Deadwood Dick's Doom; or, Calamity Jane's Last Adventure
$500 REWARD; AND "CALAMITY" ON DECK.
ON returning to the Poker House from their moonlight excursion to the
remarkable duel, wild men of Death Notch found that they had another
stranger, still, in their midst- the individual once before described as
Carrol Carner. He had ridden into the place, registered and here put up
at the Poker, and was just engaged in not tacking up a placard against
the wall, as the of the crowd swarmed in, headed by victorious Piute
Dave, and his right-hand man, the bullwhacker.
Poker Jack's face bore rather a disappointed expression, when he
saw that Piute had come back in place of Deadwood Dick. He had hoped and
expected it would be the other way, for though there was no declared
warfare between them, they hated each other cordially, and calculated
that the quickest man at pulling a "pop" would eventually be the death
of the other.
Which one it remained to be told.
The man, Carner, went on
tacking up his this placard, and when be had finished, stepped back to
inspect his work.
The placard was a press-print poster, in bitype, and
bore the following announcement:
"The above reward will be paid for the capture and delivery to
the undersigned, of a wandering girl calling herself Virginia Verner,
but whose real name is Myrtle Morris. She is accompanied by a negro of
companion, and is wanted for the crime of murder.
"Carrol Carner, Guardian."
Piute Dave read the notice over and over, and then took a good
look at the man who had posted it.
"I allow ye won't be apt ter find yer gal hyar Cap," he said,
gruffly. "We don't allow of no petticoaters in this hyar town."
"Oh, you don't," Carner said, with imperturbable composure.
"Well, it won't do no
harm to advertise and make sure. Indeed, I am pretty positive the girl
is in this town."
"D'ye mean thet?" Piute demanded, angrily, drawing a pistol. "Et
ain't healthy for any pilgrim to doubt the word o' Piute Dave."
Experience has taught me not to believe any man till I have
tested him," was the unflinching answer. "My sentiment applies no more
to you than to the rest. If you gents ever indulge, you'll find I have
an open account at the bar."
"Drink, stranger? Waal, I should cough up a cat!" exclaimed the
disciple of Shakespeare, executing a hop-skip-and-jump. "Ef evyer a
thirsty throng o' theologians thrived in this terrible kentry, we're
ther ones. Drink? On course we will: bootlegs and eye-openers by ther
dozen we will dispense in honor of meetin' ye, at yer expense, an' don't
ye fergit it, nuther. Waltz up, thirsty pilgrims, an' inundate yer
desert waists wi' prime old 'rib-tickler.' Irrigate your parched an'
arid systems wi' ther ambrosial nectar o's d. f. r.-sure death at
forty rods. As ther immotoil Shakespeare used ter remark:
'A 'gilt-edge' jest before breakfast,
A 'sealskin' dinner ter settle,
A horn-an'a-'alf before supper,
An' a 'night-cap ter put on yer mettle.'
"Drink, stranger? On course we will, an I'll take a good straight
'coffin-nail' fer mine wi' a bumble-bee or a wassup in it, to give et
And they did drink to a man, with the exception of Piute Dave,
who gruffly refused.
Watching his opportunity, he left the barroom unnoticed, and went
up-stairs. At the door of Virgie's room he knocked softly, more like a
woman's knock it was, than that of man.
"Who is there?" Virgie asked, from within in a tone whose accents
"'Ah! I am a stranger to you, but if you value your personal
safety, open the door!" the villain answered in a feigned voice; then,
as he heard her unlock the door, he chuckled to himself to see how
cleverly he had succeeded, until the door partly opened and he found
Virgie standing in the aperture with a cocked revolver in her hand.
"I thought it was you," she said with more composure than she had
yet manifested. "Now that you are here, you villain, what do you want?"
"You're devilish independent, all at once!" Piute Dave said, in
"Because I've got the drop on you!" Virgie retorted. "I find that
he's best who gets aim first, in this delectable country, and
accordingly, I'm ready for you, sly as you were. What you want, I say?"
"I want to come in. I've important news for you. There's a man
down-stairs who wants ye, at about five dollars a pound!"
Virgie gave a gasp, and her face turned pale.
"Who?" she demanded, though she could have told without asking.
"Let me come in, if you want to know" Piute Dave said, grimly,
"Awhile ago ye spurned the friendship of yours truly; now, mebbe, with a
wolf howling upon yer scent, ye'll be glad ter accept of it."
"Between the bite of a wolf and a rattlesnake, I have no choice!"
Virgie retorted, decisively, "and therefore, if you have anything to
communicate, you can do it from where you are, or not at all."
"Curse you! Then you prefer surrendering to the man downstairs,
rather than accept of my protection, eh?"
"I shall not surrender, nor accept your protection!" Virgie
responded. "If I am attacked, I shall fight till I see there is no hope,
and -- then kill myself!"
"Pooh! words are cheap! Listen, and I'll tell you what is the
most likely thing fer ye to do, as things now stand. This enemy o'
yourn, who calls himself Carrol Carner, don't know, yet, thet you're
heer, an' ther boys knows their biz an' won't give it away, as long as I
say nay. Now, jest you marry me, an' I'll go down an' slit your enemy's
weazand, an' that'll put an end ter the matter. See?"
"I comprehend your magnanimous offer, but emphatically decline.
When in need of a husband, I shall select a man-not a wolf in the guise
of a man. You may inform Carrol Carner of my presence here, if you like,
and tell him, also, that I have been taking daily practice with the
revolver, lately, and I shall take advantage of the first opportunity to
blow his brains out. Now, or I'll open up practice on you. Go! I mean
And judging by the flash of her eyes, he concluded she was in
dead earnest, and took as few steps as possible to carry him out of
range of her weapon.
Baffled and savage, he descended the stairs to the street, to
cool off his passion -- and consider.
Villain that he was he had set his heart on capturing the girl
and making her his wife and the failure just now but strengthened his
Carrol Carner, although he failed to obtain any information from
Piute Dave concerning the object of his search, was in no wise
discouraged, and made it his business, during the evening to "pump"
nearly all the roughs in the saloon who, taking the cue from Dave, all
denied any knowledge of the girl. This very unanimity strengthened his
"Excuse me, please, if I refuse to believe you," he said, coolly.
"So positive has been the declaration that the girl is not here, that I
am sure she is here. I demand to see your register. When I registered
tonight, I neglected to look it over to see if there had been any
"I refuse to let you see the register," Poker Jack replied, an
ugly flash in his eyes as he went on: "I'll own up that the girl is here
and when you attempt to take 'er away, you're a dead man-you or any
other two-legged cuss in the town. I've been watchin' the way things
aire shapin' ter-night, an' I allow that the gal is pure, an' good, an'
tho' I ain't anything to brag on about bein' a saint, I allow that's
enough man left in me ter shove for'a'd a six, ef ary galoot tries any
guru games about that gal. An' my name's Poker Jack, from Pioche."
And the landlord of the Poker House brought his fist down hard,
on the bar.
That night, when Death Notch slumbered, a horseman rode
stealthily into the town.
His form was well wrapped in a long black cloak, a wide-rimmed
black hat was slouched down over his forehead to the eyes, which were
covered with the exception of a pair of peep-holes, by a black mask,
which was in turn met by an immense black beard that touched to the
man's waist, all giving him a dark and sinister appearance.
That his mission was a secret one, was evident, for his animal's
hoofs were carefully muffled, and made little or no noise as they struck
the hardpan bottom of the gulch.
The strange dark man rode slowly along until he came opposite the
Poker house, when he reined his horse close up to the front of the
building and halted.
Rising in the stirrups, and thence to his horse's back, he was
able to climb upon the cap of the front door frame, which he accordingly
did, and then crept into the open window, which led into the upper hall.
Pausing a few moments and listening intently, he stole from one
door to another along the hall, and repeated the precaution of
listening, nor did he conclude until he had visited every door that
opened off from the hall.
Then he came back to the door of the apartment occupied by Virgie
and softly turned the knob.
The door being locked, refused to open, at which he did not
appear to be much surprised, for he drew a slender pair of "nippers"
from his pocket and quickly had the door unlocked and open.
Then, stealing softly into the room, he closed it behind him as
quietly as he had opened it.
The next morning when Poker Jack took the meals upstairs for Miss
Virgie Verner, before any customers were about the establishment to
watch him, he found the door wide open and Miss Verner gone.
Not a little surprised he opened the communicating door of the
darky's apartment, and found the gent of color lying upon his bed, bound
hand and foot and gagged, with a quilt thrown over his head to shut out
any sound he might make.
Poker Jack immediately went to his rescue, and found the
poor "coon" nearly suffocated.
As soon as he could gain his breath he gave vent to a sigh of
relief, and gazed about him with ludicrously rolling eyes, to make sure
that he was really once more liberated.
"Oh! de good Lor' almighty! I s'pected I'se a gone clam fo'
suah!" was his exclamation. "W'at's a de 'Matter, boss-w'at's de reason
dis inoffensive chile is tied up like a lump ob dry goods an' a quilt
frowed ober his head fo' to keep him from breafin'-dat's what I'se
anxious to know?"
"Well, being somewhat in the dark myself, I naturally looked to
you for an explanation," the host of the Poker House replied. "Don't you
know how you came in that plight?"
"'Deed I don't know nuffin' 'bout it, boss. All I know is dat
when I awoke, dar I was fast, like de leg ob a clam in a shell, and wid
a great scarcity o' breathin' stuff. Dun'no nuffin' else about it-'deed
I don't, fo' suah."
"Well, this is kind o' funnysome," Poker Jack declared,
scratching his head. "Some one's been hyar during the night, and waltzed
off with ther gal-that's certain."
"What Miss Virgie gon' d'ye das?" Nicodemius cried in alarm,
springing to his feet, his dark visage growing a shade paler, if,
indeed, such a thing is possible.
"I allow she is," Jack replied. "Leastwise she ain't in her
"Oh! de good Lor' a'mightly. W'at's to become of me, den! I'se a
dead gone niggar, fo' suah! Say, boss, maybe she's got skeered' an, done
gon' hid under de bed, or in de wash-stand, or--"
"Not a bit of it. She's bin smuggled off during the night, but
the next thing is, who's the smuggler? I allow et won't be healthy for
him, when I learn who."
Had Jack had any inclination to keep the matter hushed, he could
not well have done so, for it wasn't ten minutes before Nicodemius had
spread the news all over the town.
Both Carrol Carner and Piute Dave swore roundly when they heard
the news, but Poker Jack eyed them searchingly.
"One or the other of you know where that gal is," he said to
himself, " and if no one else is interested in her welfare, it shall not
be said that Poker Jack left her to the mercy o' two worse brutes than
That day a horseman, or rather a girl dressed in male attire drew
rein before the Poker House, and slipping from the saddle, she strode
into the bar-room, and took a glance over the crowd therein.
The woman was the notorious free-and-easy reckless waif of the
rocky Western country Calamity Jane.