“I reckon I haven’t. We lost a bunch o’ money in it ourselves.”
“But we got it back.”
“That’s so, but the carrier is still in jail, awaitin’ trial fer stealin’ the sack, an’ I don’t believe he had any more ter do with it than I had.”
“And yet the most careful examination by the post-office inspectors failed to show that the place had been forcibly entered, and, although the carrier, Jim Bliss, had witnesses to show that he went into the post office with the sack, and came right out without it, still he is in jail, accused of stealing it,” said Kit.
“There are several other cases of mysterious robberies which I might cite, but those are enough,” said Ted. “But the curious thing about it all is that the robbers left not the slightest trace, not a broken lock, not a mark to show that a window was forced or a hole bored. When the place is closed up at night there is the money, when it is opened in the morning the money is gone. And again, these robberies only occur when valuables are accidentally left out of the vaults.”
“It is curious. Everything yer say is true, but I never thought erlong it ez much ez you, an’ I didn’t figger out how near they wuz alike.”
“Well, what’s your theory?” asked Ben. “You started to tell us.”
“Yes, who do you think committed these robberies?” asked Kit.
“Who but a gang of bad boys under the leadership and tutelage of a criminal?” answered Ted. “Who but the gang of Strongburg and Soldier Butte young toughs who go by the silly name of ‘The Flying Demons’? If they get gay around this ranch, we’ll have to tie a can to them and head them for the reform school or the penitentiary.”
The “Flying demons’” Message.
When Ted Strong stepped out on the veranda the morning after the ball he found Stella staring curiously at a large, square piece of paper stuck on the wall of the ranch house.
Nobody in the house had risen early, as they had all been up very late, except Song, the cook, who, when he saw that no one was disposed to turn out for an early breakfast, had gone out to work in the garden, in which he had with much skill raised an abundance of vegetables that year.
“Good morning, Stella; what is so interesting?” said Ted.
“It beats me,” answered Stella. “I wonder if this is one of Ben’s witticisms. If it is, he ought to be spanked.”
Ted was standing by her side, reading what had been printed on the paper.
“H’m! this is good,” said he, and read aloud, as if to himself, the following warning:
“Ted strong and broncho boys: You ought to know by this time that you are not wanted in this part of the country. Advise you to sell out and skip. If you stay your lives will be made a hell on earth, and we have the stuff that will do it. This is no bluff, as you will find out if you disregard this word of friendly warning. You will be given a short time to sell your stock, then git. This means business.
“The flying demons.”