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

CHAPTER XIV.
DEATH NOTCH NO MORE: A CLOSING ACT.

THE next morning dawned brightly, and by sunrise nearly every man, woman and child of Death Notch had forsaken the camp for the scene of Shakespeare's auction.

Picture Rock was a high mass of rocks deposited in the gulch, a few hundred rods beyond the town. The sides were almost perpendicular, up and down, rendering it impossible to reach the top of the pile except by use of a rude stone staircase which Indians of past ages had hewn out, and these were so arranged that a person at the top could easily defend himself from the attack of a small regiment.

The sides of these rocks were covered by grotesque pictures of Indians, animals and reptiles, which had been chiseled there by rude and savage sculptors.

Upon the top of the rock two blocks of store answered the purpose of chairs, and on these poet and his prisoner rescuer were seated.

Poor Myrtle's face was tear-stained and wore a sorrowful expression, but it lighted up and she gave a cry of joy when she saw, the familiar face of her mother.

"Oh, mamma-mamma!" she cried, putting forth her hands, "save me!"

"Yes, my child!" Mrs. Morris cried, tears standing in her eyes. "Have courage, dearest!"

When he saw that his audience had gained about as large proportions as it was likely to, the bullwhacker arose, a pair of cocked revolvers in his hands.

"Feller-citerzens!" he cried, "et does me proud ter see ye all here. I knew you'd cum, because ye all wanter bid fer my prize. She's mine; I captured her, an' I'm goin' ter sell 'er fer ther highest market price, an' I'll shute ther furst one who tries to take her, afore I'm paid. Now, how much do I hear fer ther gal-how much fer her, jest as she is? Recollect-terms ar' cash, on delivery o' goods."

"Two bits!" cried a miner.

"Fifty dollars!" cried another.

"One hundred!" shouted still another.

"That's et! keep the ball in motion boys!" the poet cried, with enthusiasm. "Put all the vallue on her ye can, ter ye know I allus invite ther crowd to drink when ther state o' my financial will admit!"

"I'll give a hundred more," Poker Jack said, coolly.

"Two -- two hundred dollars I have -- who'll make it three?"

"Five hundred -- I'll give five hundred!" a voice cried the voice of Carrol Carner, but just where he stood among the crowd no one could see.

"I'll make it a thousand!" Poker Jack cried.

"I'm going to have the girl, gentlemen; so the rest of you might as well give up."

"Twelve hundred! We'll see who has the girl!" the voice of Carrol Carner again cried, and this time Calamity was as on the watch, and saw whence the voice emanated.

The Mormon was rigged out with long black beard and hair and accoutered with miner's habiliments, and was also armed with a pick, shovel and pan.

"If I keep my word, I'll have to go over and plug him," she mused. "I'll wait and see, first, how this turns out."

"I'll raise it to fifteen hundred!" Poker Jack said, promptly, "and I've got the ducats to pay it!"

"Look! Look!" some one shouted, and all eyes were turned down the gulch.

Coming toward them, mounted upon a flying horse, was the Unknown, yelling and waving his hat above his head.

Behind him, not hardly out of rifle range, came a dark mass of horsemen, whose horrible screeches and nodding plumes proclaimed them to be Indians!

In an instant all was consternation and confusion, and flight was made in every direction. No one, thought of aught but their own safety, except Poker Jack.

Even he was alarmed, but saw that action was necessary. He saw the bullwhacker desert his prize by leaping from the rocks and seeking flight; he saw one black-whiskered man make for the staircase, and knew it was the Mormon.

Drawing a revolver he fired at his legs, and brought him down to the ground, howling with rage.

"Quick! quick!" he cried to Myrtle running to the foot of the cliff; "jump off and I'll catch you!"

Though bound and helpless, she contrived to fall over the edge, and he caught her neatly in his arms.

Then, still carrying her thus, he bade Mrs. Morris follow him, and dashed up a narrow ravine which none of the others had taken. Nor did he pause until he had, with the precautions of a veteran scout, covered their trail, and reached a place of safety in a mountain cleft, several miles from the Picture Rocks.

Here for the present they were in no danger of molestation from foes, either red or white.

The same could not be said of the others.

Like a hurricane of wrath the warriors under the lead of Dancing Plume swept down in pursuit of the late residents of Death Notch, and shot down and scalped them without mercy. Some may have escaped, but it is doubtful if many did so. Among the fortunate ones was the Unknown, whose horse was fleet enough to carry him beyond the reach of the savages.

Only one prisoner was taken back to the ill-fated town of Death Notch, and that one was Calamity Jane.

After remaining several days in the mountain, Mrs. Morris and Myrtle, escorted by Poker Jack, started on foot for the nearest railway station, which they reached after about two week's travel afoot. From there they returned to California. Jack still accompanying them and defraying their expenses.

And he having to live a more respectable existence, it is not impossible that Myrtle will reward him with her hand at no far distant day.

For several days Calamity was kept locked up in a cabin, which was guarded by savages, and left to herself except when some food was brought her.

One evening she was greatly surprised to see the Unknown enter the cabin.

"Come!" he said. "Your imprisonment is at an end. I have, through the kindness of Red Hatchet's daughter, secured your freedom, with the proviso that we both leave this place forever!"

She at once consented.

If she went with him her fate could be little if any worse than if she remained with the savages.

Therefore they both mounted horses, outside the cabin, and rode forever away from Death Notch!

Two days later they arrived in sight of' Pioche; here the Unknown drew rein and said :

"Calamity! Is it possible my deception has been so clever as to deceive your shrewd eyes all this time? I am Deadwood Dick, who holds a mortgage of betrothal against you!"

And he removed the disguise that had saved him since being rescued from the quicksand -- which rescue, he explained, was performed by Siska, the Pawnee, just as it was almost too late. Doomed he had been; but for her he would have perished from the face of the earth by a terrible death, and he willed that it should be so, ever after, in the minds of the people of Death Notch, and had therefore adopted and maintained the disguise of the Unknown.

That night, in a private parlor at Pioche, Dick and the poor, sore-hearted but brave and true Calamity were married, and the author joins in the wishes of his readers that they may "live long and prosper;" they, the two wild spirits who had learned each other's faults and each other's worth in lives branded with commingled shame and honor.

THE END.

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