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   Chapter 5 KIDNAPED.

Frank Merriwell Down South By Burt L. Standish Characters: 10984

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

As our old readers know, Carlos Merriwell was Frank's deadly enemy, although they were blood cousins.

Carlos was the son of Asher Merriwell, the brother of Frank's father.

At the time of his death, Asher Merriwell was supposed to be a crusty old bachelor, a man who had never cared for women and had never married. But he had not been a woman-hater all his life, and there was a romance in his career.

Asher Merriwell had been snared by the wiles of an adventuress, and he had married her. By this woman he had a son, but the marriage had been kept a secret, so that when she deceived him and they quarreled they were able to separate and live apart without the fact becoming public that Merriwell had been married.

Fortunately the woman died without openly proclaiming herself as the wife of Asher Merriwell. In her veins there had been Spanish blood, and her son was named Carlos.

After the death of his wife, Asher Merriwell set about providing for and educating the boy, although Carlos continued to bear his mother's maiden name of Durcal.

As Carlos grew up he developed into a wild and reckless young blade, making no amount of trouble and worry for his father.

Asher Merriwell did his best for the boy, but there was bad blood in the lad's veins, and it cost the man no small sums to settle for the various "sports" in which Carlos participated.

Finally Carlos took a fancy to strike out and see the world for himself, and he disappeared without telling whither he was going.

After this, he troubled his father at intervals until he committed a crime in a foreign country, where he was tried, convicted, and imprisoned for a long term of years.

This was the last straw so far as Asher Merriwell was concerned, and he straightway proceeded to disown Carlos, and cut him off without a cent.

It was afterward reported that Carl Durcal had been shot by guards while attempting to escape from prison, and Asher Merriwell died firmly believing himself to be sonless.

At his death, Asher left everything to Frank Merriwell, the son of his brother, and provided that Frank should travel under the guardianship of Professor Scotch, as the eccentric old uncle believed travel furnished the surest means for "broadening the mind."

But Carlos Merriwell had not been killed, and he had escaped from prison. Finding he had been cut off without a dollar and everything had been left to Frank, Carlos was furious, and he swore that his cousin should not live to enjoy the property.

In some ways Carlos was shrewd; in others he was not. He was shrewd enough to see that he might have trouble in proving himself the son of Asher Merriwell by a lawful marriage, and so he did not attempt it.

But there was a still greater stumbling block in his way, for if he came out and announced himself and made a fight for the property, he would be forced to tell the truth concerning his past life, and the fact that he was an escaped convict would be made known.

Having considered these things, Carlos grew desperate. If he could not have his father's property, he swore again and again that Frank should not hold it.

With all the reckless abandon of his nature, Carlos made two mad attempts on Frank's life, both of which were baffled, and then the young desperado was forced to make himself scarce.

But Carlos had become an expert crook, and he was generally flush with ill-gotten gains, so he was able to put spies on Frank. He hired private detectives, and Frank was continually under secret surveillance.

Thus it came about that Carlos knew when Frank set about upon his travels, and he set a snare for the boy in New York City.

Straight into this snare Frank walked, but he escaped through his own exertions, and then baffled two further attempts on his life.

By this time Carlos found it necessary to disappear again, and Frank had neither seen nor heard from him till this moment, when the fellow stood unmasked in the Mexican town of Mendoza.

Frank had become so familiar with his villainous cousin's voice and gestures that Carlos had not been able to deceive him. From the first, Frank had believed the old man a fraud, and he was soon satisfied that the fellow was Carlos.

On Carlos Merriwell's cheek was a scar that had been hidden by the false beard-a scar that he would bear as long as he lived.

Professor Scotch nearly collapsed in a helpless heap, so completely astounded that he could not utter a word.

As for Hans, he simply gasped:

"Shimminy Gristmas!"

A snarling exclamation of fury broke from Carlos' lips.

"Oh, you're too sharp, my fine cousin!" he grated, his hand disappearing beneath the ragged blanket. "You are too sharp to live!"

Out came the hand, and a knife flashed in the light that shone from the window of the hotel. Frank, however, was on the alert, and was watching for just such a move. With a twisting movement, he drew his body aside, so the knife clipped down past his shoulder, cutting open his sleeve, but failing to reach his flesh.

"That was near it," he said, as he whirled and caught Carlos by the wrist.

Frank had a clutch of iron, and he gave Carlos' wrist a wrench that forced a cry from the fellow's lips, and caused the knife to drop to the ground.

"You are altogether too handy with such a weapon," said the boy, coolly. "It is evident your adeptness with a dagger comes from your mother's side. Your face is dark and treacherous, and you look well at home in this

land of dark and treacherous people."

Carlos ground forth a fierce exclamation, making a desperate move to fling Frank off, but failing.

"Oh, you are smart!" the fellow with the scarred face admitted. "But you have been lucky. You were lucky at Fardale, and you were lucky in New York. Now you have come to a land where I will have my turn. You'll never leave Mexico alive!"

"I have listened to your threats before this."

"I have made no threats that shall not come true."

"What a desperate wretch you are, Carlos! I would have met you on even terms, and come to an agreement with you, if you--"

"Bah! Do you think I would make terms? Not much! You have robbed me of what is rightfully mine, and I have sworn you shall not take the good of it. I'll keep that oath!"

A strange cry broke from his lips, as he found he could not tear his wrist from Frank's fingers.

Then came a rush of catlike footfalls and a clatter of hoofs. All at once voices were heard, crying:

"Ladrones! ladrones!"

Dark figures appeared on every hand, sending natives fleeing to shelter. Spanish oaths sounded on the evening air, and the glint of steel was seen.

"Shimminy Gristmas!" gurgled Hans Dunnerwust. "Uf we don'd peen in a heap uf drouble, I know noddings!"

"It's the bandits, Frank!" called Professor Scotch. "They have charged right into the town, and they--"

"Ha! ha!" laughed Carlos. "You fear the bandits! They are my friends. They are here, and it is my turn!"

A horseman was riding straight down on Frank, and the boy flung Carlos aside, making a leap that took him out of the way.

Something, glittering brightly, descended in a sweep toward Frank's head, but the blow was stopped by Carlos, who shouted something in Spanish.

Frank understood Spanish well enough to catch the drift of the words, and he knew his cousin had not saved him through compassion, but for quite another purpose.

Carlos coveted the riches into which Frank had fallen, and he meant to have a portion of the money. If Frank were killed, there was little chance that he would ever handle a dollar of the fortune, so he had cried out that his cousin was to be spared, captured, and held for ransom.

That was enough to warn Frank of the terrible peril that overshadowed him at the moment.

Out came his revolvers, and his back went against the wall. Upward were flung his hands, and the weapons began to crack.

Two horses fell, sent down by the first two bullets from the pistols of the boy at bay.

But Frank found he could not shoot horses and save himself, for dark forms were pressing upon him, and he must fall into the clutches of the bandits in another moment unless he resorted to the most desperate measures.

"If you will have it, then you shall!" he muttered, through his set teeth, turning his aim on the human forms.

Spouts of red fire shot from the muzzles of the revolvers, and the cracking of the weapons was followed by cries and groans.

Through a smoky haze Frank saw some of the dark figures fling up their arms and topple to the ground within a few feet of him.

He wondered what had become of Hans and the professor, for he could see nothing of either, and they had been close at hand a moment before.

In the midst of all this, Frank wondered at his own calmness. His one thought was that not a bullet should be wasted, and then he feared he would find his weapons empty and useless before the desperadoes were rebuffed.

But this reception was something the bandits had not expected from a boy. They had no heart to stand up before a lad who could shoot with the skill of a Gringo cowboy, and did not seem at all excited when attacked by twenty men.

Mexican half-bloods are cowards at heart, and, by the time they saw two or three of their number fall before the fire from Frank's revolvers they turned and took to their heels like a flock of frightened sheep.

"Say, holdt on avile und led me ged a few pullets indo you, mein friendts."

It was Hans' voice, and, looking down, Frank saw the Dutch lad on the ground at his feet, whither he had crept on hands and knees.

"What are you down there for, Hans?"

"Vot you dink, Vrankie? You don'd subbose I sdood up all der dime und ged in der vay der pullets uf? Vell, you may oxcuse me! I don'd like to peen a deat man alretty yet."

"That's all right, Hans. I admire your judgment."

"Dank you, Vrankie. I admire der vay you vork dose revolfers. Dot peat der pand, und don'd you vorged him!"

At this moment, a horse with a double burden swept past in the flare of light.

"Help! Frank-Frank Merriwell! Help-save me!"

"Merciful goodness!" cried Frank. "It is the professor's voice!"

"Und he vos on dot horse!"

"Yes-a captive!"

"Dot's vat he vos!"

"Our own horses-where are they? We must pursue! What have become of our horses?"

"Dose pandits haf dooken them, I susbect."

This was true; Frank had killed two of the horses belonging to the bandits, but the desperadoes had escaped with the three animals hired by our friends.

But that was not the worst, for Professor Scotch had been captured and carried away by the bold ruffians.

Frank heard the professor's appeals for help, and heard a mocking, cold-blooded laugh that he knew came from the lips of Carlos Merriwell.

Then the clatter of hoofs passed on down the street, growing fainter and fainter, till they left the town for the open plain, and finally died out in the night.

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