Stella was laughing and waving her hat.
“I knowed yer had somethin’ up yer sleeve when yer consented ter go snipe huntin’! Yer ther limit,” said Bud.
Only Mr. van Belder of all the conspirators was calm. He ripped a beard from his face, and there stood Darby O’Neill, the United States secret agent!
“Say, Ted, give me that counterfeit of the Green River National Bank. It is all I need to take Norcross away for a long term. I’ve been working on him for a long time, but you knocked the persimmon at last.”
“You had me guessing,” said Ted. “When I got that note that was slipped into my pocket in St. Louis I ought to have guessed that it was you, but you are so clever at disguise that you always fool me.”
“But you’ve never fooled me yet,” was the reply. “I’ve banked on you every time, and every time you’ve come back with the goods.”
“But who was the young lady who slipped me the note?”
“My sister, who is a very clever girl detective, as you may know some day.”
After the boys had made secure the three men at the head of the train robbers’ syndicate, they went to the cabin in which Ted had so nearly lost his life, and secured the rest of the robbers.
Next morning at daylight they found the body of Checkers lying beside the fatal red car not far from the scene of the holdup. He had been killed by a stray shot fired by one of his own men.
Thus was the train robbers’ syndicate wiped out through the acumen and courage of Ted Strong, and the loyal backing of his comrades.
The broncho boys decided that more stock was needed at the Moon Valley Ranch, and the entire outfit set out for No Man’s Land, in northern Texas.
The magpie pony.
“Say, podner, might I be so free an’ onquisitive ez ter inquire ez ter whar yer got thet thar palfrey yer ridin’?”
The speaker was a tall, gaunt old man with a tangled mass of grizzled whiskers, and the “podner” he addressed was Bud Morgan.
“Yer might,” answered Bud, eying the questioner keenly.
“Why don’t yer?”
“Oh, I see. Whar did yer git it?”
“I traded a Waterbury watch fer it, an’ ther feller what made ther trade throwed in a pack o’ cigareets.”
“Anything else ye’d like ter know?”
“Well, seein’ ez yer so communicative, I’d like ter hev yer tell me how fur it’s ter Yeller Fork.”
“Ez fur ez yer kin ride betwixt ‘arly breakfast an’ dinner.”
“Well, I’m obleegin’ ter yer. I reckon we’ll be hikin’.”
“Who’s ther kid?”
“Thet boy is my grandson. We come outer Missouri ter see what could be did in this yere new country, an’ it’s mighty hard sleddin’.”
“What’s ther trouble?”