As he ran, Hal expected every moment that the figure before the tent would open fire on him and his own revolver was held ready should the man’s first shot go wild. Hal did not wish to fire if he could possibly avoid it.
Close behind Hal, Stubbs panted and puffed along. Once Hal was forced to reduce his speed in order that Stubbs might keep up with him. The little man was doing his best, but his short legs were not built to maintain a pace that Hal could set. Besides, he had long since lost his youthfulness and he could not run as he had done in his earlier days.
“I can’t go much farther, Hal,” he gasped.
“Just a little ways, Stubbs,” Hal urged him on. “See that man in the tent there? That’s where we’ll hide. I’ll knock him out if he doesn’t get me first. The fool! He is taking a long chance. He should fire.”
At that moment there came a fusillade of shots from behind.
In his anxiousness to get the man in the door of the tent out of the way, Hal had continued a straight course longer than he had realized; and this had allowed the pursuers to come within sight again. There was nothing to do but make the best of it now.
Hal dashed straight for the figure in the tent.
Drawing close, Hal raised his revolver, reversed, and held it ready to bring down on the figure’s head the moment they should come together. There was a sudden exclamation from the figure in the tent; and with it Hal dropped his arm; the exclamation was a single word:
A HARD BLOW TO THE ENEMY
It was the voice of Chester.
Hal stopped abruptly. Stubbs also panted up and came to a halt.
“What on earth are you doing here, Chester?” asked Hal.
For answer Chester pointed to the men who were pursuing his friends.
“Are those fellows after you?” he asked.
“Yes,” was Hal’s answer.
“Then let’s get away from here,” said Chester. “Come on.”
He took to his heels and Hal and Stubbs followed him. Gaining his friend’s side, Hal, in a few quick words, explained his plan as he had outlined it to Stubbs only a few moments before.
“Then we shall have to get out of sight of our pursuers,” said Chester. “Come, Stubbs,” he called back over his shoulder, “a little spurt now and we shall be safe.”
Stubbs tried to respond to this command; and he did succeed in getting up a little more speed as he turned about a tent after Hal and Chester. Twice more the three doubled on their tracks and then Hal pulled up before a tent.
“This will do as well as another, I guess,” he said.
“Waste no time,” said Chester. “Revolvers ready and come on.”
With weapons reversed the three entered the tent quietly. Deep snores within led the friends to the cots of the occupants of the tent.