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Title: The Aeroplane Express; or, The Boy Aeronaut's Grit

Author: H. L. Sayler

Illustrator: Sidney H. Riesenberg

Release date: September 13, 2017 [eBook #55534]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Donald Cummings and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at



The Aeroplane Boys Series

The Aeroplane Express


The Boy Aeronaut’s Grit

The Aeroplane Boys Series



These stories are the newest and most up-to-date. All aeroplane details are correct. Fully illustrated. Colored frontispiece.

Cloth, 12mos. Price, 60c each

The Airship Boys Series


These thrilling stories deal with the wonderful new science of aerial navigation. Every boy will be interested and instructed by reading them. Illustrated. Cloth binding. Price, $1.00 each.

The above books are sold everywhere or will be sent postpaid on receipt of price by the

Publishers   The Reilly & Britton Co.   Chicago

Complete catalog sent, postpaid, on request

Two Pistol Shots Sounded in the Desert.

The Aeroplane


The Boy Aeronaut’s Grit




Illustrated by S. H. Riesenberg


The Reilly & Britton Co.








I A Conditional Bargain 9
II An Experimental Flight 21
III Looking up an Ancestor 33
IV An Ideal Outfit 44
V The Contract and the Car 57
VI Off for the West 69
VII On the Edge of the Desert 80
VIII The Trail at Last 92
IX In the Canyon of the San Juan 105
X The White God of the Sink Hole 118
XI The Real West 136
XII Assembling an Aeroplane in the Desert 151
XIII Why Mike Hassell Hit the Trail 164
XIV The End of the Trail 178
XV Roy Makes Mr. Cook a Present 193
XVI The Aeroplane As an Ambulance 206
XVII The Secret Deciphered 217
XVIII The Last of the Lost Indians 230


Two pistol shots sounded in the desert Frontispiece
“The boy has a steady hand” 27
With a clatter of hoofs Nigger bounded forward 97
The remarkable hieroglyphics 133
The Last of the Lost Indians 237


The Aeroplane Express


The Boy Aeronaut’s Grit


“Far as we go!”

As the conductor of the trolley made this announcement, the car came to a stop in a suburb of Newark, New Jersey. About two blocks beyond the end of the line, and almost on the edge of the salt marshes, rose a new and wide two-story brick building. Even from that distance could be heard the hum of men and machines.

“Much obliged,” answered the man. “That the place?”

The conductor nodded.

“Thanks,” said the passenger, who, although apparently a middle-aged man, sprang lightly to the ground. “Have a cigar?”

“If you don’t mind,” answered the conductor, “I’ll save it until this evening. I don’t often get a smoke like this.”

The man laughed, shoved his hand into the side pocket of his loose coat and drew out two more high-priced cigars.


“Never put off a good thing too long,” he added, “you may lose it. Grab things while they’re in reach. Give one to your friend Bill up there.”

As the man, still smiling, turned to go, the conductor called out:

“Thanks, Colonel, I guess you’re a westerner. Folks ’round here haven’t got sense enough to wear a hat like that.”

“You’re a good guesser,” replied the man; “I’m from Utah. Good bye.”

A few minutes later, the man was standing before a door in the long building, labeled “Office.” Above the entrance was a small, new sign: American Aeroplane Company. It was a hot morning, and, as the man stopped to wipe his perspiring face with a big, white silk handkerchief, he swung a picturesque gray plainsman’s hat before him like a fan. He was without a vest, and wore a narrow, dark belt. But, beyond these, a negligee shirt and a brown flowing neck tie, there was no sign of the westerner about him. His trousers, coat and shoes were all fashionable and apparently of eastern make.

As he stood before the door, he looked at his watch. Then he whistled softly to himself.


“Ten fifteen!” he exclaimed, under his breath. “An hour and a half from the Waldorf. The same goin’ back—that’s a quarter to twelve. An’ I’ve got to catch the limited at two.”

He opened the door and stepped into a large room where two or three girls and a couple of young men were busy at typewriters, file cases and telephones.

“The boss in?” asked the visitor of a young man who greeted him.

“Do you mean the manager, Mr. Atkinson?”

“Like as not! The man who sells airships.”

“Have you a card?”

“Some’eres, I guess. But just tell him there’s man out here wants to talk flyin’-machine if he’s got time.”

“Won’t you sit down?” persisted the clerk. “I’ll see if he’s busy.”

“Just tell him I’m kind o’ busy, too.”

While the clerk disappeared within a room opening out of the main office, the active westerner made a hasty examination of the place. On a table within the railed-off space in which he stood was a tray of business cards. He picked one up and read it:


Factory: Newark, New Jersey
Offices: New York, London, Paris, Chicago
Mr. Robert T. Atkinson, President
Capital Stock $1,000,000
Tested Aeroplanes Ready for Delivery

“This Mr. Atkinson?” began the westerner when he had been ushered into that gentleman’s private office.

“I am,” responded the aeroplane company official. “Pretty hot?”

“Hot enough,” smiled back the visitor; “but I don’t mind the heat when I can find a little shade occasionally and a drink of water. Out my way we’re a little shy on shade and water. I’m from Utah. And that ain’t the worst—I’m from southern Utah.”

President Atkinson motioned to a chair next the open window.

“Never been there,” he replied in much the same tone he might have said he had never visited the north pole.

“Few people have,” added the westerner. “Don’t mind if I smoke, do you?”

Before he could find one of his own cigars, the aeroplane manager had thrust at him a box[13] of perfectos. Mr. Atkinson at once saw in the stranger a man of affairs, who had not come all the way out to the aeroplane factory to gossip. He judged correctly.

“I’ve got a card somewhere,” began the westerner briskly, as he closed a pair of white, steel-trap-like teeth on the cigar, “but it don’t say nothin’ but that my name’s Cook—R. C. Cook. I’m from Bluff, Utah.”

“Glad to meet you, Mr. Cook,” politely remarked the easterner, wondering at the same time what possible business Mr. Cook, of Bluff, Utah, could have with the American Aeroplane Company.

“I’m in New York on a quick trip, but I saw one of your circulars last night. I cut this out. It’s yours, ain’t it?”

Mr. Atkinson glanced at the clipping, smiled and nodded.

The circular read:

“The aeroplane is no longer a novelty or a wonder. The American Aeroplane Company, organized with a paid-up capital stock of $1,000,000, is now ready to deliver reliable and tested aeroplanes, standardized in make-up and ready to fly. We offer F. O. B. Newark, New Jersey, a complete car for $5,000. It comprehends[14] every development up to date. The frame is of Oregon spruce and bamboo—the planes of rubberized silk balloon cloth. The power plant is a four-cylinder, gasoline, water-cooled motorcycle engine, 25 H. P., cylinders 3¾ by 4. The control is extremely simple. The elevation is regulated by a steering lever, the balancing planes are specially designed devices controlled by the movement of the feet. The machine starts from the ground without track or outside help, and it can be taken apart in two hours.”

“That’s the price, is it?” added Mr. Cook, taking a long puff at his cigar.

“Just reduced,” explained Mr. Atkinson. “Our first machines sold for seven thousand dollars. But we mean to lead in this business. We have purchased every patent that we believe is needed in making a high-class aeroplane; and with our facilities we mean to popularize aeroplanes until they become as common as automobiles.”

“I want one of ’em,” said Mr. Cook.

The manager nodded his head as if the customer had ordered a bicycle or a buggy.

“That is,” added Mr. Cook, “providin’—”

He took another puff on his cigar, and then added:


“I want one if I can find some one to run the thing.”

Mr. Atkinson shrugged his shoulders.

“That’s the only trouble that confronts us, Mr. Cook. We have as yet developed no training-school for aviators, as we have schools for chauffeurs.”

“Well,” exclaimed Mr. Cook, laughing and shaking his head, “I think one of them flyin’-machines’ll fit in my business all right, but you’ll have to find me a man to work it. I’ve crossed Death’s desert, I’ve gone down the big Canyon, I’ve chased and been chased by the Utes, and I may do all of them things again. But there’s one thing I wouldn’t do—I wouldn’t risk my neck in the best aeroplane ever made.”

Mr. Atkinson smiled.

“I’d like to sell you one of our machines, my friend; but I can’t promise to find you a capable operator. Tell me,” he added, unable to longer restrain his curiosity, “what use do you figure on making of the machine?”

“I ought to told you,” hastened the would-be purchaser in explanation. “We got a company out in Utah—mostly New York people,” he added parenthetically—“the Utah Mining and[16] Development Company. I’m the manager. Mr. F. E. Estebrook, of Hartford, is the president.”

Mr. Cook immediately rose in Mr. Atkinson’s estimation. Mr. Estebrook was one of the wealthy insurance men of Connecticut. No one stood higher in the New York financial world.

“I see,” observed Mr. Atkinson, now glad that he had extended to the westerner his best box of cigars.

“Well,” went on Mr. Cook, “we’ve got a big lot of work cut out down there in the desert—petroleum mainly,” he explained, “but metal, too. And just now it’s all prospecting. Maybe you don’t know southern Utah?”

The aeroplane company manager smiled in the negative.

“When they git done tellin’ you about the plains of Arizona, and New Mexico, just add one hundred per cent and call it Utah,” went on Mr. Cook. “It ain’t sand and bunch grass down there,” he added, with a grim smile. “It’s alkali deserts, borax holes, rotten volcano craters and river beds that ain’t seen water in a thousand years.”

“Don’t the Colorado and Green rivers run through it?” asked Mr. Atkinson, stepping to a large wall map.


Mr. Cook grunted.

“They do,” he explained, “right through it, and they might as well be buried in steel tubes. What you goin’ to do with a river shootin’ along at the bottom of a gash in the ground a half mile deep? Mr. Atkinson,” continued the westerner. “I’ve known many a man to die o’ thirst on the banks of them rivers with the sound o’ gurglin’ water in his ears. As for gettin’ to that water, well you might reach it with a shot gun—nothin’ else.”

Mr. Atkinson turned, ready to hear Mr. Cook’s explanation:

“I went to Utah five years ago—I’m a Pennsylvanian. My hair was black then. It’s gray now. I got that in one week down in the San Juan river canyon. Sailin’ an aeroplane down there ain’t a goin’ to be no county fair job.”

“I don’t quite understand,” exclaimed Mr. Atkinson.

“It’s this,” explained Mr. Cook. “We’ve got from four to eight prospectin’ parties out on them deserts all the time. For weeks and months we don’t hear from them. Now and then, with the use of a few hardened plainsmen, we get word to them and reports back. It would be a big help to us if we could keep in[18] touch with them. And, more often, it would be a big help to them. They say an aeroplane can travel forty-five miles an hour. Why can’t I use it to keep track of our prospectors?”

Mr. Atkinson sat up, perplexed and surprised.

“It’s a novel idea,” he said, at last, “but I can’t see why it isn’t just the thing. Looks to me as if it is—” then he stopped. Mr. Atkinson’s business instinct had brought him a sudden idea. “Mr. Cook,” he added, a moment later, “we talk a good deal about the practicability of the aeroplane. This is the first real, business demand I have yet had for an aeroplane. The idea is great. There is no doubt the aeroplane can be utilized in just the way you outline. Within a radius of two hundred and fifty miles it could make daily visits to the remotest of your men, take orders to them, bring back reports, and—if necessary—carry them food and water.”

“Looked that way to me,” interrupted the westerner.

“No question about it. I’m going to make you a proposition. Our machines are selling at five thousand dollars. I’m so sure of the advertising possibilities of your project, that I’m going to make you a price of four thousand[19] dollars. I can’t miss this chance to make a real demonstration of the practicability of the aeroplane.”

“The price ain’t botherin’ me,” commented the westerner. “How about some one to work it? Some one who can stand Utah and borax and alkali—maybe Indians. You can fix his wages.”

Mr. Atkinson’s face lengthened.

“That’s another matter,” he said after a pause.

“Haven’t any one on tap?”

The aeroplane company manager shook his head. Mr. Cook looked at his watch. Then he grunted his disappointment.

“Well,” he said, rising, “it was an idea. If you can’t help me, I guess no one can. I’ve got to go—got to catch the two o’clock limited. Just keep my card. My offer stands. I’ll make it five thousand dollars for a machine if you send a man to do the trick. You can take four thousand dollars if you like and give some one a bonus of the other thousand to take the chance. I’ll pay him what you say and keep him long as he wants to stay.”

Mr. Atkinson was thinking hard.


“I’m trying to think of some one with experience and grit,” he said.

“If you do,” said the westerner, shaking hands with Mr. Atkinson, “nail him, and send him to me. If he wants excitement, I’ll guarantee him the time of his life.”



For some minutes, Mr. Atkinson sat in thought. At last he was interrupted by a man who hurried in from the factory portion of the building. The new arrival was in his shirt sleeves, a mechanic’s cap was far back on his half-bald head, and his hands and face were marked with the smear of machinery.

“Good morning, George,” exclaimed the manager.

“Morning,” responded the man tersely. “Thought you might like to come out. We got that new model ready—the double propeller. Goin’ to try the wheels on a new pitch.”

“Certainly,” responded Mr. Atkinson, placing Mr. Cook’s card in a pigeonhole. “Sold four machines this morning, Osborne,” he added. “Got three orders by mail—two from Paris, one from Chicago. Sold another machine to a man from Utah.”

Mr. Atkinson was full of enthusiasm, but, apparently, the man in his shirt sleeves cared little for this.


“I’m sure we’ve got a better pitch,” the mechanic interrupted. “Anyway, we’ll know in a few minutes.”

Mr. Atkinson only smiled. He made no further attempt to impart his gratification to his companion, and the two men passed out through the business office into the big workroom.

The man wearing the cap was George M. Osborne, skilled mechanic and inventor. In the advertisements of the company, he was known as the “engineer and mechanical director.” Mr. Osborne, the highest paid mechanic in Newark—one of the leading manufacturing cities in America—had only recently been secured by the newly organized aeroplane company. It was his ingenuity and practical methods that had already combined a dozen patents in an ideal flying-machine.

“A one-propeller car will always be popular,” Osborne insisted, “but two propellers are as essential for long distance work as two screws to a steamer. If one gives out, you have the other.”

As the two men made their way through the orderly but humming workroom, Mr. Osborne fell back by Mr. Atkinson’s side, and said:


“I’m trying a new operator, too, this morning.”

“We ought to start a school for them,” answered the manager, thinking of his talk with the western prospector.

“And I’d like to have you give him a job,” added the engineer.

“Certainly,” answered his companion. “Hire all of them you can find that’ll do. Your new man ever had any experience?”

“A little. But he isn’t a man. It’s my own boy, Royce.”

“Roy, your son,” exclaimed Mr. Atkinson, as if surprised. “How old is he?”

“Just over seventeen. But I think he’ll do. He’s spent all his Saturdays here since we started up, and now his school’s out, and he’s determined to go to work.”

“And you aren’t afraid to let him take a chance in the new machine?” asked the manager.

“I guess he understands it about as well as any of us.”

“I’ve seen him around here a good deal.”

“It has been his playground,” explained the boy’s father. “He’d rather be alongside my bench than idling away his time. He knows the car and engine all right.”


Passing out of the shop, the men came into the experimenting ground—an enclosed space of perhaps twenty acres. Beneath a shed at the far end of the factory building a half dozen men were standing idly about the delicate and graceful frame of an aeroplane—the “American Aeroplane Model No. 2.” In their midst, stood a light-haired, gray-eyed boy of compact, muscular build and a countenance a little too old, perhaps, for his years.

“Good morning, Roy,” exclaimed Mr. Atkinson. “Your father says you want to turn aviator.”

“Yes, sir,” answered the boy, doffing an absurd little school hat, “I’m looking for the job.”

“Aren’t you afraid?” asked the manager, smiling, however, as he asked it.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” answered the boy. “I’m only wondering if the new pitch is right.”

Mr. Atkinson seemed about to say something, but paused. Finally he remarked:

“All right. But don’t take chances. Make a low flight.”

The attendants at once shouldered the car and carried it out into the open. Roy pulled his little school cap well down on his head, and[25] climbed aboard. Mr. Osborne, who had disappeared for a moment, now returned with a ball of twine. Quickly unrolling about fifty feet of it, he tied an end of the cord to the aeroplane frame. At the other end of the string, he tied his handkerchief.

“Now, young man,” he said with parental sternness to Roy, “no more excuses about not knowing how far above the ground you are. This is a mechanical test, not a circus exhibition. Keep that handkerchief dragging on the ground. D’ye hear?”

“Yes, father,” laughed the boy, “only I don’t want that handkerchief and the knot. It’s all right if I don’t happen to pass over a fence. A little catch in a crack wouldn’t do a thing but upset me.” He untied the handkerchief and handed it back. “I’ll watch the string—this time. But never again.” And he laughed.

“Don’t know but you’re right,” remarked Mr. Osborne.

“Sure he is,” added Mr. Atkinson with a broad smile. “All ready, boys?” he added, turning to the workmen.

“All ready here,” came from the boy.

“Go ahead,” exclaimed Mr. Osborne.

Roy’s eager hands turned on his gasoline.[26] As the two propellers darted into action and the horizontal, spidery planes began to tremble as if semi-buoyant already, the attendants sprang forward.

“Keep away,” exclaimed the boy in the car. “Keep away. Give her a chance.”

The men stepped back again.

“That’s right,” added Mr. Atkinson. “Give it a chance.”

“She don’t need any help,” exclaimed Mr. Osborne, with professional pride. “No startin’ track with this car.”

Even while he spoke, the aeroplane gave a little preliminary bound and then suddenly shot forward, the twine snapping behind it. Mr. Osborne, in developing the flying-machine idea, had used two plane surfaces, but instead of being superimposed, one was behind the other. And, instead of being practically flat surfaces, his two planes were curved, the aft one so markedly so as to resemble a bird’s wing.


The Boy Has a Steady Hand


The anxious spectators saw the big, horizontal nine-foot rudder or guiding surface behind the rear plane straighten itself out and the aeroplane settle on its course. Mr. Osborne made an attempt to run forward as if to better observe the working of the propellers on their new pitch. But the car was too fast for him. It was already curving on its first turn and working perfectly. Three times the flying-machine cut around the experiment yard, skimming the ground so closely at times that the observers kept a sharp lookout to save their heads.

“Looks all right, eh?” remarked the engineer, with no little pride.

“The boy has a steady hand,” answered the manager, as if he had forgotten that the flight was a test of the engine and not of the amateur aviator.

“Oh, the boy’s all right,” exclaimed Mr. Osborne. “I don’t know as I like to have him do it, but, as far as ability is concerned, he knows as much as a good many who have been at it longer.”

He had already called out to Roy to come down, and the car, with power shut off, was fluttering to the ground, some yards away.

The two men advanced to the landed machine.

Roy, his sober face showing just a little flush of pride in his first real flight, was attempting to look unconcerned as Mr. Atkinson came up to him and patted him on the back.


“Very well done, my boy,” exclaimed the manager. “Didn’t frighten you, did it?”

“I was only worried about that string,” answered Roy. “It kept snappin’ like the tail of a kite.”

The workmen were already moving the car to the shed, and Mr. Osborne was following them, when the manager called him back.

“Osborne,” he said, laying a hand on Roy’s shoulder, “are you really willing for your boy to turn professional aviator?”

“Seems to have made a pretty good start already,” was the non-committal answer.

“That’ll be all right,” broke in Roy, with a smile. “He’ll be willing. At least, he says it isn’t any more dangerous than runnin’ an automobile. May I have a job, Mr. Atkinson?”

The manager’s answer was to invite the boy and his father into his private office. There, after a little more discussion of the matter of Roy’s engagement, Mr. Atkinson drew out the Utah prospector’s memorandum, and, with a good deal of formality, told the details of his interview with Mr. Cook, and of the latter’s provisional purchase of an aeroplane.

“And now,” he concluded, “of course, the making of that sale or the loss of it don’t mean[31] a great deal. But I’d like to make it. You can guess why?” he added, turning to Mr. Osborne.

“Be a good ad, of course,” answered the engineer.

“Yes, all of that,” exclaimed Mr. Osborne. “But I’ve got just enough interest in Roy to want to have him take the job.”

“I could see that comin’,” exclaimed Mr. Osborne, with a somewhat rueful smile. “We’re much obliged—both of us—but—” and he shook his head slowly in the negative.

“He don’t mean it,” spoke up Roy with alacrity, as he arose and hastened to Mr. Atkinson’s side.

“We’ve only got to persuade mother; then he’ll consent. He’ll be proud to have me go,” he added with a sudden smile.

But Mr. Osborne was still shaking his head.

“I’ll go,” went on the boy, with enthusiasm, “and father’ll tell you so to-morrow. We’ll arrange it with mother this evening, won’t we, Father?” he continued as he good naturedly laid his arm on Mr. Osborne’s shoulders.

“We will not,” spoke up the engineer with apparent determination. “If you’ve got to break your neck, do it here, near home.”


Roy only laughed.

“Father’ll let you know how much obliged he is in the morning,” said the boy. “I accept the offer now. Father can have the bonus, and I’ll take the wages. Be sure and count on me, Mr. Atkinson. I’m jumpin’ at the chance. You can telegraph right now—‘Machine and operator leave tomorrow.’”



But Mr. Osborne was not as quick to give his consent as Roy predicted. As the boy and his father rode home that evening, Mr. Osborne found many reasons why he did not wish his son to go to Utah to “take a chance of dying of thirst on some desert, or of being scalped by Indians,” as he expressed it. He did not urge very strongly the risk to Roy in skimming over mountains, plains and canyons in an aeroplane. Mr. Osborne being the maker of the airship and having business faith in it, he had to confine his arguments to other reasons.

“The principal reason you’re afraid,” urged Roy, with a laugh, “is that you’ve never been west of Pittsburg. You don’t know any more about Utah than—than—”

“Than you do,” interrupted his father. “Just you wait until you tell your mother.”

The Osbornes lived on the far side of Newark in an attractive suburban house with a yard big enough to include a large flower garden. It was early evening when Mr. Osborne and Roy[34] reached home, and Mrs. Osborne was busy cutting flowers. Roy, waving his straw hat, sprang across the lawn to open up the question at once.

“Mother,” he exclaimed impulsively, “I’ve got a chance to get a good job operating the new aeroplane.”

“So soon?” replied Mrs. Osborne, with a smile. “I supposed you’d have to have a lot of experience before you could do that.”

“Oh, I can do it—now—I know enough. I ain’t afraid of that. But the job’s a long way from here. I’ve got to go to Utah.”

“Utah!” exclaimed his mother, wrinkling her brows. “Why that’s away out west. It’s further than Chicago, isn’t it?”

“A thousand miles,” responded Roy on a guess, and with a smile.

“Yes, certainly,” added Mrs. Osborne. “I know. Just beyond the Rocky Mountains. Utah—Salt Lake City. It’s where the Mormons live.”

“Right,” exclaimed Roy, laughing. “Do you care if I go?—I want to very much.”

“That’s where my Uncle Willard Banks went.”

Roy, who had taken the basket of flowers from his mother’s arm, stopped short.


“I didn’t know that,” he began. “I didn’t know you had an uncle out there. Is he alive?”

His mother shook her head.

“I don’t know,” she answered. “I don’t even remember him. He was my father’s only brother, and when father came east from Illinois—before he married—my Uncle Willard went west. He was a Mormon,” Mrs. Osborne added. “Or, I think he was.”

“And he went out to Utah to live with the Mormons?” asked Roy, with increasing interest, forgetting for the moment, his real mission with his mother.

“I don’t remember just why he went,” explained his mother. “I don’t believe I’ve thought of him for years. He sent father his picture. He used to write to father, too. He must be dead now.”

“Perhaps I can find him,” suggested Roy, coming back to the subject.

Mrs. Osborne looked at him a few moments and then walked ahead to the front porch where Mr. Osborne, at ease in a large swinging seat, was apparently awaiting his wife and son. As Roy and his mother reached the porch, Mrs. Osborne exclaimed:

“What does your father say?”


“He says I’ll starve to death or die of thirst or be scalped by the Indians.”

“Mercy me,” exclaimed Mrs. Osborne, sinking into a porch chair. “Are there wild Indians out there yet? I thought the last of the Indians were in the Wild West shows?”

Roy and his father laughed.

“See?” exclaimed Mr. Osborne. “Your mother don’t want you to go either.”

Mrs. Osborne looked up in surprise.

“I hadn’t said so,” she exclaimed, with a smile. “I want to hear all about it, first.”

Roy told her everything. She sat and listened with all a mother’s interest. When he had finished, she turned to her husband.

“What do you think, George?”

Mr. Osborne shook his head negatively.

“Why?” asked his wife.

“It’s too risky—” began Mr. Osborne.

“You mean the aeroplane?” interrupted Mrs. Osborne.

“No,” replied her husband slowly. “Of course, there are safer things than manipulating a flying machine, but I guess the kid could manage that.”

“What other risk do you mean?” persisted Roy’s mother.


“Do you want him to go into the wildest country in America? Why, this man Cook told Mr. Atkinson that there are canyons a mile deep, alkali deserts that’d turn water into steam, only no water ever touches ’em, and Indians that haven’t even seen a white man. Do you think that’s the place to send a child?”

Roy drew himself up. His mother patted his brown muscular hand as it rested on the arm of her chair, and looked up at the boy and smiled.

“Are you afraid?” she asked with a laugh.

“It’s father,” answered Roy. “He’s the one that’s scared.”

Mrs. Osborne’s face turned sober.

“I suppose you’ll think it strange, George, but those things don’t alarm me—as much as some other risks.”

“They don’t?” exclaimed Mr. Osborne, slapping his knee. “Well, I can’t imagine anything worse.”

“I can,” said Mrs. Osborne in a low voice. Then she added:

“When Dick took his examination for Annapolis, it seemed to me as if he were going away never to come back. Now that he is a lieutenant in the navy and in the West Indies, I know[38] that between bursting guns at target practice, exploding boilers, accidents in manoeuvres or the yellow fever, he runs more risk every day than Roy is likely to find in the west.”

“I hadn’t just thought of it that way,” answered Mr. Osborne, a little crestfallen.

“And then Phil completed his course in electricity and went into Mr. Edison’s shops. I’d rather have him lost in a desert than working among those chemicals and electric generators.”

Roy looked at his father with a half smile.

“Then you are willing for me to go?” he exclaimed, putting his arm affectionately around his mother’s shoulders.

“That’s for your father to say, finally,” Mrs. Osborne answered after a few moments’ silence. “But I shan’t interfere. This seems to be a time when results that are worth while only come with great efforts or great risks. If it is a good chance, my fears mustn’t keep you back.”

That settled it. Before supper was over, Mr. Osborne gave in. It was agreed that Roy was to accept the offer.

The boy was off at once for the city to secure some guide book or history relating to Utah.[39] That night, despite the heat, long after his parents had retired, the jubilant youngster sat propped up in bed, drinking in facts and statistics relating to the land he was to visit.

Like all boys, Roy had had his dream of wild Indians, of cowboy life, of horses and the endless plains. But as he grew older, the intense practicality of life in the busy city had, in great part, driven these fancies from his mind. Now he discovered that the longing for the mysteries of the far west had not gone out of his heart.

From his father Roy had learned that he would probably go to the little town of Dolores in southwestern Colorado, the nearest railroad point to his destination in Utah. Dolores was in the mountains and, on a map he had secured, Roy traced his route into the valleys and out across the deserts toward Bluff, a hundred miles or more further west.

It was all desert, to be sure, but the very barrenness of the map thrilled the boy. The canyons, the isolated mountains, the desolate plains, fascinated the eager lad. He was not courting danger—he was too practical for that—but to be thrown into a region where he must depend upon his own ingenuity was joy supreme for Roy.


“I never even hoped for anything so great,” said the boy sleepily to himself, “but, now that I have the chance, I’ll make the most of it. I may have to come back to Newark in a few months and settle down to common things, but I’ll make all I can of my opportunity. I’m not aching to fight Indians, and I’m not anxious to get lost in the desert, but I would like to get close enough to the wilderness to know what it means. I’m tired of machinery and coal smoke and trolley gongs.”

It is doubtful if Roy would have been so enthusiastic if he had known the adventures he was to fall into so soon. He got close enough to both Indians and the waterless wastes to understand just what they meant.

“I wonder,” he mused as he dropped off to sleep, “if I’ll meet my mother’s uncle—what’s his name?”

And, hazily trying to think of his Utah relative, the Mormon Willard Banks, Roy fell asleep. Strangely enough, in that sleep, among dreams of bottomless canyons and white arid plains, whereon spectral Indians danced like thistledown, another figure appeared always to the sleeping lad—a featureless face with immense flowing whiskers and wearing an enormous[41] black hat. The constant figure beckoned Roy on in his dreams like a ghost—the spirit of his great uncle, Willard Banks, long since lost to his family in the far away land of Brigham Young.

Roy’s brain was so full of all the wonders to come that, when he awoke in the morning, he was dazed for a few moments. His dreams had run together until he seemed almost feverish. While he was trying to straighten them out, his mother stole into his room.

“Mother,” exclaimed the boy, with a laugh, “do you reckon your Mormon uncle is alive now?”

“Banks is his name,” said his mother reprovingly, “Mr. Willard Banks. Why?”

“Well, I got him in my head. He’s got whiskers a yard long, and a hat big as a tub. I dreamt about him all night.”

“He was older than father by five or six years,” answered Mrs. Osborne, thinking. “And if father were alive, he would be eighty-two years old. No,” she added, shaking her head, “my Uncle Willard is probably dead.”

Roy sprang out of bed and made ready for his morning plunge. His mother was already[42] ransacking his dresser for clothes needing repairs.

“What do you mean by having your great uncle in your head?” she asked suddenly.

“I don’t know,” answered Roy catching up his bath robe. “Only, I’ve been dreamin’ of him all night. I guess I read too much about Utah last night. I had a regular nightmare. And all the time this big whiskered, big hatted man went in and out through every other dream. I’d like to know more about him.”

Roy suddenly laughed outright. The “Genealogy of the Banks Family!” Neither had thought of that. Even before Roy was dressed, Mrs. Osborne had hurried downstairs, secured the almost forgotten volume of family history, and together, sitting on the edge of the bed, mother and son turned to the page devoted to their Mormon relative. This is what they read:

“Willard R. Banks, farmer and cattle dealer, Parowan, Iron County, Utah. Born December 20, 1822, in Muskingum County, Ohio. Removed to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1848. Married Martha Brower October 5, 1849. Became a disciple of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, and, in 1852, made a missionary trip to Scotland and Wales. In 1853 was one of the regents[43] of the University of Deseret in Salt Lake City. Member of a committee to prepare a separate language for Mormons in hope of creating an independent literature. Assisted in constructing the Deseret Alphabet of thirty-two characters. In 1862, an elder of the Mormon Church and later banished by Brigham Young with others on unknown charges. Lived for several years at Parowan, Utah. Thought to be dead.”



“I never read that before,” Mrs. Osborne said apologetically. “Of course, Uncle Willard is dead now. But he may have left children. You must find where Parowan is, and, if you get the chance, go there.”

Roy had opened the history again, and was copying his great uncle’s name and address in a little red vest-pocket memorandum book, he always carried.

“I certainly will—if I find the time,” he repeated. “It’s a good thing to know your relatives. But it’s likely I’ll be too busy to go visiting. I’ll have the address anyway—‘Willard Banks, Parowan, Iron County, Utah.’”

Then Roy and his mother responded to Mr. Osborne’s impatient calls from below to come to breakfast.

“I supposed you’d gone,” exclaimed Roy, glancing at the clock and noticing that it was after his father’s usual time of leaving for the works.

“I’m waiting for you,” his father replied.[45] “I want you to go with me and see Mr. Atkinson. You can close your own bargain with him. I imagine he’ll want you to start in a few days, and I thought there might be clothes to be bought,” he added, turning to his wife.

“I suppose he ought to have a new suit,” began Mrs. Osborne.

Roy laughed outright.

“A new suit?” he roared. “Say, father, you don’t imagine I’ll need Sunday clothes to go roughing it in?”

“What you have are not decent to go away from home in,” interrupted his mother.

Roy held up his hands in amused protest. Then he turned seriously to his father.

“What do you think they’ll pay me?”

Mr. Osborne thought a moment. Then he said:

“Considering everything, the risk and the distance from home, I’m going to suggest two hundred dollars a month.”

Roy’s eyes flared open in astonishment.

“Why I never made over a dollar a day in my life—when I worked,” the boy exclaimed.

“It isn’t because it’s you—it’s the job,” added his father. “It won’t last long, you[46] know. But what has that to do with your outfit?”

“Well, if I work for six weeks, that’s three hundred dollars,” answered Roy, “and I suppose my expenses out there won’t be much.”

“The company will likely pay all your living expenses. But what are you getting at?” persisted his father.

“I’m getting at this,” replied Roy. “I’ll need a certain kind of outfit. If I can get enough wages advanced to me to make it possible I’ll buy the clothes and things I need in Chicago—not here. From my Baden-Powell to my automatic.”

“What are those?” interrupted his mother.

“Well,” explained Roy, smiling, “Baden-Powell is the name of a hat. I’ll get one with a leather band and a leather string to slip under the hair. Automatics are what they use to-day. Colts have gone out of style. You must have a ten-shot automatic revolver.”

“Roy,” exclaimed Mrs. Osborne, “you don’t mean to tell me you are actually going to carry a real revolver?”

“And a knife,” added the lad solemnly.

“Then you’ll stay right here at home.”

It was now Mr. Osborne’s turn to laugh.


“I thought you were so brave about the kid’s going away!”

“But I don’t see any sense in him going around like a desperado.”

“That’s part of the uniform out there,” broke in Roy. “But I’ll be careful,” he added, smiling again. “Another thing I’m bothering about now is, where will I get the money to buy my railroad ticket? And can I borrow enough from some one to get the outfit I need?”

“I suppose Mr. Cook’s company’ll pay your car fare. As for the other—I’ll advance it. What do you think you’ll need?” asked his father.

“I suppose,” said Roy slowly, “it’ll take one hundred dollars outside of my car fare.”

Mr. Osborne whistled and Mrs. Osborne’s face assumed a doubtful look.

“You know we aren’t rich, Roy,” his mother began.

“Pshaw, mother,” Roy exclaimed, springing to his feet, “don’t you worry about that. If you and father can spare the one hundred dollars, let me have it. I ain’t goin’ out west just to work for wages. That’s the greatest country in the world for a young man. Why, mother,[48] I may discover something—a gold mine, perhaps.”

His father smiled.

“Do you know what you need?”

“I’ll have a list in an hour.”

“All right. Make it out. Find what your things will cost and come to the factory. We’ll have a talk with Mr. Atkinson.”

His father had hardly gone before Roy was curled up on the porch swinging seat with two or three books in his lap, his smiling mother by his side.

“The Camper’s Manual or How to Camp Out and What to Do,” had long been Roy’s companion. The little dog-eared, paper bound volume had been thumbed and read until Mrs. Osborne had more than once threatened to destroy the book.

“What’s the sense of it all, Roy?” she was accustomed to say. “Why are you so interested in camp outfits, camp rations, tents and guns and cooking and packing?”

“Why?” Roy would answer with the teasing smile he always used in arguing with his mother. “I don’t really know except that I am. Some boys I reckon like one thing and some another. I just happen to like to fuss[49] around a camp and then move and set up a new one.”

“But,” his mother would answer, “you were never out camping in your life.”

“That’s where you’re mistaken,” Roy would answer. “I’ve had many a fine trip—up here.” And he would tap his head, with a laugh. “Some day I’ll use it all, never fear.”

This morning he had a chance to recall to his mother what he had said.

“Now, you see, mother. It has come when I least expected it. The time is right here when I’m going to take advantage of what I’ve been learning out of the books. I know right now everything I want to take out west with me. And, least of all, will I need Sunday clothes.”

His mother sidled up close to the boy as he began to set down the items of his outfit, and at the very first article, she entered a renewed and vigorous protest. If ever a boy, who knew nothing of the woods or the wilderness from actual experience, had longed for and dreamed of the day when he might own and carry a modern firearm, that boy was Roy Osborne.

Had he been starting out on a yawling cruise down the New Jersey bays, he would have been tempted to carry a revolver. Since he was going[50] into a land where such a weapon was an actual necessity, it was with positive joy that he checked off first on his list one of the new self-loading combination pistol and carbine weapons.

The weapon Roy had selected, which fired ten shots and weighed two and one-half pounds, he knew was already taking the place of larger revolvers. He also knew that soldiers, cowboys, sheriffs and frontiersmen generally were discarding the old Colts for it and, although it cost twenty-seven dollars and fifty cents, and cartridges were three cents apiece, this was the first item of his outfit the lad set down.

“The beauty of this revolver, mother,” explained Roy, “is that it comes in a wooden holster. You can attach this holster to the stock of the weapon and, presto, you have a carbine or rifle.”

Mrs. Osborne shivered.

“You aren’t going to shoot Indians with that, are you?” asked his mother. “Or, maybe, drop it accidentally, and shoot yourself?”

“Mother,” answered Roy soberly, “what if I started out over the desert in the airship and something happened so that I’d have to come down, and I landed plump in a covey of rattlesnakes—?”


“Oh, my—” exclaimed Mrs. Osborne in alarm.

“And say there were just ten of ’em all coiled up ready for business. You see where my ten-shooter would come in, don’t you?”

His mother looked relieved for a moment. Then, the thought just occurring to her, she said:

“But could you shoot them? You never practised shooting.”

“Not actually,” answered the boy—again very soberly—“but you know I’ve thought a good deal about it. That’s something. Besides, what if I haven’t had anything to eat for two or three days, and suddenly I see a deer? Bang! There goes my carbine and I’m saved again.”

“Oh, I suppose you’ve got to have it,” answered his mother, in a sort of reconciled tone. “But wouldn’t a little one do as well?”

“That deer might be a quarter of a mile away!”

His mother laughed and patted his hand. Then she grew sober again.

“But promise me one thing, Roy. If you do have to shoot ten rattlesnakes and a poor harmless deer, promise me you won’t kill any Indians—they’re[52] human beings. That would be murder. Promise me that!”

Roy was forced to laugh.

“I’ve got a notion, mother, that there is only one danger with that revolver if I ever fall in with Indians.”

“What’s that?”

“That the Indians may steal it.”

Before his mother could protest further, Roy hurried on with his list. As for clothing, he set down: A Baden-Powell hat, $6; two gray flannel army shirts, $11; one pair Khaki riding breeches, $3.25; three pairs hand-knit woolen socks, $2.25; one pair hand-made, light hunting boots, water proof with moccasin feet and flexible soles, $6; two suits light woolen underwear, $4; two blue silk handkerchiefs, $1.50.

Despite his mother’s protests at the inadequacy of this list, Roy stuck to it as being ample, and even more than he would probably carry at times. Then, of a miscellaneous nature, he added: A Rocky Mountain combined cartridge and money belt (“I won’t have any money to carry,” Roy explained with a laugh, “but the pocket will be handy for dispatches, reports or orders”) to cost $2.25; a “carryall” bag, water proof, with rawhide handles and a heavy lock,[53] to carry all surplus clothing, ammunition and other articles, $10; a medical and surgical case, including a hypodermic syringe and injection for snake bite, $5.00—

“I thought you were going to shoot all the snakes?” interrupted his mother.

“But one might crawl up on me while I was asleep,” explained Roy—again very soberly.

“You don’t mean to tell me you are going to sleep right down on the ground where animals and reptiles can get at you?” exclaimed Mrs. Osborne.

“Oh, I might have to do that a few times,” explained Roy, trying hard not to smile.

“Well, I want you to go to a hotel whenever you can,” urged his mother. “Or, if that is too expensive, to a decent boarding house. And another thing, Roy, I want you to see that your sheets are aired every day.”

“I promise,” answered the lad, lowering his head to hide his grin. “And I’ll go even further—I’ll make up my own bed every day I’m out there.”

“That’s right. Hotels always do it badly.”

Roy diverted his mother’s attention to his next item—a South African water bag that was guaranteed to furnish cool water in the hottest[54] weather. He had selected a two and one-half gallon vessel costing $1.85. She was also much interested in an acetylene gas headlight apparatus. This, on Roy’s list, really belonged in the things most eagerly desired by him, next to the automatic revolver. The apparatus consisted of a light with a lens attached to a band to be worn on the head, thus leaving the hands free. The gas generator was small enough to be carried in the pocket. The weight was only ten ounces, and the cost $6.50.

“And what’s that for?” asked his mother with interest.

“Night flights,” answered Roy.

“You don’t have to work at night, do you?” exclaimed his mother.

“There isn’t any aviators’ union yet, mother,” answered Roy, good naturedly. “It’s just possible I might find it necessary.”

“Well, I wouldn’t,” retorted Mrs. Osborne. “That’s just the trouble with your father. He never knows when to quit work. I—”

But Roy again interrupted his mother’s criticism by showing her a picture of a compact, aluminum mess kit, weighing only two pounds and five ounces. It contained a three-pint canteen, a frying pan with a folding handle, a felt-lined[55] cover for keeping things hot, a knife, fork and a spoon, and cost $4.50.

Then followed small articles: A soft rubber drinking cup, 20 cents; a safety pocket ax with steel lined guard, $1.60; an electric search or flash light, with extra batteries, $3.00; a waterproof handy compass to be pinned to the shirt, $1.15; a hundred-mile pedometer adjustable to any step, $1.00; and a five-inch hunting knife, with bone chopper back, $2.00.

“What does it all come to?” asked his mother, when Roy signified that the list was complete.

He announced the total—$106.55.

“Gracious me, Roy, that’s a lot of money.”

“To you and me, mother,” said the boy, with a laugh. “But I’m going into business now. It takes money to do things right.”

“But your father has to furnish it. Then there’s your car fare; I’m afraid we can’t afford it.”

Roy sprang up and patted his mother on the cheek.

“Mother,” he exclaimed, with a reassuring laugh, “I’m going to be worth so much more than that to the Utah Mining and Development Company that this little hundred or so dollars’ll[56] be only a drop in the bucket. I’ll get it all back for father with good interest. And if you’ll promise to quit worryin’ about what I’m goin’ to do or the expenses of it, I’ll—I’ll—”

“You’ll what?” added Mrs. Osborne, smiling.

“Why, I’ll—I’ll take you out to Chicago this winter to see Uncle Tom. And I’ll pay all your expenses.”

The next moment the enthusiastic boy was clattering down the steps on his way to the factory.



On his way across the city to the aeroplane factory, Roy stopped at the railroad offices and found that the fare to Dolores in Colorado was fifty-seven dollars, with ten dollars additional for sleeping-car accommodations. Reaching the company shops, he made his way at once to the assembling room, where he found his father directing a squad of men who were setting up an airship. Roy, stepping to his father’s side, whispered:

“Outfit, one hundred and six dollars and fifty-five cents; carfare and Pullman, sixty-seven dollars; total, one hundred and seventy-three dollars and fifty-five cents. Better make it two hundred dollars.”

Mr. Osborne’s only reply was to jerk his thumb in the direction of the general offices.

“Mr. Atkinson wants to see you,” the skilled machinist remarked, and turned again to his work. But, as Roy disappeared in the direction of the president’s office, Mr. Osborne seemed to change his mind. With some instructions to the[58] experts working under him, he also made his way toward the offices.

“Father says you want to see me,” began Roy, after his, “Good morning.”

“Didn’t you want to see me?” retorted Mr. Atkinson.

“I certainly did, if father hadn’t told you,” replied Roy.

“I have,” said a voice behind the boy, and Mr. Osborne came forward, wiping his grimy face, which had a troubled look. “I told Mr. Atkinson just what you and your mother have decided.”

“Pshaw, George,” interrupted Mr. Atkinson, indicating a couple of chairs into which the engineer and Roy seated themselves. “I guess you are willing, aren’t you?” Then he turned to Roy. “Your father said it was all settled and I was glad of it. I think it’s a fine chance for you, Roy.”

“I’m going,” said Roy. “Father said so, didn’t he?”

“I did,” broke in Mr. Osborne. “But look here, Atkinson, where’s the ‘fine chance’ you’re talking about? I reckon these folks ain’t givin’ money away. It ain’t likely they’ll want to pay more than two hundred dollars a[59] month. And what if Roy goes all the way out there and works five or six weeks? That might be three hundred dollars. He’s just told me it’s goin’ to cost him nearly two hundred dollars to get ready. Ain’t that a pretty small margin for a youngster to risk his life on?”

“Osborne,” Mr. Atkinson exclaimed at last, “you’re the best mechanical man I ever knew. But you were not cut out for high finance. Perhaps I oughtn’t say it, but you should be worth a hundred thousand dollars to-day. And you’re not, are you?”

Mr. Osborne laughed.

“You know I’m not,” he added, a little ruefully.

“Well,” added Mr. Atkinson, with a kind of earnestness, “if you ever expect to get beyond that cap and that oil and grease begin to take a chance.”

“I don’t understand,” answered the engineer.

“I’ll bet Roy does,” added the aeroplane company president, turning to the boy again. Then with a snap in his tone, he added: “What do you think about it, Roy?”

“What do I think?” replied Roy as he brought all his wits to work to understand the situation. “Well, I think this: the Utah company[60] wants some one to come out there as a part of its business. It’s a big company, and it must have plenty of money. It certainly don’t want me to come for less than I’m worth to the company. I think I can go and be worth a good deal. If I am, I’ll expect to be paid handsomely.”

Mr. Atkinson turned to Mr. Osborne.

“Hear that?” he exclaimed. “That’s the way to talk. The boy can turn the trick. Do you still object?”

“Well, I still think it’s a big risk for little pay.”

“Who’s said anything about pay?” retorted the president. “You’re like a good many hard working men, George. You assume a fact, and then work backwards from it. Let’s see what the boy has to say. Roy, do you think it’s too much risk for too little pay?”

“No,” exclaimed the boy, “because I guess the company’ll do what’s right.”

“And what’s that?” continued Mr. Atkinson, looking at Mr. Osborne with a smile.

“Since you’ve asked,” answered Roy, “I should say it ought to buy my outfit, about one hundred dollars; advance my carfare and expenses—say two hundred dollars altogether—and[61] pay me about one hundred dollars a week while I’m at work, with a guarantee of at least two months’ work.”

Mr. Atkinson slapped his hand on Roy’s knee.

“Reasonable enough,” he exclaimed. “Too reasonable. I had in mind not less than five hundred dollars a month. How about it, George?” he added, with a laugh.

Mr. Osborne was wiping his perspiring face.

“You high financiers are too much for me,” he said with an attempt at a smile. “I see Roy wasn’t cut out to be a mechanic. I haven’t anything more to say.”

“But I have,” said Mr. Atkinson, quickly. “Mr. Cook, of the Utah company, offered our regular list price of five thousand dollars for one of the No. 1 machines. I discounted it one thousand dollars. He’s so dead set on getting some one to come out there that he’s offered that one thousand dollars as a bonus to whomever will come. That means Roy. And, from what I see of him, I know he won’t take it. That means you.”

Mr. Osborne, visibly affected, shook his head.

“There you go,” broke in Mr. Atkinson. Then he whirled toward the boy. “Your father seems to think this is charity, Roy,” he added. “He[62] don’t understand that corporations like this or the Utah company have no funds set aside for charity. Will you take it?”

Roy looked at him soberly a moment.

“Mr. Atkinson,” he said at last, “Mr. Cook offered that one thousand dollars because he was mighty anxious to get some one to do something that was well worth the money, in his judgment. You just put it aside till I come back. Then I’ll know whether his judgment was right. If I think I’ve earned it, I’ll take it.”

Mr. Atkinson’s eyes snapped.

“I don’t know but you’re right,” he said, after a moment’s thought. “What do you say, Osborne?”

“I guess there isn’t much chance but that he’ll earn it all right,” he said. “He can go. Keep the money for him.”

Without further comment he left the office.

For a few moments the president of the aeroplane company sat in silence. Then he turned to his desk and wrote out an order. As he sat with it in his hand, he said:

“My boy, I understand what it means to your father. I’d never forgive myself if anything happened to you. But I had to take chances—so[63] does any man who wants to go ahead of the crowd. You can take care of yourself. So go ahead.”

“When ought I to start?” asked Roy.

“The car will leave by express to-morrow. It will be sent to Dolores, Colorado. If you start about two days after the machine leaves, you’ll have time to stop a day in Chicago and then reach Dolores about the time the aeroplane does. After that, it’s up to you.”

“I’ll have charge of the car, then, from Dolores. I’m to deliver it?”

“Yes, and in doing that, you’ll act as our agent. You’ll have to hire teams to transport the equipment.”

Roy’s lips puckered. Mr. Atkinson smiled.

“I’ve thought of that,” he explained. “Here’s an order the cashier will honor. You’d better draw the money at once. I’ll charge your outfit and personal expenses to the Utah company. The cost of delivering the car is our expense. And,” said Mr. Atkinson, as he took the boy’s hand, “no man works well with poor tools. Get what you need—don’t stint yourself.”

“I’ve got a good deal to thank you for, Mr. Atkinson—” began Roy.


“Thank me?” exclaimed the president. “I’m going to do all the thanking. I’m trusting you with the first aeroplane ever sent out from this factory to be used for a commercial purpose. Just make good for us and the American Aeroplane Company will put the gratitude where it belongs.”

His young head awhirl with the quick developments of the short interview, Roy walked over to the cashier’s window and laid Mr. Atkinson’s order on the marble counter. Instantly the busy cashier shoved through the grating a package of bank notes. The figures on the band startled the lad, but they did not disconcert him. With a businesslike tone, Roy asked the cashier if he might see the order again. One glance was enough—there it was: “Advance on account to bearer, Mr. Roy Osborne, $500.”

He turned and entered the big assembling room again. Half way across the noisy shop he stopped. He had just realized what had happened. Twenty-four hours before, an idle schoolboy, he had been lounging about this same place wondering if he could secure employment for a few dollars a week. To-day he had five hundred dollars in advance expense money in his pocket, a two months’ job at four hundred[65] dollars a month, and a possible bonus of one thousand dollars on deposit.

This he understood. The moment he had time to think over these things, he said to himself:

“I didn’t do this—it’s no ability or virtue of mine; and you can’t charge it to luck. What did it?”

As he asked himself this question, he looked down the shop and saw his father—the man who was doing things, who was working out hard problems with his head and hands. Then he knew. The reward hadn’t come to the father. Even now he was working as he had for years. The reward for all those years had come to the son.

“It’s father,” said the lad thoughtfully to himself. “It all comes from what he’s done.” Then he thought of Mr. Atkinson’s words to his parent: “You’re the best mechanical man I ever knew, but you were not cut out for high finance.”

A little lump rose in the boy’s throat. He struck a bench with his fist. “He’s right,” muttered Roy stoutly. “Mr. Atkinson told the truth. But father has brought up three boys who, maybe, will do things that money can’t.[66] And it’s the man over there in overalls who’ll get the credit—if I have my way.”

Almost at the same time his father saw him and motioned him forward.

“Get off your coat,” he ordered. “This is the car that’s going. I want you to know every piece of it.”

Roy hesitated a moment.

“I’ll be back in a minute,” he began. “I’ll have to put this somewhere—” He opened his coat and gave his father a secret look at the five-hundred-dollar package of bills.

Instead of astonishment, the busy mechanic only grunted.

“Hang your coat right there,” he remarked shortly. “We ain’t sneak thieves. Now, you’d better get down to a real job and make sure you’ve got the hang of everything. Turn in and help put your car together.”

When Roy and his father left the works that evening, an American Aeroplane Company Model No. 1 had been assembled, adjusted, tested and taken apart again. The next morning it would be crated and dispatched on its long journey to the west labeled: “R. C. Cook, Manager Utah Mining and Development Company, Bluff, Utah, via Dolores, Colorado.”


If there was anything in the construction of that aeroplane that could have been improved, it was not known to the airship skill of that day or to George W. Osborne. A fore and aft or lateral biplane, utilizing the highly successful flexible sustaining surfaces of the Montgomery glider, the whole width of the air craft was 32 feet. The front and rear planes were supported on the unique and distinguishing feature of the draft—a three-section frame extending fore and aft.

In the forward section, each section measuring 4 feet 7 inches in width and 7 feet in height—the single engine was located. On a cross shaft, fixed to the forward frame of the section, the two propellers revolved, operated by chain gears, one of which had the Wright reverse twist. In this section, but to the rear were the cooling coils and the gasoline tank. From the front of this section extended a vertical steering rudder patterned after the Wright machine.

To the rear section was attached a horizontal steering plane copied directly after the Montgomery rudder, a semi-circular plane 9 feet 10 inches high at its greatest diameter. In the middle section were seats for two passengers[68] and the operator’s station. From the saddle of the latter, flexing wires connected both the planes with stirrups through the operation of which the equilibrium of the car was maintained. Levers and wires controlling the rear and forward rudders also ended here. From the section division timbers, uprights carried wires, bracing the big lateral planes in all directions. Short landing skids were modeled after the Wright air craft.

The motive power was a 25-horsepower watercooled Curtiss with four cylinders and weighed 180 pounds. The propellers measured 8 1/3 feet.

“What do you think about her?” asked Roy, as he and his father boarded the car homeward bound.

“It’s the best I can do,” was the answer. To Roy that was enough.



The next morning Roy went to the factory with his father and saw every piece of the aeroplane crated. As the parts would have to be transported over nearly one hundred miles of desert, the machine was taken entirely apart. Even the rubberized silk plane surfaces were unlashed from the ribs. The section frames and plane strips and ribs were numbered and made into compact bundles. On a blue-print drawing of the Model No. 1 machine, Roy made careful notes relating to each dismounted piece.

“One thing is certain,” said his father, when the packing was completed, “you’ll save money on your freight bills but you’re piling up trouble at the other end.”

“That’s where I earn my pay,” answered his son, laughing. “I reckon there ain’t any great supply of spruce and bamboo out there in Bluff to duplicate smashed parts.”

In his red memorandum book Roy also set down the number and contents of each parcel and box in order that he might check up the[70] shipment at the end of its journey. After luncheon in the shop, Mr. Osborne, with the approval of Mr. Atkinson, made an extra crate of various sized pieces of spruce timber, several yards of silk plane cloth with gum for pasting in making patches, wire, screws, bolts, reserve engine batteries and last and most important, a small box of such tools as would be most useful.

When the wagon of the company backed up to the shipping room to transfer the formidable looking boxes, crates and bundles to the express office, Roy was a lively assistant in the loading. The engine, covered with waterproof canvas and braced in a steel-hooped box, was the last package to be lifted into the van. Roy patted the box and exclaimed, as he wiped his perspiring face:

“Good bye, old boy, till I see you again. Meet you at Dolores.”

The wagon rolled away, and Roy crossed the assembling room to the corner where the painter did his work. Having been put on the market as a commercial product, no detail was omitted that would add to the salability of the company’s machines. In addition to the lacquering of bolts and metal work, each bit of timber was coated with an aluminum varnish.


This was done for a double purpose. It not only gave the machine an attractive and finished appearance, but the nature of the varnish provided a safeguard against accidents. After the aluminum varnish was dry and set, any split or new defect in the wood at once produced a break in the aluminum coat. Instead of concealing damage to the wood, the varnish at once called attention to it.

But Roy was not investigating varnish or lacquer. When he left, a little strip of plane-silk was drying in a corner of the paint shop. On this in brilliant crimson letters nearly a foot high, was the word “Parowan.”

“I don’t know that I can use it,” Roy chuckled to himself, “but if Mr. Cook and his company don’t object and haven’t any other name for the air-line express, it’s going to be the ‘Parowan.’”

Roy could not get away from the thought of his great uncle, Willard Banks, and the mountain town where his mother’s family history said the old Mormon had lived.

“Those long whiskers and that big black hat seem to belong to the desert where I’m goin’. They bob up whenever I think of Utah. That’s why my machine is the ‘Parowan,’” he said.


Roy was exceedingly anxious to learn more about Utah—more about the Indians and some additional details concerning the nature of the country. He told his father he meant to spend the remainder of the afternoon in the Newark Public Library. On his way to the street car, he passed the open window of President Atkinson’s office.

That gentleman chanced to look up at the moment and as Roy lifted his hat, Mr. Atkinson called to him to come in.

“I have something that may interest you,” the president explained. “May interest me, too, if it’s right,” he added. He had in his hand a newspaper clipping. “Looks as if the boys of America were getting on to a good thing right away,” he added. Mr. Atkinson handed Roy the clipping. It had been taken from a Pensacola, Florida, paper, and read:


Six Pensacola Lads To Buy an Aeroplane

Result of Recent Salvage Case

It became known yesterday that the six juvenile members of the Anclote Boat Club, who were recently awarded[73] ten thousand dollars salvage in the Honduras mahogany schooner wreck, have determined to put a part of their treasure trove into an up-to-date aeroplane. Thomas Allen and Robert Balfour, nineteen and eighteen years old, and president and secretary of the club, respectively, have been delegated to go to New York to select the airship.

It also became known at the same time that there is a decided objection to this on the part of the parents of more than one boy. But the youngsters seem determined, and there is a strong probability that parental objection will be defied.

Tom Allen, president of the club, said yesterday: ‘You bet we are going to do it. Every one of the six members of the club risked his life to earn that money and why shouldn’t we spend it as we like? We are going to use five thousand dollars to buy an aeroplane, one thousand dollars to fix up our club house over on Anclote Island, and divide the rest. The court awarded us the money, and we’re going to beat the men of Pensacola by bringing an aeroplane down here before they wake up.’

Then followed nearly a column story that set Roy’s nerves tingling. It reviewed the history and adventures of the Anclote Boat Club. This juvenile organization of boys, ranging in age from sixteen to nineteen years, had for a couple of winters maintained a sort of winter quarters on Anclote Island about five miles off the west Florida coast and north of Tampa.

In the previous February the club members had, in a bad sou’wester, been instrumental in[74] saving a three-mast schooner loaded with mahogany and driven out of her course on a voyage from Honduras to Mobile. This had been done with the help of the “Escambia,” an old lifeboat rebuilt and converted into a power boat by the addition of a ten-horsepower motor.

The details of the salvage trial in the U. S. Court were also given briefly, and then followed various anecdotes about the club, which had, apparently, afforded a number of adventurous tales to the local newspapers. When Roy finished the long story his face was aglow with more than perspiration.

“Looks as if the American Aeroplane Company hadn’t got into business any too soon, don’t it?” exclaimed Mr. Atkinson, good-humoredly.

Roy handed the president the clipping with a sigh.

“Isn’t it great?” he exclaimed, shaking his head. “Reads like a story out of a book. Camping on an island in the Gulf of Mexico; fishing, swimming, boating and oranges and things. I suppose the club’ll fly all over the Everglades now—when it gets its airship.”

“Well,” laughed Mr. Atkinson, “I don’t see that the club has much advantage over you.”


“Yes, I know,” replied Roy, a little ruefully. “I wouldn’t exactly trade with those boys, but then, you know, I’m goin’ to be all alone. I won’t have any other boy with me.”

“I suppose that does make a difference,” added the man of business.

“All the difference in the world,” exclaimed Roy, “if you’re lookin’ for fun.” Then his voice changed; he threw off his disappointed look and added cheerfully: “But business is business. I’m satisfied. Only—” and he smiled, “if I wasn’t just starting for Utah, I’ll bet I could go down there and sell those boys an aeroplane.”

“I haven’t any doubt of it,” answered Mr. Atkinson.

It was a curious coincidence that, hardly had this account of Roy Osborne’s remarkable adventures been written, than a story came on its heels that found in Roy an enthusiastic reader. This was the narrative of the adventures of the members of the Anclote Boat Club, entitled, “The Boy Aeronauts’ Club, or Flying for Fun.”

Roy hurried to the library. Singularly enough, in addition to U. S. Survey reports on the Grand Canyon of Colorado and the mighty Green River chasm and an ethnological report[76] on the Navajo and Ute Indians, Roy—rather guiltily—asked the librarian for a map showing the west coast of Florida.

For a time he diligently applied himself to the volumes concerning the region he was about to visit. But, when it came time to close the library for the day, any one looking over Roy’s shoulder would have seen him tracing out Anclote Island, the waters of Pensacola Bay and the wild, swampy stretches of the mysterious Everglades of Florida.

“Anyway,” he said to himself, “even if this isn’t for me I’ve learned a little geography. Good luck to the southern kids. It’s me for Utah and the desert.”

Roy was determined to get his western outfit in Chicago. So there was little to do in the few days before his departure except to visit the library and read up on the history of the west.

Among other things, he learned that the great Navajo reservation, on the edge of which he would undoubtedly operate, was yet a mountain and mesa wilderness sealed against even the boldest white men. Many who had ventured to penetrate into the Indians’ jealously guarded domain had never returned.


He learned, too, with a little shock to him, to tell the truth, that the adjoining Ute land (along which he would have to travel in going to Bluff) was the home of the desperadoes of the last of the red men. “Renegade Utes” the books called them—outcasts, not even fit to mingle with other Indians. Among them, he read, were to be found specimens of all savage villains, Indians who made no pretense of work or self help, cattle and horse thieves and even murderers who were watched by the government as recognized criminals.

But, above all others in gripping interest, was the vague story of the hidden Indians, savages buried in the uncharted wastes of the southwestern Utah mountains, who had as yet evaded the white man. As Eskimos are known to dwell on the ice fields of the far northern British America who have never seen human beings other than of their own race, so, it was reported, a like remnant of Indians concealed themselves between the deep canyon of the Colorado and the terrible Death Desert to the west.

The next day was Saturday. When Mr. Osborne came home at noon, he was the bearer of a parting gift from Mr. Atkinson, who seemed to have taken a strong liking to Roy. The present[78] was a thin, open-faced gold watch and a plain leather fob.

“I noticed you didn’t have a watch,” Mr. Atkinson said, in a note, “and since you are going to run an aeroplane express you must have a good timepiece.”

On Sunday, Mr. Osborne’s second son, Phil, came over from Orange, where he was employed in the Edison laboratories. A part of the day was given up to a good-natured argument between Roy and his mother as to whether the latter should take a trunk or a suit case. Mrs. Osborne had enough articles laid out to have carried Roy on a cruise around the world. But, after repeated explanations, she surrendered. The suit case won. And in that were only a few toilet necessities, for Roy realized that in the west he would need only what he meant to buy in Chicago.

A little after ten o’clock Monday morning, Roy was off. At half-past seven Tuesday morning the eager young traveler—never before so far from home—found himself in the dingy, smoky Union Station in Chicago. In the station dining-room he first ate a good breakfast. An hour later he called a cab and drove to the[79] downtown offices of the railroad over which he planned to travel to Pueblo.

Having secured transportation and sleeping car accommodation, he re-entered his cab, and directed the driver to one place of which he had dreamed for days—a well-known sporting goods and “outfitting” shop on Wabash Avenue. Here he dismissed his cab. When Roy left this store at noon he was the happiest lad in all that great city.

With his shopping done, he did what sight-seeing he could until five o’clock, at which hour he was again at the store. His precious supplies had been compactly placed in a strong box and labeled, “Mr. Royce Osborne, Bluff, Utah, via Pueblo and Dolores.” Loading the box into another cab, Roy saw his baggage deposited at the Dearborn Street Station, got a check for it, tipped the baggageman a quarter and was at last ready for his real journey.

The only change he had made in his list of things needed was to substitute a shoulder water canteen for his ½-gallon affair.



At one o’clock Saturday afternoon, when the straining locomotive at last pulled its weaving, narrow-gauge train into the far western mountain town of Dolores, Colorado, one passenger did not require the services of a porter to assist him to alight. Travel-worn but jubilant, Roy Osborne sprang to the station platform.

“Dolores at last!”

He meant to say it to himself, but the words burst from him.

“Air ye sorry ye come?” exclaimed a voice near by.

Perhaps a half hundred persons were grouped about the station. Leather belts and plainsmen’s hats distinguished nearly all. Leaning against the platform rail were three Indians. Roy looked for the speaker. He proved to be a man just past middle age, wearing tan shoes, a rusty blue suit much in need of cleaning and pressing, a dust-covered, soft black hat, a soiled white shirt with a celluloid collar showing a glassy looking shirt stud and a thin black string[81] necktie. His face, widened with a smile, was gaunt, red and newly shaven.

Roy glanced at him and smiled.

“I’ve got to get acquainted in Dolores,” he said with boyish familiarity, “and if you don’t mind, I’ll begin with you. My name’s Osborne, Roy Osborne, of Newark, New Jersey.”

“Do-lores, not Dol-ores,” replied the stranger with a still wider smile. “But that’s neither hyar nor thar, as the feller says alludin’ to the muskeeter. Glad to meet ye, Mr. Osborne. My name is Weston, A. B. Weston—some o’ the time Colonel Weston. Permit me,” and before Roy could stop him, Mr. Weston had taken charge of the suit case.

“You don’t run a hotel, do you?” asked Roy, amused at his new friend’s assurance.

The man took no offense, but pointed across the open ground beyond the station to a block of frame buildings.

“My office is just over thar—real estate is my line. Don’t git skeered. As a member o’ the Dolores Commercial Club, ye air welcome to step over and git yer bearin’s.”

“I don’t know that I have time—” began Roy, thinking of all he wanted to do at once—“although it’s very good of you.”


But in the meantime they were advancing toward Mr. Weston’s office. Roy looked again, and was able to make out the sign: Real Estate—A. B. Weston. Dealer in Ranches, Mines and Farms.

“Ye ain’t a drummer?” exclaimed Mr. Weston.

Roy shook his head.

“I didn’t think ye was. Out fer yer health?”

Again the boy responded in the negative.

“Assumin’ ye didn’t drop off here fur fun, I give it up,” went on the genial agent. “I’ll bet a ten-spot ye need information. Don’t be skeered. I got apple land fur sale all right, but I ain’t agoin’ to chloroform ye. Come in and git started right.”

Unable longer to resist the breezy impulsiveness of the stranger, Roy climbed the stairs and found himself in a dusty little office scented with tobacco and littered with papers. Before he sat down and while Mr. Weston threw off his coat and filled a smoke begrimed cob pipe, Roy saw a large map of the county in which Dolores was situated hanging on the wall.

He walked to it at once and, for a few moments gazed at the road leading southwest down the mountain to Cortez. Then he saw the same[83] road or trail continue south toward the Ute Indian reservation. At the northern edge of the reservation, a branch turned west and running off the map was apparently lost in the sands of Utah.

“Got some folks out hyar, mebbe?” volunteered the affable agent.

Before Roy could speak, his eye fell on an opened envelope lying on the disordered table. It wasn’t the address that met his gaze—on the upper left hand corner were the words: “Return in ten days to the Utah Mining and Development Company, Bluff, Utah.”

It was almost like a letter of introduction to the agent. Picking up the envelope, Roy exclaimed:

“Do you know Mr. Cook, the manager of this company?”

“Done business with him fur five years or more.”

“I’ve got business with the company. I’m going to Bluff.”

Colonel Weston let his tilted chair drop to the floor.

“Ye don’t say,” he exclaimed. “Mr. Cook was in hyar last week a pesterin’ me agin to go over thar.”


“You?” Roy asked. “Are you goin’?”

“I been a tryin’ to hold out agin it. I sorter reckoned I was through with Injuns an’ alkali, but—” looking around the room with a sorry grin, “I ain’t makin’ no fortune here.”

“I don’t understand. Does Mr. Cook want you to join him in business?”

“Hardly,” the stranger answered. “But nacherly, ye don’t know me. They call me ‘colonel’ here in town. I used to be ‘Sink Hole’ Weston—‘Sink’ Weston fur short.”

Roy dropped into a chair in open perplexity. The agent lit his pipe again.

“It’s only a job headin’ a gang o’ prospectors,” he volunteered immediately. “Don’t stand to reason I keer much fur it, but—well, mebbe I am worth more at that than selling somepin’ I don’t own.”

“You are an old timer out here, then?” suggested Roy, as he began to understand.

“Went ‘to Texas’ in ’ninety from Louisiany,” answered ‘Colonel’ Weston. “Rustled cattle till ’ninety-five. Guided railroad gangs in the mountains round hyar till nineteen hundred; United States Deputy Marshal fur a spell, and then I was sheriff o’ this county a term. Five years ago, I civilized—put on this white shirt,”[85] he added, with a grin, “an’ been bluffin’ ever since at business.”

“Were you what they call a plainsman?” asked Roy.

“I see what you mean,” exclaimed the man. “Well, they never did feel comfortable. These togs air a part o’ ‘Colonel’ A. B. Weston. ‘Sink’ Weston’s outfit is over home—I git into it sometimes when I want to feel free and easy like.”

“Are you familiar with the Indians?” asked Roy, already much interested in his new found friend.

“Familiar?” repeated the agent. “If you mean hev I seen much uv ’em, I kin say I’ve seen enough uv ’em so’s I kin cut out their society without cryin’.”

“Well, I’m sure, Mr. Weston, that it was good of you to pick me out and bring me here. I haven’t any doubt but what you can give me good advice. I’ve got to go to Bluff, and I’ve got a wagon load of stuff to take with me. I don’t know anything about the country, or how to get there. I’m goin’ to ask you to tell me.”

“Say,” said the real estate agent suddenly. “If your business is none o’ mine, keep it to yourself; but I got a reason fur askin’ ye what it is.”


“No secret,” answered Roy. “You’ve heard of aeroplanes?”

“Flyin’ machines?”

Roy nodded his head.

“I’ve got an aeroplane over at the express office, or should have, and about two hundred gallons of gasoline. I’m under contract to deliver the aeroplane and gasoline to Mr. Cook, in Bluff. After that, I’m going to work for the company communicating with its prospectin’ parties. I want to know the best way to get there.”

“They ain’t no best way—fur a team.”

“But I must find a way.”

Colonel Weston had grown strangely sober, and seemed lost in thought.

“I see the route leads along the Ute reservation,” continued Roy. “Is it safe to go that way?”

“It’s as safe goin’ as comin’. Either way ’tain’t what ye might call no Lovers’ Lane fur peace and quiet.”

“Do you know a good guide?” continued Roy, a little surprised. He had rather imagined that Indian apprehension existed mainly in the east.

“Yes,” said Colonel Weston suddenly. He was about to say more when his sober face took[87] on a smile. Stepping to a desk, he searched in the mess of odds and ends until he found a reasonably clean sheet of paper. On this he printed something and then stepped into the hall and attached the sheet to the outside of the door.

This done, he picked up Roy’s suit case and exclaimed:

“Ye ain’t had no dinner, hev ye?”

The lad remembered that he had not, and that he was suddenly ravenously hungry.

“I got a wife,” added Colonel Weston; “’tain’t fur. We’ll go home an’ git some chuck.”

As they stepped into the hall, Roy looked at the sign on the door. It read:

“Back when I git here. Address Sink Weston, Bluff, Utah.”

Roy whirled about in sudden amazement.

“I’m tired o’ town,” the agent exclaimed, “an’ sick o’ things I don’t know nothin’ about—an’ these,” he added with a laugh, pointing to his tan shoes and town clothes. “I’ll take ye to Bluff myself.”

This was Roy’s introduction to the new life he was just entering. Over his protest, Colonel Weston, now “Sink” Weston once more, at[88] least temporarily, insisted that the boy should go to his home for dinner.

Mr. Weston’s explanation to his wife that business called him to Bluff was received with no great joy, Roy could see, but Mrs. Weston was probably used to her husband’s lapses into his old life.

“I don’t know how I’m goin’ to thank you folks for takin’ me in this way and helpin’ me,” said Roy, as he sat down to fresh biscuits, fried ham, potatoes, warmed-over baked beans, and a pot of fresh coffee.

“Don’t take on about that,” answered Mr. Weston. “All we ask is ye don’t offer to pay nuthin’.”

That night Roy wrote a letter to his mother. Ten days later, from Mrs. Osborne came to Mrs. Weston a fashionable shopping bag of tanned sealskin. For years to come it will be the pride of Mrs. Weston’s heart.

It had already been agreed that the start for Bluff was to be made at five o’clock the next morning. Mr. Weston, despite his long face in recounting his town experience, in reality owned a freight teaming business. He maintained a sort of livery stable and sent a freight[89] wagon each day to Cortez, twelve miles down the mountain.

While Roy went to the express office at the railway station, his new friend and host began making arrangements for a wagon and horses. When the boy reached the depot and made modest inquiry for his freight, the agent looked at him open mouthed.

“Is all that plunder yourn?” he began.

“Do you want me to identify myself?” asked Roy with a laugh. “Colonel Weston knows me.”

“I reckon it’s all right who ye air, but why in the name uv all that’s good and holy, didn’t ye send it by freight?”

“It’s all here, is it?” Roy asked anxiously.

“All here? I should say not.”

The boy’s heart sank.

“It’s nigh all over town. That gasoline is over thar by the water tank—an’ by express, too,” the agent repeated, looking at Roy as if he were a Rockefeller. “An’ the big boxes is over in the freight house. Some o’ the bundles is in the baggage room.”

“Well,” said Roy laughing and greatly relieved, “I had this left out of the express[90] money,” and he handed the agent a two-dollar bill.

“Say, kid,” the agent said, a little embarrassed, “where do you want that stuff took?”

When the boy explained that, at present, he only meant to check it up, the mollified official offered his assistance with alacrity. Within an hour Roy was joined by Colonel Weston, who had a look at the freight he was to transport.

“Fine,” he exclaimed, “all but the gasoline. But we’ll make it on one wagon. Old Dan Doolin is goin’ to drive fur us.”

About five o’clock the big, canvas-covered freight wagon was drawn over to the depot that the crates, boxes and gasoline cans might be loaded that night. The teamster, Colonel Weston, Roy and the depot agent were not long in doing this.

Roy looked at the big, crowded wagon and wrinkled his brows:

“Goin’ to be a kind of close fit for us, isn’t it?” he remarked to Mr. Weston.

“How’s that?” asked the ex-sheriff.

“All three of us on that wobbly seat for nearly a hundred miles.”

Colonel Weston exploded with laughter.


“You don’t reckon I’m goin’ to ride on the wagon?”

Roy looked at him, mystified. Then suddenly he understood.

“Of course,” he answered, “you’ll ride horseback.”

“Naturally,” remarked his companion. “And I’m goin’ to give you a cow pony thet’s about as slick a piece o’ horse flesh as they is in these parts.”

Roy stopped. That was a dream of his life.

“Colonel Weston,” he almost shouted, “you’re a brick.”



“E yawp!”

Roy awoke, rose on his elbow to get his bearings, and then remembering that he was in Mrs. Weston’s “spare” bed, turned out and rushed to the window. “Sink Hole” Weston was entering the house.

It was nearly five o’clock and time to be off. The newly awakened boy lost no time. All his preparations had been made the night before. After writing letters he had laid out his new togs and packed his “shore” clothes, as he called them, in the suit-case. As he donned his gray flannel, his khaki, his new hat, and his boots, his heart fluttered like that of the youngster with his first long trousers.

Then he paused, in doubt. Hearing Mr. Weston in the adjoining room, he peeked cautiously through a narrow crack in the door. His heart leaped again. The one-time real estate agent and now plainsman once more had made no half way change. Dangling at his right leg was a holster and revolver. Roy, almost catching[93] his breath for joy, made the finishing touch to his own get-up. Buckling on his belt, already carefully stuffed with ammunition, the boy felt the caress of the new automatic against his hip and leg and his happiness was nearly complete.

But not quite. At a post in front of the little white house stood two cow ponies, saddled, with ropes at the pommels and blankets cinched behind. One of these, Roy knew, from its size, must be his mount. He started for the door and then hesitated. Everything on him felt so new that he almost had stage fright.

“Waugh!” rang out from the next room. “Chuck’s ready.”

“Waugh!” yelled Roy with assumed boldness and throwing open the door, he dashed into the room, whirled about in imitation of a ballet dancer and then, clumsily drawing his new revolver, struck an attitude of aiming through the window.

“Well, by the great horn spoon,” shouted Weston.

“Land o’ mercy,” added Mrs. Weston, who had just entered with a venison steak—hot and covered with fried potatoes.

“You shore air the Wild West picter,” laughed the man.


“He’s jist right,” broke in Mrs. Weston. “That’s all right, Mr. Osborne. Don’t you stand fur no jokin’.”

“Why?” exclaimed Roy, in an alarmed voice. “Aren’t these things all right?”

“All right?” answered Mr. Weston, “shore they’s all right; but did you’ ever see a city man go into a country town but what the yaps had to make fun o’ his clothes?”

“Don’t you all wear these?” asked Roy, anxiously.

“They would if they could,” answered Mrs. Weston, depositing the meat platter and turning to survey the boy. “An’ yo’ ain’t got a thing on yo’ that ‘Sink’ wouldn’t be tickled to own. Look at him—it’s reediclus.”

Roy looked. Mr. Weston still wore the same soiled white shirt, or one like it. A black silk handkerchief encircled his neck. It was knotted in front, while Roy’s was fastened behind as he had seen in the pictures. Mr. Weston wore no coat, and his white shirt-sleeves were held up by blue elastic bands. Never had Roy seen such things in cowboy pictures. But the man’s blue clothes had been exchanged for a dark vest and a pair of close fitting black trousers. The vest was unbuttoned, and one side of it sagged with[95] the weight of a silver watch chain. The trousers disappeared into a pair of worn, unpolished boots. But here the shattering of the young tenderfoot’s ideals paused. Those boots! They were wrinkled and crinkled in true cattleman style; the heels tapered like a woman’s French slipper and jangling about the insteps were two as ornate spurs as any artist ever drew.

And, best of all, there was the “gun.” The belt was not as new as Roy’s and the revolver was not an automatic-carbine, but it was there.

“That sartin must a cost ye quite a bit,” was Mr. Weston’s comment. “An’ don’t yo’ mind ef some one tries to guy yo’. Yer all O. K. Ye don’t need nuthin’ but to git the new off. An’ I’ll guarantee to do that afore we git to Bluff.”

“Where can I get a pair of spurs?” asked the boy.

“Oh, ye kin git ’em anywhar—best place over to the drug store. But Nigger don’t need no spurs—leastways on a little jant like this.”

By twenty minutes after five o’clock breakfast was over, and Roy had started for the barn, a few blocks away, with his suit case, Mr. Weston offering to bring Nigger. At five thirty old Dan’s wagon drew out of the barn. Incidentally,[96] Mrs. Weston found a five-dollar bill under Roy’s place after her husband left.

Roy was glad enough to find few men on the street when it came time to mount Nigger.

“Don’t be afeerd,” exclaimed Mr. Weston. “Nigger ain’t no trained bucker fur no Wild West show. She’s a cow pony. All ye got to do is not to argey with her. She knows more about sartin things ’an you do, an’ when yo’ an’ she don’t agree, yo’ let her hev her way. Whatever she does, they’s a reason fur. Don’t be afeerd.”

Roy had ridden horseback a few times in the country, but as he dropped into Nigger’s saddle he felt as if he were sinking into an arm chair. Mr. Weston sat astride his pony watching the boy. Seeing him at last mounted and stirruped, there was a quick yell. “E yawp!” shouted the elder man, and with a flip of the reins, his pony whirled as if on a pivot and was off down the main street of Dolores. With a clatter of hoofs, Nigger bounded forward.

Roy gasped, caught his saddle pommel with one hand and his hat with the other. Then, remembering instructions, he grasped his reins, straightened out his legs and threw back his shoulders. Ahead rose a cloud of dust. It was Doolin’s four horses just crossing the railroad tracks to take the valley road. They were off at last.


With a Clatter of Hoofs Nigger Bounded Forward


As the two ponies scampered by the freight wagon and reached the southern limits of the town, Weston flipped his reins once more and the two animals slackened into a trot. Beyond the railroad switch yards and a fringe of adobe houses, the street passed over the brow of a rise and dropped at once into a road winding down the mountain side.

With a motion of his hand the ex-sheriff called Roy’s attention to the view. Westward the sloping ground fell gradually into a valley. Beyond a fringe of pinon timber on the lower slopes, the country ’marked with farms and ranches like a checkerboard, spread out to make Montezuma Valley—the last bit of fertility in the southwest. Far beyond these spots of green rose what seemed to be a yellow barrier.

“What’s the wall?” asked Roy, trying to copy Mr. Weston’s easy loll in the saddle.

“Wall,” laughed the old plainsman, “we’ll climb that wall to-morrer. That’s Utah and sand and alkali.”

“The desert?” exclaimed Roy.


“The same,” answered his companion, “an’ a good deal o’ that.”

“What’s the blue wall, then?” added the boy, pointing toward the south.

“Wal, sir, ef it want fur that, ye’d see yaller thar, too. That’s the Mesa Grande, twenty-five miles from hyar. Mesa is Spanish fur a tableland o’ rock. That’s whar the ole Aztecs built thar homes. Take the Mesa away an’ ye’ll see New Mexico from hear.”

“And that?” continued Roy, pointing to the southwest where a gray, pink-tipped spire rose cloudward.

“Ute Mountain,” answered the westerner, as he urged his pony forward again. “And frum it ye’ll likely see thieving Utes and murderin’ Navajos a-plenty.”

While old Doolin’s brakes were creaking against the wheels of the big wagon, Mr. Weston and Roy gave their animals rein, and were off for the village on the plain below, twelve miles away.

“Kid,” exclaimed his companion, after a time, “we might as well agree on this. Ain’t no one we’re goin’ to meet ’at’ll call me ‘Mister’ nur ‘Colonel.’ And ain’t no reason why yo’ should. Over thar,” and he pointed to the[101] Utah alkali—“it’ll be ‘Sink’ Weston. Make her ‘Sink’ an’ let it go at that. Don’t be skeered I’m goin’ to think less o’ you fur it.”

“All right, I will, if you’ll tell me why they call you ‘Sink.’”

Weston turned sideways in his saddle.

“That’s a considerable yarn, son.”

“Tell it,” exclaimed Roy, enthusiastically. “I’ve been waitin’ for years to hear a real story that ain’t been in a book.”

“Ye kin be sure this ain’t been in no book. As fur bein’ real—see that?”

He loosened the shirt-sleeve of the left arm and revealed a long white furrow on the back of his arm just below the elbow.

“Thar’s whare the boss o’ the Sink Hole, the white High Mucky-Muck o’ the Lost Injuns plugged me. It’s real all right.”

“The Lost Indians?” Roy exclaimed. “You mean the Indians no white man has ever seen?”

“Sink” Weston shook his head with a half smile.

“I seen ’em. An’ he seen ’em.”

“He? Who?” persisted Roy.

“Who?” repeated “Sink,” with a strange laugh that startled the boy. “Tell me? I been aching fur more’n ten years to learn that. To[102] say nothin’ o’ the hole in the bowels o’ the airth where he took me and plugged me and kep’ me fur—well, I never knowed jist how long—”

“Mr. Weston, or ‘Sink,’” broke in Roy, “you’re getting me all mixed up. I don’t seem to follow you.”

“O’ course not. But I’ll make it straight jist as soon as I git a chanst. Then ye kin understand. Till then, call me ‘Sink.’ When I git around to the yarn, ye’ll say mebbe as how it’s a good enough name fur me, ‘Sink Hole’ Weston!”

“We’ll be in camp to-night. It’ll make a campfire tale,” suggested Roy.

The leader of Roy’s cavalcade nodded his head and for some time rode silently ahead, as if in thought. The pace brought them to Cortez about nine o’clock. Here they had agreed to wait for the wagon to overtake them.

From Cortez you might strike on a bee line to the southwest and never strike another white man’s village until you entered southern California. Its bank, stores, cement buildings and telephones were the last signposts of civilization on the edge of the desert.

Roy was to pay Weston a dollar a mile for[103] transporting the aeroplane to Bluff. That meant a cost of about ninety dollars. Weston, for this, furnished the wagon, the six horses, the services of both Dan Doolin and himself, and the feed for all animals. Roy was to provision the party. Food supplies were to be laid in at Cortez.

When the boy asked about a tent, Weston laughed. He explained that tents were a superfluity. The weather was ideal.

“It’s your saddle fur a piller, and blanket fur a mattress. As fur a coverin’ above ye—ye jist want to try the sky. It beats houses er tents.”

Roy was eager enough to try it. The freight wagon carried frying pans, tin dishes and a coffee pot in the tail box. The food bought was simple—salt pork, bacon, flour, baking powder, crackers, coffee, and a variety of canned goods in the way of beans, meats, and fruits. These articles purchased, packed and paid for, Weston left the lad for a time.

Roy was glad enough to do a little sight-seeing. He visited all the stores and at last found himself in a half drug and half general store in one corner of which was a stock of unique Indian relics. In a few moments the boy was[104] on familiar terms with the proprietor—an old doctor. And in the next half hour he had selected a real Navajo blanket for his mother and an equally interesting turquoise set, silver ring for his father, although he knew that the latter parent would never wear it.

As the doctor curio-dealer was preparing the purchases for shipment by express to Newark, he said:

“Aren’t you the young man who came in this morning with Sink Weston?”

Roy answered that he was.

“Going back to-day?” continued the doctor.

“Going on,” he replied. “We’re goin’ to Bluff with a wagon of freight.”

“To Bluff?” exclaimed the storekeeper in apparent surprise. “With Sink Weston?”

“Yes,” retorted Roy, a little indignant. “Why not? Any reason why I shouldn’t travel with Mr. Weston?”

“No,” faltered the storekeeper. “No real reason, I guess. But—”

“But what?” added Roy sharply.

The curio-dealer puckered his lips. Then, significantly, he touched his head with his finger.

“He’s honest enough. But, hereabouts, we all kind o’ consider him a little off—cracked in the upper story.”



Long before night came, Sink Weston’s one-wagon train had crossed McElmo Creek and was well down toward the Mesa Verde. The evening campfire was almost within the shadow of the old Aztec cliff home. The Cortez curio-dealer’s suggestion that Weston was a “little off” had bothered Roy a great deal; but his early apprehension had worn off somewhat as he failed to detect any outward signs of “crackedness” in the old guide.

Naturally Roy associated Weston’s vague references to the “Lost Indians” and the “old man of the sink hole” with what the storekeeper had said. And, as he thought the matter over, he finally concluded: “We are all a little daffy in some line. I suppose I’m crazy over aeroplanes. If Sink has a soft spot or peculiarity, why should I bother about it?”

However, concluding that the “sink hole” story, whatever it was, might be Weston’s hallucination, the lad decided to say no more about it.


In the gray-blue shadows of the Mesa Verde, Weston and Roy picketed their ponies and made camp. Long before Doolin came up with the wagon, they had collected wood and made a fire. The stars were showing when the wagon arrived. Then followed Roy’s first camp experience.

After all, the way Doolin and Mr. Weston did it, it was very simple. Water for this first stop was carried in a barrel. The horses were watered, given oats and picketed. A pot of coffee was made; two cans of baked beans were heated; a can of peaches was opened; the crackers were passed—there was not even condensed milk for the coffee—and the evening meal was over.

Immediately, with no dishes to wash, old Doolin extracted a rifle from somewhere in the wagon and, charging his pipe, strolled away in the dark “to stretch his legs,” as he put it. The sky was black-blue; the stars were like white hot carbons; no insects disturbed the breezeless soft surroundings, and the red-yellow glow of the dying cook fire sent a straight line of thin smoke upward.

“Goin’ huntin’?” asked Roy, indicating old Doolin.


“Doolin never sets by the fire,” explained Mr. Weston. “He may not be back till midnight. Jist onrestless. But he ain’t lookin’ fur no game. That gun’s like a cane to him. He may be up on the Mesa Verde afore he gits sleepy.”

Roy was tired, after his first day in the saddle. He was lying on a blanket, his eyes on the little fire, and wondering if he would like to be going with the “onrestless” Doolin. Weston was sitting with his back against a wagon wheel, his knees crooked before him, with one hand lazily grasping his bubbling pipe.

“So ye want to know why they call me ‘Sink?’” he said suddenly, as if the two had just been discussing the subject.

Roy cast his eyes again in the direction Doolin had taken. Their companion had disappeared. Somewhere, at that moment, a shivery half-bark and half-wail sounded.

“Coyote,” said Mr. Weston without moving.

The cook fire was but little more than a dying blaze. Just a little wave of apprehension crept over the boy. Was he alone with an irresponsible man? Was his companion about to recall an imaginary experience, an hallucination that might work him into a frenzy? Roy was almost[108] sorry that the teamster had left. He was not afraid, but—

“Yes,” he answered stoutly, “I’d like to hear it.”

For a few moments, the guide, marshal and sheriff, said nothing. Then he recharged his pipe, threw a couple of bits of mesquite upon the fire and resumed his position.

“When I’m done,” he said at last, “ye’ll say I’m bughouse. They all do. Anyway, ye’ll know why I’m Sink Hole Weston.”

Roy breathed a sigh of relief. Mr. Weston’s tone was calm enough.

“In ninety-eight, I brung a party of railroad prospectors to Durango,” Mr. Weston began. “That winter, I herded sheep and fit Utes. In the spring, I was sick o’ Injuns and I made up my mind to do a little minin’. Jist then, a couple o’ fellers named Labarge an’ Moffett showed up in camp. They wuz nice men an’ it wuz bad fur ’em an’ others what happened to ’em, but it came nigh bein’ as bad fur me. These men come all the way from Washin’ton to make a map o’ the San Juan river. They had money an’ a outfit an’ a boat that come in pieces. The wages they offered me to go with ’em settled the minin’ idee.


“In May, when the arroyos wuz bank full and better, we toted the pieces o’ that boat up in the San Juan mountains beyant Pagasa Peak. Two weeks later, down about Alcatrez—or whar Alcatrez is now—we found timber and them fellers figured out they wanted a raft big enough to carry us an’ the boat. We made it. But it must a bin a bum raft. At the first bad rapids we struck, whar the river cuts through the Carriso mountains, the raft went to pieces and we all went down. Labarge he never did come up.”

“Drowned?” exclaimed Roy.

“An’ smashed,” explained Weston, tamping his pipe. “We saved the boat, an’ me and Moffett went on. The river was now sartin deep in the canyon. Mebbe Moffett knowed whar we was, but I didn’t. He put it down in his book. Then it got so bad thar was not no stoppin’ any more an’ we jist shot ahead. I don’t know whar we wuz, as I said, but it wuz about four days arter Labarge was lost ’at Moffett figgered out he was due to climb out o’ the canyon. It was like a mine shaft fur deep and dark, but he had some projeck about gettin’ his bearin’s. So we tried it. He lugged them instruments o’ his an’, I’ll say this fur[110] him, he mighty near done it when somepin’ happened. He dropped six hundred feet like a rock.”

Roy shuddered and pulled his blanket nearer the fire. Mr. Weston snapped a piece of mesquite.

“When I got down to the water agin, they was not even his little books and measurin’ traps. Ever’thing but the boat was gone in the foam o’ the San Juan. I never knowed whar Moffett was killed. But it was about ten o’clock in the mornin’ I calkerlated—I didn’t have no watch.

“Before I started I et a good meal fur I knowed, the way that river was a boilin’ and roarin’ below me, I was not agoin’ to make no more stops till somepin happened. An’ I didn’t. It happened arter dark. When I couldn’t see no more, an’ it was plum dark down thar long afore the sun went down up on the plains five or six hundred feet above, I shoved off. I didn’t make no bluff at steerin’.

“I jist waited. Mebbe I was not goin’ a few? I shore was sorry I hadn’t stuck to my minin’ idee. I was sorry fur a good many things when the dark come on. I got tired o’ thinkin’ an’ waitin’ at last an’ I says to myself, says I,[111] ‘let her come now an’ git over with it.’ I was accommodated.

“When I come to I was alive, but I didn’t believe it fur a long time. I peeled off the blood an’ by feelin’ round concluded I was on the rocks. But I was so nigh the water that the foam an’ spray was a blanket fur me all night. That’s whar I laid till it come light agin. O’ course the boat was gone, my chuck was gone an’ them walls o’ stone stood up afore and behind me—straight? They seemed like the inside o’ a ball.”

“How did you get out?” asked Roy. “And where were you?”

“I ain’t agoin’ to answer neither,” replied Mr. Weston, crawling over to the fire and using a coal to light his recharged pipe.

“Why ain’t I?” he added without a smile. “’Cause I don’t know. Don’t know no more today ’an I did then. Somehow I did git out. But it was not that day ’cause I slep’ on the rocks agin. I kin tell you this, though: when I fell down on the sand up thar some’ere on the top o’ that gash in the airth, my clo’es was in rags an’ two finger nails on each hand was missin’. I reckon I clumb some.”


“This was not the sink hole, was it?” interrupted the boy.

The plainsman took several long puffs at his pipe.

“What happened on the river was only what ye might expec’. What happened arter ain’t no man got no right to look fur. In a way, it was even excitin’. Or I don’t know as ye could say that. It was unusual, though.”

Roy’s apprehensions returned to him.

“I’ll try not to string it out,” resumed Weston. “But, remember, I ain’t askin’ ye to believe it.” The fire flared up and Roy saw that the man’s face was both sober and thoughtful. “Nobody believes it. Some of ’em’ll tell you I’m nutty. I’m used to it. I jist want to explain why I’m Sink Hole Weston.”

“Tell it all,” pleaded Roy, suddenly.

“I don’t know what day it wuz I found myself up thar in the sand. An’, as ye kin guess, I don’t know whar it wuz. Don’t know yit,” he added as if this were one of the regrettable details of his adventure. “But one thing I kin make affedavit to,” he said, with a drawl,—“my gun wuz gone, the soles wuz tore off my boots, an’ my hat wuz with the gun, I reckon, I didn’t have a scrap o’ food an’ as fur water, they[113] was a plenty about six hundred feet below me an’ none, I reckoned, within a hundred miles ur more in front o’ me. I set down an’ tried to round up. I knowed I wuz so fur frum whar I started, that I was not agoin’ to try to git back by follerin’ that cursed river, though t’aint a bad river at that, take it all in all.

“It was comin’ night an’ the sun was facin’ me. By that my right hand was pintin’ north. Ef I went south, it stood to reason I must be some’ere nigh Navajo land. That settled goin’ south. Ef I went west, about the only thing I knowed of ’at I could find afore I come to the Nevada Mountains wuz the Ralston desert. An’ I had plenty o’ that whar I wuz. Goin’ east, I had my chice o’ dead craters, the Colorado and Green Rivers, which was like the San Juan only wuss, an’ more deserts.”

“You were certainly up against it,” sighed the boy. “You went north, I suppose.”

“Sometimes north an’ sometimes northwest,” continued Weston. “Depended on the goin’. I was not at jist the top o’ condition, as ye kin guess. But I cut off the tops o’ my boots, patched up a pair o’ soles an’, it bein’ evenin’ then, took a snooze. Sometime in the night I woke up an’ started. It was not much uv a start[114] I didn’t have no preparations to make. Layin’ a trail by the north star I set out kind o’ northwest.

“It begun to git rough right away. That’s the way all along them rivers—the river hole, then a fringe o’ sand an’ then higher ground. Long afore sun up, I was makin’ up some purty stiff hills. When day come, I wuz in ’em. You’d a thought they wuz some life an’ timber thar. Ef they was, I didn’t see neither. As near as I could figger, it was like as ef they’d took all the rock out o’ the San Juan an’ piled it up on a kind o’ table land. They seemed to be big, high ridges o’ rock stretchin’ all over the country with here an’ thar a heap uv it high enough to make a peak.

“That day an’ the next, I knowed I was giner’ly goin’ northwest. At the end o’ the second day, I didn’t keer much whether I ever woke up agin. Only I didn’t exactly go to sleep. My head was wrong, an’ I knowed it. Onct I found myself diggin’ in the sand. I got up sneerin’ at myself. I knowed well enough they was not no water up thar. Then you know what I found myself adoin’? I caught myself atryin’ to spell out my name by layin’ little pieces o’ rock on the sand. That was the limit.


“I cut out restin’ an’ got up an’ says, ‘When I stop agin, it’ll be whar I’m goin’ to stay.’ My boots was not no good any more—leastways I didn’t somehow keer to try to tie ’em on no more. Then I rickollected ’bout starvin’ people chawin’ thar shoe leather. I tried it. Don’t you believe it’s wuth while. Anyway, I was not hungry. A little water would ahelped but, mostly, I reckon I jist longed to git out o’ that rock. That’s what bothered me. Curious like, it got to seem as if I could git whar I couldn’t see them walls ever’thing’d be all right. You’re agettin’ batty when you git that way.

“I kin remember the moon come out. But that made me mad. It looked so much like the sun. It was ashinin’ all over the rocks I had come to kind o’ despise. But thar was one place ’at wuz dark and I throwed away my boots an’ run in thar like as if somepin was a chasin’ me. An’ I kept agoin’ till, I reckon, I jist keeled over. I was not plannin’ to wake up no more, but I did. An’ thar was them rocks.

“I didn’t feel much like gittin’ up. But, fin’ly I turned over so’s I wouldn’t see them bits o’ granite er whatever they air. An’, lo and behold, they was not no rock at all whar my eyes[116] fell. After awhile, I figgered out that this was a good thing. And then I knowed what I wuz tryin’ to do—I wuz tryin’ to convince myself ’at I ought to go over whar the rocks stopped.

“I couldn’t walk, so I crawled. Some o’ my thinkin’ apparatus seemed gone, but I got away all right—I was out o’ the rocks. Then I rickollected. I says, ‘They ought to be water here whar they ain’t no rocks. Whar’s the water?’ They was not no answer to that, an’ they was not no water. I wuz the maddest man ye ever see. ‘Whar’s the water?’ I yelled. Not actu’ly, ye know, ’cause my tongue was not movin’ seein’ as how it had my jaws pried open.

“Now comes a cur’ous thing,” continued Mr. Weston. “You’d athought I was all in, me acrawlin’ on my hands an’ knees the night before. But this goin’ without no water has funny angles. I was mad and demandin’ the water that should ’abeen waitin’ fur me. An’ on them raw feet o’ mine I started to find it. I couldn’t talk, an’ I couldn’t think, to speak of, but I could see. An’ afore I quit I saw smoke.

“Somehow, that didn’t int’rest me; didn’t even surprise me. But it was right whar I thought water was, an’, somehow, I kept goin’.[117] This is one place they say I’m nutty. I’ve forgot a good deal about gittin’ out o’ the rocks, but I’ll make affedavit I went toward that smoke all day. How do I figger that? It was black all around me when I quit goin’.

“When I knowed anything agin, I knowed I was with Injuns. Couldn’t fool me on Injun smell. An’ when an old Injun woman poured water on my tongue, I jist shet my eyes an’ went to sleep agin.”



For the last few moments, Roy had leaned forward as if afraid he might miss some word of his companion’s strange tale.

“Indians had saved you!” he exclaimed huskily.

“A white man,” remarked Mr. Weston. “The High Mucky-Muck o’ the Sink Hole—the high priest o’ the Lost Injuns—him that they say loosened some o’ my screws.”

“Go on,” interrupted the boy impulsively, now wholly indifferent as to the result of possibly drawing out the plainsman’s hallucination. Weston arose, went over to the water barrel and put his mouth to the spigot.

“You don’t never see me wastin’ any o’ that sence the day I got out o’ the rocks,” he explained, “an’ I got a purty high regard fur it ever sence.”

He moved the fire coals together with his foot and added a couple new mesquite roots to the embers. As the coals flared into a flame, he took from his hip pocket a worn and greasy[119] pocketbook. The flap was reinforced with a string. Slowly untying this, Weston opened the book and extracted a little pocket or envelope made of what appeared to be thin, black oilcloth. The boy was on his knees close by the fire. Weston squatted on his heels, opened the oilcloth packet and took out a piece of yellowish paper, about twice the size of an envelope, folded once in the middle.

“What’s that?” exclaimed Roy, moving closer.

Weston opened the old sheet, almost ready to come apart in the center. The quick-eyed boy could make out only what seemed to be three words in either hieroglyphics or some language unknown to him, dim with age, and a single line resembling an arrow.

“What’s that?” repeated Weston. “Ef ye’ll tell me that, I’ll know what I been tryin’ to find out fur a good many years. It’s what makes folks say I’m wrong in my upper story.”

As the boy reached forward to take the mysterious sheet in his hands, Weston withdrew it, put it back into its case, dropped it into the pocketbook, and, with the latter in his hands, took a new position cross-legged before the fire.

“In a minute,” he went on. “But let me[120] finish my yarn. I’ll show it to you then. Them as hev seen this ain’t so sure I’m off. Them as ain’t, don’t know. What it means, I reckon they ain’t no one kin tell. I tuk it offen the high Mucky-Muck white man when them Lost Injuns killed him.”

There was already a little chill in the night air. The whole world seemed asleep. Roy wet his lips and looked behind him. He was wondering if old Doolin were near. And yet, neither Weston’s eyes nor voice seemed to be those of a man not in his normal senses.

“I’ll give what happened to you brief,” the westerner went on, slapping the pocketbook on his knee. “As fur as I kin make out, them hills an’ rocks was purty much my imagination. Leastways, I never seen ’em agin, and couldn’t find ’em though I looked offen enough. After gettin’ that drink from the squaw I must a mended fast. When I come to agin, I knowed I was in a cave, but a cave that wa’n’t made by no man. An’ settin’ by me was a Injun fur yer life. I seen about ever’ kind uv Injun in the west, but I ain’t seen none like him before nur sence. An’ he was one uv about thirteen, half squaws an’—I was agoin’ to say bucks—but they wa’n’t bucks. They wuz old men—every[121] one of ’em who wa’n’t an ole woman. No papooses an’ no young people.

“That cave was jist a kind o’ room. They wuz other rooms an’ galleries—plenty of ’em. The Injun by me, an ole man, was on guard. So I sung purty small seein’ I was a pris’ner. He had Injun hair all right, but gittin’ bald. This is where the wise ones all laugh when I tell about that gang. ‘A bald Injun?’ they say. No matter—squaws and men alike they was all more or less bald.

“As fur looks, they didn’t look like no one ’at I ever see, exceptin’ the picters o’ Eskimos an’ Chinks. They had sort o’ slant eyes. But their skins was the unusuallest part uv ’em. They ever’ one looked kind o’ cold-gray-brown like a Injun whose been dead a day or two.”

Roy looked again toward the star-crowned black wall of the Mesa Verde, as if hoping that the absent Doolin might be coming campward.

“Where was this?” he asked, nervously.

“Ain’t no doubt in my mind,” went on Mr. Weston, “but that gang was the last o’ them Lost Injuns. And afore now they’re all gone, I reckon. Where wuz it? Well, sir, that tribe didn’t have no range—they lived in a Sink Hole. That’s the answer. That’s why I[122] reckon they ain’t but two white men ever seen ’em an’ never will.”

“I don’t understand,” interrupted the boy. “What is a Sink Hole?”

“A Sink Hole is whar onct was a volcano er whar the water frum the mountains bores a hole in the desert. Somewhar out thar in Utah,” continued the speaker, “somewhar between the Colorado River an’ the western mountains is the Sink Hole o’ the Lost Injuns. A quarter uv a mile away they ain’t no sign uv it exceptin’, as I seen it first, smoke o’ sulphur driftin’ out. It’s sides ain’t fur climbin’—they air nigh straight except whar the dry river bed falls into the pit. When the wet season’s on ye can’t get in er out. In the dry months they’s steps cut in the arroyo bed.

“When the floods begin to eat a hole in the sand whar that pit is, they dug out holes in the rocks. Then the water et furdder down and made more holes. An’ that’s the way it went on, I reckon, makin’ drifts like a silver mine. Then these Eskimo-Chink Injuns come along, fur the water that wuz at the bottom o’ the sink mebbe, and scooped the caves bigger and jined them till it was a home under the desert.”

Roy’s eyes bulged with amazement.


“And they found you and took you down there?”

“The white boss did. I calkerlate that sulphur smoke leakin’ out o’ the lower tunnels wuz what did the business. And sence them Injuns don’t stir ’round much, I reckon I must a stumbled into that dry arroyo. Like as not, I was on the aidge o’ the sink when the white man seen me. Anyway, they took me in.”

“And the white man?” asked Roy. “What about him?”

“You’d a thought he’d a give me the glad hand now, wouldn’t you?” continued the westerner. “He did—not. I didn’t even know about him till night was comin’ on agin. Ye could tell it was night an’ day down thar because near’ all them rooms er caves had a winder looking out on the sink. Towards night, after I was feelin’ a good sight better, and was figgerin’ on jist what sort uv a deal I’d put over on the Injuns, all my plans wuz knocked galley west.

“Ye kin imagine. It was jist shadderin’ into dark when a figger come into the room like he was a emperor or somepin. He was the imposinest being I ever see. I knowed he was white by his hair and beard which was spread[124] out over his chest like one o’ them Bible prophets what are offerin’ up lambs fur sacerfice. On his feet they wuz sandals. An’, instid o’ white men’s clothes, he was dressed mainly in a white blanket with a belt o’ silver buckles ’at I reckon’d weigh five pounds.

“‘Thank God,’ I mumbles kind o’ thick like an’ tryin’ to set up. He only bowed like I wuz a salutin’ him an’ never cracked a smile. ‘I’m much obleeged,’ I went on, tryin’ to be sociable, ‘fur the water.’ Instid o’ sayin’ he was glad or somepin pleasant, the old geezer, in a voice like a preacher, begun to talk Injun to the old baldy by me. An’ sich Injun! Then he left, old baldy makin’ a low bow as his white boss walked away, like as if he was leadin’ a army. Thet night, they brought me some kind o’ meal mixed with water an’ more water, an’ another ole grandpa come an’ set by the door o’ my room till day.

“They w’a’n’t no use tryin’ to do anything in the dark. So I snoozed. When I woke up, it looked as if somepin was doin’. Five er six uv them Injuns was crowded in the door o’ my cell er room or cave.

“‘Come in,’ I says, feelin’ a mighty sight stronger an’ pearter. But they didn’t. They ducked like yearlin’s. All but one. He wuz on[125] guard. I was gittin’ purty cur’ous by this time. So, seein’ no one but a single baldy on watch, I got up, pushed him to one side and walked out into a kind o’ corridor. It was not till then that I knowed anything about the lay o’ the land. This hall was like a gal’ry in the side o’ the sink hole. On the outside they wuz openin’s, nacherl like, jis like holes in the rock. Out o’ these ye could look down whar it was black and smelly with sulphur. Up above, ye could see the sky. On the inside o’ the gal’ery, they wuz the caves, an’, I discovered later, some other gal’ries runnin’ back to I don’t know whar or what. Like enough, store rooms.

“Ye kin bet, they wuz a commotion. Sich gibberish as wuz set up would a made ye tired. I didn’t keer much fur the old Injuns, but ole bearded-boy was right on the job. They w’a’n’t no place to go, an’ I hadn’t no gun, so when ole White Blanket come up and laid hold o’ me, I knowed it wuz all over. He had a grip wuss’n Dan Doolin fifteen year ago. He carried me back to my coop an’ dropped me on the floor like a piller.

“But I seen one thing. When he nailed me, I wuz in what ye might call the holy o’ holies. It was a big room about the middle o’ the main[126] gal’ry. I never seen it but that one time, my boy, but that was enough. Mebbe I’m ‘off,’ ‘cracked,’ ‘nutty,’ an’ ‘bughouse’—ye don’t have to believe it—but ef I didn’t see more gold and silver dishes in that room ’an ye could carry away in a wagon, I ain’t a settin’ here.”

Treasure—gold and silver lost in a cave! Roy’s heart thumped. Did he hear right?—was he dreaming or reading some old tale of fiction?

“You saw it?” was all he could say.

“’Bout that long,” answered Weston, snapping his fingers. “But it don’t take no camera long to take a picter. What I seen I seen. They was a altar an’ a lamp burnin’ on it. An’ that wuz no Injun racket. Wa’n’t no corn an’ grain an’ painted sticks an’ eagle feathers an’ false faces. What I see was a white man’s work.”

“But the gold and silver?” exclaimed Roy, forgetting hallucinations, Dan Doolin and all else.

“That tribe must a been a real tribe onct,” went on Mr. Weston. “That’s the only way I kin explain it. In that room wuz, I reckon, all the dishes ’at they ever made. They wa’n’t on the altar only. They was ever’whar. Can’t[127] fool me on gold and silver. I seen ’em. Them on the altar had turquoises over ’em like dirt. I don’t know whether I figgered right, but, layin’ thar that night, I couldn’t see it but one way. Ole White Blanket wuz a fake. He wa’n’t thar to teach no religion nur to save no souls. He was gittin’ that plunder all together fur no good purpose—no better’n mine ef I’d a got the chanct.”

“Well,” urged Roy. “What then?”

“I couldn’t figure it but one way, as I say. They wa’n’t nothin’ fur me to do but to git away, locate the sink hole an’ git back with help to chastise the old geezer an’ mebbe git the stuff he was atryin’ to steal. I saved a little chuck each meal fur a couple o’ days, an’ then tried it. O’ course I had to tap the old baldy guard on the head jist heavy enough to keep him still a while. I selected the time jist about daybreak, an’ I thought I was goin’ to hev no more trouble. I was out o’ the gal’ery an’ on the arroyo steps when I got this,” said Mr. Weston tapping the long scar on his arm. “That was frum old high Mucky-Muck hisself. I didn’t allow he had no gun.

“That meant I was two weeks laid up. But the Injuns give me a square deal. They tended[128] me like brothers, even the old one I had to be vi’lent with. Then, one day jist when I was feelin’ it wuz about time to try it agin, who should come in but the boss hisself. You wouldn’t believe what that ole duffer done—hot as it wuz out there in them deserts. An’ I guess he wa’n’t no thief after all er he might a saved hisself all his trouble by just knockin’ me on the head an’ bein’ done with it. He had a hood, made out uv a piece o’ blanket, and some hide strings. With him wuz four old men ready fur travelin’, as I could see. An’ so wuz the white man. Instid o’ his blanket an’ sandals, he had on a white man’s boots, a long black coat and a big hat.

“Without askin’ my leave an’ no special talk among ’em, they tied my arms behind me an’ dropped that black hood over my head.” Weston paused awhile, in which interval he lit anew his long neglected pipe.

“I reckon,” he began again, at last, “ye’ll imagine they took me out on the desert an’ turned me loose. They jist traveled with me two days. An’ the last days we wuz in the mountains. I could see what was comin’, though in all that travelin’ they wa’n’t one word spoke to me.


“That’s whar ole High Mucky-Muck made his mistake. He might as well a’ talked all he wanted. He was wuss off’n I was. But he didn’t know it. That night, like the fust night, they tied my feet, although two o’ the Injun ‘has-beens’ stood guard. We didn’t have no campfire, an’ only meal an’ water fur chuck. I slept all right till it got cold—we wuz well up in the mountains somewhar—an’ then I woke up. My feet an’ hands wuz free and them that brung me two days’ travel wuz gone.

“I understood like it wuz all wrote down. It was jist to be shore I couldn’t never find my way back to them as didn’t relish my company. An’ I cussed. Then I figgered it out. I was lucky to be alive, an’ I turned over an’ went to sleep agin. When it was day, I found they’d left me a bag o’ meal an’ a bottle o’ water.”

Roy’s tense feelings relaxed with the explosive inquiry:

“And that’s how you escaped? But the paper—the funny writing?”

Weston shrugged his shoulders.

“I could tell east and west and I knowed the way I had ought to go, but did ye ever know a man to do what he’d ought to—always? That white man wore boots. I couldn’t no more keep[130] from trailin’ him an’ I could fergit that plunder. It wa’n’t easy, in that high ground, but I kep’ goin’ an’ I knowed I was doin’ a good job. About sun down, I come to the end o’ the trail, as we say out hyar.”

“You lost it?”

“One of ’em, I never lost,” said Mr. Weston slowly. “Jist when the sun was makin’ shadders on the mountain side, I seen somepin afore me I wisht I’d never seen. On a pile o’ rocks, sort o’ square like, was the big white man stark an’ stiff dead.”

“Dead?” almost shouted the awed boy.

“With a hole in the back o’ his head like this,” added Mr. Weston solemnly, holding out his closed fist.

Roy shuddered.

“The Indians killed him?” he almost whispered.

“Shore,” answered Weston. “And they wasn’t but one answer to that. It took me days to figger it out, but thar was only one reason. How that white man come among ’em o’ course no one’ll ever know. But bein’ thar, he wuz the biggest thing ’at ever happened. They’d never seen a white man afore. He might’a been a kind a holy thing to ’em. Mebbe even[131] a god. An’ when I came along they seen they wuz other white men on earth. Ef he’d been a god he wa’n’t the only one. So they went back to their old feathers an’ painted sticks an’ Injun totems. But they sacerficed the new god first.”

“And the paper?” asked the boy, after a long silence.

“’Ceptin’ his gun and boots,” said Mr. Weston, “it wuz the only thing on him I took. What it means, I guess the White God o’ the Lost Injuns knowed. But I don’t. If it’s Injun, ain’t no Injun I ever met could read it.”

“And you?” said Roy. “What then?”

“I piled stones on the dead man an’ slept thar that night. The next day I tried to pick up the trail o’ the Injuns. But they air the kind that don’t leave no trails. Then I lit out northwest. My meal lasted, but the water didn’t. In six days, I struck a trail an’ the next day wuz picked up by a ore wagon comin’ off Awapa Plateau—out o’ my head.”

When the guide had finished his story, he again opened his worn pocketbook.

“Mebbe you’d like a look at the paper,” he added. “An’ remember. Ye don’t have to lie. Ye don’t have to say ye believe a word o’ what[132] I been tellin’ ye. But that scrap o’ paper and this,” pointing to his arm again, “air all I got to prove that A. B. Weston, which is me, has actu’ly seen the Lost Injuns o’ Utah, their goods and chattels o’ solid gold and silver an’ the White God o’ the Sink Hole. Anyway, that’s why I’m ‘Sink Hole’ Weston.”

Weston spread out the paper and handed it to Roy. As he did so, he punched up the fire and the boy leaned forward. For a moment, the boy’s eyes were fixed on the three hieroglyphic words. Then, at the bottom of the sheet, Roy detected two other words in faded ink.

“It’s a name,” exclaimed the lad suddenly.

“But that don’t mean nothin’. Ain’t no one I ever met ever heerd it.”

Roy caught his breath, started, looked again and then shouted:

“I know it. I’ve heard it. You’re not crazy. That’s the name of a man I know. It’s my great uncle!—a Mormon.”

Weston caught the boy by the arm.

“What’s his name?” he asked, in a thick voice.

“Willard Banks.”

The plainsman sprang to his feet, laughed nervously and then exclaimed:


The Remarkable Hieroglyphics


“I reckon there’s some one then ’at’ll believe me.”

“Every word,” answered Roy, handing back the paper. “But,” and he too laughed in an excited way, “I’m glad you had that proof.”



Roy’s idea of a camp at night included a smouldering fire in front of a tent wherein, on fragrant spruce boughs, carefully sheltered from the wind and the chill, one went to bed wrapped in blankets. When Sink Weston scattered the last coals of the little cook fire and pointed to the sand under the freight wagon as a “likely place to bunk,” the boy felt a little disappointment. It was one of a number of new things he learned that summer about life in the “open.”

Another one was, that riding all day on a lively cow pony when you are not used to it, does not exactly limber up your limbs. When the boy attempted to jump up early the next morning, he found his legs bent almost like hoops. The result was, when a breakfast of salt pork, crackers and coffee had been eaten, Roy complied with Sink’s good-natured orders and climbed up on the wagon seat along with Dan Doolin. His pony was tied to the tail board.


The day was perfect. The party was in sterile country—land that could hardly be called desert, although at that point, it was without water. There was mesquite and sage, rocks here and there—and now and then a jack rabbit. The misty blue mountains of New Mexico greeted them over the top of the gray Mesa Verde; peaks of the far Rockies, white-capped and cold, lay behind, while in front, beyond pink-tipped Ute mountains, rose the wall of the Utah Desert.

Before Weston could gallop on ahead, Roy begged of him the mysterious sheet of hieroglyphics. He wanted to see it in the daylight. Since he had heard the tale of the Lost Indians, he was able to think of little else. Sink Weston’s story had taken possession of the boy. He had told Weston all he knew of his great uncle, and where the Mormon had once lived. But they had both decided that it availed little to know that the disciple of Nauvoo had once lived in Parowan.

Even if Willard Banks left children or other relatives, it was certain that these would know nothing of the hidden Sink Hole. Weston was positive in his belief that the indecipherable words formed a key describing the location of[138] the secret Indian city. And he was almost as positive that the words were beyond reading by any one but their writer. He had long since ascribed the existence of the paper to the fact that, before the Mormon elder visited the Lost Indians, he had learned their secret, probably from other Indians with whom he had lived in his missionary work. Not trusting to his memory, he had made a record of his secret in cipher.

As Roy took the paper and Weston rode on, old Dan Doolin smiled grimly.

“So ye got it, too, hev ye?” he said, chuckling.

Roy opened the paper and pointed to the name on it.

“I suppose you’re like the rest of ’em,” the boy answered, with some satisfaction. “Well, you’ve all laughed too soon. There was a Willard Banks, and he was my great uncle!”

Old Doolin started to smile, but, changing his mind, he turned and exclaimed:

“W’ot’s that?”

“There was such a man as Willard Banks,” continued Roy, with spirit. “He was my great uncle. He was a Mormon elder, and he lived at Parowan.”


“Wal, by hokey!” exclaimed old Doolin, straightening up. “Ef that’s right, I reckon I been a laughin’ out o’ the wrong side o’ my face. Say, Kid,” he continued, after a moment’s hard thinking, “I seen fellers ’at had seen ships asailin’ in the desert. Likewise I seen many a dockymint o’ them Spanish sharps locatin’ mines an’ sich—mines as ain’t no one kin find. I never set no more store on Sink’s ramblin’s an’ I do on Injun tales. An’ nobody else, I reckon. But you listen to me! Ef thar was a live man o’ that name o’ Banks,” and he shook his head slowly, “thar’s a many ’at have been makin’ fools o’ theirselves, an’ Sink ain’t one uv ’em.”

“Did you ever see anything like this?” asked Roy, smiling and opening the paper on his knee.

“I never did and never expec’ to agin. Ain’t no more sense to it ’an a snake’s trail in the sand. That writin’ ain’t fur nuthin’, but I reckon mebbe, ef what you say’s right, Sink seen the hole in the ground. Mebbe he seen a white man thar—I’ll even stand fur that, now,” continued the grizzled teamster, “an’ mebbe he seen some dishes o’ copper er clay er say they wuz even gold and silver; fer argymint sake, I’ll stand fur that, too, seein’ ye know thar was[140] a man o’ that name. Fur as them things goes, I’ll take off my hat to Sink; but one thing I won’t stand fur, not even if the old Mormon was hyar and jined Sink in a affedavit—that’s them bald-headed Injuns. They ain’t no sich a thing. They cain’t be. Injuns ain’t made that way.”

The boy laughed outright.

“But what, after all,” he said, “if there did happen to be such a place and just such Indians?”

“Bald-headed?” snorted the veteran teamster, cracking his whip as if to emphasize his contempt. “Tell me them plates is studded with diments an’ I’ll swaller it, but I draw the line at bald-headed Injuns.”

For a long time, Roy studied the enigmatic words while the wagon bumped along the rough and rocky trail. But it was no use. The first line had in it ten characters or signs; the second seven; the last eight. Not one of them resembled a letter of any alphabet that Roy knew. Some of them seemed patterned after certain Greek letters, and a few were not dissimilar to “shorthand” or stenographic marks. But neither of these were familiar to Roy. Naturally, they did not suggest Greek or “shorthand” to Weston. The arrow might mean anything;[141] death, the chase, or, as was generally agreed by those who had studied the writing, a point of the compass, which would be south.

When the party stopped at noon, Roy returned the paper to Weston.

“I give it up,” he said, “but if I ever get near Parowan, and I hope to be there before I go back, I’ll send you word of all that I learn about my relative.”

Secretly, he was longing for the guide to make some overtures to him regarding a sort of partnership in a new quest for the Sink Hole. Of course, that could not be at once, but he was a boy, and as full of the spirit of adventure as he was of energy.

“Are you going to make any more attempts to find your Lost Indians?” he asked, while Doolin was preparing the noonday meal.

“Well,” answered Weston, with a peculiar smile, “I promised my wife I wouldn’t. I promised her purty strong, too. That is, I jist told her positive I wouldn’t lessen somepin happened wharby I kin read that writin’.”

“Maybe we could find the Sink Hole with the aeroplane,” suggested Roy, voicing an idea that he had been nursing all day.

Weston shook his head.


“I don’t know much about yer sky machines,” he replied, “but ye could look down into them sink holes all over Utah, an’ ye wouldn’t know my sink hole frum a thousan’ others. I done that aplenty. No, sir. Ye got to read it right thar on the paper. Ain’t no other way, as I kin see.”

That afternoon Roy mustered up courage to return to his mount. And as the hours went by and they came nearer the mountains lying to the south, the tale of the Lost Indians began to drift into the background. They were hastening through a corner of the Ute Indian reservation, where the trail ran, and this was excuse enough for the opening of Weston’s book of reminiscences. The guide had Indian tales of all kinds—narratives covering their lives and crimes.

Toward dusk, Weston, riding not far ahead of the wagon, called Roy’s attention to a dark mark ahead. It was the unmarked chasm of the San Juan River. And on the banks of this swift stream, flowing at the bottom of its open tunnel bed, the second camp was made. A place had been selected where an Indian trail afforded access to the water below. And after the horses were cared for Doolin celebrated the crossing of[143] the Utah line by making a batch of biscuits baked in a skillet.

“The advantage o’ them biscuits over woman’s bread,” explained old Dan, smiling, “is ’at they’ll stick to yer innards. Ye won’t need no more uv ’em till ye git to Bluff.”

“An’ not then,” said Weston, without a smile, “ef I kin get kitchen bread.”

That evening, despite what Weston had told the boy about Doolin’s habit of never sitting by the campfire, Roy noted that the teamster did not leave the camp. On the contrary, he turned in and was snoring long before the boy was sleepy. The next day he was told the reason. They were camping on the Ute Indian land. To a Ute horse stealing is a minor crime. Doolin slept until one o’clock and Weston kept watch. Then the guide turned in and Doolin kept an eye open for unannounced visitors.

Just when the stars began to show the next evening, the aeroplane cavalcade raised the lights of Bluff, and at ten o’clock entered the town. Roy was tired but happy. So far no accident had marred his expectation. Because of the lateness of the hour, Roy had planned to stop at a boarding house frequented by Weston at times and to report to Mr. Cook, of the Development[144] Company, in the morning. The wagon, therefore, did not proceed to the center of the town, but was stopped at the “San Juan Stables.” The “stables” were little more than a horse corral. There being no one in charge, Doolin was left with the wagon, the teamster and cook appropriating horse provender with western freedom. When Weston and the boy left him, he was preparing to make a fire and boil some coffee, after which he was to sleep near the wagon and its valuable freight.

Unencumbered with baggage, Roy and his companion made their way along the main street toward the center of the wilderness city. The boy discovered at once that the brilliant lights came, not from stores, but from a dozen or more saloons. Adobe sidewalks soon gave way to a board passageway—timber swept down the San Juan from the far away mountains—and in the center of the town these were covered by roofs reaching to the street.

For what would have been a block, had there been any cross streets, each door under the wooden awning on each side of the street opened into either a saloon or a gambling resort. And each door was wide open as were the windows. Men were coming and going at each place, but[145] few were loafing on the walk. Among them Weston and the boy strode without attracting a great deal of attention and speaking to none.

Near the end of the row, Weston slackened his pace and said: “Ye don’t mind, do ye, ef I stop at the ‘Crater’ fur a drink? Ye kin see I don’t drink but a little—ain’t had a drop sence I left home.”

Roy hesitated. He had been in saloons—out of curiosity. But his curiosity had been satisfied. In his own town and in the drinking resorts he knew, the only persons to be found therein were those who should have been somewhere else, or loafers and drunkards. But, while he hesitated, he decided that circumstances were different. In that community of rough men, cut off, almost, from all civilization and refinement, saloons were common meeting points.

“I’ll wait for you,” answered Roy, stepping just inside the door. Instantly he was sorry he had done so. The place was aglow with light from a half dozen oil chandeliers; the air was heavy with tobacco smoke and odors from the sloppy bar, and the room was well filled with men. Almost tempted to return to the street, for his companion at once hurried toward the[146] bar, Roy was held for a moment by the fascinating picture afforded by the occupants of the place.

Above all rose the clink of spurs. Here at last was the “real thing.” Almost lost in the desert and hanging on the precipitous banks of the deep San Juan as if to prevent being swept away and buried in the sandy plains, the town of Bluff, the last echo of civilization, was the rendezvous of miner, prospector, cow puncher, sheep herder and outcast. And within Roy’s sight were examples of each.

Confused, bewildered, and wholly out of place, Roy attempted to withdraw. But something seemed to hold him—the silver bands on an Indian, the gaudy color of a cowboy’s handkerchief, the set angle of another’s hat and everywhere the oaths, the racy slang of the plains and the always present, swaying firearms. Here were the men of whom he had read, whose freedom—as a boy—he had often envied.

In the moment that Roy hesitated there was a familiar “E yawp!” and a half dozen answering yells. The boy knew at once that Sink Weston had found old friends. Then he made out Weston’s big, black, dust-covered hat making its way toward the bar in the midst of a group of[147] white sombreros, and he turned and left. At the door, an arm intercepted him. He drew back somewhat alarmed. It was a man who had lunged forward from the end of the bar near the door.

“Fur the love o’ God, Kid, buy me a drink.”

The mumbling speaker was a man who might have been eighty years old. Age and whisky had wrecked him. An unkempt, white beard, covered a worn, red flannel shirt. His ragged boots, into which greasy pants were stuffed, were not those of a horseman, and his gnarled, trembling fingers fell on the boy’s arm like talons. His hair, dropping from under a limp, grease-banded, ragged hat, lay on his shoulders in yellow-white, knotted locks. Almost toothless, he repeated, huskily:

“Jist one, Kid, jist one!”

Roy was shocked, and attempted to pass on. But the man, almost in collapse, held to him and dragged himself to the walk outside.

“Jist one drink’ll brace me up fur to-night. Mebbe to-morrer, I won’t need none.”

“Won’t anything else help you?” said Roy, at last. “Are you hungry?”

“Hungry?” almost moaned the broken being.[148] “Yes, I’m hungry. But I got to hev liquor er die.”

“Why don’t you try eatin’ first?” asked the boy, not knowing what else to say. “I’ll buy you food.”

“Gimme a drink an’ I’ll eat. I ain’t et in two days.”

The boy was puzzled. His sympathetic heart was touched. Next door to the “Crater,” the usual saloon sign was surmounted by the words, “Joe’s Imperial Palace Restaurant.” In the window was a display of canned goods: sardines, asparagus, pepper sauce and bologna sausage. Grasping the old man by the shoulder, he half led and half pushed him into the eating resort. A man at the bar scowled at sight of the decrepit man, but smiled as he saw the brisk looking lad.

Three tables were lined up on one side of the room. Leading the whisky supplicant to one of these, Roy almost dropped him into a chair and then stepped over to the bar. Handing a two-dollar bill to the barkeeper, he said:

“The old man wants whisky. Looks to me as is he needs something to eat a good deal worse.”

The barkeeper grunted:


“To be decent he’d orter to eat, sure. But, as fur liquor, he’ll sartin die without it.”

“Well,” said Roy, “fill him up with somethin’ to eat. Then, give him his drink.”

The old man was stumbling toward the bar as Roy hurried from the place. Outside the “Crater” he waited some minutes for Weston. Apparently, more than one drink was demanding the Colorado man’s attention. And the boy grew nervous. From time to time he peered into the glaring resort, and at last had about concluded to make his way to the corral and spend the night with Doolin when the waited-for Weston suddenly appeared.

“That’s part o’ the game out here, Son,” he began by way of apology, “but I’m sorry to keep ye waitin’. Now we’ll turn in.”

They had scarcely started along the walk when there was a sudden commotion in the adjoining restaurant. With what seemed to be the crash of chairs overturning, there was an oath and a scuffle and a shrunken figure was hurled across the plank walk. Instantly, a dozen men seemed to spring up. Several hands grasped a senseless red-shirted body and straightened it out on the dust-covered walk. A smear of red covered the prostrate man’s yellow-white uncovered[150] hair. His eyes were closed and he was breathing heavily.

“Humph,” exclaimed Weston, as he pushed Roy around the onlookers. “Old Utah Banning—an’ all in.”



Weston explained that the old man was known in the camp only as Utah Banning. For years he had been too old for any active work. No one knew how he managed to exist. On the edge of the town, furthest from the river, he lived alone in an adobe hut. Roy was disturbed by what had happened, but when Weston told him this was the old man’s nightly experience, the boy tried to dismiss the incident.

On the way to their boarding house, Weston pointed out the office of the Utah Mining and Development Company. It was a one-story building, covered with tin pressed in imitation of stone, with a large enclosed yard in the rear. As they passed the dark structure, it was almost like meeting an old friend to read on the big, plate-glass window the words, “R. C. Cook, Manager,” in brilliant gold letters.

“Them fellers,” remarked Weston, in passing, “don’t make no great splurge, but they’re the Rothchilds er the Stan’ard Oil Company er the Pierpont Morgans o’ this land. An’ when[152] ye speak o’ the firm yer goin’ to work fur, ye don’t have to say nothin’ but ‘Company’—ever’body knows.”

Weston and Roy were just finishing a hot breakfast of tortillas and chili-con-carne about eight o’clock the next morning—the boarding house was an adobe structure with an interior court and conducted in Mexican style—when there was a clutter of pony hoofs on the sandy street without and an energetic, middle-aged man, much better dressed than those Roy had seen the night before, came striding into the court where the new arrivals were dining.

“Well, Sink,” he exclaimed in a quick, pleasant voice, “thought you’d surprise me, eh? Howdy?”

He reached out his hand, and looked inquiringly at Roy.

“Had to come on business,” answered Weston, with a chuckle. “Brung my friend hyar. I kind o’ thought I’d stay awhile lessen ye’ve changed yur mind.”

“Job’s open. Glad to have you,” added the newcomer. “Heard you blew in last night—from one o’ the boys.”

“Shake hands with Mr. Osborne,” interrupted Weston, by way of introducing Roy and[153] the stranger. “Roy, this is Mr. Cook, o’ the ‘Company.’”

The boy sprang forward and clasped Mr. Cook’s hand vigorously.

“I see you don’t know who I am,” he exclaimed with a smile. “I reckon they didn’t send you word. I’ve been sent out here by Mr. Atkinson, of the American Aeroplane Company, to work for you.”

Mr. Cook almost dropped his hat. Stuffing it under his arm, he clasped Roy’s hand in both his and then patted him on the back.

“Well, sir, my boy, those are about the welcomest words I’ve heard in a long time. I’m sure glad to see you. And you’ve got your machine with you?”

Weston smiled and answered for Roy:

“That’s what brung me, Colonel. Old Doolin’s got her down to the corral.”

“You don’t say so,” exclaimed Manager Cook. “The whole danged shebang?”

“Everything,” said Roy, laughing. “And I’m glad to meet you. I’m ready to get busy, too. I’ve been a long time gettin’ here.”

“The whole business?” went on Mr. Cook, as if the news was too good to be true.


“If it isn’t,” said Roy, with another smile, “I’ll be pretty well disappointed.”

“Well, sir,” went on Mr. Cook, looking at Roy again and patting him on the back, almost affectionately, “you’re about ten or fifteen years younger than I thought you’d be.” Then he sobered, suddenly. “They told you what the work was, did they?”

“I understand, perfectly,” answered Roy. “I can do it.”

“That’s the talk,” snapped Mr. Cook. “Come,” he added, glancing around at the rather squalid courtyard. “Let’s go over to the office and talk it over. Where’s your baggage?” he added, turning to Roy.

“Down at the corral.”

“Well, don’t send it here. You’ll bunk with me. Sink,” he went on, “what d’you mean by steerin’ the boy up against this?” He pointed to the Mexican food.

“I enjoyed it,” exclaimed Roy, smiling.

Mr. Cook sniffed.

“You think you did, youngster. But you’ll find out later that it ain’t fit for white men. Sink’s been here so long he ain’t really white any more,” continued Mr. Cook, with a dig at Weston’s ribs; “but that’s no reason why he[155] should poison you. Keep them things out o’ your system as long as you can. Let’s vamose!”

There was only a short stop at the company’s office, and then all went at once to the corral. But the stay in the company headquarters was long enough to show Roy that he had become connected with no small company. Roy presented his letter of introduction and another from Mr. Atkinson, the president of the aeroplane company, in reference to Roy’s expenses and compensation.

“No trouble about that,” exclaimed Mr. Cook impulsively. “But we won’t stop to thresh over figures this morning. When you get time,” he said to Roy, “make out a statement of all your expenses, and I’ll include the amount in our check to the company. The salary is all right. You won’t find much use for money down here. But, whenever you need any, let me know.”

Roy assured him he had plenty of cash on hand.

“You’re goin’ to stop with us awhile, aren’t you, Sink?” inquired Mr. Cook as they left the office.

“Might as well, I reckon. What’s up?”


Mr. Cook paused, looked first at Weston and then at Roy.

“Plenty adoin’,” he answered. “Glad to see both of you. I can use you right away. You recollect Lang Rury? Well, he’s been up on Montezuma Creek east of the Blue Mountains just this side of Abaja Peak ’bout two months. He’s got some copper ’at’s runnin’ fair an’ he’s got a patch o’ pine timber ’at’s worth more I reckon. But when Rury gets goin’ after copper, you can’t depend much on his judgment ’bout timber. If the timber’s all right, I want to buy it and run it down to the San Juan. You go and find out.”

Copper or cattle, timber or trailing were all alike to Weston. He was to start the next day, using a company horse and pack mule. Doolin was to return to Dolores with the two ponies and the wagon as soon as a load of freight accumulated. This meant cattle hides.

“Well,” said Roy, at last, as he and his companions came upon old Dan, who reclined comfortably in the shade of the wagon drawing on his pipe, “there it is. Shall we unload here?”

“Not much,” answered Mr. Cook, as he eyed the laden wagon with interest. “I’ve been gettin’ ready for you. Your headquarters are back[157] of the office—that’s the Aeroplane Express depot.”

Doolin and Weston soon had the horses harnessed and before nine o’clock the creaking wagon was in position in the corral back of the Company office. In a shed at one side was stored grain and feed, for the Company issued supplies of this sort direct from headquarters. Mr. Cook had made a side excursion on the way back and secured Bluff’s only metal-worker—the camp horseshoer.

“Now,” said Roy, shaking hands with Chris. Hagerman, the mechanic, “I guess Chris. and Dan and I can begin work.”

“Trying to get rid of us,” laughed Mr. Cook. “Don’t you believe it. I’m going to see that airship unpacked and put together, if the whole works have to stop.”

“What’d ye suppose I come fur?” added Weston. “Fur a dollar a mile? And more,” he added for Mr. Cook’s apparent benefit, “I ain’t startin’ fur no timber patch till she’s flew, neither.”

“Good,” shouted Roy. “We’ll all get to work.”

By noon the corral looked like a cross between a hardware store and a sail loft. There was a[158] high mesquite fence around the lot, but that by no means shut out visitors. The news of Roy’s advent had spread over town, and, since a man only visits Bluff to loaf, the quickly assembled audience soon lined the fence.

After examining the enclosure, Roy explained to Mr. Cook that it was by no means large enough to make a start from or a landing in. The manager at once put a squad of men at work removing the mesquite posts forming the fence at the far end of the corral. At first, the boy thought it would be well to erect a shed to shelter the aeroplane. Then he changed his mind about this. In the summer it seldom rained, and it was not improbable that the airship would be employed in the field quite as much as it would be resting in the corral.

The precious gasoline was stored in the feed shed. The precaution in bringing such a quantity of this was a wise one. And yet, before Doolin set out on his return trip to Dolores, Mr. Cook gave him an order to be telegraphed to Denver for a duplicate supply which Doolin was to bring out later in the summer, if needed.

The unloading of the aeroplane was a joy to Roy. As each box and crate was eased from the wagon by twice as many hands as were necessary,[159] it was checked off in the little red book. Nor was a single box opened until every item was accounted for. Then the precise and careful young manager went to the further extreme of arranging each lot in proper numerical order.

All the crates and boxes were fastened with screws. There was no knocking and banging of nailed boards. The spruce section posts, struts and connecting strips came first. As these aluminum-covered, exactly finished parts came out of their protecting canvas covers, it was no longer possible to restrain the curious plainsmen. With a tinkle of sounding spurs, there was a concerted rush, and Roy had to appease the crowd by holding up a couple of long, slender strips.

“That’s it, gentlemen,” he said, laughing. “That’s part of the airship. This afternoon we’ll join ’em. Now, let’s all go and eat.”

“Would you believe it?” asked Mr. Cook, as the crowd good-naturedly took its leave and Roy and his friends made ready for the noonday meal. “But the boys are sort o’ hungry for something besides faro and whisky. I’m glad it amuses ’em.”

“That’s nothing,” remarked Roy. “If you’d open up that outfit in the streets of New York[160] or Chicago, the people’d tramp each other to death to get a sight of it. Everybody’s crazy about airships. And I’ve got it bad,” he concluded, laughing.

Mr. Cook took the entire “aeroplane crew” to his own house, having previously sent word to his cook. He was a bachelor, but he was not “roughing it” in his home life. A Jap cook gave them a meal without a single Mexican dish—native beef and excellent bread and a pie made with “canned” peaches.

Then came the real work on the aeroplane. By sundown the two sections across which the planes extended, one behind the other, had been put together, bolted, and wired. Beneath these, the long and delicate but stout landing and starting skids had been attached. In a moment of rest Roy explained to Mr. Cook a detail that Mr. Atkinson and his father had taken the liberty to add to the ordinary aeroplane such as the Development Company had bought.

Model No. 1 was planned to start, practically, from the ground without track or wheels. But this presupposed ideal conditions—a smooth surface and the assistance of attendants. Realizing that the aeroplane would often face far from ideal conditions in both starting and landing[161] and that it would be mainly where there would be no one to assist in either starting or landing, Roy’s father had sent with the airship a set of starting wheels. Four of these, small pneumatic-tired rubber wheels, were arranged for automatic attachment to the ends of each skid. They were light and, when not needed, could be easily detached.

“I’ll take ’em with me,” said Roy, “but I’ll not need ’em in starting from this place. These boys,” and he looked toward the still patiently waiting and curious spectators, “could pitch me over the San Juan.”

To the rear of the sections, the big white semi-circular rudder had also been attached—although the taut stretching of the silk cover of this had been a tedious job—and the rudder control wires were in place. When work concluded that evening, the aeroplane was far from assembled.

Mr. Cook laughed.

“I thought the company advertised that this airship could be taken apart in two hours,” he said.

“It does,” answered Roy, “and it can. But you can’t put it together in two hours. However, it wouldn’t take so long if we hadn’t taken[162] everything apart. Usually the long planes are left in wide sections. I wanted to be sure, so I took everything apart.”

“Good for you,” exclaimed Mr. Cook; “but I’m glad you’re here to get it together again. How long will it take to finish the job to-morrow?”

“All day. The silk plane covers fit like a woman’s dress, and they’ve got to be ‘just so’. Then the planes must be leveled and braced like a yacht’s rigging—only more so. And then comes the engine, the shafts and truing ’em up and last the propellers, to say nothin’ of the cooling coils, the fuel tank, the operator’s seat and the control stirrup—”

“Come on,” interrupted Mr. Cook, with a pretended groan. “Let’s go home and rest.”

After supper, Weston and Doolin disappeared on programs of their own, but Roy had had a thing on his mind all day that prevented him from settling down to rest at once. Mr. Cook’s one luxury on the plains was a good cigar. He had hardly lit his after supper smoke before Roy broached the matter about which he had been bothering. What had happened to old Utah Banning the night before he could not help but feel was partly due to him.


He related the details of the episode to Mr. Cook. He had wanted to do it all day, but Weston had almost persuaded him that it was no affair of his and that the old “bum” had probably experienced the same thing scores of times. But Mr. Cook was vastly more sympathetic. He entered at once into a full discussion of the matter.

“He probably wanted whisky for the full amount,” suggested Mr. Cook. “Anyway, it was likely an unprovoked assault. If you like, we’ll go and find out.”

It was just what Roy did want, and with Mr. Cook drawing slowly on his fragrant weed, he and the boy set out for Saloon Row.



“It was like this, Colonel Cook,” explained the bartender at Joe’s place, as he leaned over the counter with no great assurance and faced the Company manager. “This young gent kem in hyar all right. Decent like he gives me a two-dollar bill to pay fur a meal fur ole Bannin’. The kid ain’t no sooner gone ’an the ole man up an’ says he ain’t goin’ to eat an’ reckons ’at he’ll fill his hide with liquor. I knowed that was not the young man’s program, an’ I turned the bum down. I give him three er four drinks an’ tole him to git. He raised sech a row ’at I fin’ly guve him the whole two dollars and put ’im out. Bein’ purty drunk, he fell.”

“Where is he?” asked Mr. Cook, without comment.

“Marshal Wooley drug him home.”

Mr. Cook thought a moment, looking coldly at the bartender.

“Mike,” he said at last, “I hope you didn’t kill him.”

“Colonel,” answered the man, apparently far[165] from being at ease, “I never laid a hand on the ole man more’n to push him outten the place.”

“Who was in here at the time?” said Mr. Cook, slowly, puffing a cloud of smoke lazily from his cigar.

“In here?” repeated the man, wiping the perspiration from his face. “I don’t rickollec’.”

“I wouldn’t, if I was you, Mike,” said Mr. Cook. “Now, you send out and find Marshal Wooley. Tell him I want him. You don’t need to look at this young man that way. He didn’t see anything. If the old man’s dead, it ain’t much loss, I reckon,” added Mr. Cook, flipping his cigar ashes upon the floor thoughtfully—“not much loss either to him nor to Bluff. But, Mike,” he added in his low, decided voice, “if he is dead, I’d get a job in some other part o’ the country.”

Mike’s face was almost white.

“I—” he began in a faltering way, but Mr. Cook raised his hand as if to stop him and nodded toward a man who had just appeared.

“Wooley,” said Mr. Cook, “let’s go out to old Utah Banning’s place and see how he’s gettin’ along.”

Marshal Wooley was a man much after the[166] style of Sink Weston. A few minutes later the two men and Roy were in front of the broken-down prospector’s hut. It was dark and still inside. The officer of the law struck a match. Roy was at a sashless window, and the two men crowded into the half open door. A close, sooty smell greeted the boy’s nostrils. As the match flared up, he saw a dirty pallet in a far corner of the room. It was empty. But, in the opposite corner, his head in the cold ashes of a fireplace, was Banning.

The old man was dead. Another match flared up. But there was little need for examination. Mr. Cook sank on his knee beside the shriveled corpse, and in the light of another match, tried to bring the extended legs and arms together. Then he rose, closed the door and walked away in silence.

“Bumped hisself on the awnin’ post, I understan’,” suggested the marshal as the three made their way back toward the center of the town.

“So I’m told,” said Mr. Cook. “Used to be a Mormon, didn’t he?”

The marshal grunted an assent. Then he added:

“Ain’t none o’ his religion ’round hyar to give him no burial, though.”


Mr. Cook had not lost his cigar. It glowed in the darkness and then Roy heard the smoker say:

“Wooley, accidents will happen. This is the third one that’s happened to Mike. I think Mike’s goin’ away—to stay. But, before he goes, you go down to Joe’s and tell Mike I heard he was goin’ to bury the old man—to-night.”

As Mr. Cook and Roy turned down the street toward Mr. Cook’s house, the boy sighed.

“Botherin’ about it, are you?” said his companion. “I used to, too. I was foolish that way. But you’ll get over it. It’s what we call the ‘free life of the west.’”

As they entered the house, Mr. Cook took a book from under his arm. Standing by the hot lamp, he opened it and looked it over.

“I took it from the old man’s fingers,” he explained. “It’s a Mormon Bible,” he added a moment later. “Perhaps it will interest you some time. Take it.” And pressing upon the boy the only thing of value that old Utah Banning had owned, Mr. Cook dusted his hands and opened the jar to take a fresh cigar.

Roy didn’t know whether he wanted the book; it seemed gruesome. But evidently Mr. Cook did not. The volume was small—it would slip[168] easily into a coat pocket—and when new must have been a sightly book. Even now, battered and worn, the faded red-brown morocco cover was gracefully stamped. In gold on the back were the words, “Book of Mormon.”

The inner cover and the fly leaf were green. On the next blank page, in brown, indistinct ink, was written: “Heber P. Banning, Salt Lake City, 1856.” The title page began: “The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates taken from Plates of Nephi.... Translated by Joseph Smith, Junior.” The book had been printed in London in 1854. Five hundred or more pages of fine print appalled Roy.

“I don’t know that I want it,” explained Roy, “but I guess I’ll take it. My mother’ll be interested in it.”

The work in the aeroplane corral the next day attracted an even larger audience. But toward evening when it was understood that no flight of the car was possible before the following day, the spectators began to withdraw. An early caller was Mike, the bartender in “Joe’s” restaurant. He had a few moments’ talk with Mr. Cook, and then disappeared.


“Mike’s tired of Bluff,” said Mr. Cook, sententiously. “He’s hittin’ the trail.”

By noon the rubberized-silk plane coverings were attached to the 32-foot wing-like surfaces—the fore plane, 3 feet 9 inches, and the rear one, 3 feet 10 inches deep. Then came the bracing of the front rims of these, which was accomplished with piano wires tightened over arms extending from the upright section frames. The rear of each wing surface, left free to move at the will of the operator, was then attached to the flexing wires, which ended in the controlling stirrups at the operator’s feet.

While Roy, assisted by Weston—who persisted in giving help—finished this work, blacksmith Hagerman carefully opened the engine crate. All were in ecstasies over the engine. It had been mounted on the aeroplane in the factory, and it was not a difficult job to readjust it. Chris., the horseshoer, was enough of a mechanic to be of material assistance. By ceaseless effort, the engine was in place, the arm holding the two propellers was attached, the shaft braces and the arm braces were bolted on and the propeller chain-gears rigged up by supper time.

Mr. Cook was anxious to see the engine tested.[170] So, in the twilight, the cooling coils and gasoline tanks were quickly mounted and everything was ready.

“Will the engine go, now?” asked the anxious manager, as this work was done. The splash lubrication, feed and oil gauges were in place and Roy had just had the joy of putting the last touch on the magneto-ignition.

“Will she go!” he repeated.

Quickly adjusting his valves and gasoline supply, and testing the ignition, the proud but nervous boy gave one turn of the fly-wheel crank. With a buzz and a welcome “spit, spit” the four-cylinder motor slipped into a smooth whirr that was music to those who understood.

“Connect the fans,” suggested Mr. Cook, exuberantly, referring to the big propeller wheels.

“Not yet,” laughed Roy. “They’re all right. And now, sir,” he added, shutting off the engine and grabbing a piece of waste, “we’re ready for orders.”

“The first one,” answered the manager is, “all hands to supper.”

Although the operations of the Utah Development Company were on a large scale, the clerical force in the general office was small. In addition to Mr. Cook, two men were on duty there. Both[171] these men had given more attention to the work on the aeroplane than to their books during the day. In fact, they had both been absorbed spectators of the test of the engine. While Roy and Mr. Cook, leaving the set-up airship in charge of the corral watchman for the night, made ready to go to supper, the two clerks preceded them into the office by only a few minutes.

As Mr. Cook entered the rear door of the room he was greeted with a shout and scurrying feet.

“The safe’s been robbed!”

It was the elder bookkeeper, a middle-aged man with a bent leg, who came stumbling toward his superior with an empty cash box in his hand.

“Robbed?” exclaimed Mr. Cook. Then he caught up the empty box, one of the safe compartments.

“All that five thousand dollars,” gasped the bookkeeper, looking excitedly about, as if he expected to find the missing money on the floor.

Mr. Cook sprang back to the corral. Weston, Doolin and a dozen other men were yet grouped about the aeroplane.

“Boys,” he exclaimed, in an authoritative tone, “somebody’s touched us for our cash. Get[172] busy ’round in front. Stop any one that looks as if he might have five thousand dollars on him that don’t belong to him.”

There was a flight of armed men to the street in front. Then Mr. Cook and Roy returned to the office and the manager made a hasty examination.

“Door locked?” he asked first.

Apparently neither employe had thought of that. But the one front door was bolted. Iron screens covered each window.

“And he couldn’t a’ come in or out the back door, ’cause I stood right in it,” explained the elder clerk.

After a thorough search, Mr. Cook asked:

“When did you see the money last?”

With a good deal of thinking, both clerks acknowledged that they had not looked in the safe since it was opened that morning.

“Was the safe locked at noon?” Mr. Cook then asked.

As if greatly relieved, both clerks spoke at once. The safe had not been locked at noon, but they had not left the office together. The younger man had waited while the elder went home to dinner.


“Was the front door locked this morning—before dinner?” went on Mr. Cook.

On that point, the two men were not clear. A few persons had been in on business and the door had been open at times.

“Who was here?” asked the manager, abruptly.

The elder clerk named a half dozen persons. Mr. Cook seemed to mentally check off each name.

“No one else?”

Both men hesitated.

“One er two ’at come in from the corral—mostly fur a drink o’ water,” answered the chief clerk. But, as to the identity of these, neither clerk was clear. Mr. Cook seemed thinking deeply. He idly handed the cash drawer to the distracted elder clerk and motioned him to close the safe. Then, without any of the agitation that was disconcerting his employes, and even Roy, he said calmly to the younger clerk:

“Go and find Marshal Wooley. You can tell him what’s happened, if he wants to know, but tell him not to get excited over it. I want him to find out when Mike Hassell left town, and how he was mounted.”

Both clerks shouted together:


“Hassell? He was in here.”

“Sure,” remarked Mr. Cook. “I know that—about nine o’clock. An’ he came in the back way. As he didn’t come out again, he must have left by the front door. He’s got about nine hours the start of us.”

While Mr. Cook, Roy and Weston were at supper, Marshal Wooley appeared in a state of some concern.

“Yer right, Colonel, I reckon,” he said looking at Mr. Cook in a knowing way. “He lit out to-day up the river—’bout a quarter after nine. Took his own pony—’tain’t much. I got a couple o’ boys on the trail a’ready. They’d ought to overhaul him afore to-morrey night. He’s headin’ fur Dolores.”

Mr. Cook smiled.

“All right, Wooley. Have a cigar. Much obliged.”

“I reckon he got it,” went on the marshal sagely. “But he’s got a nerve. He took an awful chanct.”

Sink Weston ventured an opinion.

“He’s sure got sense enough to know he can’t go to Dolores with no bundle like that on him. I reckon he’ll hit the first hard ground he comes to fur the mountains. Mr. Cook,” he added,[175] “I’d ruther go lookin’ fur Mike than measurin’ timber.”

He pushed back his chair as if he would like to begin the quest at once.

“Them two ponies I got air ’bout as likely to ketch up with him as any hoss flesh ’round hyar.”

Mr. Cook smiled again.

“Wooley’s on the trail,” he answered. “That’s enough. How about a game of pinochle, gentlemen?”

That was the apparent interest Mr. Cook had in his five-thousand-dollar loss. But, two hours later, when Weston and Marshal Wooley had retired from the card game and Mr. Cook and Roy had repaired to the front gallery or porch where the manager lit a fresh cigar, he said:

“I’m thinkin’ o’ putting your airship to a test. Will it carry two?”

“Certainly,” exclaimed Roy, with enthusiasm. “What is it?”

“Well,” said Mr. Cook, leaning back in a big rustic chair, “I don’t like to get excited over five thousand dollars. But I don’t enjoy having a man of Mike Hassell’s kind put the joke on me. And there don’t seem much doubt but what he’s done it—so far.”


“Don’t you think the marshal’ll get him?” asked Roy.

Mr. Cook laughed.

“Hassell ain’t a westerner. I know him. He’s what you call a ‘bank sneak.’ He’s an eastern criminal. I’ve had him spotted ever since he came here. Wooley’s chase would be all right for a stage robber who rides a pony to death and then steals another. But Hassell ain’t agoin’ to do that. Couldn’t do it if he wanted to. He’d give out before the horse would. He’ll hide just like a city thief.”

“Hide?” repeated Roy. “Out in the desert?”

“A likely place would be the rocky banks of the San Juan as soon as he got out of sight of the town. I make a guess,” went on the cool, philosophic Mr. Cook. “If I was Mike, I’d go as far as Montezuma Creek. Where the Montezuma enters the San Juan, we’ve got a raft of mountain pine. Wouldn’t be no trick to kill your horse and hide it under the raft till night. And when it’s dark, the way I’d go on would be back. With about three of them logs for a boat, I’d light out down the San Juan—if I wanted to save my skin and the five thousand dollars.”


“That’d bring him right by here to-night, wouldn’t it?” asked Roy, excitedly.

“Might,” responded his companion. “Anyway, if he figured out to do this, he won’t go further than he has to. He’ll land before he gets too far. He knows the Colorado’s below him. And then, like enough, he’ll take a chance among the Navajos.”

“Why didn’t you tell Marshal Wooley that?” asked Roy.

“Because,” laughed Mr. Cook, “he hasn’t any imagination. I saved the idea to test the aeroplane.”

Roy straightened up.

“At daylight,” said Mr. Cook, taking a long draw on his cigar, “you and I are going to get up steam and make a little flight over the desert south of the San Juan down toward the Calabasa Mountains. If we don’t scent our game, there won’t be any one to give us the laugh. Can we do it?”

The boy chuckled.

“At the rate of fifty miles an hour,” he answered.



It was not necessary for any one to arouse Roy Osborne the next morning. Just as the distant peaks of the Blue Mountains were growing pink, the boy sprang out of bed. It was yet dark without and the stars were shining. Roy was surprised to find Mr. Cook already arisen and the Jap busy in the kitchen. As day began to break, they had coffee and bacon. Then Mr. Cook wrote a note which he left in charge of the house boy and with a small parcel of food, he and Roy proceeded to the Company office and the corral.

“You mustn’t do that while we are in the air,” said Roy laughing, as Mr. Cook lit his usual after breakfast cigar.

The manager looked at him in some surprise.

“Can’t smoke?” he replied.

“Better not,” answered Roy. “Rather risky. We’re right beside the gasoline, you know. There are certain chances we have to take, and this isn’t one of them.”

Mr. Cook grunted.


“All right,” he exclaimed with a pretended growl, “but it kind o’ takes away the pleasure o’ the excursion.”

Roy had to smile. “Pleasure of the excursion,” he thought. “Racing over the desert after a cold-blooded murderer and thief who’ll probably shoot us full of holes at the first chance.”

“Rule number one,” he went on, his smile broadening. “And number two is: ‘It takes only one person to operate an aeroplane.’ I’ll be that person. Never interfere. It’s worse than a woman grabbin’ the reins when you’re drivin’.”

“Anything else?” asked Mr. Cook, with assumed soberness.

“Yes,” added Roy. “The car balances itself. It may turn over, but it’ll come up again. If anything happens, hold fast and wait. Don’t jump.

“You know what I told your boss?” asked Mr. Cook suddenly. “I told him I’d done about everything that was risky, but that I wouldn’t go up in one o’ them things. I hadn’t seen one o’ them then. I’m agoin’ now even if I have to cut out smokin’. I’ve got the fever.”


It was now early dawn. The corral watchman was the only person to greet the early visitors and he gave what assistance was needed. Roy determined to use the starting wheels and within a few minutes he had attached them; the passenger seat which had not been put in place was also attached. The watchman was sent to fill the water bottle—the one Roy had purchased with such satisfaction—and it and the packet of food were made fast in the little baggage hammock.

Then Roy debated as to whether he had better make a short trial trip. He left the matter to Mr. Cook.

“I’m game from the start,” answered the westerner. “It looks good to me.”

Roy pointed to the passenger seat.

“One minute!” exclaimed Mr. Cook.

He hurried to the rear door of the office building, unlocked it and in a few moments reappeared buckling on a six-shooter.

“I don’t usually wear such things,” he exclaimed, with a smile. “But I see you have one and I thought I’d be in style. And say,” he added, “talkin’ about rules, I’ve got a suggestion. If by any chance we should happen to strike Mike’s trail, an’ you have any choice[181] about it, you can fly just as high as you like till I tell you to come down.”

Roy understood. Mr. Cook climbed into the fragile framework and gingerly took his seat. Having made a last close examination of the car, Roy did the same. He dropped his hat string into place, turned his loose cuffs back to be sure they were out of the way, adjusted his feet, tested the flexing wires, rudder guides and lever, and then said:

“Hold on and sit steady.”

A moment later the engine exploded into action. The boy with a quick motion threw the chain gear into play, and as the two propellers began to turn, he sprang back and grasped the forward rudder lever.

The car trembled, seemed to heave like a boat rising on the water and then, for a second, settled back into place. The next instant it lunged forward on its wheels, hesitated, sprang forward again and then, touching the corral yard in a series of little jumps started toward the wide space in the mesquite fence. Roy knew the proper moment. Just as the trembling framework seemed settling into its stride, there was a quick movement of the rudder lever.


The swiftly moving car responded like an arrow. With a parting bound, it left the ground and, its big propellers tearing through the air, the aeroplane shot upward. Mr. Cook sat like a professional. Roy’s eyes saw nothing but the engine, the chain gear and the flying propellers. Two hundred feet above the ground, he brought down the rudder, felt the car settle on a level course, and knew from the rushing air that the machine was flying under control and safely.

The start had been parallel with the river and east toward Colorado. Without speaking, the young aviator followed this course a few moments and then, with a long turn, headed for the river. As the deep canyon of this shadowed itself beneath him, he relaxed.

“She’s all right, Mr. Cook. How do you feel?”

“Wouldn’t have missed it for all Mike took. Say,” he added with almost boyish enthusiasm, “why couldn’t I do this? Looks easy.”

“Every one’ll do it in a few years,” answered Roy. “I guess I won’t have my job very long.”

“You can have it as long as you like,” came the answer—punctuated with little gasps, for[183] Roy was now making a sharper turn down the river, “maybe you’ll have more time to work it than I will.”

“What’s the program?” exclaimed Roy, interrupting him, for the aeroplane was now on a course down the river on the south bank, the town was already behind them, and the sun was fully above the horizon.

“Ain’t but one thing to do,” answered the passenger. “If you can, get right down over the river canyon. It’s gettin’ light now. Follow the river. You watch the machine, an’ I’ll look out below. If I see anything, I’ll whistle.”

Roy dropped the machine lower and laid a course immediately over the dark strip marking the depths of the San Juan. It was almost impossible to see the rushing water at the bottom of the rocky chasm, but the boy could hear it, and, as he steadied the swiftly flying machine, he recalled how Sink Weston had swept down this same stream years before.

Glancing at the country on each side of the river now and then, the boy saw, when the town of Bluff had disappeared from sight, nothing but sand and rock, distant pink-tipped mountain ranges and a turquoise sky, cloudless and[184] dry. As Weston had described to him, very often the plains or deserts, which seemed to rise upward like the rim of a bowl toward the horizon, were cut with plateaus crowned with crumbled rock. But there were no trees, no animal life and only patches of grass here and there near the canyon brink.

As it grew lighter, the gray stream within the precipitous river walls began to turn into a yellow swirl of grease, foam-crested and spray-crowned, where the rushing current impinged on abutting rocks. They were sailing almost due west. To the north as the rose faded from the low-lying mountain spurs, the intervening stretches turned into the blare of the alkali desert of Utah. South of the river, the more rugged heights of the Arizona Mountains told of the unexplored wilderness of the Navajo Indian land.

“I’d hate,” thought Roy to himself, “to take a chance on either side for five thousand dollars.”

On the cross arm supporting the propellers was fastened the anemometer or speed recording device. As it was a breezeless morning, Roy knew the instrument was recording truly. They were traveling at the rate of thirty-two[185] miles an hour. A little calculation showed that the aeroplane was then about eighteen and one-half miles from Bluff.

Roy had had time to do some thinking. For the first time, it began to strike him as strange that Mr. Cook should form the theory, on which they were working, out of such improbable conjectures.

“It’s like one of these detective stories,” he at last suggested.

“No,” answered Mr. Cook, “just the reverse. Your all-wise detective would tell you just where to go and find your man. We’re just taking one chance in a hundred. The chances are much against us. If he hasn’t come this way, Wooley’s men’ll get him. We’ve gained just that much—but we are on the right track,” exclaimed the manager suddenly—“turn south!”

Roy’s heart thumped. He tried to follow instructions and discover what Mr. Cook had seen at the same time. The result was that, on the sharp turn, the aeroplane almost “turned turtle.” As it righted and darted away over the desert toward the Navajo Mountains, Mr. Cook spoke:

“Close shave that. First time I felt chilly.”


“What’d you see?” asked Roy embarrassed, but not the less curious.

“Three Company pine logs on a point o’ rocks,” answered Mr. Cook.

“How’d you know Hassell used them? Maybe they just floated down the river.”

“We ain’t as careless as that with our timber,” explained the westerner, twisting in his seat. “They wouldn’t be here if some one had cut ’em loose. They’re ours because the ends are red. And Mike has been on ’em because they’re roped together.”

“Then Hassell is up here somewhere?” suggested Roy excitedly.

“On this side,” said Mr. Cook, as if his mind were on something else.

Roy was now beginning to get busy on Mr. Cook’s theory.

“How fast is that stream running?” he asked—he knew that his companion was searching the plains.

“’Bout seven miles an hour.”

“How far is this point from Montezuma Creek?”

“Nearly forty miles.”

“When do you reckon he’d leave the creek on his raft?”


“He’d hide in the rocks till night—long as he didn’t see any one coming after him—and start ’bout dark, say eight o’clock.”

“Then he’d be here in less than six hours. Might have landed down there early as two o’clock this morning. That’s nearly six hours ago. He may be fifteen miles back in the hills now.”

“Likely,” agreed Mr. Cook, slowly, “if he got out right away. But it’s more likely that he waited for daybreak to climb the canyon walls. It was dark down there an hour and a half ago.”

“Perhaps he’s down there yet,” suggested Roy. “Maybe he’s drowned.”

“Didn’t you see his tracks?” asked Mr. Cook, in surprise.

Roy flushed with embarrassment. He had neither seen them nor thought of looking for them, although the aeroplane had turned and passed low along the abrupt river just above the stranded raft.

“You’re going all right,” added Roy’s passenger, “but head up a little and keep your eye on the machine. I’ll tell you when to change your course.”

For several minutes neither spoke. Despite[188] Mr. Cook’s admonition, Roy took occasional looks at the land over which they were flying. For about three miles back from the river, the sandy plain extended almost free of rocks. Then a ridge of sand buttes began, interspersed with fragments dislodged from a secondary and higher ridge or plateau of rock. These in turn broke into canyons or higher elevations, all at last losing themselves in the mountains about twenty miles from the river. When they had reached the first ridge and were well over it, Mr. Cook exclaimed:

“East. Nothing here.”

The aeroplane whirled and sped away over the rocky table land. Three or four miles of this were covered. Then Mr. Cook ordered Roy to head north again as far as the edge of the ridge and follow this back to the west. Mr. Cook explained what he was doing. When the aeroplane was elevated he at once lost the trail. But, seeing that the supposed fugitive was heading for the plateau, he had hurried forward hoping to get sight of the flying Hassell.

There was no sign of the man where he would naturally have entered the rocks. Nor was there indication of him to the east within the distance he could probably cover, on foot.[189] Mr. Cook was now about to make a similar search to the west. Three or four miles the whirring airship cleaved the breezeless, tonic air to the west. It was after eight o’clock and the strain was beginning to tell on Roy. The car was working perfectly, but an aviator’s nerves never relax. Four or five hours in an aeroplane frequently leave the controller utterly exhausted.

At this point, the fringe of plateaus or buttes ended abruptly in a wide, basin-like valley of sand and alkali. As the aeroplane shot out over this, there was a sharp whistle from Mr. Cook and the instant command: “South again!” Roy altered the swing of his ship, and then made the discovery that had startled his companion. South of the plateaus the strip of desert opened out like a fan, with the wide portion leading to the distant mountain cliffs.

Perhaps a mile ahead, only a black spot on the half white sands of the vacant desert, a moving object could be seen.

“Right over him,” said Mr. Cook quickly.

Roy’s brain was whirling with excitement. Within two minutes, the black object had become a man hastening across the sands toward the high ground. He had heard the engines[190] and propellers and had come to a halt. Although the aeroplane was, perhaps, six hundred feet in the air, it was plain that Mr. Cook’s theory was right. It was Mike Hassell who stood, motionless and as calm, apparently, as if behind Joe’s bar.

“Come down,” was Mr. Cook’s sharp order.

The boy’s heart throbbed. What was about to happen? Neither man had spoken. Would the thief surrender? Or, would it be a tragedy? As the aeroplane touched the sand with a jolt and bumped ahead on its light wheels, Roy felt Mr. Cook drop from the car. When the trembling car at last came to a stop, 300 yards beyond Hassell, the young operator also sprang to the ground. As he turned and caught sight of the two men, he felt cold all over. Something in their attitude told him that the voiceless men facing each other would not speak in words.

Hassell made no attempt to retreat. The white heavy desert stretched about him like a floor. A black hat was pulled low over his eyes. His arms hung limply at his sides. There was not even a revolver in sight. Approaching the murderer-thief was Roy’s employer. His hat was pushed back from his forehead, and, as he[191] strode forward with a slow pace, his arms also hung loosely by his sides.

Roy nervously thought of his new untried revolver and laid his hand upon it. These men were both armed. The boy could see the holster of each hanging at his side. The men were now about a hundred yards from each other. Roy could no longer restrain himself. As Mr. Cook advanced toward the motionless Hassell the boy also began to move forward. Finally, Mr. Cook stopped suddenly. Roy continued to advance until he heard the imperative words: “Go back!” They were from Mr. Cook. But, while he spoke, the man neither moved nor took his eyes from the equally statue-like Hassell. He had heard the boy following.

As Roy came to a halt, the cold perspiration broke out on him. Directly in front of Mr. Cook, a thick rattlesnake was crawling slowly across his path. “Why don’t he shoot it?” was Roy’s only thought. But the Company manager seemed not to notice the reptile. As the boy stepped back, he could see Mr. Cook standing with his eyes, not on the snake, but on Mike Hassell.

Then, as the venomous thing slid away in the[192] sand, the man who had come to find Hassell began to advance once more.

Fifty yards, then thirty. Then, as one, two pistol shots sounded in the hollow of the desert. Roy, trembling and aghast, clenched his hands. What had happened? Who had shot? The boy had seen neither man draw a revolver; not a word had been said. But, in the two balls of white smoke, Roy saw Mike Hassell crumble to his knees; saw his revolver sink to the sand, and the black hatted fugitive was flat on his face.

Just before him, Roy also saw Mr. Cook slowly returning his revolver to its holster. His aim had been true. Hassell had missed.



The fugitive was dead before Mr. Cook and Roy reached his body.

“It was me or him or both,” exclaimed the Company manager. “And after this, my boy, when you see two men out in this country eyeing each other as Mike and I were, you get to one side—not behind one of ’em. Killin’ Mike don’t prove he was a thief, but I’m goin’ to do that now.”

The briefest examination enabled Mr. Cook to make his word good. Of the stolen money, four thousand dollars was in one-hundred-dollar bills, each thousand dollars in a separate wrapper. The other thousand had been in one package about two inches thick; two hundred dollars in ones; two hundred dollars in twos; and the remainder in five-and ten-dollar bills. Hassell had divided the small bills into two parcels which he had stuffed into his hip pockets. The thin, green packet of new and unused bills, was in his inside waistcoat pocket.


Having taken this money and put it into his own pockets, Mr. Cook arose.

“If you don’t mind,” suggested Roy, “I’d like to look for something.”

Mr. Cook raised his eyebrows.

“We’re pretty straight about one thing out here,” he replied. “We’ll kill a man all right, an’ sometimes for mighty little provocation, but after he’s dead, what’s his is his. Of course, that isn’t what you mean, but you ought to know that we’re touchy on the point o’ molestin’ the dead. Wooley an’ the coroner’ll do what’s necessary now. It’s up to them to say whether I was justified.”

“I couldn’t tell who shot first,” exclaimed Roy innocently.

“You couldn’t?” answered Mr. Cook, with a smile.

“I didn’t hear but one shot.”

“There were two, all right,” added Mr. Cook, with another grim smile. Without further explanation, he held out his left arm. As his loose coat was extended, the boy saw two small, ragged holes where Hassell’s bullet had gone in and out of the folds of the garment just along the left side of the wearer’s body.

“What’ll the coroner decide?” continued[195] Roy, whose tense, straining muscles were just relaxing into nervousness. “I can’t say Hassell fired first. And I wouldn’t think you’d know—hardly.”

Mr. Cook laughed.

“My boy,” he said, “there’s some laws that never get into the printed statutes. You know how it is if a man and his wife are lost at sea in the same wreck? The printed law presumes that the woman died first because she’s weaker than the man. In the desert, we have a lot of our own laws. If two men come together with shooting irons and both fire and one dies, the live one is given the benefit of the doubt.”

Roy couldn’t see the logic of this, but he hastened to explain that he had no desire to despoil the dead bartender’s body. “I have an idea,” he said.

A short search confirmed his theory. In Hassell’s vest pocket, Roy found a carefully folded two-dollar bill.

“I can’t be mistaken,” he said, rising to his feet, “for all my bills were alike. This is the money I gave Mike to pay for Banning’s supper. He even robbed Joe, his boss.”

“And when Old Utah set up a howl for the bill,” added Mr. Cook, “Mike shut him up by[196] murderin’ him. Don’t you bother about which of us shot first. If Mike didn’t he’d ought to.”

Soon after nine o’clock, the aeroplane was in the Company corral again. The flight back to Bluff was made at top speed, and, strange to say, the landing attracted no attention. In the Company office, both clerks were already at work or going through the motions of it. As a matter of fact, they were both too much excited over the theft of the previous day to do more than discuss it.

Mr. Cook and Roy entered the office together. Offering the tired boy an easy chair, Mr. Cook stepped to a tank in a corner of the room, drew a glass of water which he considerately carried to the hot and nervous lad and then helped himself to one. That done, he extracted from his pocket his long-delayed morning cigar and lit it with great gusto.

“Mr. Blocki,” he said at last, addressing the clerk with the bent leg, “some time to-day make me a sketch map showing where all our men were the last time we heard from them.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And, by the way,” continued Mr. Cook, “put this back into the safe.”

With the words, he slowly drew from his coat[197] pocket the two bundles of stolen money. The two clerks sprang forward with bulging eyes, their mouths open.

“Vic,” he added, indicating the younger clerk, “you go and find Marshal Wooley. Tell him Mike Hassell is over in Rattle Snake Desert, just below the buttes, waitin’ for the coroner. Better bring Hassell back here, tell him. And tell the marshal he don’t need a warrant. I’ll be at the inquest.”

Then he turned to Roy and after a few moments’ conference, made a little calculation. On a bit of paper, he set down: “Outfit $110; railroad, sleeper fare and meals, $98; aeroplane, $5,000.”

“I’ll attend to Weston’s bill,” he said. “As for your own services, your pay begins from the time you reached Dolores. You can draw on us whenever you like at the rate of four hundred dollars a month.”

Then he tossed the memorandum on the table and beckoned to Blocki, the elder clerk and bookkeeper.

“Blocki,” he continued, “make out a check for $5,208, payable to the American Aeroplane Company.”

Then he turned to Roy.


“It isn’t often that you can get a full return on an investment before you pay in your money. That’s one of the most profitable business deals I ever made.”

Elated and having somewhat quieted his tingling nerves, Roy sprang up ready for new action.

“We’ve tried her out,” he said, with satisfaction. “Now, what’s the program?”

“I would suggest,” answered Mr. Cook, arising and taking off his coat as though about to attack his usual day’s routine of work, whatever it was, “that you are entitled to a little play. I can see you have been under a strain—probably ever since you left Newark—”

“Before,” interrupted Roy, with a laugh, thinking of his concern over the packing of the aeroplane and his constant apprehension over its safe transportation.

“Then take a day or two off. I may need you to-morrow or the next day. Get out and amuse yourself to-day. See you at dinner.”

The boy was certainly glad enough to follow instructions. The responsibility of the aeroplane off his shoulders, for a time, he passed out into the glare of the July sun ready to enjoy his holiday to the full. First, he went[199] home, had a bath, changed his clothes and amused himself in Mr. Cook’s library for a few moments. Then, throwing his brother Phil’s camera over his shoulder, he went out sight-seeing.

With a pretty fair knowledge of the desert and surrounding country, he first made an examination of the town. That meant the stores—he had had enough of the saloons. Not one of these escaped him. In the main, they were similar—practically trading-posts, with horse feed and provisions for prospectors, miners, oil and cattle men—but one shop made a half-hearted attempt at notions, books, and drugs in front, while in the rear was a stock of showy toys, beads and machine-made blankets and moccasins for lazy Indians who might have money.

To Roy’s delight—but to his surprise—he found here an assortment of local picture postcards. He immediately purchased three sets which he later forwarded to his mother and brothers. On those which were labeled “Calabasa Mountains from the San Juan river,” he drew arrows pointing to a gap in the range. Beneath this, he wrote: “Where we captured Mike Hassell, the thief, bandit and murderer.[200] See letter to follow.” These he sent to his brothers. His mother’s card he left blank.

Then, discovering that the postmaster was also a photographer, he took a boyish fancy to have his picture made. Carefully putting aside his camera as a part of civilization, he adjusted his revolver so that it was well to the fore, and tilting his hat brim, assumed a careless pose. In a few minutes, he had six tintypes, representing him in his prized outfit. A quarter of an hour later, he was on the banks of the San Juan.

There he took a half dozen snap shots and then sat down on the cliff-like banks to enjoy another look at his gorgeous tintypes. Finally he began to smile. As last, he said to himself:

“I never expected I’d get it that bad. Why, it’s worse than the factory boy who has his picture taken down at Coney Island sitting in a pasteboard automobile.” Then he laughed outright. One after another, he sent five of the pictures shooting down into the swift river below. The sixth, as evidence of his boyish exuberance, he buried in his hip pocket. “I’m over that now, anyway,” he said with another laugh.

At dinner, Mr. Cook told him that two more[201] men had been sent up the river to stop the search for the missing thief. There had also been a conference in Mr. Cook’s office and Marshal Wooley and an aide with an extra horse had set out to recover and bring in Hassell’s body. By night, Roy had exhausted the sights of Bluff, and photographed most of them, including Utah Banning’s hut.

The town had few visitors, and almost no sightseers. For that reason, the trading stores were not stocked with curios. A few things that Roy bought were of real Indian manufacture or were articles made for the use of the men of the wilderness. Navajo silver rings, bracelets and chains were so cheap that the boy could not resist purchasing some of them. One ring struck him particularly. Instead of the prevailing silver, it was of copper, a beautiful oxydized brown. For a setting, it had a square of deep, almost translucent turquoise of the pure, sky blue. He bought it for himself at a cost of three dollars.

When Mr. Cook came home late in the afternoon, Roy was taking his ease on the gallery, refreshed with another washup, and twirling the exquisitely colored ring in his fingers. The[202] moment Mr. Cook saw it, his eyes lit up with enthusiasm.

“Where’d you get that?” he asked impulsively.

“At that old fellow’s down by the postoffice. Three dollars,” he added, with some pride.

His host examined and fondled the ring with the gentle touch of a connoisseur. Then he sighed:

“That’s the way it goes,” he said at last almost scowling. “I’ve been snooping around desert towns and Indian camps nearly six years, keepin’ my eye open for one of these, and I never saw one till this minute. Where I’ve been rakin’ with a fine-tooth comb,” he added, changing his smile to a scowl, “you stumble over the thing I can’t find.”

“Why,” exclaimed Roy, jumping up and taking another look at the ring, “what is it? I just—”

“That,” broke in Mr. Cook, “is the rarest speciment of Navajo metal work that you can find. And that stone—you won’t see its like in Tiffany’s. No matrix there—the true turquoise. As for the copper—well, look at it!”

He held it off and feasted his eyes on it as if it had been of gold and diamonds.


“I’ve heard of two others,” the absorbed enthusiast went on. “There isn’t any way to gauge its value. Colonel Oje, of Dolores, has one. You couldn’t buy it. He got it out of a religious Khiva down on the Tunit-Cha Mountains. He says it’s older than the Aztecs.”

Roy looked at the ring with new interest. Then he reached out and taking hold of it, slipped it upon Mr. Cook’s third finger. It fitted perfectly.

“I’m glad you like it,” he said as he settled back into his chair and dropped his head upon his arms on the chair back. “I hoped you would. I bought it for you.”

Mr. Cook looked at him with sudden intenseness. Then his face relaxed into a good natured laugh.

“You are a li—a prevaricator,” he said.

“Only a little,” laughed Roy in reply. “I really bought it for myself. But it’s yours now.”

Mr. Cook sat down, twisted the jewel on his finger a moment, and then said:

“Do you really want me to take it?”

“It’ll give me more pleasure than to own it myself.”

“Are you sure you don’t want it?”


“Of course, I want it. I wouldn’t give it to you if I didn’t. It’s my greatest joy to give people things I want myself. That’s how I show them how much I care for them. I may never have a better chance to show you how glad I am that I came to know you.”

Mr. Cook was silent for a moment. Then, with a little huskiness in his voice, he said:

“That’s more to me than the ring, and that’s saying a good deal. I’m goin’ to take it. I won’t thank you. I’ll just say, for what you’ve said, I’m glad. I hope I deserve it.”

At noon the next day, in the corral back of the Company office, six sworn citizens of Bluff met and held formal inquest on the blanket-covered body of Mike Hassell. Perhaps a hundred men were present—all standing. Joe Ullmacher identified the body, and added, without being questioned and at some length, that the deceased had stolen six twenty-dollar gold pieces from his bar till.

“Hyar they air,” exclaimed Marshal Wooley tersely at the end of the witness’ harangue. “I got ’em outten his belt.”

Roy was then called as a witness. The formality of swearing him was not observed. At Mr. Cook’s suggestion, the boy told truthfully[205] and in detail what had taken place. At the end of his testimony the jury stepped aside and almost immediately reached a verdict. The postmaster, Al Christian, was foreman. Mr. Christian removed his hat, cleared his throat and faced the crowd. Moved by his example, many of those present also solemnly removed their hats.

“We, the jury settin’ on the case o’ Mike Hassell, now layin’ dead afore us, hevin’ heard the evidence an’ duly considered it, hev reached the followin’ verdic’, to wit: That the deceased kem to his death at the hands o’ our respected citizen Colonel R. C. Cook, which same was justifiable suicide—”

“Homicide,” whispered two or three jurors at once.

“Homicide,” corrected Foreman Christian, “an’ that the said Colonel Cook didn’t shoot none too quick.”



On the sixteenth of July, the Aeroplane Express was inaugurated. Mr. Blocki spent over a day on his sketch map of the country in which the Utah Mining and Development Company was interested. This extended from Bluff, on the east, to the Sevier Mountains, on the west, and from the south boundary of the state as far north as the junction of the Grand and Green Rivers.

The Company had six gangs of oil and coal prospectors in the field. One of these was opening new territory in the Elk Ridge District. Another had moved east beyond Abaja Peak on Montezuma Creek. To this party, Sink Weston had been assigned. The other four parties had spread out west and north. On Mr. Blocki’s map, their probable location was indicated by pencil crosses with the date when last heard from.

No. 1, Hi. Clark in charge, had crossed the Colorado and was on the banks of Pine Alcove[207] Creek, June second, ready to ascend to the Henry Mountains.

No. 2, Alex. Woodruff in command, was following up the Fremont River toward Castle Ridge, May fifteenth.

No. 3, Fulmer Lowell in charge, was somewhere east of the Cliff Dwellers, on Dark Canyon. He had sent in a courier, June twenty-second.

No. 4, Burnham Stenhouse, a young graduate of the Colorado School of Mines, in charge, had not been heard from since it parted from Woodruff, May twelfth, at the mouth of the Fremont, Dandy Crossing of the Colorado.

“There is no reason to be apprehensive,” explained Mr. Cook. “But Stenhouse should have sent some word before this.”

“Why do you want to keep advised of their movements?” asked Roy.

“It’s business. We’re following the petroleum and coal veins. When they show up in one place, that’s where we’d like to work everybody. Probably not one of these gangs is over one hundred and twenty-five miles from our office, but they might as well be a thousand.”

“I’ll find ’em,” exclaimed Roy. “Here’s the map. I’ll get ’em all. I’m ready.”


Young Stenhouse’s party was selected as the first to be located. But, as a precaution, while Roy made his preparations, the next morning, Mr. Cook wrote letters to all his “oil scouts.” Roy equipped the aeroplane with the entire outfit he had brought from Chicago.

Food was secured from Mr. Cook’s house, and the trading stores. The list was prepared by Sink Weston.

“What I’m apackin’ fur ye,” he explained, “won’t spile. An’ so be it anything puts yur aeroplane express out o’ commission, hyar’s enough fur any keerful man fur five days.”

The list included: 1½ pounds of crackers; ¾ pound of rice; 1¼ pounds salt pork; 1¼ pounds bacon; 2½ pounds ham; 1 pint syrup; 1½ pounds sugar; ¼ pound tea; 1 can condensed cream; ¼ sack salt; 1 jar cheese; 1 bar soap; 2 candles; 2 boxes sardines.

“An’ lastly an’ firstly,” exclaimed Weston, “two boxes o’ matches kept separate.”

There had been no advertising of Roy’s departure, and the event passed off with but a few spectators.

“An’ say,” suggested Weston, who had appointed himself a sort of master of ceremonies, “ef ye git time down thar about Pine Alcove[209] an’ are achin’ fur somepin to do, remember my ole friend Banks, the Mormon, the High Mucky-Muck o’ the Lost Injuns. Ef ever ye git time drop into Parowan.”

Roy laughed and promised. Then he spoke upon the subject that he had been thinking about all morning.

“Mr. Cook,” he asked, with a laugh, “what are you going to name the new express?”

“Name?” repeated the manager—they were all standing about the aeroplane. “Why, ah, why—I haven’t any name.”

Roy opened his “carryall” bag and took out the streamer the painter in Newark had made. A moment later, the red letters Parowan were in place.

“Parowan!” exclaimed Mr. Cook. “What’s that?”

“Mr. Weston’ll tell you,” said Roy, reaching out his hand. “I’m off now. Good bye, all. See you this evening.”

Five minutes later, the Parowan was a bird-like speck in the northwest. Sink Weston, with his pack mule trailing behind him, watched it from the trail along the Cottonwood on his way to join the Abaja Peak party.

“I reckon,” mused the old ranger as he sat[210] cross-legged on his pony and sucked at his pipe, “that’s the last o’ the kid I’ll see and Parowan, too. Back to salt pork an’ alkali water fur me.”

Sink was mistaken; both as to Roy and news of the old Mormon elder. But, for six weeks, the young aeronaut and his friend did not meet again.

In that time, Roy made the name of the Parowan and the Company’s Aeroplane Express famous all over southern Utah.

Within a week Roy had located, although with the greatest difficulty in the cases of the Lowell and Stenhouse parties, all the prospecting sections. That done, carrying out Mr. Cook’s idea, each “boss” was furnished a yard square of bright red cloth. Subsequently, when a “boss” had any advices for the home office or desired to communicate with the express, he kept the red flag flying. The result of this was that when the Parowan in what soon settled into a weekly cruise, made the long, swift flight over mountain and desert, it landed at a camp only in response to the signal. This was when it did not happen to have orders from the manager.

Late in August, Mr. Cook found it necessary[211] to go to Denver. Roy carried him ninety-four miles to Dolores, starting at ten o’clock in the morning, and putting his proud passenger upon the one o’clock train. Five days later, he met him again, started from Dolores at one forty-five in the afternoon and at three thirty-three landed upon the Company corral.

But the only person in Bluff who gave promise of being able to take Roy’s place when he left was the younger clerk Vic. Christian. With a natural mechanical turn, the postmaster’s son soon learned the theory of the airship. But he had not the inborn daring of the natural aviator. However, he did not lack in courage, and after a desperate struggle, he began making flights with Roy.

“He’ll do,” said Roy at last to Mr. Cook. “And, in the end he’ll be better than a daredevil who isn’t afraid.”

Mr. Cook was skeptical. He used every argument to persuade Roy to put off his return. But school time was approaching. And Roy was in the third year of high-school. He had promised his father and mother that even a hundred dollars a week would not make him forget the education ahead of him.

The one event that shadowed the brightness[212] of Roy’s experience as the director of the Aeroplane Express was the tragic fate of poor Burnham Stenhouse, the young engineer. Reaching Camp No. 4 one afternoon about four o’clock, Roy saw the signal and made a landing. He found Stenhouse delirious and in charge of one of the men. Roy attempted, with the aid of his few simple drugs, to give the engineer some relief.

Toward evening, the young man’s temperature fell somewhat, but Roy decided to remain by the sick man all night. About bedtime, the boy noticed a sudden change in his patient. The man’s temperature fell perceptibly and his delirium subsided into such passive weakness that the camp took new alarm. Within a quarter of an hour, Stenhouse’s circulation and pulse were so poor that Roy realized the sick man was beyond possibility of assistance from those about him.

There was not a doctor in the camp. Roy decided that the man must receive professional attention at once or die.

“I’ll try it,” he announced to Stenhouse’s assistants. “It may be too late, but he’ll certainly die here.”

“He’ll die anyway,” argued one of the men,[213] “it’s desert fever. No use to make sure o’ two o’ you kickin’ in.”

“Ain’t no sense uv it in a night like this,” said another. “He’ll git vi’lent afore the end.”

But Roy did not consider the matter of his own safety. He realized that directing an aeroplane almost a hundred miles in black night with an unconscious man in his charge was a perilous venture, but the sight of the boy’s drawn face outweighed this argument. Giving the sick man a hypodermic injection of digitalis and strychnine, he waited only for some slight improvement in the patient’s heart action. Then he made his preparations.

Roy’s operating seat was just back of the engine. Between his feet and the motor, a pallet of blankets was made. Laying the unconscious form of Stenhouse diagonally across the section in front of him, Roy made ready his acetylene gas light, affixed the lamp to his head and with the brilliant shaft shooting out over the dark sands made a start for Bluff.

For an hour, he sat like a man of wood. The whirring propellers and an occasional groan from the sick man were all that marked his flight. His compass route he knew. This instrument he had tied to the section floor where[214] he could throw the search light upon it from time to time.

About the time he calculated that he was half way to Bluff, Stenhouse suddenly made an effort to arise. As Roy’s right hand was controlling the forward and rear rudder, he used his engine hand to gently force the disturbed man back to his cot. At the same time noticing that the engineer’s fever was rising. The delirium had set in again.

Perhaps another quarter of an hour passed. Then the prostrate man again attempted to rise. The strain was telling on Roy, for, with neither light nor landmark to guide him, he was flying at top speed toward an unseen destination. The ceaseless operation of the rudders, the effort to watch the compass and his ears ever open for a possible variation in the hum of the engine and propellers would have unnerved the boy had he not steeled himself to his task. When Stenhouse attempted to get upon his knees, Roy again reached forward with his left hand to calm him.

To his horror, the sick man did not relax. Instead, with sudden and unexpected strength, he continued his effort. The cold perspiration broke out on the boy. He spoke soothingly and[215] then sternly ordered the man to lie down. But there was no response. The next moment, Stenhouse was upon his hands and knees and made renewed efforts to get up.

“Water,” he said huskily.

The situation was not only pitiful, but perilous in the extreme. Roy could not use more than one hand to subdue or control the delirious man—there was no possible way to give him water—and yet, should the man escape the boy’s grasp, it meant certain death by being dashed hundreds of feet to the ground below.

Like an inspiration, the knowledge came to Roy that there was but one thing to be done. Throwing his left arm about Stenhouse’s shoulders and arms, he suddenly drew the man’s body close to his own. The sick man struggled for a few moments. One of his feet came in contact with a cross bar of the section floor and, as it snapped, the engineer’s right leg shot through the hole.

His body would have followed, but Roy, with desperate exertion, drew the weakened man closer to him. Exhausted, the partly revived man sank on his preserver’s arm almost a dead weight. For over thirty minutes the gritty boy held the engineer from certain death. When[216] the lights of Bluff came in sight at last, Roy’s arms were almost immovable. The pain had almost gone, for the circulation in the left arm had stopped and it was as rigid as if cast in metal.

He made no attempt to reach the corral. Back of the town, in some manner, with his free arm, he managed to shut off the engine and make a landing. When the aeroplane came to a pause, Roy was too stiff to move. In time, he attracted attention, and those who came to his rescue carried the engineer to Mr. Cook’s house. Later in the evening, Roy was able to make another ascent and he removed the Parowan to the Company yard.

But his hazardous flight was without avail. Young Stenhouse died two days later.



On the evening of the last day of August, a sort of reunion and farewell dinner took place in Mr. Cook’s bungalow. Two guests were particularly jovial. One of these, Sink Weston, had, as they say in the far north, “cast up” from Abaja with his gang the day before leaving the dry upper Montezuma choked with logs waiting for the winter rains. Another was old Dan Doolin just in with food supplies and gasoline from Dolores. The others were Roy Osborne and the host, Manager Cook.

Roy was to leave in the morning with Weston and Doolin on his homeward trip. That afternoon, he had made final settlement with the company.

“I’m sorry to be payin’ you this,” said Mr. Cook, as he wrote out a check for over seven hundred dollars, “because it means you’re goin’ to leave us. But, aside from that, it’s the best earned money I ever saw go out of this office.”

“And I’m sorry, too,” answered Roy. “I’m sorry to think I’ve got to give up the Parowan,[218] the mountains and the deserts. I’ve come to love ’em all. And I’m sorry to think I’m goin’ to leave the bungalow and you,” he added, holding out his hand to Mr. Cook. “I’ve seen some hard things out here, but among the worst of ’em, I’ve always found at least one man who stood for the fair and square, even if he didn’t talk about it.”

The boy and the man shook hands.

Mr. Cook was an abstainer as to intoxicants, but he always saw that his convivial guests were supplied with liquid refreshments. Both Doolin and Weston celebrated the occasion by reaching the talkative stage.

“I’m proud o’ the kid, Colonel,” announced Sink, at last. “An’ you got to give me credit fur bringin’ him to you. That right, Dan?”

“We shore did,” answered the grizzled teamster enthusiastically. “An’ I’m sorry to be takin’ him out. I reckon the boys out in the desert’ll be sorry to see him go. They tell me,” the old man continued, “’at he’s got a reg’lar mail route an’ took letters and papers leastways onct a week to them mis’able prospectors.”

“He did, and more,” replied Mr. Cook. “He’s changed the whole plan of doin’ things[219] down here. In a year we’ll know more about this forsaken country than we’d have known in ten without what he’s taught us.”

“Right,” interrupted Weston. “An’ I brung him in. Don’t fergit that. He ain’t disappointed no one but me—”

Mr. Cook and Roy looked up.

“I kind o’ counted on him gettin’ to Parowan an’ findin’ out somepin about my old High Mucky-Muck o’ the Lost Injuns.”

Mr. Cook laughed and Roy colored a little.

“Sink,” exclaimed the boy hastily, “the fact that I never had a chance to get to Parowan is one of the reasons I hate to leave this country. For a long time, I thought I’d get over there. But when the Aeroplane Express got down to a regular schedule, it seemed as if every hour was taken up with something. I just couldn’t work it in. And I’d liked to have gone for my mother’s sake.”

“Oh, I accept yer apology,” muttered Weston good naturedly.

“But don’t git the idee I’ve give up. I got the location o’ that sink hole comin’ to me yit.”

Mr. Cook laughed and laid his hand on Weston’s arm.


“Sink,” he said, “if you keep on you’ll get to believin’ that story some day.”

Old Doolin looked at Roy and made a desperate effort to wink his heavy eyelid. As he did so, Weston pulled himself up in his chair, hit the table with his clenched fist until the dishes and glasses rattled, and exclaimed, in a thick voice:

“Ye’ll acknowledge thet thar’s one feller ’at kem out hyar an’ showed you all a few things ye didn’t know. Why? ’Cause he was a sight smarter ’an some wise ones I could name—”

“Or touch,” laughed Mr. Cook.

“An’ bein’ smart enough he knows a fack when he hears it. Mr. Osborne,” went on the old plainsman, leaning toward Roy, “wuz they a sink hole, an’ a white priest, an’ lost Injuns, an’ treasure to fill a freighter, or wuz they not?”

Roy flushed again, looked at Mr. Cook in an embarrassed way, and then said:

“I’ve felt there were. But, well, I know one thing. There isn’t any doubt that there was a white man, and he was likely enough a priest. His name was certainly Willard Banks, and I know this man was my great uncle, a Mormon elder.”


“Thar you air,” shouted Weston, defiantly hanging the table again. “Did I dream that? Answer, whar did I git the paper?”

Mr. Cook seemed amused. He had many times heard the wild tale of Weston’s fabled sink hole, but the Parowan end of the story, the knowledge that here old man Banks had lived, was unknown to him until the day Roy named the aeroplane. Weston’s positive manner aroused his interest anew in the story.

“I never saw your cipher or hieroglyphics, Sink,” he answered, ignoring Weston’s question. “I’d like to have a look at it.”

Helping himself to another drink, Weston slowly produced his old wallet, and, with much ceremony, finally laid the faded and much-worn brown paper upon the table. Mr. Cook took a long look at it, and then carried it to a wall light that he might better examine the dim characters. Plainly he made nothing of it. Roy stepped to his side and pointed out the dim name at the bottom—“Willard Banks.”

“I had a great uncle of that name out here in Utah. He lived in Parowan. They drove him out of the Mormon Church for some reason. But he was an elder in it once.”

Mr. Cook shook his head, and was, apparently,[222] about to hand the sheet back to its owner when he stopped, straightened up, made another close survey of it and then said:

“Sink, let me have your mysterious paper to-night. I’d like to look it over.”

“I ain’t objectin’ to yer lookin’ it over,” answered Weston, “so long as ye keep yer hands on it. But, Colonel Cook, I wouldn’t part with that dockymint fur the best oil well yur agoin’ to find in Utah.”

Old Doolin’s head was nodding.

“Well,” suggested the manager, in a low tone to Weston, “just to be sure it ain’t mislaid, if you’re thinkin’ of escortin’ Dan to his bunk now, come back in an hour and I’ll return it to you.”

This was as good as a command to Weston. A few minutes later, arousing the well-dined teamster, the two men disappeared in the direction of the “Crater.” The uncouth freighter dispensed with the formalities of a good night to his host, but, as he followed his friend out into the sandy street, he did not fail to mutter:

“The kid’s shore all right. An’ we brung him, didn’t we, Sink?”


Plainly enough, the tale of the Sink Hole was not on Old Dan’s mind.

“What is it?” exclaimed Roy, impetuously, as the two men disappeared. He knew that Mr. Cook had an idea. Without answering at once, his host walked to the bookcase, and returned with the little Mormon Bible that had been taken from the hand of murdered “Utah” Banning.

“You’ve found something,” added Roy, almost catching his breath.

“This was the first Mormon Bible I ever saw,” said Mr. Cook, pushing the supper things aside, and bringing a lamp to the dining table. “Several times in your absence, I’ve amused myself looking it over. A very curious religion,” he added, as he drew up a chair and motioned Roy to do the same. “You saw the notes on the back flyleaf didn’t you?” he asked, turning to Roy.

The boy flushed with chagrin. He had not. Nor had he looked at the book since his first cursory examination of it.

Hanging over Mr. Cook’s shoulder, he watched the manager turn to the back of the book and finally expose a yellow edged page.[224] In ink that had turned to a faint brown, the boy read, at the top of the page, these words:

“Deseret Alphabet.”

Beneath it, in a fine, close hand, were two columns of characters. Manifestly, it was the Mormon phonetic alphabet. After each odd character, the sound was indicated with a syllable in English.

“That’s it,” shouted Roy, almost snatching the book from Mr. Cook’s hand. “Those are the letters on Mr. Weston’s paper. Here, see,” he added nervously catching up the paper and confirming his theory. “They’re the same. We found it. Sink’s found his treasure.”

“One moment,” interrupted the less exuberant Mr. Cook. “Let’s see what we can make of it.”

“We’ve got to make something,” insisted the boy, impulsively. “It has to work out. The man who wrote on Mr. Weston’s paper was my great uncle. He helped to make this alphabet. I know that. That’s what the Banks’ history says.”

“Then I reckon we’ve got it,” answered Mr. Cook. He began to read off the characters with their equivalents in English.


“Come on,” broke in Roy, “let’s see what we can find. Here, what’s this?”

He pointed to a letter like a capital “O” with a little ridge in the bottom. It was easily found.

“‘K,’” answered Mr. Cook. “Put it down.”

Chuckling and enthusiastic, the boy ran to Mr. Cook’s desk for a piece of paper. With this before them, the boy and his hardly less interested elder, began to work out the mystery. Both the flyleaf characters and Mr. Weston’s scrap were dim with age, but, by finally applying a reading glass to the Bible key, the first line of characters was turned into this—two of the Mormon letters standing in English for sounds instead of letters:


“That’s easy,” announced Mr. Cook, when the interpretation was complete. “Should have been ‘Kaiparowits’. But it’s close enough. There’s a peak o’ that name at the north end of the Kaiparowits Plateau.”

“Where’s that?” exclaimed Roy.

“The plateau’s northwest of where the San Juan hits the Colorado.”

“That’s it,” almost shouted the excited boy. “That’s where Weston got out of the canyon.”


Mr. Cook was already busy on the next line. It resulted in this word:


“Another mountain?” asked Roy.

“Probably means Ellsworth. There is such a peak east of Pine Alcove River. Hi. Clark worked up that way this summer.”

“But they are a long ways apart,” exclaimed the boy. “How far?”

Mr. Cook consulted the large wall map.

“Nearly a hundred miles.”

The boy’s face fell.

“Anyway,” he said, “these mountains have something to do with each other and the Sink Hole. Looks as if it might be between ’em, don’t it?”

“Let’s spell the other word,” suggested his companion. When this had been done, the letters read:


Mr. Cook eyed it a long time and then shook his head. Finally, he went to the map again, but apparently with no better success.

“Looks like Swedish,” suggested Roy.

Mr. Cook returned to the table, held the sheet at all angles before him and then suddenly broke out into a laugh.


“Escalante!” he exclaimed. “Mustn’t forget the characters are phonetic. That’s the Escalante River—first one south of Horse Creek. I guess that’s it.”

Roy had hurried to the map. With his pencil he drew a line under Mr. Cook’s direction, from Ellsworth mountain to Kaiparowits. Where it crossed the river, he made a cross.

Then, his hand trembling, he wrote at the intersection, “Sink Hole of the Lost Indians.”

“What do you think of Sink’s story now?” he broke out, boy fashion.

“All he has to do,” answered Mr. Cook, relieving his excitement by lighting a cigar, “is to find something there. What he tells about, he saw fifteen years ago. A good many people have been prowling about there in fifteen years.”

“Anyway,” exclaimed Roy, “he can have another look at the place.”

“But,” said Mr. Cook, after a pause, “I never saw a sink hole on or near a flowing river.”

Roy’s jaw fell. He was looking at Weston’s paper. Suddenly his face lit up. Then he pointed to the arrow.

“That’s pointin’ south,” he exclaimed.[228] “Now, we got it. Where a line between the two mountains crosses the Escalante, turn south until you come to the Sink Hole.”

“Not bad,” said Mr. Cook. “Very probable. That’s the trail I’d take.”

The excited boy wanted to rush out on a search for Weston, but Mr. Cook stopped him.

“Leave that to me,” he said, after he and Roy had retired to the cool porch. “When Weston comes, say nothing. Let me do the talking.”

They had not long to wait. In a short time, the veteran guide was with them. As Mr. Cook handed Weston his precious paper and proffered him a cigar, he said:

“Sink, that looks mighty interesting. Why don’t you find the Treasure Cave?”

“Humph,” grunted Weston, as he lit his cigar. “Why don’t I? Read this fur me an’ I will.”

“What’ll you give to have it read?”

“I’ll give you my livery stable, an’ my house—yes, sir,” he added with a grim smile, “I’ll even throw in my real ’state office.”

“Would you give half of anything you might find in your underground safety deposit vault?”


Weston looked up, without any trace of liquor now, and said:

“To the man ’at’ll take me to that pint, I’ll give ever’ other dish and bowl we git. I reckon that’d be fair.”

“Well,” went on Mr. Cook, “here’s the man that can do it,” pointing to Roy. “He knows where your cave is. Is it an even divide?”

Weston sprang up with a shout. At the same time, Roy stepped to Mr. Cook’s side in protest. The only answer he got was:

“I’ve got to pay you for what you said when you gave me the ring, Kid. This is my contract.”

Weston’s shout had died to a note of alarm.

“You ain’t kiddin’ me, Colonel? I’m sober.”

“Be sure you are in the same condition to-morrow morning at seven o’clock, Sink,” exclaimed Mr. Cook. “Roy’s put off his return a day or so. He’s goin’ to give you a little ride in the Parowan. And remember our bargain.”



From the day he entered southwestern Colorado, Roy had heard the tales of the ancient Indian Cliff Dwellers. Mr. Cook had often explained to him the history of this disappeared race. Whence they came, he told Roy, ethnologists could not say.

“Some,” he had explained, “believe the Cliff Dwellers drifted from Mexico—that they are the last of the Aztecs, the most highly cultured of all red men. Others have urged that they may as well have come from the north—even from Asia and its ancient civilization.”

“Mr. Cook,” exclaimed Roy suddenly that evening, after Weston had finally withdrawn to prepare for the trip he had anticipated for years, “you have told me that the old Cliff Dwellers may have come down the coast from Asia by way of Bering Sea.”

“That’s one theory. Students have found shell remains and ivory knives up in Yakima Valley, Washington. They look like Eskimo articles.”


“Weston says his Lost Indians looked like Chinamen. He means Eskimos, of course. If we found such people over there, would that prove anything?”

“It might mean this,” he said at last. “Weston’s Asiatics may have met the Aztecs coming north. The two streams may have clashed and the Asiatics may have been licked. Naturally they’d retreat. They may have hidden themselves in the mountains.”

“Then there really may have been Lost Indians?” exclaimed Roy.

The prospector laughed outright and shrugged his shoulders. Then he leaned forward, and checking the points on his fingers, said:

“Somewhere in the heart of the lower California or Nevada mountains these Asiatics may have concealed themselves for centuries. There they may have lived, built their towns, manufactured their own strange implements and wares in their own way, and, lost to the world, worshiped their own gods. At last, discovered by other incoming and increasing red men, they fly to a new home. Hemmed in by other savages, worn with flight and war, lessened by disease,[232] the remnant of the band takes refuge beneath the desert.”

“Is that right?” almost shouted Roy.

“Go and find out,” answered Mr. Cook, with another laugh.

Mt. Ellsworth was, by the map, sixty-seven miles northwest of Bluff, a few points west of northwest. From that peak Kaiparowits lay seventy miles south of west. In passing from Ellsworth to Kaiparowits, Pine Alcove Creek would be crossed not far west at Hi. Clark’s camp. Here there was food and a small supply of gasoline. Roy and Weston took breakfast with Clark’s men the next morning, having left the corral in the Parowan a little before five o’clock.

At eight o’clock with the Escalante River not more than twenty miles away, the Parowan was started on the real search for the Sink Hole. All of Weston’s conviviality of the night before was gone. Roy was nervous. The prospect of meeting belligerent Indians did not frighten him, but he was surprised that neither Weston nor Mr. Cook seemed to reckon this as an item of danger.

“If we find the place,” Roy had asked in their[233] flight in the early dawn, “do you look for trouble?”

“Them old grandpa baldies?” answered Weston, as if surprised. “They ain’t got a gun among ’em.”

It was the first day of September. The depressing monotony of the lifeless plains was accentuated by a choking dust. The rose tints of early days had disappeared in a dead blue, cloudless sky. The heat seemed to penetrate to the lungs and brain.

“There’s the Escalante,” said Roy a half hour after Clark’s camp was left.

“Now fur the south,” added Weston in a dry, harsh voice. “Hold her true an’ don’t ye stop till ye see somepin, ef it takes us acrost Arizony.”

The great wonder was, how Weston had missed finding the hole in his several searches. Within five miles of where the aeroplane turned south from the river, the mysterious hole suddenly appeared directly beneath the swiftly sailing Parowan. No dark depths greeted the approaching eye. What had at first seemed but a slight depression in the desert suddenly became a large circular shaft. The fumes of sulphur had colored its sides a yellowish white.


The Parowan came to a stop several hundred yards beyond the hole. Too excited to return in the airship, Weston and the boy sprang to the sand and started on a run back to the chasm. Then they discovered that their path lay along the dry bed of a watercourse.

“That’s it,” exclaimed Weston. “This is my river bed. But it comes from the south. It comes off the Straight Cliffs. I allers reckoned it come out o’ the west. An’ I sarched mainly along the Sevier Range.”

In a few moments they reached the point where the river bed ended in a worn gully leading down to the top rock shelf of the Sink Hole. Weston sprang into the depression, and, Roy at his heels, was soon on the rough, rocky shoulder that dropped, screw-like, lower and lower toward the north face of the circular opening.

About sixty feet beneath the surface of the ground, the hard ledge—which Roy now saw was not wholly the work of nature—disappeared beneath an overhanging arch of rock. No living thing was in sight, but Roy saw Weston draw his revolver and he did the same. Then, peering over his companion’s shoulder, he saw first, a half-lit gallery. The trail on the ledge seemed to disappear within the tunnel. Into this, every[235] few yards, fell rays of light entering through openings in the front of the overhanging rock.

“Seems to be nobody to home,” suggested Weston.

He pushed forward. As he and Roy got well within the gallery, they paused to accustom themselves to the half light. Still no sound.

“Might as well have it over,” went on Weston. “E yawp!” he shouted suddenly, springing close to the wall and raising his revolver to his hip.

“I wonder if they’re all dead?” asked Roy. He had already wondered that many times to himself.

“I’ve kind o’ calkerlated that way. Anyhow, they shore air so old an’ dried up ’at they ain’t no more worth shootin’ an’ a rattler,” Weston answered.

As if reassured by this, Weston moved forward again. Two irregular tunnel-like openings he passed, and then pointed to the next opening.

“Thar she be, Kid. Now I’m a liar er I ain’t. Thar’s the selfsame room er temple o’ them dishes. Hyar’s whar we win er lose.”

One of the light openings was nearly opposite this chamber, and the light from it fell full on[236] the entrance to Weston’s treasure temple. Unable to control his curiosity, Roy hastened to the old guide’s side. Together the two faced the chamber entrance. Before they had even a chance to look within, an object whirred through the air, grazed Roy’s left shoulder, and then struck the rock floor with a dull crack. It was an oval rock attached to a thong.

Both Weston and Roy rushed into the cave. A few yards from the door, on his hands and knees, was the shriveled figure of an aged man. As the intruders paused, the decrepit figure collapsed. Before either Weston or the boy could reach his side, the man was in a heap on the floor. Weston caught the prostrate Indian by the shoulders, but the figure slid from his grasp and fell upon its back. The man opened his eyes once and then seemed to pass into unconsciousness. In his left hand was a white, polished knife of ivory.

The lone guardian of the cave was emaciated. Clay-brown parchment-like skin seemed barely to encase his bones.

“He’s one of ’em,” exclaimed Weston, who was visibly affected by the sight. “He’s one o’ them Lost Injuns. An’, ef I ain’t mistook, he’s the last uv ’em.”


The Last of the Lost Indians


The last of the Lost Indians,” exclaimed Roy half aloud.

The man was bald and toothless. About his loins he wore an almost black breech-clout of some sort of skin. A brown blanket, woven of some vegetable fiber, lay beneath his extended form. And the eyes—they resembled those of no Indian Roy had ever seen—had the slant of the Asiatic.

But there was the spell of the apartment. Did it contain the treasures described by the veteran westerner? Although the sympathetic boy was held by the sight of the ancient Indian, he heard Weston springing forward. Roy turned. The plainsman was already hastening toward a group of strange objects at the side of the apartment opposite the entrance. Roy followed—his mind full of the tale of silver and gold vessels.

To the right and left of the objects toward which Weston was making his way, were two decorated columns of wood wedged between the floor and the ceiling. Designs on them caught the boy’s eye. As he sprang toward the nearest one, a shadow shot across the ray of light falling through the door. The boy had just time[240] to turn and make out the tottering form of the old Indian.

As Roy sprang forward, the Indian made a feeble leap toward the unperceiving Weston. In his withered, talon-like fingers, glinted the polished blade of the ivory knife. As it would have entered Weston’s back, Roy’s desperate lunge intercepted the blow. As the lad’s arm struck the palsied fingers of the would-be assassin, the ivory weapon flew into the air, and the Indian reeled to the far side of the room.

Weston’s revolver flashed. But again Roy saved a life. As the point of the plainsman’s weapon fell upon the Indian, the boy threw it upward. The explosion filled the hollow room. When the smoke rose to the ceiling, the wavering Indian, untouched by the bullet, faced them once more.

His fleshless arms extended high above his head; the palsied, spectral form swayed for a moment, and then, with a wail of anguish—perhaps the last expression of an extinct race—the figure stumbled across the cave and hurled itself upon the floor.

Awe-stricken, the man and the boy gazed upon the shadowy human being. When they attempted to move the mummy-like shape, they[241] knew that the Indian was dead. On the sole surviving treasures of his people, the old man had died.

“Faithful to the end,” whispered Roy.

“The last of the Lost Indians,” added Weston solemnly.

It was ten days later when Roy finally left Bluff for Dolores. The discoveries made in the Underground City of the Lost Indians were so astounding that, before noon, the Parowan, with Roy as the sole passenger, was on a bee-line flight to Bluff. By night Roy was carrying Mr. Cook to the wonderful Sink Hole. With the manager’s assistance, the wonders of the caves were gradually brought to light. Camping at night on the dry bed of the river for two days, the men and Roy studied the puzzles of each separate chamber.

Beyond question, the dead Indian was the last of his race. What that race represented, they could only conjecture. That it came originally from the far north was certain. Strangely wrought vessels of wood inlaid with ivory could not have been made in or near this last refuge of the dead race. Representations of the walrus, of the whale, and of the polar bear ran through decorations as certain proof of a one-time[242] tribal knowledge of the far northern seas.

But, with these carefully preserved articles, were others of a later date. In their wanderings, the tribe had evidently come south by way of the sea. For, in addition to ivory utensils and ornaments, there had been a later utilization of the beautiful Abalone shell found only near Catalina Island off the California Coast. Mosaics of this in various local woods were discovered.

“Lastly,” suggested Mr. Cook, “in these mountains of the southwest, long before this people began to degenerate, there came to it a knowledge of metals. Before the wanderers began to decline and long before the last of them were driven to this refuge, they were skilful workers in gold, silver and copper.”

In these remains, both shell and the jewel of the southwest—turquoise—had been freely used. Battered and worn samples of each of these periods of craftsmanship were found in the tomb of the unknown race. Most of them, and the best preserved, were found in the cave where the last survivor came to his death.

Apparently the tribe neither cremated nor mummified its dead. In one of the deepest recesses of a far gallery a burial chamber was[243] discovered. At the foot of a carved post, over a foot in diameter and resembling an Alaska totem pole, there were found in this catacomb some of the most curious and valuable relics. At the urgent request of Mr. Cook, Roy counted the human skulls in this sepulchre and found there were four hundred and twenty-three. In this work the acetylene headlight was useful.

After the complete survey of the caves had been made, and detailed maps made, showing their ramifications and apartments, Mr. Cook was carried back to Bluff. For five days the Parowan was in truth an Aeroplane Express. Three hundred and eighty-five objects, large and small; gold, silver, copper, wood, ivory and shell; worn textile fabrics, feather decorations, and the few pieces of pottery found were all carried to Mr. Cook’s bungalow in Bluff. The four immense wooden posts or “totem poles,” as Mr. Cook called them, were hauled to Bluff two months later by wagon.

Then came the question of dividing the treasure. There was nothing avaricious in Roy.

“It belongs to Weston,” he repeatedly insisted. “Weston suffered for it, and he found it. He ought to have it all.”


“A contrack is a contrack,” Weston would declare. “Ef I found it, I lost it, too. An’ you and Mr. Cook is the gents as really diskivered it. Hep yourselves. They’s a plenty fur all!”

A few of the simpler and best preserved pieces were what interested Mr. Cook most. These he consented to accept. And, at Mr. Weston’s and Roy’s joint request, he finally took for himself one of the prize specimens. This was a heavy copper bowl—eighteen inches across the top—with a beautifully carved silver lid. In the top of the lid, as a handle, was set an oblong piece of ivory in each side of which was traced the outlines of a seal. Around the edge of the lid, set deep in the silver, was a continuous band of turquoise almost imperceptibly joined.

Roy’s first selection was a bowl of dark odorous wood, almost a duplicate of the silver-copper vessel in size and shape. The inside of this, when it had been cleaned, was found to be almost as smooth as glass. The outside was a mosaic of tiny bits of iridescent Abalone shell set in a hard, pitch-like substance.

When Weston and Roy returned to Bluff an agreement was reached that their joint treasure was to be sent east in one shipment in care of[245] President Atkinson, of the aeroplane company in Newark. Before this was done, an inventory was made of each item. Copies of this were kept by Weston and Roy, and when the treasure had been carefully packed and boxed, a third copy was forwarded to Mr. Atkinson. It had been finally arranged that Roy was to receive a third of the value of the remarkable find.

Weston remained in Bluff awaiting the arrival of Dan Doolin to freight the precious cargo to Dolores. But, on the eleventh of September Roy at last took farewell of his western friends. Vic. Christian was to carry him to Dolores in the Parowan.

“I can’t feel as if it is good bye forever,” said Roy, grasping Mr. Cook’s hand.

“I know it isn’t,” answered the set-faced manager. “You’ll come again. They all do. The salt marshes o’ New Jersey’ll never satisfy you now.”

“As fur me,” added Sink Weston, “I’ll see you soon. When you write me ’at that truck’s been sold, I’m comin’ out to New York and collect. I ain’t never been east o’ Kansas City, but ole Sink Weston an’ his lady is agoin’ to see Broadway ef it costs us all them thar Injun dishes. An’ ef they’s any o’ the long green[246] left, I’m agoin’ to hire some reporter to write up what we discivered an’ send it to ever’ one o’ them wise boys ’at said I was cracked.”

When that long-looked-for letter reached Dolores in December, addressed to Mr. A. B. Weston, the last lines of it read:

“——or a total of $22,000, which makes your share about $14,666. Mr. Atkinson is anticipating the closing of the deal by sending you a draft for $1,000. Come and see us.

“Your true friend,

Roy Osborne.”

The last survivor of the Lost Indians of the Sink Hole was interred, nameless and without rites, in the hidden tomb of his race.

While Roy Osborne was solving the mystery of the Lost Indians of Utah, a club of Pensacola, Florida, lads was engaged on an equally interesting task—the discovery of the “Secret City of the Seminoles” in the Everglades of Florida. This story may be read in “The Boy Aeronauts’ Club, or, Flying for Fun.” See advertisement page 2.

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The Boy Fortune Hunters in Egypt
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Transcriber’s Notes:

Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.