Already a naif dozen of the scant thirty
mine workers were out of the running.
MIN UTSS passed. The fighting raged
furiously. And Chen suddenly Dana
Wray called out for them to retreat Into
the main building. No longer was it
possible to hold out against the savage
Bill was among the last to go. As he
sprinted across the clearing toward the
open door a shout went up from the at
tackers. But the shout was drowned by
an even greater sound. A roar A
thundering. Bill turned and his heart
leaped. Sweeping up the roadway from
the riverbed was a four-flle-wide column
of horsemen. Soldiers!
A bugle sounded! Instantly tha
charging cavalrymen went Into action.
Rifles exploded. The riders spread out,
bearing down on the astonished bandits.
In vain did the swarthy, enraged Gon
zales urge his men to repulse the charg*
But they saw the uselessness of it. Sur
render was the only course by which
they could save their skins.
And surrender they did. As one mao
they threw down their arms and lifted
their hands, begging for mercy.
Bill Strickland waited only long
enough to witness the conclusion of the
battle. Then he hurried inside the mam
building. A sentence was ringing in nis
ears: “I couldn’t leave Bill out there
alone, could I?"
He saw Alyne sitting on a bench be
side one of the front windows. She had
a rifle in her lap.
It was as though she were waiting his
coming. Her face was white; sne
seemed on the verge of a collapse. But
she smiled at him.
“Hello, Bill!” she said.
Bill sat down on the bench beside her
He gripped both her shoulders and
looked at her steadily.
“There's just one question I want to
ask you,” he said. “Just one.”
“Yes, BUI,” she said.
“It's about your grandfather. Old
Jonas. What I want to know is, did na
propose to your grandmother before or
after he'd made his pile?”
UAITHY. BUI," she said. “I thought you
’ ’ knew. It was before, of course. He
waited quite a while and then he up and
proposed. He said he didn't have a
dime, but he guessed if she loved him
they could get along. And Grandma
said yes, she guessed they could."
“Ah!” said BUI. “Alyne, I’m a Uttle
better off than that. I've a good Job. I
love you.. Will you marry me?”
"BUI!” she cried. “Bill! Oh. I was
afraid you wouldn't ask me."
Bill took her into his arms. He kissed
her. She clung to him. He kissed ner
a second time and held her close. “Ah!"
he sighed. “I— I guess we can get along,
can t we, darling?”
“We could get along. BUI, if all you
did have was a dime.”
up BUI lay awake in his bunk for
hours, alert, listening» momentarUy ex
pecting the sound of a sh*t. But none
came. The night passed peacefuUy.
Davlight brought a revival of spirits
throughout the camp.
Hope of continued peace, however, was
short-lived. Gonzales struck that after
noon, a half hour before sunset. Work
in the mines had ceased. Supper was
over. Two guards were leaning on the
barricade smoking cigarettes. Bill, con
scious of a curious premonition, had
walked to the edge of the cliff, from
where he could look out across the valley
He stood there, searching the surround
tng country for some sign of movement.
“You've been avoiding 'me. Bill,” a
voice said behind him.
He whirled. "You shouldn’t have
come here. Miss Wray. It’s getting dark
Please go back to camp.”
“Is it any more dangerous for me than
you? Besides, you haven’t answered my
“AIT AS it a questior? It sounded to me
’V like a statement.” Bill's lips
tightened. “Why should I avoid you? I
haven’t intended to. I’m sorry.”
“Are you really sorry? Or are you
merely proud of yourseli for being able
to control your impulses?” A deep flush
came into his cheeks. “Skip it. Bill. I
didn't mean to hurt you " She looked
away from him, out across the valley
You love it here, don’t you. Bill?”
He followed the direction of her gaze
Yes. it gets into your blood.”
“I know," she agreed. “I’ve heard my
grandfather, Jonas Wray, say the same
thing. Grandfather was a prospector,
you know. It was he who discovered
this mine. He didn’t have a cent up
until then He didn’t have anything but
the faith and love of a good woman.”
She nodded. “They were happy to
gether. She loved the desert, too. I
guess that’s why I love it. It’s in my
She paused and he stared at her
curiously. Unaccountably his heart
began to pound. It was as If she were
trying to tell him something, as if there
were some unspoken message that was
beyond his comprehension.
“I've heard about your grandfather,*
he said. “I guess every one liked
He broke off. A shot came from near
the barricade It was followed by an
other. Then a third. A mao screamed
Bill spun on his heels. For one fleet
ing second he stood paralyzed. Men on
horseback were sweeping down the
slope from the high country. Others
were coming up from the riverbed. As
he watched, four of the latter group
cut diagonally toward the cliff Thev
had sighted the two standing there.
“Come on!” Bill yelled. “They’re try
ing to cut us off I We’ll have to run for
iuc jun lu Dm was lar morp imponani.
Hp hart neither family nor trioney hrhlnrt
him. nor connections with New Y^rk
office. He had to make good In Mexico
'lnside the tiny office Dana Wray was
engaged in conversation with Jim Emer
son. the mine superintendent. Dana was
tall and spare and gray-haired, a big man
in his field He saw Bill standing in the
“Hello. Bill. How goes’ it? Fed up
with living the life of a recluse? 1 say,
you're looking fit "
“Thank you. sir" Bill shook hands
warmly. “Tt must be the climate and the
work I’m fond of both."
“What's on your mind. Bill?” Jim Em
erson asked. “You look mighty con
cerned about something "
“1 am. I've just been down talking with
Joe Gurney, who's in charge of the No 3
shaft gang. He's worried. Another at
tempt was made to derail the supply
train. Juan Ossorio, a trackwalker, saw
the blockade and flagged the train in
time. There’s unrest among our men
They believe Pedro Gonzales is behind
“Well, what have you done about it?”
"All that we could. Reported to the
Government at Lindras and sent natives
back into the hills on scouting expedi
tions. One of the natives returned and
reported finding nothing. We haven't
heard from the other.”
Dana Wray compressed his lips “Well,
we licked Gonzales once and we can do
it again. This time I’ll make a personal
appearance in court and demand that his
sentence be for life. He paused, drum
ming with a pencil. “On second thought,
that means bloodshed. We can't have it.
Jim, the Government must send men up
here to prcftect us and rid the country
of this desperado."
“If you’ll pardon my saying so. Mr.
Wray,” Bill put in, “it seems to me unwise
for you to stay here.” He flushed at
Wray’s quick look. “I mean, of course,
since your niece is with you.”
“Alyne? You're wasting your worries,
my boy. If she suspected we were in
danger of an attack she wouldn't budge
I dare say she hopes it will happen “
“Then." said Bill, gravely. “I suggest
we don’t mention the possibility of being
attacked to any one.”
But even with himself and his superiors
sworn to secrecy there was little hope
of keeping the apprehension that was felt
a secret. During the week that followed,
a growing uneasiness was evident among
the mine employes. There was a tense
ness in the air, a sense of Impending
danger. It was nothing tangible, nothing
you could lay your finger on, yet its
presence could not fail to be felt.
Os Alyne Wray. Bill saw little. She
spent most of her time exploring the
mine shafts or riding with Earl Lancas
ter And Bui did not interfere or other
wise assert himself. He was not fool
enough to fancy himself as a possible
suitor for the niece of Dana Wray. The
social breach between them was too
Toward the end of the first week.
over the rough country between the mine
and Apache Wells. He was satisfied that,
unless the wor': had been observed, the
auxiliary line would remain a secret.
Back at camp he learned that two
more scouts had been sent into the hills
to spy upon Gonzales and that a squad
of men were employed throwing up a
rough barricade about the buildings.
The next morning one of the two
scouts, a man named Felipe, his body
bruised and bleeding, returned to camp.
He told a story of being *et upon by a
gang of desperadoes. His companion
had been killed. Felipe was taken pris
oner. obviously to be questioned, but
had managed to escape.
“There’s no sense in kidding ourselves
any longer.” Dana Wray said. “Jim,
what do you think ought to be done?”
“Well, sending for soldiers is out. We
can t maintain a barracks of them here
forever. Gonzales knows it, and he’ll
bide his time. My idea is to prepare as
best we can for a raid. A clash is in
evitable, and the sooner it comes the
sooner we’ll have peace of mind."
Emerson's suggestion was unanimously
agreed upon. But before any action was
taken Dana Wray called the mine work
ers together, told them frankly that an
attack was expected and gave them all a
chance to quit if they so desired.
The men consulted a few moments
and then a dark-skinned half-breed
stepped forward. “We’re staying here."
he said “We ain’t forgettin' how you
kept us on the payroll two years ago
when the mine had to shut down We re
Bill felt a lump in his throat He shot
a quick glance at Dana Wray and saw a
happy, contented smile on the mine
owner’s face. Well, that was the reward
for giving your employes a break when
times were slack.
UNS were brought and stacked
handily inside the barricade. That
night guards were posted.
At supper Dana Wray and Jim Emer
son joked and laughed a lot But behind
their laughter Bill detected grave con
cern. No one knew how strong were
Gonzales’ forces or how well they were
armed. Then, too, Dana Wray had his
niece to consider Perhaps he regretted
not taking her out.
Earl Lancaster had little to say Ob
viously it was an effort for him to main
tain an outward composure. Secretly.
Bill was delighted at the other’s de
meanor. He felt sure that the strain of
anticipation would eventually reveal the
other in his true colors.
Toward 10 o’clock the gathering broke
Bill discovered upon returning from
his ride with Alyne that two of the mine
workers had disappeared He went im
mediately to the foreman of the shaft
where the pair worked, asked questions,
then sought out Dana Wray.
“Mr. Wray. I’ve lived in this country
long enough to know the signs. It’s my
guess that those men who disappeared
have gone over to Gonzales. That means
he’s recruiting men. He's probably
planning a raid. This time he’ll take
care not to fail, knowing that if he can
carry off enough of our bullion he’ll be
set for life. I think we ought to do
something to prepare for his coming.”
“Gonzales knows the only means we
have of reaching the soldiers in Lindras
is by telephone. Even then it will take a
detachment a half day to get here. Now,
his first act will be to cut our lines of
ccmmunication. The chances are he’ll
cut them between here and Apache Wells
because there's less danger of being seen
and because the job is comparatively easy.
‘ftyiAKING this for granted, suppose I
run a second loose wire from here
to the Wells, concealing it as best I can?”
“By jove. Bill, you’ve hit on a good
plan!” Dana Wray cried. “That’s ex
actly what we’ll do. Frankly, I’m getting
“I’ll tend to it at once." Bill turned
away, but Wray halted him.
"I’ve been talking to Jim about your
work. Bill. He says you're doing fine.”
“Thank you. sir.”
“Jim's going back to New York with
me. I have a job for him in the States.”
“Really, sir? I didn't know that. Jim
will do a good job wherever you put
"Quite right.” Wray eyed the youth
keenly "How would you like the job of
super down here. Bill?”
“I?” Bill’s face glowed. “Why, I'd
like it, sir. I’d like it fine. If you think
I can handle it.”
"I'm sure you can You’re to take over
two weeks hence. Think you can stand
living in this country another year?”
“Stand it?” Bill cried. “Why. I like it
here. I like it fine." He paused. “Are
you returning to New York in two weeks,
“Yes. Lancaster’s coming with us. He’s
The next day Bill took two mine work
ers and strung a loose telephone wire
“Suppose we race to yon sand
dune?” Alyne smiled provocatively
therefore. Bill was astonished when Jim
Emerson confronted him with a request
“Miss Wray wants to ride out on the
desert.” the super explained "Dana
doesn’t want her to go alone and Lan
caster's bus- at the moment. Mind play
“Not at all." said Bill. “Not a little bit.”
He saddled up two horses and rode up
to the cabin where Dana Wray and his
niece were staying. She was waiting for
him. dressed in jodhpurs and a man’s
white shirt open at the throat. Bill
found himself staring in speechless admi
They '•ode south along the banks of the
Gila River and Bill, in spite of all his
previous resolutions, found that his heart
was light and hopeful and that he was
counting the moments before their re
turn. She asked him questions and he
told her all he could about the country,
which was a good deal, and discovered
her to be a good listener
“Now tell me about Pedro Gonzales.”
she demanded. “Is he really as bad as
“He's vile.” said Bill. He noticed the
eager, excited look in her eyes. “There’s
nothing romantic about him. He's dirty
and ugly and cruel. He slays unmerci
fully. sparing not even the women and
children. Why the Government puts up
with him is more than I can understand.”
Government stands for as
much. Most of our gangsters are
pictured as real noble figures ”
“And the same thing will happen to
Gonzales that happened to Capone and
Dillinger and Underwood and all the
others." Bill told her firmly. “One more
outrage and he's done for.”
“One more? Then you expect there'll
He bit his lip “Suppose we forget it?
Liet's talk about something more pleasant
You. for instance.”
Alyne smiled provocatively. “Suppose.’'
she said, “we race to yon sand dune?”
“Yon sand dune.” Bill grinned, ‘is
farther away than you suspect But I'll
race yoif all the same."