“Hazelton,” demanded Rutter, turning upon the other cub engineer, “have you nerve enough to put your lips to that wound, and draw, draw draw as hard as you can, and keep on until you’ve drawn all the poison out?”
“I have,” nodded Harry, sinking to his knees beside his chum. “I’ll draw all the poison out if I have to swallow enough to kill me.”
“You won’t poison yourself, Hazelton,” replied Rutter quickly, as one of the chainmen came near with the recaptured pony. “Snake venom isn’t deadly in the stomach—–only when it gets into the blood direct. There’s no danger unless you’ve a cut or a deep scratch in your mouth. Spit the stuff out as you draw.”
Having given these directions, Jack Rutter turned, with the help of one of the chainmen to fasten a blanket behind the saddle to make a sort of extra saddle. The blanket had been lying rolled at the back of the saddle.
Harry, in the meantime, without flinching, performed his task well. Had he but known it, Rutter’s explanation of the lack of danger was true; but in that moment, with his chum’s life at stake, Harry didn’t care a fig whether the explanation were true or not. All he thought of was saving Tom.
“I reckon that part of the job has been done well,” nodded Rutter, turning back from the horse. “Now, Reade, I want you to mount behind me and hold on tightly, for we’re going to do some hard, swift riding. The sooner we get you to camp the surer you will be of coming out of this scrape all right.”
“I’ve never had much experience in horsemanship, and I may out a sorry figure at it,” laughed Reade, as, with Harry’s help he got up behind Rutter.
“Horsemanship doesn’t count—–speed does,” replied Rutter tersely. “Hold on tightly, and we’ll make as good time as possible. I’m going to start now.”
Away they went, at a hard gallop, Tom doing his best to hold on, but feeling like a jumping-jack.
“It won’t take us more than twenty minutes,” promised Jack Rutter.
WHAT A SQUAW KNEW
All the way to camp Rutter kept the pony at a hard gallop.
“Thurston! Mr. Thurston!” he shouted. “Be quick, please!”
Even as the young man called, Mr. Thurston ran out of his tent.
“You know something about rattlesnake bites, I believe?” Rutter went on hurriedly, as Tom Reade slipped to the ground. “The boy has been bitten by one and we’ll have to work quickly.”
“Don’t bring any liquor, though,” objected Reade, leaning up against a tree. “If liquor is your cure for snakebites I prefer to take my chances with the bite.”
“Get the shoe off and roll up the trousers,” directed the chief engineer, without loss of words. “Fortunately, I believe we have someone here who knows more about treating the bites than I do. Squaw!”
An Indian woman who had been sitting on the grass before the chief’s tent, a medley pack of Indian baskets arranged before her, glanced up.