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Held Up.


Held Up. -.0 By HAROLD BINDLOSS. (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.) WONCLPOTTD FROM YESTERDAY.) The stfalwart. axe-mall from Cedar Crossing glanced at him with sympathy. "Maybe you're righi. lin cooking along," he said. "Th,y ]as-ie got my gun, but if I can jump in before I'm expedited, I &-ueF% thi" will dc." lifting the big, dcurbie-bitted axe from it-, -retrting-place on the saddle. he swept the keen-edged blade, which made flashes in the moon-light, in a "hissing circle round hit bead; and, in the h^nds of those who can wee it, t'he axe is a terrible weapon. Carson, however, laughed mirthlecsiy as he Answered: "I daresay it would, bint you would hardly get ?he opportunity, and thil M my p?Ptx'niar ?.?imet?-. You hare your ranch. I have nothing. unl-e it is a roputa- rion for earning to ;çTf; and it's my gun. However, th -'re <? no ue getting shot iieeu- Ve,¡y, and I'm going rop on the hillside to Ktalk the in, what. working round by thv ■ i4,ver, you might run in when I whistled. hi yon don't hear the signal in ligif an hour you can go back without me." "Then good luck go witiii you, partner." eaid lee of Cedar Crowing. and his hard fingers trernbled bt, grasped his comrade's hand. "I (bJd go Hack alone. and if I hear nothing I'm coaming right in with the axe to for yon." So they parted, and Carson brushed swiftly over the dry nce<re- beneath the totveririg pine^, trwiing that as their assailants would j hardly expect any attempt *at reprisal by apparently rearmed men, and the trail was often unit redden for days together, they ■would camp, or )e&-t examine their booty there. How many the party consisted oi' he did net know, though he g tiered there werp no; more Iban two; and with grin; .[ttii'7ac- tion he tightened h-ir grip 0:1 the twelve-bore grm. In an itru-tain light, it was a ni ),re reliable weapon thai: any rifle, and no tingle buiiet could at doe* Quarters ctiual the effect of cne-and u-qn&rter onnces of heavy ehot. Presently. sneering at the distance, ho slackened hil- pace, find slipped cautiously from tree to tree, grcwHrtg under his breath each time a dry twig snapped. until at last he halted quivering all through behind a hemlcc-k, for the red gleam ü. a fire flickered out among tome willow-* perhaps SCO yards below. Then Carson ielt thankful he had been a Bpr-rt«man at. home, and i t British Columbia bad stalked the wood deer, a:- dropping on his hands and knees he crawled nearer, stop- ping at tim--s to listen, while fortunately the btfh was open, for there are parts of the P-adtk slope forest which even at noonday I no man wit,hout an axe could force his way through. He conld hear low voices now and then, while occasionally a great trunk hid the light; but, moving forward, he found it again, and at last wriggled like a snake among the si wider etems of the willow, knowing .tha. any blunder would sign his death-warrant now. once a, iew leaves | Ttstled above him and a branch creaked, and I it seemed to his exc-iied fancy that 1 b3 .sound biih; fill the bush; but still he hoard no chal- lenge, only a confused murmuring and th-e crackle of the fire, and, holding his breath, he wt)ii a -,fe-,v vi-ds more:- Nfheii a fallen trunk lay acrcss his way, and. lifting hil he-ad above iL cautiously, he rented the gun barrel on the m<.ss, and. while a tiny artery drummed inside his head, stared before him over the twin, mnzfcles. Under a spreading maple, whose leaves bletzed with gold alia crimson where the light, touched them, two men sat in the red glare bending over the hide package w-lie-rein lay a little pile of what looked like coarse grains of sand, though there were a few larger piccce among them. One was bronzed and stalwart, with little cunning eyes cf a type more com- ¡ nton in seaboard cities than the British -Columbian bush. The other was haggard hollow in face, while something about him ¡ which suggested an Englishman seemed curi- or.Iy familiar. Carson noted aIJ t-bi-. and also with exultation that the rifles rested Atfaiinat a hemlock some few iwes away. 'I'm glad it's over." said the weaker of the [ pair. "I want the gol'l, Heaven knowto bow yntwh: a iid yd—well, it's-no we saying (low that I'm almost sorry I ei,.ar thought- of it Oh. hang the measure! Take what you think ¡ is your share, and then the sooner we part the better. Before two days are over we'll 1 have twenty armed ranchers scouring the bneh for us. I'm heading wet- to come out ¡ by the lake ttail, if I ever reach it." "No more wse for me now?" said the other, ?)th an ironical ?rin. Of course, thi- kind j o' thing is way beneath a, high-tcned man like yoa. Yes, I houM say %e'had better be rnsttins: and I'm contented t? :?riKe ont I for myself. You're not worth much at a hard march, anyway. I He wrapped up the package tenderly, while the other looked down at the little heap hefore him with a sombre face and moody eyes: thcn. he turned to stir the embers, j witii the toe of his worn Boot. faced round with an imprecation. s "Hold up "The etern summers rang j sharply through t he shadows. "Hands above < your beads: now -move a finger and it's all 1 over with yonf" and Carson rose upright into the glow of the fire with the twin barrels levelled on the foremost." not a Win- chester." he added, grimly; "and I could get of you. Drop that jacket!" It was done, and for the space of a few ieoonds there was no cha lge in the tableaux. The shadows drew in elo-ser and opened out again ae the red flrclig'ht rose and fell. glint- ing on the rifles which lay temptin-gly just < out of reach, and showing the three figures rtaading rigid and siill as though they were ] carved things, with ao life in them. Then the stouter of the rcbceri- flinched as ha gazed at the stern facs behind the rib of the double gun. He knew that big Fliot'spi-eatis while as in this caM there was no lever to jerk a touch on tfio second trigger would i certainly complete what the tir3.t discharge I left unfinished. 11a also glanced towards the rifles sideways out of the corners of his eyes, but it would tak3 several steps to reach them, and said, stflt«aly — 11 F.ushred! We give in. You have won the same. Will you *how us thev re«ft xW yo«ir hand;" It *is a strong one," said Cation, drily. "Two-and-a-half-dunces of s.ttot, while even if it didn't all hit you, my partner's waiting ready with the axe. 1 want all the gold, yoar weapons, arid one of you to deliver up to justice. We eould hardly manage the two. Which it dots ipot matter; you can settle it between you." Th,rf"" no i>eed," said the other man. "I am sick of a hopeless struggle and am willing to go. Besides, I'm played out; something badly wrong with my lungs. This was my lafct bid for fortune. I lost it, and it's all over now. The;i I'm off," said his comrade. You won't shoot, ^trangar?" And Carson afipwered: If you walk straight 011 through the bush-no." The tramp of feet grew fainter and died a.way. while when the bush of the forest settled hearilv down again, and there was only the spluttering of the fire.. Carbon looked at his prisoner, wondering uneaily what next to do. Exactly where Lee wa- tie. did not know. and felt it might be better to do without him tban to hail and get no answer. Wht are your orders, Henry Carson? May I ait down ?, asked the man, with no tiace of Western Accent; and Carson started, for &gain he was"-8truck, and more strongly, by the resemblauce to someone he had known long ago. "Open your jacket 110 weapons, I fee. You niag,"Ohe answ<tted coldly. "May I ask how you knew me?" Heard your same back at the trail forks," said the other, with a curious .mile. It didin't strike are then, but I wen%to school with you. Yot n-eednt be afraid; I regretted my share in the proceedings even before we tot. the gold; and. on my word of honolirr- if that is worth anything—I'll give you 110 more trouble." Carson dropped the gun-bntt between his heels, and stored bard at the speaker. He remembered now, ami knew that the man before him had taken faig-h honours at an English college. He warworn and bent in frame, dr^ed in ragged deerskin, and rign.3 were not wanting that as he had sa.id there was (something radically wrong with ft is lung;. Carson alsfV devo-utly hoped that fR of Cedar Crossing' had for t-he time feeing lo;Ft his way. t I ca>n't compli-ment you on your present Occupation," he said, *ith coldness though there was a ti-me wh#.rt I envied you; but I Wish, for'the sake .:g old acquaintance, I bad olio-en the ot-birr— man. Do. you mind telling me what brought You-er-(Iwwii to I this?" i It's simple stjtry." was the answer. I daresay you have heard it all before. My I profess iou was overci'owded, aind 1 ?B'i?ra'?pd. t.?kiQ??if wa- mad foolishness— my young En&, wi fe w ith me. Professional husiness seemed even worse over here, so I invested what little I had in a fruit ranch, and building lots in what was to be a rising city. The town-site busted, as they. MY, and the boomers divided the fragments between them, while, as a. matter of course, I had I mortgaged 'the ranch. Fruit failed two aaa&one, and no one would even buy what we had; my wife, poor soul, broke' down under the struggle; and as & forlorn hope I sent her into the city and Oent up prospeot- ing. We found nothing; but working in ice- water and sleeping wet through developed a latent weakness, and before I met that con- founded rascal, my late oompaivion, I knew there could' be no more hard work for me. All I left my wife must have been exhausted, and I oouJdnt go ba-ak broken-down and empty-handed, voti see." Carson said no-thin sr jbr several moments then ibe answered; I am not & v% rHE otfte man. and don't act up as a judge, w4iile I've got tock the I S'ofd. All things Considered, we have rio4 fared badly, a.nd for the sake of hawiisir days if a few ounces are any ue to-yon we eonid spiaw them. Then IJl give you a fair start, and there's the whole o! the forest open to you. I "You are very good." said ttoa otiter, huskily; "but I cannot teke alms from the ¡ man I mbbed. It's a romantic delus-ion, of coarse; but the other tiii-nig seemed different Some way. In any Carson, I j am much iiidcbteii to you." Hallo, partner! Halb:" The cry repeatedly thvnngii tfee silence «I th* WD: -.ds, and m y cr-m-iade h«i4ijg. 1")11 hiad betUT S1;n. My offer is sjIoII c-peii; but, any way, take > • ;;r own gcods an.-I -lifle. with you. Thaman v.ai'i.jlud into the s-badow.?. and Oanson .waiited- a space J:f(¡,-rfJ he answered the hailj Wh.-i.'?. w'nsn I.ee. grasping tb? axe, } rushed into the camp, Ih-e 3ta-red about him in -VewiJderasen: he noted the paelcc^-s j gold and the, weapon-?. Yn-u held them up alone, General Jack- j 1 eon!" he sa:d. wtinz;riz Oarson's band. I've been in a, blind state 01 fear a-lyc-Uit ynli; sua/led in a cluster of devil's club, and couldn't g2 through. But where, in the name of thunder, have them two gone <to? ii" didn't shoot them both. did sail Carson, smiling. "I couldn't take the pair, so I chose one; and, finding he was -in old friend of mine. I let. him ;.Î. As a favour to me, I don't want t-hw little affair talked about, Lee. Now go on. and further we get fiom this place the br-tter I'l! sleep." In dn? time they found the Cayase pony, waded through the torrent, mil camped on the other side; while, when t'hey reached the haunts of men again. Carson, who changed !;)-' share of the dust into dollar- I b-MIs, <3;-k the- ftrst train east. He returned, and found an opening- as junior partner in a small saw-tniil: and a little later, wh?n the b&h-Kme developed, the English girl came out to join him; while Lie still makes pro- s.peoting journeys, which have never proved equally fort an ate. t'). the dstriir-eiit of his store business and extended ranch. Ontce, too. Carson fancied he saw his forme-r prisoner in a Canadian Partflt; station. He 8-2c?-me,d sickly, but. judging from his dress, prosperous: but the train pulled out before Carson couid gain »pee-ch with him. THE END.

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