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   Chapter 46 THE MYSTERY OF MURIEL.

Frank Merriwell Down South By Burt L. Standish Characters: 6582

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Not quite! The flame almost touched Frank's clothing when the boy rolled over swiftly, thus getting out of the way for the moment.

At the same instant the blast of a bugle was heard at the very front of the hut, and the door fell with a crash, while men poured in by the opening.

"Ther revernues!" shouted Wade Miller.

"No, not ther revernues!" rang out a clear voice; "but Muriel!"

The boy chief of the Black Caps was there.

"An' Muriel is not erlone!" thundered another voice. "Rufe Kenyon is har!"

Out in front of Muriel leaped the escaped criminal, confronting the man who had betrayed him.

Miller staggered, his face turning pale as if struck a heavy blow, and a bitter exclamation of fury came through his clinched teeth.

"Rufe!" he grated. "Then it's fight fer life!"

"Yes, it's fight!" roared Kate Kenyon's brother, as a long-bladed knife glittered in his hand, and he thrust back the sleeve of his shirt till his arm was bared above the elbow. "I swore ter finish yer, Miller; but I'll give ye a squar' show! Draw yer knife, an' may ther best man win!"

With the snarl that might have come from the throat of a savage beast, Miller snatched out a revolver instead of drawing a knife.

"I'll not fight ye!" he screamed; "but I'll shoot ye plumb through ther heart!"

He fired, and Rufe Kenyon ducked at the same time.

There was a scream of pain, and Muriel flung up both hands, dropping into the arms of the man behind.

Rufe Kenyon had dodged the bullet, but the boy chief of the Black Caps had suffered in his stead.

Miller seemed dazed by the result of his shot. The revolver fell from his hand, and he staggered forward, groaning:

"Kate!-I've killed her!"

Rufe Kenyon forgot his foe, dropping on one knee beside the prostrate figure of Muriel, and swiftly removing the mask.

The face of Kate Kenyon was revealed!

"Sister!" panted her brother, "be ye dead? Has that rascal killed ye?"

Her eyes opened, and she faintly said:

"Not dead yit, Rufe."

Then the brother shouted:

"Ketch Wade Miller! Don't let ther critter escape!"

It seemed that every man in the hut leaped to obey.

Miller struggled like a tiger, but he was overpowered and dragged out of the hut, while Rufe still knelt and examined his sister's wound, which was in her shoulder.

Frank and Barney were freed, and they hastened to render such assistance as they could in dressing the wound and stanching the flow of blood.

"You-uns don't think that'll be fatal, do yer?" asked Rufe, with breathless anxiety.

"There is no reason why it should," assured Frank. "She must be taken home as soon as possible, and a doctor called. I think she will come through all right, for all of Miller's bullet."

The men were trooping back into the hut.

"Miller!" roared Rufe, leaping to his feet. "Whar's ther critter?"

"He is out har under a tree," answered one of the men, quietly.

"Who's watchin' him ter see that he don't git erway?" asked Rufe.

"Nobody's watchin'."

"Nobody? Why, ther p'izen dog will run fer it!"

"I don't think he'll run fur. We've tied him."

"How?"

"Wal, ter make sure he wouldn't run, we hitched a rope around his neck an' tied it up ter ther limb o' ther tree. Unless ther rope stretches, he won't be abl

e ter git his feet down onter ther ground by erbout eighteen inches."

"Then you-uns hanged him?"

"Wal, we did some."

"Too bad!" muttered Rufe, with a sad shake of his head. "I wanted ter squar 'counts with ther skunk."

Kate Kenyon was taken home, and the bullet was extracted from her shoulder. The wound, although painful, did not prove at all serious, and she began to recover in a short time.

Frank and Barney lingered until it seemed certain that she would recover, and then they prepared to take their departure.

After all, Frank's suspicion had proved true, and it had been revealed that Muriel was Kate in disguise.

Frank chaffed Barney a great deal about it, and the Irish lad took the chaffing in a good-natured manner.

Rufe Kenyon was hidden by his friends, so that his pursuers were forced to give over the search for him and depart.

One still was raided, but not one of the moonshiners was captured, as they had received ample warning of their danger.

On the evening before Frank and Barney were to depart in the morning, the boys carried Kate out to the door in an easy-chair, and they sat down near her.

Mrs. Kenyon sat on the steps and smoked her black pipe, looking as stolid and indifferent as ever.

"Kate," said Frank, "when did you have your hair cut short? Where is that profusion of beautiful hair you wore when we first saw you?"

"That?" she smiled. "Why, my har war cut more'n a year ago. I had it made inter a 'switch,' and I wore it so nobody'd know I had it cut."

"You did that in order that you might wear the black wig when you personated Muriel?"

"Yes."

"You could do that easily over your short hair."

"Yes."

"Well, you played the part well, and you made a dashing boy. But how about the Muriel who appeared while you were in the mill with us?"

She laughed a bit.

"You-uns war so sharp that I judged I'd make yer think ye didn't know so much ez you thought, an' I fixed it up ter have another person show up in my place."

"I see. But who was this other person?"

"Dummy. He is no bigger than I, an' he is a good mimic. He rode jes' like me."

"Begorra! he did thot!" nodded Barney. "It's mesilf thot wur chated, an' thot's not aisy."

"You are a shrewd little girl," declared Frank; "and you are dead lucky to escape with your life after getting Miller's bullet. But Miller won't trouble you more."

Mrs. Kenyon rose and went into the hut, while Barney lazily strolled down to the creek, leaving Frank and Kate alone.

Half an hour later, as he was coming back, the Irish lad heard Kate saying:

"I know I'm igerent, an' I'm not fitten fer any educated man. Still, you an' I is friends, Frank, an' friends we'll allus be."

"Friends we will always be," said Frank, softly.

After this little more was said.

It was not long before our friends left the locality, this time bound for Oklahoma, Utah and California. What Frank's adventures were in those places will be told in another volume, entitled, "Frank Merriwell's Bravery."

"We are well out of that," said Frank, as they journeyed away. "Am I not right, Barney?"

"Sure, Frankie, sure!" was Barney's answer. "To tell the whole thruth, me b'y, ye're nivver wrong, nivver!"

And Barney was right, eh, reader?

THE END.

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