Wayne Morgan, the Masked Rider Braves Coiling Death as He Rides to the Rescue of Oppressed Ranchers!
Trail Of The Blue Snake (1947) – Fearing the guns of no man, Wayne Morgan and his Yaqui pard face desperate danger when they come up against a vicious death-dealing boss of outlaws in Pipe-organ Canyon! The Masked Rider braves the threat of evil, coiling doom!
Chapter I – Rider in Black
Chapter II – Coils of Death
Chapter III – Pipe-organ Canyon
Chapter IV – Coldwater
Chapter V – Trouble Range
Chapter VI – Guns in the Fog
Chapter VII – Trail of Blood
Chapter VIII – Sign of the Serpent
Chapter IX – Star Cross Mystery
Chapter X – Killer Trap
Chapter XI – Cavern of Evil
Chapter XII – The Boss’ “Pet”
Chapter XIII – Pit of Shadows
Chapter XIV – The Trap
Chapter XV – Death Underground
Gunnison Steele was the pseudonym of B.W. Gardner who actively wrote from the 1920s to the 1950s.
THEY had fled down from the timbered foothills, the young cowboy and the girl, in a desperate race for the floor of White Bear Basin and safety. Now they had reached the basin, but not safety. Instead, disaster threatened to overwhelm them.
For the youth’s horse had suddenly gone lame. The mount ran on at a crow-hoppy gallop, straining a weary body. The girl slowed her dun, refusing to forge on.
Hugh Tait was twenty, slender and dark-eyed. His sister, Starr, was a year younger. She was a lithe, golden-haired girl, her vital beauty enhanced rather than hidden by the man’s garb she wore. Now her blue eyes showed desperation, but no fear, as she flung a glance back over her shoulder.
“Go on, Starr!” Hugh cried urgently. “Don’t hang back for me! Mebbe yuh can make it to the Star Cross. I’ll hole up somewheres and hold the skunks off till yuh can bring help!”
The girl shook her head firmly. “I won’t leave you! We’ll both make it, or neither of us. They’re gaining, Hugh, fast!”
He twisted in his saddle to glance backward. Less than a quarter of a mile away, he saw half a dozen riders emerge from a belt of timber and race toward them. It was obvious to him that, with his horse lame, the oncoming riders would quickly overtake them. As Hugh Tait watched, a thin plume of smoke lanced out from one of the riders.
A second later, they heard the high, thin whine of a bullet.
“They’ve got rifles, and they aim to cut us down!” Hugh said savagely. “They’ll do it, too, in no time. Starr, yuh’ve got to go on and try to get away!”
The girl only shook her head. Suddenly she lifted her finger, and pointed.
“Those cliffs over there, Hugh. Wouldn’t that be a good place to make a stand?”
“About our only chance—if it is a chance!”
They had dipped into a low place between two ridges. And now they swerved their horses and headed toward a nest of low red cliffs two hundred yards away on the floor of the little sink. The base of the cliffs was lined with boulders. In a last desperate effort they gained the cliffs, urged their horses into a shallow niche, and leaped to the ground. Hugh Tait snatched his rifle from a saddle-boot.
“Into them boulders over there!” he snapped. “They may get us, but they’ll know they’ve been in a fight first!”
THE brother and sister darted among a nest of waist-high boulders, which formed a sort of natural fortress, and flung themselves to the ground. Before them, and on two sides, was more or less open ground. At their backs were the sheer walls of the cliffs lifting stark black fingers against the ominous sky.
Just as they gained the shelter the half-dozen riders, led by a gigantic man with dark, brutal features, plunged over the crest of the low ridge. They spurred down into the sink. And then, obviously puzzled, they slowed their mounts, their eyes probing in all directions for their prey.
“There are their broncs, over there among them cliffs!” one of them suddenly shouted. “We’ve got ’em treed!”
Hugh Tait, knowing they were discovered, rammed his rifle barrel over a boulder and blazed a shot at the riders. One of the horsemen yelled, slapped at his thigh as if a wasp had stung him. Then all of them scattered like a covey of quail, seeking various places of concealment. In seconds not a man was in sight.
But from behind boulders and out-jutting ledges they opened up. Gunfire rolled and thundered among the walls. Hot lead hailed against the boulders behind which Hugh and his sister huddled, showering them with rock fragments, ricocheting wickedly off into space.
Hugh and Starr crouched low against the earth, waiting for the furious gun-storm to spend itself. In the girl’s tanned hand was a slender-barreled .38 six-shooter, smoke curling from its muzzle.
“They can’t get at our backs,” she said calmly.
“They won’t have to,” Hugh said bitterly. “They can creep almost right up to us, through the boulders, without exposin’ theirselves. Then they can rush us —and we won’t have a chance!”
“Maybe somebody will hear the shots,” Starr said hopefully.
“Who’d hear ’em? The Star Cross is the nearest ranch, and it’s seven miles away. Anyway, I’m not so shore Uncle Adam would send help if he could.”
“Hugh!” Starr protested. “You shouldn’t say such things. I’ll admit he has changed, but I suppose there’s some reason for it.”
“Mebbe so, but I can’t savvy that reason, any more than I can savvy why them gents out there want to kill us. But they do, and we’ve got to face it.”
“That’s plain,” Starr agreed tightly. “They didn’t say anything, up there, just opened up on us. They want us dead! But why, Hugh?”
The gunfire slackened, then died out. “You young ‘uns, there!” a bull-like voice shouted. “Yuh can’t get away. Lay down yore guns and come out, and we’ll treat yuh right.”
“We’ve already had a sample of what you call right,” Hugh Tait yelled back hotly. “What’s the idea? Why’re yuh tryin’ to kill us?”
“Who said we wanted to kill yuh? We just want to make some talk with yuh. Yuh aim to lay down yore guns, like I said?”
“No, Hugh!” Starr warned quickly. “He’s lying. I’m certain they’ll kill us if we do what he says!”
“They’ll do it, anyhow,” Hugh muttered. But he raised his voice, and called, “If you cussed snakes want us, yuh’ll have to come and get us!”
“All right, yuh young fools, we’ll do just that!”
The furious gunfire opened up again, bellowing and echoing among the cliffs. Hugh and Starr returned the fire, through crevices between the boulders, but they dared not expose themselves because bullets from the attackers drummed like hail all about them. The killers knew that the advantage lay with them. Under the protection of this savage barrage, they were creeping slowly and stealthily forward.
Now the nearest of them was forty yards away. Within moments the distance would become feet. They had spread out, were converging on the boulders, like the jaws of a steel trap.
Hugh and Starr Tait looked with bitter eyes and pale faces at each other. Theirs was the high courage of the West. But they were young, and life was sweet, and they didn’t know why they were about to die.
“If it was only me, I could stand it,” Hugh said harshly. “But you— Mebbe it’d be best to do what they want.”
“No! This way is best, if we must go!” With steady hands Starr reloaded her gun.
Excerpt From: Gunnison Steele. “Trail of the Blue Snake.”
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