Here they remained over night, taking an early start on the succeeding morning.
That day they made good progress, in consequence of Frank’s purchase of a horse at Sage creek from some friendly Crow Indians, and darkness overtook them at the mouth of Red Canyon, where they went into camp.
By steady pushing they reached Rapid creek the next night, for no halt was made at Custer City, and for the first time since leaving the torture-ground, camped with a miner’s family. As yet no cabins or shanties had been erected here, canvas tents serving in the stead; to-day there are between fifty and a hundred wooden structures.
Alice was charmed with the wild grandeur of the mountain scenery—with the countless acres of blossoms and flowering shrubs—with the romantic and picturesque surroundings in general, and was very emphatic in her praises.
One day of rest was taken at Rapid Creek; then the twain pushed on, and when night again overtook them, they rode into the bustling, noisy, homely metropolis—Deadwood, magic city of the North-west.
ONLY A SNAKE—LOCATING A MINE.
Harry Redburn hurried off toward the cabin, which was some steps away. In Anita’s scream there were both terror and affright.
Walsingham Nix, the hump-backed, bow-legged explorer and prospecter hobbled after him, using his staff for support.
He had heard the scream, but years’ experience among the “gals” taught him that a feminine shriek rarely, if ever, meant anything.
Redburn arrived at the cabin in a few flying bounds, and leaped into the kitchen.
There, crouched upon the floor in one corner, all in a little heap, pale, tumbling and terrified, was Anita. Before her, squirming along over the sand-scrubbed floor, evidently disabled by a blow, was an enormous black-snake.
It was creeping away instead of toward Anita, leaving a faint trail of crimson in its wake; yet the young girl’s face was blanched with fear.
“You screamed at that?” demanded Redburn, pointing to the coiling serpent.
“Ugh! yes; it is horrible.”
“But, it is harmless. See: some one has given it a blow across the back, and it is disabled for harm.”
Anita looked up into his handsome face, wonderingly.
“I guv et a rap across the spinal column, when I kim into the valley,” said General Nix, thrusting his head in at the door, a ludicrous grin elongating his grisly features. “‘Twar a-goin’ ter guv me a yard or so uv et’s tongue, more or less—consider’bly less of more than more of less—so I jest salivated it across ther back, kerwhack!”
Anita screamed again as she saw the General, he was so rough and homely.
“Who are you?” she managed to articulate as Redburn assisted her to rise from the floor. “What are you doing here, where you were not invited?”