Charles B. (Charles Barney) Cory.

Montezuma's castle and other weird tales online

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the hard floor. As the consul ran into the
room followed by one of his men he found
Jones sitting on the lounge, pale and weak
from excitement and fever.

" Lucky you had the pistol," remarked
the consul; "might have been unpleasant.
See that gummy green stuff on the knife?
Well, that is poison, and a mighty bad
poison, too; one little scratch But all's
well that ends well ; the steamer is in,


and if I were you I would make a bee line
for the pier, and get on board just as soon
as the Lord will let you ! "

Jones rose with some difficulty and went
out upon the wide balcony. On the blue
waters of the bay he saw a large steamer,
and at her stern, floating in the breeze, the
most beautiful flag in the world, the Stars
and Stripes.

The effect on him, in his half hysterical
condition, was to make him want to cry
and cheer at the same time. The room he
had just left was dark in contrast to the
bright sunshine outside; but he could see
the knife and the dead body of the negro,
from which a narrow dark red streak was
slowly making its way across the floor.

" We can't go any too quick to suit me,"
said Jones.


man with no ambition in life beyond
making his small income pay his club fees,
and leave enough for him to live in the man-
ner peculiar to young men of his class. His
one hope in life, as he often told his partic-
ular crony, was to find a rich wife, and it
seemed to Harrison that chance had played
into his hands when he received an invi-
tation from old John Stiversant to join his
party on a trip to the Grand Canon in
Northern Arizona.

Harrison had met old Stiversant on the
yacht of a mutual friend a few weeks before,
and knowing how to make himself agreeable

he had done so to the best of his ability,


with the result that he had been asked to
make one of a party on this western trip in
Mr. Stiversant's private car.

" Good luck to you, old man," said his
chum as he was leaving the club on his way
to the station. u Go in and win."

" Trust me for that," answered Harrison.

The trip out proved a delightful one.
Miss Nellie Stiversant, the young lady who,
Harrison had decided, was the most likely
catch, did not prove as easy as he imagined.
While charming and agreeable, she had evi-
dently seen more or less of the world, and
was not to be gathered in by the first man
who made up his mind he would like to
have her ornament his home. Likewise,
she was a girl with common sense, and
knowing her position and advantages did
not lose her head when a man showed an
inclination for her society. In fact, just
before the party arrived in Flagstaff she had
made it very evident that she did not care



for serious attentions from any one. She
was, however, of a decidedly romantic
nature, and Harrison pondered deep and
long as to the best method of gaining her
affections. Late that evening he was read-
ing a sensational novel, when suddenly he
laid it down and a far-away look came into
his eyes.

" By Jove," he muttered, " the very thing
on this very road too. Whether the story
is true or not, it is reasonable enough,
although a trifle dramatic, but that is what
is wanted to attract a girl like Nell. She
don't care for me and never will, and all she
wants is excitement and novelty, but if she
thinks I saved her life or risked my own in
protecting her, there might be a chance.
In this story the chap had led rather a
tough life, but had reformed, and the road-
agents recognized him and knew he meant
business. He got pretty well shot up, but
the whole thing cast a halo around him,


which would undoubtedly attract any ro-
mantic girl. Damn it, why couldn't I do it?
It is that or nothing, the trip will be over
in two weeks, and it is pretty evident that
I am not in it unless something extraor-
dinary happens."


The saloon was pretty well filled with a
sprinkling of miners, Mexicans, and ranch-
ers. Men in blue overalls, flannel shirts,
and wide-brimmed hats were playing the dif-
ferent games of chance or standing in
groups in front of the bar. A harsh brass-
sounding piano on a raised platform at the
end of the room was being played by a
short-haired individual in a dress suit, and
a young lady who evidently did not object
to the calsomining process to aid nature
was singing a topical song. In the corner
stood Wendell Harrison surrounded by four
rough-looking men, who seemed very much
interested in what he was saying.


20 9

" Now I think you understand thoroughly
what is required," said Harrison. " I am to
pay you five dollars each now, and twenty
dollars each when the job is done, likewise
if it comes off successfully and the bluff
works I am to give you twenty dollars
more upon our return to Flagstaff. Don't
forget to carry out the plan exactly as we
have agreed. When I spring from the
coach waving my pistol and firing blank
cartridges, one of you is to shout, * Fight-
ing Harrison, by God ! ' and shoot two or
three times as you run. The thing is easy,
but requires a little judgment. I do not
care where you stop the stage. Stop it any
old place, but not too near Flagstaff. I
shall be alone in the coach with an old man
and two young girls, so there is not the
slightest danger, and I will see that the old
man is unarmed."



" Say, Jimmie, I must tell yer something,
but let me larf first Say, I nearly fell
down in a fit. I am going to tell yer all
about it, but don't call me a liar, or I'll kill
yer. What do yer think ? Oh, Lord, how
my stomach aches! what do yer think?
Wait a minute I'll tell yer in a minute,
let me larf it out now, or I shall drop down
right here!

" Say, I sat in that booth over there hav-
ing a quiet drink, and what do yer think?
A dude in the next booth commenced put-
ting up a job with four ducks; one of them
is Mexican John and the other is Brady, our
assistant bar-keeper here. As far as I can
make it out Brady got the three other
ducks. Say, wait a minute! I don't believe
I ever will stop larfin'. What do yer
think ? this dude is going up to the Canon
on my next trip, and is going to have these


four fellers stop the stage to put up a bluff
on his girl to show what a fighter he is, and
he is to give um twenty dollars each.
He is going to jump out and pull his gun
and clean out the crowd, and then go back
and bask in the sunshine and admiration of
the young girls. Oh, Lord! The skunk
don't care how much he scares the girls and
the old man who are goin* along, but all he
wants is to pose as a fighter from away
back. But say, Jimmie, what do yer think?
I have been thinkin' this thing over, and I
don't believe his little picnic will transpire.
He calculates to blow in eighty dollars to
make a monkey of himself, and I am thinkin'
that we can use that eighty dollars in our
business and teach the fellow a good lesson
all ter wonce. What breaks me up more
than anythin' is that he told Brady to hunt
me up and tell me on the quiet that there
was a reformed desperado going with me
who used to be known by the name of


' Fightin' Harrison.' Worked me into the
job too, see ? What do yer think ? "


The stage was slowly toiling up a dusty
hill some five miles from Flagstaff. The
road was rough and the day was warm.
The stage-driver let the horses take things
easy, and from time to time shook with
suppressed emotion. " I hope I may die,"
said he to himself, " if this ain't the damn-

In the back seats the two young girls,
the old manj and the would-be hero were
enjoying the scenery and the novelty of the
trip in spite of the dust. Suddenly three
men sprang into the road, and a loud voice
commanded the stage to " hold up."

" What is the matter ? " asked Nellie ex-

" Don't be afraid," said Wendell, pressing
her hand, " remember I am with you."


A rough-looking man appeared at the
side of the stage.

"Is your name Harrison?" he said, ad-
dressing Wendell.

" It is," answered Harrison boldly;
" what do you want ? "

" I have a bill here for eighty dollars
against you, which will have to be paid
or you will have to get out and go back to
town with me."

" What do you mean ? " gasped Harrison.

"Just what I say, young man; your name
is Wendell Harrison, isn't it? You used to
be known here by the name of ' Fighting
Harrison,' didn't you ? "

" Certainly not, you have the wrong
party," answered Harrison indignantly.

"Well, I don't know about that; didn't
somebody tell you that this fellow was
4 Fighting Harrison,' Bill?"

"They certainly did," answered the


" It is all a mistake," said Harrison.

" Mistake or not, you will have to pay or
go back to town with us ; that is all there is
to it. I believe you are the Harrison I want."

" Oh, Mr. Harrison," said Nell, " do pay
this man and let us go on ; you can easily
recover the money when you go back to

" Yes," said Mr. Stiversant, " that cer-
tainly is the best way to settle the matter;
it is, undoubtedly, a case of mistaken iden-
tity, but this man is evidently acting in good
faith, and you will have no difficulty in
straightening matters upon your return at

Harrison's face was very red, and he
looked and acted ugly; but this man evi-
dently meant business, and there was no
way out of it but to pay the money, which
he did with a very bad grace, taking a re-
ceipt made out to Wendell Harrison, alias
" Fighting Harrison of Arizona."


" An exciting incident," said Nell, as the
party rode away.

" Yes," said Harrison, " but one that
might just as well have been left out of the

The stage moved on, but Harrison seemed
uneasy ; every few minutes he mopped his
face with his handkerchief and pressed his
hand to his head as if in pain. Visions of
the little reception committee some few
miles ahead were constantly in his mind.
What would he say and do when the stage
was stopped, and he received his cue to
spring out and fire off his six-shooter, espe-
cially as he had only fifteen dollars left in
his pocket. What would these pseudo-gen-
tlemen of the road do to him, if, after his
little exhibit of bravery, he failed to wind up
the melodrama by settling with the actors ?
He didn't care to find out, and his mind
was bent now in deciding the best way
to get back to Flagstaff. He continued


mopping his face, and once or twice he

" What is the matter? " asked Mr. Stiver-
sant; " are you ill? "

" I fear so," answered Harrison faintly.
" I have a dull pain in my head and I feel

" Oh, let us go back," said Nell, " it is
only five miles, and we can start again to-
morrow just as well."

" Perhaps it would be as well," said Har-
rison weakly; " I fear I am going to be ill."

In the privacy of a room at the hotel Har-
rison hastily manufactured an urgent telegram
calling him at once to San Francisco to see
a sick uncle, and had barely time to explain
matters and express his deep regret at being
forced to leave the party at such short

An hour later he lay back in a luxurious
chair in the smoking compartment of the
California Limited, and gazed out of the


2I 7

windows at the vast desert plains through
which they passed. His eyes had a far-away
look in them, and ever and anon he sighed.
Far up the Grand Canon road late that
evening Brady and his three companions
still sat watching sadly for the stage which
came not. There they had sat in the burn-
ing sun without food or water since ten
o'clock that morning. They did not speak
to each other, but occasionally they cursed,
sometimes the birds, sometimes the inani-
mate things about them. At times they
thought of Harrison but what their
thoughts were no one will ever know.


" T)RETTY good cigar this," remarked

J- the Cowboy.

The Eastern man nodded.

" Nowadays we can buy good ones out
where I live, but 'twa'n't very long ago when
good cigars were as rare out there as
buffaloes are now round Kansas City."

"The enormous increase in population in
some of your Western cities is astonishing,"
remarked the Eastern man.

The Cowboy glanced at him with an
amused smile. The Eastern man smiled
back good-naturedly.

"What's the joke?" he asked.

" Oh, nothin'," answered the Cowboy,



2I 9

" only I was thinkin' maybe you didn't live
out West."

" No, I am a New Yorker," answered the
Eastern man.

" Well, I guess they raise pretty good
men in both places," remarked the Cow-

" Our late war proved that, I think."

The train had stopped, but there were no
signs of a station, although two or three
rather dilapidated houses and a typical
Western saloon could be seen a short
distance ahead.

" Wonder what we are stopping here
for," remarked the Cowboy ; " it strikes me
we've been here a pretty long time."

Just then the porter passed the door of
the smoking compartment, and the Cowboy
called to him :

" Say, porter, what's the matter ? Seems
to me we have been stoppin' here a whole
lot. What's the name of this metropolis ? "


" It's mighty lucky you've got whole
necks," answered the porter. " The eccen-
tric, or something about the engine, is
broke, and we came mighty near having a
bad accident. They've sent on for another

" That's pleasant," remarked the Eastern
man. " How long do you think we shall
have to stay here before the other engine
arrives ? "

" Give it up," said the porter. " Maybe
an hour, maybe two ; can't tell exactly.
The train conductor will be along pretty
soon and he will know all about it."

" Guess I'll have to appoint myself a
committee of one to investigate," remarked
the Cowboy.

He arose and went out on the platform
of the car, followed by the Eastern man.
They climbed down and walked forward to
where they saw a crowd gathered about the
engine. The eccentric rod had broken


short off, and had the engine not been slow-
ing up at the time, the result might have
been serious.

The two men strolled down the track for
a short distance, and the Cowboy discovered
a small colony of prairie dogs. Several of
the comical little creatures were sitting on
their hind legs on the mounds beside their
holes ready to disappear at the least sign of
danger. Occasionally one would run from
one hole to another a short distance away,
usually diving out of sight, to reappear again
in a few moments when satisfied that there
was no immediate cause for alarm.

The Cowboy amused himself by listlessly
throwing small stones at the little animals.
After a few moments of this he turned to
the Eastern man and said:

" Say, I am goin' to take a little stroll over
yonder towards that luxurious mansion and
get a drink from the well. Want to go


" With pleasure," answered the Eastern

The two strolled slowly towards the
house, which was decidedly in need of re-
pair. The fence surrounding it was broken
down in many places, weeds and grass filled
the little yard in which there were still evi-
dences of some past attempts at ornamenta-
tion in the way of flower-beds, and the whole
place gave evidence of poverty and lack of
care. On the porch was seated a girl appar-
ently between twelve and fourteen years of
age. She was hugging an immense shaggy
dog and crying as if her heart would break.

" What's the matter, sis ? " sympathetically
inquired the Cowboy.

" Oh, sir (sob), Jake's goin' to kill my

What for ? "

The sobs subsided a little and the girl
looked up, wiping her eyes on her torn


" Why, he bited Jake because he tried to
kiss me and I didn't want him to and
they are goin' to come and kill him."

" Who is goin' to come and kill him ? "

" The feller he bited Jake."

" There, don't cry, little un ; seems to me
the purp did the proper caper. What do
you think, pardner ? "

" In my opinion," answered the Eastern
man, " the dog's action was decidedly laud-

" And yer think same as I do that the pup
hadn't ought to be killed for doin' it ? "

" Decidedly not."

" Say, sis, ain't yer got any friends to sort
of stand off the feller as allows to do the
killin' ? "

" No, sir, nobody except father, and he
drinks sometimes and don't care for
Rover, and he says he don't want no

" Ain't yer got no one else ? "


"No, sir; nobody but Rover. Mother's
dead and I ain't got nobody but Rover. Oh,
dear me!"

The girl buried her face in the shaggy
coat of her friend and sobbed.

The Cowboy sat down on the step beside
her; the dog eyed him inquiringly, but evi-
dently decided he was a friend and wagged
his tail slightly.

"Don't cry, my girl; brace up, now;
perhaps they won't kill him after all."

" Oh, yes, they will. Jake is over in the
saloon now; I saw him go in. He'll do it
sure; he hates Rover."

"May I speak to your lap-dog? Will he
tear me up much if I pat him?" inquired
the Cowboy.

" I wouldn't fool with him, sir; Rover
don't like strangers."

The Cowboy snapped his fingers at the
dog and called to him:

" Come here, Rover."


The splendid animal walked solemnly to
him and, resting his head on his knee,
looked up steadily into his face.

" Don't seem to be too savage nor nothin'
pretty decent sort of dog."

"Oh, he is, sir; he is just the sweetest,
lovingest dog that ever lived. I had him
when he wa'n't no bigger than a coon, and
couldn't eat nothin' but milk, and he loves
me, don't you, Rover? and I love him, and
he's all I've got to love in the world, and
they're goin' to kill him. Oh, Rover,
Rover, what shall I do? what shall I do?"

" Now, sis, tell us about the row did
the dog begin the trouble?"

" Oh, no, sir; Jake came along this morn-
ing and I was settin' here playin' with
Rover, and Jake he grabbed me and tried to
kiss me, and I put up a holler and Rover
bited him in the leg. Jake swore and
wanted to kill him, but he didn't darst to,
and he didn't have no gun; so he's gone


home to get his gun and he'll be back pretty
quick and he's goin' to kill him."

The girl had stopped crying, but little
hysterical sobs choked her from time to time
as she talked.

The Cowboy pulled the dog's ears gently
and the animal responded by licking his

" Seems to me, pardner, that Jake ain't
actin' quite white in this deal."

" It's an outrage," warmly responded the
Eastern man.

" I see two fellers," continued the Cow-
boy, gently stroking the dog's head, " comin'
around the corner of the house; maybe we'd
better ask 'um please not to hurt the dog."

" I agree with you, most decidedly."

The girl caught sight of the men and
uttered a cry of fear. Seizing Rover by the
collar, she attempted to drag him inside the
house, but the dog braced himself and
growled savagely, facing the newcomers.


" Say, pard," remarked the Cowboy
quietly, "suppose they are impolite?"

" Well."

"Can you fight?"

" I can try."

"Bully for you, pard; that's the stuff!

The two men shook hands warmly.
Jake and his companion were now very
near, and as they came up Jake pulled a
large revolver from its holster.

" Now, girl, get away from that dog; I'm
goin' to shoot him and I don't want to hurt

The girl turned white, but she placed
herself in front of Rover, shielding him
as much as she could with her slender

" Hold on, my friend," interposed the
Cowboy; "you mus'n't shoot that dog."

" Who's goin' to stop me? " sneered Jake.



" You are, are you ? Well, I'm goin' to
shoot him just the same."

" If you shoot that dog I'll give you such
a beating yer own mother won't know yer.

" Won't, hey ? Perhaps you notice I've
got a gun ? " said Jake, with an evil look in
his eyes.

" I've got one, too, but I ain't pulled it
yet," answ-ered the Cowboy slowly.

"See here, now," interposed Jake's com-
panion, "where do I come in? What'll I
be doin' all the time when you're smashin'
up my pard here ? "

" I will try and occupy your attention,"
quietly said the Eastern man.

" The hell you will ! "

" I will."

" Now, gentlemen," said the Cowboy,
" we don't want no trouble, but there is a
peck of it around here if you fellers try to
hurt that dog. The dog bit yer because yer


tried to kiss the girl, and he served you
damn well right ! "

" It's a lie ! " interrupted Jake sullenly.

How it was done the Eastern man never
knew, but Jake went staggering backward,
and when he recovered himself and stood
with the blood trickling from a cut under
his eye, the Cowboy had him covered with
a big Colt's 45, and the eyes which looked
at him over the barrel were ugly enough to
make a gamer man than Jake feel uneasy.

" Drop yer gun."

Jake dropped it.

" Now move away from it."

Jake did so.

The Cowboy handed his big pistol to the
Eastern man and walked straight up to
Jake, who looked decidedly uncomfort-

"Now take it back, or I'll smash yer
face," said the Cowboy savagely.

" All right, but, damn you, if it warn't


that my leg is sore where the dog bit me
I'd fight yer till I couldn't see ! "

The Cowboy smiled grimly.

" Good enough ! Now get out of here."

" Wait a minute," interposed the Eastern
man; " may I make a suggestion? "

" Cert, pard, why, sure ! " answered the

" Well, it seems to me this matter had
better be settled amicably if possible ; if
not, after we are gone something might
happen to the dog. After what has hap-
pened the gentleman naturally feels an ani-
mosity towards the animal. Now, I would
suggest that he name a sum of money which
he would consider sufficient to compensate
him for injuries received. I would be glad
to pay a reasonable amount say ten dol-
lars in settlement of all damages, if the
gentleman will agree not to attempt to in-
jure the dog in any way."

" I'll agree to that," cried Jake eagerly.


2 3 I

" Very well, here is the money." The
Eastern man held out a ten-dollar gold
piece, which was seized upon by Jake, and
without a word he and his companion
started in a straight line for the saloon.

The Cowboy shouted after them : " Re-
member, I'll be back here next week, and if
the dog isn't all right there'll be trouble."
Then, turning to the girl, he said :

"Well, sis, the show's over; the dog's
all right, so I guess I'll get aboard the train.
So, so long."

" Please tell me your name, sir, and you,
too, sir," turning to the Eastern man.

" Why, sis, what do you want to know
my name for ? "

" To pray for you, sir ; mother's dead,
but I pray every night just the same, and I
ask God to bless Rover he's all I've got
now, you know. Is that wrong, sir ? and
to-night and every night I'm goin' to ask
God to bless both o' you for bein' so kind
ter Rover and me."



" Oh, that's all right, sis ; don't think of
it ; " the Cowboy's voice was husky.
" Good-by ; good-by, Rover, old boy."

He seized the big dog in his arms and
turned him over on his back, holding him
down. The dog caught one of the man's
hands in his huge mouth and chewed it gently,
while the Cowboy poked him playfully in
the ribs with the other. Then the man
jumped up and ran for the car, with Rover
leaping and romping about him, uttering
great deep barks of joy. The Eastern man
followed more slowly; a cinder or some-
thing had got into his eye, and he was
ostentatiously wiping it out with the corner
of his handkerchief.

That night, in the darkness of her room,
the girl knelt by the side of her rough bed,
and whispered softly her little prayer :
" God bless mamma,
God bless papa,

God bless Rover, and bless the two fel-


2 33

lers that was good to me and Rover I
dunno their names, God, but you do."

The sounds of a slight figure getting into
bed were followed by " 'Scuse me, Rover, I
didn't mean to step on yer foot ; good-
night, Rover, dear." Several heavy blows
on the floor answered her, and then for a
time there was silence. The wind moaned

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Online LibraryCharles B. (Charles Barney) CoryMontezuma's castle and other weird tales → online text (page 8 of 9)