A curious expression crossed Hill’s strong countenance. It was almost a smile of understanding. “I am—indebted to you—boss,” he said, and with the words very calmly he took his revolver by the muzzle and held it out. “I surrender to you—without conditions.”
Bill Warden gave a sharp start of surprise. For an instant he hesitated, then in silence he took the weapon and dropped it into his pocket. A moment longer he looked Fletcher Hill straight in the eyes, then swung upon his heel.
“We’ll get out of this infernal hole straight away,” he said, and, stooping, gripped his fingers upon a ridge of stone that ran close to the floor. The stone swung inward under his grasp, leaving a dark aperture gaping at his feet. Bill glanced backwards at his prisoner.
The smile still hovered in the latter’s eye. “After you, Mr. Buckskin Bill!” he said, ceremoniously.
And in silence Bill led the way.
THE BOSS OF BARREN VALLEY
“Oh, my dear!” gasped Adela. “I’ve had the most terrifying adventure. I thought I should never see you again. The men are all on strike, and they’ve sworn to kill Fletcher Hill, only no one knows where he is. What became of him? Has he got away?”
“I don’t know,” Dot said.
She sank into the nearest chair in the ill-lighted manager’s office, and leaned her white face in her hand.
“Perhaps he has been murdered already,” said Adela. “Mr. Harley is very anxious about him. He can’t hold them. And—Dot—just think of it!—Warden—the man we saw yesterday, the sub-manager—is at their head. I saw him myself. He had a revolver in his hand. You were with Fletcher Hill. You must know what became of him!”
“No, I don’t know,” said Dot. “We—parted—a long time ago.”
“How odd you are!” said Adela. “Why, what is the matter? Are you going to faint?” She went to the girl and bent over her, frightened by her look. “What is the matter, Dot? What has happened to you? You haven’t been hurt?”
“I am—all right,” Dot said, with an effort. “Did Mr. Harley bring you here?”
“Yes. And you? How did you get here?”
“He—brought me most of the way—Mr. Warden,” Dot said. “He has gone now to save—Fletcher Hill.”
“To shoot him, more likely,” said Adela. “He has posted sentinels all round the mine to catch him. I wonder if we are safe here! Mr. Harley said it was a safe place. But I wonder. Shall we make a bolt for it, Dot? Shall we? Shall we?”
“I shall stay here,” Dot answered.
Adela was not even listening. “We are only two defenceless women, and there isn’t a man to look after us. What shall we do if—Ah! Heavens! What is that?”
A fearful sound had cut short her speculations—a fiendish yelling as of a pack of wolves leaping upon their prey. Dot sat up swiftly. Adela cowered in a corner.