome to Hades!" exclaimed Tobey, with an absurd gesture. "Be good
enough to make yourselves at home and I'll see if those devils of
Chinamen are getting luncheon ready."

Silently the prisoners sat down. The crowd poured in after them and
disposed themselves in various attitudes about the big room, all
staring with more or less boldness at the three girls. Dan'l the
fiddler was pushed in with the others and given a seat, while two or
three of the imitation cowboys kept guard over him to prevent any
possible escape. So far the old man had not addressed a word to

With the absence of the leader the feeling of restraint seemed to
relax. The cowboys began whispering among themselves and chuckling
with glee, as if they were enjoying some huge joke. Stubby had placed
himself near the three young ladies, whom he eyed with adoring
glances, and somehow none of the prisoners regarded this childish
young fellow in exactly the same light as they did his comrades. Tim,
his attitude full of grace as he lounged against a settle, was also
near the group. He seemed a bit thoughtful since his dramatic arrival
and had little to say to anyone.

Mr. Merrick engaged Stubby in conversation.

"Does Mr. Tobey own this place?" he asked.

"By proxy, yes," was the reply. "It isn't in his name, you know,
although that doesn't matter, for he couldn't sell his desert ranch if
he had a title to it. I suppose that is what his folks were afraid
of. Algy is the fourth son of old Lord Featherbone, and got into a
disgraceful mess in London some years ago. So Featherbone shipped
him over here, in charge of a family solicitor who hunted out this
sequestered spot, bought a couple of thousand acres and built this
hut. Then he went home and left Algy here to keep up the place on a
paltry ten pounds--fifty dollars--a month."

"Can he manage to do that?" asked Uncle John.

"Why, he has to, you see. He's got together a few cattle, mostly
stolen I imagine; but he doesn't try to work the land. Moreover he's
established this community, composed of his suffering fellow exiles,
the secret of which lies in the fact that we work the cooperative
plan, and all chip in our remittances to boil the common pot. We can
keep more servants and buy more food and drink, that way, than if each
one of us lived separately."

"Up in Oregon," said Mr. Merrick, "I've known of some very successful
and prosperous ranchmen among the remittance men."

"Oh, we're all kinds, I suppose, good and bad," admitted Stubby. "This
crew's mostly bad, and they're moderately proud of it. It's a devil
of a life, sir, and Hades Ranch is well named. I've only been here a
month. Had a little property up North; but the sheriff took it for
debt, and that forced me to Algy, whom I detest. I think I'll move on,
before long. But you see I'm limited. Can't leave Arizona or I'll get
my remittance cut off."

"Why were you sent here into exile?" asked Myrtle artlessly.

He turned red and refused to meet her eyes.

"Went wrong, Miss," he said, "and my folks wouldn't stand for
it. We're all in the same boat," sweeping his arm around, "doing
punishment for our misdeeds."

"Do none of you ever reform?" inquired Patsy.

"What's the use? We're so far away from home no one there would ever
believe in our reformation. Once we become outcasts, that's the end
of our careers. We're buried in these Western wilds and allowed just
enough to keep alive."

"I would think," said Uncle John musingly, "that the manly way would
be to cut yourself off entirely from your people at home and go to
some city in the United States where honesty and industry would win a
new name for you. Then you could be respected and happy and become of
use to the world."

Stubby laughed.

"That has been tried," he replied; "but few ever made a success of it.
We're generally the kind that prefers idleness to work. My family is
wealthy, and I don't mind taking from them what little they give me
willingly and all that I can screw out of them besides. I'm in for
life, as the saying is, and I've no especial ambition except to drink
myself to death as soon as possible."

Patsy shuddered. It seemed a horrible thing to be so utterly hopeless.
Could this young fellow have really merited his fate?



Tim had listened carelessly to the conversation until now, when he
said listlessly:

"Don't think us all criminals, for we're not. In my own case I did
nothing to deserve exile except that I annoyed my elder brother by
becoming more popular with our social set than he was. He had all the
property and I was penniless, so he got rid of me by threatening to
cut off my allowance unless I went to America and stayed there."

"And you accepted such a condition?" cried Patsy, scornfully. "Why
were you not independent enough to earn your own living?"

He shrugged his shoulders, yet seemed amused.

"I simply couldn't," said he. "I was not educated to work, you know,
and to do so at home would be to disgrace my noble family. I've too
much respect for my lineage to labor with my hands or head."

"But here in America no one would know you," suggested Beth.

"I would only humiliate myself by undertaking such a task. And why
should I do so? While I am in America my affectionate brother, the
head of the family, supports me, as is his duty. Your philosophy is
pretty enough, but it is not practical. The whole fault lies in our
old-fashioned system of inheritance, the elder male of a family
getting all the estate and the younger ones nothing at all. Here, in
this crude and plebeian country, I believe it is the custom to provide
for all one's children, and a father is at liberty to do so because
his estate is not entailed."

"And he earns it himself and can do what he likes with it," added
Uncle John, impatiently. "Your system of inheritance and entail may
be somewhat to blame, but your worst fault is in rearing a class of
mollycoddles and social drones who are never of benefit to themselves
or the world at large. You, sir, I consider something less than a

"I agree with you," replied Tim, readily. "I'm only good to cumber the
earth, and if I get little pleasure out of life I must admit that it's
all I'm entitled to."

"And you can't break your bonds and escape?" asked Patsy.

"I don't care to. People who are ambitious to do things merely bore
me. I don't admire them or care to imitate them."

From that moment they took no further interest in the handsome
outcast. His world was not their world.

And now Tobey came in, driving before him a lot of Mexicans bearing
trays of food. The long table was laid in a moment, for everything
was dumped upon it without any attempt at order. Each of the cowboys
seized a plate from a pile at one end and helped himself to whatever
he wanted.

Two or three of the men, however, were courteous enough to attend to
their unwilling guests and see they were served as well as conditions
would permit The food was plentiful and of good quality, but although
none of Uncle John's party was squeamish or a stickler for form, all
more or less revolted from the utter disregard of all the proprieties.

"I'm sorry we have no wine; but there's plenty of whiskey, if you like
it," remarked Tobey.

The girls were silent and ate little, although they could not help
being interested in observing the bohemianism of these gently reared
but decadent sons of respectable English families. As soon as they
could they left the table, and Tobey, observing their uneasiness in
spite of his damaged and nearly useless optics, decided to send them
to another room where they could pass the afternoon without further
annoyance. Stubby escorted the party and ushered them into a good
sized room which he said was "Algy's study," although no one ever
studied there.

"Algy's afraid you'll balk at the dance; so he wants to please you
however he can," remarked the round faced youth. "You won't mind being
left alone, will you?"

"We prefer it, sir," answered the Major, stiffly.

"You see, we're going to have a rare lark this afternoon," continued
Stubby, confidentially. "Usually it's pretty dull here, and all we
can do is ride and hunt--play cards and quarrel. But your coming has
created no end of excitement and this dance will be our red-letter day
for a long time to come. The deuce of if is, however, that there are
only two girls to dance with thirteen men. We limit our community to
fifteen, you know; but little Ford and old Rutledge have backed down
and won't have anything to do with this enterprise. I don't know why,"
he continued, thoughtfully.

"Perhaps they still have some gentlemanly instincts," suggested Patsy.

"That must be it," he replied in a relieved tone. "Well, anyhow,
to avoid quarrels and bloodshed we've agreed to throw dice for the
dances. Every one is to have an equal chance, you see, and when you
young ladies open the dance the entire programme will be arranged for

"Are we to have no choice in the matter of partners?" inquired Beth

"None whatever. There would surely be a row, in that case, and we
intend to have everything; pass off pleasantly if we have to kill a
few to keep the peace."

With this Stubby bowed low and retreated toward the door, which
suddenly opened to admit old Dan'l the fiddler, who was thrust in
so violently that his body collided with that of Stubby and nearly
knocked him over.

"That's all right," laughed the remittance man, recovering from the
shock. "You mustn't escape, you know, Dan'l, for we depend on you for
the music."

He closed the door as he went out and they all heard a bolt shoot into
place. Yet the broad window, scarcely six feet from the ground, stood
wide open to admit the air.

Dan'l stood in the middle of the room, motionless for a moment. Then
he raised his wrinkled face and clinched his fists, shaking them in
the direction of the living-room.

"Me!" he muttered; "me play for dese monkeys to dance--me! a
maestro--a composer--a artiste! No; I vill nod! I vill die before I
condescention to such badness, such mockery!"

They were the first words he had spoken since his arrival, and they
seemed to hold all his pentup indignation. The girls pitied the old
man and, recognizing in him a fellow prisoner, sought to comfort him.

"If the dance depends upon us, there will be no dance," said Patsy,

"I thought you advised submitting to the whim of these ruffians," said
Uncle John in surprise.

"Only to gain time, Uncle. And the scheme has succeeded. Now is our
time to plot and plan how to outwit our enemies."

"Goot!" cried Dan'l approvingly. "I help you. Dey are vermin--pah! I
vould kill dem all mitout mercifulness, unt be glad!"

"It won't be necessary to kill them, I hope," said Beth, smiling. "All
we wish is to secure our escape."

"Vot a time dey make me!" said Dan'l, more calmly. "You see, I am
living peacefulness in mine bungalow by der river--ten mile away. Dot
brute Tim, he come unt ask me to fiddle for a dance. I--fiddle! Ven I
refuse me to do it, he tie me up unt by forcibleness elope mit me. Iss
id nod a crime--a vickedness--eh?"

"It certainly is, sir," said Uncle John. "But do not worry. These
girls have some plan in their heads, I'm sure, and if we manage to
escape we will carry you home in safety. Now, my dears, what is it?"

"Oh, we've only begun to think yet," said Patsy, and walked to the
window. All but Myrtle and Dan'l followed her.

Below the window was a jungle of cactus, with hundreds of spines as
slender and sharp as stilettos sticking in every direction.

"H-m; this room is burglar proof," muttered Uncle John, with marked

"It also makes an excellent prison," added Patsy. "But I suspected
something of this sort when I saw they had left the window open. We
can't figure on getting out that way, you see."

"Id vould be suiciding," Dan'l said, mournfully shaking his head. "If
dese fiends were as goot as dey are clefer, dey vould be angels."

"No argument seems to prevail with them," remarked Beth. "They are
lawless and merciless, and in this far-away country believe they may
do as they please."

"They're as bad as the bandits of Taormina," observed Patsy, smiling
at the recollection of an adventure they had abroad; "but we must find
some way to evade them."

Dan'l had gone over to Myrtle's corner and stood staring at her with
his one shrewd eye. Uncle John looked thoughtfully out of the window
and saw Wampus busy in the road before the house. He had his coat off
and was cutting the bars of barbed wire and rolling them out of the
way, while Mumbles, who had been left with him, ran here and there at
his heels as if desiring to assist him.

From the big hall, or living room, at the right came a dull roar of
voices, subdued shouts and laughter, mingled with the clinking of
glasses. All the remittance men were gathered there deep in the game
of dice which was to determine the order in which they were to dance
with Beth and Patsy. The servants were out of sight. Wampus had the
field to himself.

"Come here," said Uncle John to the girls, and when they stood beside
him pointed to the car. "Wampus is making ready for the escape," he
continued. "He has cleared the road and the way is now open if we can
manage to get to the machine. Has your plan matured yet?"

Patsy shook her head.

"Not yet, Uncle," she replied.

"Couldn't Wampus throw us a rope?" inquired the Major.

"He could," said Uncle John; "but we would be unable to use it. Those
terrible cactus spines are near enough to spear anyone who dared try
to slide down a rope. Think of something else."

They all tried to do that, but no practical idea seemed forthcoming.

"Oh, no," Dan'l was saying to Myrtle; "dey are nod afraid to shoot;
bud dey vill nod shoot ladies, belief me. Always dey carry refolfers
in deir belts--or deir holsterses. Dey eat mit refolfers; dey schleep
mit refolfers; dey hunt, dey quarrel, unt sometimes dey shoot each
odder--de best enactionment vot dey do. Bud dey do nod shoot at

"Will they wear their revolvers at the dance?" asked Beth, overhearing
this speech.

"I belief id," said Dan'l, wagging his ancient head. "Dey like to be
ready to draw quick like, if anybody shteps on anybody's toes. Yes; of

"What a horrible idea!" exclaimed Patsy.

"They're quite liable to dance and murder in the same breath," the
Major observed, gloomily.

"I don't like it," said Beth. "It's something awful just to think of.
Haven't they any gallantry?"

"No," answered Patsy. "But I wouldn't dance with a lot of half drunken
men wearing revolvers, if they burned me at the stake for refusing."

"Ah! shtick to dat fine expressionment," cried Dan'l, eagerly. "Shtick
to id! Say you won't dance if dey wear de refolfers--unt den we win de

Patsy looked at him critically, in the instant catching a part of his

"What do you mean?" she asked.

Dan'l explained, while they all listened carefully, absorbed in
following in thought his unique suggestions.

"Let's do it!" exclaimed Beth. "I'm sure the plan will succeed."

"It's leaving a good deal to chance," objected Uncle John, with a
touch of nervousness.

"There is an element of chance in everything," declared Patsy. "But
I'm sure we shall escape, Uncle. Why it's a regular coup!"

"We take them by surprise, you know," explained the Major, who
heartily favored the idea.

They talked it over for a time, perfecting the details, and then
became as calm and composed as a group of prisoners might. Uncle John
waved his handkerchief to attract the attention of Wampus, who stole
softly around the corner of the house and approached the window,
taking care to keep at a respectful distance from the dangerous

"Is everything ready?" inquired Uncle John in a subdued voice.

"To be sure all is ready. Why not? I am Wampus!" was the reply, in
cautious tones.

"Go back to the machine and guard it carefully, Wampus," commanded Mr.
Merrick. "We expect to escape soon after dark, so have the headlights
going, for we shall make a rush for it and there mustn't be a moment's

"All right," said the chauffeur. "You may depend on me. I am Wampus,
an' not 'fraid of a hundred coward like these. Is not Mister Algy his
eye mos' beautiful blacked?"

"It is," agreed Uncle John. "Go back to the car now, and wait for us.
Don't get impatient. We don't know just when we will join you, but it
will be as soon as we can manage it. What is Mumbles doing?"

"Mumble he learn to be good automobilist. Jus' now he sit on seat an'
watch wheel to see nobody touch. If anybody touch, Mumble he eat him

They all laughed at this whimsical notion and it served to relieve the
strain of waiting. Wampus, grinning at the success of his joke, went
back to the limousine to inspect it carefully and adjust it in every
part until it was in perfect order.

Now that a definite plan of action had been decided upon their spirits
rose considerably, and they passed the afternoon in eager anticipation
of the crisis.

Rather earlier than expected Stubby and Tim came to say "they had been
appointed a committee to escort their guests to the banquet hall,
where dinner would at once be served."

"We shall have to clear away for the dance," added Stubby, "so we want
to get the feast over with as quickly as possible. I hope you are all
hungry, for Algy has spread himself on this dinner and we are to
have every delicacy the ranch affords, regardless of expense. We can
economize afterward to make up for it."

Elaborate preparations were not greatly in evidence, however. The
Mexican servants had washed themselves and the floor of the big room
had been swept and cleared of some of its rubbish; but that was all.
The remittance men were in their usual rough costumes and the air was
redolent with the fumes of liquor.



As the prisoners quietly took their places at the table Tobey, who
had been drinking hard, decided to make a speech. His face was badly
swollen and he could only see through a slit in one eye, so severe had
been the beating administered by Wampus earlier in the day; but the
fellow had grit, in spite of his other unmanly qualities, and his
imperturbable good humor had scarcely been disturbed by the punishment
the Canadian had inflicted upon him.

"Ladies," said he, "and gentlemen--which of course includes our
respected male guests--I am happy to inform you that the programme for
the First Annual Hades Ranch Ball has finally been arranged, and the
dances apportioned in a fair and impartial manner. The Grand March
will take place promptly at seven o'clock, led by Miss Doyle and
Knuckles, who has won the privilege by throwing four sixes. I am to
follow with Miss De Graf, and the rest will troop on behind with the
privilege of looking at the ladies. If anyone dares to create disorder
his dances with the young ladies will be forfeited. Dan'l will play
the latest dance music on his fiddle, and if it isn't spirited
and up-to-date we'll shoot his toes off. We insist upon plenty of
two-steps and waltzes and will wind up with a monney-musk in the
gray light of dawn. This being fully understood, I beg you, my good
friends, to fall to and eat and be merry; but don't linger unduly over
the dainties, for we are all anxious, like good soldiers, to get into

The remittance men applauded this oratory, and incidentally attacked
the eatables with evident determination to obey their leader's

"We can eat any time," remarked Stubby, with his mouth full; "but
his Satanic majesty only knows when Hades Ranch will see another
dance--with real ladies for partners."

The Chinese cooks and the Mexican servants had a lively time during
this meal, for the demands made upon them were incessant. Uncle John,
whose even disposition was seldom ruffled, ate with a good appetite,
while even the Major, glum and scowling, did not disdain the numerous
well-prepared dishes. As for Dan'l, he took full advantage of the
occasion and was the last one to leave the table. Our girls, however,
were too excited to eat much and little Myrtle, especially, was pallid
and uneasy and had a startled look in her eyes whenever anyone made a
sudden motion.

As soon as the repast was concluded the servants cleared the long
table in a twinkling and pushed it back against the wall at one end of
the long room. A chair was placed for Dan'l on top of this expansive
board, which thus became a stage from whence he could overlook the
room and the dancers, and then two of the remittance men tossed the
old fiddler to his elevated place and commanded him to make ready.

Dan'l said nothing and offered no resistance. He sat plaintively
sawing upon his ancient but rich-toned violin while the floor was
brushed, the chairs and benches pushed against the wall and the room
prepared for action. Behind the violinist was a low, broad window
facing a grass plot that was free from the terrifying cactus, and the
old man noted with satisfaction that it stood wide open.

Uncle John's party had pressed close to the table and stood watching
the proceedings.

"Ready now!" called Tobey; "the Grand March is about to begin. Take
your partners, boys. Look sharp, there, Dan'l, and give us a martial
tune that will lift our feet."

Dan'l meekly set the violin underneath his chin and raised the bow as
if in readiness. "Knuckles," a brawny fellow with a florid face and a
peculiar squint, approached Patsy and bowed.

"You're to lead with me, Miss," he said. "Are you ready?"

"Not quite," she returned with dignified composure; "for I perceive
you are not quite ready yourself."

"Eh? Why not?" he inquired, surprised.

"You are still wearing your firearms," she replied. "I cannot and will
not dance with a man who carries a revolver."

"That's nothing," he retorted. "We always do."


"Of course. And if I shed my gun what's to prevent some one else
getting the drop on me?"

"That's it," said Patsy, firmly. "The weapons must all be surrendered
before we begin. We positively refuse to dance if rioting and shooting
are likely to occur."

A murmur of protest arose at this speech, for all the remittance men
had gathered around to listen to the argument.

"That's all tommy-rot," observed Handsome Tim, in a sulky tone. "We're
not spoiling for a row; it's the dance we're after."

"Then give up the revolvers," said Beth, coming to her cousin's
assistance. "If this is to be a peaceful entertainment you will not
need to be armed, and it is absurd to suppose a lady will dance with a
gentleman who is a walking arsenal."

They looked into one another's faces uncertainly. Dan'l sat softly
tuning his violin, as if uninterested in the controversy. Uncle John
and the Major looked on with seeming indifference.

"You must decide which you prefer--the revolvers or the dance,"
remarked Patsy, staring coolly into the ring of faces.

"Would your English ladies at home consent to dance with armed men?"
asked Beth.

"They're quite right, boys," said Stubby, nodding his bullethead.
"Let's agree to deposit all the shooting irons 'til the dance is

"I won't!" cried Knuckles, his scowl deepening.

"By Jove, you will!" shouted Tobey, with unexpected vehemence. "You're
delaying the programme, old man, and it's a nuisance to dance in this
armor, anyway. Here--pile all your guns in this corner; every one of
you, mind. Then we shall all stand on an equal footing."

"Put them on the table there, by the old fiddler," said Patsy; "then
we will know we are perfectly safe."

Rather unwillingly they complied, each man walking up to the table and
placing his revolver at Dan'l's feet. The girls watched them intently.

"That man over there is still armed," called Beth, pointing to a
swarthy Mexican who squatted near the door.

"That's all right," said Tobey, easily. "He's our guard, Pedro. I've
stationed him there so you won't attempt to escape till we get ready
to let you go."

Patsy laughed.

"There's little danger of that," she said.

"All ready, now!" exclaimed Knuckles, impatiently. "We're all as
harmless as doves. Let 'er go, Dan'l!"

The old man was just then assisting Uncle John to lift Myrtle to the
top of the table, where the Major had placed a chair for her. Knuckles
growled, but waited until the girl was seated near the window. Then
Dan'l drew his bow and struck up a spirited march. Patsy took the arm
of Knuckles and paraded down the long room. Beth followed with Tobey,
and behind them tramped the remittance men in files of two. At the far
end were grouped the servants, looking curiously upon the scene, which
was lighted by lamps swung from the ceiling and a row of candles upon
the edge of the mantelshelf.

To carry out the idea of a grand march Patsy drew her escort here and
there by sharp turns and half circles, the others trailing behind like
a huge snake until she had passed down the length of the room and
started to return up the other side to the starting point. So
engrossed had been the cowboys that they did not observe the Major and
Uncle John clamber upon the table and stand beside Myrtle.

The procession was half way up the hall on its return when Patsy said
abruptly: "Now, Beth!" and darted away from her partner's side and
toward the table. Beth followed like a streak, being an excellent
runner, and for a moment Knuckles and Tobey, thus deserted by their
partners, stopped to watch them in amazement. Then their comrades
bumped into them and recalled them to their senses.

By that time the two girls had reached the table and leaped upon it.
Uncle John was waving his handkerchief from the window as a signal
to Wampus; Dan'l had laid aside his fiddle and seized a revolver in
either hand, and the Major had caught up two more of the discarded

As Beth and Patsy turned, panting, and from their elevation looked up
the room, the cowboys gave a bellow of rage and rushed forward.

"Keep back!" shouted the Major, in stentorian tones, "I'll shoot the
first man that interferes."

Noting the grim determination in the old soldier's eye, they hesitated
and came to a halt.

"What do you mean by this infernal nonsense?" cried Tobey, in disgust.

"Why, it's just checkmate, and the game is up," replied Uncle John
amiably. "We've decided not to hold the proposed dance, but to take
our departure at once."

He turned and passed Myrtle out of the window where Wampus took her
in his arms, crutches and all, and carried her to the automobile. The
remittance men, unarmed and confronted by their own revolvers, stood
gaping open-mouthed and seemingly dazed.

"Let's rush 'em, boys!" shouted Handsome Tim, defiantly.

"Rush 'em alone, if you like," growled Knuckles. "I'm not ready for
the graveyard yet."

"You are vot iss called cowardices," said Dan'l, flourishing the
revolvers he held. "Come on mit der courage, somebotty, so I can shoot
holes in you."

"You're building your own coffin just now, Dan'l," retorted Tobey,
in baffled rage. "We know where to get you, old boy, and we'll have
revenge for this night's work."

"I vill take some popguns home mit me," was the composed reply. "Den,
ven you come, I vill make a receptioning for you. Eh?"

Uncle John, Patsy and Beth had followed Myrtle through the window and

"Now, sir," said the Major to the old fiddler, "make your escape while
I hold them at bay."

"Nod yet," replied Dan'l. "Ve must gif ourselves de most
protectionment ve can."

With this he gathered up the firearms, one by one, and tossed them
through the window. Then he straightened up and a shot flashed down
the hall and tumbled the big Mexican guard to the floor just as he was
about to glide through the doorway.

"Dit ve say shtand still, or dit ve nod say shtand still?" asked
Dan'l, sternly. "If somebody gets hurt, it iss because he don'd obey
de orderations."

"Go, sir!" commanded the Major.

"I vill; bud I go last," declared the old man. "I follow you--see? Bud
you take my violin, please--unt be very tender of id, like id vas your

The Major took the violin and climbed through the window, proceeding
to join the others, who were by now seated in the car. When he had
gone Dan'l prepared to follow, first backing toward the window and
then turning to make an agile leap to the ground below. And now with a
shout the cowboys made their rush, only to halt as Dan'l reappeared at
the window, covering them again with his revolvers.

"So, you defils--make a listen to me," he called. "I am experiencing
a goot-bye to you, who are jackals unt imitation men unt haf no goot
right to be alive. Also if I see any of you de next time, I vill shoot
first unt apologise at der funeral. I haf no more monkey business mit
you voteffer; so keep vere you are until I am gone, unt you vill be

He slowly backed away from the window, and so thoroughly cowed was the
group of ruffians that the old fiddler had been lifted hastily into
the automobile before the cowboys mustered courage to leap through
the window and search in the darkness for their revolvers, which lay
scattered widely upon the ground.

Wampus, chuckling gleefully, jerked the hoods off his glaring
searchlights, sprang to his seat and started the machine down the road
before the crack of a single revolver was heard in protest. The shots
came thicker after that, but now the automobile was bowling merrily
along the road and soon was out of range.

"De road iss exceptionalment goot," remarked Dan'l. "Dere iss no
dangerousness from here to der rifer."

"Danger?" said the chauffeur, scornfully. "Who cares for danger? I am
Wampus, an' I am here!"

"We are all here," said Patsy, contentedly nestling against the
cushions; "and I'm free to confess that I'm mighty glad of it!"



It did not take them very long to reach the river, a muddy little
stream set below high banks. By Dan'l's direction they turned to
the left and followed the wind of the river for a mile or so until
suddenly out of the darkness loomed a quaint little bungalow which the
old German claimed to be his home.

"I haf architectured it mineself, unt make it built as I like it. You
vill come in unt shtop der night mit me," he said, as Wampus halted
the machine before the door.

There was a little murmur of protest at this, for the house appeared
to be scarcely bigger than the automobile. But Uncle John pointed out,
sensibly enough, that they ought not to undertake an unknown road at
nighttime, and that Spotville, the town for which they were
headed, was still a long way off. The Major, moreover, had a vivid
recollection of his last night's bed upon the roof of the limousine,
where he had crept to escape rattlesnakes, and was in no mood to again
camp out in the open while they traveled in Arizona. So he advocated
accepting Dan'l's invitation. The girls, curious to know how so many
could be accommodated in the bungalow, withdrew all further objections
and stood upon the low, pergola-roofed porch while their host went
inside to light the lamps.

They were really surprised at the cosy aspect of the place. Half the
one-story dwelling was devoted to a living room, furnished simply but
with modest taste. A big square table was littered with music, much
being in manuscript--thus proving Dan'l's assertion that he was
a composer. Benches were as numerous as chairs, and all were
well-cushioned with tanned skins as coverings. A few good prints were
on the walls and the aspect of the place was entirely agreeable to the
old man's guests.

As the room was somewhat chilly he made a fire in the ample fireplace
and then with an air of pride exhibited to his visitors his tiny
kitchen, his own bedroom and a storeroom, which occupied the remainder
of the space in the bungalow. He told them he would prepare beds in
the living room for the girls, give his own room to Mr. Merrick and
Major Doyle, while he and Wampus would bunk in the storeroom.

"I haf much blankets," he said; "dere vill be no troubles to keep

Afterward they sat before the fire and by the dim lights of the
kerosene lamps chatted together of the day's adventures.

Uncle John asked Dan'l what had brought him to this deserted,
out-of-the-way spot, and the old man told his story in a manner that
amused them all greatly.

"I haf been," said he, "much famous in my time, unt had a
individualness pointed out whereeffer I went. I vas orchestra leader
at the Theater Royal in Stuttgart, unt our king haf complimented me
many times. But I vas foolish. I vas foolish enough to think that ven
a man iss great he can stay great. I married me to a clefer prima
donna, unt composed a great opera, which vas finer as anything
Herr Wagner has efer done. Eh? But dere vas jealousness at work to
opposition me. Von day ven my fine opera vas all complete I vent
to the theater to lead mine orchestra. To my surprisement der Herr
Director tells me I can retire on a pension; I am too old unt he has
hired a younger man, who iss Herr Gabert. I go home bewildered unt
mishappy, to find that Herr Gabert has stole the score of mine opera
unt run avay mit mine vife. Vot I can do? Nothing. Herr Gabert he lead
my orchestra tint all der people applauds him. I am forgot. One day I
see our king compliment Herr Gabert. He produces my opera unt say he
compositioned it. Eferybody iss crazy aboud id, unt crown Herr Gabert
mit flowers. My vife sings in der opera. The people cheer her unt she
rides avay mit Herr Gabert in his carriage to a grand supper mit der
nobility unt der Herr Director.

"I go home unt say: 'Who am I?' I answer: 'Nobody!' Am I now great?
No; I am a speck. Vot can I do? Veil, I go avay. I haf some money--a
leedle. I come to America. I do not like crowds any more. I like to be
alone mit my violin. I find dis place; I build dis house; I lif here
unt make happiness. My only neighbors are de remittance men, who iss
more mischiefing as wicked. Dey vill nod bother me much. So after a
time I die here. Vy nod? I am forgot in Stuttgart."

There was pathos in the tale and his way of telling it. The old man
spoke cheerfully, but they could see before them the tragedy depicted
by his simple words. His hearers were all silent when he had
concluded, feeling they could say nothing to console him or lighten
his burden. Only Wampus, sitting in the background, looked scornfully
upon the man who had once been the idol of his townspeople.

Dan'l took a violin from a shelf and began to play, softly but with
masterly execution. He caught their mood instantly. The harmony was
restful and contented. Patsy turned down the lamps, to let the flicker
of the firelight dominate the room, and Dan'l understood and blended
the flickering light into his melody.

For a long time he continued to improvise, in a way that fairly
captivated his hearers, despite their varied temperaments, and made
them wonder at his skill. Then without warning he changed to a
stirring, martial air that filled the room with its rich, resonant

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