This "Kid Wolf of Texas A Western Story" was written by Paul S. (Paul Sylvester) Powers in English language.
Kid Wolf of Texas A
Paul S. (Paul
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Title: Kid Wolf of Texas
A Western Story
Author: Ward M.
Release Date: August 26, 2008 [EBook #22057]
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK KID WOLF OF TEXAS
Produced by Al Haines
[Transcriber's note: Extensive research found no evidence
U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]
Kid Wolf Of Texas
A Western Story
79 Seventh Avenue, New York, N. Y.
Copyright, 1930, by CHELSEA HOUSE
Printed in the U. S. A.
All rights reserved,
including that of translation into foreign
languages, including the Scandinavian.
THE LIVING DEAD
A THANKLESS TASK
THE GOVERNOR'S ANSWER
THE CAMP OF THE TERROR
ON THE CHISHOLM TRAIL
ONE GAME HOMBRE
THE NIGHT HERD
THE S BAR SPREAD
A GAME OF POKER
ON BLACKSNAKE'S TRAIL
THE FANG OF THE WOLF
BATTLE ON THE MESA
TWO OPEN GRAVES
KID WOLF OF TEXAS
THE LIVING DEAD
"Oh, I want to go
back to the Rio Grande!
That's where I long to be!"
The words, sung in a soft and
musical tenor, died away and changed to a plaintive whistle, leaving the scene more lonely than
For a few moments nothing was to be seen except the endless expanse of wilderness, and
nothing was to be heard save the mournful warble of the singer.
Then a horse and rider were
suddenly framed where the sparse timber opened out upon the plain.
Together, man and mount
made a striking picture; yet it would have been hard to say which was the more picturesque--the
rider or the horse. The latter was a splendid beast, and its spotless hide of snowy white glowed
in the rays of the afternoon sun.
With bit chains jingling, it gracefully leaped a gully, landing with
all the agility of a mountain lion, in spite of its enormous size.
The rider, still whistling his Texas
tune, swung in the concha-decorated California stock saddle as if he were a part of his horse.
was a lithe young figure, dressed in fringed buckskin, touched here and there with the gay colors
of the Southwest and of Mexico.
Two six-guns, wooden-handled, were suspended from a
cartridge belt of carved leather, and hung low on each hip.
His even teeth showed white against
the deep sunburn of his face.
"Reckon we-all bettah cut south, Blizzahd," he murmured to his
horse. "We haven't got any business on the Llano."
He spoke in the soft accents of the old
South, and yet his speech was colored with just a trace of Spanish--a musical drawl seldom
heard far from that portion of Texas bordering the Rio Bravo del Norte.
Wheeling his mount, he
searched the landscape with his keen blue eyes. Behind him was broken country; ahead of him
was the terrible land that men have called the Llano Estacado.
The land rose to it in a long
series of steppes with sharp ridges.
Queerly shaped and oddly colored buttes ascended toward it
in a puzzling tangle.
Dim in the distance was the Llano itself--a mesa with a floor as even as a
table; a treeless plain without even a weed or shrub for a landmark; a plateau of peril without
The rider was doing well to avoid the Llano Estacado.
Outlaw Indian bands roamed over its
desolate expanse--the only human beings who could live there.
In the winter, snowstorms raced
screaming across it, from Texas to New Mexico, for half a thousand miles.
It was a country of
In the summer it was a scorching griddle of heat dried out by dry desert winds.
was hard to find there, and food still harder to obtain.
And it was now late summer--the season of
mocking mirages and deadly sun.
The horseman was just about to turn his steed's head directly
to the southward when a sound came to his ears--a cry that made his eyes widen with horror.
Few sounds are so thrillingly terrible as the dying scream of a mangled horse, and yet this was
far more awful.
Only the throat of a human being could emit that chilling cry.
It rose in shrill
crescendo, to die away in a sobbing wail that lifted the hair on the listener's head. Again and
again it came--a moan born of the frightful torture of mortal agony.
Giving his mount a touch of
spur, the horseman turned the animal westward toward the Llano Estacado.
So horrible were
the sounds that he had paled under his tan.
But he headed directly toward the direction of the
He knew that some human being was suffering frightful pain.
Crossing a sun-baked gully,
he climbed upward and onto a flat-topped, miniature butte.
Here he saw a spectacle that literally
froze him with horror.
Although accustomed to a hundred gruesome sights in that savage land,
he had never seen one like this.
Staked on the ground, feet and arms wide-stretched, and
securely bound, was a man.
Or rather, it was a thing that had once been a man.
It was a torture
that even the diabolical mind of an Indian could not have invented.
It was the insane creation of
another race--the work of a madman.
For the suffering wretch had been left on his back, face up
to the sun, with his eyelids removed!
Ants crawled over the sufferer, apparently believing him
Flies buzzed, and a raven flapped away, beating the air with its startled wings.
horseman dismounted, took his water bag from his horse, and approached the tortured man.
The moaning man on the ground did not see him, for his eyes were shriveled.
He was blind.
youth with the water bag tried to speak, but at first words failed to come.
The sight was too
"Heah's watah," he muttered finally.
"Just--just try and stand the pain fo' a little longah.
I'll do all I can fo' yo'."
He held the water bag at the swollen, blackened lips.
Then he poured a
generous portion of the contents over the shriveled eyes and skeletonlike face.
For a while the
tortured man could not speak.
But while his rescuer slashed loose the rawhide ropes that bound
him, he began to stammer a few words:
"Heaven bless yuh!
I thought I was dead, or mad!
how I wanted water!
Give me more--more!"
"In a little while," said the other gently.
In spite of the
fact that he was now free, the sufferer could not move his limbs.
Groans came from his lips.
"Shoot me!" he cried.
"Put a bullet through me!
End this, if yuh've got any pity for me!
I can't stand the pain.
Yuh must have a gun.
Why don't yuh kill me and finish me?"
the living dead!
The buckskin-clad youth gave him more water, his face drawn with compassion.
"Yo'll feel bettah afta while," he murmured.
"Just sit steady."
"Too late!" the tortured man almost
screamed, "I'm dyin', I tell yuh!"
"How long have yo' been like this?"
I lost count."
"Who did this thing?" was the fierce question.
"'The Terror'!" the reply came in
a sobbing wail.
"'The Masked Terror' and his murderin' band.
I was a prospector.
A wagon train
was startin' across the Llano, and I tried to warn 'em.
I never reached 'em.
The Terror cut me off
and left me like this!
Say, I don't know yore name, pard, but----"
"Call me 'Kid Wolf,'" answered
the youth, "from Texas."
His eyes had narrowed at the mention of the name "The Terror."
"Somethin' on my mind, Kid Wolf.
It's that wagon train.
The Terror will wipe it out.
yuh'll try and warn 'em."
"I promise, old-timah," murmured the Texan.
"Only yo' needn't to have
When yo' first mentioned it, I intended to do it.
Where is this wagon train, sah?"
gasps--for his strength was rapidly failing him--the prospector gave what directions he could.
Wolf listened intently, his eyes blazing-blue coals.
"I'm passin' in my checks," sighed the sufferer
weakly, when he had given what information he could.
"I'll go easier now."
"Yo' can be sure that
I'll do all I can," the Texan assured him.
"Fo' yo' see, that's always been mah business.
I'm just a
soldier of misfohtune, goin' through life tryin' to do all I can fo' the weak and oppressed.
mah life fo' these people, and heah's mah hand on that!"
The prospector groped for his hand,
took it, and tried to smile.
In a few moments he had breathed his last, released from his pain.
Wolf removed the bandanna from his own throat and placed it over the dead man's face.
he weighted it down with small rocks and turned to go.
"Just about the time I get to thinkin' the
world is good, Blizzahd," he sighed, addressing his white horse, "I find somethin' like this.
seems like we hit out across the Llano, aftah all.
Let's get a move on, amigo!
We've got work to
The Texan's face, as he swung himself into the saddle, was set and hard.
"Oh, I'm goin'
back to the Rio Grande!
For most a yeah, I've been away,
And I'm lonesome now fo'
me Old Lone Stah!
Wheah the gila monsters play!"
It was Kid Wolf's second day on the
Llano Estacado, and his usual good spirits had returned.
His voice rose tunefully and cheerily
above the steady drumming of Blizzard's hoofs.
Surely the scene that lay before his eyes could
not have aroused his enthusiasm.
It was lonely and desolate enough, with its endless sweeps
dim against each horizon.
The sky, blue, hot and pitiless, came down to meet the land on every
hand, making a great circle unbroken by hill or mountain.
So clean-swept was the floor of the
vast table-land that each mile looked exactly like another mile.
There was not a tree, not a shrub,
not a rock to break the weary monotony.
It was no wonder that the Spanish padres, who had
crossed this enormous plateau long before, had named it the Llano Estacado--the Staked Plains.
They had had a good reason of their own.
In order to keep the trail marked, they had been
compelled to drive stakes in the ground as they went along.
Although the stakes had gone long
since, the name still stuck.
The day before, the Texan had climbed the natural rock steps that
led upward and westward toward the terrible mesa itself, each flat-topped table bringing him
nearer the Staked Plains.
And soon after reaching the plateau he had found the trail left by a
From the ruts left in the soil, Kid Wolf estimated that the outfit must consist of a
large number of prairie schooners, at least twenty.
The Texan puzzled his mind over why this
wagon train was taking such a dangerous route.
Where were they bound for?
Surely for the
Spanish settlements of New Mexico--a perilous venture, at best.
Even on the level plain, a
wagon outfit moves slowly, and the Texan gained rapidly.
Hourly the signs he had been following
grew fresher. Late in the afternoon he made out a blot on the western horizon--a blot with a hazy
smudge above it.
It was the wagon train.
The smudge was dust, dug up by the feet of many
"They must be loco," Kid Wolf muttered, "to try and cut across The Terror's territory."
Texan had heard much of The Terror.
And what plainsman of that day hadn't?
He was the
scourge of the table-lands, with his band of a hundred cutthroats, desperadoes recruited from
the worst scum of the border.
More than half of his hired killers, it was said, were Mexican
outlaws from Sonora and Chihuahua.
Some were half-breed Indians, and a few were white
gunmen who killed for the very joy of killing.
And The Terror himself?
That was the mystery.
Nobody knew his identity.
Some rumors held that he was a white man; others maintained that he
was a full-blooded Comanche Indian.
Nobody had ever seen his face, for he always was
His deeds were enough.
No torture was too cruel for his insane mind.
No risk was too
great, if he could obtain loot.
With his band behind him, no man was safe on the Staked Plains.
Many a smoldering pile of human bones testified to that.
As the Texan approached the outfit, he
could hear the sharp crack of the bull whips and the hoarse shouts of the drivers.
wagons, and in single file!
Against the blue of the horizon, they made a pretty sight, with their
Kid Wolf, however, was not concerned with the beauty of the picture.
danger threatened them, and it was his duty to be of what assistance he could.
Touching his big
white horse with the spur, he came upon the long train's flank.
Ahead of the train were the
scouts, or pathfinders.
In the rear was the beef herd, on which the outfit depended for food.
Behind that was the rear guard, armed with Winchesters.
The Texan neared the horseman at
the head of the train, raising his arm in the peace signal.
To his surprise, one of the scouts threw
up his rifle!
There was a puff of white smoke, and a bullet whistled over Kid Wolf's head.
fools!" muttered the Texan.
"Can't they see I'm a friend?"
Setting his teeth, he rode ahead boldly,
risking his life as he did so, for by this time several others had lifted their guns.
The six men who
made up the advance party, eyed him sullenly as he drew up in front of them.
The Texan found
himself covered by half a dozen Winchesters.
"Who are yuh, and what do yuh want?" one of
"I'm Kid Wolf, from Texas, sah.
I have impo'tant news fo' the leader of this
One of the sextet separated himself from the others and came so close to the Texan that
their horses almost touched.
"I'm in command!" he barked.
"My name's Modoc.
I'm in charge o'
this train, and takin' it to Sante Fe."
The man, Modoc, was an impressive individual, bulky and
His face was thinner than the rest of his body, and Kid Wolf was rather puzzled to read the
surly eyes that gleamed at him from under the bushy black brows.
He was more startled still,
however, when Modoc whispered in a voice just loud enough for him to hear:
"What color will the
moon be to-night?"
Kid Wolf stared in astonishment.
Was the man insane?
Modoc waited, as if for an answer, and when it did not come, his face took
on an expression of anger, in which cunning seemed to be mingled.
"What's yore message?" he
It took Kid Wolf several seconds to recover his composure.
Was the wagon train being
led to its doom by a madman?
What did Modoc mean by his low-voiced, mysterious query?
did he mean anything at all?
The Texan put it down as the raving of a mind unbalanced by
hardship and peril.
"I suppose yo'-all know," he drawled loudly enough for them all to hear, "that
yo're on the most dangerous paht of the Llano, and that yo're off the road to Santa Fe."
liar!" the train commander snarled.
Kid Wolf tried to keep his anger from mounting.
This was the
thanks he got for trying to help these people!
"I'll prove it," sighed the kid patiently.
was that yo' crossed a few days ago?"
"Why, the Red River; we crossed it long ago," Modoc
"Yo're either a liar or a fool, Kid!
And I'd advise yuh to mind yore own business."
me 'Wolf,'" said the Texan, a ring of steel in his voice.
"I'm just 'The Kid' to friends.
Others call me
by mah last name.
And speakin' of the trail, that wasn't the Red Rivah yo' crossed.
It was the
And yo' must have gone ovah the Wichita Mountains, too."
"The Wichita!" ejaculated
one of the other men.
"Why, Modoc, yuh told us----"
"And I told yuh right!" said the leader
"I've been over this route before, and I know just where we are."
"Yo're in The Terror's
territory," drawled The Kid softly.
"And I've heahd from a reliable source that he's planned to raid
The others paled at the mention of The Terror.
But Modoc raised his voice in fury.
yuh goin' to believe?" he shouted.
"This upstart, or me? Why, for all we know"--his voice
dropped to a taunting sneer--"he might be a spy for The Terror himself--probably measurin' the
strength of our outfit!"
The other men seemed to hesitate.
Then one of them spoke out:
we'll believe you, Modoc.
We don't know this man, and we've trusted yuh so far."
showing a line of broken and tobacco-stained teeth.
He looked at Kid Wolf triumphantly.
tell you a few things, my fine young fellow," he leered. "Burn the wind out o' here and start
pronto, before yuh get a bullet through yuh.
Kid Wolf decided to make one last appeal.
Modoc were insane, it seemed terrible that these others should be led to their doom on that
Only the Texan could fully appreciate their peril.
The wagon train was loaded with
valuable goods, for these men were traders.
The Terror would welcome such plunder, and it was
his custom never to leave a man alive to carry the tale.
"Men," he said, "yo'-all got to believe me!
Yo're in terrible danger, and off the right road.
One man has already given his life to save yo',
and now I'm ready to give mine, if necessary.
Let me stay with yo' and guide yo' to safety, fo' yo'
Mah two guns are at yo' service, and if The Terror strikes, I'll help yo' fight."
advance guard heard him out.
Unbelief was written on all their faces.
"I think yuh'd better take
Modoc's advice," one of them said finally, "and git!
We can take care of ourselves."
heavy, Kid Wolf shrugged and turned away.
The rebuff hurt him, not on his own account, but
because these blindly trusting men were being deceived.
Modoc, whether purposely or not, had
led them astray.
He was about to ride away when his eyes fell upon the foremost of the wagons,
which was now creaking up, pulled by its straining team.
Kid Wolf gave a start.
Thrust out of the
opening in the canvas was a child's head, crowned with golden hair.
There were women and
children, then, in this ill-fated outfit!
The Texan rode his horse over to the wagon and smiled at
the youngster. It was a boy of three, chubby-faced and brown-eyed.
"Hello, theah," Kid called.
"What's yo' name?"
The baby returned the smile, obviously interested in this picturesque
"Name's Jimmy Lee," was the lisped answer.
"I'm goin' to Santa Fe. Where you goin'?"
Kid Wolf gulped.
He could not reply.
There was small chance that this little boy would ever reach
Santa Fe, or anywhere else.
Tears came to his eyes, and he wheeled Blizzard fiercely.
by!" came the small voice.
"Good-by, Jimmy Lee," choked the Texan.
When he looked back
again at the wagon train, he could still see a small, golden head gleaming in the first prairie
"Blizzahd," muttered Kid Wolf, "we've just got to help those people, whethah they
want it or not."
He pretended to head eastward, but when he was out of sight of the wagon train,
he circled back and drummed west at a furious clip.
The only thing he could do, he saw now,
was to go to Santa Fe for help. With the obstinate traders headed directly across the Llano, they
were sure to meet with trouble.
If he could bring back a company of soldiers from that Mexican
settlement, he might aid them in time.
"If they won't let me help 'em at this end," he murmured,
"I'll have to help 'em at the othah."
The town of Santa Fe--long rows of flat-topped adobes
nestling under the mountain--was at that day under Spanish rule.
Only a few Americans then
lived within its limits.
It was a thriving, though sleepy, town, as it was the gateway to all
A well-beaten trail left it southward for El Paso, and its main street was lined with
cantinas--saloons where mescal and tequila ran like water.
There were gambling houses of ill
repute, an open court for cockfighting, and other pastimes.
The few gringos who were there
looked, for the most part, like outlaws and fugitives from the States.
It lacked a few hours until
sunset when Kid Wolf drummed into the town. The mountains were already beginning to cast
long shadows, and the sounds of guitars and singing were heard in the gay streets.
past the plazas, the Texan at once went to the presidio--the palace of the governor.
It was of
adobe, like the rest of the buildings, but the thick walls were ornately decorated with stone.
was a fortress as well as a dwelling place, and it contained many rooms.
Several dozen rather
ragged soldiers were loafing about the presidio when Kid Wolf reached it, for a regiment was
stationed in the town.
Kid Wolf sought an interview with the governor at once, but in spite of his
pleading, he was told to return in two hours.
"The most honored and respected Governor Manuel
Quiroz," it seemed, was busy.
If the senor would return later, Governor Quiroz would be highly
pleased to see him.
There was nothing to do but wait, and the Texan decided to be patient. He
spent an hour in caring for his horse and eating his own hasty meal. Then, finding some time on
his hands, he walked through the plaza, watching the crowds with eyes that missed nothing.
found himself in a street where frijoles, peppers, and other foods were being offered for trade or
Cooking was even being done in open-air booths, and the air was heavy with seasoning
Here and there was a drinking place, crowded with revelers.
It was evidently some
sort of feast day in Santa Fe.
In front of one of the wine shops a little knot of men and soldiers
All were flushed with drink and talking loudly in their own tongue.
One of them--a
captain in a gaudy uniform--saw the Texan and made a laughing remark to his companions.
Wolf's face flushed under its tan.
His eyes snapped, but he continued his walk.
He had too much
on his mind just then to resent insults.
But the captain had noticed his change of expression.
gringo, then, knew Spanish.
His remarks became louder, more offensive.
More than half
intoxicated, he called jeeringly:
"I was just saying, senor, that many men who wear two guns do
not know how to use even one.
You understand, senor?
Or perhaps the senor does not know
Kid Wolf turned quietly.
"The senor knows the Spanish," he said softly.
captain turned to his companions with a knowing wink.
Then he addressed the Texan.
amigo, that is well," he mocked.
"Perhaps the senor can shoot also.
Perhaps the senor could do
A peon stood near by, and the captain pulled off the fellow's straw sombrero and tossed it
into the street.
The wind caught it and the hat sailed for some distance.
With a quick movement
the Spanish captain drew a pistol from his belt and fired.
With a sharp report, a round, black hole
appeared in the hat, low in the crown.
The crowd murmured its admiration at this feat.
captain stroked his thin black mustache and smiled proudly.
"Perhaps the senor might find that
difficult to do," he mocked.
Kid Wolf shrugged and started to pass on.
He did not
care to make a public exhibition of his shooting, especially when he had graver matters on his
But the jeers and taunts that broke loose from the half-drunken assembly were more than
any man could endure, especially a Texan with fiery Southern blood in his veins.
His eyes, however, were as cold as ice.
"Why," he asked calmly, "should I mutilate this
po' man's hat?"
His words were spoken in perfectly accented Spanish.
the captain, "if the senor hits it, I will pay for it with gold."
Kid Wolf drew his left-hand Colt so
quickly that no man saw the motion. Before they knew it, there was a sudden report that rolled
out like thunder--six shots, blended into one stuttering explosion.
He had emptied his gun in a
A gust of wind blew away the cloud of black powder smoke, and the crowd stared.
some one began to laugh.
It was taken up by others. Even the customers in the booths chuckled
at Kid Wolf's discomfiture. The captain's laugh was the loudest of all.
"Six shots the senor took,"
he guffawed, "and missed with them all! Ah, didn't I tell you that the Americans are bluffers, like
their game of poker?
This one carries two guns and cannot use even one!"
Kid Wolf smiled
A faint look of amusement was in his eyes.
"Maybe," he drawled, "yo'-all had bettah look
at that hat."
Curiously, and still smiling, some of the loiterers went over to examine the target.
When they had done so, they cried out in amazement.
It was true that just one bullet hole
showed in the front of the sombrero.
The captain's shot had drilled that one.
Naturally all had
supposed that the gringo had missed.
Such was not the case. All of Kid Wolf's six bullets had
passed through the captain's bullet mark!
For the back of the hat was torn by the marks of seven
slugs! Some one held the sombrero aloft, and the excited crowd roared its approval and
Never had such shooting been seen within the old city of Santa Fe.
captain, after his first gasp of surprise, had nothing to say.
Chagrin and disgust were written over
If ever a man was crestfallen, the captain was.
He hated to be made a fool of, and this
quiet man from Texas had certainly accomplished it.
He was about to slink off when Kid Wolf
drawled after him:
Pahdon, but haven't yo' forgotten somethin'?"
"What do you
mean?" snapped the other.
"Yo' were goin' to pay for this man's sombrero, I believe," said Kid
Wolf softly, "in gold."
"Bah!" snarled the officer.
"That I refuse to do!"
The Texan's hand snapped
down to his right Colt.
A blaze of flame leaped from the region of his hip.
Along with the crashing
roar of the explosion came a sharp, metallic twang.
The bullet had neatly clipped away the
captain's belt buckle!
A yell of laughter rang out on all sides.
For the captain's trousers, suddenly
unsupported, slipped down nearly to his knees.
With a cry of dismay, the disgruntled officer
seized them frantically and held them up.
"Reach down in those," drawled the Texan, "and see if
yo' can't find that piece of gold!"
The officer, white with rage in which hearty fear was mingled,
obeyed with alacrity, pulling out a gold coin and handing it, with an oath, to the peon whose hat
he had ruined.
"_Muchas gracias_," murmured Kid Wolf, reholstering his gun.
"And now, if the
fun's ovah, I must bid yo' _buenas tardes_.
And doffing his big hat, the Texan took his
departure with a sweeping bow, leaving the captain glaring furiously after him.
Judging that it was almost time for his interview with the governor, Kid
Wolf saddled Blizzard in the public _establo_, or stable, and rode at once to the governor's
Although it did not occur to him that Quiroz would reject his plea for aid, he was filled
He had a premonition that made him uneasy, although there seemed nothing at
which to be alarmed.
Dismounting, he walked up the stone flags toward the presidio entrance--a
huge, grated door guarded by two flashily dressed but barefooted soldiers.
They nodded for him
to pass, and the Texan found himself in a long, half-lighted passage.
Another guard directed him
into the office of Governor Quiroz, and Kid Wolf stepped through another carved door, hat in
He found that he had entered a large, cool room, lighted softly by windows of brightly
colored glass and barred with wrought iron.
The tiles of the floor were in black-and-white design,
and the place was bare of furniture, except at one end, where a large desk stood.
Behind it, in a
chair of rich mahogany, sat an impressive figure.
It was the governor.
While bowing politely, the
Texan searched the pale face of the man of whom he had heard so much.
By looking at him, he
thought he discovered why Quiroz was so feared by the oppressed people of the district.
strength showed itself in the official's aristocratic features.
There was something there besides
Quiroz had eyes that were mysterious and deep.
Not even the Texan could read the
secrets they masked.
Cruelty might lurk there, perhaps, or friendliness--who could say?
governor's soft-spoken invitation, Kid Wolf took a chair near the huge desk.
"Your business with
me, senor?" asked the official in smoothly spoken English.
Kid Wolf spoke respectfully, although
he did not fawn over the dignitary or lose his own quiet self-assertion.
He was an American. He
told of finding the tortured prospector and of the plight of the approaching wagon train.
continue on the course they are followin', guv'nor," he concluded, "they'll nevah reach Santa Fe.
And I have every reason to believe that The Terror plans to raid them."
"And what," asked the
governor pleasantly, "do you expect me to do?"
"I thought, sah," Kid Wolf replied, "that yo' would
let me return to them with a company of yo' soldiers."
"My dear senor," the governor said with
suave courtesy, "the people you wish to rescue are not subjects of mine."
Kid Wolf tried not to
show the irritation he felt.
"Surely, sah, yo' are humane enough to do this thing.
I thought I told
yo' theah's women and children in the wagon train."
Quiroz rubbed his chin as if in thought.
eyes, however, seemed to smolder with an emotion of which Kid Wolf could only guess the
nature. The Spaniard's face was that of a hypnotist, with its thin, high-bridged nose and its
chilling, penetrating gaze.
"Your name, senor?"
"Kid Wolf, from Texas, sah."
of that day had no reason to like gunmen from the Lone Star State.
From the time of Santa Anna,
Texas fighters had been thorns in their sides.
But if Quiroz was thinking of this, he made no sign.
He smiled with pleasure, either real or assumed.
"That is good," he said.
"Senor Wolf, to show
your good faith, will you be kind enough to lay your weapons on my desk?
It is a custom here not
to come armed in the presence of the governor."
Suspicion began to burn strongly in the back of
the Texan's brain.
Was Quiroz playing a crafty game?
He was supposed to be friendly toward
those from the States, but once before, in California, Kid Wolf had had dealings with a Spanish
Instantly he was on his guard, although he did not allow his face to show it.
"I am an
American, sah," he replied.
"Some have called me a soldier of misfohtune.
Anyway, I try and do
What good I have done fo' the weak and oppressed, sah, I've done with these."
tapped his twin Colts and went on: "I've twelve lead aces heah, sah, and I'm not in the habit of
layin' 'em down."
"We're not playing cards, senor."
Quiroz smiled pleasantly.
quick smile flashed.
"But if a game is stahted, I want a hand to play with."
His eyes were fixed on
the carved front of the governor's desk.
There seemed something strange about the carved
He was seated directly in front of it, in the chair Quiroz had pointed out to him, and for
the last few minutes he had wondered what it was that had attracted his attention.
The desk was
carved with a series of squares chiseled deep into the dark wood.
In one of the squares was a
black circle about the size of a small silver piece.
Somehow Kid Wolf did not like the looks of it.
What it could be, he could hardly guess.
The Texan had learned not to take chances.
and with his eyes still on the official's smiling face, he edged his chair away from it, an inch at a
His progress was slow enough not to attract Quiroz's attention.
"Then," asked the governor
slowly, "you refuse, senor?"
"Yo'-all are a fine guessah, sah!" snapped the Texan, alert as a steel
The governor moved his knee.
There was a sharp report, and a streak of flame leaped
from the desk front, followed by a puff of blue smoke. The bullet, however, knocked a slab of
plaster from the opposite wall. Just in time, Kid Wolf had moved his chair from the range of the
Quiroz's death-dealing apparatus had failed.
The Texan's cleverness had matched his
Concealed in the desk had been a pistol, the trigger of which had been pressed by the
weight of the official's knee on a secret panel.
Quick as a flash, Kid Wolf was on his feet, hands
flashing down toward his two .45s!
The governor, however, was not in the habit of playing a lone
hand against any antagonist.
Behind Kid Wolf rang out a command in curt Spanish:
Kid Wolf's sixth sense warned him that he was covered with a dead drop. His mind worked
He could have drawn and taken the governor of Santa Fe with him to death, perhaps
cutting down some of the men behind him, as well.
But in that case, what would become of the
wagon train, with no one to save them from The Terror?
A vision of the little golden-haired child
crossed his mind.
No, while there was life, there was hope.
Slowly he took his hands away from
his gun handles and raised them aloft.
Turning, he saw six soldiers, each with a rifle aimed at his
breast. In all probability they had had their eyes on him during his audience with the governor.
Quiroz snarled an order to them.
"Take away his guns!" he cried.
Then, while the Texan was
being disarmed, he took a long black cigarette from a drawer and lighted it with trembling fingers.
"You are clever, senor," said the governor, recovering his composure. "I am exceedingly sorry,
but I will have to deal with you in a way you will not like--the adobe wall."
He turned to his soldiers.
"Take him to the _calabozo_!" he ordered sharply.
building that was then being used as Santa Fe's prison was constructed of adobe with
tremendously thick walls and no windows.
The only place light and air could enter the sinister
building was through a grating the size of a man's hand in the huge, rusty iron door.
was marched to the prison by his sextet of guards.
While the door was being opened, he
glanced around him, taking what might prove to be his last look at the sky.
His eyes fell upon
one of the walls of the jail.
It was pitted with hundreds of little holes.
The Texan smiled grimly.
knew what had made them--bullets.
It was the execution place!
The door clanged behind him,
and a scene met The Kid's eyes that caused him to shudder.
In the big, dank room were huddled
fourteen prisoners. Most of them were miserable, half-naked peons.
It was intolerably hot, and
the air was so bad as almost to be unbreathable.
The prisoners kept up a wailing chant--a
hopeless prayer for mercy and deliverance.
A guttering candle shed a ghastly light over their thin
So this was what his audience with the governor had come to!
What a tyrant Quiroz had
proved to be!
Strangely enough, The Kid's thoughts were not of his own terrible plight, but of the
peril that awaited the wagon train.
If he could only escape this place, he might at least help
What a mistake he had made in going to the governor for aid!
His next thought was of his
What would become of him, if he, Kid Wolf, died?
The Texan knew one thing for
certain, that Blizzard was free.
Nobody could touch him save his master.
He was also sure that
the faithful animal awaited his beck and call.
The white horse was somewhere near and on the
Kid Wolf had trained it well.
He soon saw that escape by ordinary means from the prison
was quite hopeless.
There was no guard to overpower, the walls were exceedingly thick, and the
Only one of the prisoners, Kid Wolf noted, was an American--a sickly faced
youth of about the Texan's own age.
A few questions brought out the information that all the
inmates of the jail were under sentence of death.
The hours passed slowly in silent procession
while the dying candle burned low in the poison-laden air.
Kid Wolf paced the floor, his eyes cool
His mind, however, was wide awake.
When was he to be shot?
In the morning?
would his execution be delayed, perhaps for days?
The Texan never gave up hope, and he was
doing more than hoping now--he was planning carefully.
Kid Wolf had a hole card.
Spanish soldiers known him better, they would have used more care in disarming him.
enemies of Kid Wolf had made that mistake before, to their sorrow.
Clearly enough, he could not
help the wagon train where he was.
He must get out.
But the only way to get out, it seemed, was
to go out with the firing squad--a rather unpleasant thing to do, to say the least.
The tiny grated
square in the jail door began to lighten.
It grew brighter.
Day was breaking.
"It will soon be time
for the beans," muttered the American youth.
"Will they give us breakfast?" asked the Texan.
The other laughed bitterly.
"We'll have beans," he said shortly, "but we won't eat them."
afterward the iron door opened, and two soldiers entered, carrying a red earthenware olla.
"Fifteen men," said one of them in Spanish, "counting the new one."
"Fifteen men," chanted the
other in singsong voice.
Kid Wolf's brows began to knit.
At first he had thought
that the beans meant breakfast.
Now he saw that something sinister was intended. Some sort of
lottery was about to be played with beans.
"There are fourteen white beans," the young
American whispered, "and one black one.
We all draw.
The man who gets the black bean dies
The hair prickled on the Texan's head.
Every morning these unfortunates were
compelled to play a grim game with death.
The prisoners were all quaking with terror, as they
came up to the ugly red jug to take their chance for life.
As much as these miserable men
suffered in this terrible place, existence was still dear to them.
One soldier shook the beans in
the olla; the other stood back against the wall with leveled gun to prevent any outbreak.
Kid Wolf viewed the situation calmly, and decided that to try to wrest the weapon
from the soldier would be folly.
Other soldiers were watching through the grated door.
one, the prisoners drew.
The opening in the olla was just large enough for a hand to be admitted.
All was blind chance, and no one could see what he had drawn until his bean was out of the jug.
Some of the peons screamed with joy after drawing their white beans.
The black one was still in
The two white men were the last to draw.
Both took their beans and stepped to one side
to look at them.
It was an even break.
Kid Wolf was smiling; the other was trembling.
The eyes of
Kid Wolf met the fear-stricken eyes of the other.
They stood close together.
Each had looked at
The sick man's face had gone even whiter.
"I'll trade yo' beans," offered the Texan.
"Mine's--black!" gasped the other.
"I know," The Kid whispered in reply.
"Trade with me!"
means that yuh give yore life for mine," was the agonized answer. "I can't let yuh do that."
"Believe me or not, but I have a plan," urged the Texan in a low tone. "And it might work.
The color returned to the sick youth's face as the beans were cautiously exchanged.
Wolf turned to the soldiers and displayed a black bean.
"Guess I'm the unlucky one."
He turned to the sick boy for a final handshake.
"Good luck," he whispered, "and if
my plans fail, adios forever."
"Come!" ordered a Spanish soldier.
Waving his hand in farewell, Kid
Wolf stepped out to meet the doom that had been prepared for him.
At the prison door, Kid Wolf was met by a squad of ten soldiers.
It was the firing squad.
Texan fell in step with them and was marched around the building to the bullet-scarred wall.
Wolf faced the rising sun.
Was he now seeing it for the last time?
If he was afraid, he made no
His expression was unruffled and calm.
He was smiling a little, and his arms, as he folded
them on his breast, did not tremble in the slightest.
The officer who was to have charge of the
execution had not yet appeared on the scene, and the soldiers waited with their rifle stocks
trailing in the sand.
Then there was a quick bustle.
The officer sauntered around the corner of
the building, his bright uniform making a gay sight in the early sun.
He was a captain--the captain
whom Kid Wolf had humiliated the afternoon before!
The eyes of the Spanish officer, when they
fell upon his victim, widened with surprise which at once gave way to exultation.
"Ah, it is my
amigo--the senor of the two guns!" he cried.
It was his day of revenge!
The captain could not
conceal his joy at this chance to square things with his enemy for good and all.
He did not try to.
His laugh was sneering and amused.
"And to think it will be me--Captain Hermosillo--who will
say the word to fire!"
He turned to his soldiers in high good humor and waved his sword.
twenty paces," he ordered.
"We shall soon see how bravely the senor dies.
mechanisms clattered sharply.
Then the captain turned to his victim, an insolent smile on his