The Choteau Montanan (Choteau, Mont.) 1913-1925, April 13, 1923, Image 2

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Allan Dunn A BENCH WARRANT SYNOPSIS.—To the Three-Bar ranch, Arizona, owned Jointly by Sandy Bourke, “ Mormon” Petera and “ Soda-Water Sam\ Manning, a fine collie makes its way, In the last stages of exhaustion. Inscrip­ tion on Its collar says its name is Grit, “ property of P. Casey.\ Scenting a desert tragedy, Bourke and Sam mount and let the dog lead them. The two And a dying man, Patrick Casey, pinned under an overturned wagon. Kneeling beside the wagon is hl3 young daughter Molly, fifteen. They ex­ tricate tho old prospector, who dies repeating “ Molly—mines!\ “I’ll look out for that, pardner,\ says Sandy. It Is agreed that Molly stays as mascot of the ranch, she and the “ Three Musketeers” be­ coming partners In the mines. Sandy Insists upon an education for Molly. Jim PUmsoll, gambler, visiting the ranch, Insults Molly. He claims lie grubstaked Casey, which made him the old man’s partner. Mormon drives him off. Starting with a gold eagle, Molly's luck piece, Sandy, with Sam, plays faro at Plimsoll’s place, winning Sib,000. it Is arranged that Molly shall go Fast to be “ eddicated.\^ A neighbor Miranda Bailey, warns the ranchers that Jim PUmsoll, as Patrick Cagey's \partner claims guardiansli|p of Molly, and the au­ thorities sti nd in with him. Sandy determines to take the girl to New Mexico, to an old friend, Barbara Redding, for advice. CHAPTER VI—Continued. —6— Molly came out on the porch carry­ ing a small grip packed with lier few belongings, Grit beside her. Sandy nodded to her, busy giving instruc­ tions to two riders. Mormon and Sam wnved and she went over to them, swinging up to the rail beside them. “Jim,\ said Sandy, “I want you should ride out to'ards Hereford an’ hide cut atop of Bald butte. You don’t need to stay there any later than noon. Take a flnsli-glass with you. If any of the sheriffs crowd conies erlong, anyone who looks like he might he servin’ papers, sahe, you flash a message. Make it a five-flash fo’ anything suspicious, a three-flush fo’ anyone shackin’ this way, even if you flgger they’re plumb harmless.\ “Seguro, Miguel.\ With the slang phrase, Jim, an upsiai-fllng young chap, despite Ills horse-bowed legs, walked over to the bunk house for flush-mirror and gun, Came back to Ills already caught-up and saddled horse, and went streaming off for the Bald butte in a cloud of dust. Sandy called to Buck Perches, oldest of Ills riders, whose exposed skin matched the leather nt Ills »addle. “Buck, of any visitors arrives whii» we’re gone, you entertain ’em ea-JOe ns I w’ud. I w’udn’t be sur­ prised but wlmt Jim PUmsoll ’ud be moseyin’ erlong, with Sheriff Jordan an’ mebbe one or two mo’. Mo’ the merrier. They’ll he lookin’ fo’ me an’ Miss Molly with some readin' matter that’s got a seal to the bottom of it. We won’t be to home. You’ll be the only one to home 'cept Pedro an’ Joe. They’ve got their Instructions to know nothin’. You—you’ve stayed to the ranch to do some flxin’ of yore saddle. Started, but come buck when yore cinch bu'sted. Snhe? All the rest of the riders Is on the range 'tendin’ business. When they left, an’ when you left with 'em, me an’ Mormon an’ Sam, with Miss Molly, was all here. So you supposed. Don’t let ’em think yo’re planted to feed ’em infc’nmtion. fJp to you. Buck, to act nateherul.” ‘TU sure do that. I sahe the play.” “Thpn we’ll light out soon’s we’re packed. Got yore war-bag, Molly?’’ “I haven’t said good-by to Dad, or Grit,\ she said. Sandy nodded. “Reckon you’d like to do that alone. Suppose you take Grit with you to the spring an’ then leave him up in yore room.” \He knows I’m goin’. I told him fast night, but he knew it ’thout that.” Molly spoke in a monotone. She was pale and her eyes showed lack of sleep, but she had fought the thing out with herself and she was going to be game. She gave Sandy her grip and walked off toward the cotton­ woods. Grit nosed along In her shadow, his muzzle touching her skirt. It was still cool, the dust rose about them in eddies ns the three Musketeers and Molly crossed the slowly descend­ ing slope of the sink that presently mounted again toward the far-off range. Either Mormon or Sam sat always with neck twisted, watching for a flash-signal from the hurte. Some­ times Molly relieved them as lookout, but hour after hour passed without sign. Close to noon they reached a water­ ing hole, with wnter none too cool or sweet, hut still welcome. There the buckskins were unhitched, rubbed iown and, after they bad cooled off, given wnter and grain. As they ate cactus, Sandy suddenly gave a grunt if satisfaction, pointing with out­ stretched forefinger to the butte. Five flashes had flickered up. They were repeated. Jim bad signaled a suspi­ cious party on their way to Three Star. The sheriff was out with his papers. '\We got five hours’ staht,\ snld Sandy. “Made close to thirty mile’, l’hey’ve got thirty-five to make. Take em mo’n two hours, countin’ ques- •ions with Buck. Good enough. See «nythlng of the hoys. Sam? They .•tight to be showin' up. I told ’em toon.\ \On Mine,\ announced Sam. The vi ----------------------------------------- — _______ two riders who had last talked with Sandy rode out of a straggling thicket of cactus and skirted the lava flow. Each led a spare horse, unsaddled. CHAPTER VII Bolsa Gap. Sheriff Jordan hnd a high-powered car purchased, not so much from the fees of his office as with his perqul- ' sites, a word covering a wide range of possibilities, all of which the sher­ iff made the most of. He had taken up his brother-in-law’s grievance with the greater zest since he had a hulf- interest in Flimsoll’s Good Luck pool parlors, a share that had cost him good money. On top of that had come Sandy’s flouting of him on the bridge in front of the sheriff’s own followers. He had to save his face, politically as well as personally. Armed with the necessary warrant, backed by an assurance that, unless some extraordinary howl went up, the girl would be given Into the custody of Jim PUmsoll as guardian, by virtue of his claim to partnership with her father, the sheriff, PUmsoll and two others, all three deputized for the oc­ casion. stnrted the car from Hereford at a quarter of twelve, after an early lunch. At a few minutes after twelve they reached Three Star, where Buck, seated on the porch, his saddle astride a sawhorse, stitched away at a cinch. Buck played his part well, allowing Jordan to ferret out Information to Ids own satisfaction. It appeared plain that all three partners had taken flight with the girl in the buckboard. “Someone tipped this thing off.” Jordan said sternly to Buck. “Who was it?\ “Meanin’ this visit’s offishul?\ asked Buck. “ What’s it fo’, Sheriff? Moon­ shine or hawss stealin’?\ He spoke in a jesting note, his weathered face impassive as the shell of a walnut, but PUmsoll scowled, noting the turn of Buck’s bland countenance In his direction for the first time. It was whispered that the brands on Pllm- soll's horse ranch were not those usu­ ally known in the county, nor even in the counties adjoining. There were rumors, smothered by Plimsoll’s stand with the authorities, of bands of horses, driven by strangers, arriving wearied—and always by night—at his corrals. “It don’t matter—to you—what It's for,” answered Jordan. “I'll overhaul ’em an’ bring ’em back. Ef they try hide-out tactics or put up a scrap, it’ll be kidnapin’ an’ that’s a penal of­ fense.\ Buck whistled. \Thought you wasn't goin’ to let me know,\ he said. “It’s the gel.\ “Who’s been here to tip It off?\ asked Jordan. Buck looked nt him serenely, took a plug of chewing from his pocket, took his knife, opened it deliberately and slowly cut off a corner of the tobacco. “Search me,” he drawled. “Me, I don’t stay up to the house.\ Jordan, temporarily discomfited but still confident of bringing hack his quarry, marked the trail of the buck- hoard in the alkali soil, noted the hoof-prints of the diverging riders and nodded with the semi-smile and half- closed eyes of conscious superiority, lie had already elicited apparently reluctnnt information from Pedro as to the four passengers In the buck- board. “You 'tendin’ ranch?” Jordan asked Buck. “Yep. Till I get fresh orders.” “I'll bring you back those orders, also yore bosses, before sundown.” Buck permitted himself his first grin. “You’ll have to go some,” he said. “Goin’ to bring ’em back In irons? Flggerin’ on abduction?\ Jordan gave no hint of how Buck’s shaft might hav« targeted his Inten- But Hour After Hour Passed Witl*>ut Sign.N tlons, but climbed into the car and started 1L Reaching the lava strip where the buckboard had halted for water and the'noon meal, they found the trail skirting the flow toward the south. The main mass of the mesa, broken up Into gorges, gaps, stair­ way cliffs, marked by purple shad­ ows, scanty In the early afternoon but gradually widening, was about fifty miles away. Jordan turned to one 6f his deputies. \Which way do you flgger they’» headin’, Phil?” he asked. “Is thre a cut or a pass 'through the mesa i “Dam’flno. One thing’s sure an cer­ tain. Them fellers from the three Star usually know where th <r arn headin’. Trail’s plain.\ \Sure Is.\ But Jordan scotched his head a trifle doubtfully. InSandy Bourke and his chums had beei/tipped off, this trail was a littl* too /lain to be true: I “They're on about us gettin/the pa­ pers,” said Plimsoll. He badnot said much on the trip so far. \Tpo much talk nowadays. Bourke sates that getting tile girl out of til county won’t do any good; he alms p get her out of the state and any Aribna court or sheriff Jurisdiction. He’s (he brains of the outfit. We’ve got tj get her, s Jordan.\ J j “You ain’t tellln’ me a tlmg I don’t know, Jim. But there’s on J thing you can tell me. Is that tip yoj got about Dynamite a sure one?” I PUmsoll, sitting beside Jordan, flashed him a look of contempt. “Do you think I’m chnsng tills girl because I’m stuck on her? One of the party with this eajtern crowd dropped into my place ¡anil talked. Here is where I get bac ( the money I put up to grubstake C*sey.\ Jordan gave him a grij of derision. “You an’ yore grubstaki,” he jeered. PUmsoll said nothing more. “No shootin’ in this ^leal,” Jordan warned. \Come to a showdown, Bourke won’t buck theflaw soon’s we .show papers. So long’/ he ain't been notified the court Is bakin’ a ward of the girl they ain j done nothin’ wrong. But—if he resists, that’s dif­ ferent.” I “1 ain’t goin’ to be awful anxious to start shootin’,” said Jim. “ Sandy Bourke’s a two-handed lead flinger an’ Soda-Water Sam’s no slouch. Nei- ther's Mormon. Me, I’ll be peaceable ’less it’s forced on me otherwise.” They entered the split in the mesa. The floor was fairly smooth, swept clean by occasional cloudbursts, save for the skeleton of a tree and another of a too-far wandering steer, both blunclied white as the alkali-crusted bowlders. It was nearly level going and the car pounded along, all the oc­ cupants looking for trail sign. “Keep an eye peeled for rain,” said Jordan. “I’d sure bate to get caught in here with a cloudburst.” Ahead was an abrupt turn. Jordan slowed. Making the curve, a fence stretched across the gorge, x-eaching from wall to wall, a four-strand bar­ rier of barbed-wire, strung on patent steel posts. Jordan braked with emer­ gency. The sight of such a fence in such a place was as unexpected as the sun-dried carcass of a steer would be on Broadway. Pli/msnll and Jordan cursed, the former in pure anger, the latter with some appreciation of the stratagem for delay. “We can tear it down qulcker’n they fixed it,” he said. “I’ve got a pair of nippers In the tool kit. They can’t have driven In those posts deep. Come on.” A voice floated down to them. “You leave that fence alone, gen|s, if you please. I went to a heap of trouble puttin’ up that fence. It’s my fence.” They looked fcp, to see Mormon seated on the top of a great bowlder that had land-slipped from the cliff into the gorge. From thirty feet above them he looked clown, amiably enough, though there was a g*.Int of blued In his right hand. Jordan advanced to the foot of the rock, producing his papers. \I have a bench warrant here to bring Into court for the appointment of a proper guardian, the child Molly Casey, she being a minor and without natural or legal protectors. I’ve got yore name on these papers, Mormon Peters, ns one of the three parties with whom the girl Is now domiciled. I warn you that you are obstructing the process of the law by yore actions. You put up that gun an’ come down here an’ help to pull down this fence, Illegally erected on property not yore own. Otherwise you’re subject to arrest.\ “That Is sure an awful long speech fo’ a hot day,\ said Mormon equably. “But I don’t sabe that talk at all. Molly Casey ain’t here, to begin with. Nor she ain’t been here. An’ I don’t sabe no obstruction of the law by settin’ up a fence in a mesa canyon to round up broom-tails.\ One of the deputies snickered. “Broom-tails?” cried Jordan. “That’s too thin. There’s no mustangs hnngin’ round a mesa like this, ’thout feed or water.’’ I - I e flushed angrily. “You never kin tell about wild hawses, or even branded ones,\ said Mormon pleasantly. “Ask Plimsoll. He picks ’em up in all sorts of places.\ Plimsoll cursed. Mormon still held his gun conspicuously, and he re­ strained Ills own Impulse to draw. “You come down an’ help remove this fence,” Jordan shouted up at the smiling Mormon, “or I’ll start some­ thing. It ain’t on yore property and It’s hindering the carrying out of my warrant.\ “It ain’t on a public highway nei­ ther,\ retorted Mormon. “But I’ll come down. Don’t go to clippln' those wires an’ destroyin’ what Is my prop­ erty.” He slid down the rock and commenced to unbend the metal straps that held the wire In place. Jordan and one of his men followed suit with pliers from the motor kit. The job took several minutes. “You’ll come along with us.\ said Jordan. “Ytfu lied about the girl cornin' this way. I’ve a notion to take you In for that. But I reckon you can go back In the buckboard with yore partners.\ “Reckon I’ll travel In the buck- board, when yon catch up with It,” said Mormon. “But I'll come erlong with you fo’ a spell—of my own free will. I don't see no harm In taWaf the gel visitin’, anyway,” he conclud­ ed as he took an extra seat In the ton­ neau. Jordan made no answer but started the engine. The way zigzagged for half a mile and then they came to a second fence. No buckboard was In sight. Leaning against a post stood, Soda-Water Sam, smoking a cigarette, his gun holster hitched forward, the butt of the weapon close to one hand. Jordan and his men leaped out as the car stopped, Mormon following more slowly. “Afternoon, homhres all,” said Sam. \Joy-ridin’?\ Jordan wasted no more explana­ tions. “You take down this fence,\ he fairly shouted. “What fo’?\ “Ask yore partner.\ “Sheriff claims we’re cumberin’ tho landscape with our li'I corral, Sam,\ said Mormon. \He’s got a paper that gives him right of way, he says. Seen anything of Molly Casey?” “Not for quite a spell. Go easy with them wires, Sheriff. Price of wire’s riz considerable.” The second barrier down and the car through, Jordan ordered Sam to get in the car. “Jump, or I’ll put the cuffs on you,” be said. “Not this trip,\ replied Sam coolly. “No sense in my climbin’ In there. Me Jordan Advanced to th« Foot of the Wock, Producing HI* Papers. an’ Mormon’s through with our H’J job. We’ll go back in tbu buckboard. It's round the bend. I was jest goin’ to hitch up.” “Yo’re sure goin’ to have trouble turnin’ yore car right here,\ Sam went on imperturbably. “Kind of mean to back down, too. It’s worse higher up. Mutter of fac’ the gap peters out jest round the turn. Look for yo’self, if you don’t believe me.\ Jordan and Plimsoll strode on up the pitch. Mormon followed, Sam stayed with the two deputies. Around the bend stood the buckboard with the buckskins In a patch of shadow under a scoop in the ending wall that turned the so-called pass to a box canyon. “I told you the gel warn’t erlong,\ said Mormon. “ She and Sandy was with us fo’ a spell. But they’re goin’ visitin’ an’ they shifted to saddle way hack, out there by the spring beside the lava strip.\ Mormon’s blund smile masked a sterner Intent than showed In his eyes. Jordan, furious at being out­ witted, dared not provoke open com­ bat. Mormon hitched up the buck­ skins, but followed the sheriff and the scowling, silent Plimsoll back to the car. “ See that notch, way over to the no’th?” said Mormon, bent on exploit­ ing the situation to the full. “I reckon Sandy and the gel’s shackin’ through there about now. Hawss trail only. ’Fruld you won’t catch him, Sheriff. They aim to ketch the seven o’clock train at Caroca. It’s the on’y pass over the mesa. If Sandy had knowed you wanted him he might have waited. Why didn’t you phone? Ninety mile’ around the mesa, nearest way, an’ it must be all of five o’clock now, by the sun.” “Catch the seven o’clock train at Caroca?” said Jordan. “Thanks for the information, Mormon. That schedule was changed last week when they pulled off two trains on the main line. The train leaves at nine-thirty, an’, if I can’t make ninety miles In four hours an’ a half, I’ll make you a present of my car. Stand back, both of you. No monkey business with my tires. Cover ’em, boys. The law’s on my side, you two gabbing word-shooters.\ He handled the car wonderfully, backing and turning her, and, while Mormon and Sam stood powerless, th* former crestfallen, the latter sardon­ ically gazing at his partner, the ma­ chine went tilting, snorting down the gorge. “You sure spilled the beans, Mor­ mon,” said Sam finally. “M have thought them three wives of yores ’ud have taught you the vally of silence.” “I ain’t got a d—d word to say, Sam. But I’d be obliged If you’d kick me—good. Use yore heels, I see you got yore spurs on.” \I'm plumb shamed of myself. Jest like a d—d gel to act that way.\ (TO BH CONTINUED.) S S T h e G reat A m e rican Sweetm eat provides pleasant action lo r your teeth, also penetrating the crevices and cleansing them. Then, too. It aids digestion. 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The Choteau Montanan (Choteau, Mont.), 13 April 1923, located at <>, image provided by MONTANA NEWSPAPERS, Montana Historical Society, Helena, Montana.