Read CHAPTER IX. THE GHOST AGAIN APPEARS of Wild Bill's Last Trail , free online book, by Ned Buntline, on ReadCentral.com.

When Wild Bill fell, the banker declared his game closed for the night; and while Bill’s friends gathered about him and sought to bring him to, the woman, Addie Neidic, took up her money, and left by the rear entrance, and the banker, with two or three of his friends, escorted her home, fearing Bill and his gang might annoy her, if the latter came to before she reached her residence.

The auburn-haired Texan did not go with her, but with a slouched hat drawn over his head, and a Mexican blanket over his shoulders, stood back in a corner, unobserved, to hear Bill’s words when he came to, and to see what next would appear on the desperado’s programme.

“That ghost again! He came to break my luck.”

These were the last words that Wild Bill spoke, when recovering his consciousness; he glared out upon the crowd with bloodshot eyes.

“It was a woman who broke your luck. Addie Neidic backed the bank, or ’twould have given in,” cried another.

“Who is Addie Neidic?” asked Bill, with a wondering gaze. “Oh! I remember the woman who called me a coward over at the livery-stable. Who is she? Where does she live?”

“In a cottage west of town. They say she’s rich! Let’s go and clean out her crib!” cried a ruffian who did not belong to Bill’s party, but most likely held some spite against Miss Neidic.

“Ay! That’s the word! Let’s clean out the house and set fire to it!” cried another, a chum of the first speaker.

It required but a leader now to set the vile work going. And Wild Bill, gradually recovering his reason, but mad with drink, and just realizing that every dollar he had, and even his watch was gone, was just the man for such a leader.

“I’ll go! Show me the house, and we’ll teach her to wear her own clothes, and let men’s games alone!” shouted Wild Bill.

In a moment fifty men were ready to go; but first they made an onslaught on the wines and liquors on the sideboard of the gambling-room.

While they were madly pouring these down, the auburn-haired Texan slipped from the room, and ran swiftly to the cottage of his fair friend.

“Addie,” he cried, as she opened the door to his signal, “Wild Bill and a crowd of full fifty men are coming here to rob you, and burn your house. They are mad with drink, and even if the stranger up stairs will fight, we three can hardly hold them at bay, no matter how well we are armed.”

“We will not try it!” said Addie, calmly. “I had about made up my mind to go with Persimmon Bill. He loves me so well that I ought to be able and willing to bear hardship for his sake. I care little for the house and furniture, though they are mine, and cost me a large sum. I have money and jewelry that we can carry off. I will rouse my two servants while you call your friend, and we will all be out of the house before they come. No one but you knows where your horses are kept. Let that be the place of rendezvous, and before daylight we will be safe with my lover.”

“No; I do not want to be with him yet, Addie. I will take this newly found friend and see you safely in reach of Bill, but we will make camp elsewhere till Bill’s party starts. Then we’ll be on his trail, and you on ours, as it was agreed upon.”

“As you, like, Jack. But we must hurry.”

“All right as soon as I bring my friend down, do you go with him and your servants to the stable, carrying off what you can. Leave me here, for I want to give Wild Bill one more good scare.”

“As you please, but be careful he don’t kill you while you scare him. Ah! I hear their yells. We must be quick.”

Willie Pond had a white, scared face when he came from his chamber, for while the Texan told him of the danger, the yells and shouts of the drunken ruffians who were approaching could be plainly heard. It seemed as if a gang of demons from the lower regions had been let loose on earth.

“Come with me,” cried Addie Neidic, as Mr. Pond came down with his valise in hand. “Be quick, or there will be murder under this roof.”

Pond, seemingly dazed and bewildered, obeyed, and out by a rear door hastened the fair owner of the doomed house, with her maid, or man-servant, and Willie Pond, while the Texan, telling them he soon would follow, remained.

Plainly now the shouts and vile threats of the drunken marauders came to the ears of the single listener.

“I wish I had a barrel or two of gunpowder here,” he muttered. “I’d make them sing another tune.”

Nearer and nearer they came, and now the Texan extinguished every light but one, which he shaded with his hat. Then he looked to the front door and windows and saw that they were all barred, except a single shutter which he left so he could open it.

A minute later, and the tramp of a hundred hurrying feet came loudly on his ear. Then shouts:

“Clean her out. Kill her and burn her crib!”

In a minute the crowd brought up before the closed doors.

“Open your doors, woman, or we’ll shatter them!” cried Wild Bill.

“Open, or down goes everything!” shouted the crowd.

“Here, Bill; here is a shutter loose!” cried one.

Wild Bill sprang toward it, and as he did so the shutter flew open; he saw a white face surrounded by auburn hair; he heard one gasping cry “sister” and he fell back in terror, crying out:

“The ghost! the ghost!”

But some one fired a shot, the light went out, and all was dark where the light had been.

Bill recovered from his shock almost as soon as he felt it, and joined with the shout:

“Down with the doors! Down with the doors.”

The crash that followed, told that the frail obstacles had given way, and Bill cried out:

“In and clean the crib out. Ghost or no ghost, give us light, and clean the crib out!”

Cheer after cheer told that the house was entered, and a minute later, torches made from splintered doors and shutters, blazed in a dozen hands as the ruffians ran to and for in search of plunder.

“The ghost. Find the ghost, or the woman!” yelled Bill.