“Certainly not. As you may have guessed already, we are a band of road-agents, whose field of action we have lately confined to the Black Hills country. I have the honor of being the leader, and you have doubtless heard of me—Deadwood Dick, the ‘Road-Agent Prince,’ as the Pioneer persists in terming me. Just at present, things are rather sultry in the immediate vicinity of Deadwood, so far as we are concerned, and we sought this locality to escape a small army of the Deadwood military, who have been nosing around after us for the past week.”
“Well, we happened to see a man and woman come this way, and believing that it must lead to somewhere or other, we followed, and here we are, out of the reach of the blue-coats, but, I take it, in the way of a party of secret miners. Is it not so?”
“No, not necessarily so, unless you put yourselves in the way. You wish to remain quartered here for the present?”
“If not contrary to your wishes, we should like to, yes.”
“I have no objections to offer, providing you will agree to two points.”
“And what are they, may I ask?”
“These. That you will camp at the mouth of the passage, and thus keep out any other intruders that may come; second, that you will keep your men to this side or the valley, and not interfere with any of our laborers.”
“To which I eagerly agree. You shall experience no inconvenience from our presence here; you furnish us a haven of safety from the pursuing soldiers; we in return will extend you our aid in repelling a host of fortune-seekers who may any moment come down this way in swarms.”
“Very well; that settles it, then. You keep your promise, and all will go well.”
The two shook hands: then Redburn turned and strode back to dismiss his forces, while Dick and his men took up their position at the place where the fissure opened into the gulch. Here they made preparations to camp. Redburn, while returning to his men, heard a shout of joy, and looking up, saw, to his surprise, that the old “General” and Alice Terry were locked in each other’s arms, in a loving embrace.
[Footnote D: This crusher is said to have been the first introduced into the Black Hills]
AT THE CABIN.
What did it mean?
Had the old hump-backed, bow-legged mine-locater gone crazy, or was he purposely insulting the beautiful maiden? Fearless Frank stood aside, apparently offering no objections to the hugging, and the Indians did likewise.
At least Miss Terry made no serious attempts to free herself from the “General’s” bear-like embrace.
A few bounds brought Redburn to the spot, panting, breathless, perspiring. “What is the meaning of this disgraceful scene?” he demanded, angrily.