Hopalong cassidy, p.1
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       Hopalong Cassidy, p.1
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           Honoré Morrow
Hopalong Cassidy


  Produced by Janet Kegg, Matthew Wheaton and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net

  Hopalong Cassidy

  BY

  Clarence E. Mulford

  Author of The BAR-20 THREE, "TEX", Etc.

  GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers

  By arrangement with A. C. McClurg & Co.

  COPYRIGHT BY A. C. MCCLURG & CO. 1910

  Published March 12, 1910 Second Edition, March 19, 1910 Third Edition, March 26, 1910 Fourth Edition, May 28, 1910 Fifth Edition, July 9, 1910 Sixth Edition, January 28, 1911

  Entered at Stationers' Hall, London

  _All Rights Reserved_

  _Affectionately Dedicated to My Father_

  CONTENTS

  CHAPTER

  I. ANTONIO'S SCHEME II. MARY MEEKER RIDES NORTH III. THE ROUNDUP IV. IN WEST ARROYO V. HOPALONG ASSERTS HIMSELF VI. MEEKER IS TOLD VII. HOPALONG MEETS MEEKER VIII. ON THE EDGE OF THE DESERT IX. ON THE PEAK X. BUCK VISITS MEEKER XI. THREE IS A CROWD XII. HOBBLE BURNS AND SLEEPERS XIII. HOPALONG GROWS SUSPICIOUS XIV. THE COMPROMISE XV. ANTONIO MEETS FRIENDS XVI. THE FEINT XVII. PETE IS TRICKED XVIII. THE LINE HOUSE RE-CAPTURED XIX. ANTONIO LEAVES THE H2 XX. WHAT THE DAM TOLD XXI. HOPALONG RIDES SOUTH XXII. LUCAS VISITS THE PEAK XXIII. HOPALONG AND RED GO SCOUTING XXIV. RED'S DISCOMFITURE XXV. ANTONIO'S REVENGE XXVI. FRISCO VISITS EAGLE XXVII. SHAW HAS VISITORS XXVIII. NEVADA JOINS SHAW XXIX. SURROUNDED XXX. UP THE WALL XXXI. FORTUNE SNICKERS AT DOC XXXII. NATURE TAKES A HAND XXXIII. DOC TRAILS XXXIV. DISCOVERIES XXXV. JOHNNY TAKES THE HUT XXXVI. THE LAST NIGHT XXXVII. THEIR LAST FIGHT XXXVIII. A DISAGREEABLE TASK XXXIX. THIRST XL. CHANGES XLI. HOPALONG'S REWARD

  HOPALONG CASSIDY

  CHAPTER I

  ANTONIO'S SCHEME

  The raw and mighty West, the greatest stage in all the history of theworld for so many deeds of daring which verged on the insane, wasseared and cross-barred with grave-lined trails and dotted withpresumptuous, mushroom towns of brief stay, whose inhabitants flungtheir primal passions in the face of humanity and laughed incondescending contempt at what humanity had to say about it. In manylocalities the real bad-man, the man of the gun, whose claims to theappellation he was ready to prove against the rancorous doubting ofall comers, made history in a terse and business-like way, and alsomade the first law for the locality--that of the gun.

  There were good bad-men and bad bad-men, the killer by necessity andthe wanton murderer; and the shifting of these to their proper strataevolved the foundation for the law of to-day. The good bad-men, thosein whose souls lived the germs of law and order and justice, graduallybecame arrayed against the other class, and stood up manfully fortheir principles, let the odds be what they might; and bitter,indeed, was the struggle, and great the price.

  From the gold camps of the Rockies to the shrieking towns of thecoast, where wantonness stalked unchecked; from the vast stretches ofthe cattle ranges to the ever-advancing terminals of the persistentrailroads, to the cow towns, boiling and seething in the loosedpassions of men who brooked no restraint in their revels, no onesection of country ever boasted of such numbers of genuine bad-men ofboth classes as the great, semi-arid Southwest. Here was one of theworst collections of raw humanity ever broadcast in one locality; herethe crack of the gun would have sickened except that moralists werefew and the individual so calloused and so busy in protecting his ownlife and wiping out his own scores that he gave no heed to the sumtotal of the killings; it was a word and a shot, a shot and a laugh ora curse.

  In this red setting was stuck a town which we will call Eagle, theriffle which caught all the dregs of passing humanity, where mendanced as souls were freed. Unmapped, known only to those who hadvisited it, it reared its flimsy buildings in the face of God andrioted day and night with no thought of reckoning; mad, insane withhellishness unlimited.

  Late in the afternoon of a glorious day towards this town rodeAntonio, "broncho-buster" for the H2, a Mexican of little courage,much avarice, and great capacity for hatred. Crafty, filled withcunning of the coyote kind, shifty-eyed, gloomy, taciturn, andscowling, he was well fitted for the part he had elected to play inthe range dispute between his ranch and the Bar-20. He was absolutelywithout mercy or conscience; indeed, one might aptly say that hisconscience, if he had ever known one, had been pulled out by the rootsand its place filled with viciousness. Cold-blooded in his ferocity,easily angered and quick to commit murder if the risk were small, heembraced within his husk of soul the putrescence of all that was evil.

  In Eagle he had friends who were only a shade less evil than himself;but they had what he lacked and because of it were entitled to aforced respect of small weight--they had courage, that spontaneous,initiative, heedless courage which toned the atmosphere of the wholeWest to a magnificent crimson. Were it not for the reason that theyhad drifted to his social level they would have spurned hisacquaintance and shot him for a buzzard; but, while they secretly heldhim in great contempt for his cowardice, they admired his criminalcunning, and profited by it. He was too wise to show himself in thetrue light to his foreman and the outfit, knowing full well that deathwould be the response, and so lived a lie until he met his friends ofthe town, when he threw off his cloak and became himself, and where heplotted against the man who treated him fairly.

  Riding into the town, he stopped before a saloon and slouched in tothe bar, where the proprietor was placing a new stock of liquors onthe shelves.

  "Where's Benito, an' th' rest?" he asked.

  "Back there," replied the other; nodding toward a rear room.

  "Who's in there?"

  "Benito, Hall, Archer an' Frisco."

  "Where's Shaw?"

  "Him an' Clausen an' Cavalry went out 'bout ten minutes ago."

  "I want to see 'em when they come in," Antonio remarked, shamblingtowards the door, where he listened, and then went in.

  In the small room four men were grouped around a table, drinking andtalking, and at his entry they looked up and nodded. He nodded inreply and seated himself apart from them, where he soon became wrappedin thought.

  Benito arose and went to the door. "_Mescal, pronto_," he said to theman outside.

  "D----d _pronto_, too," growled Antonio. "A man would die of alkali inthis place before he's waited on."

  The proprietor brought a bottle and filled the glasses, giving Antoniohis drink first, and silently withdrew.

  The broncho-buster tossed off the fiery stuff and then turned hisshifty eyes on the group. "Where's Shaw?"

  "Don't know--back soon," replied Benito.

  "Why didn't he wait, when he knowed I was comin' in?"

  Hall leaned back from the table and replied, keenly watching theinquisitor, "Because he don't give a d--n."

  "You----!" shouted the Mexican, half arising, but the othersinterfered and he sank back again, content to let it pass. But not soHall, whose Colt was half drawn.

  "I'll kill you some day, you whelp," he gritted, but before anythingcould come of it Shaw and his companions entered the room and thetrouble was quelled.

  Soon the group was deep in discussion over the merits of a schemewhich Antonio unfolded to them, and the more it was weighed the betterit appeared. Finally Shaw leaned back and filled his pipe. "You've gotth' brains of th' devil, 'Tony."

  "Eet ees not'ing," replied Antonio.

  "Oh, drop that lingo an' talk straight--you ain't on th' H2 now,"growled Hall.

  "Benito, you know this country like a book," Shaw continued. "Where'sa goo
d place for us to work from, or ain't there no choice?"

  "Thunder Mesa."

  "Well, what of it?"

  "On de edge of de desert, high, beeg. De walls are stone, an' so ver'smooth. Nobody can get up."

  "How can we get up then?"

  "There's a trail at one end," replied Antonio, crossing his legs andpreparing to roll a cigarette. "It's too steep for cayuses, an' toonarrow; but we can crawl up. An' once up, all h--l can't follow aslong as our cartridges hold out."

  "Water?" inquired Frisco.

  "At th' bottom of th' trail, an' th' spring is on top," Antonioreplied. "Not much, but enough."

  "Can you work yore end all right?" asked Shaw.

  "_Si_," laughed the other. "I am 'that fool, Antonio,' on th' ranch.But they're th' fools. We can steal them blind an' if they find itout--well," here he shrugged his shoulders, "th' Bar-20 can take th'blame. I'll fix that, all right. This trouble about th' line is justwhat I've been waitin' for, an' I'll help it along. If we can get 'emfightin' we'll run off with th' bone _we_ want. That'll be easy."

  "But can you get 'em fightin'?" asked Cavalry, so called because hehad spent several years in that branch of the Government service, anddeserted because of the discipline.

  Antonio laughed and ordered more _mescal_ and for some time took nopart in the discussion which went on about him. He was dreaming ofsuccess and plenty and a ranch of his own which he would start in OldMexico, in a place far removed from the border, and where no questionswould be asked. He would be a rich man, according to the standards ofthat locality, and what he said would be law among the peons. He likedto daydream, for everything came out just as he wished; there was nodiscordant note. He was so certain of success, so conceited as not toask himself if any of the Bar-20 or H2 outfits were not his equal orsuperior in intelligence. It was only a matter of time, he toldhimself, for he could easily get the two ranches embroiled in a rangewar, and once embroiled, his plan would succeed and he would be safe.

  "What do you want for your share, 'Tony?" suddenly asked Shaw.

  "Half."

  "What! _Half?_"

  "_Si._"

  "You're loco!" cried the other. "Do you reckon we're going to buck upagin th' biggest an' hardest fightin' outfit in this country an' takeall sorts of chances for a measly half, to be divided up among sevenof us!" He brought his fist down on the table with a resounding thump."You an' yore game can go to h--l first!" he shouted.

  "I like a hog, all right," sneered Clausen, angrily.

  "I thought it out an' I got to look after th' worst an' most importantpart of it, an' take three chances to you fellers' one," repliedAntonio, frowning. "I said half, an' it goes."

  "Run all th' ends, an' keep it all," exclaimed Hall. "An', by God,we've got a hand in it, now. If you try to hog it we'll drop a wordwhere it'll do th' most good, an' don't you forget it, neither."

  "Anton ees right," asserted Benito, excitedly. "Eet ees one reesk forAnton."

  "Keep yore yaller mouth shut," growled Cavalry. "Who gave you any sayin this?"

  "Half," said Antonio, shrugging his shoulders.

  "Look here, you," cried Shaw, who was, in reality, the leader of thecrowd, inasmuch as he controlled all the others with the exception ofBenito and Antonio, and these at times by the judicious use offlattery. "We'll admit that you've got a right to th' biggest share,but not to no half. You have a chance to get away, because you canwatch 'em, but how about us, out there on th' edge of h--l? If theycome for us we won't know nothing about it till we're surrounded. Nowwe want to play square with you, an' we'll give you twice as much asany one of th' rest of us. That'll make nine shares an' give you twoof 'em. What more do you want, when you've got to have us to run th'game at all?"

  Antonio laughed ironically. "Yes. I'm where I can watch, an' getkilled first. You can hold th' mesa for a month. I ain't as easy as Ilook. It's my game, not yourn; an' if you don't like what I ask, stayout."

  "We will!" cried Hall, arising, followed by the others. His handrested on the butt of his revolver and trouble seemed imminent. Benitowavered and then slid nearer to Antonio. "You can run yore game all byyore lonesome, as _long_ as you _can_!" Hall shouted. "I know a fellerwhat knows Cassidy, an' I'll spoil yore little play right now. You'lllook nice at th' end of a rope, won't you? It's this: share like Shawsaid or get out of here, an' look out for trouble a-plenty to-morrowmorning. I've put up with yore gall an' swallered yore insultin'actions just as long as I'm going to, an' I've got a powerful notionto fix you right here and now!"

  "No fightin', you fools!" cried the proprietor, grabbing his Colt andrunning to the door of the room. "It's up to you fellers to sticktogether!"

  "I'll be d----d if I'll stand--" began Frisco.

  "They want too much," interrupted Antonio, angrily, keeping closewatch over Hall.

  "We want a fair share, an' that's all!" retorted Shaw. "Sit down, allof you. We can wrastle this out without no gun-play."

  "You-all been yappin' like a set of fools," said the proprietor. "I'veheard every word you-all said. If you got a mite of sense you'll besome tender how you shout about it. It's shore risky enough withouttellin' everybody this side of sun-up."

  "I mean just what I said," asserted Hall. "It's Shaw's offer, ornothin'. We ain't playing fool for no Greaser. _Yes_, that's th'word--Greaser!" he repeated in answer to Antonio's exclamation. "Ifyou don't like it, lump it!"

  "Here! Here!" cried Shaw, pushing Hall into a seat. "If you two havegot anything to settle, wait till some other time."

  "That's more like it," growled the proprietor, shuffling back to thebar.

  "Good Lord, 'Tony," cried Shaw in a low voice. "That's fair enough;we've got a right to something, ain't we? Don't let a good thing fallthrough just because you want th' whole earth. Better have a littlethan none."

  "Well, gimme a third, then."

  "I'll give you a slug in th' eye, you hog!" promised Hall, starting torise again, but Shaw held him back. "Sit down, you fool!" he ordered,angrily. Then he turned to the Mexican. "Third don't go; take my offeror leave it."

  "Gimme a fourth; that's fair enough."

  Shaw thought for a moment and then looked up. "Well, that's more likeit. What do you say, fellers?"

  "No!" cried Hall. "Two-ninths, or nothin'!"

  "A fourth is two-eighths, only a little more," Shaw replied.

  "Well, all right," muttered Hall, sullenly.

  "That ees ver' good," laughed Benito, glad that things were clearing.All his sympathies were with his countryman, but he hesitated to takehis part in the face of such odds.

  The others gave their consent to the division and Shaw smiled. "Well,that's more like it. Now we'll go into this thing an' sift it out.Keep mum about it--there's twenty men in town that would want to joinus if they knowed."

  "I'm goin' to be boss; what I say goes," spoke up Antonio. "It's mygame an' I'm takin' th' most risky end."

  "You ain't got sand enough to be boss of anything," sneered Hall."Yore sand is chalk."

  "You'll say too much someday," retorted Antonio, glaring.

  "Oh, not to _you_, I reckon," rejoined Hall, easily.

  "Shut up, both of you!" snapped Shaw. "You can be boss, 'Tony," hesaid, winking at Hall. "You've got more brains for a thing like thisthan any of us. I don't see how you can figger it out like you do."

  Antonio laughed in a self-satisfied way, for it was pleasant to hearsuch an admission from the lips of a Gringo, and he was ready todiscuss things in a better spirit. But he remembered one thing, andswore to take payment if the plan leaked out; the proprietor hadconfessed hearing every word, which was not at all to his liking. IfQuinn should tell, well, Quinn would die; he would see to that, he andBenito.

 
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