Without delay the distance was guessed at, and each of the young men rode to position. Miss Terry, the beautiful second, took her place at one side of the gulch, midway between the antagonists, and when all was to readiness she counted:
The right hands of the two youths were raised on a level, and the gleaming barrel of a pistol shone from each.
There was a sharp click! click! as the hammers of the weapons were pulled back at full cock. Each click meant danger or death.
Harris was very white; so was Fearless Frank, but not so much so as the young woman who was to give the signal.
“Three! Fire!” cried Alice, quickly; then, there was a flash, the report of two pistols, and Ned Harris fell to the ground without a groan.
McKenzie ran to his side, and bent over him.
“Poor fellow!” he murmured, rising, a few moments later—“poor Ned. He is dead!”
It was Harris’ request to be left where he fell. Accordingly he was laid on the grass by the roadside, his horse tethered near by, and then, accompanied by Alice, Justin McKenzie set out to Deadwood.
[Footnote C: Living characters]
THE POCKET GULCH MINES—INVADERS OF THEM.
We see fit to change the scene once more back to the pocket gulch—the home of the sweet, sad-faced Anita. The date is one month later—one long, eventful month since Justin McKenzie shot down Ned Harris under the noonday sun, a short distance above Deadwood.
Returning to the Flower Pocket by the route to the rugged transverse gulch, and thence through the gaping fissure, we find before us a scene—not of slumbering beauty, but of active industry and labor, such as was not here when we last looked into the flower-strewn paradise of the Hills.
The flowers are for the most part still intact, though occasionally you will come across a spot where the hand of man hath blighted their growth.
Where stood the little vine-wreathed cabin now may be seen a larger and more commodious log structure, which is but a continuation of the original.
A busy scene greets our gaze all around. Men are hurrying here and there through the valley—men not of the pale-face race, but of the red race; men, clad only to the waist, with remarkable muscular developments, and fleetness of foot.
Over the little creek which dashes far adown from pine-dressed mountain peaks, and trails its shining waters through the flowering land, is built another structure—of logs, strongly and carefully erected, and thatched by a master hand with bark and grass. From the roof projects a small smoke-stack, from which emanates a steady cloud of smoke, curling lazily upward toward heaven’s blue vault, and inside is heard the grinding, crushing rumble of ponderous