“That relieves my mind some,” declared Bluff, brightening up.
“You’re getting tired of all this travel, that’s what ails you,” said Jerry.
“No; it isn’t that,” remarked Frank. “Bluff has confessed to me that for the life of him he can’t remember putting that beautiful hunting-knife in the trunk along with his other traps; and if he left that behind, half his pleasure would be lost. Now you know what’s the matter.”
“Not that I wish it to be so, but if such should prove to be the case, there’ll be one delighted grizzly bear out in these same mountains—the chap Bluff calculated on carving with that big sticker,” remarked Jerry jocosely.
But Bluff would not even smile. Truth to tell, he was counting the hours until he could open that trunk and relieve his distressed mind.
“Did you ever see a wilder bit of country?” said Frank, peering out into the gathering dusk, and trying to imagine those wooded hillsides populated with elk and buffaloes, and all the big game of the past, when a white man was never known west of the Great Lakes.
“Well, to tell the truth, I was thinking of that account I read in the paper we bought, about the work of a sheriff’s posse in this region, chasing the bad men who held up a railroad train not a hundred miles away from here. It wouldn’t be a pleasant experience for us to meet with, eh, fellows?” asked Will, who was known to have a timid streak in his make-up.
“Talk to me about your croakers!” jeered Jerry. “Will, here, is enough to freeze the marrow in one’s bones. There isn’t one chance in a thousand that such an adventure will come our way, and he knows it.”
“Goodness! What a jar! The engineer must have thrown the air brakes on then in a big hurry! We’re coming to a sudden stop, too! Oh! I wonder if anything can have happened? Are we going to have an accident, fellows?” cried Will.
With much creaking of the wheels the heavy train came to a stop, and at the same moment the four chums, listening with considerable apprehension, caught the sound of many loud and excited voices just outside the car.
AT THE VALLEY RANCH
“Listen!” exclaimed Frank, holding up his hand.
“Talk to me about your Tower of Babel! It wasn’t in the same class as that row. Twenty men trying to talk all at once!” growled Jerry, starting up.
“Oh! Where are you going?” asked Will.
“Outside, to find out what the trouble is,” replied the other.
“But you may get hurt if those bad men start to shooting up the train,” expostulated the official photographer anxiously.
Jerry gave a hoarse laugh.
“Tell me about that, will you! He actually believes we are going to be put through a course of ‘stand and deliver’ by the merry gentlemen of the road. Why, bless you, my boy, didn’t you hear one man say something about a trestle burning just ahead? It spells delay for us, but that’s the worst of the whole affair.”