She followed him part of the way through the labyrinth of underbrush, hardly knowing why she did so. He stood alone upon the summit of the high bluff whence he could look across the stream. Miss Spencer stood below waving her parasol frantically, and even as he gazed at her, his ears caught the sound of heavy firing down the valley.
PLUCKED FROM THE BURNING
That Miss Spencer was deeply agitated was evident at a glance, while the nervous manner in which she glanced in the direction of those distant gun shots, led Brant to jump to the conclusion that they were in some way connected with her appearance.
“Oh, Lieutenant Brant,” she cried, excitedly, “they are going to kill him down there, and he never did it at all. I know he didn’t, and so does Mr. Wynkoop. Oh, please hurry! Nobody knew where you were, until I saw your horse tied here, and Mr. Wynkoop has been hunting for you everywhere. He is nearly frantic, poor man, and I cannot learn where either Mr. Moffat or Mr. McNeil is, and I just know those dreadful creatures will kill him before we can get help.”
“Kill whom?” burst in Brant, springing down the bank fully awakened to the realization of some unknown emergency. “My dear Miss Spencer, tell me your story quickly if you wish me to act. Who is in danger, and from what?”
The girl burst into tears, but struggled bravely through with her message.
“It’s those awful men, the roughs and rowdies down in Glencaid. They say he murdered Red Slavin, that big gambler who spoke to me this morning, but he did n’t, for I saw the man who did, and so did Mr. Wynkoop. He jumped out of the saloon window, his hand all bloody, and ran away. But they ’ve got him and the town marshal up behind the Shasta dump, and swear they’re going to hang him if they can only take him alive. Oh, just hear those awful guns!”
“Yes, but who is it?”
“Bob Hampton, and—and he never did it at all.”
Before Brant could either move or speak, Naida swept past him, down the steep bank, and her voice rang out clear, insistent. “Bob Hampton attacked by a mob? Is that true, Phoebe? They are fighting at the Shasta dump, you say? Lieutenant Brant, you must act—you must act now, for my sake!”
She sprang toward the horse, nerved by Brant’s apparent slowness to respond, and loosened the rein from the scrub oak. “Then I will myself go to him, even if they kill me also, the cowards!”
But Brant had got his head now. Grasping her arm and the rein of the plunging horse, “You will go home,” he commanded, with the tone of military authority. “Go home with Miss Spencer. All that can possibly be done to aid Hampton I shall do—will you go?”
She looked helplessly into his face. “You—you don’t like him,” she faltered; “I know you don’t. But—but you will help him, won’t you, for my sake?”