Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.



Cover Image

RGL e-Book Cover
Based on an image created with Microsoft Bing software

Ex Libris

First published in Chums, Cassell & Co., London, 9 October 1915

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2023
Version Date: 2023-07-20

Produced by Keith Emmett and Roy Glashan

All content added by RGL is proprietary and protected by copyright.

Click here for more books by this author


A Striking Complete Adventure Story Packed with Incident and Plot.

TED CONWAY raised himself cautiously on his elbow and glanced first at the dying embers of the camp fire, then at the dim figures of his two companions who lay near by, wrapped in their blankets.

He listened. From one, the farther of the two, came a deep, grunting snore. The other, however, was so quiet that Ted could not even catch the sound of his breathing.

Softly Ted leaned across and touched the latter on the shoulder. Instantly he sat up.

"What's the matter?" he asked in a somewhat startled tone.

Ted put his fingers to his lips, and, rolling quietly out of his blanket, rose to his feet, he beckoned and the other followed.

Ted led the way to a clump of bush some thirty yards from the fire and slipped behind it. There he stopped.

"What's up, Ted?" asked the other in a puzzled voice.

"I wanted a yarn with you, Ross, and I wanted it out of sight and hearing of that fellow Beale. I tried to get him out of the way after supper, but the brute stuck to me like a shadow, so I had to wait till he was asleep."

"He's that all right, anyhow," replied Ross Tracy. "Confound the chap! He's the noisiest sleeper I ever camped with.

"But what's the matter, Ted?" he continued. "What's the mystery?"

"That's exactly what I'm wondering, old son. There's something wrong, but I'll be hanged if I know exactly what it is."

"Beale, you mean?" inquired Ross, jerking his thumb in the direction of the noisy sleeper.

"Beale, of course. The man's not straight."

"He's a particularly unchoice specimen," replied Ross. "He brags like a pirate; he don't wash; he's got the manners of a Gadarene swine, and he's about the rottenest guide you could go into the woods with. But—straight? Well, I don't know that it ever occurred to me to think whether he was or not."

"Who hired him?"

"I did—worse luck!"

"Ah, but not on your own."

"How d'ye mean?"

"Who told you about him?"

"Why, Mr. Annison, my stepfather."

"Exactly," answered Ted Conway grimly.

Ross Tracy gave a ghost of a whistle.

"Phew! I never thought of that. You mean—?"

"I don't think there's much need for me to explain," said Ted dryly. "You know Annison better than I do, and I don't believe you like him any better. And you know, too, just what Annison stands to win if you should happen to go out."

A horrified expression came upon Ross Tracy's face.

"Heavens, man, he'd never go so far as that!"

Ted shrugged his shoulders.

"What about that fall of rock this afternoon? Was that accidental?"

Ross Tracy went rather white.

"That rock! What! you think that Beale did it?"

"I can't be sure, of course," said Ted gravely. "I could not see Beale at the moment when it fell. He was round the angle of the cliff. But you know yourself that there were no loose stones to speak of on the slope above, and yet if I hadn't happened to see it coming and shouted to you, that rock would have finished you to a certainty."

Ross drew a long breath.

"You're right," he confessed. "It was about as narrow a squeak as ever I had in my life, and it scared the very soul out of me for the moment. All the same, you must remember that Beale apologised pretty thoroughly for his clumsiness."

"What else could he do?" snapped back Ted. "And he'd have apologised still more if it had hit you and knocked you over into the gorge."

There was silence for a few moments. The faces of both the young fellows were grave and anxious.

"What are we going to do then?" said Ross at last. "Give up the trip and get back?"

"No," answered Ted thoughtfully. "That's not my idea. If we told Beale we were going home at once it would only make him suspicions, and very likely drive him to violent measures. And even if we got back all right we'd be just where we started. I mean that Annison would be free to try some fresh game which you might not be able to guard against. My notion is that we should carry on just as usual and not let Beale suspect anything."

"Then he'll be trying the same game again," put in Ross.

"Yes, but now we shall both have our eyes open. 'Forewarned is forearmed,' you know. If we can only catch him trying another of his dirty tricks we've got him where we want him—and Annison, too."

Ross nodded.

"Yes, I rather fancy you're right, Ted. Then we'll carry on as before, but keep our eyes pretty close on the good Beale. Now I guess we'd letter slip back and get our sleep. We don't want the beggar to suspect we've been talking."

Beale was still sound as a log when the pair again reached the fire. A very noisy log, certainly, but so long as the boys were sure he had not observed their conference they did not so much mind his snoring.

Feeling fairly sure that there was nothing to fear from him for the present they rolled up warm in their blankets and were soon asleep.

At breakfast next morning Ted Conway watched the guide carefully, but there was nothing in his manner to show that he had any idea that the boys suspected him.

It was rather the other way. Beale was doing all he knew in his heavy, coarse, way to make himself agreeable. Clearly he was anxious to wipe out the impression of the accident of the previous day.

"Waal, boys," he said, as he rolled up his blankets, "what d'ye reckon to do to-day? I reckon there'd ought to be some big horns up in the hills."

Ted glanced up at the tall peaks to the northward.

"There's been fresh snow the last day or two," he answered. "I fancy we'd better content ourselves with antelope and grouse until that's melted a bit."

"Jest as you say, mister," remarked Beale amiably, as he shouldered his pack. "Then we'll get along up the valley a piece."

The so-called valley was a wild gorge sloping upward through the Iron Mountains. In the centre was a deep canyon through which reared unseen the furious torrent of Trouble River. Broken cliffs hemmed in the valley, and stunted, pines raised their weird, twisted head wherever they could gain a footing in the thin, barren soil.

A cold wind blew down from the tangle of hills to the northward, but the air was fresh and splendid, and the views magnificent. Under any ordinary circumstances Ross and Ted would have enjoyed every minute of the day.

Game was not plentiful; and all they killed during the morning was a brace of grouse, which Ted shot with his rifle, picking each off, sitting, with a bullet through the head.

They stopped for dinner in the shelter of a clump of pines where a spring bubbled up among the rocks. It was just after they started on the afternoon march that Beale, who was a little ahead, suddenly stopped, bent down and examined carefully some marks on the ground.

"Say, boys," he exclaimed, "here's a bit o' luck. Guess I've struck a buffalo track."

"Buffalo up here?" returned Ted in evident surprise. "It's a queer place for buffalo."

"That's so," admitted Beale. "But there ain't no doubt about it. You look at them tracks."

Ted stepped forward and examined the footprints. There was no doubt about it. Beale was right, and they were quite clearly the spoor of a buffalo.

"I reckon it's one o' them wood buffalo," explained Beale. "There's a salt lick up this here valley, and that's what's brought him."

Ted was examining the ground all round. "There's been only one," he said presently. "And the prints are precious big. Must be a lone bull."

"By Jove, that would be worth getting!" put in Ross eagerly. "Sure to have a fine head."

"Yes, the head would be sure to be a good one," agreed Ted; "but you've got to remember, Ross, that, these lone bulls are awkward brutes to tackle. They'll go for you like a thousand of bricks the moment they sight you."

"Waal, you've got your gun, haven't you?" said Beale in a somewhat sneering tone.

"As you say, I've got my gun," returned Ted quietly; "but it takes more than one bullet or two to stop an iron-headed brute like that."

"Waal, if you're skeered we won't say nothin' more about it," said Beale, with an ugly grin. "We'll jest go along an' shoot quails an' grouse."

Ted's eyes flashed, and the colour, rose to his tanned cheeks, but he kept his temper under control.

"What do you say, Ross? Shall we follow the buffalo?"

"Do, old chap," answered Ross eagerly. "I've set my mind on getting a good head."

Ted nodded.

"All right. Come along then."

Beale grinned unpleasantly but said nothing. He walked forward on the trail of the bull.

Ted waited his chance for a word aside with Ross.

"Remember what I told you last night," he whispered. "Keep close to me and don't run any risks."

"I'll look out," Ross answered quietly.

The trail was not easy to follow. There were great patches of bare rock where even the heavy brute's hoofs had left no mark at all. More than once Beale was at fault, and it was Ted who cast ahead and picked up the spoor.

About three o'clock they came to a place where the valley narrowed so that there was only about a couple of hundred yards of level between the edge of the gorge and the cliffs to the left. Here there had been a big rock slide, and most of the level was covered with a mass of loose boulders and broken pine trees torn from their roots by the avalanche.

It was almost impossible to cross this ground, and the party were driven to keep along the comparatively narrow open space between the pile of rocks and the edge of the cliff.

"That there bull ain't a great ways off." remarked Beale, as he bent down to look closely at the tracks.

Ted did not answer. He had known for some time past that they were approaching their quarry. The tracks were quite fresh.

"Keep your eyes open," he whispered to Ross. "The chances are the beast is somewhere among those trees beyond the rock slide. And remember, it's no use shooting at his head. You might as well try to plug a bullet through armour plate. Back of the shoulder is the only place to hit him."

"See here," said Beale suddenly. "I guess we'd best spread out. I'll take the inside place along by the cliff. Mister Conway, you git on the outside, an' Mister Tracy kin take the middle."

Ted gave the man a quick glance. Inwardly he was wondering whether he was planning any treachery. But the middle place which Beale had suggested for Ross Tracy was probably the safest. He would have plenty of cover in case he came unexpectedly on the big bull. As a matter of fact, his own position on the edge of the gorge was really the most dangerous.

He nodded.

"Right you are," he said shortly. He turned to Ross.

"Don't shoot unless you get a real chance," he said warningly. Then he moved to his proper position.

At a signal from Beale all three began to move forward. They went very cautiously. Ted's heart was beating rather more rapidly than usual. He was no tenderfoot, but had done a good deal of shooting in the mountains, and knew very well the risk they were running.

A solitary bull is usually a rogue, an elderly, ill-tempered brute that has been driven out of the herd, and that bears a grudge against all other living things. Invariably it attacks on sight, and its only purpose is to kill as quickly as possible.

Ted was careful to keep well in from the edge of the canyon, and as close to Ross as he possibly could. Ross, a year younger than he, had had very little experience of the hills. He had any amount of pluck, but Ted was not at all so sure whether he had discretion to match.

The wind had fallen and the air was very still. The only sounds that Ted could hear were the murmur of the river in the chasm to his right, and now and then the snap of a twig or the rattle of gravel under the feet of Beale or Ross.

Ross he could see most of the time, but Beale only now and then through rifts between the red pine stems.

The trees began to thin. Both the others were now in view, but there was no sign of the buffalo. He began to think that the beast had passed on, and he was not sorry; it was a precious awkward place to tackle such a brute.

Just as he had arrived at this comforting conclusion a heavy crash made him start. He pulled up short, and at that moment a great black-maned brute came charging like a thunderbolt out from behind a pile of rocks which lay close under the cliff to his left.

He saw Beale stop and hastily take cover behind a big boulder. Next moment his rifle cracked; the buffalo stopped short, and, bellowing fearfully, began to paw the ground.

"The fool!" cried Ted aloud. "The ever-lasting fool! Why didn't he wait?" For he saw that Beale had fired at such range that the chances were a hundred to one again his doing more than wound the monster.

Ross sprang forward eagerly and raised his rifle. But he was sixty yards from the bull.

"Wait!" shouted Ted. "Wait! Don't shoot!"

But the mischief was done. The bull had seen Ross. It lowered its huge, shaggy head and went straight at the youngster as hard as it could gallop. The very earth seemed to shake under the rush of its pounding hoofs. The pace at which it came was astonishing for so bulky a brute.

Ted rushed towards Ross. Quite what he meant to do he hardly knew. His one idea was to save his chum.

Ross meanwhile had raised his rifle. Either he had not heard Ted's warning shout, or, in his excitement, had not noticed it.

Just as Ted reached him he blazed away.

The bull was coming straight for him. Whether he hit or not hardly signified. A buffalo's head is thick enough to turn any ordinary bullet. At any rate, it never stopped for even a fraction of a second.

"Get back, Ross! Get back!" yelled Ted frantically. This time Ross heard, behind the trunk of a small pine.

Ted flung up his rifle, but in a flash saw that any attempt to shoot was worse than useless. He looked round for cover, but there was none except the tree behind which Ross was standing.

The buffalo had swerved slightly and was making straight for the tree. Apparently it had not seen Ted at all.

There was no time for Ted to do anything more. Next instant the ton of charging bone and muscle struck the tree, and so tremendous was the force of the impact that the pine, lightly rooted in the thin, rocky soil, went down like a ninepin. Ross was flung sideways, and lay, apparently stunned, on the bare ground a little to Ted's right of the fallen tree.

Ted looked to see the buffalo dazed or, at any rate, shaken as the result, of its terrific charge. But not a bit of it. The giant brute hardly seemed to have felt the crash. The force of its rush had carried it some little distance beyond the broken tree, but finding it had missed its quarry, it wheeled and came back.

Ross lay in full view before its flashing fiery red eyes. There did not seem to be one chance in a million left for his life.

Nor would there have been but for Ted. In a flash Ted realised that the one and only hope for Ross lay in drawing off the brute, and without a moment's hesitation he dashed forward, yelling and waving his arms.

It was enough. Round came the bull, and Ted just caught the glint in its savage eyes and the curve of its sharply pointed horns as he turned, and, flinging his rifle strap over his shoulder, sped away for his life.

For the moment he hardly knew where he was going. When he realised his direction he found himself out on the open ground near the edge of the ravine. The great bull was thundering at his heels and gaining at every yard.

Ted glanced back, saw that it was only a matter of a few seconds before he must be overtaken and gored and trampled to death. He cast a despairing glance around for cover, but saw none which he could reach in time to escape those pounding hoofs.

But stay! There was a tree—a solitary pine standing on the extreme edge of the ravine. It was only thirty yards away. It was a wretched slender thing, but still a bit thicker than the one that the bull had already bowled over. There was just a chance it might stand the brute's charge.

Anyhow, it was the only chance, and spurting with all his might Ted made for it.

He heard the thunder of the monster's hoofs close at his heels, then with a last desperate effort reached the tree.

Before him the ground broke away into the vast depths of the great canyon. At the pace at which he was going he could not stop himself. His one chance of doing so seemed to be to fling his arms around the trunk, yet if he did so he knew that next instant he would be crushed flat as a pancake between it and the shaggy forehead of the great bull.

One branch—one only was within reach. It was terribly slender and did not look as though it would bear his weight. But there was no choice. He flung up his hands, gripped it and swung round, poised high above the fearful gulf.

He was still in midair when the bull, missing the trunk by a matter of inches, crashed past almost underneath his swinging legs. Ted caught a glimpse of its vast black bulk, and heard the rattle of the flying gravel under its feet.


He was still in midair when the bull, missing the trunk by a matter
of inches, crashed past almost underneath his swinging legs...

With amazing suddenness the sound ceased, and Ted, reaching firm ground again in safety on the far side of the tree, stared dazedly at empty space.

The bull was gone.

From far below came up a crash—a thud. It was not until the sound reached his ears that Ted realised the truth. The great buffalo, unable to check itself, had dashed straight over the verge and been smashed to pulp on the rocks five hundred feet below.

Ted wasted no time in looking out for the remains. He turned and ran towards Ross. Much to his relief he saw that the latter was sitting up mopping the blood from a nasty cut over the ear.

"Are you much hurt, Ross?" asked Ted anxiously.

"No. Thanks to you, old man, I've got off cheap. A few bruises and this bit of a cut. I say, that was smart of you! I saw the brute go over."

"It was sheer luck," returned Ted. "No one was more surprised than I when I found the beggar gone."

"Except the buffalo," said Ross with a crooked grin.

But Ted did not smile. He was looking over towards the cliff, and his face was very grim.

"Where's Beale?" he demanded.

"Bless you, I hadn't given him a thought," answered Ross. "He's probably scrimshanking under a rock somewhere."

"Don't you realise that it was he who let us in for the whole thing?" said Ted.

"I don't believe I had realised it," Ross replied, as he scrambled to his feet.

"He did. It was all his fault, and if I'm not very much out of it he did it on purpose."

"The mischief, he did?"

"Yes. I saw him deliberately fire at the buffalo before it was within sixty yards of him, and then bolt to cover without trying another shot. He must have known perfectly well that he was only stirring the brute up to charge at you."

"I knew he had a shot, but I never even saw him. My eyes were on the bull."

"As I tell you," said Ted, "he was all of sixty yards away. It was simply a deliberate attempt to murder you."

Ross's face changed.

"I believe you're right, Ted. But what are we going to do?"

"Tackle him, of course."

"All right. I'll come with you. It's about time we put a stopper on the swab."

They walked quickly back towards the spot where Ted had last seen Beale, but there was no sign of him there, and they stood looking round.

Ross suddenly laid his hand on Ted's arm.

"There he is! Look—right up on the cliff!" Sure enough there was their precious guide high on a narrow ledge, thirty or forty feet up the cliff. It was a very narrow ledge, and the man was holding on with both hands.

"Jove, I believe he's stuck! I don't believe he can get down," said Ted suddenly.

"Beale!" he shouted. Beale had his face to the cliff. He turned his head slowly, and there was no doubt about the terror printed on his hangdog features.

"What do you think you're doing up there?" demanded Ted sarcastically.

"I—I can't get down," was the terrified answer.

Ross chuckled softly.

"Strikes me we've got him on toast," he said.

Ted nodded.

"What did you get up there for?" he asked Beale.

"That there gol-durned brute was arter me," whined Beale.

"Rot! You took jolly good care that it took after Tracy, and not yourself."

"I didn't do no such thing. I tried to shoot it."

"That's a lie," retorted Ted uncompromisingly. "You fired before it was within sixty yards of you, and knew perfectly well you had no earthly chance of killing it at that distance."

"You haven't got no right to talk that way, Mister Conway," Beale answered feebly. "You gimme a hand down out o' this and I'll tell ye all about it."

"Yes, you'll tell us," retorted Ted. "But you don't come down until you do."

The look of dismay on Beale's face almost made Ross laugh. But Ted showed no sign of amusement.

"You hear?" he said. "We mean it."

"I ain't got nothing to tell," whined Beale. "Think again," said Ted coldly. "Ross, sit down and let me tie up that cut. That will give Beale time to consider."

Beale made a desperate effort to escape from his ledge. But in his panic-stricken scramble he had managed to kick away the foothold just beneath him. He was quite helpless, and the only result of his trouble was that he slipped, and barely managed to haul himself back to his original perch, where he clung shivering with terror.

"You'll break your neck if you aren't careful," remarked Ted.

"What you want me to tell ye?" groaned Beale.

"Simply the reason why you have made two attempts to kill Mr. Tracy."

"Kill him! I wouldn't think o' no such thing."

Ted made no reply. He went on quietly bandaging Ross's head.

"For any sake gimme a hand!" screamed Beale. "My head's a-going. I'll fall!"

"Then you will most certainly break your neck," answered Ted, without so much as glancing at the man.

Beale broke into wild entreaties for help. Ted paid no attention.

"I'll tell—I'll tell!" yelled Beale at last. "Help me down and I'll tell ye it all."

"Tell first, then I'll help you," said Ted, as he began coolly clambering up the face of the cliff. He reached a broader ledge just above Beale and waited there.

"Out with it," he said. "How much did Annison promise you for the job?"

Beale's face, as he lifted it to Ted, was white and desperate. His nerve was gone. His fingers dug claw-like into the loose shale a foot below Ted's perch.

"How much was it?" repeated Ted sternly.

"Five hundred dollars," Beale answered. "He give me fifty first and promised the rest when the job was done."

"Ah, now we're getting at it. You hear, Ross?"

"I hear," came Ross's voice from below. "Then write it out on a slip from your pocket-book and come up here with it."

"Ain't you going to help me?" begged Beale.

"All in good time," answered Ted, as he uncoiled a piece of rope which he had slung on his back. He made a loop and dropped it cleverly over Beale's body.

"There, that'll keep you from falling," he continued. "But I don't haul you up until you sign this little document."

In a minute or two Ross arrived safely alongside Ted, and the slip of paper and a pencil were handed down to Beale.

"Sign it," ordered Ted. "Then you can come up."

"How do I know you won't set the law on me?" asked Beale suspiciously.

"Because you aren't worth it," returned Ted. "This is meant for Annison's benefit, not for you!"

"You swear it?"

"Yes," answered Ted impatiently. "Now sign."

He watched Beale scrawl his signature with trembling fingers, then he and Ross put their weight on the rope and hauled him up.

Beale dropped on the broad ledge panting and helpless. They had to dose him with brandy before he could stand or climb down.

Arrived at the bottom again Ted turned to Beale.

"Get on up the pass," he said. "You can take all the grub you want, but not your gun. Now git, and don't you ever let us set eyes on you again, or it'll be the worse for you."

The man, thoroughly cowed, obeyed. They watched him out of sight, then Ted turned to his chum.

"Now I think we'll take the home trail," he said with a quiet smile. "I'm rather looking forward to a little interview with your stepfather, Ross."


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.