With a cry of horror and rage, Ted turned toward her, but just then he felt himself seized and dragged from his saddle. Something struck him on the back of the head, and all became black.
But as he was going off into unconsciousness he heard a shout. It was the old Moon Valley yell, and he knew that Norris would be safe.
Bud was coming with reenforcements. Ted had dropped to the road under the feet of the terrified ponies, and it was a miracle that he was not trampled to death.
All about him the fight was going on.
Bud and Andy Bowles, and about twenty men whom they had hastily got together, had come to the rescue, and the gamblers’ gang was soon on the run. They had not been able to get near Norris, for Kit had fought them off with his one good arm until, finding themselves attacked in the rear, the would-be lynchers ran for their lives.
The fight was swift and decisive, and several men lay in the dust when it was over, for Andy Bowles and Bud and Ben had fought like tigers.
When Ted recovered consciousness again he found himself lying in the road beside Shan Rhue, who had been knocked senseless by a blow from the butt of Bud’s pistol.
Ted staggered to his feet.
“Where’s Stella?” he cried.
The other boys looked around. Just before the fight began they had seen her, Kit, and the old man, but now she was gone.
“Stella was wounded,” cried Ted. “Where is she? Scatter, men, and find her. She cannot be far away. If anything has happened to her, some one will suffer.”
Stella A captive.
We will leave Ted and the broncho boys, to follow the misadventures of Stella.
After securing Magpie, which was taken back to the cow camp by Kit, who, much against his inclinations, was compelled to go into retirement until his arm healed, Ted released old man Norris, who secured a pony and rode rapidly out of town.
When Stella fell from the back of her pony to the road she became insensible. A ball from the weapon of one of Shan Rhue’s gang had clipped a lock of hair from her forehead, creasing the skull. By a miracle her life was saved, for the merest fraction of an inch lay between her and death.
During the hurly-burly of the fight, and as Ted was grasped in the powerful arms of Shan Rhue, one of the gang rushed up to her as she lay in the dust and picked her up.
He was a powerful man, and carried Stella’s light body as if she had been a child. That he was not seen by some member of the Running Water outfit was due to the fact that they were too busily engaged in fighting to pay attention to anything else.
When Stella regained her senses she was conscious of a racking headache, and, placing her hand to her forehead, brought it away wet and sticky. It was quite dark, and she groaned feebly. The pain was excruciating, and the motion of her body made her deathly sick.