“What do you think of it, Bud?” asked Ted, handing the little mirror over to the golden-haired puncher.
Bud took it in his hand, and looked at it a long time.
“It shore is Stella’s,” he said. “I reckernize it by this leetle dent on ther side o’ it.”
He was holding it in the palm of his hand, looking down at it intently.
“Hello, what’s this?” Bud held the mirror against the sleeve of his blue shirt.
“Pipin’ pelicans,” he muttered, “if thar ain’t some kind o’ a pitcher on it.”
Ted went to his side and looked at the mirror.
“I believe you’re right,” he said. “Let me look at it.”
“What do you make of it?” asked Bud.
All the boys crowded around, watching Ted eagerly.
“This is evidently intended for the picture of a stone wall,” said Ted, “and that wavy line behind it is meant for mountains.”
“What’s that?” asked Bud, pointing to the picture.
“I guess it is meant for a hole in the stone wall,” said Ted.
“Wow!” said Bud. “That’s as easy as livin’ on a farm. Don’t yer see? It is a message from the Hole in the Wall.”
“By Jove, you’re right. The Hole in the Wall in the Wichita Mountains.”
“What is that right below it?”
“It looks like a star. It is a star.”
“It is Stella’s signature,” said Ben. “Stella is the Latin for star. Don’t you see, she has sent this message out from the Hole in the Wall, where she is a prisoner? It’s as plain as day to me.”
“You’re right,” shouted Ted. “Into your saddles, boys; we’re off to the Hole in the Wall at once.”
“Hole in the wall.”
“Kit, you will stay and take care of the herd,” said Ted, just before the boys galloped off.
“All right, but I’d mighty well like to go with you,” said Kit, who, although he was eager to be in the fight that he knew would come off if Ted found that Shan Rhue had anything to do with the abduction of Stella, was not one to get disgruntled.
Ted would have been well pleased to have Kit with him, but Kit’s arm was not yet well enough to risk in a possible rough-and-tumble adventure.
“Say, Ted,” Kit called after the leader of the broncho boys.
“What?” asked Ted, riding back.
“Don’t you think you better take Stella’s pony, Magpie, along with you? She’ll have to have something to ride coming back.”
He did not say “if you find her,” for he knew that if she was anywhere in the Wichita Mountains Ted would find her.
“Glad you spoke of it,” said Ted.
It did not take long to rope the magpie pony and throw Stella’s saddle on it.
Now they were off into the northeast, where the Wichita Mountains lay. None of them knew just where the Hole in the Wall was, but Ted felt confident of finding it if there was such a place.