“We surrender!” called Buck within.
A cheer came from the posse. Sullivan and Johnson ran for the window they had been told to guard. The door on the other side of the house slammed open.
“It’s a slaughter house!” cried one of the posse.
Dan left the sheltering rock and raced around the house, keeping a safe distance, and dodging from rock to rock. He saw Satan and Black Bart guarded by two men with revolvers in their hands. He might have shot them down, but the distance was too great for accurate gun-play. He whistled shrilly. The two guards wheeled towards him, and as they did so, Black Bart, leaping, caught one by the shoulder, whirling him around and around with the force of the spring. The other fired at Satan, who raced off towards the sound of the whistle. It was an easy shot, but in the utter surprise of the instant the bullet went wide. Before he could fire again Satan was coming to a halt beside Dan.
“Help!” yelled the cattleman. “Whistling Dan!”
The other guard opened fire wildly. Three men ran from the house. All they saw was a black shadow which melted instantly into the night.
Into the dark he rode. Somewhere in the mountains was Silent, and now alone. In Dan’s mouth the old salt taste of his own blood was unforgotten.
It was a wild chase. He had only the faintest clues to guide him, yet he managed to keep close on the trail of the great outlaw. After several days he rode across a tall red-roan stallion, a mere wreck of a horse with lean sides and pendant head and glazed eye. It was a long moment before Dan recognized Silent’s peerless mount, Red Pete. The outlaw had changed his exhausted horse for a common pony. The end of the long trail must be near.
The whole range followed that chase with breathless interest. It was like the race of Hector and Achilles around the walls of Troy. And when they met there would be a duel of giants. Twice Whistling Dan was sighted. Once Jim Silent fought a running duel with a posse fresh from Elkhead. The man hunters were alert, but it was their secret hope that the two famous outlaws would destroy each other, but how the wild chase would end no one could know. At last Buck Daniels rode to tell Kate Cumberland strange news.
When he stumbled into the ranch house, Kate and her father rose, white-faced. There was an expression of waiting terror in their eyes.
“Buck!” cried Joe.
“Hush! Dad,” said Kate. “It hasn’t come yet! Buck, what has happened?”
“The end of the world has come for Dan,” he said. “That devil Silent—”
“Dan,” cried old Joe, and rushed around the table to Buck.
“Silent has dared Dan to meet him at three o’clock tomorrow afternoon in Tully’s saloon in Elkhead! He’s held up four men in the last twenty-four hours and told them that he’ll be at Tully’s tomorrow and will expect Dan there!”