“I can get back.”
“Stay here. I will consult some of my friends and see if I can raise the money.”
“Very well, massa.” One of those whom Jefferson called into consultation was the person who had guided Caesar to the Griffin Mine.
Quickly the proprietor of the Miners’ Rest unfolded the situation.
“Now,” he said, “I want two of you to follow this misshapen dwarf, and find out where he comes from. I want to get hold of the scoundrels who sent him to me.”
“I will be one,” said the man with the pipe.
“Very well, Fred.”
“And I will go with Fred,” said a long limbed fellow who had been a Kansas cowboy.
“I accept you, Otto. Go armed, and don’t lose sight of him.”
“Shall you send the money?”
“Not I. I will send a letter that will encourage them to hope for it. I want to gain time.”
“Any instructions, Jefferson?”
“Only this, if you see these men, capture or kill them.”
A BLOODY CONFLICT.
This was the letter that was handed to Caesar:
I have received your note. I must have time to think, and time perhaps to get hold of the gold. Don’t harm a hair of the boy’s head. If so, I will hunt you to death.
P.S.—Meet me tomorrow morning at the rocky
gorge at the foot of Black
Mountain. Ten o’clock.
Caesar took the letter, and bent his steps in the direction of the place where he had tethered his horse. He did not observe that he was followed by two men, who carefully kept him in sight, without attracting attention to themselves.
When Caesar reached the place where he had tethered the horse, he was grievously disappointed at not finding him. One of the miners in roaming about had come upon the animal, and knowing him to be Jefferson Pettigrew’s property, untied him and rode him back to Oreville.
The dwarf threw up his hands in dismay.
“The horse is gone!” he said in his deep bass voice, “and now I must walk back, ten long miles, and get a flogging at the end for losing time. It’s hard luck,” he groaned.
The loss was fortunate for Fred and Otto who would otherwise have found it hard to keep up with the dwarf.
Caesar breathed a deep sigh, and then started on his wearisome journey. Had the ground been even it would have troubled him less, but there was a steep upward grade, and his short legs were soon weary. Not so with his pursuers, both of whom were long limbed and athletic.
We will go back now to the cave and the captors of Rodney. They waited long and impatiently for the return of their messenger. Having no knowledge of the loss of the horse, they could not understand what detained Caesar.
“Do you think the rascal has played us false?” said Roderick.