“Reckon they’ll do it?”
“The commandant at Fort Sill seems to think they will, for he’s got two companies out on the scout.”
“The boys better look out, then. The Injuns don’t like the gang over at the Hole in the Wall none too good.”
“We stand all right with Flatnose and his son, an’ it’s their band that’s actin’ bad.”
“Well, y’u better get a move on y’u. The moon will be down in an hour.”
“Get the gal out, then, an’ we’ll be movin’.”
“All right,” said the guide, poking his head into the coach. “Here’s where you get out. Boss said to treat her well,” he continued, turning to the man with whom he had been talking.
“Oh, we’ll do that, all right,” was the reply.
Stella scrambled painfully out of the coach. All about her were mounted men, both whites and Indians. There were a score or more of them.
“Can you ride?” asked one of them of Stella.
“Yes,” she replied, “if you don’t go too fast. I’m sick and weak.”
“We’ll do the best we can,” said the man shortly.
Then he called back to his followers:
“Jake, bring up that spare hoss.”
In a moment, and with a staggering weakness, Stella climbed into the saddle. With a man on each side of her, she took up the march again.
Through dark defiles in the black mountains the cavalcade made its way, Stella clinging to the saddle, and often in danger of falling off. Presently they came into a glade, or park, which was surrounded by towering mountain walls. For half an hour they traversed this, then came to the end, and before them yawned an opening in the wall less than ten feet wide.
They entered this, and after traversing it a short distance Stella found herself in a circular chamber in the mountains with the starry sky for a roof. Several fires were burning in the chamber, around which Indians and white men were sprawling, playing cards, talking, or silently smoking.
In one corner was a corral, in which many horses were confined.
“You can get down now,” said the leader of the party that had conducted her to the place. “There is a shelter for you over there.”
He pointed to a small tent on the farther side of the chamber.
“You will be perfectly safe here. You do not seem well. I will send you assistance.”
“Where am I?” asked Stella.
“You are a prisoner in the Hole in the Wall,” was the reply.
“Then Heaven help me,” said Stella, sobbing.
A hole in the herd.
The herd of cattle which Ted and the broncho boys
were herding in No
Man’s Land he had branded Circle S, named after Stella.
There were more than two thousand head of them, which Ted was feeding on the rich range grasses of the Southwest to drive to the Moon Valley Ranch to winter, for it was well known to cowmen that a Southern or Southwestern beef animal will do better for a winter on the Northern range.