Fred and Terry capture cattle
Terry heard the blow that Fred gave
the cattle thief and he knew what it meant, for the
fellow sank down without uttering a word.
The thief’s pal, seeing that
the cow that had strayed off was not being turned
around, went to the assistance of his confederate and
he ran up against Terry.
Terry rose up and gave him a crack
on the head with his heavy revolver. He saw more
stars than he probably ever thought had a home in the
skies, and down he dropped.
“Now, Terry,” whispered
Fred, “let’s see if there are any more
of them,” and as quick as possible they bound
the two unconscious thieves hands and feet and continued
to follow the cattle.
They walked straight up on their feet,
knowing that the confederates, if there were any,
would mistake them for their pals if they saw them.
After a few minutes they saw two other
fellows advancing toward them, and one of them came
up to Fred and asked in a low tone of voice:
“What’s the matter?”
“Only this,” said Fred,
smashing him in the face with his revolver and sending
him tumbling over in the grass. The other fellow
stopped and, suspecting something wrong, started to
“Halt!” said Terry, “or you’re
a dead man.”
The fellow threw himself down in the
grass and tried to run on his hands and knees and
thus escape any bullet that might be flied at him,
but Terry was on him in a moment and gave him a terrible
crack with his revolver on his head.
Terry searched him for a weapon and
found an ugly-looking knife and a revolver on him.
He took possession of the weapons and, with the ball
of twine he had with him, bound him hard and fast,
his hands behind him and his ankles together, and
then ran on ahead of the cattle to look for the gap
he suspected they were headed for, he soon found it.
Before a single beef had passed through
he and Fred turned the cattle back.
Then both of them followed the trail
of the thieves, which they were enabled to do, dark
though it was, by following the disarranged tall grass.
They found all of the men had recovered
consciousness except the fourth man, who, was lying
where he had fallen like a dead man.
“Terry,” said Fred, “this
is your man. What in thunder did you crack him
so hard for?”
“I wanted to make sure of him,”
and they proceeded to drag the men to the gap that
had been cut through the wire fence, took them through
it, stood them up against a tree, for there were a
few scattering trees growing down there, and tied
them to the trunk hard and fast.
They both struck matches and held
them up before their faces to see if they could recognize
them, but they had never seen them before.
One of them, fearing that he would
be recognized, very promptly blew out the light and
mattered something in Spanish, so from that Fred and
Terry judged that they were Mexicans one,
at least and Fred took Terry aside and
whispered to him that there must be other men mixed
up in it; so they concluded to build a fire some ten
feet off from them and then go back inside the enclosure
and conceal themselves in the grass to watch, for
they knew that nobody could go up to the tree to release
the men tied there without being seen by the light
of the fire.
The fire was built up against an old
dead log, which, being dry and well seasoned, burned
readily, and in some places blazed up some ten feet
or more high. Some of the cowboys, seeing the
light of the fire a half mile away, came down to see
what it meant.
Fred and Terry recognized them and
they waited to watch their movements. One of
them went up and talked with one of the men who was
bound to the tree.
Both of them suspected their loyalty,
but they proved to be true.
They looked around to find Fred and
Terry, and several times used the signals that Fred
had given them.
When Fred and Terry returned their
signals they came toward them, looking carefully for
When they found them one of them asked:
“Boss, did you tie up those fellows?”
“Yes,” said Terry, “and
there’s another one lying back there in the
grass with a broken head, but all the same we tied
him by his hands and feet to keep him from getting
Just then they heard the man groaning
and calling to his pals, and the two cowboys followed
the sound of his voice and soon found him, he having
recovered consciousness. They picked him up and
brought him down near the fire.
There all four of them denied that
they had done anything wrong.
Each claimed that he had nothing to
do with cutting out the wire, denied that he was driving
the cattle and, of course, claimed to be innocent of
“Well,” said Fred, “I
hope you will be able to prove your innocence in court,
for that is where you are going.”
Then Fred turned on the two cowboys
and asked them why they had left that corner of the
“Boss,” one of them said,
“there wasn’t enough of us to reach down
so far, and we thought that it would be safe to let
it alone and to-morrow report it, but as soon as we
saw the light we came down to investigate it.”
Both of them thought that that excuse
was reasonable, and Fred told them that they were
expected to be vigilant in the discharge of their work
and that they would employ more cowboys.
“Now you two can lie down here
and sleep while we keep watch.”
“Boss, we’ll watch while you sleep,”
was the reply.
“No, we are going to keep watch
ourselves. At daylight I want one of you to make
your way back to the barn and hitch up a team, bring
down a coil of wire and the necessary tools to repair
this gap and then take the prisoners back to town.
“Fred,” said Terry, “why
not tell them to bring a coil of rope.”
“What do you want with a rope, Terry?”
“Oh, Judge Lynch always has
use for a rope for cattle thieves. I will act
as sheriff, if you don’t wish to have anything
to do with it. Generally I am opposed to lynching,
but this is a fair case.”
“No, Terry, I don’t believe
in that. I’m sorry that, instead of capturing
them, we didn’t shoot them and thus get rid of
them without calling in Judge Lynch.”
The prisoners, of course, heard every
word that the boys uttered. The fact is, they
were both talking for their benefit. The cowboys,
though, thought that they were in earnest and they
would see a lynching, so when the dawn of day began
to appear in the east Fred sent one of the cowboys
back to the barn with instructions to bring down a
coil of barb wire and a coil of rope.
One of the prisoners, tied to the
tree, begged that Mr. Fearnot would come up to the
tree and let him talk with him.
Fred did so, and the fellow said that
if he wouldn’t punish him and would release
him, he would leave the country and never show up there
“Oh, yes; but it is bad policy
to let a cattle thief go loose, after he has been
caught in the act.”
Then the others began making similar
promises, and never did men beg for their lives as
hard as they did.
One of the cowboys was sent off for
wire and rope, and while he was gone a farmer came
by, making an early start for Crabtree.
The road passed within a couple of
hundred yards of where the men were tied to the tree,
and he heard them talking as well as noticed the smoke
from the fire which Fred and Terry had built out there.
He left his team in the road, and
coming into the woods, there learned the whole secret
of the situation.
He knew Fred and Terry, for he had
frequently stopped at their ranch, so he, on his way
to town, notified every farmer and ranchman whom he
passed that Fearnot and Olcott were going to hang four
cattle thieves down at the lower end of their ranch.
Everybody who heard the news wanted
to see the lynching, so they came down there.
Fred told them that he had no idea of taking the law
in his own hands, and that he intended taking the
prisoners into town and turning them over to the sheriff.
All the prisoners, being Mexicans, whom the farmers
throughout that section hated like poison, stood in
great danger of being hanged at once by the angry ranchmen;
but Fred refused to permit it. He bargained with
one of them to take them in his wagon to Crabtree,
and then mounted his horse and started off ahead of
them. They were bound hard and fast, so they could
give the farmer no trouble.
“Terry,” said he before
he left, “you must see to the careful repairing
of the fence and keep a watch over everything.
I am going to see if I can find a good electrician
to come out and electrify the wires in this fence,
so when they attempt to cut this fence again some of
them will get knocked off the face of the earth.”
So he put spurs to his horse and started off.
He knew he could reach Crabtree about two hours ahead
of the prisoners.
The party of rough fellows, farmers
and cowboys, went along with the wagon, and before
they had gone three miles they took the prisoners from
the farmer and strung them up in some timber along
the roadside; so when the farmer reached Crabtree
he had no prisoners, and he told a harrowing tale
to Fred of how the men had taken the prisoners from
him and strung them up.
“Well, well, well,” he
ejaculated. “I am sorry for that; not that
I don’t think they deserved it, but I don’t
believe in that sort of thing. Now, I want you
to come with me to the sheriff and several responsible
citizens and tell that story to them, for I don’t
want to be accused of having anything to do with the
matter, other than capturing the thieves.”
The farmer told his story to the sheriff,
which official, accompanied by several citizens, as
well as some deputies, rode down there to investigate
Meanwhile Fred went in search of an
electrician. There was only one in the city,
and he had charge of the city electrical lighting,
so he couldn’t go down to the ranch and electrify
the wires around the entire range, for it wouldn’t
do to perform that feat unless some one was left in
charge of the city’s plant.
Fred bargained with him to communicate
with some competent electrician in some other city
and get him to come down to the ranch and stay for
one month, saying that he would pay him well for his
Fred rode down the other road that
ran parallel with the railroad track, reaching home,
after hard riding, a little after dark.
Early the next morning when Fred went
to the store he found some four or five cowboys who
had just arrived, having come in to put in applications
for employment as cowboys.
Said a big, brawny fellow, who measured
six feet and two inches in height:
“Mr. Fearnot, we hear that you
have added a thousand more cattle to your herd, and
we know that you need more cowboys. We are all
trained ranchmen and cowboys, and understand the business
from A to Z. Just set us to work at once, and there’ll
be no more cattle thieving around here, for we know
just how to deal with them.”
Fred did not like the looks of any
one in the party. Their faces showed plainly
that they were certainly devotees of the jug, so he
“Gentlemen, of course we will
need more cowboys, for it is our intention to add
still another thousand head of cattle to our herd;
but we really can’t employ another man until
we first investigate his former life. We don’t
want any man in our employ who drinks whisky.
Neither Mr. Olcott nor myself ever touch the stuff,
and I never took a drink of anything intoxicating
in my life, so I don’t want any one around me
“Well,” said the big fellow,
“I never was drunk in my life, I have taken
whisky moderately whenever I felt like it ever since
I was of age, so if you give me a job I’ll agree
never to take a drink as long as I am on the place.”
But Fred could see from his eyes and
face that the man was not telling the truth.
He said that if Fred would write to
certain ranchmen further up the road where he had
worked that he would find out that he was as good a
ranchman as could be found anywhere in the State; but
Fred shook his head and remarked that he would take
his time, and that he and Olcott would act as cowboys
themselves until they had selected others to do the
work for them.
About three hours later a cowboy arrived
in the conductor’s cab, on the rear end of a
freight train, and going to the little store, inquired
There were four cowboys in the store
at the time, and they could see from his dress and
style that the newcomer was a cowboy, too.
The storekeeper went out on the porch
and caught a glimpse of Fred over at the barn lot.
He gave a halloo, which attracted Fred’s attention,
and then he beckoned to him. Fred at once started
for the store, but the newcomer, who had followed
the storekeeper out on the piazza, saw him and said:
“Thank you, boss; I know him.
I used to work for him up in Colorado, and he is one
of the best men that ever breathed.”
When Fred was within one hundred yards
of the store, he recognized the cowboy, and called
“Hello, Tom!” and the newcomer returned
When Fred reached the store, the two shook hands heartily.
“Tom, what in the world brought you way down
here?” Fred inquired.
“Mr. Fearnot. I came down
here to take my old place with you on the ranch, if
you need me.”
“All right, Tom, you can have
it. You are just the kind of a man that I do
Just then Terry came up and another
handshaking took place between the cowboy and him.
Terry and Tom seemed to be highly
pleased at meeting each other.
When Tom learned that Evelyn was down there he exclaimed:
“Good heavens, Mr. Terry, I
want to see her, and get down on my knees to her,
for if there ever was an angel on earth, she is that
Both Fred and Terry laughed, and the
latter informed him that here were two other young
ladies down there from Crabtree.
“Look here, boss,” said
Tom, “I heard up at Crabtree that four cattle
thieves had been strung up down here yesterday.
Is that so?”
“Yes, Tom; but we had nothing
to do with that part of the affair.”
The other cowboys were standing at
the other end of the porch, and heard Fred engage
the newcomer, and that, too, after refusing to employ
any of them. Their faces showed plainly their
disgust, and not to say dissatisfaction, and the big
six-foot fellow went up to Fred and again applied
for employment, saying that he couldn’t find
a better cowboy in the whole State than he was, and
that he could get references to prove it.
“See here, my friend,”
said Fred, “you may be all that you claim, and
I hope that you are: but really I want to be
convinced of that fact before I take you on our force.”
“Boss, set me to work at once,
and you needn’t pay me a cent until after you
learn that I am all that I claim to be.”
“No, sir. A man can’t
work ten minutes for me without pay; so just leave
your address here at the store, and I’ll notify
you if I want you.”
“Why, boss, you have just taken
on a new man, and that, too, after refusing to employ
any of those in my party. Do you call that fair
“Yes, for I know this man personally.
He has been in my employ before, and I was satisfied
with his work.”
The fellow turned away, growing threateningly
and the party went inside the store, and there held
Tom and Fred and Terry went over to
the house, where the ladies were, and Evelyn, as soon
as she saw him, recognized him, and exclaimed:
“Why, there’s Tom Hecker.”
Tom instantly doffed his hat and stood,
bowing and smiling, as if highly pleased at her recognition
“Tom,” said she, advancing
out on the piazza, “come here; I want to shake
hands with you, for you were of great service to me
on several occasions up in Colorado.”
Tom advanced, too, and she extended her hand to him.
He appeared to be supremely happy.
She didn’t, of course, introduce him to the
two young ladies, for she resented their social positions.
But she did remark to them, in his hearing, that he
was one of her brother’s most faithful cowboys
on the old Colorado ranch, and that he was as brave
as he was faithful.
She asked Tom when he had seen Wicklow
and his wife, and he replied that he hadn’t
seen them for over a month, that the old force had
been pretty well scattered, and that the old ranch
had been divided up into three ranches, as three different
individuals had bought it.
He said, though, that when last he
saw the Wicklow family they were all well.