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Frank Merriwell Down South By Burt L. Standish Characters: 7900

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

In vain, Frank attempted to organize a party to pursue the bandits. The citizens of Mendoza were completely terrorized, and they had no heart to follow the desperadoes out upon the plain, which was the bandits' own stamping ground.

Frank urged, entreated, begged, and finally grew furious, but he simply wasted his breath.

"No, no, se?or," protested a Mexican. "You no find anybody dat chase Pacheco dis night-no, no, not much!"

"Pacheco? You don't mean to say-you can't mean--"

"Dat was Pacheco and his band, se?or."

Frank groaned.

"Pacheco!" he muttered, huskily; "Pacheco, the worst wretch in all Mexico! He is utterly heartless, and the professor will-- But Pacheco is not the worst!" he suddenly gasped. "There is Carlos Merriwell, who must be one of the bandits. He may take a fancy to torture Professor Scotch simply because the professor is my guardian."

"What you say, se?or?" asked the curious Mexican. "I do not understand all dat you speak."

Frank turned away, with a gesture of despair.

"Vot you goin's to done, Vrankie?" asked Hans, dolefully.

"I do not seem to be able to do anything now. This matter must be placed before the authorities, but I do not fancy that will amount to anything. The officers here are afraid of the bandits, and the government is criminally negligent in the matter of pushing and punishing the outlaws. The capture of an American to be held for ransom will be considered by them as a very funny joke."

"Vell, I don'd seen vot you goin' to done apout it."

"I do not see myself, but, come on, and we will find out."

He sought the highest officials of the town, and laid the matter before them. In the most polite manner possible, they protested their pained solicitation and commiseration, but when he urged them to do something, they replied:

"To-morrow, se?or, or the next day, we will see what we may be able to do."

"To-morrow!" cried Frank, desperately. "With you everything is to-morrow, to-morrow! To-day, to-night, now is the time to do something! Delays are fatal, particularly in pursuing bandits and kidnapers."

But they shook their heads sadly, and continued to express sympathy and regret, all the while protesting it would be impossible to do anything before to-morrow or the next day.

Frank was so furious and desperate that he even had thought of following the bandits with Hans as an only companion, but the man of whom he had obtained the horses in the first place would not let him have other animals.

That was not all. This man had gone through some kind of proceeding to lawfully seize Frank and Hans and hold them till the animals captured by the bandits were paid for at the price he should name, and this he proceeded to do.

Now, Frank did not have the price demanded for the three horses, and he could not draw it that night, so he was obliged to submit, and the two boys were prisoners till near three o'clock the next afternoon, when the money was obtained and the bill paid.

At the hotel Frank found a letter awaiting him, and, to his unbounded amazement, it was from the professor.

With haste he tore it open, and these words are what he read:

"Dear Frank: Pacheco commands me to write this letter. We are at the headwaters of the Rio de Nieves, but we move on to the westward as soon as I have written. He tells me we are bound for the mountains beyond Huejugilla el Alto, which is directly west of Zacatecas as the bird flies one hundred and ten miles. He bids me tell you to follow to Huejugilla el Alto, where he says arrangements will be made for my ransom. Remember Jack Burk. He spoke of the mountains to the west of Zacatecas. Pacheco threatens to mutilate me and forward fragments to you if you do not follow to the point specified. He is watching me as I write, and one of his men will carry this letter to Mendoza, and deliver it. The situation is desperate, and it strikes me that it is best to comply wi

th Pacheco's demands in case you care to bother about me. If you want me to be chopped up bit by bit and forwarded to you, do not bother to follow. I have no doubt but Pacheco will keep his word to the letter in this matter. I am, my dear boy, your devoted guardian and tutor,

"Horace Orman Tyler Scotch."

That this letter was genuine there could be no doubt, as it was written in the professor's peculiar style of chirography; but it did not sound like the professor, and Frank knew well enough that it had been written under compulsion, and the language had been dictated by another party.

"Poor old professor!" murmured the boy. "Poor old professor! He shall be saved! He shall be saved! He knows I will do everything I can for him."

"Yah, but he don'd seem to say dot der ledder in," observed Hans, who had also read every word.

"Huejugilla el Alto is one hundred and ten miles west of Zacatecas."

"Vere you belief they findt dot name, Vrankie?"

Frank did not mind the Dutch lad's question, but bowed his head on his hand, and fell to thinking.

"We must have horses, and we must follow. 'Remember Jack Burk.' Surely the professor put that part of the letter in of his own accord. He did not speak of the Silver Palace, but he wished to call it to my mind. That palace, according to Burk, lies directly west of Zacatecas, somewhere amid the mountains beyond this place he has mentioned. The professor meant for me to understand that I would be proceeding on my way to search for the palace. Perhaps he hopes to escape."

"Yah," broke in Hans, "berhaps he meant to done dot, Vrankie."

"We would be very near the mountains-it must be that we would be in the mountains."

"I guess dot peen shust apoudt vere we peen, Vrankie."

"If he escaped, or should be rescued or ransomed, we could easily continue the search for the palace."

"You vos oxactly righdt."

"We must have horses and a guide."

"We can ged dem mit money."

"We had better proceed to Zacatecas, and procure the animals and the guide there."

"Shust oxactly vot I vould haf suggestet, Vrankie."

"We will lose no time about it."

"Vell, I guess nod!"

"But Carlos-Carlos, my cousin. It is very strange, but Professor Scotch does not mention him."

"Py shimminy! dot peen der trute!"

"And I am certain it was Carlos that captured the professor. I heard the fellow laugh-his wicked, triumphant laugh!"

"I heardt dot meinseluf, Vrankie."

"Carlos must be with the band."


"And Pacheco is carrying this matter out to suit my cousin."


"Hans, it is possible you had better remain behind."

"Vot vos dot?" gurgled the Dutch lad, in blank amazement. "Vot for vos I goin' to gone pehindt und stay, Vrankie?"

"I see a trap in this-a plot to lead me into a snare and make me a captive."

"Vell, don'd I stood ub und took mein medicine mit you all der dimes? Vot vos der maddetr mit me? Vos you lost your courage in me alretty yet?"

"Hans, I have no right to take you into such danger. Without doubt, a snare will be spread for me, but I am going to depend on fate to help me to avoid it."

"Vell, I took some stock dot fate in meinseluf."

"If I should take you along and you were killed--"

"I took your chances on dot, mein poy. Vot vos I draveling aroundt mit you vor anyhow you vant to know, ain'dt id?"

"You are traveling for pleasure, and not to fight bandits."

"Uf dot peen a bard der bleasure uf, you don'd haf some righdt to rob me uf id. Vrank Merriwell, dit you efer know me to gone pack mit you on?"

"No, Hans."

"Dot seddles dot. You nefer vill. Shust count me indo dis racket. I am going righdt along mit you, und don'd you rememper dot!"

Frank laughed.

"Hans," he said, "you are true blue. We will stick by each other till the professor is saved from Pacheco and Carlos Merriwell."

"Yah, we done dot."

They clasped hands, and that point was settled.

* * *

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