Boy's Cinema (1930-31)

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14 "Okay with me." Jim paused hy Helen. "When I said it was a irame- up I meant it, and I'm coming back to prove it. Good-bye." Jim had a few minutes alone with Ben. "Look after my spare saddle, hide it, and keep yer eyes skinned," he whis- pered. "If you want to get in touch with me, drop a note in the hollow of that old tree—the one struck by light- ning. When you get a chance, search it for one from me. I waiit you to run me down a lot and give it as your apinion I've hit the trail south—they iiustn't suspect you. Now I must be ofT. and keep a watch over Helen." "Leave it to me, pard." Ben gripped lis partner's hand in a horny fist. "By gar, I'd like to neck-tie Winslow and liis skunks!" "That may come later. 'Bye for the present." A nod and Jim had gone. From a window Helen watched him ride away, and then was angry with henself for ci-jing. Except for the stigma on his name, Jim did not mind about being fired, be- I'ause now he could devote all his time to watching out for the rustlers. The orevious night, whilst he lay doped, twenty valuable horses had vanished, xnd he swore to search every valley ind canyon till he found them. Already he knew the country, but where those horses had gone was a mystery. It was in the early hours of the morning that Fate first helped Jim. He had camped for the night near a slieer granite cliff, which at some time had been used for quarrying stone. It was honeycombed with tunnels, and he decided that they might be worth ex- ploring to find out where they led. The sound of voices disturbed him, and he cautiously peered round the rock behind which he had been sleeping. Winslow, Pete and Red! "Now that meddler's gone we can get bUiSy," Winslow was saying. "To- night we're holding a masquerade ball. I've got costumes for ourselves. Nearly all the boys will be there, as the women will want to dance. I'll talk to you tliere about our plans. You boys see to your side of the scheme." "Okay, cliief!" Pete rubbed his hands. "Reckon we oughta make a final clean-up and beat it before the old fool gets wise to our game." "I aim to do that. That Weston fel- low was a spy," answered Winslow. "You've seen no sign of him?" " Followed his trail out into the prairie and there lost it," cried Red. "He's cleared out—a yeller cur." "I wish I thought that," answered Winslow. Jim cursed his bad luck—his foot loosened a small stone and instantly the three men swung round and saw him. Before they could diaw their guns Jim had dived back to cover behind the rock. Behind another rock was his horse, and he did not waste any time in getting to saddle. Guns got bu^y as Jim broke cover, but the fire of the srookfi was poor and the light bad. Jim soon realised that his horse was a speedier creature than the mounts of the pursuit, and ho .slowed as a daring plan was forming in his head. Could ho put over a daring bluff ? Winslow yelled encouragement to Pete and Red. They were gaining on their man. Nearer and nearer they drew. Jim made for higher ground and hia horse seemed to be lame. Several times he turned and fired wildly. "We've got him," cxulte<l Winslow, »nd urged his horse forward. Jim was riding along the rim of a November 2Stli. 11)31. BOY'S CINEMA gulch when the three men got within range and opened fire. Jim swayed in the saddle, and when they fired again the reins slipped from his hands and ha crashed to the ground. For a moment or so the figure twisted on the very edge and then rolled over in a cloud of dust and loosened stones. The fall was broken by a bush and lay lodged, witli hands sprawling into space. The three men dismounted and stared down at the still figure. "That's settled him," growled Win- slow. " Best leave him for a day or two, maybe the vultures will help us out. Ckime on, let's beat it." But when the villains had rode away Jim came back to life, stood up and shook the dust from his clothing. "I'm not settled yet. Mister Win- slow," he cried. "That bluff worked. Soon I'm going to settle our account." The Masquerade. IT was the evening of the masquerade. In an empty stable crouched Jim Weston. " Pete and Red, here are your cos- tumes," Winslow was giving instruc- tions. " You two are supposed to be riding range, but disguised, the Sutters will think you're guests from neighbour- ing ranches. My plans are not quite definite yer, but I shall be certain dur- ing the evening, so watch out for my sign. If the worst comes to the worst, we might make a clean-up of the guests." "I'm with you, chief," cried Pete. "We must see how things plan out," Winslow answered. "Here are the cos- tumes. Don't let anyone see you changing. Red, you had better change i!i my room; Pete, you had better stay here for a spell, then dress and join us later. I want someone to watch for any trouble." "Trouble?" "Always wise to have a watch-dog," laughed the crook. "Better come with me. Red." How Jim chuckled when Pete chose the empty stable as a changing room. A sack descended over the unfortunate rascal's head, steel-like fingers gripped his throat, and when he recovered his senses he was bound hand and foot. Little did he guess that a man wearing hi.s monk's costume was at that moment joining in the revels. Jim was received by Helen. How ho longed to reveal his identity! The girl looked [lale, and Jim wondered if she had been crying. Lest she should recognise his voice he spoke no word, just bowed, keeping the cowl of the monk's hood well over his face. .An- other thing in his fayour was the wear- ing of masks. Jim soon recognised Winslow, who was wearing the costume of a Spanish matador, and when the crook talked to a Chinese mandarin, he guessed the latter to be Red. He was also sus- picious of a pierrot, who badly needed a shave. Was this another one of the gang ? An hour went by and Jim was alert for any sign from Winslow. Once he danced with Helen, who was strangely silent. Was she grieving for him ? How would she act if Winslow told her that he was dead ? But Jim was alert when Winslow made a beckoning movement with his head, and directly the dance stopped he strolled towards the matador. His sharp eyes saw the mandarin and the pierrot hovering close by. Winslow nodded to the three men, and, opening a door, went into a small lounge, which was deserted. Every Tuesday Winslow did not waste time. " To-night we're having the final show-down," he announced. "AVe've got the best of Sutter's horses, and we'll take the whole lot across the border in the night. We shall, naturally, take that bunch of colts Sutter has coialled down in Timber Creek. I've taken a good look at the folk here, and I don't think they're worth troubling about. The time is now ten, so let's nake the hour eleven." "We'd better get the word down to the boys," cried the mandarin. "They've got White Cloud on the job." "White Cloud?" What did Red mean by that? Jim was puzzled. "Will you be coming with us, chief?" asked the pierrot. "Later; I've got a job here." The matador grinned eviUy. "I'm aiming to take someone with us over the border." "You mean Miss Helen?" asked Red. Jim forgot his caution. These skunks should not get Helen. "What's the idea?" His voice was hoarse. "A girl will bring every sheriff in the States on our trail." In his agi-- tation he laid his hand on Winslow's sleeve. The crook-manager scowled. "I'm running this show," he snarled. "You take my orders or pay the con- sequences. I " He glanced down at Jim's hand and caught his breath. Pete had calloused hands and did not own a ring. What did this mean ? "All right, have it your own way." Jim withdrew his hand. "You know the game best. What's the next move?" "Back to the dance for ten minutes and then to your posts." Winslow's eyes had narrowed. "Best get going, Pete. It won't do to all swarm back in a bunch." Jim was glad of the excuse to get away, but directly the door had closed Winslow tamed to the other two. "You perishing fools!" His face was livid with rage. "That wasn't Pete—that was Weston. I noted a small ring on his hand and, what's more, the hand he laid on my sleeve wasn't anything like that of our Pete. He's roped Pete and bluffed us." "But we left Weston for dead!" gasped Red. "Well, he's come back to life again," raged Winslow. " And we've got to act quick." "Why didn't you shoot him, chief?" "And have all the bunch down on us," was the jeering answer. "And how do I know he doesn't park a gun under that costume ? One movement to draw and I get it. We'd best get out- side, find Pete and see what Weston is planning." The clatter of hoofs showed them that Weston had ridden into the night. " The moon is showing over the trees, soon it will bo almost as light as day," cried Winslow. " You guys have got to trail Weston, and you must get him. If you can't overtake him warn the boys to stand by for a change of plans; wo may have to fight our way out of this mess." Ho clapped his hands together. " We've got the sheriff at the Mas- querade—by gar, that's an idea." "Are you cr;izy, chief?" "I'll get him to raise a posse among the guests." Winslow spoke almost to himself. "I'll make out that Weston is the rustler, and if we can catch him dis- guised as a monk it will look bad against him. He can swear it's a lie. but who can support him bar that old fool Ben? Guess we'd better settle 'Continaed on page 25.)