Read CHAPTER XXVII - THE TURN OF THE TIDE. of The Boy Scouts in the Rockies / The Secret of the Hidden Silver Mine, free online book, by Herbert Carter, on

“Hold on, Fox! that man has been punished enough; and besides you’ve recovered the belt, so there’s been no real harm done. Let him get up!”

It was Thad who said this, as he and Aleck broke cover, and appeared before the astonished eyes of the two who were on the ground, the Crow boy flourishing his knife in a way calculated to make any one’s blood run cold.

The Fox seemed to recognize that Thad spoke as one having authority. He had seen him manage things in the camp of the scouts, and noticed how willingly the rest of the boys recognized his leadership. And secretly the Crow boy admired Thad more than any paleface lad he had ever met on or off the reservation, saving possibly Aleck.

So he immediately arose, and hastened to conceal his knife.

“Give big scare, so him never try again!” he muttered, looking down.

“Don’t ye believe him; he just meant to take my ears off, for a fact,” exclaimed the man as he gained his feet, hardly knowing whether to start in running once more, or trust to Thad to stand between himself and the injured Crow boy.

“Well, then, we just happened along this way in time to save them for you; and Waffles, suppose you clear out of this as fast as you can. Don’t forget what we said about shooting, if ever we found you around our camp. Now, if you get away in a hurry, I’ll agree to keep the Fox beside me. Only if you know what’s good for you, never go near the reservation again.”

“Well, I never will, make up your mind to that. Hold him now; I’m going to skedaddle out of this on the jump!” and sure enough Waffles did, rushing away as only a good healthy fright could urge on a tired man.

Nor did any of them see him again, or either of the other two for that matter. They must have made up their minds that the region around there was unhealthy for fellows of their stamp, and that the sooner they turned their faces toward civilization the better for them.

Joined by the Fox, Thad and Aleck continued to walk toward the distant camp of the scouts further up the valley.

The night was getting well along when they halted to rest, having gone as far as was deemed advisable. They had talked it well over, and the Fox had even told them what he knew about Sheriff Bob. This information was of so pleasing a nature that it seemed apt to have more or less influence with regard to making their final decision, as to what their plan should be in the morning.

They were up early, and had a bite to eat, a little food having been brought along by the far-sighted scoutmaster, who when he and Aleck cleared out, did not know when they would get back again.

Again they talked matters over. Thad was of a mind to betake himself back to the camp, leaving the others in hiding; but where they could see a signal he would make, if so be he wanted them to come in.

“This thing of your hiding out like you’re a common criminal is all wrong,” the scoutmaster had declared, somewhat angrily. “And I’m going to put it up to that sheriff in a way that must convince him he’s been humbugged by your scheming old uncle. Then we can get him to go with us, to see you put up your notice, and claim the mine your father originally discovered. After that you can go with him to the place where you have to file your sworn declaration of entry, and have things all done according to law. The Silver Fox Patrol will meanwhile camp in front of that wolf den, and hold it secure for you! Understand all that, Aleck?”

“Indeed, I do; and no fellow ever before found such grand good friends as you and the rest of the scouts have shown yourselves to be to me,” and as he shook hands with Thad, on the latter’s leaving, Aleck had tears in his eyes.

“Oh! that’s what scouts are for, you see; to be a help to each other, and to anybody that’s in trouble, when they can lend a helping hand. Now, watch for the signal; for if I give it, you can feel satisfied you have nothing to fear from that sheriff.”

With that Thad strode away, heading in a roundabout way for the camp, so that his coming from a certain direction might not betray the hiding-place of the other two.

Great was the astonishment of Allan, and those of the patrol who were in camp, when a lone figure was seen approaching that they quickly made out to be Thad. All sorts of possible sources of new trouble loomed up in their minds; but as the scoutmaster drew nearer, they were considerably relieved to discover that he was smiling, as though not worried in the least.

Of course the sheriff and Uncle Artemus had jumped up when the others did, and observed the coming of the young scoutmaster but with different emotions. The lawyer only wondered whether this might mean the surrender of his nephew to the authority invested in the office of sheriff; but the official himself was engaged in studying the approaching lad, of whom he had heard so much, and drawing his own opinion with regard to his character.

“Glad to see you again, Thad!” called out Bumpus.

“That’s right, and so says every one of us,” echoed Giraffe, determined not to be left out of any talking-bee, if there was one.

Thad only nodded, and smiled. He walked right over to where Allan stood, and engaged him in earnest consultation; while the others looked on, not knowing what to make of this most unexpected turn of events.

Presently Allan turned and called out:

“Would you mind coming over here, Mr. Sheriff; we want to tell you something that ought to interest you, about this case?”

The shrewd lawyer tried to hang on to the coat-tails of the big sheriff, as he exclaimed, half threateningly, half pleadingly:

“Don’t you go, Sheriff; they want to blarney you into believing their side of the story. You’ve got a warrant for the arrest of a vicious young fellow, even if he is my own nephew, who has robbed me of valuable papers. You’ve got to do your sworn duty! Better stay by me, and the pay’ll be sure. I wouldn’t mind doubling what I promised, if so be I get my papers back. And the boy can go hang, for all of me, then.”

But the sheriff tore himself loose, and walked over to where the two earnest-faced scouts were awaiting him. Allan introduced him to the patrol leader, and from the hearty hand-clasp which the officer bestowed upon him, Thad felt sure that the case of poor badgered Aleck Rawson was as good as won, even before he had commenced to do any persuasive talking.

He began at the start, and related all that Aleck had told him of his troubles in the past; and how not only Kracker and his kind had annoyed the widow of the dead prospector, but this sly old lawyer as well, all of them imbued with the same mad desire to learn where the hidden mine was located.

He related numerous instances that almost amounted to persecution, whereby Uncle Artemus had tried to force the widow, through stress of poverty, to sell him the secret he believed she carried locked in her breast; until presently Thad saw by the angry glow in those blue eyes of the sheriff that he had accomplished the aim he had in view.

Meanwhile the old lawyer had been on needles and pins. He jumped up and sat down again half a dozen times. Of course he could easily understand that Thad was trying to wean the sheriff away from his duty; and there were signs that told Uncle Artemus this very thing was gradually being accomplished before his very eyes.

He could not stand it much longer, and finally he advanced toward the spot where the sheriff and the two scouts stood.

Thad had no longer the slightest fear that his work would be undermined. He knew that Sheriff Bob would not longer lend his official stamp to any such underhand work as that which this “slick” lawyer from Denver was endeavoring to carry out. And so he could view the coming of the other without anxiety.

“I hope you haven’t allowed yourself to be at all influenced by any specious story you’ve listened to, Mr. Sheriff,” the old man started to say.

The officer drew his capacious hand across his chin, as though collecting his thoughts, in order to frame a suitable reply.

“I’ve been listening to some mighty interesting facts, Mr. Rawson,” he said.

“Lies, every one of them, I warrant you, sir,” snapped the lawyer, who began to feel that he was losing his grip on the case right then and there, since this little whipper-snapper of a leader among these boys appeared more capable of swaying the sheriff than he could himself do.

“Oh! I don’t know about that, Mr. Rawson,” the sheriff went on, his eyes losing some of their twinkle, and a steely look taking its place, which Thad understood must be his official face; “I know a heap more’n I did about things when I agreed to take this here warrant, and execute the same for you, by arresting a lad you claimed was your nephew, which was true; and who had been stealing valuable papers from you, which I reckon was only a yarn.”

“Do you mean to say you’d take the word of a mere half-grown boy rather than that of a gentleman, a lawyer of considerable repute in Denver, as you happen to know, Mr. Sheriff? Things have got to a nice pass when that can be.”

“Listen!” thundered the sheriff, turning squarely on the astonished lawyer, and shaking his finger under his long nose; “you lied to me about all that valuable paper business. It was you that wanted to steal something you believed this lad carried about his person, a paper that would tell you where to find that hidden silver mine! And I was fool enough to believe you, and to be hoodwinked that way. A sheriff is sworn to do his duty only so long as he believes he is doing right; he has no claim to persecute an innocent party. I came all this way with you, though from the first I suspected you had a card up your sleeve, Mr. Rawson. Now understand it first and last, I consider myself no longer in your service. Not a cent that you promised me will I touch. I’m going to try and make amends to this poor son of Jerry Rawson for what I’ve done to worry him, by standing up and helping him take possession of his father’s mine. He’s found it too, because look at these specimens of the richest silver ore I ever set eyes on. Understand that, sir?”

“But you carry a warrant for his arrest!” bristled the lawyer, as a last resort.

The big sheriff pulled a paper out of his pocket, which he proceeded to tear into a score of fragments, laughing scornfully meanwhile.

“Do you see that, Mr. Rawson, sir? Now where’s the warrant for arresting Aleck, your nephew? Call the boy in, Thad; I want to shake hands with him, and tell him Bob McNulty is ready to back him up in holding that mine. And he’s got a whole lot to be thankful for, I tell you, boys, that when things looked darkest for him, a lucky chance, or some people would call it the favor of Providence, sent you scouts into this valley to camp. Not another word, Mr. Rawson, if you know what’s good for you, sir!”