“I didn’t go back to the ranch house, but followed you here. I saw the red car go out, and hid. Then I sneaked along until I heard those fellows quarreling. I was on the top of the bluff here, and guessed that you were inside the cabin, as I couldn’t see you anywhere outside, so I just dropped in.” As Stella whispered this she smiled, and Ted could only look his thanks.
The fellow named Tom, who had been opposed to killing Ted, had evidently been doing some hard thinking, and the threat of his mate to expose him to Checkers evidently convinced him that he would rather be alive than perish for a mere sentiment.
“All right, Bill,” he said; “I don’t like it, but we’ve got to share it.”
“Sure,” said the other. “It’ll be blow and blow. We both strike together.”
“Come on, then.”
“Now,” said Ted, putting Stella behind him and crouching in the darkness.
The two men entered the cabin noisily, knowing that they had nothing to fear from an unarmed boy bound hand and foot and lying in the corner with nothing to hope for.
As they approached the corner they were surprised to see a stalwart young form arise suddenly and a pair of revolvers gleam through the darkness as a voice rang out commandingly:
The hands of both went up very promptly.
“Drop those knives!”
A pair of knives clattered to the floor.
“Face about, both of you, and go out. The first to make a break gets a shot in the back.”
At Ted’s command both men obeyed. When they were outside in the sunlight, Ted looked them over. Both had revolvers in their holsters.
“Take their revolvers away from them, Stella,” said Ted.
As the girl moved forward to comply with the request of Ted Strong, the men stared at her in amazement.
“Now, which of you is Tom?” asked Ted.
“I am,” said one of them.
“You lie!” answered Ted. “I know you by your voice. You are not Tom:—you are Bill.”
“Yes, I’m Tom,” said the other fellow.
“That’s right,” said Ted.
“Now, see here, Tom, if I give you the chance will you dig out of this and escape? It won’t be very long before you are caught, anyway, and you know what that means.”
“You bet I will,” said the fellow, who had protested against the murder of Ted.
“All right, I’ll give you the chance. I’ll take your friend in charge myself. You can take down your hands, Tom.”
The fellow was in a state of wonderment as he did so.
“Who are you, anyway?” asked the fellow called Bill.
“I am Ted Strong.”
“Then it’s all up. We’re done for,” said the train robber, in a resigned voice.
Ted holds A profitable bag.
Tom signaled to Ted to step aside, and, telling Stella to keep the other fellow covered with her revolver, Ted accompanied him.