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

CHAPTER XII.
OLD SCAVENGER'S SCALP.

Not long after the departure of the bullwhacker, Old Scavenger had quite exhausted his vocabulary of epithets, and relapsed into a more quiet state.

"Curse the bullwhacker," he hissed, "he has robbed me of my vengeance, and tied me here at the mercy of the wild beasts, or any passerby who might be of a disposition to torment me. Ho! Who comes here?"

In the early moonlight, he saw a man enter the glade, and stride directly toward him.

Nearer he approached, and the Avenger was enabled to make him out as an Indian in full war-paint.

It was Dancing Plume the Apache.

A shiver of dread and doubt went over the Dwarf's figure, when he perceived it was not old Red Hatchet, as he had at first believed.

What would the Indian do to him?

Perhaps take advantage of his helplessness, and scalp and torture him!

Not so demented was Scavenger as not to realized the doubtful comfort of such a proceeding.

But, Dancing Plume was not that kind of a Warrior. He was willing and not afraid to meet an enemy face to face, weapon to weapon.

He had accidentally discovered the captive Dwarf, from the edge of the glade, and recognize him as his rival in the suit for the hand of Siska, he resolved to take advantage of the opportunity thus afforded to come to a settlement.

"Wagh! what is the little poodle pale-face doing, in this shape?" he demanded, pausing before the Avenger, and surveying him, sternly.

"Why is he bound to a tree?"

"A cussed bullwhacker took me a prisoner when I was asleep, and left me in this condition," Old Scavenger replied. "You're good Indian -- you will set me free."

"Dancing-Plume will set the pale-face free, but he must draw his knife and fight for his scalp and his life," the Apache chief responded, gruffly.

"But why? What have I even done that you should wish to force me into a fight?" Scavenger demanded, in alarm, for, though of great prowess, himself, he was aware that the Apaches are wonderfully accomplished in the use of the knife.

"Poodle pale-face is Dancing Plume's rival," the young warrior answered. "He holds a claim upon Siska, the mountain flower, and Dancing-Plume also claims her. Therefore, poodle pale-face must win her by killing the Dancing Plume, or lose her by losing his own life."

As he concluded speaking, the young war-chief cut Scavenger's bonds, and then stood on guard his keen blade ready for use.

"Draw your knife and strike," he said, firmly.

"It need not take long to find out who wins the mountain maiden!"

Scavenger measure his opponent with his wild eyes, for a moment, and then shook his head, doubtingly.

"The Indian is too skilled with the knife for the pale-face to hope to win. Therefore -- I'll skip!"

And, even as he spoke, he dodged to one side, and ran for dear life. But in this he had counted without his host.

His first leap had not taken him so far that he could miss a terrible blow in the back from Dancing Plume's knife -- a blow that promised to weaken him beyond the power of flight.

We will pass over the scene that followed as something too horrible to describe.

Suffice to say, when he presented himself at the cabin of Red Hatchet that evening, Dancing Plume was dangling from his belt the reeking scalp of the Dwarf Avenger.

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