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- Cowboy Dave - 1/28 -


COWBOY DAVE

OR

THE ROUND-UP AT ROLLING RIVER

BY FRANK V. WEBSTER

AUTHOR OF "ONLY A FARM BOY," "BOB THE CASTAWAY," "COMRADES OF THE SADDLE," "AIRSHIP ANDY," "TOM TAYLOR AT WEST POINT," ETC.

ILLUSTRATED

BOOKS FOR BOYS By FRANK V. WEBSTER

ONLY A FARM BOY TOM, THE TELEPHONE BOY THE BOY FROM THE RANCH THE YOUNG TREASURER HUNTER BOB, THE CASTAWAY THE YOUNG FIREMEN OF LAKEVILLE THE NEWSBOY PARTNERS THE BOY PILOT OF THE LAKES THE TWO BOY GOLD MINERS JACK, THE RUNAWAY COMRADES OF THE SADDLE THE BOYS OF BELLWOOD SCHOOL THE HIGH SCHOOL RIVALS BOB CHESTER'S GRIT AIRSHIP ANDY DARRY, THE LIFE SAVER DICK, THE BANK BOY BEN HARDY'S FLYING MACHINE THE BOYS OF THE WIRELESS HARRY WATSON'S HIGH SCHOOL DAYS THE BOY SCOUTS OF LENOX TOM TAYLOR AT WEST POINT COWBOY DAVE THE BOYS OF THE BATTLESHIP JACK OF THE PONY EXPRESS

COWBOY DAVE

CONTENTS

I. AFTER STRAY CATTLE II. THE TAUNT III. A CONFESSION IV. A SMALL STAMPEDE V. TREACHERY VI. A CRY FOR HELP VII. THE RESCUE VIII. MR. BELLMORE IX. DAVE MEETS LEN X. DAVE WONDERS XI. HAZARDOUS WORK XII. THE FIGHT XIII. SOME NEWS XIV. A WARNING XV. RETALIATION XVI. UNAVAILING EFFORTS XVII. THE ROUND-UP XVIII. A MIDNIGHT BLAZE XIX. FIGHTING FIRE XX. THE CHASE XXI. THE ESCAPE XXII. TANGLES XXIII. THE CLUE XXIV. BROTHERS XXV. THE NEW RANCH

[Illustration: HE WHEELED AND RODE STRAIGHT AT THE ONCOMING STEERS]

CHAPTER I

AFTER STRAY CATTLE

"Hi! Yi! Yip!"

"Woo-o-o-o! Wah! Zut!"

"Here we come!"

What was coming seemed to be a thunderous cloud of dust, from the midst of which came strange, shrill sounds, punctuated with sharp cries, that did not appear to be altogether human.

The dust-cloud grew thicker, the thunder sounded louder, and the yells were shriller.

From one of a group of dull, red buildings a sun-bronzed man stepped forth.

He shaded his eyes with a brown, powerful hand, gazed for an instant toward the approaching cloud of animated and vociferous dust and, turning to a smiling Chinese who stood near, with a pot in his hand, remarked in a slow, musical drawl:

"Well Hop Loy, here they are, rip-roarin' an' snortin' from th' round-up!"

"Alle samee hungly, too," observed the Celestial with unctious blandness.

"You can sure make a point of that Hop Loy," went on the other. "Hungry is their middle name just now, and you'd better begin t' rustle th' grub, or I wouldn't give an empty forty-five for your pig-tail."

"Oi la!" fairly screamed the Chinese, as, with a quick gesture toward his long queue, he scuttled toward the cook house, which stood in the midst of the other low ranch buildings. "Glub leady alle samee light now!" Hop Loy cried over his shoulder.

"It better be!" ominously observed Pocus Pete, foreman of the Bar U ranch, one of the best-outfitted in the Rolling River section. "It better be! Those boys mean business, or I miss my guess," the foreman went on. "Hard work a-plenty, I reckon. Wonder how they made out?" he went on musingly as he started back toward the bunk house, whence he had come with a saddle strap to which he was attaching a new buckle. "If things don't take a turn for th' better soon, there won't any of us make out," and, with a gloomy shake of his head, Pocus Pete, to give him the name he commonly went by, tossed the strap inside the bunk house, and went on toward the main building, where, by virtue of his position as head of the cowboys, he had his own cot.

Meanwhile the crowd of yelling, hard-riding sand dust-stirring punchers, came on faster than ever.

"Hi! Yi! Yip!"

"Here we come!"

"Keep th' pot a-bilin'! We've got our appetites With us!"

"That's what!"

Some one fired his big revolver in the air, and in another moment there was an echo of many shots, the sharp crack of the forty-fives mingling with the thunder of hoofs, the yells, and the clatter of stirrup leathers.

"The boys coming back, Pete?" asked an elderly man, who came to the door of the main living room of the principal ranch house.

"Yes, Mr. Carson, they're comin' back, an' it don't need a movin' picture operator an' telegraphic despatch t' tell it, either."

"No, Pete. They seem to be in good spirits, too."

"Yes, they generally are when they get back from round-up. I want to hear how they made out, though, an' what th' prospects are."

"So do I, Pete," and there was an anxious note in the voice of Mr. Randolph Carson, owner of the Bar U ranch. Matters had not been going well with him, of late.

With final yells, and an increase in the quantity of dust tossed up as the cowboys pulled their horses back on their haunches, the range-riding outfit of the ranch came to rest, not far away from the stable. The horses, with heaving sides and distended nostrils that showed a deep red, hung their heads from weariness. They had been ridden hard, but not unmercifully, and they would soon recover. The cowboys themselves tipped back their big hats from their foreheads, which showed curiously white in contrast to their bronzed faces, and beat the dust from their trousers. A few of them wore sheepskin chaps.

One after another the punchers slung their legs across the saddle horns, tossed the reins over the heads of their steeds, as an intimation that the horses were not to stray, and then slid to the ground, walking with that peculiarly awkward gait that always marks one who has spent much of his life in the saddle.

"Grub ready, Hop Loy?" demanded one lanky specimen, as he used his blue neck kerchief to remove some of the dust and sweat from his brown face.

"It better be!" added another, significantly; while still another said, quietly:

"My gal has been askin' me for a long, long time to get her a Chinaman's pig-tail, an' I'm shore goin' t'get one now if I don't have my grub right plenty, an' soon!"

"Now you're talkin'!" cried a fourth, with emphasis.

There was no need of saying anything further. The Celestial had stuck his head out of the cook house to hear these ominous words of warning, and now, with a howl of anguish, he drew it inside again, wrapping his queue


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