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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFrank Merriwell's Bravery - Chapter 14. Walter Clyde's Story
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Frank Merriwell's Bravery - Chapter 14. Walter Clyde's Story Post by :Dirk_Wagner Category :Long Stories Author :Burt L. Standish Date :May 2012 Read :3302

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Frank Merriwell's Bravery - Chapter 14. Walter Clyde's Story

CHAPTER XIV. WALTER CLYDE'S STORY

Barney Mulloy had been holding on to keep from shouting with laughter, and now he exploded.

"Ha! ha! ha!" he roared. "Pwhat do yez think av thot, profissor? Thot wur th' narrowest escape ivver hearrud av, ur Oi'm a loier!"

"Send for the undertaker!" came in a hollow groan from the lips of the professor.

"You do not seem to feel well?" said Frank, hastening to the man's assistance. "What is the trouble?"

"If I die of heart failure you will be responsible!" fiercely grated Scotch.

"Doie!" cried Barney. "Whoy, ye'll live ter pick daisies on yer own grave, profissor."

"This is terrible!" faintly rumbled the little man, as he regained his chair, and began to mop cold perspiration from his face with a handkerchief.

There was a knock at the door.

"Come in," cried Frank.

The door opened, and a boy about seventeen years of age entered the room. He was a slender, delicate-appearing fellow, but he had a good face and steady eyes.

"Hurrah!" cried Frank. "Here is my preserver! Professor Scotch, permit me to introduce you to Mr. Walter Clyde."

The professor held out a limp hand to the boy, saying:

"Excuse me if I do not rise. Frank just robbed me of strength by telling how you saved his life by derailing an express train and killing forty passengers."

Clyde was quick to catch on. A faint look of astonishment was followed by a smile, and he said:

"Mr. Merriwell is mistaken."

"Ha!" cried the professor. "Then you denounce the whole story as false?"

"I said Mr. Merriwell was mistaken--but thirty-nine passengers were killed," said the newcomer, who had caught the end of Frank's yarn.

The professor came near having a fit, and Barney Mulloy held onto his sides, convulsed with merriment.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Clyde," said Frank. "I may have stretched the yarn a trifle."

"Just a trifle!" muttered the professor.

"If I had used giant-powder instead of dynamite in blowing up the track," said Clyde, "it is possible there might have been a smaller loss of life."

"But you did not blow up the track at all," hastily put in Frank. "You yanked the train off the rails with a lasso."

"So I did! I was thinking of another case. In this instance, if I had not stood so far from the railroad----"

"But you were on the pilot of the engine."

"Was I? So I was. Excuse me if I do not attempt any further explanations."

Then the three boys laughed heartily, and the professor was forced to join in at last.

Having restored Scotch to good nature, Frank requested Walter Clyde to tell his story. Clyde's face clouded a little, and he slowly said:

"I will tell it briefly. Years ago, when I was a very small child, my father left his home in the East to make a trip to California. Business called him out there, and, on his way, he entered this Territory. He never reached California.

"My father had a deadly enemy--a man who had sworn to kill him some day. That man's name was Uric Dugan. Father had been instrumental in sending him to prison for robbery, but he had escaped, fled to the West, and, it was said, joined the Mormons.

"Fate led Uric Dugan and my father to meet in Utah. What happened then is known to Dugan alone. Months passed, and mother heard no word from father. She grew thin and pale and desperate. At length, a letter came to her. It was from Uric Dugan.

"That letter told my mother that father had died in a living tomb, where he had been placed and kept by Dugan till he went mad. Dugan gloated over his frightful crime. He told how father had raved in his delirium, called wildly for his wife and his boy, and how her name was last on his lips when he died."

"The monster!" broke in Professor Scotch, who was intensely interested.

"He was in truth a monster," agreed Clyde. "The effect of that letter on my mother was terrible. It nearly drove her mad, and she was ill a long time. When she recovered, she took measures to find and punish Dugan, but she never succeeded. She learned, however, that Dugan, after joining the Mormons, had been one of that terrible organization known as the Danites. He had disappeared, and no trace of him could be found.

"The detective who was in my mother's employ was aided by an old guide, miner, and fortune-hunter in general, known as Ben Barr. Barr learned the whole story of my father's disappearance, and it happened that he knew Uric Dugan--that Dugan had once done him an injury. He took a great interest in the case, and did his best to trace the man. As I have said, Dugan was not found, nor did the detective learn anything further of my father.

"Years passed, and I grew up. The years wrought their changes in Utah, and the Destroying Angels ceased to be a menace to every Gentile in the Territory. The younger Mormons regretted that such an organization had ever existed, and had been in any way connected with the Mormon Church. Danites who had been powerful and feared, found their former friends turning against them. Even the Mormon Church pretended to denounce them. John D. Lee, chief in the Mountain Meadow butchery, was captured, tried, found guilty, and shot. There were others as guilty as Lee, and they, who had been the hunters, found themselves hunted. They fled to the mountains, hid, disguised themselves, changed their names, and did everything they could to escape retributive justice.

"It seems that Dugan was still with them, and he found himself a fugitive like the others. Somewhere in Southern Utah, west of the Colorado, and amid the wild mountains that are to be found to the north of the Escalante River, the hunted Danites found a home where they believed they would be safe from pursuit, and there the last remnant of the once terrible Destroying Angels are living to-day.

"In his wanderings, Ben Barr came upon this retreat of the Danites, and there he saw Uric Dugan, who is now the chief of the band. Barr barely escaped with his life, and he lost no time in writing to my mother, telling her what he had discovered.

"This was enough to revive old memories and set mother to brooding over it. Her health was not very good, and I am sure that she worried herself to death. Before she died she told me of a dream that had come to her for three successive nights. In that dream she had seen my father, and he was still living, although he was unable to return to her. Just why he could not return was not very clear, but it was because of Dugan.

"As she was dying, my mother called me to her side and told me of the dream. 'My boy,' she said, 'I know your father is still living, and I want you to find him. Something has told me that you will be successful. Promise me that when I am gone you will not rest until you have found him or have satisfied yourself beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is dead.'

"I gave that promise, and I am here to search for my father and for Uric Dugan. If father is not living, I may be able to avenge him, and that will set me at rest.

"By accident I was thrown in with Mr. Merriwell, and we became somewhat friendly. I told him my story, and he was intensely interested in it. He asked me to let him go along. I did not refuse, and he said he would obtain your consent. That is all."

"Young man," said Professor Scotch, "I sympathize with you, and I sincerely hope you may be successful; but I do not care to have Frank thrust himself into such perils as you may encounter on that search."

"Hold on, professor!" cried Frank. "Just wait and----"

Scotch waved his hand.

"The time has come for me to assert my authority," he said, sternly; "and I propose to assert it."

"You will not let me go?"

"No, sir!"

"All right. You'll be sorry, professor."

"That sounds like a threat, young man. Don't threaten me. This search looks like a wild-goose chase. How do you propose to reach this retreat of the Danites?" he asked, turning to Clyde.

"By cruising down the river in a strong boat which I have bought and provisioned for the trip."

"And did you boys think of going alone?"

"Oh no."

"Who was going with you?"

"Two explorers."

"Their names."

"Colton Graves and Caleb Kerney."

"What do you know about them?"

"Nothing, except that they wish to take a cruise through the canyons."

"Young man," said the professor, "let me give you a bit of advice."

But before he could do so there came a sharp knock on the door.

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