Deadwood Dick's Doom; or, Calamity Jane's Last Adventure
THE UNKNOWN WINS-AND LOSES.
IT was the Black Unknown who gave the word 'go,' and the bullwhacker
hurled his knife directly toward the mark upon the door.
Hurled it well, too, for it struck within a couple of inches of
the hastily-prepared bull's-eye.
A cheer went up from the crowd who had hitherto had no particular
amount of faith in the bullwhacker's aim, and it tickled the poet
hugely, for he executed a grotesque breakdown in celebrations of his
first good throw.
"Ho! ho! who sayeth thet ther great Peruvian Poet ain't on his
muscle?" he roared, with a broad grin. "Did ye see how purty thet noble
blade went quivering cluss ter the eye of the bull? This time I'll put
out the bovine's sight entirely, you bet!"
But he didn't.
The knife went further from the bull-eye than the first one.
"Kerwhoop! I got nervous thet time, an' put on too much elbow,"
he cried, a little chagrined. "Knife-throwin' is about as uncertain as
life, I tell ye. A fellar can't tell when he's goin' ter make a miss --
The next throw was more successful, for the knife went quivering
into the center of the bull's-eye, precisely.
"That! feast yer eyes on that, will ye, an' tremble in yer boots!"
the bullwhacker shouted, turning to the Unknown. "Oh, I'm a colt, I'm
a snortin', cavortin' war-hoss, right from ther histrionic battle-field
o' Waterloo where water was first invented. Here goes' ag'in fer another
And, sure enough, he did succeed in putting the blade-point of
his fourth knife in the circle close beside its predecessor.
Another round of applause came from the friends of the
"I guess that surprises our black-bearded friend!" Carrol Carner
"Not nearly so much as an early death will surprise you, sir?"
the Unknown retorted. "Indeed, I am pleased to see your man exhibit so
much skill in the use of the knife, and presume he will win."
"You may hope so for your own good, you Mormon devil!" Calamity
cried, turning her glittering eyes upon the Salt Lake ruffian, "for if I
get free, you can bet I'll make mince meat of you."
This, too, elicited quite a cheer, for the Mormon was no favorite
among the roughs, despite his effort to establish himself in their
Altogether, the audience was getting very enthusiastic. "I have
no fear of serious consequences!" Carner responded, with provoking
"Nor need you," the Unknown replied grimly, "for even if the girl
escapes your vengeance, she is not through with me, I fancy. Ha! ha!
"In what way have I deserved your enmity?" Calamity replied, more
surprised than ever, for she had believed she would gain her liberty at
the hands of the strange dark individual, whose voice was like the
sullen growl of thunder.
"That remains to be told," he replied. "Suffice to say that I
hold a mortgagee against your life, which I shall foreclose. If I don't
win, you are still the prisoner of these gents you see around you. Go
ahead, sir bullwhacker -- you have yet two knives to throw!"
"An' hyar they go. Jest feast yer eyes on ther Shakespearean
wind-up o' this exciting dramyer."
Whiz! away sped the fifth knife from the poet's hand, and buried
its keen point deep in the door a half a foot from the bull's eye.
"Bah! thet don't look as if you were going to win!" Carrol Carner
growled. "You'll lose the girl, you fool, and cheat us out of our
"Ef he loses her, et's his loose, pilgrim!" one of the miners
said, "an, ef Black Beard wins her fair, he shall hev her 'ca'se we're
square, we aire-eh! ain't that so, boys?"
The men of Death Notch gave a nod of assent.
Carrol Carner rose up. He had hoped to find no mutiny among the
men so that Calamity would not be given to the unknown, under any
Whiz! Shakespeare's last knife hurtled through the air, and
entered the bull's eye-making just half of it's allotted number which
had entered the circle.
"Very good, indeed," the Unknown said, "but I think I can put
the whole six in the circle. Pull out your knives and I will try, at
Shakespeare obeyed, not nearly so well-pleased as he might have
"I orter 'a' put 'em all hum, myself," he said. "but every time
I'd git jist ready to let fly, some consarned line o' poetry would pop
inter my noddle, an' disombobberate my aim. Hyar's one that popped in
just as I heaved the last knife:
'Mary had a little lamb;
At her et uster kick
She pulled the wool all off its back
An made a feather tick.' "
"Well, please don't give us any more of the same style, or it may
injure my aim also," the Unknown added, satirically, as he equipped
himself with his knives preparatory to the test. "Watch me now, to see that
I do it fairly."
He then hurled one of the bowies toward the door. Thud! it
entered the circle exactly in the center, the blade passing through the
door up to the hilt, illustrating, strikingly, with what force the
missile had been thrown.
"Pull that knife out; I want to put another in the same place,"
he said, with a faint smile.
It was done, and he was as good as his word-he hurled another
knife into the same spot.
One after another was pulled out, and one after another he buried
in the same hole, until he had not only exhausted his own half-dozen,
but had also buried the poet's knives there, too, without making
at miscalculation in his aim!
When he had finished he turned to the spectators, with a bit of
triumph gleaming in his eyes.
"Have I won, gentlemen?" he demanded, with a smile.
The cheer that followed spoke better than words of their
"On course you've gone an' won, an' I be dratted ef ye didn't do
et fair an' squar', an' ther gal is youn, declareth I, William Henry
Shakespeare, mayor o' this hyar town O' Death Notch. Give us yer 'and,
you galoot! -- yer 'and, giv'nor, you 'and, ter squeeze jest fer good
"No, I thank you! I do not care to shake the hand of a greater
rogue than myself," the Unknown replied, dryly. Then he turned to
"Girl, I have won you fairly, and now you are doubly mine. But I
do not want you just yet, and so will give you your liberty for a few
days, well knowing that you will not dare to run away. Gents, give her
liberty, and see that she is offered no molestation until I get ready to
claim my revenge. Ha! ha! it shall be sweet revenge-the revenge of
Then, with a grim laugh, the dark stranger wrapped his cloak
closer about him, and stalked from the tavern. One or two of the miners
went to the door after him, and saw him stride swiftly away up one of
the gloomy gulches which centered into the basin like the spokes of a
wheel to the hub.
Calamity was then released, but Carner had taken the precaution
to escape to his room to save trouble.
Just outside of the basin, in the moonlight that streamed into
the gulch, the Unknown came unexpectedly upon a woman who was seated
upon a fallen tree, and engaged in a good old-fashioned cry.
The new-fashioned cry of to-day is a combination of sighs and
snuffles; consequently it occurred to the Unknown that this woman's
hearty out-and-out cry might safely be pronounced oldfashioned.
He was considerably surprised at his discovery and hesitated
about disturbing her. But, resolved to learn her trouble, he finally
stepped forward and touched her upon the shoulder.
"Excuse me, madam, but is your trouble of a nature that needs
assistance from a strong and willing hand of one whose whole life has
been one of trouble?"
Mrs. Morris -- for it was she--looked up with a start. "Who are you,
sir?" she demanded in alarm for his dark and forbidding appearance did
favorably impress her.
"One who is a gentleman, and a friend to the oppressed, ma'am,
e'en tho' dark my aspect. Coming accidentally upon you, and noting your
evident grief, I was prompted to ask if a strong hand could be of
assistance in alleviating the trouble. No offense, I trust?"
necessarily, if you are sincere in what you say," Mrs. Morris replied, a
little more assured, "I am in deep trouble, and fear I can obtain no
relief. I have lost my only daughter, and cannot find her. I tracked her
to this bad wicked town of Death Notch, but only to find that she had
"Ah! then you are Mrs. Morris, a California lady?" the Unknown
said, his surprise doubling, for at first he could form no idea of her
"Yes, I am Mrs. Morris, but how could you know that?"
"Because the circumstances of your daughter's flight to this
country are known to me! Your daughter is a guest in my solitary camp in
the mountains, and she told me her story. It was I who abducted her from
the tavern, that she might not become the victim of her enemy, the
"God be praised!" the relieved mother cried, clasping her hands
joyfully. "You are sure she is there, safe and well?"
"She was, this morning, when I left her there, in the care of her
negro companion. Come with me, and you shall soon see her."
"How can I ever repay you for this kindness? You have taken a
great load from my heart. How far is it to the place where I can see my
"Not over a mile, and we can soon walk it. Will you take my arm?"
"No, thanks! I am quite strong and love to walk. Lead, and I will
follow. Oh! sir, my daughter is of good cheer, is she?"
"Quite brave considering the trials she has passed through, I
judge. Her negro companion is lively enough to cheer her up were she
gloomily disposed," the Unknown declared, as he led the way up the
"Did she tell you why she fled from home?"
"Yes. I could well understand her case, for I came near being
caught in such a trap once, myself," was the gloomy answer. "This being
found standing over dead persons does not always signify that the one so
discovered is guilty. The guilty one glides away when the unwary and
The remainder of the journey was finished in silence.
Mrs. Morris was busied with her own thoughts -- congratulating
herself on having her child in spite of Carrol Carner, and wondering if
they would be lucky enough to escape from the mountain before he could
find and offer them further molestation as he had promised.
She felt that he was capable of any villainy no matter how base.
In the course of a half-hour they came to an abrupt termination
of the gulch', in the face of mighty, towering wall of rock, at the foot
of which was a hut of boughs and poles, and in front of that a crane
upon which a kettle hung over a temporary fire-place.
There was no visible stir about the place as they approached, and
the Unknown quickened his base.
"They must have gone inside," he said, but his words belied his
belief; he scented trouble!
A few steps further, and they came upon an appalling spectacle!
Seated upon the ground, with his back leaning against the tree was
Nicodemus Johnsing, with
his banjo in his hands, as if preparatory to playing. But he was
"By Heaven! there's bad work here!" the Unknown cried, bounding
forward into the hut.
He came out, an instant later, but unaccompanied. "You daughter
is gone madam!" he said. "Some human demon has been here and killed the
darky, and carried her off, as she is not in the hut. I believe the
cursed crazy Dwarf is the author of this outrage!"