"This trail is lovely," she murmured,
her touch of irritation all gone, "but does
it lead anywhere?"
"Sure ! " It must !" he twinkled, sitting
sidewise that he might 'see her. "I'm
playing child-fashion that we are rid-
ing forth in search of adventure, seeking
our fortunes. We'll wind up at some rob-
ber's roost, or, perhaps, a giant's cave.
Really, there is a sort of tunnel up this
way, and the hotel people think that Red
Pete may be hiding there."
"Red 'Pete, who robbed the stage?"
"Right down yonder at the bridge." ^ He
pointed with his whip down the path they
had come. "Are you frightened? Want
to go back? * * * Well, the sheriff look-
ing for him passed this tunnel by, saying
very justly that a man couldn't be in-
side with the door padlocked on the out-
side. Huh !" He turned back in his sad-
dle. "Red Pete was probably far across
the line at that very minute."
Vivian murmured agreement, but as
Van Home faced about, she thrust her
hand into the breast of her jacket, making
sure that a small, hard bulk that filled the
inner pocket was still there.
"I used to come up here when I was a
boy," resumed her escort. "My uncle
owns land in the neighborhood; he rents
it now for a stock range."
"Pity he didn't give you some!"
"Pity if he did ! What could I do with
it? Dry pasture for a man who owns no
stock! No, I want no favors from my
"You are so independent!" sighed Viv-
"I couldn't be otherwise. I had neither
the money nor experience to re-establish
my father's business after the great fire;
but I should be unworthy of his name if
I allowed a relative to support my
"But poverty is dreadful. Of course,
I know nothing about it by experience 1
"And may you never!" broke in the
young man, emphatically. "My knowing
about minerals and getting work in Howi-
son's Assaying Office enables me to fend
off its horrors from mother. It was lucky,
too, I got this vacation, just when she
wanted to come up here; I don't like her
to miss either comfort or companionship.
* * * I tell you this," his serious face
brightened into a teasing smile, "because
I know you think I followed you."
"Why!" she began chidingly.
"Oh, I don't mind," he brazened. "I
do follow you a lot, since uncle introduced
to your chaperon on Goat Island that
time Admiral Evans was trailing his
fleet around San Francisco Bay. It's got
to be a habit with me. But truly, I didn't
know until I came that you were up here.
It was a delightful surprise, though I
know you treat me so kindly because there
is no hope."
Miss Evarts drew a quick breath.
"This road is getting wilder and lone-
lier every minute."
Van Home nodded, and they rode on
A little later, still in the lead, he urged
his reluctant horse up the yellow platform
of rock and clay dumpings in front of the
tunnel he had spoken of. He noticed the
cavernous entrance, the iron doors hang-
ing wide, and the next instant a burly,
rough looking man sprang out and leveled
a six-shooter at his heart. A warning,
backward glance at Vivian Eyarts was
without avail; she turned deathly pale,
but urged her horse forward and drew
rein beside her escort.
At sight of her the outlaw's tense face
relaxed, his left hand fumbled his short,
"I see this hain't no posse," he smirked,
"but you kin put up yer hands, anyhow."
"We are not armed," replied Van Home
obeying; "you can make sure by searching
"Kee-reet !" The outlaw passed ex-
ploring hands over the young man's body,
grunted and stepped back, his nonchalant
gesture excusing the young woman from
any such ordeal.
ff We are absolutely harmless," Van
"But your tongues might not be! Git
down off them nags !"
"Certainly." The young man dropped
lightly to the ground and assisted his
trembling companion to dismount.
"Take off the lady's saddle and put it
in the tunnel!"
The order was obeyed.
"I'll use the critters," explained the
outlaw. "You've made it necessary for
me to mosey along, and you've furnished
transportation. But you'll have to stay
in the tunnel. I'm sorry; mebbe I'll
write a letter to the sheriff tellin' him
where to find you."
"But look here "
"No chin-music, young man! They's
candles an' purwisions in the a-partment;
go right in an' take your girl onless you
want me to. But don't " a threaten-
ing scowl knotted the shaggy eyebrows
"don't ye dare go wanderin' in the back
part. Thar's danger thar. It caves."
Van Home hesitated a tense half min-
ute, then took Vivian's hand and led her
into the tunnel. A croaked "Be happy!
With my blessing!" followed them. The
iron doors swung shut, there was a grind-
ing of hasp, a click of padlock and im-
mediately after the crunch of hoofs upon
the rocks. The outlaw had gone.
By the wan light of a candle set on a
ledge, the two prisoners regarded each
other gloomily through the smoky air;
then the sheepish air of defeat in the
man's face melted to tenderness, through
which shone a twinkle of eye and quirk of
"That's certainly Eed Pete," he said,
moving the candle about, so that, by turns,
a smouldering heap of ashes, a dingy blan-
ket thrown over a pile of pine branches,
and the meagre store of "purwishuns"-
a sliver or two of bacon and a loaf of
bread emerged from the gloom. "And
this is his den."
Vivian shuddered and sat down on her
saddle; the young man hung about her
"I'll never forgive myself for bringing
you up this lonely trail," he gloomed, "but
I was so anxious to show you Ob,
well," he broke off, "it will be only the
matter of a few -hours. Our mothers will
miss us at dinner; they'll telephone up
and down the line, then a searching party
will come, hear us yell 'Help ! Help !'
and triumphantly rescue us."
"My poor mother!" wailed Vivian.
"Miss Evarts! Please don't cry! A
man at that farm below saw us leave the
main road by this trail we'll surely be
fourd soon. I'm sure of it."
A stifled sob was his only answer. He
stood thoughtful for a little space, then
turned the candle-light upon the lock
and hinges of the iron doors, tested their
strength with his strong young muscles.
"You'll only hurt yourself," disap-
proved the girl between two despairing
"I might dig out around those hinges,
A BAD MAN'S BLESSING.
if I had a pick I'll go look for one," he
"Not without me !" Vivian jumped up,
wiping away her tears. "It's dangerous,
he said so."
"More reason for you to stay here."
"Well I won't not for a single mo-
"All right; I won't ask you to." He
lighted a second candle and put it in her
hand. Then slowly, Van Home, at every
step scrutinizing the roof and walls, they
moved toward the rear of the tunnel. A
narrow path of boards enabled them to
step dryshod over the trickling rills of
water that farther along seeped from both
sides of the excavation. They walked for
a while in silence, but presently the young
"Look !" he exclaimed joyously. "Look
at those streaks, yellow, red, green all
sorts!" He whistled softly. "The men
who abandoned this tunnel were certainly
not experts. See, Miss Evarts, country
rock on one side and mineralized on the
other. It didn't show color when first ex-
posed, so they overlooked it. This is the
most interesting thing. Don't be alarmed,
it can't cave."
"Are you sure?" Vivian asked, miser-
He did not seem to hear. "Ah, green
ooze!" he went on excitedly; "that indi-
cates copper, and all copper carries gold."
He moved his light to and fro along the
walls as he hurried on. "Marvelous ! As-
tounding ! Surely there was never an ex-
pert in this hole or the world would have
heard of it. Ah, it's dry underfoot now;
we must be going up an incline. Hello!
What's this !"
They had come now to, a widened space
from which narrow passages started in
every direction, the main tunnel turning
at an angle. Van Home stood still,
e< Wait here while I dodge into these
alleys you're perfectly safe." His words
trailed back; he disappeared before she
fairly realized that he was gone; but he
quickly returned, reporting no discoveries.
It was the same with two of the other pas-
sages. Finally, he plunged into what
seemed the largest of all. At first he
shouted back, continually, reassuring
words; but soon his voice grew fainter,
ceased altogether. The girl was chilled
with dread, but dared not follow.
"Mr. Van Home! Mr. Van Home!
Ger-r-ald!" she called wildly; but no an-
swer came. Again she screamed and
again; at last heard a faint reply, then
came a cheerful "Yo-ho-ho !" and the
sound of quick returning footsteps.
"Frightened?" he queried with brisk
casualness. "I've found a pick, I thought
I should. Step aside, please."
He put his candle down, and with fever-
ish energy drove the heavy tool at the
rocky wall; plied it until his breathing
grew noisy, and the veins swelled on his
moist, reddened temples. Vivian eyed him
half timorous, half indignant.
"They struck a ribbon of quartz," he
panted, resting from his labor, "and fol-
lowed it off to grass roots. Missed the
main ore body right here."
Once more he fell furiously to work.
The girl retreated farther from the flying
splinters of rock, and winked to keep back
the gathering tears; she had supposed the
pick was to win their way out of their
dungeon. At that moment the tool flew
in pieces. Van Home flung aside the
handle and stooping for the fragments of
rock, crowded them into his pockets. Then
he approached Vivian, took the candle
from her hand and set it on the ground.
She caught her breath. There was u
strange fire in his eyes, a look she had
never seen before in his face. Clutching
at the hard bulk in her jacket pocket, she
recoiled as far as the narrow limits of the
tunnel permitted; but retreat was useless
he clasped her in his arms.
Vivian!" he exulted, "I can speak to
you now on equal terms. You love me,
don't you? You have let me think you
could if things were different." He kissed
her cheek, her eyes, his hot lips were upon
hers; but at last, breathless, she struggled
free of his grasp.
"There's no fear of poverty now/' he
went on excitedly. "No living on a wife's
income. I've found a big mine this is
gold ore in my pocket. Listen, Vivian
But she interrupted austerely.
"This is no time for foolishness. How
are we to get out, of this dungeon ? That
is the question. And you've broken the
pick !" she ended in a hopeless wail.
All the joy and exultation that had
flamed in the young man's eyes and
throbbed in his voice, died out. His look
at the girl's cold, lifeless face was full of
wonder. "Where" it seemed to ask
"were now the shy glances, the compressed
lips and hot cheeks which had told their
sweet tale when once before he had spoken
of love ?" He stood silent, pulling himself
"I had forgotten," he said at last, "my
mind was so full of of other possibili-
ties. I should have told you at once.
While looking for the pick I made an-
other discovery. Life and liberty, of
course," he drew a deep breath, "are al-
ways paramount. Kindly step this way,
He strode off into that larger alley, evi-
dently expecting her to follow; but she
did not move. "You'll have to stoop
He looked around and held out
hand; Vivian shrank farther away.
"It looks like a a grave set on end,"
she protested; "let's go back."
"No. I have something to show you.
Don't be afraid," he calmly persuaded.
"Take my hand; it is only a little farther
on. Don't stumble there! Now, then,
look up !"
She gave a cry of joy. "Light! A
"Surely. 'Not so wide as a barn door
nor so deep as a well' fortunately *but
'twill serve,'" he assented. "Bed Pete's
"Why, of course!" For the first time
since she entered the tunnel, Vivian's
tones were natural. "That's why he said
it would be dangerous for us to explore.
He wanted to keep us here until he could
escape into Nevada."
"Precisely. Now for our getting out.
You'll have to stand on my back ; I'll bend
over, thus, and as I rise, you reach up to
the edge of the hole. Think you can pull
"Oh, yes ; I used to chin a bar at school.
But how will you manage ?"
"I was champion jumper at college. I'll
He stooped, resting his fingers on the
ground, like a runner prepared for the
Vivian hesitated, then with a. gasp of
sudden resolution, stepped up on his firm-
ly braced back.
"Ready?" he asked.
She gave a breathless word of assent,
the padding of muscles moved under her
"Steady, now !" he cautioned, and a
minute later she had caught at the edges
of the opening and scrambled out.
Half-blinded by the glare of the June
sunshine, she stumbled over the rocks that
were piled up all about, and dropped down
upon a denuded log. As Van Home
emerged a minute later, she turned to him
a face, sparkling, softly flushed. Never
had she looked more charming.
"What an adventure!" she blithely
chirped. "And you've found a fortune.
It's the greatest day of your life isn't
He shrugged. "Who knows?" he asked
"But I don't understand. You seemed
so happy a minute ago." The blush deep-
ened, but her brows were drawn together
in a puzzled frown. "You are rich you
say and money is everything, isn't it?"
'"Ah ! That's a debatable point." He
straightened up and began throwing little
stones into the tunnel opening, watching
where they fell, as if he had no other in-
terest in life. "Could you forgive me,
Miss Evarts," he went on, after a little
silence, "if I confessed now that I had
fooled you down there if I told you that
this is worthless rock not good ore, that
I have in my pocket?"
Vivian stared. A look of acute disap-
pointment shadowed the brightness of her
face. She looked away, beginning to rub
at the earth stains on her sleeve, while he
went on 'speaking as if he had expected no
answer. Only now he looked steadily at
her averted face.
"I always felt as if you belonged to
me," he urged, "and I wanted to claim
you as mine if but for a few minutes. I
was too bold but children sometimes play
that way; they are rich and married and
live in a palace till the school bell rings."
She turned, at last, resentful of the
tinge of bitterness that had crept into his
tones. "But children agree to play. I
was in earnest. Besides this property be-
longs to another man."
"You thought of that? . . . Yes," he
A BAD MAN'S BLESSING.
nodded, gravely, "the school bell always
rings. When the Bad Man shut us up, he
said, 'Be happy with my blessing!' A
bad blessing, it seems."
Miss Evarts rose abruptly. "Why can't
we start now, and walk to the hotel ?"
Yan Home settled himself more com-
fortably against his boulder.
"Because we are still prisoners. As
much so as in the tunnel almost. lied
Pete won't travel in the day time he's
hidden somewhere he wouldn't let us
"Then he meant " A slow flush
crept up to her brow; she jumped up in
an^ry haste. "And you mean to stay here
until dark ?" she demanded. "I'll not ; I'll
go home alone!"
She stooped to disentangle her skirt
from a twig; then, impetuously dashed
toward the path. But Van Home's voice
"In that case," he said, rising, "I will
go on ahead and kill the outlaw. Kindly
hand me that pistol I noticed in your
jacket pocket the Bad Man's gallantry
shall cost him his life. By the way, there
is a reward of five thousand dollars for
his capture I need that sum very much
"What !" Her face radiated scorn. "You
would leave me here alone and attack that
wretch j-just for a paltry reward?"
Yan Home clutched his soft hat tighter,
but he answered composedly: "You said
you wouldn't stay here with me," he re-
monstrated. "I shan't be gone long; I'll
decoy him out and shoot him in the back."
"No, no ! Please don't go ! I'll stay."
The young man's face softened. "Be-
sides," he added gently, "Bed Pete may
get uneasy and come back to close up this
hole, to make sure we don't escape."
"Why, yes," breathed Vivian, looking
fearfully about, "he could."
"So I'll just spy round a little and see
if I can find a better hiding place. While
I'm gone you'd best crawl into the foliage
of that pine tree behind you. It must
have been felled on purpose to give you
shelter. I won't be gone ten minutes;
and a whistle, a low whoo-hee! will warn
you when I'm coming back."
"All right, only hurry." Miss Evarts
gathered her skirts close and crept in
among the soft plumes; settled down like
a bird behind the dense wall of green.
The faint swish of Van Home's move-
ments through the low brush died away
in the distance; for a little there was
silence ; then to her sensitive ears came the
sound of footsteps hurrying up the slope,
a panting breath no whistle but only
the crunch and rattle of rocks under
heavy boots. Vivian's heart thumped.
Red Pete! As Gerald had predicted! In
imagination she saw the ruffian speed the
length of the tunnel and return, wrathful,
to kill her unarmed lover. Cautiously
parting the pine branches, she glimpsed
the top of the outlaw's hat as he disap-
peared down the hole. She counted five,
then in frantic haste, she plunged out of
her scented retreat. Van Home running
up a minute later, found her kneeling be-
side the opening to the tunnel, her little
weapon pointed downward.
"Good Lord !" he exclaimed in a hoarse
whisper, "you can't do anything with that
toy. He'd get you first. We must plug
up the opening."
While he spoke, he began to roll and
drag forward the log on which Vivian
had been sitting. He shoved it in and
rammed smaller ones alongside, thus al-
most blocking the tunnel's rear entrance.
"Now rocks," he whispered, and he and
Vivian rolled them in. "You're a won-
der, Miss Evarts; you work like a man,"
he encouraged. "If we only have five
minutes more, we'll have him her-mit-
ically sealed up."
Less 'time had passed, when muffled
shouts and the quick, dulled report of a
firearm sounded below. Van Home
grunted comically; Vivian laughed,
though her hands shook and both worked
faster than ever.
"That'll do for the present," said the
young man at last, wrapping his bleeding
hand in a handkerchief, after he had
made sure that only her gloves had suf-
fered. "Would you' be afraid to go down
to the road? You could catch the four
o'clock stage and go on to town, telephone
the sheriff and send help. I'll go on pil-
The girl hesitated ; then after a look at
the bandaged hand and another longer
look into his earnest gray eyes, she darted
off without a word. Once she was out of
sight and hearing, Van Home renewed
his work of entombing Eed Pete, punctu-
ating it with forcible, scathing remarks to
The shadows of the pines had not
lengthened perceptibly when he heard the
tramp of horses' feet, and a little later
Vivian appeared riding his horse and
leading her own.
"My loot, this time," she called out,
waving her raggedly gloved hand. "I
told the stage driver to telephone," she
explained slipping to the ground and
standing before him, a figure of happy,
shy appeal in her dark eyes full of mean-
ing "/ wanted to bring the horses."
Van Home's pulses leaped, his glance
beamed tender wonder.
"Little girl!" He rose and stood be-
side her, trembling.
"Little girl, you're brave, but not very
wise. What were you thinking of a while
ago to risk your life over this hole?"
"Of you," she confessed. "You I
you said you needed the reward, and no,
I did not think of that I was afraid
you were unarmed, and " She hung
"And would you do that just for me?"
"I'd do anything for you. I'd even be
poor and and cook, and make my own
gowns. I couldn't somehow speak in the
tunnel. It was so awkward and you
were so queer; but now. I'll play truly.
I love you."
Tiptoe, flushing and smiling enchant-
ingly, she met his kiss. They were a tat-
tered, soiled and shabby looking couple,
but each was splendid to the other. Van
Home put his arm around her and stood
for an instant silent, while the horses
peered over his shoulder, flicking uncom-
prehending ears. For an instant only,
then he held her away from him by a
firm, gentle grasp on her arms.
"And you realize how poor I am?"
She nodded, dimpling as if that were
part of the joy of it all.
"Vivian," he murmured, taking her to
his breast again, "I'll play truly, too.
This is good ore in my pockets, and this
quarter section has been mine for years.
It's ours now. That was why I brought
you up here to show you my wee, worth-
less patrimony. You were right; this is
a great day for me ; I get you and a mine
worth millions ' he emphasized each
item with a kiss "and all the result of a
Bad Man's blessing."
"Don't forget the five thousand dollar
reward," she reminded him; then with a
giggle : "It's hardly a blessing he's be-
"No," frowned Van Home. "Thank
Heaven, there comes the sheriff; we can
get your saddle and go. ... Play we
are returning to our castle "
"But the school bell?" she teased, with
a twinkle in her eye.
"Shall never ring again," he whispered.
"At least not for us."
"No," she gayly agreed. "'Only wed-
BIG JACK SMALL
A Story of the Early Days In Nevada
BY J. W. GALLY
YOU DO NOT know Big Jack
Small? That is a bad omen,
because if you did not know .Big
Jack Small, you would know
many things, which, as I think, you do
not now know for Jack would be sure to
talk with you, if you met him, and in his
talk he would be quite as sure to tell you
something about teaming with six or
eight or ten yokes of oxen, and two or
three, or four great red wagons, over the
hills, across the valleys, and through the
bare rock-walled canyons of the State of
That is his profession ox-teamster; or
as he calls it, "bull-puncher." Not one
of your common farmer boys, who can
drive one yoke, or two or even four yokes
of oxen, with a long, limber fishing pole
stock, and a lash that hangs down like a
dead garter-snake speared through the
eyes : but a regular graduate of the science
of ox a bovine persuader with a bil-
liard-cue whip-stock, and a lash on it like
a young boa-constrictor, and a little steel
spike in the lash end of the stock about as
big as a carpet-tack when it stands on its
head on the point of a walking cane. With
the yellow leather lash wound round the
stock, the great square braids shining like
scales, as of the brazen serpent Moses set
up, and glittering steel tongue, sparkling
in the sunlight, out of the serpent's head
with this awful wand in his hand, and
elevated diagonally above his head, Big
Jack Small will stand in the highway of
the desert, the chief of the ox-magi; while
his meek-eyed and clicking-footed com-
pany draw slowly round him, at the proper
distance and with regular step, straining
the great red creaking wains after them
in a true circle. "Come row-a-d, boys!
You, Turk!" sharply to the near-side
wheel ox, because an ox-team always turns
on a haw-pull unless compelled to do
otherwise. "Come row-a-d, boys! Steady,
now like a Freemason funeral!" and he
elevates or depresses the glittering tongue
of the serpent above his head. The oxen
know what that means, and the whole long
procession winds about him with mathe-
That is the way Big Jack Small, does
it. He is an artist. Why does not some
brother artist go forth and canvas him?
He is worth preserving, as the picture of
a true American, void of European or
classic taint a strong American, calm
and humorous in the hardest struggles,
through the very thrill and tickle of
abundant life and pure mountain air.
Tall? no; he is not so very tall. About
six feet, or half an inch less than that.
Head well set upon his shoulders, with an
inclination to one side, as if to give room
for the big .whip on the other shoulder ;
while his soft slouch hat inclines just in
the opposite direction, as if to equalize
things and maintain a perpendicular out-
line. No coat on. Woolen shirt in win-
ter three of them, one inside the other;
heavy vest buttoned to the chin, or to
somewhere hidden under the long flow of
lion-colored beard. Legs clad externally
in thick white ducking or buckskin, ter-
minating in coarse boots drawn over the
trousers bottoms. Hands cased in rough
buckskin gloves. So dressed, Big Jack
Small may not be a very large man, but