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John Habberton
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 409 pages of information about Romance of California Life.

The young lady screamed and fell.

IV.

“Whether to do it or not, is what bothers me,” soliloquized Mr. Weasel, pacing meditatively in front of the saloon.  “The old man offers me two thousand to get Tarpaulin away from them fellers, and let him know where to meet him an’ his daughter.  Two thousand’s a pretty penny, an’ the bein’ picked out by so smart a lookin’ man is an honor big enough to set off agin’ a few hundred dollars more.  But, on t’other hand, if they catch him, they’ll come back here, an’ who knows but what they’ll want the old man an’ girl as bad as they wanted Tarpaulin?  A bird in the hand’s worth two in the bush—­better keep near the ones I got, I reckon.  Here they come now!”

As Mr. Weasel concluded his dialogue with himself, Mr. Botayne and Millicent approached, in company with the colonel.

The colonel stopped just beyond the saloon, and said: 

“Now, here’s your best p’int—­you can see the hill-trail fur better’n five miles, an’ the crick fur a mile an’ a half.  I’ll jest hev a shed knocked together to keep the lady from the sun.  An’ keep a stiff upper lip, both of yer—­trust Jim Hockson; nobody in the mines ever knowed him to fail.”

Millicent shivered at the mention of Jim’s name, and the colonel, unhappily ignorant of the cause of her agitation, tried to divert her mind from the chances of harm to Tarpaulin by growing eloquent in praise of Jim Hockson.

Suddenly the colonel himself started and grew pale.  He quickly recovered himself, however, and, with the delicacy of a gentleman, walked rapidly away, as Millicent and her father looked in the direction from which the colonel’s surprise came.

There, handcuffed, with beard and hair singed close, clothes torn and face bleeding, walked Ethelbert Brown between the two detectives, while Jim Hockson, with head bowed and hands behind his back, followed a few yards behind.

Some one gave the word at the saloon, and the boys hurried out, but the colonel pointed significantly toward the sorrowful couple, while with the other hand he pointed an ugly pistol, cocked, toward the saloon.

Millicent hurried from her father’s side, and flung her arms about the sorry figure of her lover; and Jim Hockson, finding his pathway impeded, raised his eyes, and then blushed violently.

“Sorry for you, sir,” said one of the detectives, touching his hat to Mr. Botayne, “but can’t help being glad we got a day ahead of you.”

“What amount of money will buy your prisoner?” demanded the unhappy father.

“Beg pardon, sir—­very sorry, but—­we’d be compounding felony in that case, you know,” replied one of the officers, gazing with genuine pity on the weeping girl.

“Don’t worry,” whispered the colonel in Mr. Botayne’s ear; “we’ll clean out them two fellers, and let Tarpaulin loose again. Ev’ry feller come here for somethin’ darn it!” with which sympathizing expression the colonel again retired.

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