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About The Red Cloud chief. (Red Cloud, Webster Co., Neb.) 1873-1923 | View Entire Issue (Feb. 17, 1921)
RED CLOUD, NEBRASKA, CHIEF
COMRADES OF PERIL
By RANDALL PARRISH
in One Day
The Attack on the Cabin.
There was no sound from without,
except occasionally the echo of a dis
tant voice Bhoutlng. Shelby, startled
by these words nnd alnrmcd by her
Agitation, swiftly crossed the room.
The body wns gone, actually gone I As
he bent over, Incredulous, distrusting
the evidence of his own eyes, he could
0 perceive the stnln of blood In which
the man had fallen, but that was nil.
There was no semblance of a body
"Judas Priest I" he said soberly.
"This beats anything ever I saw. He
couldn't have been killed, but I never
'"bow him twitch a muscle after he
dropped. Oonct Darn If I know what
to make of It Why, where could he
have gone to? There ain't hut one way
out from this shack an' he sure didn't
go out there."
"No, he couldn't," her voice quaver.
Ing. "Wo would have seen him If he
"Seen him I Of course, we would.
lie must have revived and crawled
away. You bet, there ain't no mystery
about It. Dead men ain't movln'
around an there ain't no angels comln'
down to carry that cuss off. What's
happened Is, ho got back strength
enough to crawl, Likely he got Into
that hack room out o' sight. Any
how I'm goln' to find out what's hap
pened. You keep nn eye at that hole
In the wall yonder, while I scout around
a minute. If you see anything movln'
In shootln' distance, Just blaze away.
Don't hesitate a moment"
She went forward as he told her
without a word and stared out, yet
nervously turning her head about at
the slightest sound. Shelby waited a
moment, listening, nnd then stepped
confidently forwnrd across the thresh
old of the Inner door. -He had no
doubt that he would discover Macklln
dead or alive, outstretched on the
floor. The fellow must be there; he
could have gone nowhere else. The
place was as black as night; a step
beyond the entrance and he had to
grope his wny blindly, unable to dis
tinguish a single object There was
something grim and ghastly In feeling
about with his feet for an unseen body.
Then the fellow might still be alive,
even dangerous. He stopped at the
disquieting thought nnd spoke sharply
Into the gloom.
"Are you there. Muck! In? Come,
peak up; nobody Is going to hurt
There wm no response, no move
ment no sound of n groan, no pulsing
of breath. The stillness wns Intense,
horrible. Shelby gripped himself and
began to ndvunre slowly, guiding his
passage along the wall, expecting ev
ery Instant to encounter some obsta
cle, nis groping feet touched nothing.
Inch by Inch he explored the floor of
the room, the perspiration beginning
to stand In drops on his forehead.
There was no body lying there, no
form of a man, either living or dead;
the place was absolutely unoccupied.
He could hardly believe thts true; his
ndnd refused to prnsp the fact; he
came hack to the door rinzed nnd un
nerved. All nature, nil reasoning told
him the man must be somewhere with
in the cnbln; uny other thought wns
simply Impossible; yet where? He had
nlrendv explored every Inch of surface
to fio result So bewildered nnd dum
founded wns he before this mystery
that he wns even stnrtled nt the girl's
voice, asking nn eager question.
"Is he there? Did you find hlra?"
."No; he's gone us though he had
a pnlr of wings."
"But how could he get out?"
"That's what I say. Kvery thing Is
solid ; no human could vanish through
these walls; there Isn't n window not
boarded up nnd only that one door.
We wnsn't outside ten minutes, wor
ten feet awny from the step. A rat
couldn't have passed without bcln'
' seen. Blamed If It don't make me
ah I ve r. for. by thunder, however It
happened, he ain't here; he ain't no
where In this cabin. An'," he added,
peering at the floor, "there nln't no
trail o blood to show that he crawled
away: Just thut little pool what he
"Could he have got through the roof,
or the floor?"
Shelby laughed despondently.
"Lord, I don't enslly see how he
co.uld; It's fifteen feet to them rafters
, an no opening, while, Judging from
outside, the floor must rest plum on
the ground. Who shot him, anyhow?
Did you see?"
"Yes, I did," she explained excitedly.
"I was looking that way, townrd where
the board wns ripped on the window.
I Just hnd a glimpse of n fnce behind
the muzzle of the gup. It wns a worn
. an; I am sure it won a woman, with
black eyes. Then the smoke obscurer'
everything and dhe vns gone."
"She must hnvo been I'nnchn," he
admitted, struggling with the Idea.
'Why, of course, thnt's nil plain
enough. She overhenrd what he said
and fired In mud passion."
"Whnt do you mean? What are you
talking about? This girl?"
"Su,' I told you about her; she
helped mo escape Inst night. She wns
Tozlly Jealous over Mncklln. She Is
Muxiuon nni) U hur with her brother:
n little outlaw, no doubt, knowing no
Inw but her own passion. She must
have been thero when he boasted to
Laud that lie would leave her and mnr
ry you. It drove her crazy aid Bhe
"I can understand that yes," Olgn
burst forth, "and later she was sorry.
I believe It was she who came back
and took the body away."
"I hardly see how that theory helps
much. How could she take him?"
"I'erhaps she mny know some se
cret passage. There might be one un
derneath. I do not know, yet In whnt
other way could the body have been
Shelby shook his head gloomily, his
eyes searching the floor for any evi
dence and finding none. To all ap
penrnnecs It appeared smooth and
"I don't know," he said. "That Idea
may be as good as any. You might
take this broken knife of mine an'
see If you can start anything. What
was goln' on out there?" '
"Nothing much that I could see.
There nre men hiding behind the bank
of the creek ; I think they are Indians,
and there may be others off to the
right In the weeds."
"Just a guard left there to see that
we don't get away. They'll wait until
dark and then try to burn ua out,
I reckon; the bucks don't like my
shooting. That was a rifle.
"Yes; the bullet struck the log."
He crossed over and looked out anx
iously. "I thought It might be a signal, but
I guess not Don't seem to be any
He straightened up again, his eyes
surveying the room. "If we only had
two more In this outfit we might give
those devils a run for their money.
The trouble is we can defend only
two sides, on' they know It anyhow,
Laud does. I'm goln' to haul this
bench over on that side; then you can
Htnnd up there, nnd shoot through that
hole In the window while I pepper
them from here In front Well make
it hot while It lasts."
She watched him shift the bench,
and then stood upon It to look out.
The sun had gone down, and the val
ley swam In a purple haze. If she
would utilize what little light still re
mained, she must search at once.
"Nothing out there?"
"I can see nothing moving. It la
growing dark. Let me take the knife."
Ho gave It to her, and she got down
upon her knees on the floor, anxiously
testing the openings between the
blocks with the broken blade. Shelby
turned his head occasionally, barely
able to distinguish her movements, yet
felt little confidence In the success of
the effort Any attempt at escape
through the door would be suicidal ; In
all probability, In spite of the silence,
and seeming loneliness of the scene
without, n dozen rifles were even then
trained on the entrance, ready to
shoot them down the Instant either
nppenred. And there wns no other
wny nut, unless it might be through
some secret passage existing under
ground. Mncklln had certainly disap
peared somewhere; the vanishing of
his body wns no mlrncle, nnd this
theory of how It might hnve been ac
complished nlone nppenred reasonable.
In spite of his doubts, the man held
to a men sure of hope; nothing else
than this remained which he could
cling to; their only chance lay In
some such discovery. Yet the woman,
groping on her knees In the deepen
ing darkness gave no sign of encour
agement. Shelby could bear the strain
no longer In silence.
"There is nothing to be found?" he
asked anxiously, "no appearance of a
She lifted her head, with face
turned towurd him.
"Nothing that I seem able to move,"
she answered. "I have found a block
which does not appear to fit as tightly
as the others; I can get the knife
blade between, and It doesn't seem
to touch any earth below, yet the
slab Is Immovable."
"Let me try my strength."
He started back to Join her, but at
that instant there came a sudden
burst of rifle fire without,, bullets
thudding Into the cabin walls, the
sound punctuated by savage yells.
Shelby whirled nbout Instantly, and
dropped to his knees with eyes peer
ing out through the opening between
the logs. Olgn ' also deserted her
search, nnd climbed to her post of de
fpnse on the bench. The bullets did
no damage, generally finding billet In
the solid logs, although a few crashed
through the plnnklng of the door. To
Shelby the meaning was sulllclcntly
plain; the real danger lay, ns ho ex
pected, nt the rear; nil this noise wus
being carried on merely to attract
their attention. He called across, un
able to .see his companion, but well
aware where she wus.
"Don't waste any shot until you see
something within rnnge. Those fel
lows out there nre Just plugging nwsy
blindly. They'll never rush this side.
Keep your eyes wide open, though.
I'm going buck, nnd try to knock oft n
board from thnt rear window. If I
enn get n few shots out thero we'll
blevk their little game. You hear?"
"Yes; I think one or two are crawl
ing closer through those weeds."
"Likely enough, young bucks who
can't hold back; keep your eye on
them, nn' let them have It a soon as
you are sure. Call. out If you need
"Ho groped his way as far as the In
ner door, helped by the almost contin
uous flash of Uio rifles outside; he had
even crossed the threshold, his heart
choking him as he perceived a glare of
red flame, already visible here and
there through narrow chinks between
the logs. I'erhaps he was already too
late those devils had fired the cabin,
the licking flames even then beginning
to eat Into the dry bark. He had no
time In which to act or even think.
Before he might venture another step
forward, Olga fired twice rapidly, the
flare of her revolver lighting up the
entire Interior. What followed he
scarcely knew ; there was a sharp cry,
"Was She Dead, er AllveT"
the crash of the overturned be, .a,
and the sound of a body falling heavi
ly ea the floor. A revolver went spin
ning noisily across the room, and then
alt was stilt, and' black once more.
Shelby could see nothing; only the
blurred memory of that single Instant
had seared Itself on his brain. She
had been shot bis wife; this girl he
had learned to love I Some stray shot
from an Indian rifle, fired blindly In
the dark, had found fatal passage
through that, broken shutter, and
struck her down. His first helpless
daze changed Into a rage of revenge,
mingled with a wild yearning that be
might yot find her alive.
"Olga I" he cried out, "Olga!"
There was no answer, no movement
Alt was black, soundless; even the
rifle fire without hnd ceased.
He dropped to his knees, and crept
forword, feeling nlong the floor with
outstretched hdnds, dreading each In
stant to touch her body. Suddenly his
searching fingers encountered nu open
ing In the puncheon floor.
Shelby dared not move, except to
feel downward Into this mysterious
opening. Yet he realized Instnntly
what must have occurred the miracle
which hnd so swiftly disclosed this se
cret passage. The girl, In falling, had
dislodged the very block In the floor
she had been endeavoring so vainly to
discover. It had suddenly swung
downward to the heavy blow of her
body, and she had' fallen with It into
the- unknown durkness below. But
was she dead, or nllve? Hnd the fall
stunned her? He drew himself to the
very edge listening. What was down
there? Muckl'.n perhnps; the two
bodies might be lying there together
In n common gra ve. But wait, some
thing moved surolyl
"Olga I speak to me t"
He couldn't restrain the agony with
which he uttered the words. Fright
ened ns she was, duzed by the full,
scurcely conscious even yet, or able to
actually comprehend what hud oc
curred, his cry penetrated her mind,
brought her back to life.
"Yes, I I um here, Tom," she man
aged to Bay wcnkly.
"And you are not hurt?" his voice
thrilling now with a sudden return to
"Ob, I I don't kno,w. I cannot
even tell whnt hns happened. I
stepped back quickly, the bench over
turned and I fell. It Is all earth
around me where am I?"
"In the passuge beneath the cnbln."
he explained quickly. "It hns been a
miracle; your fall opened the trup.
I'erhaps wo may escape from these
devils yet. Make room for mo to come
down; the cnbln Is already on fire. Is
the hole deep?"
"Not very, I think, and there is
He lowered himself, but It was not
necessary to drop; his feet struck
earth floor, and, as he turned his
liuuds came In contact with the slab
still dungllng, Just as It had fallen.
Obeying the first Impulse, aware of a
sudden outburst of red flames some
where above him, he forced the block
upward, buck Into Its place, Jamming
It there with nil his strength, until a
sharp click convinced him the punch
con ngaln wns securely held. They
were alone, Isolnted, In the black
depths, underneath the burning cabin,
burled deep In the protecting earth.
He reached blindly out through the
darkness until he touched her, his fin
gers closing convulsively on a fold of
her dress. In the sudden reaction he
felt as weak as a child, unuble even
to control his speech.
"It was God who helped us," he said
humbly, "no oho else could. You nre
sure, Olga, you nre unhurt?"
"I must bo bruised, I suppose; It
was an ugly fall, and and I really
think I lost consciousness at first.
Then I seemed to henr you call me a
long ways off. Is the cabin afire?"
"Yes; those devils started it at the
rear. You can hear the wood crackle
even down here, and we must get far
ther back out of the wny. When the
roof falls this part of the floor may
cave In also."
In spite of the increasing volume of
flames above, scarcely a glimmer of
red light succeeded In penetrating to
where they were hidden. A very
slight glow found entrance through a
narrow crack above them, yet Shelby
was compelled to learn their Immedi
ate surroundings more by sense of
touch than sight
They were In a mere hole scooped
out from the soft earth, hardly wider
than the trap door which led to It, the
other puncheons of the cabin floor
resting solidly upon the ground. Shel
by leading the way, feeling his pas
sage along Inch by inch, was suddenly
halted by an earth barrier which
seemingly blocked all further progress.
He could feel that It did not wholly
reach the top, leaving a space there
through which It might be possible to
crawl. Yet whut would there be be
yond? Why should they venture fur
ther at present? Laud was outside
with his Indians, the whole scene lit
up with the glare of flumes. They
dare not venture to expose them
selves. Here they were beyond reach,
protected from both flames and sav
ages. Unless some among those as
sailants knew the existence of this
tunnel, or accidentally stumbled upon
Its outer entrance, they could scarcely
be exposed. Even if one or two found
their wny In. this barrier of earth
would block them, and, If necessary,
form the best possible defense. Con
fident that they had perished, and that
their charred bodies were lying In the
midst of the still smoking embers of
the cabin, there would be no guard
watching for an attempt nt escnpe.'He
reached out and grasped her hand,
drawing her down beside him.
"What is It?" she usked In a whis
per. "A fall of earth nenrly blocking the
passage," he explained. "I have no
Idea whero the tunnel lends to, nnd,
If I did, we would never dnre creep
out Into the open at present."
"You you think we hnd better re
mnln here?" doubtfully.
"Until the fire dies down; perhnps
even longer. Let them believe we died
In the cubln ; then there mny be some
chnnce for us to get away."
"But they will senrch the ruins?"
"Not for some time; those logs will
be glowing embers for hours. Thnt
sounded like the roof fnlllng In then.
It wns seel It has crushed its way
down through the floor. There Is a
cnldron of fire In that hole we Just
left, but it can't reach us here only
"Will It not show them where we
"I hope not; probably the smoking.
blnzlng timbers will choke up the
opening, lenvlng It so filled with pnrt
ly burned wood ns to conceal It entire
ly. Anyhow, this Is our one chance.
We would be shot down mercilessly
The glare from the burning rubbish
revealed their fnces, and the smoke
hegnn to swirl past them In clouds,
yet did not choke the tunnel, showing
there must be nn opening somewhere
beyond to the outside. Shelby fast
ened his neckerchief over the girl's
nose and mouth, and protected her, as
well ns himself, by means of his coat.
Scarcely conscious of the action they
snt thus, their hunds clasped, gazing
at the leaping figures of flame, nnd
listening to the variety of noises
reaching their enrw. The position,
wlille one of brooding horror, did not
apparently Involve immediate peril.
The flames could not reach them, and
It wns already evident thut those
dense volumes of smoke, while dls
ugreenble nnd suffocntlng, could still
be endured. But being cooped up
there, in thnt hole underground, un
able to venture forth, choked by the
fumes, their fuces smarting from the
bent, the earth walls holding them in
prison, death waiting for them which
ever way they turned, brought a
strain to Olga she could no longer
combat. Impulsively she clutched the
mnn beside her, her head touching his
shoulder, her slender form trembling
to a sudden outburst
Ooprrlflit, A. O. IfeOtarf Md Oa.
"Don't lose your nerve," he whis
pered, startled by her action, "nothing
can hurt us here."
"Oh, I know; It la not that," the
words almost a sob. "I do not think I
nm really frightened; only I I want
to feel you near me."'
"Mel" he questioned surprised;
"why, I haven't been much good so
"Oh. but you have; you hnve been
splendid. No woman could ever ask
more. I want you t know how grate
ful I nm."
"Well, I don't Just like thnt," he
protested. "There ain't no cause for
you to be grateful, so far as I enn see.
A mnn who wouldn't stick with his
wife wouldn't be much."
"Are you here Just because of that?"
"Well, maybe not altogether. Of
course, I'd be here anyhow. I wouldn't
go back on no woman who belonged
to me. But you nln't Just thnt exact
ly. I've somehow got to thlnkln' a lot
about you lately."
"Sure; there's a henp o things hap
pened since we wns lined up against
the wall of that shack down at Ponca.
I've found out more what you nre
than I knew then; an', I reckon, you
got a better line on me."
"I I chose you even then."
He laughed awkwardly.
"Out o' thnt bunch I I don't tnke
that ns no great compliment. Say,
that wad the ornarlest lot o cnttle I
ever rode herd over."
"Oh, I don't know," her mood chang
ing Into new Interest. 'There were
some among them not so bad. Any
how, I chose you."
"Maybe you're aorry since?"
"I nm not," firmly. "I never have Been.
See here, Tom Shelby, I pretty near
knew whnt sort of mnn you wns when I
selected you; your face told me that
You thought I Just took you so
as to get away. Well, maybe I did
In a sense, for I would have done al
most anything to escape from that
life. But I never would have gone
with you, If I hadn't honestly liked
you just the same. You said In the
cnbln there that you didn't marry me
because you knew I had money that
you had no such knowledge. Was
"Then why did you marry me?"
His face, burning from the heat of
the nearby flames, grew redder, If pos
sible, with embarrassment Her eyes
were gazing straight at him, insistent
of an answer.
"Well, I Ain't exactly sure that I
know," he admitted reluctantly. "May
be I sorter sympathized with you a
bit, nn' then I got almighty mad at
the way them fellows acted. I I
kinder got to wantln' you myself."
"I knew you did."
"You knew? But how? I never
said anything like that."
"No ; yet I felt the change. I would
never nave sola 'yes otnerwise. i
am willing to tell you now. Perhaps
we shall never get out of this place
"I Love You I" He Whispered
alive, and I want to be honest with
you for once. Whatever happens, I
would rather you knew."
'"But you cannot mean"
"It is exactly what I mean, Tom. I
love you I Do you care?" ,
"Care I Why, Olga, girl, I have done
nothing but care. I hardly knew what
It nil meant at" first, the way I thought
of you. Love came to me like a
strange thing. I have led a man's life,
and I have known fow good wirecn.
Even now .1 cannot wholly realize
what has come to me."
He gathered her suddenly Into his
arms, the neckerchief slipping down
about her throat
"I love you I" ho whispered pnsmon
ately, "love you, wife of mine."
(TO BE CONTINUEU.J
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W. N. U., LINCOLN, NO. 7-1921. ,
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