Deadwood Dick's Doom; or, Calamity Jane's Last Adventure

CHAPTER XI.
THE POET PLOTS.

FOR a moment after his strange unmasking, Carrol Carrier stood confronting the Girl Sport, almost speechless with rage; then he drew a knife and rushed fiercely her, but stopped when he perceived that she held a cocked "six" in hand.

"Slack up yer lokermotive, ef ye please!" she ordered, peremptorily, "or I shall perforate you. Don't 'spect I see'd you leave the tavern, did ye, and that I tumbled ter yer leetle game the minute I see'd you?"

"Everlasting curses seize you!" the baffled schemer hissed. "If you put up that pistol I'll kill you!"

"It would be rather kind of me to give you that advantage, but I can't hardly see ther point!" Calamity returned, drily. "And, I allow thet, for yer own personal safety, et would be your likeliest move to make yourself scarce about this burg. In other words I'll give you five minutes to git! If I see enough of your anatomy after that to get a decent aim at, I'll blow you higher than dynarmite blowed Hell Gate."

"But I protest! Gentlemen, I appeal to you for protection!" the scoundrel cried, turning to the rough-shod audience he had just been addressing. "Will you see me thus bulldozed by this young tigress in breeches?"

"I allow ye'll hev ter fight yer own battle, pilgrim," poetical Shakespeare asserted, with a broad grin. "Ye war superfine at pullin' sheepskin over our eyes, an' we opine ye'll hev ter rest on yer own oars -- you bet! Ef the gal sez git, I allow thet is about the healthiest thing yen kin do."

"Yes you bet, and you'll need to be expeditious in order ot get out of range of my pop-gun in the four minutes that yet remain," Calamity added, glancing at her watch. "Come, be moving, or you're a cadaver, sure! And recollect, if I ever catch you in this town hereafter, I shall pop you over without ceremony."

Carrier gazed at her a few seconds with a face that was livid with rage, and then turned and strode to the door.

"Remember!" he cried, turning and shaking his clinched fist at her, then he hurried forth into the pouring rain. Calamity followed him to the door and kept her revolver leveled at him until he had left the basin; then she returned to the bar-room, from whence she went to her own apartment upstairs.

The poet bullwhacker was a shrewder man than many gave him credit for being. While outwardly blatant and boastful, he was capable of putting this and that together and forming some pretty correct conclusions.

Among others he had lately conceived a little money-making plan of his own, from things that had come to his notice.

In the first place, he had, by figuring and guessing, concluded that the girl, Virgie Verner or more correctly Myrtle Morris -- was of more pecuniary value than ordinary girls, for the reason that she was wanted by two parties -- first by Carrol Carner, who had offered five hundred dollars reward for her, and secondly by Mrs. Morris. How much could be extorted from her the bullwhacker had no idea, but he had conceived the notion that she would be glad to pay still more handsomely.

In the second place, he had formed another idea that he could find the girl. He had twice gotten a glimpse of Old Scavenger, the Mad Dwarf-he had seen the terrible face of the Avenger at the tavern window the night of Pinto Dave's death, and know the Dwarf had been the one who had fired the fatal bullet simultaneous with the report of Calamity Jane's weapon. Something argued to him that Virgie was in Scavenger's power.

Thus concluding, the poet formed a determination to obtain the girl himself, if possible, and surrender her to the one who would her.

On the day following, which was a pleasant, sunny one, he left the town, and spent his time in the mountains and forests that surrounded Death Notch on every hand.

His object in this was to obtain a glimpse of the Dwarf. One glimpse was all he wanted -- he could then strike the maniac's trail and follow it, no matter where it led -- for not many years before the bullwhacker had been a scout upon the plains, and had acquired great skill in picking and acquired great skill in picking and following trails.

"Ter solve this hyar enigma
Must see his nibs contig' me,
Then may Satan all unrig me
An' b'ars an' wildcats dig me
ef I do not find ther pigmy!"

he said, smiting his brow.

It was well along in the day ere he caught a glimpse of Old Scavenger, descending a mountain path. The Dwarf had a haunch of a recently killed deer upon his shoulder, and was evidently making for his camp.

No sooner did he spy him than the poet secreted himself hastily in a clump of chaparral, and waited to learn which course the maniac would take after reaching the gulch.

"Oh! now I've struck a lead;
His trail I'll quickly read;
I'll next thing git him treed,
An' waltz oil wi'ther gal-indeed!"

was the poetical thought of the bullwhacker.

Scavenger continued to descend the rugged path, until he reached the gulch bottom, when he paused and glared around him, as if to assure himself that no one was in the vicinity.

His eyes gleamed with a wild, unnatural fire, and altogether he was a horrible object to see.

That he was utterly insane no one could doubt, who beheld him.

After a moment's survey of his surroundings, he turned and strode up the western course of the gulch, which led into the heart of the wooded mountains.

Allowing him to get fairly out of sight, the bullwhacker then emerged from concealment, and took up the trail and followed it step for step.

"Ef I shouldn't find ther gal, I'll be madder'n ther hornet who out o' spite bit off his own ear," he soliloquized. "I allow, however, thet I'm on ther right trail."

The Dwarf led him a long walk ere the destination came into view, and caution required the trailer to stop.

The Avenger's camp was in the gulch bottom in a little forest glade. A rude camp-lodge boughs had been constructed for shelter. Near this, upon a log, sat none other than Virgie Verner -- or Myrtle Morris, the Mormon's bride and victim.

She was not free, however. A strong small-linked chain was locked about her waist, and then fastened to the strong limb of a tree overhead which shaded the spot where she sat.

From his position, which was several rods distant from the camp, Shakespeare could not hear anything that was said by either the fair prisoner or her captor, but he saw the Dwarf his fist at the former, as he laid down his haunch of meat.

"The cussed leetle skunk is ugly ter her, I opine," the poet grunted disapprovingly. "Wonder ef I hadn't better pop him over and done with it? Guess, however, et would be best ter tackle him when he's asleep, and secure him in the real flesh an' blood. Ef I war ter put 'im in a cage, I expect I could hire him out ter Barnum as a curiosity."

It was getting dark, and not being particularly desirous of shedding human blood, the poet decided to postpone action until the Dwarf slept.

In the mean time, Scavenger built a fire, and slicing off some meat from the haunch with his keen knife, spitted it upon a stick, and proceeded to roast it. When he had a sufficient quantity prepared, he laid several pieces upon a chip, and handed the food to Myrtle, who had been watching him with a grave, anxious face.

"Ther! eat, you girl! that will bring the roses back to your cheek for me to kiss away!" he said with a horrible grin.

Myrtle pushed the meat away in disgust.

"I do not want anything to eat, you human beast!" she gasped, in horror. "All I want of you is to release me, and let me go my way."

"Oh! ho! that would be kinder nice, wouldn't it?" he grunted. "But, you're too much of a hurry, my rosebud, I wouldn't send you off at night you must wait till morning!"

"Ah! then, will you release we? Oh! please say that you will!" the young woman said, pleadingly.

"Yes! yes! I'll release you-to be sure I will -- from every earthly care, trial and temptation. I'll send you where Deadwood Dick sent my child -- oh, yes I will! I'll cut yer pretty throat, an' ye'll die easy, an' go straight to Jordan's golden shores, on ther broad route!"

Myrtle uttered a scream, as she comprehended his purpose.

"Oh! surely-surely you will not harm me, sir? Only promise me that you won't! What have I ever done that you wish to kill me?"

"Nothing! nothing at all! but I have sworn to kill every white hellion I could get a hold of, and I shall fulfill my oath. To-morrow, just at sunrise, you shall die, and there will be another notch upon Red Hatchet's tally-pole, put there by me. Ha! ha! ha!"

And he laughed like a demon incarnate, as he was.

Poor Myrtle!

What else could she do more appropriate than indulge in a good hearty cry? -- which she did.

It did not affect the Avenger, however for he ate ravenously of raw meat, after which be smoked his pipe, and rolled himself up in his blanket near the fire, preparatory to going to sleep.

Myrtle's chain was of considerable length, so that she could enter the hut and recline upon a bed of boughs which had been provided for her. Outside the camp, the bullwhacker poet waited impatiently for the midnight hour to arrive, having decided that it would be his best time to act.

It came, at last, and he stole stealthily forward, with cat-like tread, into the, glade, a cocked revolver in his hand ready for use in case necessity compelled him to fight for his prize.

He soon reached the Dwarf's side without arousing him. Then, armed with a rope he sprung upon the unsuspecting Avenger, and secured his hands in almost a twinkling; then his feet; so that Scavenger was utterly powerless to move by the time he had fully awakened to a sense of what was going on.

"Curses on you!" he gasped, struggling to get free.

"Who aree you? -- what do you on mean? -- what d'ye want?"

"My name is William Henry Shakespeare, ther poet o' ther West, an' philosophical protection of the wimmen's rights," the bullwhacker declared. "I'm goin' ter bind ye ter a tree fer wolf-fodder-then waltz off wit yer captive!"

And he was as good as his word. Securely binding the Dwarf to a tree, he then entered the tent, bound Myrtle hand and foot, and throwing her over his shoulder, strode away out of the glade, followed by terrible curses from the lips of Old Scavenger.

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